Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

as

expedition against them, he neuer gained anything but losse and dishonour: as in the yeare 1538 at the citie of Divm; and in the yeare 1552 at the Island of Armvz; and after that at MOMBAZA, where foure of the Turkes gallies, with one galliot, which by the fauour of the king of MOMBAZA had thought to haue stayed in those seas, were by the Portugals taken: who still haue an especiall regard and care, that the Turkes settle not themselves in those seas; but as soone as they perceive them to prepare any fleet, they forth with set vpon them, and to that end oftentimes without resistance enter into the red sca. Prester lohn, of whom although men speak much, yet is he nothing in strength to be compared vnto the Turke, but farre inferiour vnto him both for commaunders and souldiors, as also for weapons and munition : for that great prince hath a great kingdome without fortification, and a multitude of souldiors without armes : appeared by the ouerthrow of Barnagasso his lieutenant to. wards the red sea; who hauing lost all that sea coast ynto the Turkes, was brought to that extremitie, that to haue peace with them, he yeelded to pay vnto them a yearely tribute of a thousand ounces of gold. In Africke the Turke hath moe territories than hath the king of Maroco, otherwise called the Xerife: For he possesseth all that there lyeth betwixt the red sea and the kingdome of Fes; but the Xerife hath the better part, the richer, stronger, and more vnited: yet dare neither of them well make warre vpon the other, for the neerenesse of the king of SPAINE, enemie vnto them both. Now then there remaineth the rest of the Christian princes bordering vpon the Turke ; and first the king of POLONIA. What these two princes can do the one against the other, hath been seene in some former expeditions, wherein the Polonian had still the worse. Yet it should seeme that of later time the Turke hath not beene greatly desirous to mooue the Polonian too farre : For that being prouoked by diuers occasions (namely, in the reigne of Henry the third, in the wars that Iohn the Vayuod of VALACHIA had with the Turks, many Polonian horsemen serued the said Vayuod, though not indeed sent from the king: and in the time of Sigismund the third, the Polonian Cossackes haue with diuers incursions not a little troubled them: beside the late motions of Iohn Zamoschie the great Chancelor and Generall of the Polonian forces, for the staying of the Tartars by the Turke sent for) he hath beene content to comport the same, and not with his wonted pride sought to be thereof reuenged, as he hath for farre lesse vpon some other princes. And on the other side, the Polonians since the vnfortunate expedition of king Ladislaus, neuer tooke vpon them any warres against the Turks, neither gaue such aid as they should vnto the Valachians their confederats, but suffered to be taken from themselues, whatsoeuer they had towards the Euxine or Blacke sea : a thing imputed rather vnto the want of courage in their kings, than in the nobilitie of that kingdome. Sigis. mund the first being by Pope Leo the tenth inuited to the warres against the Turks, answered him in these few words: Set you the Christian princes at vnitie amongst themselues, and I for my part will not bee wanting. Sigismund the second 80 abhorred the warres, that he not onely declined the Turks, but prouoked by the Muscouites, neuer sought to reuenge the

King Stephen (by the commendation of Amurath chosen king of Polonia) an indifferent esteemer both of his enemies forces and his owne, thought it a most dangerous thing to join battaile with the Turke, and yet in priuate talke with his friends would oftentimes say, That with thirtie thousand foot joyned vnto his Polonian horsemen, he durst well to vndertake an expedition against the Turke : which he was supposed oftentimes to haue thought vpon. The Emperour, with the rest of the princes of the house of AvsTRIA,

