Discourse to Lady Lavinia, His Daughter / Edition 1

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When eleven-year-old Lavinia Guasca began her new life as a lady-in-waiting at the court of Turin, she brought with her a parting gift from her father Annibal (1540-1619): a detailed guidebook he wrote to help steer her through the many pitfalls of court life. Lavinia had her father's Discourse published in 1586; this English translation is the first version published in any form since that time.

The Discourse displays an incredibly far-sighted view of women's education. Annibal thought gifted young girls should develop their talents and apply them to careers outside the home. In the Discourse, he details the unique and extremely rigorous educational program to which he had subjected Lavinia almost from the cradle with this end in mind. To complete Lavinia's education, Annibal filled the Discourse with advice on spirituality and morality, health and beauty, and how to behave at court—everything a well-bred lady-in-waiting would need to know. This edition also includes an appendix that traces the later events of Lavinia's life through excerpts from her father's letters.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226310558
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Series: Other Voice in Early Modern Europe Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 174
  • Sales rank: 1,289,493
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Peggy Osborn is a senior lecturer (retired) in Italian Renaissance literature at the University of Bristol. She is the author of G. B. Giraldi's Altile: The Birth of a New Dramatic Genre in Renaissance Ferrara.

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Read an Excerpt

Discourse to Lady Lavinia, His Daughter: Concerning the Manner in Which She Should Conduct Herself when Going to Court As Lady-In-Waiting to the Most Serene Infanta, Lady Caterina, Duchess of Savoy

By Peggy Osborn

University of Chicago Press

Copyright © 2003 Peggy Osborn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0226310558

Great is your debt of gratitude to God, my daughter. Indeed, I know of no one who could have more obligations to Him than yourself. Let us set on one side His gift to you of your life, which is certainly a great mercy and the basis of all His other gifts, but one which you hold in common not just with irrational beings but with the whole of creation. You have been brought up a Christian, truly an incomparable blessing and one that takes precedence over all the rest, but a blessing common to many other people. You were nobly born, assuredly a gift of outstanding worth but shared with many. You are of healthy and robust physique, and your looks are such that you can hold your own with other girls, but such advantages apply to many. However, I am now coming on to consider some other, more particular, favors for which you have need to be grateful to the Lord and for which you must thank him a thousand times every hour. Where could you ever find a father and mother as solicitous in bringing up theirchildren as your mother and I were in caring both for your soul and for your body? And, speaking just of myself, you well know with how much love and diligence I began, right from the time when you could scarcely utter your first words, to teach you and have you taught the things that now do you honor. Moreover, having discovered that you were of a very ready understanding, and perchance more so than one would have believed possible at so young an age (and for this again it is your duty to render especial thanks to God), I started instructing you in so many different skills that I am at a loss to know how you could absorb them all. But little would my solicitude and efforts, or your ease of comprehension, have availed you if you had not been in a place where your talents could be given full scope, and to this end Almighty God placed the idea in my heart of abandoning our native city and leaving our affairs in the hands of others, to be attended to as God willed, in order to move at great expense to Pavia, a city as well-equipped as our own city is ill-equipped for educating children well and for adorning them with all the attainments required in those of noble birth. Furthermore, I can see no other reason why my heart should have persuaded me to make such a move but for your honor and benefit alone, since your cousins and your brother, whose advantage was my chief concern in moving here, have made such poor use of their opportunities that, as far as they are concerned, our expenses and inconveniences have been to no avail.
