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It was in short the sort of religious feeling natural to tranquil and tolerably prosperous times; and Feltham's work is an exact representative of its character and the extent of its views. The work therefore was fortunate in hitting the reigning taste or fashion; but it was also a work of remarkable ability—not indeed presenting the subtle inquisition and large speculation in which the Essays of Bacon abound, but still full of ingenious and sagacious remarks, always clearly, sometimes strikingly, expressed. Like all writers who have ever been long popular, indeed, Feltham owed half his success to his style—to a shaping of his thoughts which set their substance off to the best advantage, or at the very least enabled what of justness or worth was in them to be most clearly and readily apprehended. There is little or nothing, however, of poetry or picturesqueness in Feltham's writing; it is clear, manly, and sufficiently expressive, but has no peculiar raciness or felicity. Another preceding work that still more resembles Fuller's is the little volume entitled “Microcosmography, or a Piece of the World Discovered, in Essays and Characters,” which in recent times has been usually ascribed to Dr. John Earle, who after the Restoration was made Bishop, first of Worcester and then of Salisbury, though it does not appear upon what sufficient evidence. All that we can gather upon the point from Dr. Bliss's excellent modern edition (8vo. Lon. 1811) is that the editor of the previous edition of 1786 states himself to have lately discovered that the work was written by Bishop Earle, “from very good authority.” “I regret extremely,” says Dr. Bliss, in a note, “that I am unable to put the reader in possession of this very acute discoverer's name.” The work, by a mistake originating with Langbaine, in his ‘Dramatic Poets,’ had formerly been attributed to Edward Blount, its first publisher, who was a bookseller in St. Paul's churchyard, and also a man of letters. He was, to the honour, as Dr. Bliss observes, of his taste and judgment,’ one of the partners in the first edition of the plays of Shakspeare. Earle is the author of a Latin version of the “Eikon Basiliké,’ published at the Hague in 1649; he is said to have also translated Hooker's ‘Ecclesiastical Polity’ into the same language; he appears to have had in early life a high reputation both for classic learning and skill in English verse; but, with the exception of the Microcosmography, his only other performances that are now known to exist are three short elegies, which Dr. Bliss has printed. He died in 1665, and was probably born about the beginning of the century. The ‘Microcosmography’ was first printed in 1628; a second edition, “much enlarged,” came out in 1629, printed for Robert Alcot, the publisher of the second (1632) folio edition of Shakspeare ; the next mentioned by Dr. Bliss is a sixth, also printed for Alcot, in 1633; there was a seventh in 1638; after which the demand for the book seems to have been interrupted by the national confusions; but an eighth edition of it appeared in 1650. The style of the * Microcosmography' is much more antique and peculiar than that of Feltham's ‘Resolves;' and the subjects are also of more temporary interest, which may account for its having earlier dropt into comparative neglect. It is not only highly curious, however, as a record of the manners and customs of our ancestors, but is marked by strong graphic talent, and occasionally by considerable force of satire and humour. The characters are seventyeight in all, comprising both general divisions of men, and also many of the most remarkable among the official and other social distinctions of the time. As a specimen we will transcribe that of “An Alderman,’ which is one of the shortest:
He is venerable in his gown, more in his beard, wherewith he sets not forth so much his own as the face of a city. You must look on him as one of the town gates, and consider him not as a body, but a corporation. His eminency above others hath made him a man of worship, for he had never been preferred but that he was worth thousands. He oversees the commonwealth as his shop, and it is an argument of his policy that he has thriven by his craft. He is a rigorous magistrate in his ward; yet his scale of justice is suspected, lest it be like the balances in his warehouse. A ponderous man he is, and substantial, for his weight is commonly extraordinary, and in his preferment nothing rises so much as his belly. His head is of no great depth, yet well furnished; and, when it is in conjunction with his brethren, may bring forth a city apophthegm, or some such sage matter. He is one that will not hastily run into error; for he treads with great deliberation, and his judgment consists much in his pace. His discourse is commonly the annals of his mayoralty, and what good government there was in the o: of his gold chain, though the door-posts were the only things that suffered reformation.” He seems most sincerely religious, especially on solemn days; for he comes often to church, to make a show, and is a part of the quire hangings. He is the highest stair of his profession, and an example to his trade what in time they may come
* “It was usual for public officers to have painted or gilded posts at their doors, on which proclamations, and other documents of that description were placed, in order to be read by the populace . . . . . The reformation means that they were, in the language of our modern church wardens, repaired and beautified' during the reign of our alderman.”—Bliss.
