Book I | Book
II | Book III Book IV
The Book of the
This English translation of The
Book of the Courtier is
that of Sir Thomas Hoby (1561) as edited by Walter Raleigh for
David Nutt, Publisher, London, 1900, and partakes of the virtues
and faults, as may be, of that edition. It was transcribed by RisaS.
Bear at the University of
Oregon during the summer of 1997. This edition is provided to
the public for nonprofit purposes only; the design is copyright
© 1997 The University of Oregon. Corrections and comments to
the Publisher, rbear[at]uoregon.edu.
This online text is dedicated to my parents, Thomas E. Smith and
Martha M. L. Smith, who sought to instill in me the virtues
taught herein. R. Bear, June, 1997.
C O U R T Y E R O F
COUNT BALDESSAR CA-
stilio divided into
Very necessary and profita-
table for yonge Gentilmen and Gentil-
women abiding in
or Place, done into Englyshe
at London by wyllyam Seres
at the signe of the
CONTENTES OF THE BOOKE
The first booke, entreateth of the
perfect qualities of a Courtier.
The second, of the use of them, and
of merie Jestes and Pranckes.
The thirde, of the condicions and
qualities of a waytinge Gentillwoman.
The fourth, of the end of a Courtier,
and of honest love.
THE PRINTER TO THE READER
at the length (gentle reader)
through the diligence of Maister Hoby in penninge, and mine in
printing, thou hast here set forth unto thee, the booke of the Courtier:
which for thy benefite had bene done longe
since, but that there were certain places in it whiche of late
yeares beeing misliked of some, that had the perusing of it (with
what reason judge thou) the Authour thought it much better to
keepe it in darknes a while, then to put it in light unperfect
and in peecemeale to serve the time. Use it therfore, and so
peruse it, that for thy profite, first he, and then I, maye
thinke our travayle herein wel imployed.
commendation of the worke.
To the Reader.
kinges, that reare up to the skye
Palaice tops, and decke them all with gold:
With rare and
curious woorkes they feed the eye:
And showe what riches here
great Princes hold.
A rarer work and richer far in worth,
Castilios hand presenteth here to the,
No proud ne golden
Court doth he set furth
But what in Court a Courtier ought to
The Prince he raiseth houge and mightie walles,
Castilio frames a wight of noble fame:
The kinge with
gorgeous Tyssue claddes his halles,
The Count with golden
vertue deckes the same,
Whos passing skill lo Hobbies pen
To Brittain folk, a work of worthy praise.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE
THE LORD HENRY
sonne and heire apparant to the noble
Erle of Huntyngton.
the noble Athenien in his banishement
entertayned moste honourablie with the king of Persia, willed
upon a time to tell his cause by a spokesman, compared it to a
piece of tapistrie, that beyng spred abrode, discloseth the
beautie of the wookemanship, but foulded together, hideth it, and
therefore demaunded respite to learne the Persian tunge to tell
his owne cause: Right so (honorable Lorde) this Courtier hath
long straid about this realme, and the fruite of him either
little, or unperfectly received to the commune benefite: for
either men skilful in his tunge have delited in him for their
owne private commoditie, or elles he hath eftsones spoken in
peecemeale by an interpreter to suche as desired to knowe his
mynde, and to practise his principles: the which how unperfect a
thing it is, Themystocles and experience teache. But nowe, though
late in deede, yet for al that at length, beside his three
principal languages, in the which he hath a long tyme haunted all
the Courtes of Christendome, hee is become an Englishman (whiche
many a longe tyme have wyshed, but fewe attempted and none
atchieved) and wel-wiling to dwell in the Court of Englande, and
in plight to tel his own cause. In whose commendation I shall not
neede to use any long processe of woordes, for he can so well
speak for himself, and answere to the opinion men have a long
time conceived of him, that whatsoever I shoulde write therein,
were but labour in waste, and rather a diminishing, then a
setting foorth of his woorthinesse, and a great deale better it
were to passe it over with silence, then to use briefenesse.
Onely for the litle acquaintaunce I have with him, and for the
general profit is in him, my desier is he shold nowe at his
firste arrivall, a newe man in this kinde of trade, be well
entertained and muche honoured. And forsomuche as none, but a
noble yonge Gentleman, and trayned up all his life time in Court,
and of worthie qualities, is meete to receive and entertaine so
worthy a Courtier, that like maye felowship and gete estimation
with his like, I do dedicate him unto your good lordeship, that
through your meanes, and under your patronage he maye be commune
to a greate meany. And this do I not, for that I suppose you
stande in neede of any of his instructions, but partly because
you may see him confirme with reason the Courtly facions, comely
exercises, and noble vertues, that unawares have from time to
time crept in to you, and already with practise and learning
taken custome in you: and partly to get him the more aucthoritie
and credite throughe so honorable a Patrone. For no doubt, if you
beseene willingly to embrace him, other yonge and Courtly
Gentlemen will not shonn hys company: and so both he shall gete
him the reputation now here in Englande which he hath a good
while since beyond the sea, in Italy, Spaine and Fraunce, and I
shal thinke my smal travayle wel imployed and sufficiently
recompensed. The honour and entertainmnet that your noble
Auncestours shewed Castilio the maker, whan he was in this realme
to be installed knight of the Order for the Duke his Maister, was
not so muche as presently both he, and this his handywoorke shall
receive of you. Generally ought this to be in estimation with all
degrees of men: for to Princes and Greate men, it is a rule to
rule themselves that rule others, and one of the bookes that a
noble Philosopher exhorted a certaine kyng to provide him, and
diligently to searche, for in them he shoulde finde written suche
matters, that friendes durst not utter unto kinges: To men growen
in yeres, a pathway to the behoulding and musing of the minde,
and to whatsoever elles is meete for that age: To yonge
Gentlemen, an encouraging to garnishe their minde with morall
vertues, and their bodye with comely exercises, and both the one
and the other with honest qualities to attaine unto their noble
ende: To Ladyes and Gentlewomen, a mirrour to decke and trimme
themselves with vertuous condicions, comely behaviours and honest
enterteinment toward al men: And to them all in general, a
storehouse of most necessary implements for the conversacion,
use, and training up of mans life with Courtly demeaners. Were it
not that the auncientnesse of tyme, the degree of a Consul, and
the eloquence of Latin stile in these our daies beare a greate
stroke, I knowe not whether in the invention and disposition of
the matter, as Castilio hath folowed Cicero, and applyed to his
purpose sundrye examples and pithie sentences out of him, so hee
maye in feate conveyaunce and lyke trade of writing, be compared
to him: but well I wotte for renowme among the Italians, he is
not inferiour to him. Cicero an excellent Oratour, in three
bookes of an Oratour unto his brother, facioneth such a one as
never was, nor yet is like to be: Castilio an excellent Courtier,
in thre bookes of a Courtyer unto his deere friende, facioneth
such a one as is harde to finde and perhappes unpossible. Cicero
bringeth in to dispute of an Oratour, Crassus, Scevola, Antonius,
Cotta, Sultitius, Catulus, and Cesar his brother, the noblest and
chiefest Oratours in those dayes: Castilio to reason of a
Courtier, the Lorde Octavian Fregoso, Syr Fridericke his brother,
the Lorde Julian de Medicis, the L. Cesar Gonzaga, the L.
