Showing the form, and how it may be reformed

††††††††††† Now therefore to come where we left last, for I know you would fain have your instructions ere you go home, as soon as I have given my horse some breath up this hill, I will ride along with you, so you will ride a sober pace; for I love not to ride with these goose-chasing youths, that post still to their journey's end, and when they come thither they cannot remember what business they have there, but that they had even as much in the place they came from.

††††††††††† These inconveniences being so great, and the greater because so general, if there be a way with little cost, with much cleanliness, with great felicity, and some pleasure to avoid them, were it not rather a sin to conceal it, than a shame to utter it? Wherefore shame to them that shame think; for I will confess frankly to you, both how much I was troubled with the annoyance, and what I have found for the remedy. For when I have found not only in mine own poor confused cottage, but even in the goodliest and stateliest palaces of this realm, notwithstanding all our provisions of vaults, of sluices, of grates, of pains of poor folks in sweeping and scouring, yet still this same whoreson saucy stink, though he were commanded on pain of death not to come within the gates, yet would spite of our noses, even when we would gladliest have spared his company, press to the fair ladies' chambers; I began to conceive such a malice against all the race of him, that I vowed to be at deadly feud with them, till I had brought some of the chiefest of them to utter confusion; and conferring some principles of philosophy I had read, and some conveyances of architecture I had seen, with some devices of others I had heard, and some practises of mine own I had paid for, I found out at last this way that is after described, and a marvellous easy and cheap way it is;<1> and I dare speak it upon my credit, not without good experience, that though it be neither farfetched nor dear-bought, yet it is good for ladies; and there be few houses that may not have the benefit of it: for there be few great and well contrived houses, but have vaults and secret passages made under ground to convey away both the ordure and other noisome things, as also the rainwater that falls into the courts; which being cleanly in respect of the eye, yet because they must of force have many vents, they are oft noisome in regard of the smell; especially in houses of office that stand high from the ground; the tuns of them drawing up the air as a chimney doth smoke: by which it comes to pass many times (especially if the wind stand at the mouth of the vaults), that what with fish water coming from the kitchens, blood and garbage of fowls, washing of dishes, and the excrements of other houses joined together, and all these in moist weather, stirred a little with some small stream of rain water; for as the proverb is,

'Tis noted as the nature of a sink,

Ever the more it is stirred, the more to stink.

††††††††††† I say these, thus meeting together, make such a quintessence of a stink, that if Paracelsus were alive, his art could not devise to extract a stronger. Now because the most unavoidable of all these things that keep such a stinking stir, or such a stink when they be stirred, is urine and ordure, that which we all carry about us (a good speculation to make us remember what we are, and whither we must); therefore, as I said before, many have devised remedies for this in times past, some not many years since, and I this last year; of all which, I will make choice only of two beside mine own to speak of; because men of good judgment have allowed them for good: but yet (as the ape doth his young ones) I think mine the properest of them all.

††††††††††† The first and the ancientest is, to make a close vault in the ground, widest in the bottom, and narrower upward; and to floor the same with hot lime and tarris, or some such dry paving as may keep out all water, and air also; for if it be so close as no air can come in, it doth as it were smother the savour, like to the snuffers or extinguishers. wherewith we put out a candle; and this stands with good reason, that seeing it is his nature to make the worse savour the more he is stirred, and nothing makes him keep a more stinking stir than a little wind and water: surely there can be little or no annoyance of him in this kind of house, where he shall lie so quietly. But against this is to be objected, that if there be a little cranny in the wall as big as a straw, or if the ground stand upon winter springs, or be subject as most places underground are, to give with moist weather, then at such times it must needs offend.

††††††††††† Besides, in a prince's house, where so many mouths be fed, a close vault will fill quickly; and that objection did my Lord of Leicester make to Sir John Young, at his last being at Bristow; who commended to my Lord that fashion, and showed him his own of a worse fashion, and told him that at a friend's house of his at Peterhill in London, there was a very sweet privy of that making.

