Nicholas Breton.

A bower of delights; being interwoven verse and prose from the works of Nicholas Breton: the weaver Alexander B. Grosart online

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All your flowers and garlands wither,
Put up all your pipes together ;
Never ftrike a pleafmg ftrain
Till fhe come abroad again.
(The PaJJionate


Who can live in heart fo glad
As the merry country lad ?
Who upon a fair green baulk
May at pleafure fit and walk ?

A Bower of Delights.

And amid the azure fkics

See the morning fun arife !

While he hears in every fpring =fount

How the birds do chirp and fmg ;

Or before the hounds in cry

See the hares go Healing by ;

Or along the mallow brook

Angling with a baited hook,

See the fifties leap and play

In a bleflcd funny day ;

Or to hear the partridge call

Till me have her covey all ;

Or to fee the fubtle fox,

How the villain plies the box :

After feeding on his prey

How he clofely fneaks away,

Through the hedge and down the


Till he gets into his burrow ;
Then the bee to gather honey ;
And the little black-hair* d coney
On a bank for funny place
With her fore-feet warn her face :
Are not thcfe worth thoufands moe =


Than the courts of kings do know ?
The true pleafmg fpirits' rights
That may breed true Love's delights ;
But with all thy happinefs

1 6 A Bower of Delights.

To behold that fhepherdefs

To whofe eyes all fhepherds yield

All the faireft of the field :

Fair Aglaia, in whofe face

Lives the fhepherds' higheft grace ;

In whofe worthy wonder's praife

See what her true fhepherd fays :

She is neither proud nor fine,

But in fpirit moft divine ;

She can neither lour nor leer,

But a fweeting, fmiling cheer ;

She had never painted face,

But a fweeter, fmiling grace ;

She can never love diffemble,

Truth doth fo her thoughts afiemble,

That when wifdom guides her will

She is kind and conftant rtill ;

All in fum, fhe is this creature

Of that trueft comfort's nature

That doth (hew (but in exceedings)

How their praifes had their breedings ;

Let then poets fain their pleafure,

In their fictions of Love's treafure ;

Proud high fpirits feek their graces

In their ideal painted faces ;

Thy love's fpirits' lowlinefs

In affection's humblenefs ;

Under heav'n no happinefs

Seeks, but in this Shepherdefs.

A Bower of Delights. 1 7

For whofe fake I fay and fvvear
By the paflions that I bear,
Had I got a kingly grace,
I would leave my kingly place,
And in heart be truly glad
To become a country lad ;
Hard to lie and go full bare,
And to feed on hungry fare ;
So I might but live to be,
Where I might but fit to fee
Once a day, or all day long,
The fweet fubjeft of my fong ;
In Aglaia's only eyes
All my worldly Paradife.

(The PaJJionate Sbepbeard.)


4NGLER 1597.

Among the walks of the weary, where
liberty and air are the beft comforts of
the forlorn fpirits of the world, it was
the hap of a poor Scholar (who, feeding
his imagination with the perfuafions of
contemplation, making his paflage down
a falling piece of ground fomewhat near
unto a little hill, faft by a river fide,
whofe ftreams feemed to flide along the

i 8 A Bower of Delights.

banks of a lower platform) to efpy a
human creature {landing upright and
holding out his arm over the water ;
whom approaching unto fomewhat near
and finding to be an ANGLER, he faluted
in this manner : True figure of Patience,
no offence to your conceit, how might
it fare with your cold exercife ? The
fifherman (as it might appear by his
anfwer) being better trained in the
variety of underftanding than could be
contained within the compafs of a caft-
ing-net, upon the fudden made him this
reply :

Shadow of intelligence

To ftay your further eloquence,

when fools gape for flies, mad men may
go a-fiming. Oh, Sir (quoth the
Scholar), I pray you enter not into
choler with them that meant not to
trouble your better humour ; but rather
do me the favour to inftruft me in the
reafon that might lead you into this
loathing labour, than to take me up for
halting as I come at my journey's end.
I promife you I was half afraid that
Ovid's tales would have fallen out true,
and that NarciiTus, or fome of his

