After so wide a compass as I have wandered, I do now gladly overtake and close in with my subject, and shall henceforth hold on with it an even pace to the end of my journey, except some beautiful prospect appears within sight of my way; whereof though at present I have neither warning nor expectation, yet upon such an accident, come when it will, I shall beg my reader's favour and company, allowing me to conduct him through it along with myself. For in writing it is as in travelling; if a man is in haste to be at home (which I acknowledge to be none of my case, having never so little business as when I am there); if his horse be tired with long riding and ill ways, or naturally a jade; I advise him clearly to make the straightest and the commonest road, be it ever so dirty: but then surely we must own such a man to be a scurvy companion at best; he spatters himself and his fellow-travellers at every step; all their thoughts, and wishes, and conversation, turn entirely upon the subject of their journey's end; and at every splash, and plunge, and stumble, they heartily wish one another at the devil.
On the other side, when a traveller and his horse are in heart and plight; when his purse is full and the day before him; he takes the road only where it is clean or convenient; entertains his company there as agreeably as he can; but, upon the first occasion, carries them along with him to every delightful scene in view, whether of art, of nature, or of both; and if they chance to refuse out of stupidity or weariness, let them jog on by themselves and be dd; he'll overtake them at the next town: at which arriving, he rides furiously through; the men, women, and children run out to gaze; a hundred noisy curs183 run barking after him, of which if he honours the boldest with a lash of his whip, it is rather out of sport than revenge; but should some sourer mongrel dare too near an approach, he receives a salute on the chaps by an accidental stroke from the courser's heels, nor is any ground lost by the blow which sends him yelping and limping home.
I now proceed to sum up the singular adventures of my renowned Jack; the state of whose dispositions and fortunes the careful reader does no doubt most exactly remember, as I last parted with them in the conclusion of a former section. Therefore his next care must be, from two of the foregoing to extract a scheme of notions, that may best fit his understanding for a true relish of what is to ensue.
JACK had not only calculated the first revolution of his brain so prudently as to give rise to that epidemic sect of Æolists; but, succeeding also into a new and strange variety of conceptions, the fruitfulness of his imagination led him into certain notions which, although in appearance very unaccountable, were not without their mysteries and their meanings, nor wanted followers to countenance and improve them. I shall therefore be extremely careful and exact in recounting such material passages of this nature as I have been able to collect, either from undoubted tradition or indefatigable reading; and shall describe them as graphically as it is possible, and as far as notions of that height and latitude can be brought within the compass of a pen. Nor do I at all question but they will furnish plenty of noble matter for such whose converting imaginations dispose them to reduce all things into types; who can make shadows, no thanks to the sun; and then mould them into substances, no thanks to philosophy; whose peculiar talent lies in fixing tropes and allegories to the letter, and refining what is literal into figure and mystery.
Jack had provided a fair copy of his father's
p.90will, engrossed in form upon a large skin of parchment; and resolving to act the part of a most dutiful son, he became the fondest creature of it imaginable. For although, as I have often told the reader, it consisted wholly in certain plain, easy directions about the management and wearing of their coats, with legacies and penalties in case of obedience or neglect; yet he began to entertain a fancy that the matter was deeper and darker, and therefore must needs have a great deal more of mystery at the bottom. Gentlemen, said he, I will prove this very skin of parchment to be meat, drink, and cloth, to be the philosopher's stone and the universal medicine. In consequence of which raptures, he resolved to make use of it in the most necessary as well as the most paltry occasions of life.184 He had a way of working it into any shape he pleased; so that it served him for a nightcap when he went to bed, and for an umbrella in rainy weather. He would lap a piece of it about a sore toe, or, when he had fits, burn two inches under his nose; or, if anything lay heavy on his stomach, scrape off and swallow as much of the powder as would lie on a silver penny; they were all infallible remedies. With analogy to these refinements, his common talk and conversation ran wholly in the phrase of his will, and he circumscribed the utmost of his eloquence within that compass, not daring to let slip a syllable without authority from that. Once, at a strange house, he was suddenly taken short upon an urgent juncture, whereon it may not be allowed too particularly to dilate; and being not able to call to mind, with that suddenness the occasion required, an authentic phrase for demanding the way to the back-side; he chose rather, as the more prudent course, to incur the penalty in such cases usually annexed. Neither was it possible for the united rhetoric of mankind to prevail with him to make himself clean again; because having consulted the will upon this emergency, he met with a passage near the bottom (whether foisted in by the transcriber is not known) which seemed to forbid it.185
