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ROGER ASCHAM (1515-1568)

Ascham was prepared for his career by gentle birth and by a thorough humanistic education at St. John's College, Cambridge. His studying of Greek resulted in his being one of the most enthusiastic advocates of the new classical learning. In 1531, he became a fellow of St. John's College, and subsequently held the appointments of reader in Greek and of public orator. Ascham's Toxophilus (1545), full of patriotism, learning, and human feeling, won for him the favor of Henry VIII, who granted him a pension, later renewed by Edward VI. In 1548, he became tutor of the Princess Elizabeth, and, soon after, secretary to an embassy to the court of Charles V. He became secretary to Queen Mary, and later received preferment from Queen Elizabeth. Ascham's vigorous humanism is emphatically expressed in his Schoolmaster, written late in life, and published posthumously in 1570.



But I am afraid that over-many of our travelers into Italy do not eschew the way to Circe's Court, but go and ride, and run, and fly thither; they make great haste to come to her; they make great suit to serve her; yea, I could point out some with my finger that never had gone out 10 of England but only to serve Circe in Italy. Vanity and vice and any licence to ill living in England was counted stale and rude unto them. And so, being mules and horses before they went, returned 15 very swine and asses home again; yet everywhere very foxes with subtle and busy heads; and where they may, very wolves with cruel malicious hearts. A marvelous monster, which, for filthiness 20 of living, for dulness to learning himself, for wiliness in dealing with others, for malice in hurting without cause, should carry at once, in one body, the belly of a swine, the head of an ass, the brain of a 25 fox, the womb of a wolf. If you think we judge amiss and write too sore against you, hear what the Italian saith of the Englishman, what the master reporteth of the scholar; who uttereth plainly what 30 is taught by him, and what is learned by you, saying, 'Inglese Italianato è un diabolo incarnato,' that is to say, you remain men in shape and fashion, but become devils in life and condition. This is not 35 the opinion of one for some private spite, but the judgment of all in a common proverb, which riseth of that learning and

those manners which you gather in Italy: a good schoolhouse of wholesome doctrine, and worthy masters of commendable scholars, where the master had rather defame himself for his teaching, than not shame his scholar for his learning. A good nature of the master, and fair conditions of the scholars. And now choose you, you Italian Englishmen, whether you will be angry with us for calling you monsters, or with the Italians for calling you devils, or else with your own selves that take so much pains and go so far to make yourselves both. If some yet do not well understand what is an Englishman Italianated, I will plainly tell him. He that by living and traveling in Italy bringeth home into England out of Italy the religion, the learning, the policy, the experience, the manners of Italy. That is to say, for religion, papistry or worse; for learning, less, commonly, than they carried out with them; for policy, a factious heart, a discoursing head, a mind to meddle in all men's matters; for experience, plenty of new mischiefs never known in England before; for manners, variety of vanities and change of filthy living. These be the enchantments of Circe, brought out of Italy to mar men's manners in England; much by example of ill life, but more by precepts of fond books of late translated out of Italian into English, sold in every shop in London, commended by honest titles, the sooner to corrupt honest manners; dedicated overboldly to virtuous and honorable personages, the easier to beguile simple and in


nocent wits. It is pity that those which
have authority and charge to allow and
disallow books to be printed, be no more
circumspect herein than they are. Ten
sermons at Paul's Cross do not so much
good for moving men to true doctrine, as
one of those books do harm with enticing
men to ill living. Yea, I say farther, those
books tend not so much to corrupt honest
living, as they do to subvert true religion. 1o
More papists be made by your merry books
of Italy than by your earnest books of
Louvain. And because our great physi-
cians do wink at the matter, and make no
count of this sore, I, though not admitted
one of their fellowship, yet having been
many years a prentice to God's true re-
ligion, and trust to continue a poor jour-
neyman therein all days of my life, for
the duty I owe and love I bear both to 20
true doctrine and honest living, though I
have no authority to amend the sore my-
self, yet I will declare my good-will to dis-
cover the sore to others.

