Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sir Thomas Elyot, The Boke Named the Gouernour

Sir Thomas Elyot, The Boke Named the Gouernour, Everyman Library, J. M. Dent & Co., London, 1907

And they which do suppose it so to be called for that, that euery thinge shulde be to all men in commune, without discrepance of any astate or condition, be thereto moued more be sensualite than by any good reason or inclination to humanitie. (2)

To the entent that I wyll declare howe suche personages may be prepared , I will use the policie of a wyse and counnynge gardener: who purposynge to haue in his gardeine a fine and preciouse herbe, that excellently comodiouse or pleasant, he will first serche melowe and fertile erth: and therein wil he put the sede of the herbe to growe andbe norisshed: and in most diligent wise attende that no weede be suffred to growe or aproche nyghe unto it: and to the entent it may thrive the faster, as soone as the fourme of an herbe ones appereth, he will set a vessel of water by hit, in suche wyse that it may continually dstille on the rote swete droppes; and as it spryngeth in stalke, under sette it with some thing that it breake nat, and always kepe it cleane from weedes. Semblable ordre will I ensue in the fourmynge the gentill wittes of noble mennes children, who, from the wombs of their mother, shal be made propise or apte to the gouernaunce of a publike weale. (18-19)

And also obserue that she be of mature or ripe age, nat under xx yeres, or aboue xxx, (19)

Also to prouide for them suche companions and playfelowes, which shal nat do in his presence any reproacheable acte, or speake any uncleane worde or othe, ne to aduaunte hym with flattery, remembrynge his nobilitie, or any other like thing wherin he mought glory: onlas it be to persuade hym to vertue, (20)

Some olde autours holde opinion that, before the age of seuen yeres, a chyle shulde nat be instructed in letters; but those writers were either grekes or latines, amonge whom all doctrine and sciences were in their maternall tonges; by reason wherof they saued all that long tyme whiche at this dayes is spente in understandyng perfectly the greke or latyne. Wherfore it requireth nowe a longer tyme to the understandynge of bothe. Therefore that infelicitie of our tyme and countray compelleth us to encroche some what upon the yeres of children, and specially of noble men, that they may sooner attayne to wisedom and grauitie than priuate persones, (21)

Nat withstanding, I wolde nat haue them inforced by violence to lerne, but accordynge to the counsaile of Quintilian, to be sweetly allured therto with praises and suche praty gyftes as children delite in. (21)

Dionyse, kynge of Sicile, whan he was for tyranny expelled by his people, he came in to Italy, and there in a commune schole taught grammer, where with , whan he was of his enemies embraided, and called a schole maister, he answered them, that al though Sicilians had exiled hym, yet in despite of them all he reigned, notynge therby the authoritie that he had ouer his scholars. Also whan hit was of hym demanded what auailed hym Plato or philosophy, wherin he had ben studious: he aunswered that they caused hym to sustayne aduersitie paciently, and made his exile to be to hym more facile and easy: (22)

Semblably the nourises and other women aboute hym, if it be possible, to do the same: or, at the leste way, that they speke none englisshe but that which is cleane, polite, perfectly and articulately pronounced, omittinge, no letter or sillable, as folisshe women often times do of a wantonnesse, wherby diuers nobel men and gentilmennes children, (asi do at this daye knowe), haue attained corrupted and foule pronuntiation. (23)

After that a childe is come to seuen yeres of age, …shall nat haue any yonge woman in her company: for though there be no perille of offence in that tender and innocent age, yet, in some children, nature is more prone to vice than to vertue, and in the tender wittes be sparkes of voluptuositie: whiche, nourished by any occasion or obiecte, encrease often tymes and reason is consumed. (23)

…suffer nat the childe to be fatigate with continuall studie or lernynge,… but that there may be there with entrelased and mixte some pleasaunt lernynge and exercise, as playenge on instruments of musike, which moderately used and without diminution of honour, that is to say, without wanton countenance and dissolute gesture, is nat to be contemned. (25)

Now (as I haue before sayde) I intende nat, by these examples, to make of a prince or noble mannes sonne, a commune painter or deruer, whiche shall present him selfe openly stained or embrued with sundry colours, or poudered with the duste of stones that he cutteth, or perfumed with tedious sauours of the metalles by him yoten. (31)