Francescomaria Della Roveré, Count Lewis of Canossa, the
L. Gaspar Pallavicin, Bembo, Bibiena, and other most excellent
Courtiers, and of the noblest families in these dayes in Italy,
whiche all afterwarde became Princes, Cardinalles, Bishoppes and
greate Lordes, and some yet in lyfe. Both Cicero and Castilio
professe, they folowe not any certayne appointed order of
preceptes or rules, as is used in the instruction of youth, but
call to rehearsall, matters debated in their times too and fro in
the disputacion of most eloquent men and excellent wittes in
every woorthy qualitie, the one company in the olde tyme
assembled in Tusculane, and the other of late yeeres in the newe
Palaice of Urbin. Where many most excellent wittes in this realme
have made no lesse of this boke, then the Great Alexander did of
Homer, I cannot sifficiently wonder that they have not all this
while from tyme to tyme done a commune benefite to profite others
as well as themselves. In this pointe (I knowe not by what
destinye) Englishmen are muche inferiour to well most all other
Nations: for where they set their delite and bend themselves with
an honest strife of matching others, to tourne into their mother
tunge, not onely the wittie writinges of other languages, but
also of all the Philosophers, and all Sciences both Greeke and
Latin, our men weene it sufficient to have a perfecte knowledge,
to no other ende, but to profite themselves, and (as it were)
after muche paynes in breaking up a gap, bestow no lesse to close
it up againe, that others maye with like travaile folowe after.
And where our learned menne for the moste part holde opinion, to
have the sciences in the mother tunge, hurteth memorie and
hindreth lerning, in my opinion, they do full yll consider from
whence the Grecians first, and afterwarde the Latins fet their
knowledge. And without wading to any farther reasons that might
be alleaged, yf they will marke well the trueth, they shall see
at this daye, where the Sciences are most tourned into the vulgar
tunge, there are best learned men, and comparing it wyth the
contrarie, they shall also finde the effectes contrarie. In
Italye (where the most translation of authors is) not onely for
Philosophy, Logike, Humanitie and all liberall Sciences bothe in
Greeke and Latine (leaving a parte Barbarus, Naugerius,
Sannazarus, Bembus, Lazarus and the rest that of very late dayes
floryshed) Genua, Tomitanus, Robertellus, Manutius,
Piccolhomineus, are presently very singular, and renowmed
throughout all Christendome: but also for the same in the vulgar
tunge with litle or no sight at al in the Latin, Aretino, Gelli
(a tayler in Florence) the L. Victoria Columna, the L. Dionora
Sanseverina, the L. Beatrice Loffreda, Veronica Gambera, Virginea
Salvi and infinite other men and women are moste famous
thoroughout Italy, whose divine woorkes and excellent stile bothe
in rime and prose geve a sufficient testimonye, not onely of
their profounde knowledge and noble wit, but also that knowledge
may be obtained in studying onely a mannes owne native tunge. So
that to be skilfull and exercised in authours translated, is no
lesse to be called learning, then in the very same in the Latin
or Greeke tunge. Therefore the translation of Latin or Greeke
authours, doeth not onely not hinder learning, but it furthereth
it, yea it is learning it self, and a great staye to youth, and
the noble ende to the whiche they oughte to applie their wittes,
that with diligence and studye have attained a perfect
understanding, to open a gap for others to folow their steppes,
and a vertuous exercise fo the unlatined to come by learning, and
to fill their minde with the morall vertues, and their body with
civyll condicions, that they maye bothe talke freely in all
company, live uprightly though there were no lawes, and be in a
readinesse against all kinde of worldlye chaunces that happen,
whiche is the profite that commeth of Philosophy. And he said wel
that was asked the question, How much the learned differed from
the unlearned. 'So much' (quoth he) 'as the wel broken and ready
horses, from the unbroken.' wherfore I wote not how our learned
men in this case can avoide the saying of Isocrates, to one that
amonge soundrye learned discourses at Table spake never a woorde:
'Yf thou bee unlearned, thou dooest wiselye: but yf thou bee
learned, unwyselye,' as who should saye, learnyng is yll bestowed
where others bee not profited by it. As I therefore have to my
smal skil bestowed some labour about this piece of woorke, even
so coulde I wishe with al my hart, profounde learned men in the
Greeke and Latin shoulde make the lyke proofe, and everye manne
store the tunge accordinge to hys knowledge and delite above
other men, in some piece of learnynge, that we alone of the
worlde maye not bee styll counted barbarous in our tunge, as in
time out of minde we have bene in our maners. And so shall we
perchaunce in time become as famous in Englande, as the learned
men of other nations have ben and presently are. And though the
hardnesse of this present matter be suche, and myne
unskylfulnesse to undertake this enterprise so greate, that I
myghte with good cause have despaired to bringe to an ende it,
that manye excellente wittes have attempted, yet coulde I not
chouse but yelde to the continual requestes and often perswasions
of many yong gentlemen, which have may chaunce an opinion that to
be in me, that is not in deed, and unto whom in any reasonable
matter I were skilfull in, neyther I coulde nor ought of duetie
to wante in fulfillyng their desire. Notwithsatnding a great
while I forbare and lingered the time to see if anye of a more
perfect understanding in the tunge, and better practised in the
matter of the booke (of whom we want not a number in this realm)
woulde take the matter in hande, to do his countrey so great a
benefite: and this imagination prevailed in me a long space after
