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EXTRACTS FROM THOMAS FULLER'S WRITINGS.
Harmless mirth is the best cordial against the consumption of the spirits: wherefore jesting is not unlawful, if it trespasseth not in quantity, quality, or season
It is good to make a jest, but not to make a trade of jesting. The earl of Leicester, knowing that queen Elizabeth was much delighted to see a gentleman dance well, broughtthe master of a dancing-school to dance before her. "Pish!" said the queen, "it is his profession; I will not see him." She liked it not where it was a master-quality, but where it attended on other perfections. The same may we say of jesting.
Jest not with the two-edged sword of God's word. Will nothing please thee to wash thy hands in but the font? or to drink healths in but the church chalice? And know the whole art is learned at the first admissions, and profane jests will come without calling. If, in the troublesome days of king Edward the Fourth, a citizen in Cheapside was executed as a traitor for saying he would make his son heir to the crown, though he only meant his own house, having a crown for the sign, more dangerous it is to wit-wanton it with the majesty of God. Wherefore, if, without thine intention, and against thy will, by chance-medley thou hittest Scripture in ordinary discourse, yet fly to the city of refuge, and pray to God to forgive thee.
Let not thy jests, like mummy, be made of dead men's flesh. Abuse not any that are departed, for to wrong their memories is to rob their ghosts of their winding-sheets.
Scoff not at the natural defects of any which are not in their power to amend. Oh! it is cruelty to beat a cripple with his own crutches. Neither flout any for his profession, if honest, though poor and painful. Mock not a cobbler for his black thumbs.
He that relates another man's wicked jest with delight, adopts it to be his own. Purge them, therefore, from their poison. Iftheprofaneness may be severed from the wit, it is like a lamprey; take out the sting in the back, it may make good meat. But if the staple conceit consists in profaneness, then it is a viper, all poison, and med die not with it.
He that will lose his friend for a jest, deserves to die a beggar by the bargain. Yet some think their conceits, like mustard, not good except they bite. We read that all those who were born in England the year after the beginning of the great mortality, 1349, wanted their four cheek-teeth. Such let thy jests be, that they may not giind the creditof thy friend; and make not jests so long as till thou becomest one.
No time to break jests when the heart-strings are about to be broken. No more showing of wit when the head is to be cut off; like that dying man, who, when the priest, coming to him to give him extreme unction, asked of him where his feet were, answered, "At the end of my legs." But at such a time jests are an unmannerly crepitus ingenii; and let those take heed who end here with Democritus, that they begin not with Heraclitus hereafter.
He whose own worth doth speak, need not speak his own worth. Such boasting sounds proceed from emptiness of desert: whereas the conquerors in the Olympian games did not put on the laurels on their own heads, but waited till some other did it. Only anchorites, that wantcompany, may crown themselves with their own commendations. It showeth more wit, but no less vanity, to commend one's self, not in a straight line, but by reflection. Some sail to the port of their own praise by a side wind; as when they dispraise themselves, stripping themselves naked of what is their due, that the modesty of the beholders may clothe them with it again; or when they flatter another to his face, tossing the ball to him that he may throw it back again to them ; or when they commend that quality, wherein themselves excel, in another man (though absent,) whom all know far their inferior in that faculty; or, lastly, (to omit other ambushes men set to surprise praise,) when they send the children of their own brain to be nursed by another man, and commend their own works in a third person, but, if challenged by the company that they were authors of them themselves, with their tongues they faintly deny it, and with their faces strongly affirm it.
Self-praising comes most naturally from a man when it comes most violently from him in his own defence; for, though modesty binds a man's tongue to the peace in this point, yet, being assaulted in his credit, he may stand upon his guard, and then he doth not so much praise as purge himself. One braved a gentleman to his face, that, in skill and valour, he came far behind him. "It is true," said the other; "for, when I fought with you, you ran away before me." In such a case it was well returned, and without any just aspersion of pride.
He that falls into sin is a man, that grieves at it is a saint, that boastefh of it is a devil; yet some glory in their shame, counting the stains of sin the best complexion for their souls. These men make me believe it may be true what Mandevil writes of the isle of Somabarre, in the East Indies, that all the nobility thereof brand their taces with a hot iron in token of honour.
He that boasts of sin never committed is a double devil. Let them be well whipped for their lying, and, as they like that, let them come afterwards, and entitle themselves to the gallows.
It is a good accomplishment to a man if first the stock be well grown whereon travel is grafted, and these rules observed before, in, and after his going abroad:
Travel not early before thy judgment be risen, lest thou observest rather shows than substance, marking alone pageants, pictures, beautiful buildings, &c
Get the language (in part), without which key thou shalt unlock little of moment. It is a great advantage to be one's own interpreter. Object not that the French tongue learned in England must be unlearned again in France ; for it is easier to add than begin, and to pronounce than to speak.
Be well settled in thine own religion, lest, travelling out of England into Spain, thou goest out of God's blessing into the warm sun.
