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which we hear not? What love tricks are they privy to, which we know not? Nothing is kept secret from such poor beggarly rascals as we be. And for public affairs, we have, by a thousand parts, better intelligence than all the world besides; for we hear that treated of in more parts, than all men else besides put all together.
“For your seeing, likewise, How freely may we enjoy it, without being noted ? None ask us the question, Why we gaze upon them? nor offer to hinder us from looking here, or looking there. How often have I accused and condemned myself, when begging in the church, mine eye hath been wandering and roving about? and chucked and hugged myself, with the delight and pleasure that I have taken therein? Or, to speak downright English, and to declare myself more plainly, feeding mine eyes greedily on those angelical faces of your finest ladies, whose lovers did not dare to look upon them for fear of being noted: all which was freely permitted unto us.”
“ But these are but toys to speak of, and mere fooleries; but above all these things, the taste, the sight, smelling, hearing, and touching, the chiefest and truest of all the five senses, put them all together, was that of those ruddy cheeks of your golden ruddocks, your Spanish pistolets, your plump and full-faced Portuguese, and your clear-skinned pieces of eight of Castile, which we kept secret to ourselves, and did privately enjoy in a plentiful manner. For to have them, for to pay them away, is not to enjoy them. To enjoy them, is to have them lying by us, having no other need of them, than to use them for the clearing of the eye-sight, and the comforting of our senses. Howbeit, some stick not to say, That he enjoys not his money that does not spend it. These we did carry about with us, sewing them in some patches of our doublets near unto the heart, and as close to the skin as we could handsomely quilt them in, holding them to be restorative. There was not any one piece of a patch about us, were it never so foul, and never so vile, which was not worth a reasonable good suit of clothes. We were all flush and full of gold; for, having our diet gratis, and feeding on free cost, the money which we got, we never spent. And, as the proverb is, He made thee rich, who guve
thee whereon to pick, and Grain after grain, the hen fills her craw. We grew many of us to increase our talent, till it came to a good round sum, wherewith many an honest man might have lifted his feet from the ground, and not have stuck in the mire.”
In speaking of friends, our author pays a proper tribute of commendation to our last friend, the Earth :
“One only friend have I found to be true, and is of the same nature and condition as we are. And this friend of ours is the best, the bountifullest, the truest, and the faithfullest of all other; for this is never wanting to its friend, but continues firm and constant for ever, nor is at any time weary of giving. And this good friend of ours, (that I may not hold you any longer in suspense) is the Earth.
“This affords us precious stones, gold, silver, and divers other metals, whereof we stand in need, and so earnestly thirst after. It
bringeth forth grass, and all sorts of herbs, wherewith are not only fed our flocks of sheep, our cattle, and other beasts, for the use and service of man, but those medicinable simples, which conserve our health, free us from diseases, and if we fall into sickness, set us upright again, preserving this life of ours in a sound and perfect state of health. It yieldeth us all sorts of fruits, that are either savoury to the taste, or nourishable to the body. It gives us wool, and flax, and by consequence, all kind of woven stuffs, wherewith we clothe and adorn this naked flesh of ours. It opens its own veins of its own accord, whilst from its full breasts sprout forth those sweet and delicate waters, which we drink; those brooks and rivers which impregnate the fields, and make them fruitful ; and not only that, but doth facilitate commerce, and make an easy way for traffic, bringing the strangest and remotest parts of the world to shake hands, and to communicate their commodities one with another, and to live in a league of love and friendship together. Nay more, it is so good, and so sweet a friend, that it suffereth, and willingly consenteth to all that we will ourselves. Be she well or ill used by us, all is one to her, so as we be pleased. She is like a sheep, from whom you shall hear no other language, but Omnia bene : All is well. Lead her forth to feed, or bring her to the waters to drink; shut and pen her up, or let her loose; take her lambkin from her, her milk, her wool, nay, her very life, to all she answers, bien : all is well. And all that bien, or good that we have on earth, the Earth gives it us. And for an upshot of all, when we are now dead, and lie stinking above ground, when there is neither wife, father, son, kinsman, nor friend, that will abide and endure our company any longer, but do all of them utterly forsake us, and fly from us; then, even then, doth not she refuse us, but hugs us, and makes much of us, and opening her own womb, takes us in unto her, where we quietly lie, as it were, in deposito, till she render afterwards a faithful account of what she hath received, and delivers us up to a new and eternal life. And amongst many her other excellencies, one of the worthiest things in her, and deserving most commendation, is, that she doing so much for us as she doth, and that so continually and without ceasing, being so generous and so frank-hearted, that she is never tired out, never grows weary, yet doth she not look for any requital, she neither asks, nor expects any return of kindness, nor doth she talk and tell of it, nor twit thee in the teeth with it; which some kind of friends, more usually than commendably, do."