my duetie done in translating the thirde booke (that entreteth of
a Gentlewoman of the Courte) perswaded therto, in that I was
enfourmed, it was as then in some forwardness by an other, whise
wit and stile was greatly to be allowed, but sins prevented by
death he could not finish it. But of late beeyng instantly craved
upon a fresh, I whetted my stile and settled my self to take in
hand the other three bookes (that entreat of the perfection of a
Gentilman of the Court) to fulfill their peticion in what I am
able, having time and leyser therto, the which I have done,
though not in effect, yet in apparance and that in a great deale
shorter time, then the hardnesse of the matter required. And
where it shall not perhappes throughly please by reason my smalle
understandyng in the tung, and less practise in the matters herin
conteined, is not of force to give it the brightness and full
perfection in this our tung that it hath in the Italian, it shal
suffice yet that I have showed my self obedient in the respect a
manne ought to have toward his betters[. A]nd no more can they
avoid the blame to charge me withall, then I to undertake it.
Besides that, I have declared my good will and well meaning no
less then if my counning were greater, and could extend much
farther. But paraventure the rudeness of this shall be an
enouragyng of some other to give the onsett upon other matters
with a better ripeness of style and much more aptness, and so
shall this yet somewhat profite both wayes. But the estimation it
must gete by your Honour, is the principall cause that setteth it
out, and maketh it worne with the handes of heedfull readers: for
in case you cheerfullye receive it, men will recken it good: yf
you alow it, worthy to be practised: yf you commend it, woorthie
to pass from hand to hand. Therfore emong the other good opinions
men generally houlde of you, let it not be the least, that they
may houlde also no less of this that you alowe and commende. And
so shall you show undeserved kindness, I bounden dutie, and all
others good will to imbrace and to welcome it out of Italy into
Englande. And thus shall Castilio be esteamed such a one as he is
in deede, and wexe familiar with all men, that of late was knowen
of verie fewe, and so mangled wyth varietye of judgementes, that
he was (in a maner) maymed, and lost a good peece of his
estimation. But in case judgementes now feint, or mine
interpretation seeme not pithie but rude, not proper, but colde,
there is no more imperfection in this Courtier, then in
Cirus himself in the translation of Xenophon into the Italian or
anie other tung, the one as necessarie and proper for a Gentilman
of the Court, as the other for a king. And I shall desire my
labour may be so taken well in worth, as I have endeavoured my
self to folow the very meaning and woordes of the Author, without
being mislead by fansie, or leaving out any percell one or other,
wherof I knowe not how some interpreters of this booke into other
languages can excuse themselves, and the more they be conferred,
the more it will perchaunce appeere. Wherfore receive you this,
as a token of my good will, and so receive it, that the frute,
what ever it be, maye be acknowledged at your handes: and you,
pass the expectation of men in this, as in all other thinges,
which, no doubt, is very great of you: and I, to acknowleage this
benifit, where my habilitie stretcheth to nothyng elles, shall at
the least evermore wishe unto your Lordshipp longe lief, that you
may go forwarde, as you do, in these beginninges, whiche promise
a luckie ende, to the honour of your self, comefort of your
friendes, and forwardness of the commune weale of your countrey.
1556. Your L. most bounden,
LETTER OF SYR J. CHEEKES
loving frind Mayster
your opinion of my gud will unto you as
you wriit, you can not be deceived: for submitting your doinges
to mi judgement, I thanke you: for taking this pain of your
translation, you worthilie deserv great thankes of all sortes. I
have taken sum pain at your request cheflie in your preface, not
in the reading of it for that was pleasaunt unto me boath for the
roundnes of your saienges and welspeakinges of the saam, but in
changing certein wordes which might verie well be let aloan, but
that I am verie curious in mi freendes matters, not to determijn,
but to debaat what is best. Whearin, I seek not the besines
haplie bi truth, but bi mijn own phansie, and shew of goodnes.
I am of this
opinion that our own tung should be written cleane
and pure, unmixt and unmangeled with borowing of other tunges,
wherin if we take not heed by tijm, ever borowing and never
payeng, she shall be fain to keep her house as bankrupt. For then
doth our tung naturallie and praisablie utter her meaning, when
she bouroweth no counterfeitness of other tunges to attire her
self withall, but useth plainlie her own, with such shift, as
nature, craft, experiens and folowing of other excellent doth
lead her unto, and if she want at ani tijm (as being unperfight
she must) yet let her borow with suche bashfulnes, that it mai
appeer, that if either the mould of our own tung could serve us
to fascion a woord of our own, or if the old denisoned wordes
could content and ease this need, we wolde not boldly venture of
unknowen wordes. This I say not for reproof of you, who have
scarslie and necessarily used whear occasion serveth a strange
word so, as it seemeth to grow out of the matter and not to be
sought for: but for mijn own defens, who might be counted
overstraight a deemer of thinges, if I gave not thys accompt to
you, mi freend and wijs, of mi marring this your handiwork. But I
am called awai, I prai you pardon mi shortnes, the rest of mi
sainges should be but praise and exhortacion in this your
doinges, which at moar leisor I shold do better. From my house in
Woodstreete the 16 of July, 1557.
