Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Uses of Wit
By Thomas Wilson (c. 15261581)
From the Arte of Rhetorike
THIRDLY, such quickness of wit must be shewed, and such pleasant saws so well applied, that the ears may find much delight, whereof I will speak largely, when I shall intreat of moving laughter. And assuredly nothing is more needful, than to quicken these heavy loaden wits of ours, and much to cherish these our lumpish and unwieldy natures, for except men find delight, they will not long abide: delight them, and win them; weary them, and you lose them for ever. And that is the reason, that men commonly tarry the end of a merry play, and cannot abide the half hearing of a sour checking sermon. Therefore even these ancient preachers, must now and then play the fools in the pulpit, to serve the tickle ears of their fleeting audience, or else they are like sometimes to preach to the bare walls, for though their spirit be apt, and our will prone, yet our flesh is so heavy, and humours so overwhelm us, that we cannot without refreshing, long abide to hear any one thing. Thus we see, that to delight is needful, without the which, weighty matters will not be heard at all, and therefore, him can I thank that both can and will once mingle sweet among the sour.