Law Text Culture


In a passage of the Lawiers Logike that is ostensibly concerned with the rhetorical figures of description, Abraham Fraunce surprisingly defines "chronographia," the description of time, by reference to its antithesis. Citing "Master Lambard", Fraunce gives the following example: "an arrest is a certain restraint of a man's person, depriving it of his own will and liberty, and binding it to become obedient to the will of the law; and it may be called the beginning of imprisonment."1 (1588a: 64r) Stasis or arrestation of the body is here used ironically to exemplify interruption of the essentially incorporeal passage of time. Spatial confinement is used to signify a certain displacement or self-consciousness of temporality. Similarly inverting the usual order of disciplines, Fraunce uses law to exemplify rhetoric: a legal definition is used to illustrate what Renaissance rhetoricians variously term a "sensable figure" (Puttenham 1589: 136, 148) or "figure of amplification." (Peacham 1593: R iv b) In Fraunce's own Ramist lexicon, the figure of description is termed "an imperfect definition" and, again using a legal example of the general category of figure or scheme, he cites the maxim "the common law is common use." (Fraunce 1588a: 64)