REVEREND AND HONORABLE
MYCHAELL DE SYLVA
the Lorde Guidubaldo of
Montefeltro Duke of Urbin was departed out of this life, certein
other Gentilmen and I that had bine servauntes to him, continued
in servyce wyth
Duke Francescomaria Della Roveré hys heire and successor
in the state: and whyle the savour of the vertues of Duke
Guidubaldo was fresh in my mynde, and the great delite I took in
those yeeres in the loving companie of so excellent Personages as
then were in the Court of Urbin: I was provoked by the memorie
therof to write these bookes of the Courtier. The which I
accomplished in a fewe dayes, myndinge in time to amende those
faultes that spronge of the desire that I had speedilie to paye
this debt. But fortune now manie yeeres hath alwayes kept me
under in suche continuall travayles, that I coulde never gete
leyser to bringe it to the passe that my feeble judgement might
be throughlie satisfied withall. At such time therfore as I was
in Spayne, being advertised out of Italy how the
Lady Vittoria Colonna Marquesse of Pescara, unto whom in
foretime I had graunted a Copie of this booke, contrarie to her
promise, had made a great part of it to be copied out: it greeved
me somwhat whether I would or no, standinge in doubt of the
sundrie inconveniences that in the like cases may happen. Yet had
I a hope that the witt and wisdome of that Lady (whose troth I
have alwaies had in reverence, as a matter from above) was
sufficient to provide, not to be harmfull unto me my beeinge
obedient to her commaundement. At last I hard an ynklinge that
part of the booke was rief in Naples in many mens handes: and as
men are alwayes desirous of noveltie, it was thought that they
attempted to imprint it. Wherfore I, amased at this mischaunce,
determined wyth my self to overlooke by and by that litle in the
booke that time served me therto, with entent to set it abrode,
thinking it lesse hurtful to have it somwhat corrected with mine
owne hande, then much mangled with an other mannes.
Therfore to have this my pourpose take effect, I tooke in hande
to reade it over afresh, and sodeinlie at the first blush by
reason of the title, I tooke no litle grief, which in proceadinge
forward encreased much more, remembringe that the greater part of
them that are brought in to reason, are now dead. For beside
those that are mentioned in the Proheme of the last booke, M.
Alphonsus Ariosto him self is dead, unto whom the booke was
dedicated, a noble yonge Gentilman, discreete, full of good
condicions, and apt unto every thing
meete for one livinge in court. Like wise Duke Julian de Medicis,
whose goodnesse and noble Courtesy deserved to have bene a longer
time enjoyed of the the world. Also M. Bernard, Cardinall of S.
Maria in Portico, who for his livelie and pleasant promptness of
witt, was most acceptable unto as manie as knew him, and dead he
The Lord Octavian Fregoso is also dead, a man in oure tymes verie
rare, of a most noble courage, of a pure lief, full of goodnesse,
witt, wisdome and Courtesie, and a verie frende unto honour and
vertue, and so worthy prayse, that his verie ennemies could say
none other of hym, then what sounded to his renoume: and the
mishappes he hath borne out with great steadinesse, were
sufficient inoughe to geve evidence, that fortune, as she hath
alwayes bene, so is she in these dayes also an enemie to vertue.
There are dead in like maner manie other that are named in this
boke, unto whom a man wold have thought that nature had promised
a verie longe lief. But the thinge that should not be rehersed
wythout teares is, that the Dutchesse she is also dead. And if my
minde be troubled with the losse of so manye frindes and good
Lordes of myne, that have left me in this lief, as it were in a
wildernes full of sorow, reason would it should with much more
grief beare the heavinesse of the
Dutchesse death, then of al the rest, bicause she was more woorth
then all the rest, and I was much more bounde unto her then unto
all the rest. Therfore for leesinge time to bestowe that of dutye
I ought upon the memorye of so excellent a Ladye, and of the rest
that are no more in lief, provoked also by the jeopardye of the
booke, I have made him to be imprinted, and set forth in such
sort, as the shortnes of time hath served me. And bicause you had
no acqeintance, neither with the Dutches, nor with any of the
rest that are dead, saving only with Duke Julian, and with the
Cardinal of S. Maria in Portico, while they lived, therfore to
the entent, in what I can do, you may have acqueintance with them
after their death, I send unto you this booke, as a purtraict in
peinctinge of the Court of Urbin: not of the handiwoorke of
Raphael, or Michael Angelo, but of an unknowen peincter, and that
can do no more but draw the principall lines, without
settingfurth the truth with bewtifull colours, or makinge it
appeere by the art of Prospective that it is not. And wher I have
enforced my self to setfurth together with the communication the
propreties and condicions of such as are named in it, I confess I
have not only not fully expressed, but not somuch as touched the
vertues of the Dutchesse. Bicause not onelye my stile is
unsufficient to express them, but also mine understanding to
conceive them. And if in this behalf, or in anie other matter
woorthy reprehention (as I know well there want not manie in the
booke) fault be found in me, I will not speake against the truth.