standeth in two special points-in open manslaughter and bold bawdry. In which book those be counted the noblest knights that do kill most men without any quarrel, and commit foulest adulteries by subtlest shifts as Sir Launcelot with the wife of King Arthur, his master; Sir Tristram with the wife of King Mark, his uncle; Sir Lamerock with the wife of King Lot, that was his own aunt. This is good stuff for wise men to laugh at, or honest men to take pleasure at! Yet I know when God's Bible was banished the court, and Morte Arthur received into the 15 prince's chamber. What toys the daily reading of such a book may work in the will of a young gentleman or a young maid that liveth wealthily and idly, wise men can judge and honest men do pity. And yet ten Morte Arthurs do not the tenth part so much harm as one of these books made in Italy and translated in England. They open not fond and common ways to vice, but such subtle, cunning, new, and diverse shifts to carry young wills to vanity and young wits to mischief, to teach old bawds new schoolpoints, as the simple head of an Englishman is not able to invent, nor never was heard of in England before; yea, when papistry overflowed all. Suffer these books to be read, and they shall soon displace all books of godly learning. For they, carrying the will to vanity and mar35 ring good manners, shall easily corrupt the mind with ill opinions and false judgment in doctrine: first, to think nothing of God himself - one special point that is to be learned in Italy and Italian books. And that which is most to be lamented, and therefore more needful to be looked to, there be more of these ungracious books set out in print within these few months than have been seen in England many score years before. And because our Englishmen made Italians cannot hurt but certain persons and in certain places, therefore these Italian books are made English to bring mischief enough openly and boldly to all states, great and mean, young and old, everywhere.


St. Paul saith that sects and ill opinions 25 be the works of the flesh and fruits of sin. This is spoken no more truly for the doctrine than sensible for the reason. And why? For ill doings breed ill thinkings. And of corrupted manners spring perverted judgments. And how? There be in man two special things: man's will, man's mind. Where will inclineth to goodness, the mind is bent to truth. Where will is carried from goodness to vanity, the mind is soon drawn from truth to false opinion. And so the readiest way to entangle the mind with false doctrine is first to entice the will to wanton living. Therefore, when the busy and open pap-40 ists abroad could not by their contentious books turn men in England fast enough from truth and right judgment in doctrine, then the subtle and secret papists at home procured bawdy books to be trans- 45 lated out of the Italian tongue, whereby over-many young wills and wits, allured to wantonness, do now boldly contemn all severe books that sound to honesty and godliness. In our forefathers' time, when 50 papistry, as a standing pool, covered and overflowed all England, few books were read in our tongue, saving certain books [of] chivalry, as they said, for pastime and pleasure, which, as some say, were made 55 in monasteries by idle monks or wanton canons as one, for example, Morte Arthur, the whole pleasure of which book

And thus you see how will enticed to wantonness doth easily allure the mind to false opinions; and how corrupt manners in living, breed false judgment in doctrine; how sin and fleshliness bring forth sects and heresies. And, therefore, suffer not vain books to breed vanity in

men's wills, if you would have God's truth take root in men's minds.

That Italian that first invented the Italian proverb against our Englishmen Italianated, meant no more their vanity in living than their lewd opinion in religion. For in calling them devils, he carrieth them clean from God; and yet he carrieth them no farther than they willingly go themselves that is, where they may to freely say their minds to the open contempt of God and all godliness, both in living and doctrine.

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declare of whose school, of what religion they be that is, epicures in living and abeo [godless] in doctrine. This last word is no more unknown now to plain 5 Englishmen than the person was unknown some time in England, until some Englishman took pains to fetch that devilish opinion out of Italy. These men, thus Italianated abroad, cannot abide our godly Italian church at home; they be not of that parish; they be not of that fellowship; they like not that preacher; they hear not his sermons, except sometimes for company they come thither to hear the Italian tongue naturally spoken, not to hear God's doctrine truly preached.

