Page images

work is "somewhat delightfull, and ordered to please a little." That it was also "aimed to profit much," we may not dispute. How far it succeeded, or is likely to succeed, we shall not attempt to determine, and shall hardly enable our readers to judge, as we intend, rather to extract what the author meant to please a little, than to profit much. John Gaule seems to have thought that the art of pleasing was wrapt up in a pun, or in marshalling an overpowering collection of epithets in "battallous array. His miscarriages of puns are almost as frequent as his conceptions, and if a bad one were really the most excellent, he would be the most delectable punster that ever ran after those will o' the wisps. Pun-hunting is something like fly-catching—a man makes a prodigious effort to secure a pleasant looking trifle, which, when he opens his hand, he finds has escaped him, and left nothing but the bare imagination of a treat behind. With all this, however, we are disposed to be pleased with the descriptive parts of John Gaule's "distractions;" and for this very reason-that in all kinds of madness, whether holy or unholy, there is an earnestness and warmth, that is generally attractive, and, although our author's is but a feigned madness, an "unreal mockery," he labours, in his assumed vocation, with as much fervour, as if he were mad indeed.

He only levels his vituperations against three of the deadly sins-pride, anger, and covetousness. This is the description he gives of one Sir Haughty Heart, or Pride.

"See-see! A sheepe in a golden fleece: howsoever he thinkes of his fleece, I will thinke him but a sheepe. Hee prances most statelily in his gay trappings, but I would be loth to buy, or use an horse, that is only so valued. It is for him to prize a faire outside, that knowes he hath nothing within worthy more esteeme. How curiously hee glances upon himselfe : hee thinkes hee is for other eyes than his owne, to be so broadly gazed at. Why cringes he so to his coat? unlesse he would in good earnest, what the philosopher did in jest— honour that, that honours him. Bucephalus is now royally trapt, and flings at all but Alexander himselfe : disbarbe but the jade, and every stable-groome may bestride him. Many men are proud to seeme what they are not; it only debases them to be seene, and knowne what they The asse carries painted and polished Isis upon his back; and Lord! how the vulgar worship him! A wise man will judge of the tree, by the fruit or bulke; he is a foole that doth value it, by the barke or huske.


66 A proper squire hee seemes neare at hand; and (you marke him) well dight up. Beside a spruce shape, and gay glosse, hee hath about him, see, what a lofty port and gesture hee carries with him; hee stalkes on in state:-I should say, he marches most majestickly. All his pace is measures, and his hands, accordingly, keepe time, to the tune of his feet. His bever cocks, feather waggs, locks hover, and beard stands in print; his band spreading (like a nct) about his necke, his

cloake displayd (as a flagge) upon his arme, his doublet hanging by gimmers upon his shoulders, and his breeches buttoned about him; his boots ruffle, spurrs gingle, and his long rapier (which he is often tied to) confronts him at the hilt; and, toward the point, answers his heeles with a grace. What a supercilious looke he hath; I warrant you, the very blast or sound of his speech would make you start. How he reares in the necke, struts at the stomacke, and traces with his armes a kemboll; he trips with his toes on the earth, and waves his hand, as he would touch the heavens with his finger. He hath one part and propertie of a man, which is to looke upwards; hee thinks this same doth preferre him with reasonables, when we know it doth but distinguish him from bruites: he'ele set his leggs upon the last, rather than lose an inch of his height. I will say one good word for him, and 'tis the best I know by him: than this man in his way, no man walkes more uprightly: marke how he heaves, as though hee almost scorn'd to tread; hee casts up his nose into the wind, looks beyond the clouds, mantles against the moone, and busies himselfe, wholly, to build castles in the aire. What an Alderman's pace he comes; hee prolongs the pageant for the beholders' sake; and hurries not on too hastily, lest most eyes finde no leisure to looke upon him. See-see! he stops and turnes in the midway, at but the apprehension of a lost labour. Oh, doe him not the wrong to looke beside him, for if you see him not, hee comes by to no purpose."