A Bower of Delights. 19

kindred, had been fo in love with their
own fhadow that he could not go from
the river fide ; but coming near and
finding the deceit of my imagination,
confcffmg my folly, I am to crave your
kindncfs in a little conference touching
the profit of this cold plcafure and what
may be the fifh that you angle for with
a fly. Sir, quoth the fifherman, to turn
wit into choler is fuch a piece of
alchemy as I never found written in the
true rules of philofophy ; and to tell
truth, as I remember when I went to
the fchool of underilanding, I found this
a fentence of difcretion. It is but a
trifling of wit to be troubling of
humours ; but fince you crave a favour-
able inftrudion in a matter of fmall
importance, being perfuaded that your
halle is not great nor affairs weighty, if
you will fit down and bear me company,
we will feed the air with a little breath.
My good friend, quoth the Scholar, (for
fo I be glad to find you), to confefs a
truth, neither is my hafte fuch but I
may ftay well if not too long to your
liking ; neither my affairs of fuch im-
port but that I may put them off for a
time, to enjoy the benefit of your good

c 2


A Bower of Delights.

company. Then, Sir, quoth the fiftier-
man, let me tell you 1 fit here, as you
fee, angling for a fifti, and my bait a
fly : for little fifties, as b!eaks [ = l>/ay,
Jmall water fjb, roaches'], and fuch like,
a fly will ferve the turn ; but for greater
fifties, we muft find out greater baits ;
and with thefe flies we catch fuch fmall
fifti as ferve to bait our hooks for greater
fifties. Now if you can apply this
figure to a good fenfe, I will hold you
for a good fcholar in ciphering.

(Wits Trenchmour*}


/r/ in Fijbing.

Some fifties there are that keep alto-
gether in the deep, and they we muft
angle for with a worm : now to this

* Curiously enough, of the superabundant
annotators of Izaac Walton, none seems to
hav- known this brilliant little piscatory book
of Breton. The late Mr. J. Payne Collier
warned his readers that the 'angler' was not a
' fisher 'proving that, as too frequently, he
had not seen the actual book, or at least not read
it. The following is its (abridged) title page :
* Wits Trenchmour in a Conference had be-
twixt a Scholler and an Angler 1597-'

A Bower of Delights. 2 1

worm we muft have a line of hair as near
as we can of fuch a colour as may beft
plcafe the eye of the fifh to play with.
Now to the line we murt have a
plummet, which muft guide the bait to
the bottom, which drawing now and
then up and down, at length fo pleafeth
the fifh, as venturing upon the bait
anfwers the hope of our labour. Now
what think you of this figure? Truly,
Sir, quoth the Scholar, I think that
when wit is led away with humours
reafon may be entangled in repentance,
and the pleafmg of the eye is fuch a
plague to the heart that the worm of
confcience brings ignorance to deftruc-
tion, while in the Sea of Iniquity, the
devil angleth for his defires.


The Trout.

The Fifherman, fmiling at this anfwer,
fell to him with another piece of angling
in this manner. We have, quoth he, a
kind of fly made only of filk, which we
make our bait for a fifh called a TROUT ;
with which we often deceive the foolifh

22 A Bower of Delights.

thing as well as with the fly itfelf.
Alas, Sir ! quoth the Scholar, this {hows
but the vile courfe of the world, where
wit, finding out a fool, feeds his fancy
with fuch illufions as makes him fome-
times lofe himfelf with looking after a
madow : as words are without fubftance
when they are laid for eafy believers.



Let but a fellow in a fox-furr'd gown,
A greafy night-cap and a drivel'd j


Grow but the bailiff of a rimer-town,
And have a matter 'fore him to be

heard ;
Will not his frown make half a ftreet

afear'd ?
Yea, and the greateft cod's-head

gape for fear,

He mall be fwallow'd by this ugly

Look but on beggars going to the ftocks,
How Mafter conftable can march
before them ;

A Bower of Delights. 23

And while the beadle maketh fail the

How bravely he can knave them and

bewhore them,
And not afford one word of pity for

them :
When it may be poor honeft filly


Muft make the church make curtfey
to the fteeple.

