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

CHAPTER III
Of the Time of Learning, Duty of Masters,
and What the Fittest Method to Be Observed

AS THE spring is the only fitting seedtime for grain, setting and planting in garden and orchard, so youth, the April of man's life, is the most natural and convenient season to scatter the seeds of knowledge upon the ground of the mind. ΔεƖ + ̑ γὰρ εύθὺς ἐκ νέου όρέχεσπαι, saith Plato,1 "It bebooveth in youth out of hand to desire and bend our minds to learning." Neither as good husbands, while time serveth, let slip one hour. For, saith he elsewhere,2 "Our ground is hard and our horses be wild." Withal, if we mean to reap a plentiful harvest, take we the counsel of Adrastus in Euripides, "To look that the seed be good." For, "In the foundation of youth, well ordered and taught, consists," saith Plato again, "the flourishing of the commonwealth." This tender age is like water spilt upon a table, which with a finger we may draw and direct which way we list, or, like the young hop, which, if wanting a pole, taketh hold of the next hedge, so that now is the time, as wax, to work it pliant to any form.

How many excellent wits have we in this land that smell of the cask by neglecting their young time when they should have learned! Horace his Quo semel,3 once fit for the best wine, since too bad for the best vinegar, who, grown to years of discretion and solid understanding, deeply bewail their misspent or mis

____________________
1
Plato politic. 6.
2
In Phaedro.
3
Quo semel est imbuta recens, servabit odorem / testis diu: "The jar will long keep the fragrance of what it was once steeped in when new." --Epist. i.2.69-70.

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