are by a longer tract of ground joyned vnto this great Empire of the Turks, than any one other prince of the world, and bestow in fortifications and the maintenance of their garrisons (wherein they haue continually aboue twentie thousand horse and foot) the greatest part of their reuenues euen in the time of peace, much more in these their long warres, and with the Germane forces joyned onto their owne, are more carefull how to defend that they yet haue left, than how to recouer that they have already lost, or to enlarge their Empire. The Emperour Ferdinand with greater force than successe vndertooke the vnfortunate expeditions of Brda and Possega: which so euill fell out, not for that his forces were not suffi. cient or strong enough; but for that they wanted agilitie and dexteritie. The truth is, those his armies were strong ynough, and sufficiently furnished with all things necessarie, but consisted for the most part of Germanes and Bohemians, slow and heauie people, vnfit to encounter with the Turkes, a more readie and nimble kind of souldiors. The Venetians also confrontier the Turkes by many hundred miles both by sea and land, and defend themselues rather by peaceable policie than by force of armes : notably fortifying their strong holds vpon their frontiers, declining by all means the dangers and charges of warre, by embassages and rich presents ; leauing nothing vnattempted (their libertie and State preserued) rather than to fall to warres. To say the truth of them, although they had both coyne and warlike prouision sufficient, yet want they men and victuals answerable to so great a war against so puissant an enemy. There remaineth only the king of SPAINE, of all other the great princes either Christians or Mahometanes (bordering vpon him) the best able to deale with him; his yearely reuenewes so farre exceeding those of the Turkes, as that they are also probably thought to counteruaile the greatest part of his Timariots : and his great dominions in SPAINE, PortVGALL, NAPLES, Sicilia, MILLAINE, SARDINIA, and the Low Countries (if they were with him at vnitie) able to affourd vnto him so great and powerfull a strength both by sea and land, as might make him dreadfull euen ynto the Great Turke when he swelleth in his greatest pride: But considering how his forces are distracted for the maintenance of his warres at once in diuers places: as also for the necessarie defence and keeping of his so large and dispersed territories, not all the best of themselues affected to the Spanish gouernment, he is not to be thought of himselfe strong ynough against the vnited forces of the great Turke, whensoeuer they should chance to be imploied vpon him. So that by this we haue alreadio said, is easily to be gathered how much the Turke is too strong for any one the neighbour princes, either Mahometanes or Christians, bordering vpon him, and therefore to be of them the more feared. Yet least some mistaking me, might thinke, What, is then the Turke inuincible? Farre be that thought from me, to thinke any enemie of Christ Iesu (be his arme neuer so strong) to be able to withstand his power, either quite to deuour his little flocke, rage he neuer so much about it. As for the Turke, the most daungerous and professed enemie of the Christian commonweale, be his strength so great, yea and haply greater too than is before declared (the greatnesse of his dominions and empire considered) yet is he not to bee thought therefore either inuincible, or his power indeed so great as it in shew seemeth for to be: his Timariot horsemen (his greatest strength) dispersed ouer his whole empire, being neuer possibly the one halfe of them by him to be gathered into the bodie of one armie: neither if they so were, possible in such a multitude long to be kept together, liuing vpon no pay of his, but vpon such store and prouision onely as they bring with them from their Timari, neuer sufficient long to maintaine them. Besides that, the

same.

:

policie of his state hardly or neuer suffereth him to draw nesse of this Empire being such, as that it laboureth with abone a third part of his Timariots out of his countries where nothing more than the weightinesse of it selfe, it must needs they dwell, for feare least the rest of the people by them still (after the manner of worldly things) of it selfe fall, and kept vnder, should in their absence take vp armes against againe come to nought, no man knowing when or how so great him in defence of themselues and their auntient libertie : a work shall be brought to passe, but he in whose deepe counwhereafter the greatest part of those poore oppressed soules, sels all these great reuolutions of Empires and Kingdomes are as well Mahometanes as Christians in euerie prouince of his from eternitie shut vp: who at his pleasure shall in due time empire awaiting but the opportunitie, most desirously longeth: by such meanes as he seeth best accomplish the same, to the 8) that more than two parts of them being alwayes to be left vnspeakable comfort of his poore afflicted flock, in one place at home, for the necessarie defence of the spacious border of or other still in danger to be by this roaring Lyon deuoured. his so large an empire, as also for the keeping in obedience of Which worke of so great wonder, he for his sonne our Sauiour 80 many discontented nations; it is a great matter, if hee euen Christ his sake, the glorie of his name, and comfort of many in his greatest warres draw together of these kind of soul- thousand oppressed Christians, fed with the bread of careful. diours the full number of an hundred and fiftie thousand nesse amidst the furnace of tribulation, in mercie hasten, that strong, making vp the rest of his huge multitude with his we with them, and they with vs, all as members of one bodie, Acanzij, living of no pay of his, but vpon the spoile of the may continually sing, Vnto him be all honour and praise enemie onely, the fift part whereof they pay vnto him also. world without end. All which put together, what manner of men they be, of and what valour, not onely the small armies of the Christians vnder the leading of their worthie chiefetaines Huniades, Among the jest-books of the time of James I. and Scanderbeg, king Matthias, and others, haue to their im- Charles I. is one that is said to have been first commortal glorie in former times made good proofe: but euen piled by Andrew Boorde, in the days of Henry VIII., in this our age, and that as it were but the other day, the the “ Merry Tales of the Mad-men of Gottam.” An Transyluanian prince with diuers other valiant captaines and edition of it published in 1630 had on the title-page commaunders yet living, haue done the like also; as wel a wood-cut, bere reproduced, showing how the men witnesseth the late battell of Agria, wherein the Christians, in number not halfe so many as the Turkes, by plaine valour draue the great Sultan Mahomet himselfe (with Ibrahim Bassa his lieutenant General) out of the field, and had of him had the most glorious victorie that euer was got against that enemie, had they not by