But bicause men sometime take such delite in finding fault, that
they find fault also in that deserveth not reproof, unto some
that blame me bicause I have not folowed
Boccaccio, nor bound my self to the maner of the Tuscane speach
used nowadayes, I will not let to say, for all Boccaccio was of a
fine witt, according to those times, and in some part writt with
great advisement and diligence: yet did he write much better whan
he lett him self be guided with witt and his owne naturall
inclination, without anie other maner studie or regarde to polish
his writinges, then whan with al travaile and bent studye he
enforced him self to be most fine and eloquent. For his verie
favourers affirme that in his own matters he was far deceived in
judgement, little regarding such thinges as have gotten him a
name, and greatlye esteaminge that is nothing woorth. Had I then
folowed that trade of writing which is blamed in him by such as
praise him in the rest, I could not have eschewed the verye same
reprooffes that are laied to Boccaccio himself as touching this.
And I had deserved somuch the more, for that his errour was then,
in beleavyng he did well, and mine should be nowe, in knowinge I
do amisse. Again if I had folowed that trade which is reckened of
many to be good, and was litle regarded of him, I should appeere
in folowing it to disagree from the judgement of him whom I
folowed: the which thing (in mine opinion) were an inconvenience.
And beeside yf this respect had not moved me, I could not folowe
him in the matter, forsomuch as he never wrott any thing in
treatise like unto these bookes of the Courtier: and in
the tunge, I ought not in mine advise, bicause the force or rule
of speach doeth consist more in use, then in anye thing els: and
it is alwayes a vice to use woordes that are not in commune
speach. Therfore it was not meete I should have used many that
are in Boccaccio, which in his time were used, and now are out of
use emonge the Tuscanes them selves. Neyther would I binde my
self to the maner of the Tuscane tunge in use now a dayes,
bicause the practising emonge sundrye Nations, hath alwayes bene
of force to transport from one to an other (in a maner) as
merchaundise, so also
new woordes, which afterward remaine or decaye, according as they
are admitted by custome or refused. And this beside the record of
auntient writers, is to be evidently seene in Boccaccio, in whom
there are so manie woordes French, Spanish, and provincial, and
some perhappes not well understood of the Tuscanes in these
dayes, that whoso woulde pick them out, should make the booke
much the lesser. And bicause (in mine opinion) the kinde of
speach of the other noble Cities of Italy, where there resorte
men of wisdome, understandinge and eloquence, which practise
great matters of government of states, of letters, armes, and
diverse affayres, ought not altogether to be neglected for the
woordes whiche in these places are used in commune speach: I
suppose that they maye be used welinough, writing such as have a
grace and comlynesse in the pronuntiation, and communly counted
good and of propre signification, though they be not Tuscane, and
have also their origion out of Italy. Beeside this in Tuscane
they use many woordes cleane corrupte from the
|Cardinal of S. Maria in Portico.
Latin, the which in Lumbardye and in the other partes of Italy
remaine wholl and without any chaunge at al, and they are so
universallye used of everye man, that of the best sorte they are
allowed for good, and of the commune people understood with out
difficulty. Therfore I thinke I have committed no errour at all,
yf in writing I have used any of these, and rather taken the
wholl and pure woord of mine owne Countrey, then the corrupt and
mangled of an other. Neyther doeth that rule seeme good unto me,
where many say the vulgar tung, the lesse it is like unto the
Latin, the more beawtifull it is: and I can not perceive why more
authoritie should consist in one custome of speach, then in an
other. For if Tuscane be sufficient to authorise corrupt and
mangled Latin woordes, and to geve them so greate a grace, that
mangled in such sort everye man may use them for good (the which
no man denieth) should not Lumbardy or any other countrey have
the authoritye to allow the very Latin woordes that be pure,
sounde, propre and not broken in any part so, but they may be
well borne: and assuredly as it may be called a rash presumption
to take in hand to forge new wordes, or to set up the olde in
spite of custome: so it is no lesse, to take in hande against the
force of the same custome to bring to naught, and (as it were) to
burye alive such as have lasted nowe many yeeres, and have ben
defended from the malice of the time with the shield of use, and
have preserved their estimation and dignitye, whan in the warres
and turmoiles of Italy, alterations were brought up both of the
tunge, buildings, garmentes, and maners. And beeside the
hardnesse of the matter, it seemeth to be (as it were) a certein
wickednesse. Therefore where I have not thought good in my
writing to use the wordes of Boccaccio which are used no more in
Tuscane, nor to binde my self to their law that think it not
lawful to use them that the Tuscanes use not nowadayes, me thynke
I ought to be held excused. But I suppose both in the matter of
the booke and in the tunge, forsomuch as one tung may help an
other, I have folowed Authores asmuch woorthie praise, as
Boccaccio. And I beleave it ought not to be imputed unto me for
an errour, that I have chosen to make my self rather knowen for a
Lumbard, in speaking of Lumbard, then for no Tuscan, in speaking
of tomuch Tuscan. Bicause I wil not do as Theophrastus did,
which for speaking tomuch the meere Athenian tunge, was of a
simple olde woman knowen not to be of Athens. But bycause in thys
point there is sufficyent talke in the first booke, I will make
no more a do. And to avoid al contention I confesse to my
faultfinders, that I have no knowleage in this their Tuscan tunge
so hard and secrete: and I say that I have written it in mine
owne, and as I speak, and unto such as speake as I speake: and so
I trust I have offended no man. For I beleave it is forbed no man
that is, to wryte and speake in his owne tunge, neyther is anye
man bound to reade or heare that contentheth hym not. Therfore if
they will not reade my Courtier, they shall offende me
nothing at all. Other say, bicause it is so hard a matter and (in
a maner) unpossible to finde out a man of such perfection, as I
would have the Courtier to be, it is but superfluous to write it:
for it is a vaine thing to teach that can not be learned. To
these men I answere, I am content, to err with Plato, Xenophon,
and M. Tullius, leaving apart the disputing of the intelligible
world and of the Ideas or imagined formes: in which number, as
(according to that opinion) the Idea or figure conceyved in
imagination of a perfect commune weale, and of a perfect king,
and of a perfect Oratour are conteined: so is it also of a
perfect Courtier. To the image whereof if my power could not draw
nigh in stile, so much the lesse peynes shall Courtiers have to
drawe nigh in effect to the ende and marke that I in writing have
set beefore them. And if with all this they can not compasse that
perfection, such as it is, which I have endevoured to expresse,
he that cummeth nighest shall be the most perfect: as emong many
Archers that shute at one marke, where none of them hitteth the
pinn, he that is nighest is out of doubt better then the rest.
