HENRY MORLEY, LL.D.
EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON
CHARACTER WRITING BEFORE THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
THOMAS HARMAN'S "Caveat for Cursitors" A Ruffler
BEN JONSON'S "Every Man out of his Humour" and "Cynthia's Revels" A Traveller The True Critic. The Character of the Persons in "Every Man out of his Humour"
CHARACTER WRITINGS OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
Sir THOMAS OVERBURY A Good Woman A Very Woman Her Next Part A Dissembler A Courtier A Golden Ass A Flatterer An Ignorant Glory-Hunter A Timist An Amorist An Affected Traveller A Wise Man A Noble Spirit An Old Man A Country Gentleman A Fine Gentleman An Elder Brother A Braggadocio Welshman A Pedant A Serving-Man An Host An Ostler The True Character of a Dunce A Good Wife A Melancholy Man A Sailor A Soldier A Tailor A Puritan A Mere Common Lawyer A Mere Scholar A Tinker An Apparitor An Almanac-Maker A Hypocrite A Chambermaid A Precisian An Inns of Court Man A Mere Fellow of a House A Worthy Commander in the Wars A Vainglorious Coward in Command A Pirate An Ordinary Fence A Puny Clerk A Footman A Noble and Retired Housekeeper An Intruder into Favour A Fair and Happy Milkmaid An Arrant Horse-Courser A Roaring Boy A Drunken Dutchman resident in England A Phantastique: An Improvident Young Gallant A Button-Maker of Amsterdam A Distaster of the Time A Mere Fellow of a House A Mere Pettifogger An Ingrosser of Corn A Devilish Usurer A Waterman A Reverend Judge A Virtuous Widow An Ordinary Widow A Quack-Salver A Canting Rogue A French Cook A Sexton A Jesuit An Excellent Actor A Franklin A Rhymer A Covetous Man The Proud Man A Prison A Prisoner A Creditor A Sergeant His Yeoman A Common Cruel Jailer What a Character is The Character of a Happy Life An Essay on Valour
HIS SATIRES— A Domestic Chaplain The Witless Gallant
HIS CHARACTERS OF VIRTUES AND VICES
I. Virtues— Character of the Wise Man Of an Honest Man Of the Faithful Man Of the Humble Man Of a Valiant Man Of a Patient Man Of the True Friend Of the Truly Noble Of the Good Magistrate Of the Penitent The Happy Man
II. Vices— Character of the Hypocrite Of the Busybody Of the Superstitious Of the Profane Of the Malcontent Of the Inconstant Of the Flatterer Of the Slothful Of the Covetous Of the Vainglorious Of the Presumptuous Of the Distrustful Of the Ambitious Of the Unthrift Of the Envious
A Child A Young Raw Preacher A Grave Divine A Mere Dull Physician An Alderman A Discontented Man An Antiquary A Younger Brother A Mere Formal Man A Church-Papist A Self-Conceited Man A Too Idly Reserved Man A Tavern A Shark A Carrier A Young Man An Old College Butler An Upstart Country Knight An Idle Gallant A Constable A Downright Scholar A Plain Country Fellow A Player A Detractor A Young Gentleman of the University A Weak Man A Tobacco-Seller A Pot Poet A Plausible Man A Bowl-Alley The World's Wise Man A Surgeon A Contemplative Man A She Precise Hypocrite A Sceptic in Religion An Attorney A Partial Man A Trumpeter A Vulgar-Spirited Man A Plodding Student Paul's Walk A Cook A Bold Forward Man A Baker A Pretender to Learning A Herald The Common Singing-Men in Cathedral Churches A Shopkeeper A Blunt Man A Handsome Hostess A Critic A Sergeant or Catchpole A University Dun A Staid Man A Modest Man A Mere Empty Wit A Drunkard A Prison A Serving-Man An Insolent Man Acquaintance A Mere Complimental Man A Poor Fiddler A Meddling Man A Good Old Man A Flatterer A High-Spirited Man A Mere Gull Citizen A Lascivious Man A Rash Man An Affected Man A Profane Man A Coward A Sordid Rich Man A Mere Great Man A Poor Man An Ordinary Honest Man A Suspicious or Jealous Man
CHARACTERS UPON ESSAYS, MORAL AND DIVINE Wisdom Learning Knowledge Practice Patience Love Peace War Valour Resolution Honour Truth Time Death Faith Fear
THE GOOD AND THE BAD. A Worthy King An Unworthy King A Worthy Queen A Worthy Prince An Unworthy Prince A Worthy Privy Councillor An Unworthy Councillor A Nobleman An Unnoble Man A Worthy Bishop An Unworthy Bishop A Worthy Judge An Unworthy Judge A Worthy Knight An Unworthy Knight A Worthy Gentleman An Unworthy Gentleman A Worthy Lawyer An Unworthy Lawyer A Worthy Soldier An Untrained Soldier A Worthy Physician An Unworthy Physician A Worthy Merchant An Unworthy Merchant A Good Man An Atheist or Most Bad Man A Wise Man A Fool An Honest Man. A Knave An Usurer A Beggar A Virgin A Wanton Woman A Quiet Woman An Unquiet Woman A Good Wife An Effeminate Fool A Parasite A Drunkard A Coward An Honest Poor Man A Just Man A Repentant Sinner A Reprobate An Old Man A Young Man A Holy Man
ESSAYS AND CHARACTERS OF A PRISON AND PRISONERS A Character of a Prisoner
HENRY PARROTT [?] A Scold A Good Wife
MICROLOGIA, by R. M. A Player
WHIMZIES, OR A NEW CAST OF CHARACTERS A Corranto-Coiner
JOHN MILTON On the University Carrier
PICTURAE LOQUENTES, OR PICTURES DRAWN FORTH IN CHARACTERS The Term
LONDON AND COUNTRY CARBONADOED AND QUARTERED INTO SEVERAL CHARACTERS The Horse
CHARACTERS PUBLISHED BETWEEN 1642 AND 1646, BY SIR FRANCIS WORTLEY, T. FORD, AND OTHERS T. Ford's Character of Pamphlets
JOHN CLEVELAND The Character of a Country Committee-Man, with the Earmark of a Sequestrator The Character of a Diurnal-Maker The Character of a London Diurnal
CHARACTERS PUBLISHED BETWEEN 1647 AND 1665
FIFTY-FIVE ENIGMATICAL CHARACTERS The Valiant Man
CHARACTERS PUBLISHED BETWEEN 1673 AND 1689
CHARACTERS— Degenerate Noble, or One that is Proud of his Birth A Huffing Courtier A Court Beggar A Bumpkin or Country Squire An Antiquary A Proud Man A Small Poet A Philosopher A Melancholy Man A Curious Man A Herald A Virtuoso An Intelligencer A Quibbler A Time-Server A Prater A Disputant A Projector A Complimenter A Cheat A Tedious Man A Pretender A Newsmonger A Modern Critic A Busy Man A Pedant A Hunter An Affected Man A Medicine-Taker The Miser A Swearer The Luxurious An Ungrateful Man A Squire of Dames An Hypocrite An Opinionater A Choleric Man A Superstitious Man A Droll The Obstinate Man A Zealot The Overdoer The Rash Man The Affected or Formal A Flatterer A Prodigal The Inconstant A Glutton A Ribald A Modern Politician A Modern Statesman A Duke of Bucks A Fantastic An Haranguer A Ranter An Amorist An Astrologer A Lawyer An Epigrammatist A Fanatic A Proselyte A Clown A Wooer An Impudent Man An Imitator A Sot A Juggler A Romance-Writer A Libeller A Factious Member A Play-Writer A Mountebank A Wittol A Litigious Man A Humourist A Leader of a Faction A Debauched Man The Seditious Man The Rude Man A Rabble A Knight of the Post An Undeserving Favourite A Malicious Man A Knave
CHARACTER WRITING AFTER THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH Character of the Happy Warrior
Character writing, as a distinct form of Literature, had its origin more than two thousand years ago in the [Greek: aethichoi Chadaaedes]—-Ethic Characters—of Tyrtamus of Lesbos, a disciple of Plato, who gave him for his eloquence the name of Divine Speaker—Theophrastus. Aristotle left him his library and all his MSS., and named him his successor in the schools of the Lyceum. Nicomachus, the son of Aristotle, was among his pupils. He followed in the steps of Aristotle. Diogenes Laertius ascribed to Theophrastus two hundred and twenty books. He founded, by a History of Plants, the science of Botany; and he is now best known by the little contribution to Moral Philosophy, in which he gave twenty-eight short chapters to concise description of twenty-eight differing qualities in men. The description in each chapter was not of a man, but of a quality. The method of Theophrastus, as Casaubon said, was between the philosophical and the poetical. He described a quality, but he described it by personification, and his aim was the amending of men's manners. The twenty-eight chapters that have come down to us are probably no more than a fragment of a larger work. They describe vices, and not all of them. Another part, now lost, may have described the virtues. In a short proem the writer speaks of himself as ninety-nine years old. Probably those two nines were only a poetical suggestion of long experience from which these pictures of the constituents of human life and action had been drawn. He had wondered, he said, before he thought of writing such a book, at the diversities of manners among Greeks all born under one sky and trained alike. For many years he had considered and compared the ways of men; he had lived to be ninety-nine. Our children may be the better for a knowledge of our ways of daily life, that they may grow into the best. Observe and see whether I describe them rightly. I will begin, he says, with Dissimulation. I will first define the vice, and then describe the quality and manners of the man who dissembles. After that I will endeavour to describe also the other qualities of mind, each in its kind. Then follow the Characters of these twenty-eight qualities: Dissimulation, Adulation, Garrulity, Rusticity, Blandishment, Senselessness, Loquacity, Newsmongering, Impudence, Sordid Parsimony, Impurity, Ill-timed Approach, Inept Sedulity, Stupidity, Contumacy, Superstition, Querulousness, Distrust, Dirtiness, Tediousness, Sordid or Frivolous Desire for Praise, Illiberality, Ostentation, Pride, Timidity, Oligarchy, or the vehement desire for honour, without greed for money, Insolence, and Evil Speaking. One of these Characters may serve as an example of their method, and show their place in the ancestry of Characters as they were written in England in the Seventeenth Century.