Grammer beinge but an introduction to the understanding of autors, if it be made to longe or exquisite to the lerner, hit in a maner mortifieth his coage: And by that time he cometh to the moste swete and pleasant redinge of olde autours, the sparkes of feruent desire of lernynge is extincte with the burdone of grammer, lyke as a lyttel fure is sone quenched with a great heape of small stickes: so that it can neuer come to the principall logges where it shuld longe bourne in a great pleasaunt fire. (35)

For the which occasion, Aristotel, moost sharpest witted and excellent lerned Philosopher, as sone as he had receiued Alexander from kynge Philip his father, he before any other thynge taught hym the moost noble warkes of Homere: wherin Alexander founde such swetenes and fruite, that euer after he had Homere nat onely with hym in all his iournayes, but also laide hym under his pillowe what he went to reste: and often tymes wolde purposely wake some houres of the nyght, to take as it were his passe tyme with that mooste noble poete. (37)

Isocrates, concerning the lesson of oratours, is euery where wonderfull profitable, hauynge almost as many wyse sentences as he hath wordes: and with that is wyse sentences as he hath wordes: and ith that is so swete and delectable to rede, that, after him, almost all other seme unsauery and tedious: and in persuadynge, as well a prince, as a priuate persone, to vertue, in two very little and compendious warkes, wherof he made the one to kynge Nicocles, the other to his frende Demonicus wolde be perfelctly kanned, and had in continual memorie. (43)

…cosmographie… And surely this lesson is bothe pleasant and necessary. For what pleasure is it, in one houre, to beholde those realms, cities, sees, ryuers, and mountaynes, that uneth in an olde mannes life can nat be iournaide and pursued: what incredible delite is taken in beholding the iduersities of people, beasties, foules, fishes, trees, frutes, and herbes: to knowe the sundry maners and condition of people, and the varities of their natures, and that in a warme studie or perler, without peril of the see, or daunger of longe and paynfull iournayes: I can nat tell what more pleasure shulde happen to a gentil witte, than to beholde in his owne house euery thynge that with in all the worlde is contained. (43)

Cosmographie being substancially perceiued, it is than tyme to induce a childe to the redinge of histories: (44)

Julius Cesar and Salust for their compendious writynge to the understandinge wherof is required an exact and perfect iugement, and also for the exquisite ordre of bataile and continuinge of the historie without any varietie, wherby the payne of studie shulde be alleuiate, they two wolde be reserued untyll he that shall rede them shall se some experience in semblable matters. (46)

Julius Cesar, whiche he made of his exploiture in Fraunce and Brytayne, and other countries now rekned amogne the prouinces of Germany: whiche boke is studiously to be radde of the princes of this realme of Englande and their counseailors; considering that theof may be taken necessary instructions concernynge the warres agayne Irisshe men or Scottes, who be of the same rudeness and wilde disposition that the Suises and Britons were in the time of Cesar. (46)

By the time that the childe do com to xvii yeres of age, to the intent his courage be bridled with reason, hit were needful to rede unto hym some warkes of philosophie; specially that parte that may enforme himunto vertuous maners, whiche parte of philosophie is called morall. (47)

Plato wolde be most studiously radde whan the iugement of a man is come to perfection, and by the other studies is instructed in the fourme of speakynge that philosophers used. (48)

Aulus Gellius sayth that children, if they use of meature and slepe ouer moche, be made thewith dull to lerne, (49)

The second occasion wherfore gentylmens children seldome haue sufficient lernynge is auarice. For where theyr parents wyll nat aduenture to sende them farre out of theyr propre countrayes, partely for feare of dethe, which perchance dare nat approche them at home with theyr father; partley for expence of money, whiche they suppose wolde be lesse in theyr owne house or in a village, with some of theyrtenantes or frendes; hauyng seldome any regarde to the teacher, whether he be well learned or ignorant. For if they iare a schole maister to teche in theyr houses, they chiefely enquire with how small a salary he will be contented, (53)

And who that hath nothing but language only may be no more praised than a popinjay, a pye, or a stare, whan they speke featly. (55)

Than children at xiiii or xv yeres olde, in whiche tyme springeth courage, set all in pleasure, and pleasure is in nothing that is nat facile or elegaunt, byng brought to the most difficulte and graue lernyng whiche hath no thynge illecebrouse or delicate to tickyll their tender wyttes and allure them to studie, (62)