Know most of the rooms of thy native country before thou goest over the threshold thereof, especially seeing England presents thee with so many observables. But late writers lack nothing but age, and home-wonders but distance, to make them admired. It is a tale what Josephus writes of the two pillars set up by the sons of Seth in Syria, the one of brick, fire-proof, the other of stone, water-free, thereon engraving many heavenly matters to perpetuate learning in defiance of time. But it is truly moralized in our universities, Cambridge (of brick), and Oxford (of stone), wherein learning and religion are preserved, and where the worst college is more sight-worthy than the best Dutch gymnasium. First view these and the rest home rarities; not like those English that can givea better account of Fontainebleau than Hampton Court, of the Spa than Bath, of Annas in Spain than Mole in Surrey.
Travel not beyond the Alps. Mr Ascham did thank God that he was but nine days in Italy, wherein he saw in one city (Venice) more liberty to sin than in London he ever heard of in nine years. That some of our gentry have gone thither, and returned thence without infection, I more praise God's providence than their adventure.
To travel from the sun is uncomfortable; yet the northern parts with much ice have some crystal, and want not their remarkables. If thou wilt see much in a little, travel the low countries. HoU fond is all Europe in an Amsterdam print; for Minerva, Mars, and Mercury—learning, war, and traffic.
Be wise in choosing objects, diligent in marking, careful in remembering of them. Yet herein men much follow their own humours. One asked a barber, who never before had been at the court, what ne saw there? "Oh," said he, "the king was excellently well trimmed." Thus merchants most mark foreign havens, exchanges, and marts; soldiers note forts, armouries, and magazines; scholars listen after libraries, disputations, and professors; statesmen observe courts of justice, councils, &c. Every one is partial in his own profession.
Labour to distill and unite into thyself the scattered perfections of several nations. But (as it was said of one who, with more industry than judgment, frequented a college library, and commonly made use of the worst notes he met with in any authors, that he weeded the library,) many weed foreign countries, bringing home Dutch drunkenness, Spanish pride, French wantonness, and Italian atheism. As for the good herbs, Dutch industry, Spanish loyalty, French courtesy, and Italian frugality, these they leave behind them. Others bring home just nothing; and, because they singled not themselves from their countrymen, though some years beyond the sea, were never out of England.
Continue correspondence with some choice foreign friend after thy return, as some professor or secretary, who virtually is the whole university or state. It is but a dull Dutch fashion, their Albus Amicorum, to make a dictionary of their friends' names: but a selected familiar in every country is useful: betwixt you there may be a letter of exchange. But be sure to return as good wares as thou receivest, and acquaint him with the remarkables of thy own country, and he will willingly continue the trade, finding it equally gainful.
Let discourse rather be easily drawn than willingly flow from thee, that thou mayest not seem weak to hold, or desirous to vent news, but content to gratify thy friends. Be sparing in reporting improbable truths, especially to the vulgar, who, instead of informing their judgments, will suspect thy credit. Disdain their peevish pride who rail on their native land (whose worst fault is that it bred such ungrateful fools,) and in all their discourses prefer foreign countries, herein showing themselves of kin to the wild Irish, in loving their nurses better than their mothers,
ON THE WANT OF MONEY.
It is hard to be without money. To get on without it is like travelling in a foreign country without a passport—you are stopped, suspected, and made ridiculous at every turn, besides being subjected to the most serious inconveniences. The want of money I here allude to is not altogether that which arises from absolute poverty— for where there is a downright absence of the common necessaries of life, this must be remedied by incessant hard labour, and the least we can receive in return is a supply of our daily wants—but that uncertain, casual, precarious mode of existence, in which the temptation to spend remains after the means are exhausted, the want of money joined with the hope and possibility of getting it, the intermediate state of difficulty and suspense between the last guinea or shilling and the next that we may have the good luck to encounter. This gap, this unwelcome interval constantly recurring, however shabbily got over, is really full of many anxieties, misgivings, mortifications, meannesses, and deplorable embarrassments of every description. I may attempt (this essay is not a fanciful speculation) to enlarge upon a few of them.
It is hard to go without one's dinner through sheer distress, but harder still to go without one's breakfast. Upon the strength of that first and aboriginal meal, one may muster courage to face the difficulties before one, and to dare the worst: but to be roused out of one's warm bed, and perhaps a profound oblivion of care, with golden dreams (for poverty does not prevent golden dreams), and told there is nothing for breakfast, is cold comfort for which one's half-strung nerves are not prepared, and throws a damp upon the prospects of the day. It is a bad beginning. A man without a breakfast is a poor creature, unfit to go in search of one, to meet the frown of the world, or to borrow a shilling of a friend. He may beg at the corner of a street—nothing is too mean for the tone of his feelings—robbing on the highway is out of the question, as requiring too much courage, and some opinion of a man's self. It is, indeed, as old Fuller, or some worthy of that age, expresses it, "the heaviest stone which melancholy can throw at a man," to learn, the first thing after he rises in the morning, or even to be dunned with it in bed, that there is no loaf, tea, or butter in the house, and that the baker, the grocer, and butterman have refused to give any farther credit. This is taking one sadly at a disadvantage. It is striking at one's spirit and resolution in their very source—the stomach—it is attacking one on the side of hunger and mortification at once; it is casting one into