You may define Stupidity as a slowness of mind in word or deed. But the Stupid Man is one who, sitting at his counters, and having made all his calculations and worked out his sum, asks one who sits by him how much it comes to. When any one has a suit against him, and he has come to the day when the cause must be decided, he forgets it and walks out into his field. Often also when he sits to see a play, the rest go out and he is left, fallen asleep in the theatre. The same man, having eaten too much, will go out in the night to relieve himself, and fall over the neighbour's dog, who bites him. The same man, having hidden away what he has received, is always searching for it, and never finds it. And when it is announced to him that one of his intimate friends is dead, and he is asked to the funeral, then, with a face set to sadness and tears, he says, "Good luck to it!" When he receives money owing to him he calls in witnesses, and in midwinter he scolds his man for not having gathered cucumbers. To train his boys for wrestling he makes them race till they are tired. Cooking his own lentils in the field, he throws salt twice into the pot and makes them uneatable. When it rains he says, "How sweet I find this water of the stars." And when some one asks, "How many have passed the gates of death?" [proverbial phrase for a great number] answers, "As many, I hope, as will be enough for you and me."
_The first and the best sequence of "Characters" in English Literature is the series of sketches of the Pilgrims in the Prologue to Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" The Characters are so varied as to unite in representing the whole character of English life in Chaucer's day; and they are, written upon one plan, each with suggestion of the outward body and its dress as well as of the mind within. But Chaucer owed nothing to Theophrastus. In his Character Writing he drew all from nature with his own good wit. La Bruyere in France translated the characters of Theophrastus, and his own writing of Characters in the seventeenth century followed a fashion that had its origin in admiration of the wit of those Greek Ethical Characters. La Bruyere was born in 1639 and died in 1696. Our Joseph Hall, whose "Characters of Vices and Virtues" were written in 1608, and translated into French twenty years before La Bruyere was born, said, in his Preface to them, "I have done as I could, following that ancient Master of Morality who thought this the fittest task for the ninety-ninth year of his age, and the profitablest Monument that he could leave for a farewell to his Grecians."
There was some aim at short and witty sketches of character in descriptions of the ingenuity of horse-coursers and coney-catchers who used quick wit for beguiling the unwary in those bright days of Elizabeth, when the very tailors and cooks worked fantasies in silk and velvet, sugar and paste. Thomas Harman, whose grandfather had been Clerk of the Crown under Henry VII., and who himself inherited estates in Kent, became greatly interested in the vagrant beggars who came to his door. He made a study of them, came to London to publish his book, and lodged at Whitefriars, within the Cloister, for convenience of nearness to them, and more thorough knowledge of their ways. He first published his book in 1567 as A Caveat or Warning for Common Cursitors, vulgarly called Vagabonds—"A Caveat or Warening for common cursetors, Vulgarely called Vagabones, set forth by Thomas Harman, Esquiere, for the utilite and proffyt of his naturall Cuntrey" and he dedicated it to Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury. It contained twenty-four character sketches, gave the names of the chief tramps then living in England, and a vocabulary of their cant words. This is Harman's first character_:—
The Ruffler, because he is first in degree of this odious order, and is so called in a statute made for the punishment of Vagabonds in the twenty-seventh year of King Henry VIII, late of most famous memory, he shall be first placed as the worthiest of this unruly rabblement. And he is so called when he goeth first abroad. Either he hath served in the wars, or else he hath been a serving-man, and weary of well-doing, shaking off all pain, doth choose him this idle life; and wretchedly wanders about the most shires of this realm, and with stout audacity demandeth, where he thinketh he may be bold, and circumspect enough where he seeth cause, to ask charity ruefully and lamentably, that it would make a flinty heart to relent and pity his miserable estate, how he hath been maimed and bruised in the wars. Peradventure one will show you some outward wound which he got at some drunken fray, either halting of some privy wound festered with a filthy fiery flankard [brand]. For be well assured that the hardiest soldiers be either slain or maimed, either and [or if] they escape all hazards and return home again, if they be without relief of their friends they will surely desperately rob and steal, and either shortly be hanged or miserably die in prison. For they be so much ashamed and disdain to beg or ask charity, that rather they will as desperately fight for to live and maintain themselves, as manfully and valiantly they ventured themselves in the Prince's quarrel. Now these Rufflers, the outcasts of serving-men, when begging or craving fails them, they pick and pilfer from other inferior beggars that they meet by the way, as rogues, palliards, morts, and doxes. Yea, if they meet with a woman alone riding to the market, either old man or boy, that he kneweth well will not resist, such they fetch and spoil. These Rufflers, after a year or two at the farthest, become upright men [lusty vagrants who beg and take only money, who rob hen roosts, filch from stalls or pockets, and have dens of their own for drinking and receipt of stolen goods], unless they be prevented by twined hemp.
I had of late years an old man to my tenant who customably a great time went twice in the week to London, either with fruit or with peascods, when time served therefor. And as he was coming homeward, on Blackheath, at the end thereof next to Shooter's Hill, he overtook two Rufflers, the one mannerly waiting on the other, as one had been the master and the other his man or servant, carrying his master's cloak. This old man was very glad that he might have their company over the hill, because that day he had made a good market. For he had seven shillings in his purse and an old angel, which this poor man had thought had not been in his purse; for he willed his wife overnight to take out the same angel and lay it up until his coming home again, and he verily thought his wife had so done, which indeed forgot to do it. Thus, after salutations had, this Master Ruffler entered into communication with this simple old man, who, riding softly beside them, communed of many matters. Thus feeding this old man with pleasant talk until they were on the top of the hill, where these Rufflers might well behold the coast about them clear, quickly steps unto this poor man and taketh hold of his horse bridle and leadeth him into the wood, and demandeth of him what and how much money he had in his purse. "Now, by my troth," quoth this old man, "you are a merry gentleman! I know you mean not to take anything from me, but rather to give me some, if I should ask it of you."
By and by [immediately] this servant thief casteth the cloak that he carried on his arm about this poor man's face that he should not mark or view them, with sharp words to deliver quickly that he had, and to confess truly what was in his purse. This poor man then all abashed yielded, and confessed that he had seven shillings in his purse; and the truth is, he knew of no more. This old angel was fallen out of a little purse into the bottom of a great purse. Now this seven shillings in white money they quickly found, thinking indeed that there had been no more; yet farther groping and searching, found this old angel. And with great admiration this gentleman thief began to bless him, saying—
"Good Lord, what a world is this! How may," quoth he, "a man believe or trust in the same? See you not," quoth he, "this old knave told me that he had but seven shillings, and here is more by an angel! What an old knave and a false knave have we here!" quoth this Ruffler. "Our Lord have mercy on us, will this world never be better?" and therewith went their way and left the old man in the wood, doing him no more harm.
But sorrowfully sighing this old man, returning home, declared his misadventure with all the words and circumstances above showed. Whereat for the time was great laughing, and this poor man, for his losses, among his loving neighbours well considered in the end.
_Such character-painting simply came of the keen interest in life that was at the same time developing an energetic drama. But at the end of Elizabeth's reign a writing of brief witty characters appears to have come into fashion as one of the many forms of ingenuity that pleased society, and might be distantly related to the Euphuism of the day.
Ben Jonson's "Cynthia's Revels," first acted in 1600, two or three years before the end of Elizabeth's reign, has little character sketches set into the text. Here are two of them_:—
One so made out of the mixture of shreds and forms that himself is truly deformed. He walks most commonly with a clove or pick-tooth in his mouth, he is the very mint of compliment, all his behaviours are printed, his face is another volume of essays, and his beard is an Aristarchus. He speaks all cream skimmed, and more affected than a dozen waiting-women. He is his own promoter in every place. The wife of the ordinary gives him his diet to maintain her table in discourse; which, indeed, is a mere tyranny over her other guests, for he will usurp all the talk; ten constables are not so tedious. He is no great shifter; once a year his apparel is ready to revolt. He doth use much to arbitrate quarrels, and fights himself, exceeding well, out at a window. He will lie cheaper than any beggar, and louder than most clocks; for which he is right properly accommodated to the whetstone, his page. The other gallant is his zany, and doth most of these tricks after him; sweats to imitate him in everything to a hair, except a beard, which is not yet extant. He doth learn to make strange sauces, to eat anchovies, maccaroni, bovoli, fagioli, and caviare, because he loves them; speaks as he speaks, looks, walks, goes so in clothes and fashion: is in all as if he were moulded of him. Marry, before they met, he had other very pretty sufficiencies, which yet he retains some light impression of; as frequenting a dancing-school, and grievously torturing strangers with inquisition after his grace in his galliard. He buys a fresh acquaintance at any rate. His eyes and his raiment confer much together as he goes in the street. He treads nicely, like the fellow that walks upon ropes, especially the first Sunday of his silk stockings; and when he is most neat and new, you shall strip him with commendations.
THE TRUE CRITIC.
A creature of a most perfect and divine temper: one in whom the humours and elements are peaceably met, without emulation of precedency. He is neither too fantastically melancholy, too slowly phlegmatic, too lightly sanguine, nor too rashly choleric; but in all so composed and ordered, as it is clear Nature went about some full work, she did more than make a man when she made him. His discourse is like his behaviour, uncommon, but not unpleasing; he is prodigal of neither. He strives rather to be that which men call judicious, than to be thought so; and is so truly learned, that he affects not to show it. He will think and speak his thought both freely; but as distant from depraving another man's merit, as proclaiming his own. For his valour, 'tis such that he dares as little to offer any injury as receive one. In sum, he hath a most ingenuous and sweet spirit, a sharp and seasoned wit, a straight judgment and a strong mind. Fortune could never break him, nor make him less. He counts it his pleasure to despise pleasures, and is more delighted with good deeds than goods. It is a competency to him that he can be virtuous. He doth neither covet nor fear; he hath too much reason to do either; and that commends all things to him.
The play that preceded "Cynthia's Revels" was "Every Man Out of his Humour." It was first printed in 1600, and Ben Jonson amused himself by adding to its list of Dramatis Personae this piece of Character Writing:—
THE CHARACTER OF THE PERSONS.