Some again say that my meaning was to facion my self, perswading
my self that all suche qualities as I appoint to the Courtier are
in me. Unto these men I will not cleane deny that I have
attempted all that my minde is the Courtier shoulde have
knowleage in. And I thinke who so hath not the knowleage of the
thinges intreated upon in this booke, how learned so ever he be,
he can full il write them. But I am not of so sclender a judgment
in knowing my self, that I wil take upon me to know what soever I
can wish. The defence therfore of these accusations and
peradventure of many mo, I leave for this once, to the judgement
of the commune opinion: bicause for the most part the multytude,
though they have no perfect knowleage, yet do they feele by the
instinct of nature a certein savour of good and ill, and can geve
none other reason for it: one tasteth and taketh delite, an other
refuseth and is against his stomake.
| Derived wordes from the Latin.
Therefore if the
booke shall generally please, I wil count him
good, and think that he ought to live: but if he shall displease,
I will count him naught, and beleave that the memorye of him
shall soone perish. And if for all this mine accusers will not be
satisfied with this commune judgemente, let them content them
selves with the judgement of time, which at length discovereth
the privie faultes of every thing: and bicause it is father to
truth and a judge without passion, it accustometh evermore to
pronounce true sentence of the life or death of writynges.
LETTER that the Author writt to the
Marquess of Pescara,
mentioneth in the Epistle
before his booke.
honorable and my verie good Lady, I am
much behouldinge to M. Thomas Tuke, bicause he was the occasion
that your Ladishipp hath vouchsafed to write unto me: which is
most acceptable to me, and not without cause, consideringe I have
written so manye letters and coulde never receive anye answere
from you again, albeit they conteined sundrye matters. Truth it
is indeede, that unmeete it were your L. shoulde write unto me,
onlesse therewithall you used my service and commaunded me in
what I am able to do for you. As touchinge M. Tuke, I will do as
much for him, as shall lie in me to doe, both for your L. sake
that may commaunde me, and for the brotherlye love that I beare
him. Where M. Gutteriz hath written unto you, that I complayned
of you, I wonder nothinge at it, for (to saye the troth) I uttred
my greef a good while sins in a letter that I wrott unto you your
self, as I passed the mountaignes of Fraunce to come into Spaine.
And he that toulde me the matter that caused it, was my L.
Marquesse of Vasto, who showed me a letter of yours, in the which
you your self confessed the stelth of the Courtyer. The whych
thynge I as then tooke in great good parte, doubtynge nothynge
but that it should e remayne in youre handes, and be well kept
untyll I my self shoulde come to demaunde it of you. At the last
I was enfourmed by a gentilman Neapolitan, who continueth still
here in Spaine, that there were certein Fragmentes of the poore
Courtier in Naples, and he sawe them in the handes of sundrye
men, and he that scattered it thus abrode reported that he had it
of you. It was some greef to me, as a father that seeth hys
childe so yll handled: yet afterward yeelding to reason, I knewe
he deserved not to have any more store made of him, but (like an
untymelye birth) to be left in the hygh waye for the benifit of
nature. And so undoubtedly was I determined to do, consideringe
yf there were any thinge in the Booke not yll, men woulde have
the woorse opinion of it, whan they shoulde see it so out of
order. And no diligence shoulde prevaile any more to poolish it
and to sett it furth, sins it had lost thethyng, which perhappes
at the first was onelye it, that made it esteamed: that is to
weete, the noveltye of the matter. And knowinge your saiynge to
be true, that the cause of my complaint was very triflynge, I
resolved wyth my selfe, to leave at the least my complaininge,
though I coulde not my sorrowynge. And that whyche I brake wyth
M. Gutteriz (in case it be well wayed) was no complaint. In
conclusion others, more bent of a zeale then I was, have enforced
me to write hym over again, as the shortnesse of tyme hath served
me, and to sende hym to Venice to be put in print, and so have I
done. But if your L. shoulde suspect that the good will whiche I
beare you were any deale feinted for this, your judgement shoulde
deceyve you, whiche (I beleave) it did never in all youre lief
beefore: but rather I recken my selfe more bounde to you, bicause
the necessity that drove me to make hast so spedilie to imprint
it, hath saved me a great peece of labour, where I once mynded to
have added manye other matters, which coulde be but of small
moment as the rest are. And thus shall the reader have the lesse
labour and the Author lesse blame. Therefore it is nowe past time
eyther for you or me to repent or correct. And thus I take my
leave of you.
the xxi. of Septembre,
IN A COURTIER
- TO be well borne and of a good stocke.
- To be of a meane stature, rather with the least then to high,
and well made to his proportion.
- To be portly and amiable in countenance unto whoso
- Not to be womanish in his sayinges or doinges.
- Not to praise himself unshamefully and out of reason.
- Not to crake and boast of his actes and good qualities.
- To shon Affectation or curiosity above al thing in al things.
- To do his feates with a slight, as though they were rather
naturally in him, then learned with studye: and use a
Reckelesness to cover art, without minding greatly what he hath
in hand, to a mans seeminge.
- Not to carie about tales and triflinge newis.
- Not to be overseene in speaking wordes otherwhile that may
offende where he ment it not.
