Rhetoric in recusant writing, published 1580-1603
Catholic writers traditionally approach the laity through the sacraments rather than the Word. Nonetheless, three devotional genres - meditation, hagiography and catechism - recognize that effective written appeals to a reader can be made using rhetoric. This thesis analyses such rhetoric, in recusant devotional texts published by secret presses between 1580 and 1603. Most detailed examinations of Catholic works think of rhetoric as emasculating the virile yet chaste prose of a 'shining band of martyrs'. This thesis proposes that the rules of rhetoric are used to empower the reader of these works by Grafting a new character in him. Meditations act as deliberative orations, swaying the reader's will. They use amplificatio and memoria to produce matter and to dwell on it. Late sixteenth-century translations of continental meditation manuals by Granada, Scupoli, Estella and Loarte provide a theory of meditation for the English works studied: rosary texts by John Bucke, Thomas Worthington and Henry Garnet; several anonymous collections of meditations and prayers; contemplations on Scriptural stories by Robert Southwell, I.C., C.N. and Robert Chambers. In the second section, saints' lives are read as rhetorical examples which support this deliberative discourse, rather than as blazons, innocent of intent on the reader. Hagiographies by Worthington, Robert Persons, William Alien and Thorns Alfield reflect images of what a martyr or saint should do, not what he did. The last chapters show how catechisms recreate these idealized images in the reader by acting as dramatic scripts for him. Repetition through rhetoric dissolves the element of theatre, allowing the reader to absorb these rules for life. Once again, Elizabethan translations of foreign catechisms by Granada, Bellarmine and Canisius are used to illuminate English catechisms by Persons, Southwell and Lawrence Vaux.