Note but the beadle of a beggars'

'Spittle, =hojpital

How (in his place) he can himfelf

advance ;

And will not of his title lofe a tittle,
If any matter come in variance
To try the credit of his countenance :
For whatfoever the poor beggars fay,
His is the word muft carry all away.

Why, let a beggar but on cockhorfe fit,
Will he not ride like an ill-favour'd


And will it not amaze a poor man's wit
That cuckoos teach the nightingale to


Oh, this fame Wealth is fuch a wicked

24 A Bower of Delights.

'Twill teach an owl in time to fpeak

true Latin,
And make a friar forfwear our

Lady's matin.

(Pafquil's Madcappe.)

Otker Word-etchings of Same.

Take but a peafant newly from the cart,
That only lives by puddings, beans,

and peafe ;
Who never learned any other art

But how to drive his cattle to the leas,
And after work, to reil and take his

eafe ;

Yet put this afs into a golden hide
He mall be groom unto a handfome

Take but a rafcal with a roguifh pate,
Who can but only keep a Counting-
book ;

Yet if his reck'ning grow to fuch a rate,
That he can angle for the golden

hook ;

However fo the matter be miftook,
If he can clearly cover his deceit,
He may be held a man of deep

A Bower of Delights. 2 5

Find out a villain, born and bred a knave,
That never knew where honefty

became ;

A drunken rafcal and a dogged flave,
That all his wits to wickednefs doth


And only lives in infamy and fhame ;
Yet let him tink upon the golden


His word may pafs yet for an honeft

Why, take a Fiddler but with half an


Who never knew if ela were a note ;
And can but play a round as hey-do-gey
And that perhaps he only hath by rote ;
Which now and then may hap to get a

groat :
Yet if his Crowde he fet with filver


The other minftrels may go chew
their cuds.

(P a/quit's Madcappe.}

26 A Bower of Delights.


Pretty twinkling ftarry eyes,
How did Nature firft devife
Such a fparkling in your fight
As to give Love fuch delight,
As to make him, like a fly,
Play with looks until he die ?

Sure ye were not made at firft
For fuch mifchief to be curft ;
As to kill Affection's care
That doth only truth declare ;
Where Worth's wonders never wither,
Love and Beauty live together.

Blefled eyes, then give your blefling,
That in paffion's beft expreffing ;
Love that only lives to grace ye,
May not fuffer pride deface ye ;
But in gentle thought's directions
Show the power of your perfections.
(Pajfftonate Sbephard.)


CAVIARE [1597].

Another of the ' fine diihes ' . . . .
a great lady fent .... was a little
barrel of caviar j / which was no fooner

A Bower of Delights. 27

opened and tailed, but quickly made up
again, and was fent back with this mef-
fage : ' Commend me to my good lady,
and thank her honour, and tell her we
have black foap enough already ; but if
it be any better thing, I befeech her
ladyfhip to beftow it upon a better
friend that can .better tell how to ufe
it.' Now, if fuch be your fine dimes,
I pray you let me alone with my country

( The Courtier and the Coun 'rymen.)
[Explains Shakefpeare's ' caviare to
the general,' ' Hamlet,' iv., fc. 2.]


A Worthy Lawyer.

A worthy Lawyer is the fhident of
knowledge, how to bring controverfies
into a conclufion of peace and out of
ignorance to gain underftanding. He
divides time into ufes and cafes into
conftru&ions. He lays open obfcurities,
and is praifed for the fpeech of truth,
I and in the court of Conscience pleads

28 A Bower of Delights.

much in forma patiperis, for fmall fees.
He is a mean for the prefervation of
titles and the holding of pofleffions, and
a great inftrument of peace in the judg-
ment of Impartiality. He is the client's
hope, in his cafe's pleading, and his
heart's comfort in a happy ifTue. He is
the finder out of tricks in the craft of
ill confcience and the joy of the dif-
treffed in the relief of juftice. In fum,
he is a maker of peace among the fpirits
of contention and a continuer of quiet
in the execution of the law.