And how? I will express how, not by a fable of Homer, nor by the philosophy 15 of Plato, but by a plain truth of God's Word, sensibly uttered by David thus: 'These men, abominabiles facti in studiis suis, think verily and sing gladly the verse before, Dixit insipiens in corde suo, 20 non est Deus' that is to say, they giving themselves up to vanity, shaking off the motions of grace, driving from them the fear of God, and running headlong into all sin, first lustily contemn God, 25 then scornfully mock his Word, and also spitefully hate and hurt all well-willers thereof. Then they have in more reverence the Triumphs of Petrarch than the Genesis of Moses. They make more ac- 30 count of Tully's Offices than St. Paul's Epistles; of a tale in Boccaccio than a story of the Bible. Then they count as fables the holy mysteries of christian religion. They make Christ and his Gos- 35 pel only serve civil policy. Then neither religion cometh amiss to them. In time they be promoters of both openly: in place, again, mockers of both privily, as I wrote once in a rude rime:

Now new, now old, now both, now


To serve the world's course, they care not with whether.


And yet these men in matters of divinity openly pretend a great knowledge, and have privately to themselves a very compendious understanding of all, which, nevertheless, they will utter when and where they list. And that is this: all the mysteries of Moses, the whole law and ceremonies, the Psalms and prophets, Christ and his Gospel, God and the devil, heaven and hell, faith, conscience, sin, death, and all they shortly wrap up, they quickly expound with this one half verse of Horace:

Credat Judaeus Apella.

[Let the Jew Apella believe it]

Yet though in Italy they may freely be of no religion, as they are in England in very deed to, nevertheless, returning home into England, they must countenance the profession of the one or the other, however inwardly they laugh to scorn both. And though for their private matters they can follow, fawn, and flatter noble personages contrary to them in all respects, yet commonly they ally themselves with the worst papists, to whom they be wedded, 45 and do well agree together in three proper opinions in open contempt of God's Word; in a secret security of sin; and in a bloody desire to have all taken away by sword and burning that be not of their faction. They that do read with indifferent judgment Pygius and Machiavelli, two indifferent patriarchs of these two religions, do know full well what I say true.

For where they dare, in company where they like, they boldly laugh to scorn both protestant and papist. They care for no Scripture; they make no count of general 50 councils; they contemn the consent of the church; they pass for no doctors; they mock the Pope; they rail on Luther; they allow neither side; they like none, but only themselves. The mark they shoot 55 at, the end they look for, the heaven they desire, is only their own present pleasure and private profit; whereby they plainly

Ye see what manners and doctrine our Englishmen fetch out of Italy. For, finding no other there, they can bring no other hither. And, therefore, many godly and excellent learned Englishmen, not

many years ago, did make a better choice, when open cruelty drove them out of this country, to place themselves there where Christ's doctrine, the fear of God, punishment of sin, and discipline of honesty were had in special regard.

I was once in Italy myself; but I thank God my abode there was but nine days. And yet I saw in that little time, in one city, more liberty to sin than ever I heard 10 tell of in our noble city of London in nine years. I saw it was there as free to sin not only without all punishment, but also without any man's marking, as it is free in the city of London to choose 15 without all blame whether a man lust to wear shoe or pantocle. And good cause why; for, being unlike in truth of religion, they must needs be unlike in honesty of living. For blessed be Christ, in 20 our city of London commonly the commandments of God be more diligently taught, and the service of God more reverently used, and that daily in many private men's houses, than they be in 25 Italy once a week in their common churches; where making ceremonies to delight the eye, and vain sounds to please the ear, do quite thrust out of the churches all service of God in spirit and truth. 30 Yea, the Lord Mayor of London, being but a civil officer, is commonly, for his time, more diligent in punishing sin, the bent enemy against God and good order, than all the bloody inquisitors in Italy 35 be in seven years. For their care and charge is not to punish sin, not to amend manners, not to purge doctrine, but only to watch and oversee that Christ's true religion set no sure footing where the Pope 40 hath any jurisdiction. I learned, when I was at Venice, that there it is counted good policy, when there be four or five brethren of one family, one only to marry, and all the rest to welter with as little 45 shame in open lechery as swine do here in the common mire. Yea, there be as fair houses of religion, as great provision, as diligent officers to keep up this misorder, as Bridewell is and all the mas- 50 ters there to keep down misorder. And, therefore, if the Pope himself do not only grant pardons to further these wicked purposes abroad in Italy, but also (although this present Pope in the beginning made some show of misliking thereof) assign both meed and merit to the maintenance of stews and brothel-houses at