Asper. He is of an ingenious and free spirit, eager and constant in reproof, without fear controlling the world's abuses. One whom no servile hope of gain, or frosty apprehension of danger, can make to be a parasite, either to time, place, or opinion.
Macilente. A man well parted, a sufficient scholar, and travelled; who, wanting that place in the world's account which he thinks his merit capable of, falls into such an envious apoplexy, with which his judgment is so dazzled and distasted, that he grows violently impatient of any opposite happiness in another.
Puntarvolo. A vainglorious knight, over-Englishing his travels, and wholly consecrated to singularity; the very Jacob's staff of compliment; a sir that hath lived to see the revolution of time in most of his apparel. Of presence good enough, but so palpably affected to his own praise, that for want of flatterers he commends himself, to the floutage of his own family. He deals upon returns, and strange performances, resolving, in despite of public derision, to stick to his own particular fashion, phrase, and gesture.
Carlo Buffone. A public, scurrilous, and profane jester, that more swift than Circe, with absurd similes, will transform any person into deformity. A good feast-hound or banquet-beagle, that will scent you out a supper some three miles off, and swear to his patrons, damn him! he came in oars, when he was but wafted over in a sculler. A slave that hath an extraordinary gift in pleasing his palate, and will swill up more sack at a sitting than would make all the guard a posset. His religion is railing, and his discourse ribaldry. They stand highest in his respect whom he studies most to reproach.
Fastidious Brisk. A neat, spruce, affecting courtier, one that wears clothes well, and in fashion; practiseth by his glass how to salute; speaks good remnants, notwithstanding the base viol and tobacco; swears tersely, and with variety; cares not what lady's favour he belies, or great man's familiarity; a good property to perfume the boot of a coach. He will borrow another man's horse to praise, and backs him as his own. Or, for a need, on foot can post himself into credit with his merchant, only with the jingle of his spur, and the jerk of his wand.
Deliro. A good doting citizen, who, it is thought, might be of the common-council for his wealth; a fellow sincerely besotted on his own wife, and so wrapt with a conceit of her perfections, that he simply holds himself unworthy of her. And, in that hoodwinked humour, lives more like a suitor than a husband; standing in as true dread of her displeasure, as when he first made love to her. He doth sacrifice twopence in juniper to her every morning before she rises, and wakes her with villainous out-of-tune music, which she out of her contempt (though not out of her judgment) is sure to dislike.
Fallace. Deliro's wife, and idol; a proud mincing peat, and as perverse as he is officious. She dotes as perfectly upon the courtier, as her husband doth on her, and only wants the face to be dishonest.
Saviolina. A court-lady, whose weightiest praise is a light wit, admired by herself, and one more, her servant Brisk.
Sordido. A wretched hobnailed chuff, whose recreation is reading of almanacks; and felicity, foul weather. One that never prayed but for a lean dearth, and ever wept in a fat harvest.
Fungoso. The son of Sordido, and a student; one that has revelled in his time, and follows the fashion afar off, like a spy. He makes it the whole bent of his endeavours to wring sufficient means from his wretched father, to put him in the courtiers' cut; at which he earnestly aims, but so unluckily, that he still lights short a suit.
Sogliardo. An essential clown, brother to Sordido, yet so enamoured of the name of a gentleman, that he will have it though he buys it. He comes up every term to learn to take tobacco, and see new motions. He is in his kingdom when he can get himself into company where he may be well laughed at.
Shift. A threadbare shark; one that never was a soldier, yet lives upon lendings. His profession is skeldring and odling, his bank Paul's, and his warehouse Picthatch. Takes up single testons upon oath, till doomsday. Falls under executions of three shillings, and enters into five-groat bonds. He waylays the reports of services, and cons them without book, damning himself he came new from them, when all the while he was taking the diet in the bawdy-house, or lay pawned in his chamber for rent and victuals. He is of that admirable and happy memory, that he will salute one for an old acquaintance that he never saw in his life before. He usurps upon cheats, quarrels, and robberies, which he never did, only to get him a name. His chief exercises are, taking the whiff, squiring a cockatrice, and making privy searches for imparters.
Clove and Orange. An inseparable case of coxcombs, city born; the Gemini, or twins of foppery; that, like a pair of wooden foils, are fit for nothing but to be practised upon. Being well flattered they'll lend money, and repent when they have done. Their glory is to invite players, and make suppers. And in company of better rank, to avoid the suspect of insufficiency, will enforce their ignorance most desperately, to set upon the understanding of anything. Orange is the most humorous of the two, whose small portion of juice being squeezed out, Clove serves to stick him with commendations.
Cordatus. The author's friend; a man inly acquainted with the scope and drift of his plot; of a discreet and understanding judgment; and has the place of a moderator.
Mitis. Is a person of no action, and therefore we have reason to afford him no character.
_Of this kind are the
SIR THOMAS OVERBURY,
which were not published until_ 1614, _the year after their writer's death, at the age of thirty-two; but they may have been written earlier than the "Characters of Virtues and Vices"—ethical characters—written by Joseph Hall, which were first published in_ 1609.
Sir Thomas Overbury died poisoned in the Tower on the 15th of September 1613. On the 5th of January 1606, by desire of James the First, the young Earl of Essex, aged fourteen, had been married to the Lady Frances Howard, aged thirteen, the younger daughter of the Earl of Suffolk. Ben Jonson's "Masque of Hymen" was produced at Court in celebration of that union. The young Robert Devereux, third Earl of Essex, had good qualities too solid for the taste of a frivolous girl; and when, after travel abroad, the husband of eighteen claimed the wife of seventeen, he found her happy in flirtation with the King's favourite, Sir Robert Carr. Though compelled to live with her husband, she repelled all his advances, and after three years of this repugnance tried for a divorce. The King's Scotch favourite, Carr, had been made, in March 1611, an English peer, as Viscount Rochester, when the age of the young Countess of Essex was nineteen. He was the man highest in King James's favour. If the divorce sought by the Countess early in 1613 were obtained for her, it was understood that Carr would marry her, and that support of the divorce would be a way to future benefit through his good offices. Thus she obtained the support of her father and uncle, the Earls of Suffolk and Northampton. The King's influence went with the wishes of the favourite. The trial, in 1613, ending in a decree of nullity of marriage, was a four months' scandal in the land. Among the familiar friends of Robert Carr, Lord Rochester, was Sir Thomas Overbury, born in Warwickshire in 1581, and knighted by King James in 1608. He strongly opposed the policy of a divorce obtained on false pretences followed by his patron's marriage to the divorced wife. The grounds of his opposition may have been part private, part political. His opposition was determined, and if he offered himself as witness before the Commission, he probably knew enough about the lady's secret practisings to give such evidence as would frustrate her designs. It was thought desirable, therefore, to get Overbury out of the way. The King offered him a post abroad. He was unwilling to accept it, and at last was driven to an explicit refusal. The King was angry, and caused his Council to commit Sir Thomas Overbury to the Tower for contempt of His Majesty's commands. He was to be seen by no one, and to have no servant with him. Sir William Wood, the Lieutenant of the Tower, was superseded, and Sir Gervase Helwys was put in his place with secret understandings, of which the design may only have been to prevent Sir Thomas Overbury from saying anything that could come to the ears of the world until the divorce was granted. But Lady Essex wished Sir Thomas Overbury to be more effectually silenced. She had tried and failed to get him assassinated. Now she resolved to get him poisoned. She obtained the employment of a creature of her own, named Weston, as his immediate keeper. Weston falsely professed to Lady Essex that he had administered the poison she had given him, and that the result had been not death but loss of health. There is much uncertainty about the evidence of detail and of the privity of others in the designs of Lady Essex, who seems at last to have completed her work by the agency of an apothecary's assistant. He gave the fatal dose in an injection, by which Overbury was killed ten days before the Commission gave judgment in favour of the divorce. At Christmas the favourite married the divorced wife, having been created Earl of Somerset, that as his wife she might be Countess still. In the following year, 1614, Sir Thomas Overbury's "Characters" were published, together with his Character in verse of A Wife, who was described as "A Wife, now a Widow." This had been published a little earlier in the same year separately, without any added "Characters." When the Characters appeared they were described as "Many Witty Characters and conceited Newes written by himselfe and other learned Gentlemen his Friends." The twenty-one Characters in that edition were, therefore, not all from one hand. Their popularity is indicated by the fact that in the next year, 1615, they reached a sixth edition. Three more editions were published in 1616. This was because interest in the book had been heightened by the Great Oyer of Poisoning, the trial in May 1616 of the Earl and Countess of Somerset for Overbury's murder, of which both were found guilty, though the Countess took all guilt upon herself. Then followed a tenth edition in 1618, an eleventh in 1622, a twelfth in 1627, a thirteenth in 1628, a fourteenth in 1630, a fifteenth in 1632, a sixteenth in 1638; and then a pause, the seventeenth being in 1664, two years before the fire of London. By this time the original set of twenty-one Characters had been considerably increased, "with additions of New Characters and many other Witty Conceits never before Printed;" so that Overbury's Characters, which had from the first included a few pieces written by his friends, became a name for the most popular miscellany of pieces of Character Writing current in the Seventeenth Century, and shows how wit was exercised in this way by half-a-dozen or more of the mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease. These are the pieces thus at last made current as
SIR THOMAS OVERBURY'S CHARACTERS;
WITTY DESCRIPTIONS OF THE PROPERTIES OF SUNDRY PERSONS.
* * * * *
A GOOD WOMAN.
A Good Woman is a comfort, like a man. She lacks of him nothing but heat. Thence is her sweetness of disposition, which meets his stoutness more pleasingly; so wool meets iron easier than iron, and turns resisting into embracing. Her greatest learning is religion, and her thoughts are on her own sex, or on men, without casting the difference. Dishonesty never comes nearer than her ears, and then wonder stops it out, and saves virtue the labour. She leaves the neat youth telling his luscious tales, and puts back the serving-man's putting forward with a frown: yet her kindness is free enough to be seen, for it hath no guilt about it; and her mirth is clear, that you may look through it into virtue, but not beyond. She hath not behaviour at a certain, but makes it to her occasion. She hath so much knowledge as to love it; and if she have it not at home, she will fetch it, for this sometimes in a pleasant discontent she dares chide her sex, though she use it never the worse. She is much within, and frames outward things to her mind, not her mind to them. She wears good clothes, but never better; for she finds no degree beyond decency. She hath a content of her own, and so seeks not an husband, but finds him. She is indeed most, but not much of description, for she is direct and one, and hath not the variety of ill. Now she is given fresh and alive to a husband, and she doth nothing more than love him, for she takes him to that purpose. So his good becomes the business of her actions, and she doth herself kindness upon him. After his, her chiefest virtue is a good husband. For she is he.