(Good and Bad.}


An Unworthy Lawyer.

An unlearned and unworthily called
a Lawyer, is the figure of a foot-port,
who carries letters, but knows not what
is in them, only can read the fuper-
fcriptions to direct them to their right
owners. So trudgeth this fimple clerk,
that can fcarce read a cafe when it is
written, with his handfull of papers,
from one Court to another and from
one Counfellor's chamber to another,
when by his good payment for his pains,

A Bower of Delights.


he will be fo faucy as to call himfclf a
Solicitor. But what a taking are poor
clients in when this too-much-trufted
cunning companion, better read in
* Pierce Ploughman' than in ' Ployden '
and in the Play of * Richard the Third'
than in the Pleas of Edward the Fourth,
perfuades them all is fure when he is
fure of all ! and in what a mifery are
the poor men when upon a nibil elicit,
becaufe, indeed, this poor fellow nihil
poteft dicere, they are in danger of an
execution before they know wherefore
they are condemned ! But I wifh all
fuch more wicked than witty unlearned
in the Law and abufers of the fame, to
look a little better into their confciences
and to leave their crafty courfes, left
when the Law indeed lays them open,
inftead of carrying papers in their hands
they wear not papers on their heads,
and inftead of giving ear to their clients'
caufes, or rather eyes into their purfes,
they have ne'er an ear left to hear
withal, nor good eye to fee withal ; or
at leaft honeft face to look cut withal ;
but as the graffhoppers of Egypt, be
counted the caterpillars of England, and
not the fox that ftole the goofe, but the

30 A Bower of Delights.

great fox that ftole the farm from the

(Good and Bad.}

An Ploneft Man.

An honeft man is like a plain coat,
which without welt \_-fold} or guard,
keepeth the body from wind and
weather, and being well made fits him
beft that wears it ; and where the Huff
is more regarded than the fafhion, there
is not much ado in the putting of it on.
So, the mind of an honeft man, without
trick or compliments, keeps the credit
of a good confcience from the fcandal
of the World and the worm of Iniquity ;
which being wrought by the Workman
of Heaven, fits him bcft that wears it
to His fervice ; and where Virtue is
more efteemed than Vanity, it is put on
and worn with that eafe that mows the
excellency of the Workman. His ftudy
is virtue, his word truth, his life the
paffage of patience, and his death the
reft of the fpirit. His travel is a
pilgrimage, his way is plainnefs, his
pleafure peace, and his delight is love.

A Bower of Delights. 31

His care is his confcience, his wealth
is his credit, his charge is his charity,
and his content is his kingdom. In
fum, he is a diamond among jewels, a
phoenix among lords, an unicorn among
hearts, and a Taint among men.

(Good and Bad.}

A Worthy Pby/ician.

A worthy phyfician is the enemy of
ficknefs, in purging nature from cor-
ruption. His adion is moft in feeling
of pulfes and his difcourfe chiefly of
the nature of difeafes. He is a great
fearchcr out of fimples, and accordingly
makes his compofition. He perfuades
to abftinence and patience for the benefit
of health, while purging and bleeding
are the chief courfes of his counfel.
The Apothecary and the Chirurgeon
are his two chief attendants, with whom
conferring upon time, he grows tem-
perate in his cures. Surfeits and wan-
tonnefs are great agents for his employ-
ment, when, by the fecret of his fkill
out of others' weaknefs he gathers his
own ftrength. In fum, he is a neceflary

32 A Bower of Delights.

member for an unneceflary malady, to
find a difeafe and to cure the difeafed.
(Good and Bad.}


An Unworthy Phyfician.

An unlearned and fo unworthy Phyfi-
cian is a kind of horfe-leech, whofe cure
is moft in drawing of blood and a def-
perate purge, either to cure or to kill as
it hits. His difcourfe is moft of the
cures that he hath done, and them afar
off; and not a recipe under a hundred
pounds, though it be not worth three
half-pence. Upon the market-day he is i
much haunted with urinals ; where, if i
he find anything (though he know
nothing), yet he will fay fomewhat ;
which, if it hit to fome purpofe, with a
few fuftian words he will feem a piece
of ftrange fluff. He is never without
old merry tales and ftale jefts to make
old folks laugh, and comfits and plums
in his pocket to pleafe little children ;
yea, and he will be talking of com-
plexions, though he know nothing of
their difpofitions ; and if his medicine
do a feat, he is a made man among

A Bower of Delights. 33

fools. But, being wholly unlearned and
ofttimes unhoneft, let me thus briefly
defcribe him. He is a plain kind of
mountebank and a true quack-raker ;
a danger for the fick to deale withal
and a dizard [=foo/, light-headed} in
the world to talk withal.

(Good and Bad.}

*A Worthy Merchant.

A worthy merchant is the heir of
adventure, whofe hopes hang much
upon wind. Upon a wooden horfe he
rides through the world, and in a
merry gale makes a path through the
fcas. He is a difcoverer of countries
and a finder out of commodities, refo-
lute in his attempts and royal in his
expenfes. He is the life of traffic and
the maintainer of trade, the failor's
mailer and the foldier's friend. He is
the exercife of the Exchange, the
honour of Credit, the obfervation of
Time, and the underftanding of Thrift.
His ftudy is Number, his care his
accounts, his comfort his confcience,

34 d- Bower of Delights.

and his wealth his good name. He
fears not Scylla and fails clofe by
Charybdis, and having beaten out a
ftorm, rides at reft in a harbour. By
his fea-gain he makes his land-pur-
chafe, and by the knowledge of trade
finds the key of his treafure. Out of
his travels he makes his difcourfes, and
from his eye-obfervations brings the
models of architectures. He plants the
earth with foreign fruits, and knows at
home what is good abroad. He is neat
in apparel, modeft in demeanour, dainty
in diet and civil in his carriage. In
fum, he is the pillar of a city, the
enricher of a country, the furnifher of
a Court, and the worthy fervant of a

(Good and Bad.}


A Coward.

A coward is the child of Fear. He
was begotten in cold blood, when
Nature had much ado to make up a
creature like a man. His life is a kind
of ficknefs, which breeds a kind of palfy
in the joints, and his death the terror of

A Bower of Delights. 35

his confcience with the extreme weak-
nefs of his faith. He loves peace as his
life, for he fears a fword in his foul. If
he cut his finger he looketh prefently
for the fign, and if his head ache he is
ready to make his will. A report of a
cannon ftrikes him flat on his face, and
a clap of thunder makes him a ftrange
metamorpbojis. Rather than he will fight
he will be beaten, and if his legs
will help him he will put his arms to no
trouble. He makes love commonly
with his purfe, and brags moft of his
maiden-head. He will not marry but
into a quiet family, and not too fair a
wife, to avoid quarrels. If his wife
frown upon him he fighs, and if (he give
him an unkind word he weeps. He loves
not the horns of a bull, nor the paws of
a bear ; and if a dog bark he will not
come near the houfe. If he be rich he
is afraid of thieves, and if he be poor he
will be flave to a beggar. In fum, he
is the mame of manhood, the difgrace
of Nature, the fcorn of reafon, and the
hate of honour.

(Good and Bad.)


D 2

36 A Bower of Delights.

A Drunkard.

A Drunkard is a noun adjective ; for
he cannot ftand alone by himfelf ; yet
in his greateft weaknefs a great trier of
ftrength, whether health or ficknefs will
have the upper hand in a furfeit. He
is a fpectacle of deformity, and a fhame
of Humanity ; a view of Sin and a grief
of Nature. He is the annoyance of
Modefty and the trouble of Civility,
the fpoil of Wealth and the fpite of
Reafon. He is only the Brewer's agent
and the ale-houfe benefaftor ; the
beggar's companion and the conftable's
trouble. He is his wife's woe, his
children's forrow, his neighbour's feoff,
and his own fhame. In fum, he is a
tub of fwill, a fpirit of deep, a picture
of a beaft, and a monfter of a man.