What teachers of reputation did I not employ for your benefit? And do you not recall that at times I appointed three and four teachers in the same profession simultaneously, all well paid, to instruct you, who, in competition with one another, dedicated themselves to you so affectionately and conscientiously that what another girl would have taken months to learn, you achieved in a few days? But this would not have sufficed, since the loving care and diligence of your teachers alone would not have enabled you to retain all the things they had taught you if, in their absence, you had not mulled them over on your own. And this you would not have done had I not been at your side at all hours, making continuous and fervent efforts to spur you on. But not even this would have been sufficient, since being urged on by me, and often when you were least anxious to be, would have been of little avail if I had not (and this was no easy task) recruited a domestic staff to keep you in mind of those things. Although among these some were to be found already possessing a certain grasp of the subjects you were learning, soon all of them became experts under our roof, thanks to the opportunity I gave them, due to my residing in Pavia and, as you know, bringing so many teachers versed in so many different professions into our house to enhance the education of you children. And since the acquisition of knowledge and reputation are wont to give rise to pride, it was unavoidable that these servants should have felt their own sense of conceit, which made the overseeing and ordering of them all the more difficult for me, so that I was less well served by this large staff than I would have been by a small one. These things were hard to bear, but for your sake I continued to endure them, concealing my troubles, in order not to lose their services, and those with skills were so well treated by me, and I was held to be so well placed to promote them, that all those who happened to be in the city applied to me, with the result that I always had a good supply of the best of these, with whom you could at all hours practice your skills. And whether this has been to your advantage or not, only you can say; an advantage that was all the greater in that in no other household of a private nobleman bar that of your father could so many experts have been found assembled. Moreover, the trouble I went to in order to help you in every way that lay in my power to make good use of your time and of the labors of others is so great that I can only express it like this, namely, that I can guarantee I was held to be the most importunate and perhaps the most tyrannical father that any daughter ever had, demanding from you at every moment an exact account of what you were doing and wanting to know precisely how you were doing it; being constantly present during your lessons, admonishing, shouting, threatening, and at times beating you, until you had perfected them; since I had so honed my mind with the whetstone of natural paternal love, that I knew how to tell where, how, and when you were committing errors even in things of which I had no true knowledge. Of all this you were made aware by me, nor did I desist until you had corrected your mistake. And to mention just one of these things, do you not recall how you had not even attained your seventh birthday before I myself set to work to teach you to write, not just in the characters in which I myself write, oh no, but in those that I did not know how to form, and how, with the printed examples of Crescio, you began little by little, and with what assistance I could give you, to master the art of forming chancery script, although I myself did not know how to form a single one of those characters. And, pray, did this labor last for two or three months or thereabouts? No, but rather for four or five years did I continue this difficult task every single day and, sometimes, for many hours at a stretch in a single day, with how much tribulation on both our parts we both know well. But finally, with God's help and my own tireless efforts and, I should say, importunity, and in spite of your vexation, often accompanied by tears, you finally reached such a degree of excellence that you could do honor and service to others with your pen. Indeed, it would probably be impossible to find another girl of your age with such a high standard of competence as yourself.
Oh my Lavinia, are they few in number, these blessings of which I have so far reminded you, which you owe to God? No indeed, they are copious, but not so copious that there are not many more for which you are held bounden to Him. How would you have been able to grasp so many different subjects, and gain the profit you have derived from them in so few years, if God had not kept you in good health? And so favored you that you never had so much as a headache? So that without ever pausing for a moment you made steady progress, gaining ground and conserving all you had gained, which would not have happened if your lessons had been interrupted at times due to some indisposition on your part. Moreover, it also pleased the Lord at the same time to keep your father in good health, which was no less essential to your education than was your own health, since without his care, as you know, you would not have been nearly as advanced in your attainments as you are. This was a favor from God all the greater in that it was tremendously difficult, indeed almost impossible, for both of us to preserve our health, with all the worry and toil we had to undergo, summer and winter, day and night, over so long a period that everyone was filled with infinite amazement, and truly it was a miracle, and a special benefit on God's part.
But in order for you to realize fully the extent of God's favors toward you, just pretend that you now know nothing at all of the many things that you do know, and that it would be necessary for you to begin to learn them at this present time, as do many young girls of your age, and that you were starting out as from today, not to be taught to read, for by the age of four or little past it you had mastered that skill just as well as I myself who was teaching you, but rather to write, and imagine, in addition, that you had no one to teach you but me who, knowing neither how to do nor how to explain what I desired of you, was about as much use to you as a dumb man would be: what would you say, if I desired you to embark upon such an undertaking without a teacher? Would you not lose hope of ever being able to bring this work to its conclusion? And yet with God's help and with great efforts and sufferings on your part and with a contained impatience and long penance on mine, I guided you to your goal and, as you know, you have now fully acquired that proficiency.
But, if not content with the aforementioned burden, I had wished to lay yet a further, no less weighty, load on you at the same time, what would you say of my common sense? And what hope would you ever have of singing your part confidently at sight from every score if you had only now begun to learn the principles of singing? All the more so in these times in which the number of musical compositions has proliferated so greatly and reached such a peak of difficulty, and when modern composers compete among themselves to make their compositions as demanding as possible, and particularly since you were at the same time so absorbed in acquiring the art of writing that you scarcely had an hour to spare in which to regain your breath, let alone to take respite; and yet, thanks to God, you have mastered this skill also and can take the most complicated songs in your stride.