Coocou too much carelesnesse and vntimely desire of spoile, themselues shamefully interrupted the same. But thvs

Gotam to let his horsemen passe, the chiefe strength of his footmen are his Ianizaries, neuer in number exceeding twelue or foureteene thousand, yea seldome times halfe so many, euen in his greatest armies, except he himselfe be there in person present in the middest of them: who beside the small number of them, in the time of these their late voluptuous and effeminate emperours, corrupted with the pleasures of CONSTANTINOPLE, and for want of their woonted discipline, haue together with their auntient obedience and patience, lost also a great part of their former reputation and valour: all the rest of his footmen filling vp the bodie of his populous armie, being his Asapi, rather pioners than souldiours, men of small worth, and so accounted of, both of the Turks and their enemies also. So that all things well considered, his best soul

THE GOTHAM CUCKOO. diours being the least part of his greatest armies, and they also farre vnlike their predecessors, the sterne followers of of Gotham hoped to fence in the cuckoo. Gotham the former Othoman kings and emperours, but men now giuen is a parish now containing seven or eight hundred to pleasure and delight: it is not otherwise to be thought, inhabitants, about seven miles from Nottingham. but that he bringeth into the field far moe men than good Hundreds of places in and out of England have souldiours, more brauerie than true valour, more shew than obtained local celebrity of the same kind as that worth, his multitude being his chiefest strength, his supposed which the old jest-book has caused Gotham to obtain greatnesse the terrour of his neighbour princes, and both to

in English Literature. I quote five of the twenty gether the verie majestie of his empire. Which although it be indeed verie strong (for the reasons before alleadged), yet is it MERRY TALES OF THE MAD MEN OF GOTHAM. by many probably thought to be now vpon the declining hand,

The Cuckoo. their late emperors in their owne persons far degenerating from On a time, the men of Gotham would have pinned in the their warlike progenitors, their souldiours generally giuing cuckoo, whereby she should sing all the year, and in the themselues to vnwonted pleasures, their auncient discipline midst of the town they made a hedge round in compass, and of warre neglected, their superstition not with so much zeale they had got a cuckoo, and had put her into it, and said : as of old regarded, and rebellions in diuers parts of his “Sing here all the year, and thou shalt lack neither meat nor Empire of late strangely raised, and mightily supported: all drink.” The cuckoo, as soon as she perceived herself encomthe signes of a declining state. Which were they not at all passed within the hedge, flew away. A vengeance on her! to be seene, as indeed they be very pregnant, yet the great- said they; " we made not our hedge high enough."

[graphic]

66

[ocr errors]

Forethought.

“Wherefore be you come hither?" Humphrey said: “WhereWhen that Good Friday was come, the men of Gotham did

fore be you come hither?” Christabel suid : “Wherefore be cast their heads together what to do with their white herring,

you come hither?”

The priest, being amazed, could not

tell what to say, but whistled and said “Whew." Gilbert their red herring, their sprats, and salt fish. One consulted

whistled and said “Whew;" Humphrey whistled and said with the other, and agreed that such fish should be cast into

“ Whew," and so did Christabel. The priest, being angry, their pond or pool (the which was in the middle of the town),

said: “Go home, fools, go home." “ Go home, fools, go that it might increase against the next year; and every man

home," said Gilbert. “Go home, fools, go home," said that had any fish left, did cast them into the pool. The one said: “I have thus many white herrings ;” another said: “I

Humphrey. “Go home, fools, go home,” said Christabel.