A VERY WOMAN.
A Very Woman is a dough-baked man, or a She meant well towards man, but fell two bows short, strength and understanding. Her virtue is the hedge, modesty, that keeps a man from climbing over into her faults. She simpers as if she had no teeth but lips; and she divides her eyes, and keeps half for herself, and gives the other to her neat youth. Being set down, she casts her face into a platform, which dureth the meal, and is taken away with the voider. Her draught reacheth to good manners, not to thirst, and it is a part of their mystery not to profess hunger; but nature takes her in private and stretcheth her upon meat. She is marriageable and fourteen at once, and after she doth not live but tarry. She reads over her face every morning, and sometimes blots out pale and writes red. She thinks she is fair, though many times her opinion goes alone, and she loves her glass and the knight of the sun for lying. She is hid away all but her face, and that's hanged about with toys and devices, like the sign of a tavern, to draw strangers. If she show more she prevents desire, and by too free giving leaves no gift. She may escape from the serving-man, but not from the chambermaid. Her philosophy is a seeming neglect of those that be too good for her. She's a younger brother for her portion, but not for her portion for wit—that comes from her in treble, which is still too big for it; yet her vanity seldom matcheth her with one of her own degree, for then she will beget another creature a beggar, and commonly, if she marry better she marries worse. She gets much by the simplicity of her suitor, and for a jest laughs at him without one. Thus she dresses a husband for herself, and after takes him for his patience, and the land adjoining, ye may see it, in a serving-man's fresh napery, and his leg steps into an unknown stocking. I need not speak of his garters, the tassel shows itself. If she love, she loves not the man, but the best of him. She is Salomon's cruel creature, and a man's walking consumption; every caudle she gives him is a purge. Her chief commendation is, she brings a man to repentance.
HER NEXT PART.
Her lightness gets her to swim at top of the table, where her wry little finger bewrays carving; her neighbours at the latter end know they are welcome, and for that purpose she quencheth her thirst. She travels to and among, and so becomes a woman of good entertainment, for all the folly in the country comes in clean linen to visit her; she breaks to them her grief in sugar cakes, and receives from their mouths in exchange many stories that conclude to no purpose. Her eldest son is like her howsoever, and that dispraiseth him best; her utmost drift is to turn him fool, which commonly she obtains at the years of discretion. She takes a journey sometimes to her niece's house, but never thinks beyond London. Her devotion is good clothes—they carry her to church, express their stuff and fashion, and are silent if she be more devout; she lifts up a certain number of eyes instead of prayers, and takes the sermon, and measures out a nap by it, just as long. She sends religion afore to sixty, where she never overtakes it, or drives it before her again. Her most necessary instruments are a waiting gentlewoman and a chambermaid; she wears her gentlewoman still, but most often leaves the other in her chamber window. She hath a little kennel in her lap, and she smells the sweeter for it. The utmost reach of her providence is the fatness of a capon, and her greatest envy is the next gentlewoman's better gown. Her most commendable skill is to make her husband's fustian bear her velvet. This she doth many times over, and then is delivered to old age and a chair, where everybody leaves her.
Is an essence needing a double definition, for he is not that he appears. Unto the eye he is pleasing, unto the ear he is harsh, but unto the understanding intricate and full of windings; he is the prima materia, and his intents give him form; he dyeth his means and his meaning into two colours; he baits craft with humility, and his countenance is the picture of the present disposition. He wins not by battery but undermining, and his rack is smoothing. He allures, is not allured by his affections, for they are the breakers of his observation. He knows passion only by sufferance, and resisteth by obeying. He makes his time an accountant to his memory, and of the humours of men weaves a net for occasion; the inquisitor must look through his judgment, for to the eye only he is not visible.
To all men's thinking, is a man, and to most men the finest; all things else are defined by the understanding, but this by the senses; but his surest mark is, that he is to be found only about princes. He smells, and putteth away much of his judgment about the situation of his clothes. He knows no man that is not generally known. His wit, like the marigold, openeth with the sun, and therefore he riseth not before ten of the clock. He puts more confidence in his words than meaning, and more in his pronunciation than his words. Occasion is his Cupid, and he hath but one receipt of making love. He follows nothing but inconstancy, admires nothing but beauty, honours nothing but fortune: Loves nothing. The sustenance of his discourse is news, and his censure, like a shot, depends upon the charging. He is not, if he be out of court, but fish-like breathes destruction if out of his element. Neither his motion or aspect are regular, but he moves by the upper spheres, and is the reflection of higher substances.
If you find him not here, you shall in Paul's, with a pick-tooth in his hat, cape-cloak, and a long stocking.
A GOLDEN ASS
Is a young thing, whose father went to the devil; he is followed like a salt bitch, and limbed by him that gets up first; his disposition is cut, and knaves rend him like tenter-hooks; he is as blind as his mother, and swallows flatterers for friends. He is high in his own imagination, but that imagination is as a stone that is raised by violence, descends naturally. When he goes, he looks who looks; if he find not good store of vailers, he comes home stiff and sere, until he be new oiled and watered by his husbandmen. Wheresoever he eats he hath an officer to warn men not to talk out of his element, and his own is exceeding sensible, because it is sensual; but he cannot exchange a piece of reason, though he can a piece of gold. He is not plucked, for his feathers are his beauty, and more than his beauty, they are his discretion, his countenance, his all. He is now at an end, for he hath had the wolf of vainglory, which he fed until himself became the food.
Is the shadow of a fool. He is a good woodman, for he singleth out none but the wealthy. His carriage is ever of the colour of his patient; and for his sake he will halt or wear a wry neck. He dispraiseth nothing but poverty and small drink, and praiseth his Grace of making water. He selleth himself with reckoning his great friends, and teacheth the present how to win his praises by reciting the other gifts; he is ready for all employments, but especially before dinner, for his courage and his stomach go together. He will play any upon his countenance, and where he cannot be admitted for a counsellor he will serve as a fool. He frequents the Court of Wards and Ordinaries, and fits these guests of Togae viriles with wives or worse. He entereth young men into aquaintance with debt-books. In a word, he is the impression of the last term, and will be so until the coming of a new term or termer.
AN IGNORANT GLORY-HUNTER
Is an insectum animal, for he is the maggot of opinion; his behaviour is another thing from himself, and is glued and but set on. He entertains men with repetitions, and returns them their own words. He is ignorant of nothing, no not of those things where ignorance is the lesser shame. He gets the names of good wits, and utters them for his companions. He confesseth vices that he is guiltless of, if they be in fashion; and dares not salute a man in old clothes, or out of fashion. There is not a public assembly without him, and he will take any pains for an acquaintance there. In any show he will be one, though he be but a whiffler or a torch-bearer, and bears down strangers with the story of his actions. He handles nothing that is not rare, and defends his wardrobe, diet, and all customs, with intituling their beginnings from princes, great soldiers, and strange nations. He dare speak more than he understands, and adventures his words without the relief of any seconds. He relates battles and skirmishes as from an eyewitness, when his eyes thievishly beguiled a ballad of them. In a word, to make sure of admiration, he will not let himself understand himself, but hopes fame and opinion will be the readers of his riddles.
Is a noun adjective of the present tense. He hath no more of a conscience than fear, and his religion is not his but the prince's. He reverenceth a courtier's servant's servant; is first his own slave, and then whosesoever looketh big. When he gives he curseth, and when he sells he worships. He reads the statutes in his chamber, and wears the Bible in the streets; he never praiseth any, but before themselves or friends; and mislikes no great man's actions during his life. His New Year's gifts are ready at Allhallowmas, and the suit he meant to meditate before them. He pleaseth the children of great men, and promiseth to adopt them, and his courtesy extends itself even to the stable. He strains to talk wisely, and his modesty would serve a bride. He is gravity from the head to the foot, but not from the head to the heart. You may find what place he affecteth, for he creeps as near it as may be, and as passionately courts it; if at any time his hopes be affected, he swelleth with them, and they burst out too good for the vessel. In a word, he danceth to the tune of Fortune, and studies for nothing but to keep time.
Is a man blasted or planet-stricken, and is the dog that leads blind Cupid; when he is at the best his fashion exceeds the worth of his weight. He is never without verses and musk confects, and sighs to the hazard of his buttons. His eyes are all white, either to wear the livery of his mistress' complexion or to keep Cupid from hitting the black. He fights with passion, and loseth much of his blood by his weapon; dreams, thence his paleness. His arms are carelessly used, as if their best use was nothing but embracements. He is untrussed, unbuttoned, and ungartered, not out of carelessness, but care; his farthest end being but going to bed. Sometimes he wraps his petition in neatness, but he goeth not alone; for then he makes some other quality moralise his affection, and his trimness is the grace of that grace. Her favour lifts him up as the sun moisture; when she disfavours, unable to hold that happiness, it falls down in tears. His fingers are his orators, and he expresseth much of himself upon some instrument. He answers not, or not to the purpose, and no marvel, for he is not at home. He scotcheth time with dancing with his mistress, taking up of her glove, and wearing her feather; he is confined to her colour, and dares not pass out of the circuit of her memory. His imagination is a fool, and it goeth in a pied coat of red and white. Shortly, he is translated out of a man into folly; his imagination is the glass of lust, and himself the traitor to his own discretion.