Of custom, he says:
“ Some have called custom a second nature; but experience teacheth us, that its power is greater than that of nature; for custom will overthrow nature with her little finger. She is nobody in her hands : if she affect sour and bitter things, with such artifice doth she conserve and sweeten them, that, as if they were not bitter at all, she makes them to become sweet and pleasant; but if she clap in close with truth, and link herself in league with her, she is then the mightiest monarch that is, and her fort is inexpugnable. Who but
she makes the poor shepherd to live alone by himself in the solitary fields, in the depth of the low vallies, and on the tops of high mountains, amidst bushes and thorns, woods and rocks, opposing himself against the unmercifulness and cruelty of a sharp and rigorous winter, suffering terrible storms, continual rains, bitter winds, and piercing airs? And in the summer, a parching and scorching sun, which doth as it were roast and singe the trees, burn stones, and melt metals ? and its force being so great, that it tameth the fiercest and wildest beasts, and those that are most venomous, bridling their fury, and allaying their poison. Time at last overcometh custom ; it is he, and none but he, that works upon it, and to him only it is subject.
“ For comparing custom with time, her long and strong prescriptions are but as spiders'-webs, made to catch an elephant; for, if custom be powerful, time is prudent and wise ; and as wit goes beyond strength, so time subdueth custom. After night, comes day; after light, darkness: they tread one upon the heels of another, and the shadow follows after the body, and growing greater and greater, contests with him for superiority. The fire wageth war with the air ; the earth with the water; and all the elements go together by the ears, and are at a perpetual enmity one with another. The sun generates the gold, it gives it its essence, and its life. In like manner, time pursues, prosecutes, and fortifies custom; it makes and it mars, working wisely with silence, according to the self-same order as she is wont, by continued drops, to hollow the hardest stone."
We now conclude our extracts from Guzman de Alfarache, a book which contains a fund of acute and comprehensive observations on almost every rank in society, from the most abject to the most elevated; in which their hypocrisies are detected, and their peculiar vices described, with extraordinary minuteness and discrimination : and although, as we have before said, it is, on the whole, a tedious and dull performance; yet do we find many parts written with great vigour and vivacity. Like other Spanish authors of the same class, Aleman excels in the delineation of the animal appetites, which he describes with singular keenness and energy. Two or three interesting episodes are introduced in the course of the work, the best of which is the story of Osmin and Daraxa. The Life of Guzman de Alfarache was first printed in 1599. Of the author we know little more than may be collected from the following extract from the Elogium of Anciant Lys de Valdes, prefixed to the second part of the work. He observes, “ That never soldier had a poorer purse and a richer mind, nor a life more unquiet and full of trouble than was his, and only, because he accounted it a greater honour unto him, to be held a poor philosopher than a rich flatterer. He left (as it is well known to the world) voluntarily, and of his own accord, the King's palace, where he
served almost twenty years, being the best, and, as it were, the very cream of his age, in the office of Contador de resultas to King Philip the Second, and in many other weighty businesses, besides visitations and surveys, which were committed unto him; in all which he behaved himself so well, that he evermore gave wonderful good satisfaction, proceeding so uprightly, that he
grew to be so poor that not being able any longer, by reason of his wants and necessities, to continue these his services, he retired himself from that course of life to one of lesser, both in estimation and attendance."