††††††††††† Another way is, either upon close or open vaults, so to place the sieges or seats, as behind them may rise tuns of chimneys, to draw all the ill airs upwards: of which kind I may be bold to say, that our house of Lincoln's Inn putteth down all that have been made afore it, and is indeed, both in reason and experience, a means to avoid much of the annoyance that is wont to come off them, and keepeth the place all about much the sweeter. But yet, to speak truly, this is not safe from all infection or annoyance while one is there, as my sense hath told me; for

Sensus non fallitur in proprio objecto <2>

††††††††††† Or perhaps, by the strict words of the statute, it ought to be so; and that but two parts may be devised away, and a third must remain to the heir; for. I dare undertake, go thither when you will, your next heir at the common house, whatsoever charge he is at in the suit, I am sure he may be made a savour, at least for the tertiam partem <3> above all reprises, if the fault be not his own. And further, when the weather is not calm, the wind is so unruly that it will force the ill airs down the chimneys; and not draw them up, as we see it doth in chimneys where fire is made, force down the smoke, notwithstanding that the very nature of fire helpeth to enforce it upward; whereas these moist vapours are apt (even of their own nature) to spread abroad, and hang like a dew about everything. Wherefore, though I am but a punie <4> of Lincoln's Inn, and the builder hereof was a bencher, yet I will under reformation, prefer my device afore his; either because it is better, or else, out of the common fault of young men in this age, that we think our devices wiser than our elders. Yet with this respective modesty, that because my device is with water, where that cannot be had, or where houses stand on an exceeding flat, there I will leave the work to his oversight; but where any convenient current is, and no want of water, there I would be surveyor: and so to divide the regiment, that if for the dry land service he be general, for the water service I will be admiral. Yet, by the way, I hope all the inns of court will gratulate the present flourishing estate of Lincoln's Inn:<5> not so much for furnishing the realm with most honourable, upright, and well learned magistrates, great serjeants, grave counsellors, towardly barristers, young gallants of worth and spirit sans nombre;<6> but also (that I may now deal with my equals, and not with my ancients) with two such rare engineers, me for this one device, and Master Plat for very many.<7> Or if envy will not suffer them to give us due honour, let us two, M. Plat, at least grace one another: and I am the willinger to offer this kindness to you, because I was advised by some to have recommended this device to your illustrations, which I was very like to have done, save that we are of no great acquaintance; and beside I have a little ambitious humour of mine own to be counted a deviser; though to clear me of pride, you see my first practice is upon so base a subject, as I hope nobody will envy me, or seek to take it from me: as the sweet Zerbino said to Marfysa, of the ugly Gabrina;

You have so sweet a piece to carry by you,
As you are sure that no man will envy you

††††††††††† And after he had played a word or two with them, he concluded,

Ben siate accopiati Io jurerei,
Se come essa e Bella tu gagliardo sei.

No doubt you are a fitly matched pair,
If you as lusty be, as she is fair.

††††††††††† But when they had done breaking of jests one on another, and that it came to breaking of staves, the peerless Prince (for his oath's sake) was fain to take that most hateful hag into his protection. And so I suppose, that some may play in like sort upon me and my writing, and say,

The writer and the matter well may meet,
Were he as eloquent as it is sweet.

††††††††††† But if they do, let them take heed that in one place or other of this pamphlet they do not pull themselves by the nose, as the proverb is. But that you may see, M. Plat, I have studied your book with some observation, if you would teach me your secret of making artificial coal, and multiplying barley (though I fear me both the means will smell a little of kin to M. A JAX),<9> I assure you I would take it very kindly: and we two might have a suit together for a monopoly; you of your coal as you mention in your book, and I of M. reformed A JAX: and if you will trust me to draw the petitions, you shall see I will get some of the precedents of the starch and the vinegar, and make it carry as good a show of reason and good to the commonwealth as theirs doth. As, first, for yours I would frame these reasons; I would show the excellent commodity of iron-mills (for if you speak against them your suit will be dasht straight): I would prove how they reduce wild and savage woods, to civil and fruitful pastures: I would allege they are good for maintenance of navigation, in respect that every ship, what with his cast pieces, anchors, bolts, and nails, hath half as many tons of iron as timber to it: I would say, it is a commodity to the subject; considering they sell it for twelve or fourteen pound the ton, and when it came out of Spain or Holland, it was sold but for eight pound. The like also I would say for glass; and so concluding, that the woods must needs be spent upon these two (as doubtless they will in a short time), then your device for artificial coal, of how homely stuff soever you make it, will be both regarded and rewarded. And thus perhaps making some great man your half, you may have an imposition of a tenth or a fifth of every chaldron of your fuel. And though it should poison all the town with the ill savour (as the brewhouse by Whitehall doth her Highness' own house and all Cannonrow), yet what for necessity, and what for favour, it should be suffered. And never fear that the price of your coal will fall by cherishing of woods; for now Sir Walter Mildmay is dead, you shall have few men will busy themselves about any of these public inconveniences; or if his honest successor would attempt it, he should, I fear me, have small hope to prevail in that which so honest a predecessor could not. <10>