The priest then provided new godfathers and godmothers. have thus many sprats ;” another said: “I have thus many red herrings ;" and the other said: “I have thus many salt

Here a man may see, that children can do nothing without

good , instructions. And they be not not wise that will fishes. Let all go together into the pool or pond, and we shall fare like lords the next Lent.” At the beginning of the next

regard children's words. Lent following, the men did draw the pond to have their fish,

The Nine Good Wires, and there was nothing but a great eel. “Ah!” said they all, “a mischief on this eel! for he hath

In old time, when these aforesaid jests (as men of the country eat up all our fish. What shall we do with him?" said the reported) and such fantastical matters were done at Gotham, one to the other. “ Kill him," said the one of them.“ Chop

which I cannot tell half, the wives were gathered together in him all to pieces," said another. “Nay, not so," said the other,

an alehouse, and the one said to the other, that they were “ let us drown him." * Be it so," said all.

profitable to their husbands. “Which way, good gossips ?” They went to another pool or pond by, and did cast in the said the Alewife. The first said: "I shall tell you all, good eel into the water. “Lie there," said they, “and shift for thy- gossips. I can neither bake, brew, nor can I do no work, self: for no help thou shalt havo of us;" and there they left

wherefore I do make every day holiday, and I go to the alethe eel to be drowned.

house, because at all times I cannot go to the church ; and in

the alehouse I pray to God to speed well my husband, and I The Lost Man.

do think my prayer shall do him much more good than my On a certain time, there were twelve men of Gotham, that

labour, if I should work." Then said the second : “ I am profit. did go a fishing, and some did wade in the water, and some

able to my husband in saring of candles in winter: for I do stood upon dry land, and when that they went homeward, one

canse my husband and all my household folks to go to bed by said to the other:“We have ventured wonderful hard this day

daylight, and to rise by daylight.” The third wife said : “ And in wading; I pray God that none of us that did come from

I am profitable to my husband in spending of bread, for I will home be drowned.” “Marry," said the one to the other, “let

eat but little : for to the drinking of a gallon or two of good us see that, for there did twelve of us come out;"and they told

ale, I care for no meat." The fourth wife said: “I am loth to themselves, and every man did tell eleven, and the twelfth

spend meat and drink at home in mine own house, wherefore man did never tell himself. “ Alas," said the one to the other,

I do go to the wine tavern at Nottingham, and so take wine “there is one of us drowned.” They went back to the brook,

and such things as God shall send me there.” The fifth wife where that they had been fishing, and sought up and down

said: “A man shall have ever more company in another man's for him that was drowned, and did make great lamentation.

house than in his own, and most commonly in an alehouse is A courtier did come riding by, and he did ask what it was

the best cheer in a town; and for sparing of meat and drink, they did seek, and why they were so sorry. “Oh," said

and other necessaries, I go to the alehouse.” The sixth wife they, “this day we went to fish in this brook, and there did

said : “My husband hath wool, and flax, and tow; and to come out twelve of us, and one is drowned.” " Why,” said

spare it, I go to other men's houses to do other men's work." the courtier, “ tell how many be of you." And the one told

The seventh wife said: “I do spare my husband's wood and eleven, and he did not tell himself. “ Well," said the cour

coal, and do sit talking all the day by other men's fires.” The tier, “what will you give me, and I will find out twelve

eighth said : “ Beef, and mutton, and pork is dear; wherefore I men?” “Sir," said they, “all the money that we have."

do spare it, and do take pig, goose, hen, chicken, coney, and "Give me the money,” said the courtier : and he began

capon, the which be of lower price.” The ninth said : " And I with the first, and did give him a recombendibus over the

do spare my husband's soap and lye: for when he should be shoulders that he groaned, and said : “ There is one. So he

washed once in a week, I do wash once in a quarter of a year." served all, that they groaned on the matter. When he did

Then said the Alewife: “And I do keep my husband's ale, that come to the last, he payed him a good, saying: “Here is the

I do brew, from souring : for, whereas I was wont to drink twelfth man." God's blessing on your heart," said all the

up all, now I do leave never a drop." company, “ that you have found out our neighbour."

