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cadence (in speech)

cursus planus, cursus velox, cursus tardus:
- mártyr St Stéven
- thém that are pénitent
- rise to the life immórtal
Three cadences, English usage thoughtfully derived from classical rhetoric

One of the masters at school mentioned the three cadences listed above, devised or at least noted by Cranmer and used to add weight and rhythm to the unsurpassable prose of the Book of Common Prayer. It was also at school we had our first introduction to Chaucer, from which I retain some fragments of the vocabulary of thetoric; 'occupatio' is the only trick I remember.

I have since met a rhetorician, who lent me a fine and solid book on the work of the three Scottish divines Campbell, Blair and Whateley. Utterly fascinating, and if I gave up after the section on Campbell this is largely because I found his strong, elegant style so much more to my taste than that of Blair.

Through ignorance and perhaps through disinclination, I would not seek to use the colours of classical rhetoric. I'll admit to running phrases through my mind's ear to check their rhythm and balance, the same way a smith might heft a forging. Cranmer, Bacon and Wycliffe – to name but three – are a hard act to follow, but that shouldn't stop us trying.