AN AFFECTED TRAVELLER
Is a speaking fashion; he hath taken pains to be ridiculous, and hath seen more than he hath perceived. His attire speaks French or Italian, and his gait cries, Behold me. He censures all things by countenances and shrugs, and speaks his own language with shame and lisping; he will choke rather than confess beer good drink, and his pick-tooth is a main part of his behaviour. He chooseth rather to be counted a spy than not a politician, and maintains his reputation by naming great men familiarly. He chooseth rather to tell lies than not wonders, and talks with men singly; his discourse sounds big, but means nothing; and his boy is bound to admire him howsoever. He comes still from great personages, but goes with mean. He takes occasion to show jewels given him in regard of his virtue, that were bought in St. Martin's; and not long after having with a mountebank's method pronounced them worth thousands, impawneth them for a few shillings. Upon festival days he goes to court, and salutes without resaluting; at night in an ordinary he canvasseth the business in hand, and seems as conversant with all intents and plots as if he begot them. His extraordinary account of men is, first to tell them the ends of all matters of consequence, and then to borrow money of them; he offers courtesies to show them, rather than himself, humble. He disdains all things above his reach, and preferreth all countries before his own. He imputeth his want and poverty to the ignorance of the time, not his own unworthiness; and concludes his discourse with half a period, or a word, and leaves the rest to imagination. In a word, his religion is fashion, and both body and soul are governed by fame; he loves most voices above truth.
A WISE MAN
Is the truth of the true definition of man, that is, a reasonable creature. His disposition alters; he alters not. He hides himself with the attire of the vulgar; and in indifferent things is content to be governed by them. He looks according to nature; so goes his behaviour. His mind enjoys a continual smoothness; so cometh it that his consideration is always at home. He endures the faults of all men silently, except his friends, and to them he is the mirror of their actions; by this means, his peace cometh not from fortune, but himself. He is cunning in men, not to surprise, but keep his own, and beats off their ill-affected humours no otherwise than if they were flies. He chooseth not friends by the Subsidy-book, and is not luxurious after acquaintance. He maintains the strength of his body, not by delicates but temperance; and his mind, by giving it pre-eminence over his body. He understands things, not by their form, but qualities; and his comparisons intend not to excuse but to provoke him higher. He is not subject to casualties, for fortune hath nothing to do with the mind, except those drowned in the body; but he hath divided his soul from the case of his soul, whose weakness he assists no otherwise than commiseratively—not that it is his, but that it is. He is thus, and will be thus; and lives subject neither to time nor his frailties, the servant of virtue, and by virtue the friend of the highest.
A NOBLE SPIRIT
Hath surveyed and fortified his disposition, and converts all occurrents into experience, between which experience and his reason there is marriage; the issue are his actions. He circuits his intents, and seeth the end before he shoot. Men are the instruments of his art, and there is no man without his use. Occasion incites him, none enticeth him; and he moves by affection, not for affection. He loves glory, scorns shame, and governeth and obeyeth with one countenance, for it comes from one consideration. He calls not the variety of the world chances, for his meditation hath travelled over them, and his eye, mounted upon his understanding, seeth them as things underneath. He covers not his body with delicacies, nor excuseth these delicacies by his body, but teacheth it, since it is not able to defend its own imbecility, to show or suffer. He licenseth not his weakness to wear fate, but knowing reason to be no idle gift of nature, he is the steersman of his own destiny. Truth is the goddess, and he takes pains to get her, not to look like her. He knows the condition of the world, that he must act one thing like another, and then another. To these he carries his desires, and not his desires him, and sticks not fast by the way (for that contentment is repentance), but knowing the circle of all courses, of all intents, of all things, to have but one centre or period, without all distraction, he hasteth thither and ends there, as his true and natural element. He doth not contemn Fortune, but not confess her. He is no gamester of the world (which only complain and praise her), but being only sensible of the honesty of actions, contemns a particular profit as the excrement of scum. Unto the society of men he is a sun, whose clearness directs their steps in a regular motion. When he is more particular, he is the wise man's friend, the example of the indifferent, the medicine of the vicious. Thus time goeth not from him, but with him; and he feels age more by the strength of his soul than the weakness of his body. Thus feels he no pain, but esteems all such things as friends that desire to file off his fetters, and help him out of prison.
AN OLD MAN
Is a thing that hath been a man in his days. Old men are to be known blindfolded, for their talk is as terrible as their resemblance. They praise their own times as vehemently as if they would sell them. They become wrinkled with frowning and facing youth; they admire their old customs, even to the eating of red herring and going wetshod. They cast the thumb under the girdle, gravity; and because they can hardly smell at all their posies are under their girdles. They count it an ornament of speech to close the period with a cough; and it is venerable (they say) to spend time in wiping their drivelled beards. Their discourse is unanswerable, by reason of their obstinacy; their speech is much, though little to the purpose. Truths and lies pass with an unequal affirmation; for their memories several are won into one receptacle, and so they come out with one sense. They teach their servants their duties with as much scorn and tyranny as some people teach their dogs to fetch. Their envy is one of their diseases. They put off and on their clothes with that certainty, as if they knew their heads would not direct them, and therefore custom should. They take a pride in halting and going stiffly, and therefore their staves are carved and tipped; they trust their attire with much of their gravity; and they dare not go without a gown in summer. Their hats are brushed, to draw men's eyes off from their faces; but of all, their pomanders are worn to most purpose, for their putrified breath ought not to want either a smell to defend or a dog to excuse.
A COUNTRY GENTLEMAN
Is a thing, out of whose corruption the generation of a Justice of Peace is produced. He speaks statutes and husbandry well enough to make his neighbours think him a wise man; he is well skilled in arithmetic or rates, and hath eloquence enough to save twopence. His conversation amongst his tenants is desperate, but amongst his equals full of doubt. His travel is seldom farther than the next market town, and his inquisition is about the price of corn. When he travelleth he will go ten miles out of the way to a cousin's house of his to save charges; he rewards the servant by taking him by the hand when he departs. Nothing under a subpoena can draw him to London; and when he is there he sticks fast upon every object, casts his eyes away upon gazing, and becomes the prey of every cutpurse. When he comes home, those wonders serve him for his holiday talk. If he go to court it is in yellow stockings; and if it be in winter, in a slight taffety cloak, and pumps and pantofles. He is chained that woos the usher for his coming into the presence, where he becomes troublesome with the ill-managing of his rapier, and the wearing of his girdle of one fashion, and the hangers of another. By this time he hath learned to kiss his hand, and make a leg both together, and the names of lords and councillors. He hath thus much toward entertainment and courtesy, but of the last he makes more use, for, by the recital of my lord, he conjures his poor countrymen. But this is not his element; he must home again, being like a dor, that ends his flight in a dunghill.
A FINE GENTLEMAN
Is the cinnamon tree, whose bark is more worth than his body. He hath read the book of good manners, and by this time each of his limbs may read it. He alloweth of no judge but the eye: painting, bolstering, and bombasting are his orators. By these also he proves his industry, for he hath purchased legs, hair, beauty, and straightness, more than nature left him. He unlocks maidenheads with his language, and speaks Euphues, not so gracefully as heartily. His discourse makes not his behaviour; but he buys it at court, as countrymen their clothes in Birchin Lane. He is somewhat like the salamander, and lives in the flame of love, which pains he expresseth comically. And nothing grieves him so much as the want of a poet to make an issue in his love. Yet he sighs sweetly and speaks lamentably, for his breath is perfumed and his words are wind. He is best in season at Christmas, for the boar's head and reveller come together. His hopes are laden in his quality; and, lest fiddlers should take him unprovided, he wears pumps in his pocket; and, lest he should take fiddlers unprovided, he whistles his own galliard. He is a calendar of ten years, and marriage rusts him. Afterwards he maintains himself an implement of household, by carving and ushering. For all this, he is judicial only in tailors and barbers; but his opinion is ever ready, and ever idle. If you will know more of his acts, the broker's shop is the witness of his valour, where lies wounded, dead rent, and out of fashion, many a spruce suit, overthrown by his fantasticness.
AN ELDER BROTHER
Is a creature born to the best advantage of things without him; that hath the start at the beginning, but loiters it away before the ending. He looks like his land, as heavily and dirtily, as stubbornly. He dares do anything but fight, and fears nothing but his father's life, and minority. The first thing he makes known is his estate, and the loadstone that draws him is the upper end of the table. He wooeth by a particular, and his strongest argument is all about the jointure. His observation is all about the fashion, and he commends partlets for a rare device. He speaks no language, but smells of dogs or hawks, and his ambition flies justice-height. He loves to be commended; and he will go into the kitchen but he'll have it. He loves glory, but is so lazy as he is content with flattery. He speaks most of the precedency of age, and protests fortune the greatest virtue. He summoneth the old servants, and tells what strange acts he will do when he reigns. He verily believes housekeepers the best commonwealths-men, and therefore studies baking, brewing, greasing, and such, as the limbs of goodness. He judgeth it no small sign of wisdom to talk much; his tongue therefore goes continually his errand, but never speeds. If his understanding were not honester than his will, no man should keep good conceit by him, for he thinks it no theft to sell all he can to opinion. His pedigree and his father's seal-ring are the stilts of his crazed disposition. He had rather keep company with the dregs of men than not to be the best man. His insinuation is the inviting of men to his house; and he thinks it a great modesty to comprehend his cheer under a piece of mutton and a rabbit. If he by this time be not known, he will go home again, for he can no more abide to have himself concealed than his land. Yet he is (as you see) good for nothing, except to make a stallion to maintain the race.
A BRAGGADOCIO WELSHMAN
Is the oyster that the pearl is in, for a man may be picked out of him. He hath the abilities of the mind in potentia, and actu nothing but boldness. His clothes are in fashion before his body, and he accounts boldness the chiefest virtue. Above all men he loves an herald, and speaks pedigrees naturally. He accounts none well descended that call him not cousin, and prefers Owen Glendower before any of the Nine Worthies. The first note of his familiarity is the confession of his valour, and so he prevents quarrels. He voucheth Welsh a pure and unconquered language, and courts ladies with the story of their chronicle. To conclude, he is precious in his own conceit, and upon St. David's Day without comparison.
He treads in a rule, and one hand scans verses, and the other holds his sceptre. He dares not think a thought that the nominative case governs not the verb; and he never had meaning in his life, for he travelled only for words. His ambition is criticism, and his example Tully. He values phrases, and elects them by the sound, and the eight parts of speech are his servants. To be brief, he is a Heteroclite, for he wants the plural number, having only the single quality of words.
