Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
A Mere Fellow of an House
By Sir Thomas Overbury (15811613)
From The Characters
HE is one whose hopes commonly exceed his fortunes, and whose mind soars above his purse. If he hath read Tacitus, Guicciardini, or Gallo-Belgicus, he contemns the late Lord Treasurer, for all the state-policy he had; and laughs to think what a fool he could make of Solomon, if he were now alive. He never wears new clothes, but against a commencement or a good time, and is commonly a degree behind the fashion. He hath sworn to see London once a year, though all his business be to see a play, walk a turn in Pauls, and observe the fashion. He thinks it a discredit to be out of debt, which he never likely clears, without resignation money. He will not leave his part he hath in the privilege over young gentlemen, in going bare to him, for the empire of Germany: he prays as heartily for a sealing as a cormorant doth for a dear year; yet commonly he spends that revenue before he receives it.
At meals, he sits in as great state over his penny commons, as ever Vitellius did at his greatest banquet: and takes great delight in comparing his fare to my Lord Mayors. If he be a leader of a faction, he thinks himself greater than ever Cæsar was, or the Turk at this day is. And he had rather lose an inheritance than an office, when he stands for it. If he be to travel, he is longer furnishing himself for a five miles journey, than a ship is rigging for a seven years voyage. He is never more troubled, than when he is to maintain talk with a gentlewoman: wherein he commits more absurdities, than a clown in eating of an egg. He thinks himself as fine when he is in a clean band and a new pair of shoes, as any courtier doth, when he is first in a new-fashion. Lastly, he is one that respects no man in the University, and is respected by no man out of it.