to. He makes very much of his authority, but more of his satin doublet, which, though of good years, bears its age very well, and looks fresh every Sunday; but his scarlet gown is a monument, and lasts from generation to generation.
The author of the ‘Microcosmography' is more decidedly or undisguisedly anti-puritanical than Feltham. One of his severest sketches is that of “A She precise
Hypocrite,’ of whom, among other hard things, he says–
She is a non-conformist in a close stomacher and ruff of Geneva print,” and her purity consists much in her linen . . . . Her devotion at the church is much in the turning up of her eye, and turning down the leaf in her book when she hears named chapter and verse. When she comes home she commends the sermon for the Scripture and two hours. She loves preaching better than praying, and, of preachers, lecturers; and thinks the week-day's exercise far more edifying than the Sunday’s. Her oftest gossipings are Sabbath-day's journeys, where (though an enemy to superstition) she will go in pilgrimage five mile to a silenced minister, when there is
* “Strict devotees were, I believe, noted for the smallness and precision of their ruffs, which were termed in print, from the exactness of the folds. . . . . The term of Geneva print probably arose from the minuteness of the type used at Geneva. . . . . . It is, I think, clear that a ruff of Geneva print means a small, closely-folded ruff, which was the distinction of a non-conformist.”—Bliss. The small Geneva print referred to, we apprehend, was the type used in the common copies of the Geneva translation of the Bible (Coverdale's second version, first published in 1560), which were adapted for the pocket, and were of smaller size than any other edition. This was the favourite Bible of the Puritans: and these small copies were the “little pocketbibles, with gilt leaves” their quotations from which Selden used to hint to his brethren of the Westminster Assembly might not always be found exactly conformable to the original Greek or Hebrew.
a better sermon in her own parish. She doubts of the Virgin Mary's salvation, but knows her own place in heaven as perfectly as the pew she has a key to. She is so taken up with faith she has no room for charity, and understands no good works but what are wrought on the sampler. . . . . . . . She rails at other women by the names of Jezebel and Delilah; and calls her own daughters Rebecca and Abigail, and not Ann but Hannah. She suffers them not to learn on the virginals, because of their affinity with organs; but is reconciled to the bells for the chimes sake, since they were reformed to the tune of a psalm. She overflows so with Bible, that she spills it upon every occasion, and will not cudgel her maids without Scripture. It is a question whether she is more troubled with the devil, or the devil with her: she is always challenging and daring him, and her weapon is The Practice of Piety, Nothing angers her so much as that women cannot preach, and in this point only [she] thinks the Brownists erroneous; but what she cannot at the church she does at the table, where she prattles more than any against sense and Antichrist, till a capon's wing silence her. She expounds the priests of Baal reading ministers, and thinks the salvation of that parish as desperate as the Turks'. She is a main derider, to her capacity, of those that are not her preachers, and censures all sermons but bad, ones. . . . .
Many other books of characters were published in the seventeenth century. Dr. Bliss, in an Appendix to his edition of the ‘Microcosmography,' has enumerated and given an account of fifty-six that appeared between 1600 and 1700, besides one, Harman's ‘Caveat for Common Cursitors,' which has been reprinted in our own day, and which was first published in 1567.
SJR THOMAS BROWNE. Another of the most original and peculiar writers of the middle portion of the seventeenth century is Sir Tho