In fulfilment of a vow he had made, he also wrote an account of the Life and Miracles of Saint Anthony of Padua.The excellent translator, of whose version we have availed ourselves, subscribes himself Don Diego Puede-Ser, whose name indicates him to be a Spaniard, but whose rich idiomatic diction would induce us to believe him an Englishman. Several copies of commendatory verses, addressed to the translator, are prefixed to the translation, amongst which is one by Ben Jonson, and another by William Browne. An abridgement of the Life of Guzman de Alfarache was made, in French, by Le Sage, which is chiefly confined to the relation of his adventures; and in which, at the same time that we avoid the long prosings of our author, we also miss that which is really most valuable in his work,--his vivacious thoughts and profound reflections.
Art. II.—The History of the Principality of Wales: in three
parts: containing, 1. A brief Account of the Antient Kings and Princes of Brittain and Wales, till the final Extinguishing of the Royal Brittish Line. 2. Remarks upon the Lives of all the Princes of Wales, of the Royal Families of England, from K. Edward the First to this Time. 3. Remarkable Observations on the most Memorable Persons and Places in Wales, and of many considerable Transactions and Passages that have happened therein for many hundred years past. Together with the natural and artificial Rarities and Wonders in the several Counties of the Principality. By R. B.
By R. B. London; Printed for Nat. Crouch, at the Bell in the Poultrey, near Cheapside, 1695.
This elaborate title announces one of the numerous publications of that most industrious and indefatigable bibliopolist, Nathaniel Crouch, who, under the assumed signature of R. B. (Richard Burton) sent forth into the world some twenty or
thirty historical compilations, which have now become exceedingly scarce, and, in consequence, exceedingly valuable.* Although his name is now nearly forgotten, and remembered only by the bibliographical elect, yet Nat. Crouch was an individual of no mean note among the booksellers of the day. That most amusing auto-biographer, John Dunton, has given us a tolerably circumstantial account of his brother bookseller, with whom he seems to have been on terms of some intimacy.
“ I shall next leer on my neighbour Crouch,” says he," as a weekly writer worth my notice. He prints nothing but what is very useful, and very entertaining; so that R. B. alias Nat. Crouch, is become a celebrated author; but I think I have given you the very soul of his character, when I have told you that his talent lies at collection. He has melted down the best of our English histories into twelvepenny books, which are filled with wonders, rarities, and curiosities; for you must know, his title pages are a little swelliag. However, Nat. Crouch is a very ingenious person, and can talk fine things on any subject. In a word, he is a phenix author, -I mean, the only man who gets an estate by writing books. ::.. Not that I have any thing to say of his morals, for as to them, he is, or ought to be, an honest man: and I believe the former, for all he gets will wear well: he collects, and enjoys it so quietly, so that he runs an even course in this world, and juts against no man, myself excepted; for his conversation is a sort of continued compliment, and his life a practice of honesty. His whole life is but one continued lecture, wherein all his friends, but more especially his two sons, may legibly read their duty.
I have a great friendship for him," he elsewhere says, “ but he has got a habit of leering under his hat, and once made it a great part of his business to bring down the reputation of the second Spira." I
To judge from the work before us, we should say, that Nathaniel Crouch's publications have become valuable on account of their rarity, and not from the intrinsic merit of their
* Mr. Malone furnished Mr. Chalmers with a list of twenty-nine of his works; but the subject of the present article is not enumerated among them.
† “ These Burton's books," says Chalmers, “ were formerly confined to the perusal of the lowest classes of readers, and were long called chapmen's books, and sold only by the petty booksellers, and at fairs, &c. But of late years they have become a favourite object with collectors, and their price has risen accordingly; and, more completely to gratify the trifling taste of the age, some of them have been reprinted in a pompous and expensive manner.”—Chalmers's Biographical Dictionary, vol. vii. p. 431.
I Dunton's Life and Errors, vol. i. p. 206, and vol. ii. p. 435,