The Complete Gentleman: The Truth of Our Times, and the Art of Living in London

By Henry Peacham; Virgil B. Heltzel | Go to book overview

To My Reader

I AM not ignorant, judicious reader, how many pieces of the most curious masters have been uttered to the world of this subject, as Plutarch, Erasmus, Vives, Sadoleto, Sturmius, Osorius, Sir Thomas Elyot, Master Ascham, with sundry others, so that my small taper among so many torches were as good out, as seeming to give no light at all. I confess it true. But as rare and curious stamps upon coins for their variety and strangeness are daily inquired after and bought up, though the silver be all one and common with ours, so fares it with books which as medals bear the pictures and devices of our various invention. Though the matter be the same, yet for variety sake they shall be read, yea, and, as the same dishes dressed after a new fashion, perhaps please the tastes of many better. But this regard neither moved me. When I was beyond the seas and in a part of France adjoining upon Artois, I was invited oftentimes to the house of a noble personage who was both a great soldier and an excellent scholar. And one day above the rest, as we sat in an open and goodly gallery at dinner, a young English gentleman, who, desirous to travel, had been in Italy and many other places, fortuned to come to his house, and, not so well furnished for his return home as was fitting, desired entertainment into his service. My lord, who could speak as little English as my countryman French, bade him welcome and demanded by me of him what he could do. "For I keep none," quoth he, "but such as are commended for some good quality or other, and I give them good allowance--some an

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