By H. P.

LONDON, Printed for Thomas Paybody, in Queenes Head Court in Pater Noster Row. 1642.

A Paradox In the praise of a DVNCE.

WHen I undertook this subject and seriously bethought me of the Title, (as Plinies advice to every Author) The praise of a Dunce, I considered whether I were my selfe a Dunce or no, then it had beene true, proprio laus sordet in ore. Againe, Qui alterum incusare vol [...] scips [...] intueri oper­tet. But when I saw that I had spent no small a time in the Vniversity, published some usefull Bookes (as well in Latine as English) to the Common-wealth, which have taken in the world, and I could never get any thereby, but [...] as Plutarch calls them, silken words, I concluded I was no Dunce; But the greatest reason of all that perswaded me was, that for all my paines I could never get any preferment, had I bin Dunce, without question, I had long ere this, perhaps bin double or tre­ble benefic'd, bin a lasie Prebend, or Deane of some Cathedrall my selfe, or kept a fellowship with a good Living to boote in some Colledge or other, as long as I had lived. But to our purpose. There is no question, but a Dunce deriveth his name from Duns Scotus, who was a tolerable writer in his time; and no doubt but they deserve to be commended, for that they are pretenders to his knowledge and learning, and though they cannot attaine to the same, yet in rebus magnis est vol [...]isse satis.

They commonly keepe good houses, and give entertainement to Learned men, and so they do (as Erasmus saith) sarcire officium Hospitalitate. Yea while they are in the Vniversitie; they are very beneficiall by bestowing Sup­pers and Break-Fasts, (besides their liberality in Money) upon such learned Schollers as make their Declamations and other exercises for them.

They love and make much of their Wives above other (whom they choose commonly the handsomest in the whole Country) keeping them in their Coaches, their Taffata, or Plush Gownes, themselves clad in Da­maske, with their broad Beavers, Hats turnd up, or crushd close before like a Court dripping-pan. They make good sport in their exercises, by speak­ing of false Latine, making absurd arguments, to the exceeding recreation of others. And since Taciturnitie, or silence is a vertue, they are to bee commended for their silence, for in learned company where mat­ter of knowledge or Learned discourse is offered, hee alwayes holds his peace. I remember in a Christmasse time as I was at Dinner in [Page 2] the company of one who was a Doctor, and had some 800l. by the yeare in spirituall living, when a learned friend of mine a Doctor of the Civill Law, told him that I was a stranger lately come from beyond the Seas, and could speake little or no Latine, and desired to speake to him in Latine, which I did, the Doctor by an interpreter, answered me, it was not the Custome of England to speak Latine in a Christmasse time, and so drinking to me wee had no more discourse.

He can in his preaching please both Country and Citie, and give them con­tent. In the Countrie he will never stand above three quarters of an houre, whereby young men of the parish have leasure enough in the afternoone to recreate themselves at any exercise they please: in the Citie he will not stick to preach (such as they are) three or foure Sermons in a day. Learned B. Andrewes when he was Vicar of St. Giles without Criple-gate would of­ten say, that if he preached twice in one day, his second Sermon was rather a prating than a preaching, for indeed every Sermon hee made was through­ly studied, and fraught with abundance of reading and learning.

The best Schollers commonly are slovens in respect of one of them, they goe spruce and so neate, and whatsoever their Doctrine or divisions be, if they be handsom men and weare pontificall Beards, they are much com­mended by the Faeminine Auditory, for saith Erasmus merily, In Far. Ep. Foemina laudant concionem a vultu Concionatoris, Women commend a Sermon from the Preachers countenance.

They never make any quarrell betweene our Church and the Church of Rome, neither meddle th [...]y with controversie, or ever write against Bellar­mine, Bucanu [...], Suarez, and the rest. He will hardly suffer any Living to fall into the lapse, which rather than it should he will engrosse three or foure in­to his own hands. He seldom falleth out or quarrelleth with any man, now and then he will break Priscians head till the bloud runs about his eares.

Againe though he be no Scholler himselfe, he will provide of some more able than himselfe to preach, which as a foile sets him off the better.

