The well-read gentleman

Dipping into Jasper Ridley's biography of Henry VIII because of the Showtime series, The Tudors (see below), I came across this inspiring passage in a section about Henry's education:

The ordinary English gentleman did not approve of books. "By the body of God," said one of them to the humanist scholar, Richard Pace, in 1515, "I would sooner see my son hanged than be a bookworm. It is a gentleman's calling to be able to blow the horn, to hunt and hawk. He should leave learning to the clodchoppers."

Before we congratulate ourselves on our modern literacy, the passage actually reminded me of my first encounter 25 years ago with a date's father in Houston. We stood in his handsomely appointed study, and he asked me his surefire conversation-starter with any fellow: "So -- what's your sport?" I had trouble coming up with an answer (did he mean following one or playing one? To be honest, either way, I didn't have any good responses). As a way of deflecting this embarrasment with a bit of a joke, I countered with, "Well, have you read any good books lately?"

It was his turn to look flummoxed. I couldn't think of a team; he couldn't think of an author.

February 6, 2008 8:08 PM |



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This page contains a single entry by book/daddy published on February 6, 2008 8:08 PM.

The Migratory and Mating Habits of Librarians was the previous entry in this blog.

A little lesson -- OK, a rant -- about a popular font is the next entry in this blog.

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