He made it a part of his religion never to say grace to his meat, nor could all the world persuade him, as the common phrase is, to eat his victuals like a Christian.186
He bore a strange kind of appetite to snap-dragon, and to the livid snuffs of a burning candle, which he would catch and swallow with an agility wonderful to conceive; and, by this procedure, maintained a perpetual flame in his belly, which, issuing in a glowing steam from both his eyes, as well as his nostrils and his mouth, made his head appear in a dark night like the skull of an ass, wherein a roguish boy had conveyed a farthing candle, to the terror of his majesty's liege subjects. Therefore, he made use of no other expedient to light himself home, but was wont to say that a wise man was his own lantern.187
He would shut his eyes as he walked along the streets,188 and if he happened to bounce his head against a post, or fall into a kennel, as he seldom missed either to do one or both, he would tell the gibing prentices who looked on, that he submitted with entire resignation as to a trip or a blow of fate, with whom he found, by long experience, how vain it was either to wrestle or to cuff; and whoever durst undertake to do either, would be sure to come off with a swinging fall or a bloody nose. It was ordained, said he, some few days before the creation, that my nose and this very post should have a rencounter; and, therefore nature189 thought fit to send us both into the world in the same age, and to make us countrymen and fellow-citizens. Now, had my eyes been open, it is very likely the business might have been a great deal worse; for how many a confounded slip is daily got by man with all his foresight about him? Besides, the eyes of the understanding see best when those of the senses are out of the way; and therefore blind men are observed to tread their steps with much more caution, and conduct, and judgment, than those who rely with too much confidence upon the virtue of the visual nerve, which every little accident shakes out of order, and a drop or a film, can wholly disconcert; like a lantern among a pack of roaring bullies, when they scour the streets, exposing its owner and itself to outward kicks and buffets, which both might have escaped if the vanity of appearing would have suffered them to walk in the dark. But farther; if we examine the conduct of these boasted lights, it will prove yet a great deal worse than their fortune. It is true, I have broke my nose against this post, because fortune190 either forgot, or did not think it convenient, to twitch me by the elbow and give me notice to avoid it. But let not this encourage either the present age or
p.91posterity to trust their noses into the keeping of their eyes, which may prove the fairest way of losing them for good and all. For, O ye eyes, ye blind guides; miserable guardians are ye of our frail noses; ye, I say, who fasten upon the first precipice in view, and then tow our wretched willing bodies after you to the very brink of destruction: but alas! that brink is rotten, our feet slip, and we tumble down prone into a gulf, without one hospitable shrub in the way to break the fall; a fall to which not any nose of mortal make is equal, except that of the giant Laurcalco,191 who was lord of the silver bridge. Most properly therefore, O eyes, and with great justice, may you be compared to those foolish lights, which conduct men through dirt and darkness, till they fall into a deep pit or a noisome bog.
This I have produced as a scantling of Jack's great eloquence, and the force of his reasoning upon such abstruse matters.
He was, besides, a person of great design and improvement in affairs of devotion, having introduced a new deity, who has since met with a vast number of worshippers; by some called Babel, by others Chaos; who had an ancient temple of Gothic structure upon Salisbury plain, famous for its shrine and celebration by pilgrims.
When he had some roguish trick to play,192 he would down with his knees, up with his eyes, and fall to prayers, though in the midst of the kennel. Then it was that those who understood his pranks would be sure to get far enough out of his way; and whenever curiosity attracted strangers to laugh or to listen, he would, of a sudden, with one hand out with his gear and piss full in their eyes, and with the other all bespatter them with mud.
In winter he went always loose and unbuttoned, and clad as thin as possible, to let in the ambient heat; and in summer lapped himself close and thick to keep it out.193
In all revolutions of government he would make his court for the office of hangman general; and in the exercise of that dignity, wherein he was very dexterous, would make use of no other vizard than a long prayer.194
He had a tongue so musculous and subtile, that he could twist it up into his nose, and deliver a strange kind of speech from thence. He was also the first in these kingdoms who began to improve the Spanish accomplishment of braying; and having large ears, perpetually exposed and arrected, he carried his art to such a perfection, that it was a point of great difficulty to distinguish, either by the view or the sound, between the original and the copy.195
He was troubled with a disease reverse to that called the stinging of the tarantula; and would run dog-mad at the noise of music, especially a pair of bagpipes.196 But he would cure himself again by taking two or three turns in Westminster-Hall, or Billingsgate, or in a boarding-school, or the Royal Exchange, or a state coffee-house.
