This is a first edition of Bourdonné’s work which proved to be extremely popular. It was printed by Antoine Vitré,
“imprimeur ordinaire du Roy, & du clergé de France”, who introduced his readers to “un livre qu’on peut appeler avec
raison un ouvrage de bonne foy, puis qu’il est sans artifice, & qu’il part d’un homme sans science”.
Bourdonné offers some very well-worn advice at times, echoing Polonius’ advice to Hamlet: “Considérons-donc bien toutes ces choses, & travaillons tout de bon à acquerir la connoissance de nous-mêmes, puisque c’est la science des sciences & la plus importante de toutes”.
The style is accessible and his tone engaging, constituting one of the most readable works not only in this collection but in the genre at large.
Bourdonné sets himself a familiar task: to explore and assess the attributes of man, his virtue, knowledge, patience and humility, among other things. Like many of the other authors in this collection, Bourdonné offers his advice on all aspects of life, intermingling practical topics on the nature of nobility, on the wisdom of marriage and on the court, with chapters on penance, death, vengeance, as well as on enmity and friendship.