Sometimes if he bee ambitious of popular applause, hee will turne Schis­maticke in some kind or other sowing his Tares and Cockle, in woods and corners, to the hazard of his eares; This proceedeth both from want of learning, and want of wit, wherein hee is to bee pitied veritas non quae­rit angulos.

A Dunce also makes us good sport with any of his works that he publi­sheth himself, or that is published by another, witnesse, Epistolae obscurorum virorum, where you shall see Duncery to the life, that if a man be extremely Melancholique, let him read that book, and I will warrant it to cure him.

If a Dunce falls into a Schollers company in travell upon the way, or meet at an Inne at night, he is the most boone companion of the world, he will call for Wine, and the best meate in the house (for observe it, they are com­monly [Page 3] the sons of wealthy men and left exceeding rich, which indeed mak­eth them Dunces) and in the end pay for all, which, who can deny but to bee a most honest and a generous part. Hee commonly playeth well at Bowles, and is so valiant that hee scornes to give ground to any man. Hee hath an especiall care of the burning of Pigges upon the spit, and the over­baking of Pies in the Oven, therefore by his good will, hee will make short work upon a Sunday, and he thinks an Homily well read to be sufficient.

If he bee a Separatist (as many of them affecting singularity above the [...] fellowes prove,) he puts his Auditors to little or no charge at al for his Pul­pit, a Velvet Cushion for his Deske, or so rich a Pulpit Cloth as they have at St. Martins in the Fields, nor ever troubles he his officious Clerke to waite at his opened Pulpit dore for his comming in, for in plaine truth his preach­ing place or Pulpit, is either a two-eard Bucking-tub, or at the best the one halfe of a Vinteners Caske, without any dore at all. The Bishop of his Diocesse commonly beares with him and much delighteth in his company at publike entertainements and meetings. For many of them though they want learning, yet have they oft times good Naturall wits, and ripe con­ceipts upon any occasion. As one came before Bishop B. to bee examined and posed of the Bishop for a Living (which was bestowed upon him) when he came for his institution, and it fell out to be late at night, and at such a time the B. was writing of a letter, Mr. B. quoth the Bishop, you have picked out an ill time, for me to examine you in, neither am I at leasure to aske you many questions, come one quoth the Bishop; what is latine for this Candlesticke, and if it please your Lordship quoth the other, the Candle­sticke is latine of it selfe, so it was, indeed a latine Candlesticke, the B. not knowing whether he spoke it out of simplicity, or in way of jest, gave him his institution, without further questioning.

A Dunce commonly will tell the people of their faults truly and roundly, or if they heare of any misbehaviour or abuse in a Parish they will not stick (though he leaves his Text altogether) to correct and [...]ea [...]e it downe, and many times will tell such as are guiltie to their faces of such and such faults they have committed. One preached at Barkeway, and after he had read his Text told the people their Towne consisted of many Lordships, and how he was informed of one notable abuse amongst them in that Parish, which was, if a Cow or Oxe of another mans were strayed away and hapned in­to any of their grounds, they would with a Rie loafe hot out of the Oven bend his hornes which way they listed, so that when the owner came to challenge his owne Cow he knew not whether that were shee or no, for quoth hee my Cowes hornes stood backward, these stand before and hang downe her forehead, surely this is not she; and thus men were cozened of their Cattell, but the truth was, none in the Town knew this trick before, but after he had preached it amongst them, presently after they began to pra­ctise it.

