'Lad's mag' for the 17th century





In the age of Oliver Cromwell, Francis Osborne's literary mix of pragmatism and cynicism went down well and was considered sound common sense by many of his educated male readers.

Osborne's views are contained in the publication 'Advice to a Son; or Directions For your Better Conduct Through the various and most important Encounters of this Life', which was printed in Oxford and published in 1656, four years before the restoration of the monarchy.

The chapter headings on the front cover are: I. Studies etc. II Love and Marriage. III. Travell. IV. Government. V. Religion.

In one section, he declares: "I have heard a well-built-woman compared in her motion to a ship under saile (sic); yet I would advise no wise man to be her owner."

The Bedford-born writer also advised: "Imitate not the wild Irish or Welch, who during eclipses, run about beating kettles and panns, thinking their clamour and vexations available to the assistance of the higher orbes..."

On finance, he wrote: "Never buy but with ready money; and be drawne rather to fix where you find things cheape and good, then for friendship or acquaintance."

He also has advice on how to deal with adultery being discovered: "To make love to married women doth not only multiply the sinne, but the danger. Neither can you, if question'd by her husband, use, with hope of victory, any sharper weapon, than repentance sheathed in a modest excuse."

Osborne warns against visiting prostitutes, and said: "Loose your liberty, & see your leggs rott in the stocks of the physician; they being often unwholsome."

The work seems to have been written with bachelors in mind, as he thought children more trouble than they are worth.

"Fathers give evidence to the truth of that saying, Children are uncertaine comforts, but certaine troubles."

The book turned up in the collection of a book dealer and is expected to fetch £400 at Bonhams in Oxford on December 2.



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