And what would you say then if not only did I make you apply yourself to these two such lengthy and exhausting trainings simultaneously, but if at the same time I had a viola da gamba placed in your hand and began to have you taught how to play up and down the scales of its six keys? And it seems to me that you would say, "My noble father, how do you expect me to be capable of grasping so many things all at the same time? I shall gain some skill in them but not master them." And yet you did both; and you have gained such proficiency with your viola and bow that you can accompany any song creditably and effortlessly, and not only the soprano part but all the others too, tuned to the fourth and fifth.
But let us continue and suppose that, in addition to so many and diverse things, you were simultaneously burdened by me with yet another most weighty and difficult skill, and that together with the aforementioned labors you were set down in front of the clavichord, and that you were expected to learn at this present time how to adapt your fingers to it and to grasp with great effort those principles of how to play it that today you would scorn. And recall how, in the end, not contenting myself with one teacher alone, I employed four to instruct you on this instrument every day who, in rivalry with one another, taught you a variety of difficult harmonies, nor did it satisfy me that you should just learn your lessons at the hands of these teachers, but I insisted that you should make entablatures of them and should learn to score the music yourself, to last as long as it might please you, so as to be able to play the said instrument for two whole hours at least, with continual variations, not only dances and canzonette but also learned madrigals and good ricercate and to be as much master of the notations as your teachers themselves? I am sure you never dreamed of progressing so far and that you would have held me to be the most unreasonable and perhaps cruel of fathers to ask so many almost impossible things of you in this art at the same time as your other studies, and yet you succeeded, and well know that none of your accomplishments adorns you more than this one does.
But let us say still more and suppose that, while you were busy mastering all these skills, I had decided to have you taught counterpoint. How harsh and vexatious such an undertaking would seem to you, and how shocked you would be that I should want to drive you into so vast a labyrinth. And yet enter it you did, and emerged from it with honor.
And how would it seem to you if, in addition to these exhausting undertakings, I made you apply yourself to the abacus, what would you expect to gain from it? And when would you imagine you could master all the rules and apply them promptly? And this skill too I had you taught.
Let us add still one more thing, that instead of allowing you to seek relaxation from all your toils in some childish game, I insisted that even before you had reached the age of nine, your games should be chess, backgammon, toccadillo, and such similar testing board games, would you not rather be frightened off by the difficulty of such games than expect ever to derive honor and delight from them? And yet here too you acquit yourself estimably, having very frequently beaten me who was teaching you.
Of all these things I have desired to remind you in this very diffuse manner, in order to be able to marshal them before your eyes as if they were happening here and now, even though I have not conveyed one thousandth part of the sufferings undergone by both of us in the process of arriving at the point where you now find yourself. I have done this so that I should be the better able to remind you of the obligation you must feel toward God and of how greatly you should prize the benefits He has conferred on you, like the man who, having climbed a stony mountain road in order to ascend to a delightful flowery plain, turns back to gaze at the steepness of the mighty peaks and crags he has scaled, amazed to find that, sweating and panting, he has conquered them, while rendering a thousand thanks to his Creator for having done so. And let us inquire of any intelligent person how long it would take him to learn with ease all the things you find you have now learned, and if I am not much mistaken, he will say a full twelve years, which is an age you have not yet even attained and for a part of this time you were a suckling babe in your cradle. And you well recall what a wise matron asked you two years ago, which was whether you had learned all these things before, or after, you were born, and let us add what last summer you heard another such matron say: that she was more astonished to see you so robust in your person than she was amazed by the things that you knew, since it seemed almost a miracle to her that, after being always burdened in your childhood with so many toils, you still had a single breath left in your body. And truly you would not have been left with either spirit or life if the Author of life had not preserved you, nor would you in so short a time and by so long a course have arrived at so glorious a journey's end if He had not given you the necessary breath and strength and if I myself, inspired and aided by Him, had not so weighed out your time as on a balance, in such a way that I never permitted you to fritter away even one ounce of it fruitlessly.
Tremendous in truth are these favors bestowed on you by God, but the sum of them is not yet complete. What reward did He have in store for all your efforts? And to what end did He ordain such efficacious means? The attainment is a fully sufficient reward in itself for all the toils endured in acquiring it, in addition to the praise that follows after it as the shadow follows the body. I will not mention the enjoyment that it is wont to bring to those who possess it or the way it renders a person more agreeable to others, a pleasure known only to those who feel themselves loved for their merits. But God had wished to direct your efforts to a more specific end, and for a more particular reward, although it was already a great thing to have enriched you with so many talents capable of earning you glory in the world, and which fortune would not be able to steal from you, so that you might be able to enjoy them at all hours in your own room and, through diverting yourself with them, dispel idleness, the root of all vices and evil thoughts.