- Not to be stubborne, wilful nor full of contention: nor to
contrary and overthwart men after a spiteful sort.
- Not to be a babbler, brauler, or chatter, nor lavish of his
- Not to be given to vanitie and lightnesse, not to have a
- No lyer.
- No fonde flatterer.
- To be well spoken and faire languaged.
- To be wise and well seene in discourses upon states.
- To have a judgement to frame himself to the maners of the
Countrey where ever he commeth.
- To be able to alleage good, and probable reasons upon everie
- To be seen in tunges, and specially in Italian, French, and
- To direct all thinges to a goode ende.
- To procure where ever he goeth that men may first conceive a
good opinion of him before he commeth there.
- To felowship him self for the most part with men of the best
sort and of most estimation, and with his equalles, so he be also
beloved of his inferiours.
- To play for his pastime at Dice and Cardes, not wholye for
monies sake, nor fume and chafe in his losse.
- To be meanly seene in the play at Chestes, and not
- To be pleasantlie disposed in commune matters and in good
- To speake and write the language that is most in use emonge
the commune people, without inventing new woordes, inckhorn
tearmes or straunge phrases, and such as be growen out of use by
- To be handesome and clenly in his apparaile.
- To make his garmentes after the facion of the most, and those
to be black, or of some darkish and sad colour, not garish.
- To gete him an especiall and hartye friend to companye
- Not to be ill tunged, especiallie against his betters.
- Not to use any fonde saucinesse or presumption.
- To be no envious or malitious person.
- To be an honest, a faire condicioned man, and of an upright
- To have the vertues of the minde, as justice, manlinesse,
wisdome, temperance, staidenesse, noble courage, sober-moode,
- To be more then indifferentlye well seene in learninge, in
the Latin and Greeke tunges.
- Not to be rash, nor perswade hymselfe to knowe the thing that
he knoweth not.
- To confesse his ignorance, whan he seeth time and place
therto, in suche qualities as he knoweth him selfe to have no
maner skill in.
- To be brought to show his feates and qualities at the desire
and request of others, and not rashlye presse to it of himself.
- To speake alwaies of matters likely, least he be counted a
lyer in reporting of wonders and straunge miracles.
- To have the feate of drawing and peincting.
- To daunce well without over nimble footinges or to busie
- To singe well upon the booke.
- To play upon the Lute, and singe to it with the ditty.
- To play upon the Vyole, and all other instrumentes with
- To delite and refresh the hearers mindes in being pleasant,
feat conceited, and a meerie talker, applyed to time and place.
- Not to use sluttish and Ruffianlike pranckes with anye man.
- Not to beecome a jester of scoffer to put anye man out of
- To consider whom he doth taunt and where: for he ought not
to mocke poore seelie soules, nor men of authoritie, nor commune
ribaldes and persons given to mischeef, which deserve
- To be skilfull in all kynd of marciall feates both on
horsbacke and a foote, and well practised in them: whiche is his
cheef profession, though his understandinge be the lesse in all
- To play well at fense upon all kinde of weapons.
- To be nimble and quicke at the play at tenise.
- To hunt and hauke.
- To ride and manege wel his horse.
- To be a good horsman for every saddle.
| Sildome in
open syght of the people but privilye with himselfe alone, or
emonge hys friendes and familiers.
- To swimme well.
- To leape wel.
- To renn well.
- To wrastle well.
- To cast the stone well.
- To cast the barr well.
- To renn well at tilt, and at ring.
- To tourney.
thinges in open syght to delyte the commune people
- To fight at Barriers.
- To kepe a passage or streict.
- To play at Jogo di Canne.
- To renn at Bull.
fling a Speare or Dart.
- Not to renn, wrastle, leape, nor cast the stone or barr with
men of the Countrey, except he be sure to gete the victorie.
- To sett out himself in feates of chivalrie in open showes
well provided of horse and harness, well trapped, and armed, so
that he may showe himselfe nymeble on horsbacke.
- Never to be of the last that appeere in the listes at justes,
or in any open showes.
- To have in triumphes comelie armour, bases, scarfes,
trappinges, liveries, and such other thinges of sightlie and
meerie coulours, and rich to beehoulde, wyth wittie poesies and
pleasant divises, to allure unto him chefflie the eyes of the
- To disguise himself in maskerie eyther on horsbacke or a
foote, and to take the shape upon hym that shall be contrarie to
the feate that he mindeth to worke.
- To undertake his bould feates and couragious enterprises in
warr, out of companye and in the sight of the most noble
personages in the campe, and (if it be possible) beefore his
- Not to hasarde himself in forraginge and spoiling or in
enterprises of great daunger and small estimation, though he be
sure to gaine by it.
- Not to waite upon or serve a wycked and naughtye person.
- Not to seeke to come up by any naughtie or subtill practise.
- Not to commit any mischevous or wicked fact at the wil and
commaundesment of his Lord or Prince.
- Not to folowe his own fansie, or alter the expresse wordes in
any point of his commission from hys Prince or Lorde, onlesse he
be assured that the profit will be more, in case it have good
successe, then the damage, if it succeade yll.
- To use evermore toward his Prince or L. the respect that
beecommeth the servaunt toward his maister.
- To endevour himself to love, please and obey his Prince in
- Not to covett to presse into the Chambre or other secrete
part where his Prince is withdrawen at any time.
- Never to be sad, melancho[l]ie or solemn beefore hys Prince.
- Sildome or never to sue to hys Lorde for anye thing for
- His suite to be honest and reasonable whan he suyth for
- To reason of pleasaunt and meerie matters whan he is
withdrawen with him into private and secrete places alwayes
doinge him to understande the truth without dissimulation or
- Not to love promotions so, that a man shoulde thinke he
coulde not live without them, nor unshamefastlye to begg any
- Not to presse to his Prince where ever he be, to hould him
with a vaine tale, that others should thinke him in favor with
- To consyder well what it is that he doeth or speaketh, where
in presence of whom, what time, why, his age, his profession, the
ende, and the meanes.