Is a creature, which, though he be not drunk, yet is not his own man. He tells without asking who owns him, by the superscription of his livery. His life is for ease and leisure, much about gentleman-like. His wealth enough to suffice nature, and sufficient to make him happy, if he were sure of it, for he hath little, and wants nothing; he values himself higher or lower as his master is. He hates or loves the men as his master doth the master. He is commonly proud of his master's horses or his Christmas; he sleeps when he is sleepy, is of his religion, only the clock of his stomach is set to go an hour after his. He seldom breaks his own clothes. He never drinks but double, for he must be pledged; nor commonly without some short sentence nothing to the purpose, and seldom abstains till he comes to a thirst. His discretion is to be careful for his master's credit, and his sufficiency to marshal dishes at a table, and to carve well; his neatness consists much in his hair and outward linen; his courting language, visible coarse jests; and against his matter fail, he is always ready furnished with a song. His inheritance is the chambermaid, but often purchaseth his master's daughter, by reason of opportunity, or for want of a better, he always cuckolds himself, and never marries but his own widow. His master being appeased, he becomes a retainer, and entails himself and his posterity upon his heir-males for ever.
Is the kernel of a sign; or the sign is the shell, and mine host is the snail. He consists of double beer and fellowship, and his vices are the bawds of his thirst. He entertains humbly, and gives his guests power, as well of himself as house. He answers all men's expectations to his power, save in the reckoning; and hath gotten the trick of greatness, to lay all mislikes upon his servants. His wife is the common seed of his dove-house; and to be a good guest is a warrant for her liberty. He traffics for guests by men-friends' friends' friends, and is sensible only of his purse. In a word, he is none of his own; for he neither eats, drinks, or thinks, but at other men's charges and appointments.
Is a thing that scrubbeth unreasonably his horse, reasonably himself. He consists of travellers, though he be none himself. His highest ambition is to be host, and the invention of his sign is his greatest wit, for the expressing whereof he sends away the painters for want of understanding. He hath certain charms for a horse mouth, that he should not eat his hay; and behind your back he will cozen your horse to his face. His curry-comb is one of his best parts, for he expresseth much by the jingling; and his mane-comb is a spinner's card turned out of service. He puffs and blows over your horse, to the hazard of a double jug, and leaves much of the dressing to the proverb of muli mutuo scabient, one horse rubs another. He comes to him that calls loudest, not first; he takes a broken head patiently, but the knave he feels it not; utmost honesty is good fellowship, and he speaks northern, what countryman soever. He hath a pension of ale from the next smith and saddler for intelligence; he loves to see you ride, and hold your stirrup in expectation.
THE TRUE CHARACTER OF A DUNCE.
He hath a soul drowned in a lump of flesh, or is a piece of earth that Prometheus put not half his proportion of fire into. A thing that hath neither edge of desire nor feeling of affection in it; the most dangerous creature for confirming an atheist, who would swear his soul were nothing but the bare temperature of his body. He sleeps as he goes, and his thoughts seldom reach an inch further than his eyes. The most part of the faculties of his soul lie fallow, or are like the restive jades that no spur can drive forward towards the pursuit of any worthy designs. One of the most unprofitable of God's creatures, being as he is a thing put clean beside the right use; made fit for the cart and the flail, and by mischance entangled amongst books and papers. A man cannot tell possibly what he is now good for, save to move up and down and fill room, or to serve as animatum instrumentum, for others to work withal in base employments, or to be foil for better wits, or to serve (as they say monsters do) to set out the variety of nature, and ornament of the universe. He is mere nothing of himself, neither eats, nor drinks, nor goes, nor spits, but by imitation, for all which he hath set forms and fashions, which he never varies, but sticks to with the like plodding constancy that a mill-horse follows his trace. But the Muses and the Graces are his hard mistresses; though he daily invocate them, though he sacrifice hecatombs, they still look asquint. You shall note him (besides his dull eye, and lowering head, and a certain clammy benumbed pace) by a fair displayed beard, a night-cap, and a gown, whose very wrinkles proclaim him the true genius of familiarity. But of all others, his discourse and compositions best speak him, both of them are much of one stuff and fashion. He speaks just what his books or last company said unto him, without varying one whit, and very seldom understands himself. You may know by his discourse where he was last; for what he heard or read yesterday, he now dischargeth his memory or note-book of—not his understanding, for it never came there. What he hath he flings abroad at all adventures, without accommodating it to time, place, or persons, or occasions. He commonly loseth himself in his tale, and flutters up and down windless without recovery, and whatsoever next presents itself, his heavy conceit seizeth upon, and goeth along with, however heterogeneal to his matter in hand. His jests are either old fled proverbs, or lean-starved hackney apophthegms, or poor verbal quips, outworn by serving-men, tapsters, and milkmaids, even laid aside by balladers. He assents to all men that bring any shadow of reason, and you may make him when he speaks most dogmatically even with one breath, to aver poor contradictions. His compositions differ only terminorum positione from dreams; nothing but rude heaps of immaterial, incoherent, drossy, rubbishy stuff, promiscuously thrust up together; enough to infuse dulness and barrenness in conceit into him that is so prodigal of his ears as to give the hearing; enough to make a man's memory ache with suffering such dirty stuff cast into it. As unwelcome to any true conceit, as sluttish morsels or wallowish potions to a nice stomach, which whiles he empties himself, it sticks in his teeth, nor can he be delivered without sweat, and sighs, and hems, and coughs enough to shake his grandam's teeth out of her head. He spits, and scratches, and spawls, and turns like sick men from one elbow to another, and deserves as much pity during his torture as men in fits of tertian fevers, or self-lashing penitentiaries. In a word, rip him quite asunder, and examine every shred of him, you shall find of him to be just nothing but the subject of nothing; the object of contempt; yet such as he is you must take him, for there is no hope he should ever become better.
A GOOD WIFE
Is a man's best movable, a scion incorporate with the stock, bringing sweet fruit; one that to her husband is more than a friend, less than trouble; an equal with him in the yoke. Calamities and troubles she shares alike, nothing pleaseth her that doth not him. She is relative in all, and he without her but half himself. She is his absent hands, eyes, ears, and mouth; his present and absent all. She frames her nature unto his howsoever; the hyacinth follows not the sun more willingly. Stubbornness and obstinacy are herbs that grow not in her garden. She leaves tattling to the gossips of the town, and is more seen than heard. Her household is her charge; her care to that makes her seldom non-resident. Her pride is but to be cleanly, and her thrift not to be prodigal. By her discretion she hath children not wantons; a husband without her is a misery to man's apparel: none but she hath an aged husband, to whom she is both a staff and a chair. To conclude, she is both wise and religious, which makes her all this.
A MELANCHOLY MAN
Is a strayer from the drove: one that Nature made a sociable, because she made him man, and a crazed disposition hath altered. Unpleasing to all, as all to him; straggling thoughts are his content, they make him dream waking, there's his pleasure. His imagination is never idle, it keeps his mind in a continual motion, as the poise the clock: he winds up his thoughts often, and as often unwinds them; Penelope's web thrives faster. He'll seldom be found without the shade of some grove, in whose bottom a river dwells. He carries a cloud in his face, never fair weather; his outside is framed to his inside, in that he keeps a decorum, both unseemly. Speak to him; he hears with his eyes, ears follow his mind, and that's not at leisure. He thinks business, but never does any; he is all contemplation, no action. He hews and fashions his thoughts, as if he meant them to some purpose, but they prove unprofitable, as a piece of wrought timber to no use. His spirits and the sun are enemies: the sun bright and warm, his humour black and cold; variety of foolish apparitions people his head, they suffer him not to breathe according to the necessities of nature, which makes him sup up a draught of as much air at once as would serve at thrice. He denies nature her due in sleep, and nothing pleaseth him long, but that which pleaseth his own fantasies; they are the consuming evils, and evil consumptions that consume him alive. Lastly, he is a man only in show; but comes short of the better part, a whole reasonable soul, which is man's chief pre-eminence and sole mark from creatures sensible.
Is a pitched piece of reason caulked and tackled, and only studied to dispute with tempests. He is part of his own provision, for he lives ever pickled. A fore-wind is the substance of his creed, and fresh water the burden of his prayers. He is naturally ambitious, for he is ever climbing; out of which as naturally he fears, for he is ever flying. Time and he are everywhere ever contending who shall arrive first; he is well-winded, for he tires the day, and outruns darkness. His life is like a hawk's, the best part mewed; and if he live till three coats, is a master. He sees God's wonders in the deep, but so as rather they appear his playfellows than stirrers of his zeal. Nothing but hunger and hard rocks can convert him, and then but his upper deck neither; for his hold neither fears nor hopes, his sleeps are but reprievals of his dangers, and when he wakes 'tis but next stage to dying. His wisdom is the coldest part about him, for it ever points to the north, and it lies lowest, which makes his valour every tide overflow it. In a storm it is disputable whether the noise be more his or the elements, and which will first leave scolding; on which side of the ship he may be saved best, whether his faith be starboard faith or larboard, or the helm at that time not all his hope of heaven. His keel is the emblem of his conscience, till it be split he never repents, then no farther than the land allows him, and his language is a new confusion, and all his thoughts new nations. His body and his ship are both one burden, nor is it known who stows most wine or rolls most; only the ship is guided, he has no stern. A barnacle and he are bred together, both of one nature, and it is feared one reason. Upon any but a wooden horse he cannot ride, and if the wind blow against him he dare not. He swerves up to his seat as to a sail-yard, and cannot sit unless he bear a flagstaff. If ever he be broken to the saddle, it is but a voyage still, for he mistakes the bridle for a bowline, and is ever turning his horse-tail. He can pray, but it is by rote, not faith, and when he would he dares not, for his brackish belief hath made that ominous. A rock or a quicksand plucks him before he be ripe, else he is gathered to his friends at Wapping.