The Three Gossips.
A man's wife of Gotham was brought to bed of a man-child ;

Character writing was among the forms of ingethe father did bid the gossips, the which were children of nuity that came into fashion as our English style eight or nine years of age. The eldest child's name that

passed from the freshness of Elizabethan appetite for should be godfather was named Gilbert ; the second child was

wit to the more jaded taste, the wit-hunger dependent named Humphrey; and the godmother's name was Christabel. upon artificial sauces of the later Euphuism. The The friends of them did admonish them, saying, that divers

first good examples of this kind of writing, and still times they must say after the priest. When all were come to the best, are in Ben Jonson's “Every Man out of his the church door, the priest said : “Be you agreed of the Humour," acted in the year 1599, and first printed name?" “ Be you," said Gilbert, “ agreed of the name?" in 1600, and in his “ Cynthia's Revels,” printed in “Be you," said Humphrey, "agreed of the name ? "

1601. It is not only “The Character of the Persons ” yon,” said Christabel, “ agreed of the name?” The priest printed before “ Every Man out of his Humour," said: “Wherefore be you come hither?” Gilbert said: but the play itself in some degree, and "Cynthia's

[ocr errors]

а

a

66

a

“ Be

66

[ocr errors]

Revels” throughout, is so written as to sparkle with sum, he hath a most ingenuous and sweet spirit, a sharp elaborated little bits of Character writing. Thus, in and seasoned wit, a straight judgment, and a strong mind. “ The Character of the Persons,” prefixed to “ Every

Fortune could never break him, nor make him less. He Man out of his Humour,” two are thus sketched :

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 CHARACTERS BY BEN JONSON :

nor fear-he hath too much reason to do either-and that Carlo Buffone.

commends all things to him. A public, scurrilous, and profane jester, that, more swift than Circe, with absurd similes, will transform any person

The fashion thus set at the close of Elizabeth's into deformity. A good feast-hound, or banquet-beagle, reign, spread in the reigns of James I. and Charles I. that will scent you out a supper some three miles off, and Joseph Hall,' who became a bishop under Charles I., swear to his patron, he came in oars, when he was but published in 1608, when he was vicar of Waltham wafted over in a sculler. A slave that hath an extraor- Holy Cross, “ Characters of Virtues and Vices," in dinary gift in pleasing his palate, and will swill up more two books, each with a proeme, one of eleven Virsack at a sitting than would make all the guard a posset. tues, and the other of fifteen Vices. Here is one of His religion is railing, and his discourse ribaldry. They

each :stand highest in his respect whom he studies most to

CHARACTERS BY JOSEPH HALL reproach. Fastidious Brisk.

An Honest Man. A neat, spruce, affecting courtier; one that wears clothes He looks not to what he might do, but what he should. well and in fashion; practises by his glass how to salute; Justice is his first guide, the second law of his actions is speaks good remnants, notwithstanding his base viol and expedience. He had rather complain than offend, and hates tobacco; swears tersely, and with variety ; cares not what sin more for the indignity of it than the danger. His simple lady's favour he belies, or great man's familiarity: a good uprightness works in him that confidence which ofttimes property to perfume the boot of a coach. He will borrow wrongs him and gives advantage to the subtle, when he another man's horse to praise, and back him as his own. rather pities their faithlessness than repents of his credulity. Or, for a need, on foot, can post himself into credit with his He hath but one heart, and that lies open to sight: and merchant only with the jingle of his spur and the jerk of his were it not for discretion he never thinks aught whereof he wand.

would avoid a witness. His word is his parchment, and his

yea" his oath, which he will not violate for fear or for loss. From Ben Jonson's play of “Cynthia's Revels” The mishaps of following events may cause him to blame his these are two characters :

providence, can never cause him to eat his promise; neither

saith he, “ This I saw not ; ”? but, “ This I said.” When A Traveller.

he is made his friend's executor, he defrays debts, pays Amorphus, a traveller, one so made out of the mixture of

legacies, and scorneth to gain by orphans or to ransack shreds of forms, that himself is truly deformed. He walks

graves, and therefore will be true to a dead 'friend because he most commonly with a clove or pick-tooth in his mouth, he

sees him not. All his dealings are square, and above the is the very mint of compliment, all his behaviours are printed,

board; he bewrays the fault of what he sells, and restores his face is another volume of essays, and his beard is an

the overseen gain of a false reckoning. He esteems a bribe Aristarchus. He speaks all cream skimmed, and more

venomous, though it come gilded over with the colour of affected than a dozen waiting women.

