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Peacham, Henry

PEACHAM, HENRY (c. 1576-c. 1643), English writer, was the son of Henry Peacham, curate of North Mimms, Hertfordshire, and author of a book on rhetoric called the Garden of Rhetoric (1577)- The elder Peacham became in 1597 rector of Leverton, Lincolnshire. The son was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1594-1595 and M. A. in 1 598. He was for some time a schoolmaster at Wymondham, Norfolk, but settled in London in 1612, earning his living as tutor to young men preparing for the universities. His first book was Graphice (1606), a treatise on pen and water-colour drawing, which, as The Gentleman's Exercise, passed through three editions. The years 1613-1614 he spent abroad, part of the time as tutor to the three young sons of Thomas Howard (1585-1646), earl of Arundel, and partly on his own account. He travelled in Italy, France, Westphalia and the Netherlands. The table of Sir John Ogle, English governor of Utrecht, was, he says, a " little academy," where he met soldiers and scholars of all nationalities. When he returned to London he was accused of libel on the king. Incriminating papers had been discovered in the house of Edmond Peacham, rector of Hinton Saint George, who, on being charged with an attack on the king denied the authorship, stating that they were written by a namesake, " a divine, a scholar and a traveller." The change was, however, easily rebutted. Peacham had many friends in London, among them Thomas Dowland the musician, Inigo Jones, and Edward Wright the mathematician. In 1622 appeared Peacham's magnum opus, the Compleat Gentleman. Enlarged editions appeared in 1626 and 1627. The 1627 edition was reprinted in 1634, and a third, with additional notes on blazonry by Thomas Blount (1617-1679), appeared in 1661. The book is a text-book of manners and polite learning; it includes chapters on cosmography, geometry, poetry, music, antiquities, painting, the lives of the painters, the " art of limming " (Peacham himself was a proficient engraver), and the military art, including the order of " a maine battaile or pitched field in eight severall wayes." The book differs from the Courtier of Castiglione, which had been the guide of an earlier generation. Peacham was a Cavalier, even an ardent polemist in the royal cause, but the central point of his book is a more or less Puritan sentiment of duty. In his later years Peacham was reduced to extreme poverty, and is said to have written children's books at a pennyeach. His last book was published in 1642, and it may be concluded that he died soon afterwards.

His other works include: Minerva Britanna (1612), dedicated to Henry, prince of Wales; The Period of Mourning (1613), in honour of the same prince; Thalia's Banquet (1620), a book of epigrams; The Art of Living in London (1642), and The Worth of a Peny (1641), etc. There is a nearly complete collection of Peacham's works in the Bodleian, Oxford. Harleian MS. 6855 contains a translation by Peacham of James I.'s Basilicon doron into Latin verse, written in his own hand and ornamented with pen and ink drawings. His Compleat Gentleman was edited by G. S. Gordon in 1906 for the Clarendon Press; the Art of Living is reprinted in the Harleian Misc. ix. ; The Worth of a Peny in E. Arber's English Garner (vol. vi. 1883).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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