[Lord Rochester's speech when he exhibited as a mountebank on Tower Hill, is so remarkable a document, that it seems well worthy of a place here.
"To all gentlemen, ladies, and others, whether of city, town, or country, Alexander Bendo wisheth all health and prosperity.
"Whereas this famed metropolis of England (and were the endeavours of its worthy inhabitants equal to their power, merit, and virtue, I should not stick to denounce it, in a short time, the metropolis of the whole world); whereas, I say, this city (as most great ones are) has ever been infested with a numerous company of such, whose arrogant confidence, backed with their ignorance, has enabled them to impose on the people, either by premeditated cheats, or at best, the palpable, dull, and empty mistakes of their self-deluded imagination in physic, chymical and Galenic; in astrology, physiognomy, palmistry, mathematics, alchymy, and even in government itself, the last of which I will not propose to discourse of, or meddle at all in, since it in no way belongs to my trade or vocation, as the rest do; which (thanks to my God) I find much more safe, I think equally honest, and therefore more profitable.
"But as to all the former, they have been so erroneously practised by many unlearned wretches, whom poverty and neediness, for the most part (if not the restless itch of deceiving), has forced to straggle and wander in unknown parts, that even the professions themselves, though originally the products of the most learned and wise men's laborious studies and experience, and by them left a wealthy and glorious inheritance for ages to come, seem, by this bastard race of quacks and cheats, to have been run out of all wisdom, learning, perspicuousness, and truth, with which they were so plentifully stocked; and now run into a repute of mere mists, imaginations, errors, and deceits, such as, in the management of these idle professors, indeed they were.
"You will therefore, I hope, gentlemen, ladies, and others, deem it but just that I, who for some years have with all faithfulness and assiduity courted these arts, and received such signal favours from them, that they have admitted me to the happy and full enjoyment of themselves, and trusted me with their greatest secrets, should with an earnestness and concern more than ordinary, take their parts against those impudent fops, whose saucy, impertinent addresses and pretensions have brought such a scandal upon their most immaculate honours and reputations.
"Besides, I hope you will not think I could be so impudent, that if I had intended any such foul play myself, I would have given you so fair warning, by my severe observations upon others. 'Qui alterum incusant probri, ipsum se intueri oportet,' says Plautus. However, gentlemen, in a world like this, where virtue is so exactly counterfeited, and hypocrisy so generally taken notice of, that every one, armed with suspicion, stands upon his guard against it, it will be very hard, for a stranger, especially, to escape censure. All I shall say for myself on this score is this: -- if I appear to any one like a counterfeit, even for the sake of that, chiefly, ought I to be construed a true man. Who is the counterfeit's example? His original; and that, which he employs his industry and pains to imitate and copy. Is it therefore my fault, if the cheat by his wits and endeavours makes himself so like me, that consequently I cannot avoid resembling him? Consider, pray, the valiant and the coward, the wealthy merchant and the bankrupt, the politician and the fool; they are the same in many things, and differ but in one alone.
"The valiant man holds up his head, looks confidently round about him, wears a sword, courts a lord's wife, and owns it; so does the coward: one only point of honour excepted, and that is courage, which (like false metal, one, only trial can discover) makes the distinction.
"The bankrupt walks the exchange, buys bargains, draws bills, and accepts them with the richest, whilst paper and credit are current coin: that which makes the difference is real cash; a great defect indeed, and yet but one, and that, the last found out, and still, till then, the least perceived.
"Now for the politician:-- he is a grave, deliberating, close, prying man: pray are there not grave, deliberating, close, prying fools?
"If then the difference betwixt all these (though infinite in effect) be so nice in all appearance, will you expect it should be otherwise betwixt the false physician, astrologer, etc., and the true? The first calls himself learned doctor, sends forth his bills, gives physic and counsel, tells and foretels; the other is bound to do just as much: it is only your experience must distinguish betwixt them; to which I willingly submit myself. I will only say something to the honour of the MOUNTEBANK, in case you discover me to be one.
"Reflect a little what kind of creature it is: -- he is one then, who is fain to supply some higher ability he pretends to with craft; he draws great companies to him by undertaking strange things, which can never be effected. The politician (by his example no doubt) finding how the people are taken with specious miraculous impossibilities, plays the same game; protests, declares, promises I know not what things, which he is sure can never be brought about. The people believe, are deluded, and pleased; the expectation of a future good, which shall never befal them, draws their eyes off a present evil. Thus are they kept and established in subjection, peace, and obedience; he in greatness, wealth, and power. So you see the politician is, and must be a mountebank in state affairs; and the mountebank no doubt, if he thrives, is an errant politician in physic. But that I may not prove too tedious, I will proceed faithfully to inform you, what are the things in which I pretend chiefly, at this time, to serve my country.
"First, I will (by the leave of God) .perfectly cure that labes Britannica, or grand English disease, the scurvy; and that with such ease to my patient, that he shall not be sensible of the least inconvenience, whilst I steal his distemper from him. I know there are many, who treat this disease with mercury, antimony, spirits, and salts, being dangerous remedies; in which, I shall meddle very little, and with great caution; but by more secure, gentle, and less fallible medicines, together with the observation of some few rules in diet, perfectly cure the patient, having freed him from all the symptoms, as looseness of the teeth, scorbutick spots, want of appetite, pains and lassitude in the limbs and joints, especially the legs. And to say true, there are few distempers in this nation that are not, or at least proceed not originally from the scurvy; which, were it well rooted out (as I make no question to do it from all those who shall come into my hands), there would not be heard of so many gouts, aches, dropsies, and consumptions; nay, even those thick and slimy humours, which generate stones in the kidneys and bladder, are for the most part offsprings of the scurvy. It would prove tedious to set down all its malignant race; but those who address themselves here, shall be still informed by me of the nature of their distempers, and the grounds I proceed upon to their cure: so will all reasonable people be satisfied that I treat them with care, honesty, and understanding; for I am not of their opinion, who endeavour to render their vocations rather mysterious than useful and satisfactory.
"I will not here make a catalogue of diseases and distempers; it behoves a physician, I am sure, to understand them all; but if any one come to me (as I think there are very few that have escaped my practice) I shall not be ashamed to own to my patient, where I find myself to seek; and, at least, he shall be secure with me from having experiments tried upon him; a privilege he can never hope to enjoy, either in the hands of the grand doctors of the court and Tower, or in those of the lesser quacks and mountebanks.
"It is thought fit, that I assure you of great secrecy, as well as care, in diseases, where it is requisite; whether venereal or others; as some peculiar to women, the green-sickness, weaknesses, inflammations, or obstructions in the stomach, reins, liver, spleen, &c.; for I would put no word in my bill that bears any unclean sound; it is enough that I make myself understood. I have seen physician's bills as bawdy as Aretine's Dialogues, which no man, that walks warily before God, can approve of; but I cure all suffocations, in those parts, producing fits of tne mother, convulsions, nocturnal inquietudes, and other strange accidents, not fit to be set down here; persuading young women very often that their hearts are like to break for love, when God knows, the distemper lies far enough from that place.
"I have, likewise, got the knowledge of a great secret to cure barrenness (proceeding from any accidental cause as it often falls out, and no natural defect; for nature is easily assisted, difficultly restored, but impos-sible to be made more perfect by man, than God himself had at first created and bestowed it), which I have made use of for many years with great success, especially this last year, wherein I have cured one woman that had been married twenty years, and another that had been married one and twenty years, and two women that had been three times married; as I can make appear by the testimonies of several persons in London, Westminster, and other places thereabouts. The medicines I use cleanse and strengthen the womb, and are all to be taken in the space of seven days. And because I do not intend to deceive any person, upon discourse with them, I will tell them whether I am like to do them any good. My usual contract is, to receive one-half of what is agreed upon, when the party shall be quick with child, the other half when she is brought to bed.
"Cures of this kind I have done, signal and many; for the which, I doubt not but I have the good wishes and hearty prayers of many families, who had else pined out their days under the deplorable and reproachful misfortunes of barren wombs, leaving plentiful estates and possessions to be inherited by strangers.
"As to astrological predictions, physiognomy, divination by dreams, and otherwise (palmistry I have no faith in, because there can be no reason alleged for it), my own experience has convinced me more of their considerable effects, and marvellous operations, chiefly in the directions of future proceedings, to the avoiding of dangers that threaten, and laying hold of advantages that might offer themselves; I say, my own practice has convinced me, more than all the sage and wise writings extant, of those matters; for I might say this of myself (did it not look like ostentation), that I have very seldom failed in my predictions, and often been very serviceable in my advice. How far I am capable in this way, I am sure is not fit to be delivered in print: those who have no opinion of the truth of this art, will not, I suppose, come to me about it; such as have, I make no question of giving them ample satisfaction.
"Nor will I be ashamed to set down here my willingness to practise rare secrets (though somewhat collateral to my profession), for the help, conservation, and augmentation of beauty and comeliness; a thing created at first by God, chiefly for the glory of his own name, and then for the better establishment of mutual love between man and woman; for when God had bestowed on man the power of strength and wisdom, and thereby rendered woman liable to the subjection of his absolute will, it seemed but requisite that she should be endued likewise, in recompense, with some quality that might beget in him admiration of her, and so enforce his tenderness and love.
"The knowledge of these secrets, I gathered in my travels abroad (where I have spent my time ever since I was fifteen years old, to this my nine and twentieth year) in France and Italy. Those that have travelled in Italy, will tell you what a miracle art does there assist nature in the preservation of beauty; how women of forty bear the same countenance with those of fifteen: ages are no way distinguished by faces; whereas, here in England, look a horse in the mouth, and a woman in the face, you presently know both their ages to a year. I will, therefore, give you such remedies, that, without destroying your complexion (as most of your paints and daubings do), shall render them perfectly fair; clearing and preserving them from all spots, freckles, heats, pimples, and marks of the small-pox, or any other accidental ones, so the face be not seamed or scarred.
"I will also cleanse and preserve your teeth white and round as pearls, fastening them that are loose: your gums shall be kept entire, as red as coral; your lips of the same colour, and soft as you could wish your lawful kisses.
"I will likewise administer that which shall cure the worst of breaths provided the lungs be not totally perished and imposthumated; as also certain and infallible remedies for those whose breaths are yet untainted; so that nothing but either a very long sickness, or old age itself, shall ever be able to spoil them.
"I will, besides (if it be desired) take away from their fatness, who have over much, and add flesh to those that want it, without the least detriment to their constitutions.
"Now, should Galen himself look out of his grave, and tell me these were baubles, below the profession of a physician, I would boldly answer him, that I take more glory in preserving God's image in its unblemished beauty, upon one good face, than I should do in patching up all the decayed carcasses in the world.
"They that will do me the favour to come to me, shall be sure, from three of the clock in the afternoon, till eight at night (at my lodgings in Tower-street, next door to the sign of the Black Swan, at a goldsmith's house, to find
"Their humble servant,
Bishop Burnet says, "At this time (1668), the court fell into much extravagance in masquerading: both the king and queen, and all the court, went about masked, and came into houses unknown, and danced there, with a great deal of wild frolic. In all this people were so disguised, that, without being in the secret, none could distinguish them. They were carried about in hackney chairs. Once the queen's chairmen, not knowing who she was, went from her. So she was alone, and was much disturbed, and came to Whitehall in a hackney coach; some say in a cart." -- Bur-net's History, vol. i. p. 368.
[The English fleet on this occasion was commanded by James, Duke of York. Burnet says, "When the two fleets met, it is well known what accidents disordered the Dutch, and what advantage the English had. If that first success had been followed, as was proposed, it might have been fatal to the Dutch, who, finding they had suffered so much, steered off. The duke ordered all the sail to be set on to overtake them. There was a council of war called, to concert the method of action, when they should come up with them. In that council, Pen, who commanded under the duke, happened to say that they must prepare for hotter work in the next engagement. He knew well the courage of the Dutch was never so high, as when they were desperate. The Earl of Montague, who was then a volunteer, and one of the duke's court, said to me, it was very visible that made an impression. And all the duke's domestics said, he had got honour enough: why should he venture a second time? The duchess had also given a strict charge to all the duke's servants, to do all they could to hinder him to engage too far. When matters were settled, they went to sleep; and the duke ordered a call to be given him, when they should get up to the Dutch fleet. It is not known what passed between the duke and Brounker, who was of his bed-chamber, and was then in waiting; but he came to Pen, as from the duke, and said the duke ordered the sail to be slackened. Pen was struck with the order, but did not go to argue the matter with the duke himself, as he ought to have done, but obeyed it. When the duke had slept, he, upon his waking, went out on the quarter deck, and seemed amazed to see the sails slackened, and that thereby all hope of overtaking the Dutch was lost. He questioned Pen upon it. Pen put it on Brounker, who said nothing. The duke denied he had given any such order. But he neither punished Brounker for carrying it, nor Pen for obeying it. He indeed put Brounker out of his service: and it was said, that he durst do no more, because he was so much in the king's favour, and in the mistress's."
Pepys thus notices him in his Diary; August 29th, 1667. "I hear tonight that Mr. Brounker is turned away yesterday by the Duke of York, for some bold words he was heard by Colonel Werden to say in the garden the day the chancellor was with the king -- that he believed the king would be hectored out of everything. For this, the Duke of York, who all say hath been very strong for his father-in-law at this trial, hath turned him away: and everybody, I think, is glad of it; for he was a pestilent rogue, an atheist, that would have sold his king and country for sixpence almost, so corrupt and wicked a rogue he is by all men's report. But one observed to me, that there never was the occasion of men's holding their tongues at court, and everywhere else, as there is at this day, for nobody knows which side will be uppermost."]
Hasted says, the estate was purchased by Sir William Twisden of Henry Whetenhall, Esq. -- Hasted's Kent, vol. ii. p. 274.
[Lord Orford thus relates the circumstance of his inventing mezzo-tinto: "We must take up the prince in his laboratory, begrimed, uncombed, perhaps in a dirty shirt; on the day I am going to mention, he certainly had not shaved and powdered to charm Miss Hughes, for it happened in his retirement at Brussels, after the catastrophe of his uncle. Going out early one morning, he observed the sentinel, at some distance from his post, very busy doing something to his piece. The prince asked what he was about? He replied, the dew had fallen in the night, had made his fusil rusty, and that he was scraping and cleaning it. The prince looking at it, was struck with something like a figure eaten into the barrel, with innumerable little holes closed together, like friezed work on gold or silver, part of which the fellow had scraped away.
"One knows what a mere good officer would have said on such an accident; if a fashionable officer, he might have damned the poor fellow, and given him a shilling: but the Génie fécond en expériences from so trifling an accident conceived mezzotinto. The prince concluded that some contrivance might be found to cover a brass plate with such a grained ground of fine pressed holes, which would undoubtedly give an impression all black, and that by scraping away proper parts, the smooth superficies would leave the rest of the paper white. Communicating his idea to Wallerant Vaillant, a painter whom he maintained, they made several experiments, and at last invented a steel roller, cut with tools to make teeth like a file or rasp, with projecting points, which effectually produced the black grounds; those being scraped away and diminished at pleasure, left the gradations of light."
Evelyn, in his Diary, March 13, 1661, says: "This afternoon, Prince Rupert shewed me with his own hands the new way of graving called mezzotinto, which afterwards, by his permission, I published in my history of Chalcography; this set so many artists on work, that they soon arrived to the perfection it is since come, emulating the tenderest miniatures."
Pepys, in his Diary, February 4, 1664-5, says: "My Lord Bellasses told us an odd passage; how the king having put out Prince Rupert of his generalship, upon some miscarriage at Bristol, and Sir Richard Willis of his governorship of Newark, at the entreaty of the gentry of the county, and put in my Lord Bellasses; the great officers of the king's army mutinied, and* came in that manner with swords drawn, into the market-place of the town where the king was; which the king hearing, says: 'I must horse.' And there himself personally, when everybody expected they should have been opposed, the king came, and cried to the head of the mutineers, wtiich was Prince Rupert, 'Nephew, I command you to be gone.' So the prince, in all his fury and discontent, withdrew, and his company scattered."
Dallaway says: "He was the author of several inventions of decided utility, in his own profession, of a method to bore cannons, and of a mixed metal, of which they should be composed, and of great improvement in the manufacture of gunpowder. He communicated to Christopher Kirby a method of tempering steel for the best fish-hooks ever made in England."
Prince Rupert was also famous for his play at tennis, and for being an excellent shot. A particular instance of his skill is mentioned by Plot, where he is said to have sent two balls successively, with a horse-pistol, through the weather-cock of St. Mary's steeple at Stafford. The distance was sixty yards, and the feat was performed in the presence of Charles I.]
[The feelings and situation of this woman about the beginning of the last century must have been strange and interesting. She had survived her lover, husband, and children. The sovereign who had loved her had been dethroned and exiled; her husband was serving against him; her brother (Duke of Marlborough) was opposed to the armies of Louis XIV.; and her not less illustrious son (Marshal Duc de Berwick) was defending the interests of that monarch in Spain.]
"-------- Montague, by court disaster,
Dwindled into the wooden horse's master."
|Advice to a Painter, Part I.|
Memoirs of Count Grammont