User queries often entail looking closely at an early reader’s annotations. This week Philip de Commynes’s The Historie of Philip de Commines Knight, Lord of Argenton, translated by Thomas Danett (London, 1601) came under the spotlight. Marginal comments in a seventeenth-century hand show an engaged and caustic reader. Next to the claim ‘the realme of England is the country where the common wealth is best gouerned’, which has been underlined, the underliner has written: ‘this may have been true in Commines his day’. Besides the sentence: ‘but he was so wise that no man could faile to please him if he executed his commandements, without adding ought thereto of his owne braine’, also underlined, the same annotator has noted: ‘that example ought to teach servants their dutye’. One feels very close to one’s forbears.