« AnteriorContinuar »
misfortunes of Jack, to bear a huge personal resemblauce with his brother Peter. Their humour and dispositions were not only the same, but there was a close analogy in their shape and size, and their mien. Insomuch, as nothing was more frequent than for a bailiff to seize Jack by the shoulders, and cry, Mr Peter, you are the king's prisoner. Or, at other times, for one of Peter's nearest friends to accost Jack with open arms, Dear Peter, I am glad to see thee; pray send me one of your best medicines for the worms. This, we may suppose, was a mortifying return of those pains and proceedings Jack had laboured in so long; and finding how directly opposite all his endeavours had answered to the sole end and intention, which he had proposed to himself, how could it avoid having terrible effects upon a head and heart so furnished as his ? however, the poor remainders of his coat bore all the punishment; the orient sun never entered upon his diurnal progress, without missing a piece of it. He hired a tailor to stitch up the collar so close, that it was ready to choke him, and squeezed out his eyes at such a rate, as one could see nothing but the white. What little was left of the main substance of the coat, he rubbed every day for two hours against a rough-cast wall, in order to grind away the remnants of lace and embroidery ; but at the same time went on with so much violence, that he proceeded a heathen philosopher. Yet, after all he could do of this kind, the success continued still to disappoint his expectation. For, as it is the nature of rags to bear a kind of mock resemblance to finery, there being a sort of fluttering appearance in both, which is not to be distinguished at a distance, in the dark, or by shortsighted eyes ; so, in those junctures, it fared with
Jack and his tatters, that they offered to the first view a ridiculous flaunting; which, assisting the resemblance in person and air, thwarted all his projects of separation, and left so near a similitude between them, as frequently deceived the very disciples and followers of both.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The old Sclavonian proverb said well, that it is with men as with asses; whoever would keep them fast, must find a very good hold at their ears. Yet I think, we may affirm, that it has been verified by repeated experience, that,
Effugiet tamen hæc sceleratus vincula Proteus.
It is good, therefore, to read the maxims of our ancestors, with great allowances to times and persons : for, if we look into primitive records, we shall find, that no revolutions have been so great, or so frequent, as those of human ears. In former days, there was a curious invention to catch and keep them; which, I think, we may justly reckon among the artes perditæ ; and how can it be otherwise, when, in the latter centuries, the very species is not only diminished to a very lainentable degree, but the poor remainder is also degenerated so far as to mock our skilfullest tenure? For, if the only slitting of one ear in a stag has been found sufficient to propagate the defect through a whole forest, why should we wonder at the greatest consequences, from so many loppings and inutilations, to which the ears of our
fathers, and our own, have been of late so much exposed ? It is true indeed, that while this island of ours was under the dominion of grace, many endeavours were made to improve the growth of ears once more among us. The proportion of largeness was not only looked upon as an ornament of the outward man, but as a type of grace in the inward. Besides, it is held by naturalists, that, if there be a protuberancy of parts, in the superior region of the body, as in the ears and nose, there must be a parity also in the inferior: and, therefore, in that truly pious age, the males in every assembly, according as they were gifted, appeared very forward in exposing their ears to view, and the regions about them; because Hippocrates tells us, * that, when the vein behind the ear happens to be cut, a man becomes an eunuch: and the females were nothing backwarder in beholding and edifying by them : whereof those who had already used the means, looked about them with great concern, in hopes of conceiving a suitable offspring by such a prospect: othe rs, who stood candidates for benevolence, found there a plentiful choice, and were sure to fix upon such as discovered the largest ears, that the breed might not dwindle between them. Lastly, the devouter sisters, who looked upon all extraordinary dilatations of that member as protrusions of zeal, or spiritual excrescencies, were sure to honour every head they sat upon, as if they had been marks of grace; f but especially, that of the preacher, whose ears were usually of the prime magnitude; which, upon that account, he was very frequent
* Lib. de aëre, locis et aquis.
and exact in exposing with all advantages to the people; in his rhetorical paroxysms turning sometimes to hold forth the one, and sometimes to hold forth the other : from which custom, the whole operation of preaching is to this very day, among their professors, styled by the phrase of holding forth.
Such was the progress of the saints for advancing the size of that member; and it is thought the success would have been every way answerable, if, in process of time, a cruel king had not arisen,* who raised a bloody persecution against all ears above a certain standard: upon which, some were glad to hide their flourishing sprouts in a black border, others crept wholly under a periwig; some were slit, others cropped, and a great number sliced off to the stumps. But of this more hereafter in my general history of ears; which I design very speedily to bestow upon the public.
From this brief survey of the falling state of ears in the last age, and the small care had to ad. vance their ancient growth in the present, it is manifest, how little reason we can have to rely upon a hold so short, so weak, and so slippery; and that whoever desires to catch mankind fast, inust have recourse to some other methods. Now, he that will examine human nature with circumspection enough, may discover several handles, whereof the six t senses afford one apiece, beside a great number that are screwed to the passions, and some few rivetted to the intellect. Among these last, curiosity is one, and, of all others, affords the firmest grasp : curiosity, that spur in the side, that bridle in the mouth, that ring in the nose, of a lazy and impatient and a grunting reader. By this handle it is, that an author should seize upon his readers; which, as soon as he has once compassed, all resistance and struggling are in vain; and they become his prisoners as close as he pleases, till weariness or dulness force him to let go his gripe.
* This was King Charles the Second, who, at his restoration), turned out all the dissenting teachers that would not conform, · † Including Scaliger's.
And therefore, I, the author of this miraculous treatise, having hitherto, beyond expectation, maintained, by the aforesaid handle, a firm hold upon my gentle readers, it is with great reluctance, that I am at length compelled to remit my grasp ; leaving them, in the perusal of what remains, to that natural oscitancy inherent in the tribe. I can only assure thee, courteous reader, for both our comforts, that my concern is altogether equal to thine, for my unhappiness in losing, or mislaying among my papers, the remaining part of these memoirs ; which consisted of accidents, turns, and adventures, both new, agreeable, and surprising; and therefore calculated, in all due points, to the delicate taste of this our noble age. But, alas ! with my utmost endeavours, I have been able only to retain a few of the heads. Under which, there was a full account, how Peter got a protection out of the King's Bench; and of a reconcilement* between Jack and him, upon a design they
* In the reign of King James the Second, the presbyterians, by the king's invitation, joined with the papists, against the church of England, and addressed him for repeal of the penal laws and test. 'The king, by his dispensing power, gave liberty of conscience, which both papists and presbyterians made use of ;