††††††††††† Now, for my monopoly, I would ask but this trifling suit, and I would make these goodly pretences. First, because I have proved by good authors, that M. A JAX is lineally descended of the ancient house of Stercutius, and to have lived long under protection of Dea Cloacina, and to have been prayed for by so many holy saints, I would procure (if the traffic were as open with Rome as it hath been), that as his progenitor Stercutius was allowed for a god, by one of the first Roman Pontifices Maximi, so M. AJAX might be allowed for a saint by Pope Sisesinke, Sixtus quintus (I would have said), or one of his successors (which if it be so easy a matter, as Boccaccio and other Italian authors write, will not be very chargeable);<11> and then with some of the money that you gain with the perfumed coal (if you will lend it me, and I will mortgage my bull to you when I have it, for payment), I will erect in London and elsewhere, divers shrines to this new saint; and all the fat offerings shall be distributed to such poor hungry fellows as sue for monopolies; which being joined to the ashes of your coal, will be perhaps not uncommodious for land: and you and I will beg nothing for our reward; but you, as I said afore, a fifth part of every chaldron; and I, but the my sixth part of an assize a month, of all that will not be recusants, to do their daily service at these holy shrines.<12> Now, if any do object it is too great a suit (for I think it would be the richest office in England), and say that it would amount to more than Peter pence, and Poll pence too; I would first, to stop their mouths quickly, promise them a good share in it; then I would amplify the service, that in this device do in some respects to the state of Christianity, in a matter that St. Peter nor Paul neither never thought of. For it is a common obloquy, that the Turks (who still keep the order of Deuteronomy for their ordure) do object to Christians, that they are poisoned with their own dung; which objection cannot be answered (be it spoken with due reverence to the two most excellent apostles) with any sentence in both their epistles so fully to satisfy the miscreant wretches, as the plain demonstration and practise of my device must needs answer them.

††††††††††† What think you, M. Plat? is not here a good plat laid, that you and I may be made by for ever? only, I fear one let, and that is this: I hear by report there is a worthy gentleman, sometime of our house, that hath now the keeping of the great seal, and these suits cannot pass but by his privity; and they say (see our ill hap) he hath ever been a great enemy to all these paltry concealments and monopolies; and further, they say of him, that to beguile him with goodly shows is very difficult, but to corrupt him with gifts is impossible: well, if it be so, all our fat is in the fire, and let the lean go after. <13> You may make a great fire of your gains, and be never the warmer; and may throw all mine into AJAX, and be never the poorer. Let us then make a virtue of necessity; and sith we cannot get these monopolies, let us say we care not for them, and a vengeance on them that beg them; and so we may have millions say Amen to us, and we shall be thought the honester men; and seeing I have had so ill luck in this, I would nobody might ever have any more of them, till I make such another suit. And if M. Plat will follow my advice, he shall impart his rare devices gratis, as I do this; and so we may one day be put into the Chronicles, as good members of our country; more worthily than the great bear that carried eight dogs on him, when Monsieur was here. <14>

††††††††††† But to leave M. Plat's coal, which kindled this fantasy in me, and to turn to my teshe; though I called myself by metaphor an admiral for the waterworks, yet I assure you this device of mine requires not a sea of water, but a cistern; not a whole Thames full, but half a tun full, to keep all sweet and savoury: for I will undertake, from the peasant's cottage to the prince's palace, twice so much quantity of water as is spent in drink in the house will serve the turn: which if it were at Shaftsbury, where water is dearest of any town, I know that is no great portion. And the device is so little cumbersome, as it is rather a pleasure than a pain; a matter so slight, that it will seem at the first incredible; so sure, that you shall find it at all times infallible: for it doth avoid at once all the annoyances that can be imagined; the sight, the savour, the cold: which last, to weak bodies, is oft more hurtful than both the other, where the houses stand over brooks or vaults daily cleansed with water. And not to hold you too long in suspense, the device is this: You shall make a false bottom to that privy that you are annoyed with, either of lead, or stone; the which bottom shall have a sluice of brass to let out all the filth; which if it be close plastered all about it, and rinsed with water as oft as occasion serves, but especially at noon and at night, will keep your privy as sweet as your parlour; and perhaps sweeter too, if Quail and Quando be not kept out. But my servant Thomas (whose pencil can perform more in this matter than my pen) will set down the form of this by itself in the end hereof, that you may impart it to such friends of yours as you shall think worthy of it, though you put them not to so great penance, as to read this whole discourse.

††††††††††† And that I may now also end your penance, that have taken all this pains to read this, that for your pleasure you would needs persuade me to write, I will not end abruptly here, but as friends that are upon parting in a journey, choose a cleanly place in the highway to take their leaves one of another, and not in the dirt and mire: so I, ere we part, will first for the enobling of this rare invention, tell you somewhat of the place, of the company, of the means, and of the circumstances, that first put so necessary a conceit in my head. For I remember I have read that Archimedes, the excellent engineer (a man in his time fully as famous at Syracusa, as our M. Plat is here in England), was said to have disgraced himself by an intemperate, or rather intempestive joy that he took of a very worthy and memorable invention of his. The story is thus: Archimedes having long beaten his brains to find some way by art how to discover what quantity of counterfeit mixture was put into a crown of massy gold, not dissolving the metals, and finding no means in long study, at last washing himself naked in a bathingtub, he observed still that the deeper he sunk, the higher the water rose; and forthwith he conceived (which after he performed indeed), that by such a means the true quantity of each metal might be found, and the fraud discovered: with joy whereof he was so ravished, that stark naked as he was, he ran out into the streets, crying, ευρηκα, ευρηκα ("eureka, eureka"); I have found it, I have found it. At which, for the time, all the people were amazed and thought him mad, till his invention after proved him, not only sober, but also subtle.

††††††††††† What, if some pleasant conceited fellow should give out, by way of supposition, that possibly the deviser of this rare conveyance, was at the time of devising thereof, sitting on some such place, as the godly father sat on at his devout prayers, or the godless king sat on at his devilish practices? as put the case on the stately stinking privy in the Inner Temple (where many grave apprentices of the law put their long debated cases to homely uses), and that with joy of so excellent invention, he ran out with his hose about his heels, and cried, ευρηκα, ευρηκα ("eureka, eureka"): so might I be likened to Archimedes, and there be some perhaps would be so very fools to believe it. But lest that any idleheaded fellow should devise, or any shallowbrained people believe such a tale, I do beforehand give the word of disgrace to any that shall so say; and will make it good on their persons with all weapons from the pin to the pike, that whether it were by my good guiding, or my good fortune, in the invention hereof, nor in the execution, I never received such a disgrace as that of Archimedes. For I assure you, the device was both first thought of, and discoursed of, with as broad terms as any belongs to it, in presence of six persons, who were (all save one) interlocutors in the dialogue; of which, I was so much the meanest, that the other five, for beauty, for birth, for value, for wit, and for wealth, are not in many places of the realm to be matched. Neither was the place inferior to the persons; being a castle, that I call the wonder of the west; so seated without, as England in few places affords more pleasures; so furnished within, as China nor the West Indies scarce allows more plenty. Briefly, at the very coming in you would think you were come to the Eldorado in Guiana: and by this I hope both the invention and execution hereof may be sufficiently freed from baseness.

††††††††††† Yet there remains one easy objection against the merit of my good service herein; I mean easy to make, but it will not seem so easy to answer; and that is, that some may say, this may fortune to do well in many places, but yet there is no depth in the invention: for it is nothing but to keep down the air with a stopple, and let out the filth with a screw; which some will mislike, and will not endure to have such a business every time they come to that house: to which I answer, that for depth in the invention, I affect it not (for I would not have it in all above two foot deep). And though the proverb is, the deeper the sweeter, that is to be intended in some sweeter matters; for the deeper you wade in this, you shall find it the sourer. And if it seem too busy, he that hath so great haste of his business, may take it as he finds it; which cannot be very ill at any time. But the old saying was, Look ere you leap; and the old custom was, that if a man had no light to look, yet he would feel, to seek that he would not find, for fear lest they should find that they did not seek. Further, the pains being so little as it is, I should think him a sloven that would not by himself or his man leave it as cleanly as he found it; especially considering, that in Deuteronomy you are told, God misliketh sluttishness: and every cat gives us an example (as housewives tell us) to cover all our filthiness: and if you will not disdain to use that which cometh from the musk cat, to make yourself, your gloves, and your clothes, the more sweet, refuse not to follow the example of the cat of the house, to make your entries, your stairs, your chambers, and your whole house the less sour. Indeed, for the device, I grant it is as plain as Dunstable highway, and perhaps it will be as common too; but neither of them shall be any disgrace to it. For I heard an Italian tell, that in Venice after they had had the great loss by fire in Maximilian's time, when their arsenal was burnt with gunpowder, they had long consultation how to keep their store powder from danger of fire, for fear of like mischances; at last a plain fellow (like myself) came and told that he had devised a way, and prayed to have audience.

††††††††††† Then he told them a long tale, but all to this short purpose; that gunpowder was made of three simples, viz. saltpetre, brimstone, and coal: but each of these several, would be easy kept from fire, and be quenched if they were kindled; but being compound, it blew up all in a moment, if the least spark did but meet with it: then he showed that the causes could not be so sudden of using powder, but that the simples being ready, it might soon be made: lastly, that saltpetre did grow, rather than waste, with lying; whereas, being made into powder, it doth consume, &c. All which, though every man there knew before, yet because they had not offered to put it in practice, they gave him a reward for his device, and followed therein his advice; placing these simples in several houses, which are so dangerous when they are compounded; and since that time they have been more annoyed with water than with fire. Wherefore, I assure me, the magnificos of Venice would allow of the device, and I had some idle money, I might hap to be so idly disposed, to put out more than I will speak of upon this return, when one of the sons and daughters of St. Mark had put my device in execution;<15> especially if that Molto Magnificentissimo were yet alive, that when his wife was sick, and the physician was to see her water, he knew not how to bid her make water, in words seemly for his high state and her fine ears, that had never heard so foul a word as that in her life, till his man took on him the matter, and found a phrase by circumlocution to signify pissing, and never once to name it, in this sort; Cara signora vi prego fare quello che fate dinanzi al cacare. <16> But see, see, I would fain have bid you farewell; and now we are again in our dirty common place, we will go with you yet a quoit's cast further, and then upon the next green we will bid farewell, and turn tail as they say: wherefore, now I will make you only a brief repetition of that I have said. You see, first, how I have justified the homely words and phrases with authorities above all exception; I have proved the care ever had of the matter, with examples above all comparison: lastly, I have expressed to you a cleanly form of it, above all expectation. Neither do I praise it, as merchants do their wares, to rid their hands of them; for I promise you, how high soever I praise it, I mean not to part with it: for were I to praise it upon mine oath as we do household stuff in an inventory, I would praise it in my house, to be worth a hundred pounds; in yours, three hundred pounds; in Wollerton, five hundred pounds; in Tibals, Burley, and Holmbie,<17> a thousand pounds; in Greenwich, Richmond, and Hampton-court, ten thousand pounds.

††††††††††† And by my good sooth, so I would think myself well paid for it: not that I am so base-minded to think that wit and art can be rated at any price, but that I would accept it as a gratuity fit for such houses and their owners.

††††††††††† For I tell you, though I will not take it upon me that I am in dialecticorum dumetis doctus,<18> or in rhetoricorum pompa potens,<19> or caeteris scientiis saginatus,<20> as doth our Pedantius of Cambridge; yet I take it, that in this invention I shall show a great practice upon the grammar, and upon this point I will challenge all the grammarians; viz. I say, and I will make it good, that by my rare device I shall make Stercutius a noun adjective. Now I know you will set your son William to answer me; and he shall say, no, no, and come upon me with his grammar rule, ut sunt divorum, Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, virorum, &c.<21> etc. and hereby conclude, that he is both a substantive, and that a substantial one too, and a masculine.

††††††††††† But all this will not serve, for I have learned the grammar too; and therefore,

Come grammar rules, come now your power show,

††††††††††† as saith the noble Astrophell. First, therefore I say, his no, no, is an affirmative;

For in one speech two negatives affirm.

††††††††††† Secondly, tell me pretty Will, what is a noun substantive? That that may be seen, felt, heard, or understood. Very well; now I will join issue with you on this point, where shall we try it? Not in Cambridge, you will say; for I think they will be partial on my side. Well then, in Oxford be it, and no better judge than M. Poeta, who was chief captain of all the nouns in that excellent comedy of Bellum gramaticale. <22> For, without all peradventure, when he shall hear that one of his band and so near about him, is brought to that state, that he is neither to be seen, smelt, heard, nor understood, he will swear gog's nouns, <23>, he will thrust him out of his selected band of the most substantial substantives, and sort him with the rascal rabblement of the most abject adjectives. But now, sir, that I have brought you to so fair a town as Oxford, and so sweet a companion as your son William, I will leave you to him that made you.

††††††††††† <24>Now (gentle reader) you have taken much pain, and perhaps some pleasure, in reading our Metamorphosis of AJAX, and you supposed by this time to have done with me: but now, with your favour, I have not done with you. For I found by your countenance, in the reading and hearing hereof, that your conceit oft-times had censured me hardly, and that somewhat diversely; and namely, in these three kinds:

††††††††††† <25> First, you thought me fantastical; secondly, you blamed my scurrility; and, thirdly, you found me satirical: to which three reproofs, being neither causeless nor unjust, do me but the justice to hear my three answers.

††††††††††† <26> I must needs acknowledge it fantastical for me, whom I suppose you deem (by many circumstances) not to be of the basest, either birth or breeding, to have chosen, or of another man's choice to have taken so strange a subject. But though I confess thus much, yet I would not have you lay it to my charge; for if you so do, I shall straight retort all the blame, or the greatest part of it, upon yourself: and namely, I would but ask you this question, and even truly between God and your conscience, do but answer it. If I had entitled the book, A Sermon showing a sovereign salve for the sores of the soul; or A wholesome Haven of Health to harbour the heart in; or A marvellous medicine for the maladies of the mind, would you ever have asked after such a book? would these grave and sober titles have won you to the view of three or four tittles? much less three or four score periods. But when you heard there was one that had written of AJAX, straight you had a great mind to see what strange discourse it would prove; you made inquiry who wrote it, where it might be had, when it would come forth. You prayed your friend to buy it, beg it, borrow it, that you might see what good stuff was in it. And why had you such a mind to it? I can tell you. You hoped for some merriments, some toys, some scurrility; or, to speak plain English, some knavery: and if you did so, I hope now your expectation is not altogether frustrate. Yet, give me leave briefly to show you what petty pills you have swallowed in your pleasant quadlings, and what wholesome wormwood was inclosed in these raisins of the sun.

††††††††††† <27> Against malcontents, epicures, atheists, heretics, and careless and dissolute Christians, and especially against pride and sensuality, the prologue and the first part are chiefly intended. The second gives a due praise, without flattery, to one that is worthy of it; and a just check, without gall, to some that deserve it. The third part, as it teacheth indeed a reformation of the matter in question, so it toucheth in sport, a reprehension of some practises too much in custom: all which the reader, that is honourable, wise, virtuous, and a true lover of his country, must needs take in good part. Now, gentle reader, if you will still say this is fantastical, then I will say again, you would not have read it except it had been fantastical; and if you will confess the one, sure I will never deny the other.

††††††††††† <28>The second fault you object, is scurrility; to which I answer, that I confess the objection, but I deny the fault; and if I might know whether he were Papist or Protestant that maketh this objection, I would soon answer them, namely, thus; I would cite a principal writer on either side, and I would prove that either of them hath used more obscene, foul,and scurrilous phrases (not in defence of their matter, but in defacing of their adversary) in one leaf of their books, than is in all this.<29> Yet they profess to write of the highest, the holiest, the weightiest matters that can be imagined; that I write of the basest, the barrenest, and most witless subject that may be described.

Quod decuit tantos cur mihi turpe putem?<30>

††††††††††† I forbear to show examples of it, lest I should be thought to disgrace men of holy and worthy memory.

††††††††††† <31> For such as shall find fault that it is too satirical, surely, I suppose their judgment shall sooner be condemned by the wiser sort, than my writings. For when all the learned writers, godly preachers, and honest livers over all England (yea, over all Europe), renew that old complaint, Regnare nequitiam et in deterius res humanas labi. <32>

††††††††††† When we hear them say daily, that there was never under so gracious a head, so graceless members; after so sincere teaching, so sinful living; in so shining light, such works of darkness: when they cry out upon us, yea, cry indeed, for I have seen them speak it with tears, that lust and hatred were never so hot, love and charity were never so cold; that there was never less devotion, never more division; that all impiety hath all impunity; finally, that the places that were wont to be the samples of all virtue and honour, are now become the sinks of all sin and shame. These phrases (I say) being written and recorded, sounded and resounded in so many books and sermons, in Cambridge, in Oxford, in the court, in the country, at Paul's Cross, in Paul's Churchyard; may not I, as a sorry writer among the rest, in a merry matter, and in a harmless manner, professing purposely, Of vaults and privies, sinks and draughts, to write, <33> prove according to my poor strength, to draw the readers by some pretty draught, to sink into a deep and necessary consideration, how to amend some of their privy faults? Believe it (worthy readers, for I write not to the unworthy), AJAX, when he is at his worst, yields not a more offensive savour to the finest nostrils, than some of the faults I have noted do to God and the world. Be not offended with me for saying it, more than I am with some of you for seeing it. But this I say, if we would amend our privy faults first, we should afterward much the better reform the open offences, according to the old proverb, Every man mend one, and all would be amended. Trust me, they do wrong me, that count me satirical: alas! I do but (as the phrase is) pull a hair from their beards whose heads perhaps by the old laws and canons should be shorn. If you will say there is salt in it, I will acknowledge it; but if you will suspect there is gall in it, I renounce it: I name not many, and in those I do name, I swerve not far from the rule.

Play with me, and hurt me not:
Jest with me, and shame me not.

††††††††††† For some that may seem secretly touched, and be not openly named, if they will say nothing, I will say nothing. But, as my good friend M. Davies said of his epigrams, that they were made like doublets in Birchin-lane, for every one whom they will serve: so if any man find in these my lines any raiment that suits him so fit, as if it were made for him, let him wear it and spare not: and for my part, I would he could wear it out. But if he will be angry at it, then (as the old saying is) I beshrew his angry heart; and I would warn him thus much (as his poor friend), that the workman that could with a glance only, and a light view of his person, make a garment so fit for him, if the same workman come and take a precise measure of him, may make him another garment of the same stuff (for there need go but a pair of shears between them), that in what shire soever he dwelleth, he may be known by such a coat as long as he liveth. Well, to conclude, let both the writer and the readers endeavour to mend ourselves, and so we shall the easier amend others; and then I shall think my labour well bestowed in writing, and you shall think yours not altogether lost in reading. And with this honest exhortation I would make an end; imitating herein the wisest lawyers, who, when they have before the simplest jurors, long disputed their cases to little purpose, are ever most earnest and eager at the parting, to beat into the jury's head some special point or other, for the behoof of their client. For, so would I, howsoever you do with the rest of the matter. I would, I say, fain beat still into your memory this necessary admonition (which my new taken name admonisheth me of <35>); to cleanse, amend, and wipe away all filthiness. To the which purpose, I could methink allegorize this homely subject that I have so dilated, and make almost as good a sermon as the friar did before the Pope; saying nothing but Matto San Pietro<36> three times, and so came down from the pulpit again; and being afterward examined, what he meant to make a sermon of three words, but three times repeated before the triple crowned prelate and so many cardinals, he told them they might find a good sermon in Matto San Pietro; as namely, if heaven might be gotten, notwithstanding all the pride, pleasures, and pomp of the world, with ease, sensuality, and epicurism, then what a fool was St. Peter to live so strict, so poor, so painful a life? With which it is possible his auditory was more edified, or at least more terrified, than they would have been at a longer sermon: but I will neither end with sermon nor prayer, lest some wags liken me to my Ló's players, who when they have ended a bawdy comedy, as though that were a preparative to devotion, kneel down solemnly, and pray all the company to pray with them for their good Lord and master. Yet I will end with this good counsel, not unsuiting to the text I have thus long talked of;

To keep your houses sweet, cleanse privy vaults:
To keep your souls as sweet, mend privy faults.


Prev Next