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

Introduction

HENRY PEACHAM is known as the author of The Complete Gentleman ( 1622) to many persons who have never read the work, but he deserves to be more widely appreciated for having given us that thoroughly English and altogether noble book of advice to young gentlemen. His equally important social criticism, too, deserves more attention than it has received. It is the purpose of this collection to present in modern dress the greater part of Peacham's most important writings dealing with the ideals to be pursued and the evils to be shunned by young gentlemen of his day. Few men of his time were better educated than he, even fewer reveal a closer observation of life in Stuart England, and none at all, I feel sure, more fully represents the Renaissance ideal of the pursuit of good learning and versatility in achievement, or exhibits to better advantage an unusual variety of interests and talents to be found in one individual-- for he was painter, musician, mathematician, writer of English and Latin verses, traveler, social critic, and scholar ("by profession I am a scholar")1--and neither harsh schoolmasters nor poverty nor unsympathetic kinsmen prevented his cultivation of them. The essential facts of his career, even though not necessarily the important ones, are fairly well known.

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1
Graphice ( 1612), sig. A2v.

-ix-

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