"Not a motion of his-not a faculty, which smells not of affectation. Not so much but he sits, and spits, with a grace; and so he walks and talks. He speaks, never, but with a noise; and always laughs with a kind of derision; commands, also, with arrogance; and rebukes with disdaine. He talkes all with interrogations, as though his words were of authority to question every thing. That you enter his threshold, is more than a common courtesie; but that you approach his presence, is a great vouchsafement. What shall I call him? a Thraso, a Polyphemus? To whom shall I liken him? to Maximianus, that made his senatours kisse his feet? to Domitian, that would be stiled a God? or to those divers Popes, that were guilty of both? or to Lucifer, the father of them all? To what shall I compare him? but to a cocke, that claps and crowes upon his owne dunghill; a peacocke, that ruffles in his owne feathers; a toad, that swells with his owne poison; an asse, that hath gotten on a lion's skinne, and now he is a companion for none, but such as he seemes; an ape, that is enamoured of his own ugly puppet; a cameleon, that gapes after the aire; a bladder, full of wind; a shallow river, and bubbling; an empty caske, and sounding; an addle egge, and swimming; a thinne eare, and blasted, that out-tops the fat and full corne; a cypresse tree, that hath faire leaves, but no fruit; a wine bush, that never betokened good liquor; a disordered member, swoln so bigge through its owne corruption."

We must, for the edification of our female readers, give his

parallel portrait of my Lady Goe-gay, which is, indeed, a pleasant piece of painting.

"Not know my Lady Goe-gay, the sprucest dame in city or court! her father was frugall, forgetting he was Cæsar; but shee flaunts it out, remembring she is Cæsar's daughter. Methinkes I now see her, as I saw her last; how trimly deckt in her purple and fine linnen! Shee weares upon her backe, to what shee never laid her hands. Earth, and wormes, and beasts, and nations, there are, that live, and labour, for what she soyles, and teares, and spends: their excrement and sweat, take care to provide her, what shee scarce takes paines to put on. The good huswife and applauded, seeketh wool and flax; she layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands touch the distaffe; and so cloaths both her and her houshold. Out upon these home-spunne threads! these signe like habit, like condition: farre fetcht, and deare bought are for our ladies. One country and nation must breed, another kemb, another spinne, another weave, another dresse, another shape out, and another trim up their wearings. Alas! weak creatures! they see not their beggary in these sundry borrowings: nor mind how fraile a carcase and vile, is shrouded under so gorgeous happings. Women's supplimentall art does but the rather bewray nature's defects; perfuming, painting, starching, decking, these make some annoyance and uncomelinesse, though lesse apparant, yet more suspected. Wee gaze with greedinesse and delight upon a curious and glorious sepulchre; and yet, notwithstanding, we conceive and abhorre what is within. Methought she bare herselfe so nicely and demurely, as though her body had been starcht and gumm'd, according to her cloaths: perhaps (shee carries them so answerably) shee tooke aime by her glasse, at once, to set both her vesture and gesture in the right fashion. Ah! their silly folly! that metamorphize nature into art, and carry themselves more like pictures, than like creatures. Oh! blot not out the lovely image of God in faining and framing so vaine a shaping to yourselves! how she glittered (forehead, eares, bosome, wrists, and fingers) in her gems, jewels, bracelets, and rings! she likened her lustre to the moone and stars; and thought her lesse clay, when so bedaubed with a polished rubbish. Who might then prize her worth, that bare many good men's estates upon her little finger? shee little considered how many fingers were worne, and wearied, to make that one finger shine. This is not only one of our vanities, but one of our superstitions; that we can (against our reason and knowledge) believe that the whole substance of a great patrimony may be valuably transubstantiated into the quantity of a little stone. Gemmes, what are they, but gums or the accretions or congelations of brighter water and earth? they come but from a more subtile compacted sulphur and mercury; and yet we thinke the very heavens concurred with the earth to their commixtion; and so the sunne left part of his shining in them. Mere notionall is their value, which is in the opinion, not in the thing; they are worth nothing, only if you can but thinke them so. The merchant's adventure hath transported them, the lapidarie's craft hath polished them, the vaine man's credulity hath esteemed them, and

the rich man's superfluitie hath enhaunced them. These be but rich men's gawdy trifles; as the painted gew-gawes bee for their children."

There is yet another species of pride, the description of which we must extract, and which is excellently well written.

"But of all your lofty crew; have you heard of him, that is proud of this; that he is not proud? one that glories, vainly, even in the contempt of vaine glory. You have many of his sect and sort: he seemes lowly, but he grudges to be despised; he cares not to be poore, but he is loth to want: he goes barely, fares hardly, lies coldly; an holy man I wis and mortified! but that he boasts as much of this, as you could of the contrary. A fained humility puffes up more, than a noted pride, and is so much the more evill and odious, as it seemes to bee otherwise. Tush man! (be he as thou wouldst thinke, another to thyself) I can as well see his proud heart through his torne coat, as thine, through thy slasht doublet. Thou proudly abhorrest his sordid ragges; he also spurnes and tramples thy gay garments, and with another kinde of pride. Thy ambition urges thee to give, and he refuses thy gift, for he also hath his ambition: boast thou before him, thou art Alexander, the king; and hee'le bragge with thee-hee's Diogenes the dogge. Pride is not alwayes from endowments within, nor yet from outward accruments: a proud heart oft goes together with a beggar's purse and coat.

