The compleat gentleman fashioning him absolute in the most necessary & commendable qualities concerning minde or bodie that may be required in a noble gentleman. By Henry Peacham, Mr. of Arts sometime of Trinity Coll: in Cambridge.
Peacham, Henry, 1576?-1643?, Delaram, Francis, 1589 or 90-1627, engraver.
Page  18

CHAP. 2.

Of the dignitie and necessity of Learning in Princes and Nobilitie.

SInce Learning then is an essentiall part of Nobilitie, as vnto which we are beholden, for whatsoeuer de∣pendeth on the culture of the mind; it followeth, that who is nobly borne, and a Scholler withall, deserueth double Honour,* being both 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉: for hereby as an Ensigne of the fairest colours, hee is a farre discer∣ned, and winneth to himselfe both loue and admiration, heigthing with skill his Image to the life, making it pre∣tious, and lasting to posteritie.

It was the reply of that learned King of Arragon to a Courtier of his, who affirmed, that Learning was not requisite in Princes and Nobilitie, Questa è voce d'un but, non d'un Huom. For if a Prince be the Image of God, gouerning and adorning all things, and the end of all go∣uernment the obseruation of Lawes, that thereby might appeare the goodnesse of God in protecting the good, and punishing the bad, that the people might bee fashio∣ned in their liues and manners, and come neere in the light of knowledge vnto him, who must protect and de∣fend them, by establishing Religion, ordaining Lawes; by so much (as the Sunne from his Orbe of Empire) ought he to out-runne the rest in a vertuous race, and out-shine them in knowledge, by how much he is moun∣ted neerer to heauen, and so in view of all, that his least eclipse is taken to a minute.

What (tell me) can be more glorious or worthy the Scepter,* then to know God aright; the Mysteries of our saluation in Iesus Christ, to conuerse with God in soule,* and oftner then the meere naturall man, to aduance him in his Creatures; to bee able with Salomon to dispute, Page  19 from the loftiest Cedar on Libanus, to the lowest Hysop vpon the wall; to bee the Coduit Pipe and instrument, whereby (as in a goodly Garden) the sweete streames of heauens, blessings are conueied in pietie, peace and plentie, to the nourishing of thousands, and the flouri∣shing of the most ingenious Arts and Sciences.

Wherefore, saith the Kingly Prophet,*Erudimini Re∣ges, &c. as if he should say; How can you Kings & Iud∣ges of the earth vnderstand the grounds of your Reli∣gion, the foundation and beginnings of your Lawes, the ends of your duties and callings; much lesse determine of such controuersies, as daily arise within your Realmes and circuits, define in matters of Faith publique Iustice, your priuate and Oeconomicke affaires, if from your cradles yee haue beene nursed (as Solomons foole) with ignorance, brutish Ignorance,* mother of all miserie, that infecteth your best actions with folly, ranketh you next to the beast, maketh your talke and discourse loathsome and heauy to the hearer, as a burthen vpon the way,* your selues to be abused by your vassals, as blinde men by their Boyes, and to bee led vp and downe at the will and plea∣sure of them, whose eyes and eares you borrow.

Hence the royall Salomon, aboue all riches of God, de∣sired wisedome and vnderstanding, that hee might go∣uerne, and go before so mighty a people. And the anci∣ent Romanes,* when their voyces were demaunded at the Election of their Emperor, cryed with one consent, Quis melior quam literatus? Hence the Persians would elect none for their King, except he were a great Philosopher: and great Alexander acknowledged his, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 from his Master Aristotle.

Rome saw her best daies vnder her most learned Kings and Emperours;* as Num, Augustus, Titus, Antoninus, Constantino, Theodosius, and some others. Plutarch gi∣ueth the reason, Learning (saith hee) reformeth the life and ma••ers, and affoordeth the wholesomest aduice for Page  20 the gouernment of a Common-wealth. I am not igno∣rant, but that (as all goodnesse else) shee hath met with her mortall enemies, the Champions of Ignorance,* as Licinius gaue for his Mot or Poesie: Postes Reipublica li∣terae; and Lewis the eleuenth, King of France, would euer charge his sonne to learne no more Latine then this, Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare: but these are the fancies of a few, and those of ignorant and corrupted iudge∣ments.

Since learning then ioyned with the feare of God, is so faithfull a guide, that without it Princes vndergoe but lamely (as Chrysostome saith) their greatest affaires; they are blinde in discretion, ignorant in knowledge, rude and barbarous in manners and liuing: the necessitie of it in Princes and Nobilitie, may easily be gathered, who how∣soeuer they slatter themselues, with the fauourable Sun∣shine of their great Estates and Fortunes, are indeede of no other account and reckoning with men of wisedome and vnderstanding, then Glowormes that onely shine in the darke of Ignorance, and are admired of Ideots and the vulgar for the out-side;*Statues or huge Colossos full of Lead and rubbish within, or the Aegyptian Asse, that thought himselfe worshipfull for bearing golden Isis vpon his backe.

Sigismund King of the Romanes,* and sonne to Charles the fourth Emperour, greatly complained at the Coun∣cell of Constance, of his Princes and Nobilitie, whereof there was no one that could answer an Embassadour, who made a speech in Latine; whereat Lodouicke, the Elector Palatine tooke such a deepe disdaine in himselfe, that with teares ashamed, he much lamented his want of lear∣ning; and presently hereupon returning home, beganne (albeit hee was very old) to learne his Latine tongue. Eberhard also, the first Duke of Wirtenberge, at an assem∣bly of many Princes in Italy (who discoursed excellently in Latine, while he stood still and could say nothing) in a Page  21 rage strook his Tutor or Gouernor there present, for not applying him to his Booke when he was young. I gladly alledge these examples, as by a publike Councell to con∣demne Opinion of Heresie, beleeuing to teach, and tea∣ching to beleeue, the vnnecessitie of Learning in Nobi∣litie; an error as preiudiciall to our Land, as sometime was that rotten Chest to Aethiopia, whose corrupted ayre vented after many hundreds of yeares, brought a plague not onely vpon that Country, but ouer the whole world.

I ceasse to vrge further, the necessitie and dignitie of Learning,* hauing (as Octauis said to Decius, a Cap∣taine of Anthonies,) to the vnderstanding spoken suffici∣ent; but to the ignorant too much, had I said lesse.