(Good and Bad.)


An Untrained Soldier.

An untrained Soldier is like a young
hound, that when he firft falls to hunt
he knows not how to lay his nofe to the
earth ; who having his name put in a

A Bower of Delights.


book, and marched twice about a market-
place, when he comes to a piece of
fervicc knows not how to bcftow him-
felf. He marches as if he were at
plough, carries his pike like a pikcftaff,
and his fword before him for fear of
lofing from his fide. If he be a mot, he
will be rather ready to fay a grace over
his piece, and fo to difcharge his hands
of it, than to learn how to difcharge it
with a grace. He puts on his armour
over his ears like a waillcoat, and wears
his murrian [ = morion or helmet\ like
a nightcap. When he is quartered in
the field he looks for his bed, and when
he fees his provant [= provijions] he is
ready to cry for his victuals ; and ere he
know well where he is, wiflies heartily
he were at home again, with hanging
down his head as if his heart were in his
hofe. He will fleep till a drum or a
deadly bullet awake him ; and fo carry
himfelf in all companies, that till martial
difcipline have feafoned his underftand-
ing, he is like a cipher among figures,
an owl among birds, a wife man among
fools, and a fhadow among men.

(Good and Bad.}

A Bower of Delights.


He came from high to live with me
below ;

He gave me life and mewed me
greateft love ;

Unworthy I fo high a worth to know

Who left chief blifs a bafer choice to

prove ;

I faw His wounds, yet did I not be-
lieve Him,

And for His goodnefs with my fins did
grieve Him.

I faw Him faultlefs, yet I did offend

Him ;
I faw Him wrong'd, yet did not excufe

Him ;
I faw His foes, yet fought not to defend

Him ;

I had His bleffmgs, yet I did abufe Him.
But was it mine, or my forefather's

deed ?
Whofe'er it was, it makes my heart to


To fee the feet that travelled for our

To fee the hands that brake the lively

bread ; living

A Bower of Delights. 39

To fee the head, whereon our honour

ftood ;
To fee the fruit, whereon our fpirits

Feet pierc'd, hands bor'd, and His

head all bleeding ;

Who doth not die with fuch a forrow
reading ?

He plac'd all reft, yet had no refting-

place ;
He heal'd each pain, yet liv'd in fore

diftrefs ;
Defcrv'd all good, yet driven to great

difgrace ;
Gave all hearts joy, Himfelf in heavi-

nefs ;
Suffer'd them live, by whom Himfelf

was (lain ;
Lord, who can live to fee fuch love

again ?

A Virgin's child by Virtue's power

conceiv'd ;
A harmlefs man that lived for all men's

A faithful friend that never faith

deceiv'd ;
An heavenly fruit for heart's efpecial


4 o

A Bower of Delights.

A fpirit all of excellence divine ;
Such is the effence of this love of

Whose manfion's heaven, yet lay within
a manger ;

Who gave all food, yet fuck'd a virgin's
breaft ;

Who could have kill'd, yet fled a
threaten'd danger ;

Who fought our quiet by His own

unreft ;
Who died for them that highly did

offend Him ;

And lives for them that cannot com-
prehend Him.

Who came no further than His Father

fent Him,
And ; did fulfil but what He did command

Him ;
Who pray'd for them that proudly did

torment Him,
For telling truth to what they did

demand Him ;
Who did all good that humbly did

entreat Him,

And bear their blows that did un-
kindly beat Him.

(The Counte/e of Penbrook's {Pem-
broke's] PaJJion.}

A Bower of Delights.

Only Ckrijt.

Thus would I fpend in fervice of my

The ling'ring hours of thcfe few days

of mine,

To mow how fin and death are over-
But by the virtue of the Power

2 4 5 6 7

Online LibraryNicholas BretonA bower of delights; being interwoven verse and prose from the works of Nicholas Breton: the weaver Alexander B. Grosart → online text (page 2 of 7)