home in Rome, then let wise men think Italy a safe place for wholesome doctrine and godly manners, and a fit school for young gentlemen of England to be brought 5 up in!

Our Italians bring home with them other faults from Italy, though not so great as this of religion, yet a great deal greater than many good men can well bear. For commonly they come home common contemners of marriage and ready persuaders of all others to the same; not because they love virginity, nor yet because they hate pretty young virgins, but, being free in Italy to go whithersoever lust will carry them, they do not like that law and honesty should be such a bar to their like liberty at home in England. And yet they be the greatest makers of love, the daily dalliers, with such pleasant words, with such smiling and secret countenances, with such signs, tokens, wagers, purposed to be lost before they were purposed to be made, with bargains of wearing colors, flowers, and herbs, to breed occasion of ofter meeting of him and her, and bolder talking of this and that, etc. And although I have seen some, innocent of all ill and staid in all honesty, that have used these things without all harm, without all suspicion of harm, yet these knacks were brought first into England by them that learned them before in Italy in Circe's court; and how courtly courtesies soever they be counted now, yet, if the meaning and manners of some that do use them were somewhat amended, it were no great hurt neither to themselves nor to others.

Another property of this our English Italians is to be marvelous singular in all their matters: singular in knowledge, ignorant of nothing; so singular in wisdom (in their own opinion) as scarce they count the best counselor the prince hath comparable with them; common discoursers of all matters; busy searchers of most secret affairs; open flatterers of great men; privy mislikers of good men; fair speakers, with smiling countenances and much courtesy openly to all men; ready backbiters, sore nippers, and spiteful reporters privily of good men. And being brought up in Italy in some free 55 city, as all cities be there, where a man may freely discourse against what he will, against whom he lust, against any prince, against any government, yea, against God


himself and his whole religion; where he must be either Guelph or Ghibelin, either French or Spanish, and always compelled to be of some party, of some faction, he shall never be compelled to be of any religion; and if he meddle not over-much with Christ's true religion, he shall have free liberty to embrace all religions, and become, if he lust, at once, without any let or punishment, Jewish, Turkish, pa- 10 pish, and devilish.

A young gentleman thus bred up in this goodly school, to learn the next and ready way to sin, to have a busy head, a factious heart, a talkative tongue, fed with dis- 15 coursing of factions, led to contemn God and his religion, shall come home into England but very ill taught, either to be an honest man himself, a quiet subject to his prince, or willing to serve God under 20 the obedience of true doctrine, or within the order of honest living.

I know none will be offended with this my general writing, but only such as find themselves guilty privately therein: who 25 shall have good leave to be offended with

me, until they begin to amend themselves. I touch not them that be good; and I say too little of them that be not; and so, though not enough for their deserving, yet sufficiently for this time, and more else when if occasion so require.

And thus far have I wandered from my first purpose of teaching a child, yet not altogether out of the way, because this whole talk hath tended to the only advancement of truth in religion and honesty of living; and hath been wholly within the compass of learning and good manners, the special points belonging in the right bringing up of youth.

But to my matter, as I began plainly and simply with my young scholar, so will I not leave him, God willing, until I have brought him a perfect scholar out of the school, and placed him in the university, to become a fit student for logic and rhetoric and so after to physic, law, or divinity, as aptness of nature, advice of friends, and God's disposition shall lead him.

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