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Reading Assessment IV. Renaissance prose


DIRECTIONS Carefully read the following passage. Use context clues to help define any words with which you are unfamiliar. Pay close attention to the use of figurative language, argument, and tone. Then, on a separate sheet of paper, answer the questions that follow.

from “Of Cunning” by Sir Francis Bacon

                                We take cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom. And certainly there is a great difference between a cunning man and a wise man; not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability. … … I knew a counsellor and secretary, that never came to Queen Elizabeth of England with bills to sign, but he would always first put her into some discourse of estate, that she might the less mind the bills. … In things that are tender and unpleasing, it is good to break the ice by some whose words are of less weight, and to reserve the more weighty voice to come in as by chance, so that he may be asked the question upon the other’s speech. . . . I knew one that, when he wrote a letter, he would put that which was most material in the postscript, as if it had been a by-matter. I knew another that, when he came to have speech, he would pass over that that he intended most; and go forth, and come back again, and speak of it as of a thing that he had almost forgot. … It is a point of cunning, to let fall those words in a man’s own name, which he would have another man learn and use, and thereupon take advantage. I knew two that were competitors for the secretary’s place in Queen Elizabeth’s time, and yet kept good quarter between themselves; and would confer one with another upon the business; and the one of them said, That to be a secretary in the declination of a monarchy was a ticklish thing, and that he did not affect it: the other straight caught up those words and discoursed with divers of his friends, that he had no reason to desire to be secretary in the declination of a monarchy. The first man took hold of it, and found means it was told the Queen; who, hearing of a declination of a monarchy, took it so ill as she would never after hear of the other’s suit. … Some have in readiness so many tales and stories, as there is nothing they would insinuate, but they can wrap it into a tale; which serveth both to keep themselves more in guard, and to make others carry it with more pleasure. It is a good point of cunning for a man to shape the answer he would have in his own words and propositions; for it makes the other party stick the less. It is strange how long some men will lie in wait to speak somewhat they desire to say; and how far about they will fetch; and how many other matters they will beat over, to come near it. It is a thing of great patience, but yet of much use. … But these small wares and petty points of cunning are infinite; and it were a good deed to make a list of them; for that nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise. But certainly some there are that know the resorts and falls of business, that cannot sink into the main of it; like a house that hath convenient stairs and entries, but never a fair room. ... Some build rather upon the abusing of others, and (as we now say) putting tricks upon them, than upon soundness of their own proceedings.


Directions Answer these questions about the excerpt from “Of Cunning”

by Francis Bacon

1.In the opening paragraph, what is the principal distinction that Bacon makes between cunning people and wise people?

A. The cunning are evil; the wise are not.

B. The cunning are different from the wise in ability and honesty.

C. The wise will always rise to the top ranks of their professions.

D. The wise are less honest and have less ability than the cunning.

2.From the context, what do you conclude that the word tender means in line 7?

A. young

B. loving

C. gentle

D. sensitive

3.Why might the letter writer put the “most material” information in a postscript?

A. to cause the reader to ignore it

B. to make it more likely to be read

C. to downplay the importance of the information

D. to increase the importance of the information

4.From the context, what do you conclude that the word material means in line 10?

A. important

B. matter

C. textile

D. assured

5.According to Bacon, why is it useful to present information in the form of a story?

A. to make the information seem less important

B. to guard the speaker and make the information more pleasant to hear

C. to confuse the listener through the distortion and manipulation of facts

D. to bore the listener with unimportant information

6.Why might it be “of much use” to “wait to speak”?

A. to upset the listener

B. to prevent the listener from speaking

C. to allow the speaker to pass as wise

D. to wait for the appropriate moment

7.What reason does Bacon give for listing the “small wares” of cunning?

A. to create a definitive list

B. to make the tools of the cunning available to everyone

C. to hurt the state

D. to pass on this information because doing so is a good deed

8.According to Bacon, what is the most hurtful thing to a state?

A. that the wise pass for the cunning

B. that the cunning pass for the wise

C. that the petty points of cunning become infinite

D. that the state itself becomes cunning

9.What literary device is most evident in the sentence beginning in line 36?

A. simile

B. metaphor

C. motif

D. apostrophe

10.What is the overall tone of the final passage?

A. angry

B. ironic

C. knowing

D. skeptical

11.What is the main idea of the final passage?

A. There are many different kinds of cunning.

B. The wise and the cunning are essentially the same kind of people.

C. The wise are less adept than the cunning.

D. The cunning are different from the wise in ability and honesty.

12.On the basis of the final passage, with which of the following statements would Bacon be most likely to agree?

A. There is no such thing as wisdom.

B. The cunning have many tools.

C. The cunning always outwit the wise.

D. The cunning are not intelligent.

Date: 2016-03-03; view: 2844

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