He is his own pro

gratuity. His cheeks are never stained with the blushes of moter in every place. The wife of the ordinary gives him

recantation; neither doth his tongue falter to make good a his diet to maintain her table in discourse, which, indeed, is

lie with the secret glosses of double or reserved senses; and a mere tyranny over her other guests, for he will usurp all the

when his name is traduced his innocence bears him out with talk; ten constables are not so tedious. He is no great shifter;

courage; then, lo! he goes on the plain way of truth, and once a year his apparel is ready to revolt. He doth use much

will either triumph in his integrity or suffer with it. His to arbitrate quarrels, and fights himself, exceedingly well,

conscience overrules his providence, so as in all things, good out at a window. He will lie cheaper than any beggar, and

or ill, he respects the nature of the actions, not the sequel. louder than most clocks, for which he is right properly ac

If he see what he must do, let God see what shall follow, commodated to the Whetstone, his page.

He never loadeth himself with burdens above his strength, Crites : a Man of Sound Judgment.

beyond his will; and once bound, what he can he will do,

neither doth he will but what he can do. His ear is A creature of a most perfect and divine temper; one in

the sanctuary of his absent friend's name, of his present whom the humours and elements are peaceably met, without friend's secret; neither of them can miscarry in his trust. emulation of precedency; he is neither too fantastically

He remembers the wrongs of his youth, and repays them melancholy, too slowly phlegmatic, too lightly sanguine, or

with that usury which he himself would not take. He too rashly choleric; but is all so composed and ordered, as it

would rather want than borrow, and beg than not to pay. is clear Nature went about some full work—she did more than

His fair conditions are above dissembling, and he loves make a man when she made him. His discourse is like his behaviour, uncommon, but not unpleasing; he is prodigal of

1 See “Shorter English Poems,” pp. 256, 257 ; "Illustrations of neither. He strives rather to be that which men call

English Religion," pp. 281–285. judicious, than to be thought so; and is so truly learned that 2 i.e., did not foresee; making change of conditions an excuse for he affects not to show it. He will think and speak his promise-breaking. thoughts both freely, but as distant from depraving another

3 Bewrays, discloses; applied to a fault; from First-English,

wrégan," to accuse. “Betray" is from Latin “tradere," to deliver man's merit as proclaiming his own. For his valour, 'tis up, to give into the hands of an enemy. Bewrayal, therefore, may or such that he dares as little offer an injury as receive one. In may not involve betrayal.

60

age of

actions above words. Finally, he hates falsehood worse than Oxford, entered the Inner Temple, and then became death; he is a faithful client of Truth; no man's enemy; a courtier as the friend of Thomas Carr, the favourite and it is a question, whether more another man's friend or of James I. Overbury was knighted in 1608, and his own ? And if there were no heaven, yet he would be all went well till he opposed Carr's project of marvirtuous.

riage with the divorced Countess of Essex. The Of the Superstitious.

king then proposed to get Sir Thomas Overbury out Superstition is godless religion, devout impiety. The

of the way by sending him on an embassy to Russia ; superstitious is fond in observation, fertile in fear, he wor

and, as he refused to go, he was sent to the Tower, ships God but as he lists. He gives God what He asks not;

where he was poisoned in September of the same year, more than He asks, and all but what he should give; and

1613, in which Carr became Earl of Somerset, and makes more sins than the Ten Commandments.

This man

his marriage had, at court, a stately celebration. In dares not stir forth till his breast be crossed and his face 1616 the Earl and Countess were found guilty of his sprinkled; if but an hare cross him the way he returns; or murder, but they were pardoned in 1622. Sir if his journey began unawares on the dismal day; or if he Thomas Overbury, who was murdered at the stumble at the threshold. If he see a snake unkilled, he thirty-two, had written, besides his poem of

“ The fears a mischief; if the salt fall towards him, he looks pale Wife,” which is given in another volume of this and red, and is not quiet till one of the waiters have poured Library,' a collection of characters from which I take wine on his lap; and when he neezeth, thinks them not his the following friends that uncover not. In the morning he listens whether the crow crieth even or odd, and by that token presages of