But it was the general opinion, and rightly so, that you would gain small advantage from remaining in your father's house with all your attainments, acquired with such care, in comparison with that which you would derive from them in the household of some princess, and so I let myself be persuaded by those who loved you to try and place you in such a situation. But I was restrained by paternal tenderness and by not knowing which court to choose, as I considered one by one the qualities of the various Catholic courts. And for my part I would readily have given you to one of their most Serene Infantas of Spain but not only was that hard to arrange but, even supposing I had obtained a place for you there, I could not imagine how I would meet the costs or how I would be able to send you so far away from me, with the fear of never seeing you again. And consequently I resolved that when the moment came to deprive myself of you, I would willingly entrust you to one of their Serene Highnesses of Savoy, both for their illustrious rank and for the proximity of their court. But while I was giving thought to this, it had not yet been made known that the Lord Duke of Savoy was on the point of taking a wife, and still less was it known whom he had in mind to be his consort. I myself was burning with desire that it should be one of the aforementioned Infantas, as was generally desired by Catholics, but the outcome was nevertheless uncertain. But all of a sudden the plan was realized, and that great Prince was espoused to no less high and glorious a companion than the Infanta, Lady Caterina, daughter of our noble King, and a lady who in addition to her exalted rank is of a goodness and sanctity of life unsurpassed in any other great lady of any age. And thus it was that through your own great good fortune, the very mistress in whose service I would have wished to place you came into our vicinity, when otherwise the distance and the difficulty of obtaining the post for you would have deterred me from so doing.
But the opportunity in itself would not have sufficed if I had not had some diligent and stalwart intermediary who could put your name forward to the Infanta and give her such an account of your achievements that she would be prepared to welcome you among her ladies-in-waiting, a boon that was procured by many very eminent people by means of great influence. And yet it was God's will that this too should be obtained for you, and what more diplomatic and well-disposed friend could I have found for this purpose than Baron Sfondrato, held as he was by their most Serene Highnesses in the high esteem that his merits deserved, who with his tact, skill and integrity so convinced the Infanta of your attainments and qualities that she felt disposed to receive you into her service? The Baron reported this to me just when I was fearing the matter would not go ahead, not having heard any news at all of the plan for a long time, indeed having already put the thought of it out of my mind, due to the high costs that I had heard were borne by the other ladies entering that service, which were beyond your means. Nor would I have been able to avail myself of the placement obtained for us by the Baron if those costs had not been, to some extent, reduced for me, and in this, too, God found a remedy, so that the undertaking might succeed despite all, for He so ordained that through the agencies of the aforementioned Baron and of Lady Sanchia di Guzman, the Infanta was willing to grant me a special favor and waive a part of the expense, with the result that I was able to place you in this most honorable service, even though, in spite of your privileged terms, the expenses were still too heavy for me, due both to your numerous sisters and brothers and to the financial burdens of our situation and the insufficiency of my fortune. Nevertheless, taking courage and fresh heart under divine inspiration, I boldly embarked upon this course, although in truth I did not think I would be able to meet all the costs; and yet I have done more than I either expected to do or thought I was capable of. As a result, you will be able to hold your own among the other ladies to an extent I would never perhaps have imagined, and did I not believe this to have been the express intention of the Lord, it would weigh heavily on my conscience that I had done so much for you to the detriment of my other children. But I know they will be content, seeing you going to a situation where, provided you for your part do what is required of you and what we are hoping for, you will be able to bring profit and honor both to yourself and to them.
Well now, your mother and I have brought you up until this day with every care and good example. We have adorned you with every possible accomplishment. We have placed you with one of the leading princesses of the world, where you will be honorably treated and piously directed. We have expended more on your behalf than our resources really permitted. We have provided you with a good domestic staff and with all the things you could possibly need. We are prepared to continue to assist you in every way that we can in the future. We have both of us been doing all that we could to prepare you for what will be expected of you. Nothing more remains for us to do, all our duties toward you are now fulfilled. Just one precious jewel I have yet in my bosom to give you, which is all that I have left for you, having already given you all that I had. But this will be so rich a gift that nothing you have received from me up to now will be worthy to rank beside it. You must wear it always upon your bosom like a precious necklace, cherishing it day and night in memory of your father, and through this gift bringing your father, who bestows it on you with so much love and tenderness, constantly before your eyes. True, this gift is no rare gem, set in gold, for I have spent so much on you that I have no money left to buy you such an object, and so you must needs accept it in this paper. You look at my hands and wait expectantly for this jewel I am promising you. Ah, but it is no diamond or ruby or sapphire, but something infinitely more valuable, nor does it come from the bowels of the earth but, rather, from the depths of your father's heart, and it will serve as a rule book to govern your conduct when I am not there; and since your mother and I will no longer be constantly available to remind you of what is best for you in this, your unwary childhood, you will be able to refer to it, imagining that your father is with you and speaking to you, and that you are sitting listening to him with that respect and attention that are appropriate in a girl born to so high a station in life and so deeply loved by her father.