Wrastylynge is a very good exercise in the begynnynge of youthe, so that it be with one that is equall in strengthe, or some what under, and that the place be softe, that in fallinge theyr bodies be nat brused.
There be diuers maners of wrastlinges, but the beste, as well for helthe of body as for exercise of strenghe, is whan laying mutually their handes one ouer a nothers necke, with the other hande they holde faste eche other by the arme, and clasping theyr legges to gether, they inforce them selfes with strenghe and agilitie to throwe downe eche other, which is also praysed by Galene. (73)

Also rennyng is bothe a good exercise and a laudable solace. It is written of Paminondas the valiant capitayne of Thebanes, who as well in vertue and prowesse as in lerninge surmounted all noble men of his tyme, that daily he exercised him selfe in the morning with rennyng and leaping, in the euening in wrestling, to the intent that likewise in armure he mought the more strongly, embracinge his aduersary, put him in daunger. And also that in the chase, rennyng and leaping, he mought either ouertake his enemye, or being pursued, if extreme need required, esacpe him. Semblaby before hym dyd the worthy Achilles, for whiles his shippes laye at rode, he suffred nat his people to slomber in ydlenesse, but daily exercised them and himselfe in rennyng, wherin he was most excellent and passed all other, and therefore Homere, throughout all his warke, calledth hym swifte foote Achilles. (74)

There is an exercise which is right profitable in exstreme daunger of warres, but by cause there semeth hath nat been of longe tyme moche used, specially among noble me, perchance some reders wyll litle esteem it, I meane swymmunge. … The Romanes, who aboue all things had most in estimation martiall prowesse, … Tyber, to the intent that as well men as children shulde wasshe and refresshe them in the water after their labours, as also lerne to swymme. And nat men and children only, but also the horse, (75)

Amonge these exercises it shall be coneunient to lerne to handle sondrye waipons, specially the sworde and the batayle axe, which be for a noble man moste conuenient. But the most honorable exercise, in myne opinion, and that besemeth the astate of euery noble persone, (78)

But nowe wyll I procede to write of exercises whiche be nat utterly reproued of noble auctours, if they be used with oportunitie and in measure, I meane hunting, hauking, and daunsyng. In huntynge maybe an imitacion of batayle, (79)

As for haukyng, I can finde no notable remembrance that it was used of auncient tyme amonge noble princes. I call auncient tyem before a thousand yeres passed, sense which tyem vertue and noblenesse hath rather decayed than increased. Nor I coulde neuer knowe who founde first that disporte. (83)

But now to retourne to my purpose: undoubtedly haukyng, measurable used, and for passetyme, gyueth to a man good appetite to his souper. And at the leest waye withdraweth hym from other dalliance, or disportis dishonest, and to body and soule perchance pernicious. (84)

I am nat of that opinion that all daunsinge generally is repugnant unto vertue: al though some persones excellently lerned, specially deuines, so do affirme it, which alwaye haue in theyr mouthes (whan they come in to the pulpet) the saying of the noble doctor sainct Augustine, That better it were to delue or to go to ploughe on the sonday than to daunse: which mought be spoken of that kynde of daunsinge whiche was used in the tyme of saincte Augustine, … lasciuiouse, … Idolatry… (85)

A man in his naturall perfection is fiers, hardy, stronge in opinion, couaitous of glorie, desirous of knowledge, appetiting by generation to brynge for the his semblable. The good nature of a woman is to be milde, timerouse, tractable, benigne, or sure remembrance, and shamfast. Diuers other qualities of eche of them mought be founde out, but these be most apparaunt, and for this time sufficient.
Wherefore, whan we beholde a man and woman daunsinge to gether, let us suppose there to be a concorde of all the saide qualities, beinge ioyned to gether, as I have set them in ordre. And the meuing of the man wolde be more vehement, of the woman more delicate, and with lasse aduauncing of the body, signifienge the courage and strenthe that ought to be in a man, and the pleasant sobrenesse that shulde be in a woman. And in this wise fiersenesse ioyned with mildenesse maketh Seueritie; Audacitie with Tractabilitie (which is to be shortly persuaded and meued) maketh Constance a vertue; Couaitise of Glorie, adourned with benignitie causeth honour; desire of knowledge with sure remembrance procureth Sapience; Shamfastnes ioyned to Appetite of generation maketh inordinate luste. (95)


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