Is the husbandman of valour; his sword is his plough, which honour and aqua vita, two fiery-metalled jades, are ever drawing. A younger brother best becomes arms, an elder the thanks for them. Every heat makes him a harvest, and discontents abroad are his sowers. He is actively his prince's, but passively his anger's servant. He is often a desirer of learning, which once arrived at, proves his strongest armour. He is a lover at all points, and a true defender of the faith of women. More wealth than makes him seem a handsome foe, lightly he covets not, less is below him. He never truly wants but in much having, for then his ease and lechery afflict him. The word peace, though in prayer, makes him start, and God he best considers by His power. Hunger and cold rank in the same file with him, and hold him to a man; his honour else, and the desire of doing things beyond him, would blow him greater than the sons of Anak. His religion is, commonly, as his cause is, doubtful, and that the best devotion keeps best quarter. He seldom sees grey hairs, some none at all, for where the sword fails, there the flesh gives fire. In charity he goes beyond the clergy, for he loves his greatest enemy best, much drinking. He seems a full student, for he is a great desirer of controversies; he argues sharply, and carries his conclusion in his scabbard. In the first refining of mankind this was the gold, his actions are his amel. His alloy (for else you cannot work him perfectly) continual duties, heavy and weary marches, lodgings as full of need as cold diseases. No time to argue, but to execute. Line him with these, and link him to his squadrons, and he appears a most rich chain for princes.
Is a creature made up of threads that were pared off from Adam, when he was rough cast; the end of his being differeth from that of others, and is not to serve God, but to cover sin. Other men's pride is the best patron, and their negligence a main passage to his profit. He is a thing of more than ordinary judgment: for by virtue of that he buyeth land, buildeth houses, and raiseth the set roof of his cross-legged fortune. His actions are strong encounters, and for their notoriousness always upon record. It is neither Amadis de Gaul, nor the Knight of the Sun, that is able to resist them. A ten-groat fee setteth them on foot, and a brace of officers bringeth them to execution. He handleth the Spanish pike to the hazard of many poor Egyptian vermin; and in show of his valour, scorneth a greater gauntlet than will cover the top of his middle finger. Of all weapons he most affecteth the long bill; and this he will manage to the great prejudice of a customer's estate. His spirit, notwithstanding, is not so much as to make you think him man; like a true mongrel, he neither bites nor barks but when your back is towards him. His heart is a lump of congealed snow: Prometheus was asleep while it was making. He differeth altogether from God; for with him the best pieces are still marked out for damnation, and, without hope of recovery, shall be cast down into hell. He is partly an alchemist; for he extracteth his own apparel out of other men's clothes; and when occasion serveth, making a broker's shop his alembic, can turn your silks into gold, and having furnished his necessities, after a month or two, if he be urged unto it, reduce them again to their proper subsistence. He is in part likewise an arithmetician, cunning enough for multiplication and addition, but cannot abide subtraction: summa totalis is the language of his Canaan, and usque ad ultimum quadrantem the period of all his charity. For any skill in geometry I dare not commend him, for he could never yet find out the dimensions of his own conscience; notwithstanding he hath many bottoms, it seemeth this is always bottomless. And so with a libera nos a malo I leave you, promising to amend whatsoever is amiss at his next setting.
Is a diseased piece of apocalypse: bind him to the Bible, and he corrupts the whole text. 'Ignorance and fat feed are his founders; his nurses, railing, rabies, and round breeches. His life is but a borrowed blast of wind: for between two religions, as between two doors, he is ever whistling. Truly, whose child he is is yet unknown; for, willingly, his faith allows no father: only thus far his pedigree is found, Bragger and he flourished about a time first. His fiery zeal keeps him continually costive, which withers him into his own translation; and till he eat a schoolman he is hide-bound. He ever prays against non-residents, but is himself the greatest discontinuer, for he never keeps near his text. Anything that the law allows, but marriage and March beer, he murmurs at; what it disallows and holds dangerous, makes him a discipline. Where the gate stands open, he is ever seeking a stile; and where his learning ought to climb, he creeps through. Give him advice, you run into traditions; and urge a modest course, he cries out counsel. His greatest care is to contemn obedience; his last care to serve God handsomely and cleanly. He is now become so cross a kind of teaching, that should the Church enjoin clean shirts, he were lousy. More sense than single prayers is not his; nor more in those than still the same petitions: from which he either fears a learned faith, or doubts God understands not at first hearing. Show him a ring, he runs back like a bear; and hates square dealing as allied to caps. A pair of organs blow him out of the parish, and are the only glyster-pipes to cool him. Where the meat is best, there he confutes most, for his arguing is but the efficacy of his eating: good bits he holds breed good positions, and the Pope he best concludes against in plum-broth. He is often drunk, but not as we are, temporally; nor can his sleep then cure him, for the fumes of his ambition make his very soul reel, and that small beer that should allay him (silence) keeps him more surfeited, and makes his heat break out in private houses. Women and lawyers are his best disciples; the one, next fruit, longs for forbidden doctrine, the other to maintain forbidden titles, both which he sows amongst them. Honest he dare not be, for that loves order; yet, if he can be brought to ceremony and made but master of it, he is converted.
A MERE COMMON LAWYER
Is the best shadow to make a discreet one show the fairer. He is a materia prima informed by reports, actuated by statutes, and hath his motion by the favourable intelligence of the Court. His law is always furnished with a commission to arraign his conscience; but, upon judgment given, he usually sets it at large. He thinks no language worth knowing but his Barragouin: only for that point he hath been a long time at wars with Priscian for a northern province. He imagines that by sure excellency his profession only is learning, and that it is a profanation of the Temple to his Themis dedicated, if any of the liberal arts be there admitted to offer strange incense to her. For, indeed, he is all for money. Seven or eight years squires him out, some of his nation less standing; and ever since the night of his call, he forgot much what he was at dinner. The next morning his man (in actu or potentia) enjoys his pickadels. His laundress is then shrewdly troubled in fitting him a ruff, his perpetual badge. His love-letters of the last year of his gentlemanship are stuffed with discontinuances, remitters, and uncore priests; but, now being enabled to speak in proper person, he talks of a French hood instead of a jointure, wags his law, and joins issue. Then he begins to stick his letters in his ground chamber-window, that so the superscription may make his squireship transparent. His heraldry gives him place before the minister, because the Law was before the Gospel. Next term he walks his hoopsleeve gown to the hall; there it proclaims him. He feeds fat in the reading, and till it chance to his turn, dislikes no house order so much as that the month is so contracted to a fortnight. Amongst his country neighbours he arrogates as much honour for being reader of an Inn of Chancery, as if it had been of his own house; for they, poor souls, take law and conscience, Court and Chancery, for all one. He learned to frame his case from putting riddles and imitating Merlin's prophecies, and to set all the Cross Row together by the ears; yet his whole law is not able to decide Lucan's one old controversy betwixt Tau and Sigma. He accounts no man of his cap and coat idle, but who trots not the circuit. He affects no life or quality for itself, but for gain; and that, at least, to the stating him in a Justice of Peace-ship, which is the first quickening soul superadded to the elementary and inanimate form of his new tide. His terms are his wife's vacations; yet she then may usurp divers Court-days, and has her returns in mensem for writs of entry—often shorter. His vacations are her termers; but in assize time (the circuit being long) he may have a trial at home against him by nisi prius. No way to heaven, he thinks, so wise as through Westminster Hall; and his clerks commonly through it visit both heaven and hell. Yet then he oft forgets his journey's end, although he look on the Star-Chamber. Neither is he wholly destitute of the arts. Grammar he has enough to make termination of those words which his authority hath endenizoned rhetoric-some; but so little that it is thought a concealment. Logic, enough to wrangle. Arithmetic, enough for the ordinals of his year-books and number-rolls; but he goes not to multiplication, there is a statute against it. So much geometry, that he can advise in a perambulatione fadenda, or a rationalibus divisis. In astronomy and astrology he is so far seen, that by the Dominical letter he knows the holy-days, and finds by calculation that Michaelmas term will be long and dirty. Marry, he knows so much in music that he affects only the most and cunningest discords; rarely a perfect concord, especially song, except in fine. His skill in perspective endeavours much to deceive the eye of the law, and gives many false colours. He is specially practised in necromancy (such a kind as is out of the Statute of Primo), by raising many dead questions. What sufficiency he hath in criticism, the foul copies of his special pleas will tell you. Many of the same coat, which are much to be honoured, partake of divers of his indifferent qualities; but so that discretion, virtue, and sometimes other good learning, concurring and distinguishing ornaments to them, make them as foils to set their work on.
A MERE SCHOLAR.
A mere scholar is an intelligible ass, or a silly fellow in black that speaks sentences more familiarly than sense. The antiquity of his University is his creed, and the excellency of his college (though but for a match at football) an article of his faith. He speaks Latin better than his mother-tongue, and is a stranger in no part of the world but his own country. He does usually tell great stories of himself to small purpose, for they are commonly ridiculous, be they true or false. His ambition is that he either is or shall be a graduate; but if ever he get a fellowship, he has then no fellow. In spite of all logic he dares swear and maintain it, that a cuckold and a town's-man are termini convertibles, though his mother's husband be an alderman. He was never begotten (as it seems) without much wrangling, for his whole life is spent in pro et contra. His tongue goes always before his wit, like gentleman-usher, but somewhat faster. That he be a complete gallant in all points, cap-a-pie, witness his horsemanship and the wearing of his weapons. He is commonly long-winded, able to speak more with ease than any man can endure to hear with patience. University jests are his universal discourse, and his news the demeanour of the proctors. His phrase, the apparel of his mind, is made of divers shreds, like a cushion, and when it goes plainest it hath a rash outside and fustian linings. The current of his speech is closed with an ergo; and, whatever be the question, the truth is on his side. It is a wrong to his reputation to be ignorant of anything; and yet he knows not that he knows nothing. He gives directions for husbandry, from Virgil's "Georgics;" for cattle, from his "Bucolics;" for warlike stratagems, from his "AEneids" or Caesar's "Commentaries." He orders all things and thrives in none; skilful in all trades and thrives in none. He is led more by his ears than his understanding, taking the sound of words for their true sense, and does therefore confidently believe that Erra Pater was the father of heretics, Radulphus Agricola a substantial farmer, and will not stick to aver that Systemo's Logic doth excel Keckerman's. His ill-luck is not so much in being a fool, as in being put to such pains to express it to the world, for what in others is natural, in him (with much ado) is artificial. His poverty is his happiness, for it makes some men believe that he is none of fortune's favourites. That learning which he hath was in non age put in backward like a glyster, and it's now like ware mislaid in a pedlar's pack; a has it, but knows not where it is. In a word, his is the index of a man and the title-page of a scholar, or a puritan in morality—much in profession, nothing in practice.
