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date: 20 November 2019

Peacham, Henry locked

  • David J. Smith


(b North Mimms, Herts., 1578; d ?London, c 1644). English author and musician . He graduated MA from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1598, and spent most of his career as a schoolmaster in Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and London, except for a period between 1613 and 1615 when he travelled in France, Germany and the Low Countries. The last known reference to him is a poem that he contributed for an engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar in 1644.

Peacham’s musical importance lies in his chapter on music in The Compleat Gentleman (1622), a compendium of knowledge intended for the education of children from noble households. Peacham advocated the inclusion of music in the curriculum, though he warned against allowing musical pursuits to distract a gentleman from ‘his more weightie imployments’: ‘I desire no more in you then to sing your part sure, and at the first sight, withall, to play the same upon your Violl, or the exercise of the Lute, privately to your selfe’. Appealing to scripture and to the writings of the ancients, he pointed to music’s therapeutic properties. Peacham related music to poetry, the topic of his preceding chapter, and to rhetoric: ‘hath not Musicke her figures, the same which Rhetorique?’. Most of his material is derived from unacknowledged sources: he borrowed from Byrd’s preface to ...

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Musical Quarterly
Music & Letters
Early Music
Oxford, Bodleian Library
London, British Library