[Page 4] Another came by chance as a stranger unto a shire Towne that shall bee namelesse, some day or two before a Visitation in the same Town he sent to the Arch-Deacon residing then in the Towne, that he might have leave to preach, which (to gratifie him being a stranger and very formall in his habit) was granted: upon the day, before the whole Clergie, the Arch-Deacon, Chancellor, and most of the officers of the spirituall Court, hee went into the Pulpit, after he had made his prayer, he read his Text, Come and See. My Text divideth it selfe (quoth he) most naturally into two parts, the one is Come, the other See, Come I apply to our selves of the Clergie, and See to the Laitie: for the first, Come I divide it into three parts, whither wee Come, then who they be that Come, then how they Come: we Come hither to a Visitation, which is derived from an old Latine Verbe of the first Con­jugation Visit [...], visit-as, Visitavi, withall he makes an obeisance to the Arch-Deacon, and to visite is a Metaphor borrowed from the visiting of Pa­tients by the Physitian, for they visit them to see whether they bee sicke or sound in the Body, & these Visitations to see whether the Countrey men be sick or sound in the purse or no, &c. who they be that Come, (for (quoth he) I comprehend under the name of Visitation all manner of your Ecclesiasti­call Courts) here come to your Courts and visitations, Swine, men presen­ted for drunkennesse, Goates and Towne Bulls, for lying with their owne maides, or their neighbours Wives, and what become of them after they have dearely paid for their poundage in your spirituall (or rather fleshly), Courts, they run againe into other mens Corne, and doe as much mischiefe as they did before, &c. How they come, your rich and double benefit'd Par­sons come a day or too before, and feast the Arch-Deacon Chancellors, Proctors, sparing neither for Sack nor Claret, the poore Curate except his Church-Wardens be the more mercifull unto him to pay for his dinner, hee must fast and go home as he came: to be short, some Come with money, and some Come with none, if you do not beleeve me Come and See. So he fell into his Text againe, &c. Now See for the Lai [...]ie, I see a [...] sit and stand at the nether end of this Church, who if they had beene thriftie and good husbands when they were young, they might have had their places a­bove and had heard me better: and I see a great fault in you Inne-keepers of this ancient Citie or Town, who lodge a foot-man who hath travailed hard all day upon a Mattris or a flock-bed at the best, if an horse man comes to your houses, riding upon an ambling Nagge, or an easie trotting Gelding you lay him upon the best feather bed you have, and sometimes [...] with this fault amended, the poore footeman hath more need of a feather bed than the other, after this manner he proceeded, till the glasse was run out, when he had made an end, and was come downe, the Proctors, Appa­rators, and other officers of the Court, had like to have torne him in peeces, but the Arch-Deacon and Chancellor would not suffer them, but cited him [Page 5] next morning to come before them, but after dinner he had taken his horse and was never heard of after. Notable are the absurdities of Dunsticall Schoole-Masters, as one at Dunstable was so precise, that hee would not teach his Schollers to say Amo I love, but Amo I am in Charitie, quoth a Boy wiser than him, then Master I must construe, Cum amarem eram mi­ser, when I was in Charity, I was a wretch.

I had my selfe a Schoole-Master who is yet living, who I well remem­ber construed unto mee Maecenas atavis edite regibus, edite, set you forth Maecenas the sports, atavis regibus, of ancient Kings.

One Sir Hugh a Welchman who was a Brownist or the l [...]ke, taught a Schoole in Gloustershire, who when he was accused before the Major of the Towne for teaching his boyes to speake false Latine, and that they profited little or nothing, hee told their fathers, they should play at Cat, or spanne Counter with all the boyes in the Countrey.

Your very Dunce is commonly like Ignoramus, an excellent Sollicitor in Law businesse, and many Countrey Parsons are fitter for pettifogging than for p [...]eaching.

One, a Dunce in Graine after hee had read his Text, fell a rayling against Church Government, for which his Sermon he was cited before Bish. Bar­low, whom upon his horse backe he met comming out of Gate at Buckden house, he riding upon a white Gelding with a redde Saddle and a yellow Saddle Cloth, how now Mr. G. quoth the Bishop, is this Canonicall, a Red Saddle, and a yellow Saddle Cloth for a Minister? My L. quoth the Parson, though you have Canons for me, you have none for my horse.

And the common reason why most of our Dunces care not for Learn­ing, is because say they, Scientia inflat, knowledge puffeth up: and in very truth as our Times are, the matter is not great whither a man be learned or a Dunce, for he may come to preferment as soone by the one as the other, though he were but a Tradesman, or a Mechanike.

Let not my Reader be offended at what I have written, for like a suite in Birchen Lane, if any thing here fit him let him weare it.


This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.