Is a movable, for he hath no abiding-place; by his motion he gathers heat, thence his choleric nature. He seems to be very devout, for his life is a continual pilgrimage, and sometimes in humility goes barefoot, thereon making necessity a virtue. His house is as ancient as Tubal Cain's, and so is a renegade by antiquity: yet he proves himself a gallant, for he carries all his wealth upon his back; or a philosopher, for he bears all his substance about him. From his art was music first invented, and therefore he is always furnished with a song, to which his hammer keeping tune, proves that he was the first founder for the kettledrum. Note, that where the best ale is, there stands his music most upon crochets. The companion of his travels is some foul sun-burnt quean, that, since the terrible statute, recanted gipseyism and is turned pedlaress. So marches he all over England with his bag and baggage. His conversation is unreprovable, for he is ever mending. He observes truly the statutes, and therefore he can rather steal than beg, in which he is unremovably constant in spite of whip or imprisonment; and so a strong enemy to idleness, that in mending one hole he had rather make three than want work, and when he hath done, he throws the wallet of his faults behind him. He embraceth naturally ancient custom, conversing in open fields and lowly cottages. If he visit cities or towns, 'tis but to deal upon the imperfections of our weaker vessels. His tongue is very voluble, which with canting proves him a linguist. He is entertained in every place, but enters no further than the door, to avoid suspicion. Some will take him to be a coward, but believe it, he is a lad of metal; his valour is commonly three or four yards long, fastened to a pike in the end for flying off. He is provident, for he will fight but with one at once, and then also he had rather submit than be counted obstinate. To conclude, if he escape Tyburn and Banbury, he dies a beggar.
Is a chick of the egg abuse, hatched by the warmth of authority; he is a bird of rapine, and begins to prey and feather together. He croaks like a raven against the death of rich men, and so gets a legacy unbequeathed. His happiness is in the multitude of children, for their increase is his wealth, and to that end he himself yearly adds one. He is a cunning hunter, uncoupling his intelligencing hounds under hedges, in thickets and cornfields, who follow the chase to city suburbs, where often his game is at covert; his quiver hangs by his side stuffed with silver arrows, which he shoots against church-gates and private men's doors, to the hazard of their purses and credit. There went but a pair of shears between him and the pursuivant of hell, for they both delight in sin, grow richer by it, and are by justice appointed to punish it; only the devil is more cunning, for he picks a living out of others' gains. His living lieth in his eye, which (like spirits) he sends through chinks and keyholes to survey the places of darkness; for which purpose he studieth the optics, but can discover no colour but black, for the pure white of chastity dazzleth his eyes. He is a Catholic, for he is everywhere; and with a politic, for he transforms himself into all shapes. He travels on foot to avoid idleness, and loves the Church entirely, because it is the place of his edification. He accounts not all sins mortal, for fornication with him is a venial sin, and to take bribes a matter of charity; he is collector for burnings and losses at sea, and in casting account readily subtracts the lesser from the greater sum. Thus lives he in a golden age, till death by a process summons him to appear.
Is the worst part of an astronomer; a certain compact of figures, characters, and ciphers, out of which he scores the fortune of a year, not so profitably as doubtfully. He is tenant by custom to the planets, of whom he holds the twelve houses by lease parol; to them he pays yearly rent, his study and time, yet lets them out again with all his heart for 40s. per annum. His life is merely contemplative; for his practice, 'tis worth nothing, at least not worthy of credit, and if by chance he purchase any, he loseth it again at the year's end, for time brings truth to light. Ptolemy and Tycho Brahe are his patrons, whose volumes he understands not but admires, and the rather because they are strangers, and so easier to be credited than controlled. His life is upright, for he is always looking upward, yet dares believe nothing above primum mobile, for 'tis out of the reach of his Jacob's staff. His charity extends no further than to mountebanks and sow-gelders, to whom he bequeaths the seasons of the year to kill or torture by. The verses of his book have a worse pace than ever had Rochester hackney; for his prose, 'tis dappled with ink-horn terms, and may serve for an almanac; but for his judging at the uncertainty of weather, any old shepherd shall make a dunce of him. He would be thought the devil's intelligencer for stolen goods, if ever he steal out of that quality. As a fly turns to a maggot, so the corruption of the cunning man is the generation of an empiric; his works fly forth in small volumes, yet not all, for many ride post to chandlers and tobacco shops in folio. To be brief, he falls three degrees short of his promises, yet is he the key to unlock terms and law days, a dumb mercury to point out highways, and a bailiff of all marts and fairs in England. The rest of him you shall know next year, for what he will be then he himself knows not.
Is a gilded pill, composed of two virtuous ingredients, natural dishonesty and artificial dissimulation. Simple fruit, plant, or drug he is none, but a deformed mixture bred betwixt evil nature and false art by a monstrous generation, and may well be put into the reckoning of those creatures that God never made. In Church or commonwealth (for in both these this mongrel weed will shoot) it is hard to say whether he be physic or a disease, for he is both in divers respects.
As he is gilt with an outside of seeming purity, or as he offereth himself to you to be taken down in a cup or taste of golden zeal and simplicity, you may call him physic. Nay, and never let potion give patient good stool if, being truly tasted and relished, he be not as loathsome to the stomach of any honest man.
He is also physic in being as commodious for use as he is odious in taste, if the body of the company into which he is taken can make true use of him. For the malice of his nature makes him so informer-like-dangerous, in taking advantage of anything done or said, yea, even to the ruin of his makers, if he may have benefit, that such a creature in a society makes men as careful of their speeches and actions as the sight of a known cut-purse in a throng makes them watchful over their purses and pockets. He is also in this respect profitable physic, that his conversation being once truly tasted and discovered, the hateful foulness of it will make those that are not fully like him to purge all such diseases as are rank in him out of their own lives, as the sight of some citizens on horseback make a judicious man amend his own faults in horsemanship. If one of these uses can be made of him, let him not long offend the stomach of your company; your best way is to spue him out. That he is a disease in the body where he liveth were as strange a thing to doubt as whether there be knavery in horse-coursers. For if among sheep, the rot; amongst dogs, the mange; amongst horses, the glanders; amongst men and women, the Northern itch and the French ache, be diseases, an hypocrite cannot but be the like in all States and societies that breed him. If he be a clergy hypocrite, then all manner of vice is for the most part so proper to him as he will grudge any man the practice of it but himself; like that grave burgess, who being desired to lend his clothes to represent a part in a comedy, answered: No, by his leave, he would have nobody play the fool in his clothes but himself. Hence are his so austere reprehensions of drinking healths, lascivious talk, usury, and unconscionable dealing; whenas himself, hating the profane mixture of malt and water, will, by his good will, let nothing come within him but the purity of the grape, when he can get it of another's cost. But this must not be done neither without a preface of seeming soothness, turning up the eyes, moving the head, laying hand on the breast, and protesting that he would not do it but to strengthen his body, being even consumed with dissembled zeal, and tedious and thankless babbling to God and his auditors. And for the other vices, do but venture the making yourself private with him or trusting of him, and if you come off without a savour of the air which his soul is infected with you have great fortune. The fardel of all this ware that is in him you shall commonly see carried upon the back of these two beasts that live within him, Ignorance and Imperiousness, and they may well serve to carry other vices, for of themselves they are insupportable. His Ignorance acquits him of all science, human or divine, and of all language but his mother's; holding nothing pure, holy, or sincere but the senseless recollections of his own crazed brain, the zealous fumes of his inflamed spirit, and the endless labours of his eternal tongue, the motions whereof, when matter and words fail (as they often do), must be patched up to accomplish his four hours in a day at the least with long and fervent hums. Anything else, either for language or matter, he cannot abide, but thus censureth: Latin, the language of the beast; Greek, the tongue wherein the heathen poets wrote their fictions; Hebrew, the speech of the Jews that crucified Christ; controversies do not edify; logic and philosophy are the subtilties of Satan to deceive the simple; human stories profane, and not savouring of the Spirit; in a word, all decent and sensible form of speech and persuasion (though in his own tongue) vain ostentation. And all this is the burden of his Ignorance, saving that sometimes idleness will put in also to bear a part of the baggage. His other beast, Imperiousness, is yet more proudly laden; it carrieth a burden that no cords of authority, spiritual nor temporal, should bind if it might have the full swing. No Pilate, no prince should command him, nay, he will command them, and at his pleasure censure them if they will not suffer their ears to be fettered with the long chains of his tedious collations, their purses to be emptied with the inundations of his unsatiable humour, and their judgments to be blinded with the muffler of his zealous ignorance; for this doth he familiarly insult over his maintainer that breeds him, his patron that feeds him, and in time over all them that will suffer him to set a foot within their doors or put a finger in their purses. All this and much more is in him; that abhorring degrees and universities as reliques of superstition, hath leapt from a shop-board or a cloak-bag to a desk or pulpit; and that, like a sea-god in a pageant, hath the rotten laths of his culpable life and palpable ignorance covered over with the painted-cloth of a pure gown and a night-cap, and with a false trumpet of feigned zeal draweth after him some poor nymphs and madmen that delight more to resort to dark caves and secret places than to open and public assemblies. The lay-hypocrite is to the other a champion, disciple, and subject, and will not acknowledge the tithe of the subjection to any mitre, no, not to any sceptre, that he will do to the hook and crook of his zeal-blind shepherd. No Jesuits demand more blind and absolute obedience from their vassals, no magistrates of the canting society more slavish subjection from the members of that travelling State, than the clerk hypocrites expect from these lay pulpits. Nay, they must not only be obeyed, fed, and defended, but admired too; and that their lay-followers do sincerely, as a shirtless fellow with a cudgel under his arm doth a face-wringing ballad-singer, a water-bearer on the floor of a playhouse, a wide-mouthed poet that speaks nothing but blathers and bombast. Otherwise, for life and profession, nature and art, inward and outward, they agree in all; like canters and gypsies, they are all zeal no knowledge, all purity no humanity, all simplicity no honesty, and if you never trust them they will never deceive you.