CHARACTERS BY SIR THOMAS OVERBURY : the weather. If he hear but a raven croak from the next

A Courtier roof, he makes his will, or if a bittour' fly over his head by night; but if his troubled fancy shall second his thoughts

To all men's thinking is a man, and to most men the finest ; with the dream of a fair garden, or green rushes, or the

all things else are defined by the understanding, but this by salutation of a dead friend, he takes leave of the world, and

the senses; but his surest mark is, that he is to be found only says he cannot live. He will never set to sea but on a Sun.

about princes. He smells, and putteth away much of his day; neither ever goes without an Erra Pater 2 in his pocket.

judgment about the situation of his clothes. He knows no St. Paul's Day, and St. Swithin's with the Twelve, are his

man that is not generally known. His wit, like the marigold, oracles, which he dares believe against the almanac. When

openeth with the sun, and therefore he riseth not before ten he lies sick on his death-bed, no sin troubles him so much as

of the clock. He puts more confidence in his words than that he did once eat flesh on a Friday; no repentance can

meaning, and more in his pronunciation than his words. expiate that, the rest need none. There is no dream of his

Occasion is his Cupid, and he hath but one receipt of making without an interpretation, without a prediction; and if the

love. He follows nothing but inconstancy, admires nothing event answer not his exposition, he expounds it according to

but beauty, honours nothing but fortune, loves nothing. the event. Every dark grove and pictured wall strikes him

The sustenance of his discourse is news, and his censure like with an awful but carnal devotion. Old wives and stars are

a shot depends upon the charging. He is not, if he be out his counsellors; his night-spell is his guard, and charms are

of court, but fish-like breathes destruction if out of his element. his physicians. He wears Paracelsian characters for the

Neither his motion or aspect are regular, but he moves by the toothache, and a little hallowed wax is his antidote for all

upper spheres, and is the reflection of higher substances. evils. This man is strangely credulous, and calls impossible

If you find him not here, you shall in Paul's, with a pickthings miraculous; if he hear that some sacred block speaks,

tooth in his hat, a capecloak, and a long stocking. moves, weeps, smiles, his bare feet carry him thither with an

An Ignorant Glory-hunter offering; and if a danger miss him in the way, his Saint hath the thanks. Some ways he will not go, and some he dares

Is an insectum animal; for he is the maggot of opinion, his not; either there are bugs, or he feigneth them; every

behaviour is another thing from himself, and is glued and

but set on. lantern is a ghost, and every noise is of chains. He knows

He entertains men with repetitions, and returns not why, but his custom is to go a little about, and to leave

them their own words. He is ignorant of nothing, no, not of the cross still on the right hand. One event is enough to

those things where ignorance is the lesser shame. He gets make a rule ; out of these he concludes fashions proper to

the names of good wits, and utters them for his companions. himself; and nothing can turn him out of his own course. If

He confesseth vices that he is guiltless of, if they be in he have done his task he is safe, it matters not with what

fashion; and dares not salute a man in old clothes, or out of affection. Finally, if God would let him be the carver of

fashion. There is not a public assembly without him, and he his own obedience, He could not have a better subject; as he

will take any pains for an acquaintance there. In any show is, He cannot have a worse.

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, Thomas Overbury, born at Ilmington, in Warwick- diet, and all customs, with entituling their beginnings from shire, in 1581, and educated at Queen's College, princes, great soldiers, and strange nations. He dares speak

more than he understands, and adventures his words without 1 Bittour, an old form of “bittern." So in Chapman's translation

the relief of any seconds. He relates battles and skirmishes, of the Odyssey

as from an eye-witness, when his eyes thievishly beguiled a "Where hawks, sea-owls, and long-tongued bittours bred." ballad of them. In a word, to make sure of admiration, he ? Erra Pater, a prophetic almanac. The original Erra Pater was said to have been a Jewish doctor in astronomy and physic, but the

will not let himself understand himself, but hopes fame and name had passed into use as a common term for either a prophetic

opinion will be the readers of his riddles. almauac maker or a prophetic almanac. Butler said of Hudibras

“In mathematics he was greater
Than Tycho Frahe or Erra Pater,"

3 Shorter English Poems, pp. 277, 278. Wlifler, fifer.

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »