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shortly before his death in sixteen hundred
and thirteen, contained Overbury's poem on
the choice of a wife; together with "many
witty characters, and conceited newes, written
by himselfe and other learned gentlemen
his friends." The third, fourth, and fifth
editions were published in sixteen hundred
and fourteen; the sixth only in sixteen
hundred and fifteen; and the seventh, eighth,
and ninth in sixteen hundred and ten
(the year in which the earl and countess
were tried), thus showing the effect of this
circumstance upon the sale of the book. By
that time it had gained a reputation which
insured a farther demand; and it reached a
sixteenth edition in sixteen hundred and
thirty-eight; although the booksellers were
induced to add to the attractiveness of the
volume by constant additions of new essays
by various hands; so that the total number
of characters increased, from twenty-one in
sixteen hundred and fourteen, to no less than
eighty in sixteen hundred and twenty-two.
Among these it is impossible to identify the
essays of any one writer, either of Sir Thomas
or of any of his coadjutors; and on this
account, as also because a new edition of the
work has been lately published, it is
unnecessary to give extracts from it at length.
The following is from the fifth edition.
Though the original has ceased to nourish at
the court of St. James's, he may doubtless be
found under the protection of King Bomba;
or, in this country, as the parasite of various
petty dignitaries. More than one country
town, frowned upon by the mansion of a
great proprietor, contains at least the
essentials of


To all men's thinking is a man, and to most men
the finest: all things else are defined by the
understanding, but this by the sences; but his surest mark
is, that hee is to bee found onely about princes. Hee
smells; and putteth away much of his judgement
about the scituation of his clothes. Hee knowes no
man that is not generally knowne. His wit, like the
marigold, openeth with the sunne, and therefore he
riseth not before ten of the clocke. Hee puts more
confidence in his words than meaning, and more in his
pronuntiation than his words. Occasion is his Cupid,
and hee hath but one receipt of making loue. Hee
follows nothing but inconstancie, admires nothing but
beauty, honours nothing but fortune. Loues nothing.
The sustenance of his discourse is newes, and his
censure like a shot depends upon the charging. Hee
is not, if he be out of court, but, fish-like, breathes
destruction, if out of his owne element. Neither his
motion, or aspect are regular, but he mooues by the
vpper-spheres, and is the reflexion of higher substances.
If you find him not heere, you shall in Paules with
a pick tooth in his hat, a cape cloke, and a long

We may proceed now to consider a book
of a different order, namely, Microcosmography,
or a piece of the world discovered, in
Essays and Characters. This, which was
long supposed to be written by one Edward
Blount, and which passed through eight
editions under his name, was published at
last, in seventeen hundred and eighty-six, as
the work of the real author, Dr. John Earle,
sometime Bishop of Salisbury. Dr. Earle
was well known in his day as a man of
sound learning and exemplary piety; but he
was a devoted adherent to King Charles the
First, and followed Charles the Second, whose
tutor he had been, into exile, after the battle
of Worcester. Among other indications of
his attachment, he translated the Ikon
Basilike into Latin for circulation on the
continent ; and lent money to the Stuart
princes. Upon the restoration he was made
Dean of Westminster, afterwards Bishop
of Worcester, and then of Salisbury; but
he did not long enjoy his honours, and
died at Oxford in sixteen hundred and
sixty-five, leaving a name that was equally
eulogised by Lord Clarendon, and Richard

It is much to be regretted that Bishop
Earle's sketches, clever as they are, were
the production of his youth; and received no
benefit from the greatly enlarged experience
of his maturer age. But the volume was first
published when the author was twenty-seven
years old; and the essays are said to have
been written at intervals and handed about
in manuscript, during the two or three years
before their appearance in public. They
have this fragmentary character strongly
marked upon them; and present nothing like
a complete picture of society, although they
amount to seventy-eight in number, and of
these the first is


Is a man in a small letter, yet the best copy of
Adam before he tasted of Eve or the apple: and he is
happy whose small practice in the world can only
write his character. He is nature's fresh picture
newly-drawn in oil, which time, and much handling,
dims and defaces. His soul is yet a white paper*
unscribbled with observations of the world, wherewith,
at length, it becomes a blurred note-book. He is
purely happy because he knows no evil, nor hath
made means by sin to be acquainted with misery.
He arrives not at the mischief of being wise, nor
endures evils to come, by foreseeing them. He kisses
and loves all, and, when the smart of the rod is past,
smiles on his beater. Nature and his parents alike
dandle him, and tice him on with a bait of sugar to a
draught of wormwood. He plays yet, like a young
prentice the first day, and is not come to his task of
melancholy. We laugh at his foolish sports, but his
game is our earnest; and his drums, rattles, and hobby
horses, but the emblems and mocking of man's
business. His father hath writ him as his own little
story, wherein he reads those days of his life that he
cannot remember, and sighs to sue what innocence he
hath outlived. The older he grows, he is a stair lower
from God; and, like his first father, much worse in
his breeches. He is the Christian's example, and the
old man's relapse ; the one imitates his pureness, and

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