So, having given you my gift, nothing remains for me to do but to pray Almighty God and your Guardian Angel that they will supply what your mother and I will no longer be able to provide for you, now that we are consigning you to the care of another. But so that you might be able to make the best use of my handbook, I decided to divide it up for you under various headings, which will offer you certain guidelines on how to regulate your life and actions in the place to which you are going. It is not that I intend to tell you all you will need to do, for that I could not teach you, human affairs being so infinitely varied that one cannot prescribe precise rules for every single occasion But I have decided to provide a few general precepts for you, like an artist drawing upon a primed canvas, which must later be painted in a variety of ways. And likewise you will be able to paint in all your activities under the headings of my rule book. These precepts will be grouped under eight captions: "Concerning Your Soul," "Concerning Your Honor," "Concerning Your Duties toward Your Mistress," "Concerning the Preservation and Improvement of Your Skills," "Concerning Your Person," "Concerning Your Possessions," "Concerning Your Social Relations," and "Concerning the Treatment of Your Domestic Staff."
1. Concerning Your Soul
Where the first is concerned, which is the most important, and from which the benefits of all the rest will derive, keep always uppermost in your mind the fear of God, which is the beginning of all human wisdom. Be devout in every way you can, modeling yourself on your mother, knowing as you do how diligent and punctilious she has always been in these matters, so much so that in my opinion it is her prayers that have been the main cause whereby God has up to now prospered you and all our family. Consequently you must insure that you never allow any day to pass without performing the holy office of prayer, and if you cannot find another time for this, you must steal an hour from your slumbers and from your very eating rather than fail to perform it; for prayers are like the fodder a traveler gives his horse along the way, which ultimately speeds up rather than slows down his journey time, even though it may cause a short delay. But your prayers must not come from your mouth alone but from the depth of your heart, and they must be accompanied by appropriate reverence: you must kneel down, therefore, before your crucifix for at least half an hour, and more if you can. This crucifix was the first item I gave you with which to adorn your bedchamber when I returned from Milan, where I had gone to provide you with what you would need when you set off to enter the service of your mistress. And to this glorious symbol you will humbly appeal each day, with your missal and your rosary in your hand, or at times just with your mind, thanking your Lord for all the gifts you have received from Him and praying Him to give you the strength to serve Him and to direct your steps to a good end. For He must be the light that will guide your way in everything you do and, especially, in the vocation upon which you are embarking in the service of Her Serene Highness. He will be as a father and mother to you in counseling you, as a teacher in instructing you, as a doctor in preserving you, and as a shield and defense against the envy and persecution that are wont to be found in courts. He will bestow on you at this early age the wisdom of a woman, making you prudent in many things where lack of prudence could trip you up, and He will accompany you at every step, teaching you and moving your heart to observe the precepts with which I am adorning this jewel that I am bestowing on you. He will be the best possible painter to color in for you the drawing that I am making for you here. Indeed, He will make a far better painting of it than I can make a drawing. And yet He also makes the drawing, using me as His means, and speaking to you through my mouth. And so you will have Him as your father and mother, as your teacher, and as your defense to be invoked in every eventuality, knowing that your prayers will always be heard and answered. And I shall live secure and happy, where before I was anxious and sad, due to the fear that once you had left this house and were far away from all my continual, loving, fatherly reminders and from the care you have always received up to now, you might fail to keep your promises to me regarding these matters and also fail yourself, through losing the attainments you had acquired and, with these, perhaps the favor of your mistress.
To sum up, what will God not do for you, if you do this small thing for Him? Do it, my child, I entreat you. By the authority that I must have over you as your father, I command it of you, and if my command is not enough, do it because you are commanded to do so by God who, if you fail to obey Him, will take His revenge upon both of us for your disobedience. But I know that you will do it and that instead of His revenge, you will receive God's reward for so doing.
