Method and Practice DEFENDED: OR, THE LONDON Writing-Master ANSWER'D.


‘Praxis sine Methodo nihil valet: Sed Praxis Methodi perfecit Artem.’



LONDON, Printed for the AUTHOR: And are to be Sold by Thomas Sawbridge, at the Bible on Ludgate-Hill; and Luke Meredith, at the King's-Head in St. Paul's Church-Yard. MDCLXXXV.


AS Exactness of Judgment is to be ad­mired; so that which is fallacious, being caused from the Precipitati­on of the Brain, and for want of due Consideration, ought to be re­jected: Therefore, I shall only re­commend my self to You, whose Knowledge is acquired by Reason, and whose Reason is perfected by the use of Knowledge; these Acquirements and Practises alone, rendring the Judgment undepraved: And as for the [Page 4]Censures of those Demi-Artizans, I scorn; who make a Profession of Knowledge and Mastership in the Art of Writing, and yet are not ashamed freely to confess, that they understand not the Method, (viz.) the Rules, Pre­cepts, and Principles thereof. These, (to whom Sense is a Riddle, and Reason a Paradox) being always in Excesses and Extreams, can never make a sound and Judicious Choice; but rashly judge of what they only know confusedly, and ob­scurely.

The Matter referred to your exactly discerning Judgments, is, That A-la-Mode being grieved at the mentioning in my Fax Nova, the Victory obtain'd by the English Secretary; he sends his Polemical Forces to combat, that Method, with which his Judgment before had made an amicable League: But these proving too weak, to abide the Resistance of a sound Method, A-la-Mode makes a dishonourable Retreat, and shelters his batter'd and subdu'd Arguments under the Sanctuary of the Law, threatning the Publication thereof; and that, his Skill failing him, he was resolved to try his Fortune another way; and thereupon he challeng'd me to a Tryal of Mastership, for no less than an Hundred Guin­nies. To which I return'd this Answer; Three Things are equally necessary for the compleating of a Master in the Art of Writing, (viz.) a sound Method, agreeable Examples, and Ortography, & tria sunt omnia. Now, Sir, I will joyn issue with You on these Three undeniable Evidences of Pen-man­ship; and if I prove not my self to excel You in all, or most of these Three before-mentioned, I will not only lose my Wager, but the Lawrel too. I expect, that you shall meet me half way; and then I will submit to the Judgment of any Judicious Person or Persons, that shall be indifferently, chosen to judge of our Method, Ortography, and Examples; and no Errors shall be allowed against either, but what, [Page 5]shall be proved; and the Sufficiency of the Proof shall rest in the Judgment of them, whom we shall agree on for our Judges. This I doubt not, but You, and every unbyassed Person, will deem sufficient, and every way pertinent, for the obtaining of a right Judgment in our Skill and Perfor­mances. Which my Antagonist not daring to accept of, he endeavours to avoyd, by averring, That None are able to give their Opinions either in Method or Ortography; and therefore, he will not be censured in either: But if he does not perform by as certain a Method, and undeniable Principles, as my self, he says, He will lose the Wager, and the Lawrel too.

Were these the Words of any Other, but the Renown­ed A. the esteemed Phoenix of our Nation, it had been a greater Violence than I could have offer'd to my Reason, to have Answer'd them, since the Contradictions in them destroy each other: If I perform not by as certain a Me­thod, &c. and, None can judge of Method, &c. being as irreconcileable, as Richard and Baxter.

That which we perform our Work by, being the on­ly Rule and Measure of our Performances, makes our Works either good or bad, according to the Exactness, or Im­perfections of those Rules and Measures they accord with: And if so, then They can only judge of our Performan­ces, that have a right Knowledge of that Method, by which they ought to be measured. And besides, Method being a Part of the Art of Writing, none are capable to judge be­tween us, that cannot judge of Method; for none can judge of the Whole, that are ignorant of a Part.

As for the other Part of my Answer, (viz.) Ortography, which Mr. A. says, None are able to give their Opinions in, [Page 6]being a necessary Part of Method; I need not prove it to be a requisite Knowledge, in order to the pronouncing of a just Sentence, in the Art [...]f Writing.

The next Argu [...] offer'd against me, is the form of the Challenge in these Words:

My Challenge was to prove you, in the most Exact, Curious, and Regular Method of Writing, for an Hundred Guinneys.

My Answer being every way compleat, and pertinent to this Challenge, my Adversary would have done well to have accepted of it. For, is it Method that he would prove, or try his Skill with me in? There he has Me­thod propos'd to him, as the main Pillar of Art; and in that I am ready to joyn issue with him. Is it Examples, or Practice, that he would excel me in? There he may find me prepar'd to combat him, according to the best Method.

Certainly, a fairer Proposal than This cannot be made, for a Tryal of Mastership in the Art of Writing; which he not daring to accept of, I may justly take the Lawrel, which he yields: For he that makes a general Challenge, and afterwards refuseth to engage upon just and equal Terms, is no less conquer'd, than he that contends to the last, and is worsted.

Again, My Adversary objects, That the best Method can­not but distribute it self so, as to produce the most exquisite and exact Performances: And therefore, if Mr. Matlock can let us see, or would he pretend to, or suffer any to judge of his Method besides himself, he should have worn the Lawrel with­out any Disturbance from me.

[Page 7] By these Words, If Mr. Matlock can let us see, &c. it appears on what Conditions he is willing to give me the Victory; and he enforceth the Reasonableness of it in these Words, The best Method cannot but distribute it self so, as to produce the most exquisite and exact Performances. To This I plead Conditions perform'd; which being proved, the Ver­dict, of necessity, must go for me; and then, I hope, I shall wear the Lawrel without disturbance.

That I am the Author of a Method both Good, and Ra­tional, which is the Conditions required, I prove by these Words, which I have under my Opposer's own Hand: (Says he,) I have considered your Contents, with your Method of Examination of Hands; and your Conclusions thereon, in point of Beauty, Firmness, and Expedition; which are Good, and Rational: And withal, I thank you for your Freedom, in proposing to me a Method, to answer all those Excellent Quali­fications of an Hand.

Certainly, a more undoubted Proof than This, cannot be made: and were This not sufficient, I might have of­fer'd in Testimony, my Fax Nova, the First Method that's Published of our English Hands; and since it's the First, it's the Best; till another, that's Better, appears.

The Objection made against it, (that I know of) is on­ly by my Antagonist, Mr. A. who quarrels at the Certain­ty of Proportion; saying, How tedious is the use of Scale and Compass? And indeed, could my Proportions be pra­ctised no other way, this had been a good Argument against me; but my Proportions being rightly known, then the Understanding will be the Rule, the Eyes the Compasses, and the Hand will draw the Lines, according as the Un­derstanding directs, and the Eye measures: If the Under­standing [Page 8]be not inform'd of the Proportions, it cannot guide the Eye; nor can the Eye set direct Bounds for the Hand, but the Hand moves at random.

And now I have Finished my Answer to Mr. A's. Challenge; and therein I appeal to You, who have an entire Knowledge of Your Pro­fession, for Your impartial Judgment: And if You will shew me any Error clearly, moderate­ly, and faithfully, that I should not claim this Victory, obtain'd against my Challenging An­tagonist; I will not only quit the Lawrel, but I will make a VVork of Retractions: But till then not, in the least, think it Arrogancy to as­sume That, to which my Anagram does entitle me,

‘Calamus est mihi Honos.’

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