- The final end of a Courtier, where to al his good condicions
and honest qualities tende, is to beecome an Instructer and
Teacher of his Prince or Lorde, inclininge him to vertuous
practises: and to be francke and free with him, after he is once
in favour in matters touching his honour and estimation, alwayes
putting him in minde to folow vertue and to flee vice, opening
unto him the commodities of the one and inconveniences of the
other: and to shut his eares against flatterers, whiche are the
first beeginninge of self leekinge and all ignorance.
- His conversation with women to be alwayes gentle, sober,
meeke, lowlie, modest, serviceable, comelie, merie, not bitinge
or sclaundering with jestes, nippes, frumpes, or railinges, the
honesty of any.
- His love towarde women, not to be sensuall or fleshlie, but
honest and godly, and more ruled with reason, then appetyte: and
to love better the beawtye of the minde, then of the bodie.
- Not to withdrawe his maistresse good will from his felowlover
with revilinge or railinge at him, but with vertuous deedes, and
honest condicions, and with deserving more then he, at her handes
for honest affections sake.
OF THE CHIEF
CONDITIONS AND QUALITYES
IN A WAYTYNG
- TO be well born and of a good
- To flee affectation or curiositie.
- To have a good grace in all her doinges.
- To be of good condicions and wel brought up.
- To be wittie and foreseing, not heady and of a renning witt.
- Not to be haughtie, envious, yltunged, lyght, contentious nor
- To win and keepe her in her Ladies favour and all others.
- To do the exercises meete for women, comlye and with a good
- To take hede that give none accasion to bee yll reported of.
- To commit no vice, nor yet to be had in suspition of any
- To have the vertues of the minde, as wisdome, justice,
noblenesse of courage, temperance, strength of the mide,
continency, sobermoode, etc.
- to be good and discreete.
- To have the understandinge beinge maried, how to ordre her
husbandes substance, her house and children, and to play the good
- To have a sweetenesse in language and a good uttrance to
entertein all kinde of men with communication woorth the hearing,
honest, applyed to time and place and to the degree and
dispostion of the person which is her principall profession.
- To accompany sober and quiet maners and honesty with a
livelie quicknesse of wit.
- To be esteamed no lesse chast, wise and courteious, then
pleasant, feat conceited and sober.
- Not to make wise to abhorr companie and talke, though
somewhat of the wantonnest, to arrise and forsake them for it.
- To geve the hearing of such kinde of talke with blushing and
- Not to speake woordes of dishonestye and baudrye to showe her
self pleasant, free and a good felowe.
- Not to use over much familyaritie without measure and bridle.
- Not willinglie to give eare to suche as report ill of other
- To be heedfull in her talke that she offend not where she
ment it not.
- To beeware of praysinge her self undiscreatlye, and of beeing
to tedious and noysome in her talke.
- Not to mingle with grave and sad matters, meerie jestes and
laughinge matters: nor with mirth, matters of gravitie.
- To be circumspect that she offend no man in her jesting and
tauntynge, to appeere therby of a readye witt.
- Not to make wise to knowe the thing that she knoweth not, but
with sobernesse gete her estimation with that she knoweth.
- Not to come on loft nor use to swift measures in her
- Not to use in singinge or playinge upon instrumentes to muche
devision and busy pointes, that declare more cunning then
- To come to daunce, or to showe her musicke with suffringe her
self to be first prayed somewhat and drawen to it.
- To apparaile her self so, that she seeme not fonde and
- To sett out her beawtye and disposition of person with meete
garmentes that shall best beecome her, but as feininglye as she
can, makyng semblant to bestowe no labour about it, nor yet to
- To have an understandinge in all thinges belonginge to the
Courtier, that she maye gyve her judgemente to commend and to
make of gentilmen according to their worthinesse and desertes.
- To be learned.
- To be seene in the most necessarie languages.
- To drawe and peinct.
- To daunse.
- To devise sportes and pastimes.
- Not to be lyghte of creditt that she is beloved, thoughe a
man commune familierlye with her of love.
- To shape him that is oversaucie wyth her, or that hath small
respecte in hys talke, suche an answere, that he maye well
understande she is offended wyth hym.
- To take the lovynge communication of a sober Gentylman in an
other signifycatyon, seeking to straye from that pourpose.
- To acknoweleage the prayses whyche he giveth her at the
Gentylmans courtesye, in case she can not dissemble the
understandinge of them: debasynge her owne desertes.
- To be heedefull and remembre that men may with lesse jeopardy
show to be in love, then women.
- To geve her lover nothing but her minde, when eyther the
hatred of her husband, or the love that he beareth to others
inclineth her to love.
- To love one that she may marye withall, beeinge a mayden and
mindinge to love.
- To showe suche a one all signes and tokens of love savynge
suche as maye put hym in anye dyshonest hope.
- To use a somewhat more famylyar conversation wyth men well
growen in yeeres, then with yonge men.
- To make her self beloved for her desertes, amiablenesse, and
good grace, not with anie uncomelie or dishonest behaviour, or
flickeringe enticement with wanton lookes, but with vertue and
- The final ende whereto the Coutier applieth all his good
condicions, properties, feates and qualities, serveth also for a
waiting Gentilwoman to grow in favour with her Lady, and by that
meanes so to instruct her and traine her to vertue, that she may
both refraine from vice and from committing anye dishonest
matter, and also abhorr flatterers, and give her self to
understand the full troth in every thyng, without entring into
self leeking and ignorance, either of other outward thinges, or
yet of her owne self.
Go on to the first Booke.