"I'll now tell thee of one thou knowest not; heed him well; thou yet knowest not him whom thou seest: I tell thee (chuse thee whether thou thinke me so, my ayme is, that thou be so thyselfe) I am not proud, and good reason why, I have nothing, I know nothing, to be proud of. Riches, what are they, but a spreading, a moving, a glittering earth?-hardly and evilly gotten, doubtfull to keep, and dangerous, soone and sorrowfully lost? Honour, what is it, but an imposed, rather a supposed hight and deeme? a mere nothing in itselfe; but only is more or lesse, as others reckon it. Men are like counters, all of the same mould and stampe, only when we cast up their account, we number them from a farthing to a pound. What is beauty, but a superficies of colour and proportion, or a shadowed shape and hue? a red clay, mingled with snow; a flower, which, ere it yet flourishes, is prone to fade; crop it untimely, and it lowres while you looke upon it; let it stand awhile, and it withers upon the stalke: the frost of a fever makes it droope downwards, and an aged winter makes it quite wither away. What is strength and stoutnesse, but a stiffer compact, or more solide couchednesse of the joynts and bloud? which (say art, nor might can yet subdue) sicknesse, age, or death, will once enfeeble. I have seene a feather and a wall, more beauteous than a woman; and know an oxe or an oake to be stronger than a man.. A lion will outstand a man, a tiger out-run him, a stagge out-leap him, a dolphin out-swimme him."

The next portait is of anger; It is not so good as the preceding, but is remarkable for the volubility with which the au

thor pours out his wordy description of the different symptoms, by which it is distinguished.

"See-see! hee's all on a froth and fume: looke on him well, and like him worse. His head startles, haires bristle, browes wrinkle, eyes sparkle, teeth chatter, tongue stammers, lips quaver, joynts tremble, hands clap, fingers twitter, feet wander; his bloud rises, stomacke fills, veines swell; his heart burnes, breast boyles, breath shortens, colour goes and comes-now red as fire-now pale as clout,-now rashly hot and flaming-now fearefully wanne and chill. What uncouth alterations of mind? Did you ever see suche franticke anticke gestures of body? in this glasse (I warne you all) behold, and abhorre, yourselves. Did he here also see himselfe, he would scarce know himselfe; yet scarce that, ere loath himselfe. The man quite marres a good face of his owne. How uncomely and loathsome is his mind now (could you marke it) that works these distempers, and distractions in his body? he seemes, me thinkes, as ugly as outragious; and his features not more unseemely than his feats. Marke him now; now he stands, now starts, now stampes, now stares, now shrugges, now scratches, now snuffes, now grinnes, now gapes, now wrings: such apish tricks, such bedlam prancks, as you would judge him, in his fitt, either a foole or madman; and who will thinke you other, in his case? Anger is a short madnesse. Ah, peevish passion, that thus distempers and distracts us! of all our hard and adverse affections, the most harsh and churlish: the rest have some easement; this only will no mitigation feare hath some boldnesse, sorrow some joy, despayre some hope; this fury only hath no mercy: they move us, but this inrages; they disturbe, but this confounds our quiet.

"Yet more tricks with this angry ape; come aloft, Jack. Sirrah, how doe your fellow brutes startle and bestirre them in a moved mood? See the sport; he now rampes like a lion, bristles like a boare, foames like a beare, kicks like a horse, stampes like a bull, pushes like a ram, grinnes like a dogge, scratches like a cat, swells like a toad, hisses like a snake, bills like a cocke, tugges like a goose, buzzes like a beetle, stings like a waspe, and now mumpes and mowes like himselfe: nay about, Jacke; he now bends his browes, gnashes his teeth, scratches his head, teares his haire, beats his breast, wrings his hands, smites the post with his fist, and spurns the dust before him with his feet. The angry ape, said I; I should have said, the ape of anger. There is no savagenesse of beasts, which he here imitates not, if not exceeds: nay, hee'le follow the very fiends, in his fury."

To each of the three parts is appended a sort of epitaph. That on anger is the best, and is really a curiosity.

"Good reader know,
That commest nigh,

Here lies he low,
That look't so high.

« PreviousContinue »