In addition to praying, you must observe God's precepts and keep a pure and chaste conscience, as is required in any well-born and well brought-up Christian girl. Here the reading of spiritual books, in which I would exhort you to spend all the time you can possibly spare from your duties, will greatly avail you and produce admirable fruits. Nor should I forget to tell you that just as a good courtier is wont not only to win the favor of his prince through his own merits but also to obtain it by approaching another, more highly placed with his master than he is himself, so you should firstly address yourself to the blessed Virgin, to whom you should have recourse at all times as if to a most compassionate advocate, and then select for your special devotion some saint, such as Saint Anthony, on whose Feast-Day you were born, in the year of grace 1574, who will be your intercessor with Almighty God for your requests and will pray to the Lord continually on your behalf.
2. Concerning Your Honor
Let us now move on to the heading of your honor, which I have placed second to that of your soul, since after the latter, there is nothing else that can be more highly prized, and indeed to lose one's honor means to lose one's soul. The honor of which I have to speak to you in this section is of course that conferred by your chastity. Remember, daughter, that no adornment bestows greater honor on a woman than this; its worth is such that through possessing it the poorest and plainest woman can call herself rich and comely, while without it, as has been remarked, she is neither truly alive nor truly a woman, let alone comely and rich; and if the jewel with which I promised to adorn you were to contain nothing else but this, it would still be a treasure beyond price and a thing to be cherished more than your life's blood. This is that snow white and stately gown in which a woman may appear in all honorable places, but a gown that the smallest spot will stain in such a way that the wearer will be unable to retain her own self-esteem, let alone that of others, so hideous and hateful is such a stain. Nor is there any means of removing it, for it will persist even after the dress has been torn up and burned to ashes, since the stain of dishonor remains with a woman not only in her lifetime but also after her death. That is why honorable women, even those who were not guided by the light of faith, laid so much store by their honor that, in order not to taint it, they were happy to suffer the cruelest of deaths, like the ermine that allows itself to die of hunger and deprivation rather than stain the whiteness of its coat. And if ever this were the duty of any woman, it must surely be yours, knowing from what lineage you come and from what a mother. Her chastity should serve you always as a mirror, alongside that of so many other matrons both of her family and of ours, both past and present, who do honor to their houses with their names. And all the more must this care be your concern, in that you are descended from a line so ardent in the pursuit of honor that, in addition to the chastity of our women, a great number of the men of our family have risked their lives to win honor in tournaments and battles. Thus you for your part will have to conduct yourself in such a manner that you can legitimately be included in our lineage and not be the one to lose that which so many others in our family have preserved. And among all the other things, take care not to stoop for a moment to consider which to give preference to, honesty and honor or self-advantage and favor, but always regard as the vilest of dirt any great favor and gain in comparison with the smallest loss of honesty and honor. And be assured, my child, that honor is so fragile a thing that the smallest breath can ruin it, and therefore it will behove you to safeguard it not only in yourself but also in the opinions others hold of you, always conducting yourself in all your actions with the modesty befitting a young girl of your rank, employed in so honorable a situation. And above all take care to nurture chaste thoughts in your breast, for they will be reflected in your face and your eyes in such a way that the goodness of your soul and the chastity of your heart will be read there. And this will make you pleasing and lovable to others, and especially to your mistress, and more full of grace and beauty than could any artificial device; and how dear this honesty is to your mistress will be demonstrated by the regime that you will find in her house, which is something that brings great consolation to your mother and myself as we send you away from our care. And thus you must value this precious token all the more highly in that this great and honored Princess lays so much store by it.
3. Concerning Your Duties toward Your Mistress
I now come to the third heading, which concerns your duties toward your mistress, on which there are a great many things I could say to you, but I will gather together just a few of them. You must first of all consider that in leaving your father's house to go to the palace of so great a lady, you will find the same degree of difference in the way of life between the one and the other as there is between the house of your father and that of so great a mistress.


Excerpted from Discourse to Lady Lavinia, His Daughter: Concerning the Manner in Which She Should Conduct Herself when Going to Court As Lady-In-Waiting to the Most Serene Infanta, Lady Caterina, Duchess of Savoy by Peggy Osborn Copyright © 2003 by Peggy Osborn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Series
The "Discourse": Context and Historical Background
Volume Editor's Bibliography
Lavinia's Foreword: In Obedience to My Most Illustrious Father, Annibal Guasco
Discourse of Signor Annibal Guasco to Lady Lavinia His Daughter
Appendix: Guasco's Correspondence as a Reflection of His Family Life
Series Editors' Bibliography

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