He was a person that feared no colours, but mortally hated all, and, upon that account, bore a cruel aversion to painters; insomuch that, in his paroxysms, as he walked the streets, he would have his pockets loaden with stones to pelt at the signs.197
Having, from this manner of living, frequent occasion to wash himself, he would often leap over head and ears into the water,198 though it were in the midst of the winter, but was always observed to come out again much dirtier, if possible, than he went in.
He was the first that ever found out the secret of contriving a soporiferous medicine to be conveyed in at the ears;199 it was a compound of sulphur and balm of Gilead, with a little pilgrim's salve.
He wore a large plaster of artificial caustics on his stomach, with the fervour of which he could set himself a- groaning, like the famous board upon application of a red-hot iron.
He would stand in the turning of a street, and, calling to those who passed by, would cry to one, Worthy sir, do me the honour of a good slap in the chaps..200 To another, Honest friend, pray favour me with a handsome kick on the a: Madam, shall I entreat a small box on the ear from your ladyship's fair hands? Noble captain, lend a reasonable thwack, for the love of God, with that cane of yours over these poor shoulders. And when he had, by such earnest solicitations, made a shift to procure a basting sufficient to swell up his fancy and his sides, he would return home extremely
p.92comforted, and full of terrible accounts of what he had undergone for the public good. Observe this stroke (said he, showing his bare shoulders); a plaguy janizary gave it me this very morning, at seven o'clock, as, with much ado, I was driving off the great Turk. Neighbours, mind, this broken head deserves a plaster; had poor Jack been tender of his noddle, you would have seen the pope and the French king, long before this time of day, among your wives and your warehouses. Dear Christians, the great Mogul was come as far as Whitechapel, and you may thank these poor sides that he hath not (God bless us!) already swallowed up man, woman, and child.
It was highly worth observing the singular effects of that aversion, or antipathy, which Jack and his brother Peter seemed, even to an affectation, to bear toward each other. Peter had lately done some rogueries that forced him to abscond, and he seldom ventured to stir out before night, for fear of bailiffs. Their lodgings were at the two most distant parts of the town from each other; and whenever their occasions or humours called them abroad, they would make choice of the oddest unlikely times, and most uncouth rounds they could invent, that they might be sure to avoid one another; yet, after all this, it was their perpetual fortune to meet. The reason of which is easy enough to apprehend; for, the phrensy and the spleen of both having the same foundation, we may look upon them as two pair of compasses, equally extended, and the fixed foot of each remaining in the same centre, which, though moving contrary ways at first, will be sure to encounter somewhere or other in the circumference. Besides, it was among the great misfortunes of Jack to bear a huge personal resemblance with his brother Peter. Their humours and dispositions were not only the same, but there was a close analogy in their shape, their 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 short-sighted 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.201
[...] Desunt nonnulla. [...]
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 haec sceleratus vincula Proteus.
Horace, Satires 2, 3.71.202
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 perditae: and how can it be otherwise, when in these latter centuries the very species is not only diminished to a very lamentable degree, but the poor remainder is also degenerated so far as to mock our skilfulest 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 mutilations 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.203 Besides, it is held by naturalists that, if there be a protuberancy of parts in the superiour 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
p.93forward 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 a 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: others, 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 excrescences, were sure to honour every head they sat upon, as if they had been marks of grace; but especially that of the preacher, whose ears were usually of the prime magnitude: which, upon that account, he was very frequent 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,204 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 fallen state of ears in the last age, and the small care had to advance 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 must have recourse to some other methods. Now, he that will examine human nature with circumspection enough may discover several handles, whereof the six senses afford one a-piece, beside a great number that are screwed to the passions, and some few riveted 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 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 dullness force him to let go his grip.
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 reconcilement205 between Jack and him, upon a design they had, in a certain rainy night, to trepan brother Martin into a spunging-house, and there strip him to the skin. How Martin, with much ado, showed them both a fair pair of heels. How a new warrant came out against Peter; upon which, how Jack left him in the lurch, stole his protection, and made use of it himself. How Jack's tatters came into fashion in court and city; how he got upon a great horse, and eat custard.206 But the particulars of all these, with several others which have now slid out of my memory, are lost beyond all hopes of recovery. For which misfortune, leaving my readers to condole with each other as far as they shall find it to agree with their several constitutions; but conjuring them by all the friendship that has passed between us, from the title-page to this, not to proceed so far as to injure their healths for an accident past remedy; I now go on to the ceremonial part of an accomplished writer, and therefore, by a courtly modern, least of all others to be omitted.