Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
A Roaring Boy
By Sir Thomas Overbury (15811613)
From The Characters
HIS life is a mere counterfeit patent: which nevertheless makes many a country justice tremble. Don Quixotes watermills are still Scotch bagpipes to him. He sends challenges by word of mouth: for he protests (as he is a gentleman and a brother of the sword) he can neither write nor read. He hath run through divers parcels of land, and great houses, beside both the counters. If any private quarrel happen among our great courtiers, he proclaims the business, thats the word, the business; as if the united forces of the Romish Catholics were making up for Germany. He cheats young gulls that are newly come to town; and when the keeper of the ordinary blames him for it, he answers him in his own profession, that a woodcock must be pluckt ere he be drest. He is a supervisor to brothels, and in them is a more unlawful reformer of vice, than prentices on Shrove-Tuesday. He loves his friend, as a councillor-at-law loves the velvet breeches he was first made barrister in; hell be sure to wear him threadbare ere he forsake him. He sleeps with a tobacco-pipe ins mouth; and his first prayer i th morning is, he may remember whom he fell out with overnight. Soldier he is none, for he cannot distinguish between onion-seed and gunpowder: if he have worn it in his hollow tooth for the toothache, and so come to the knowledge of it, thats all. The tenure by which he holds his means, is an estate at will; and thats borrowing. Land-lords have but four quarter-days; but he three hundred and odd. He keeps very good company; yet is a man of no reckoning: and when he goes not drunk to bed, he is very sick next morning. He commonly dies like Anacreon, with a grape ins throat; or Hercules, with fire ins marrow. And I have heard of some (that have scapt hanging) begged for anatomies; only to deter man from taking tobacco.