Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
 
Weary Loquacity
By Joseph Hall (1574–1656)
 
From An Answer to Smectymnuus’s Vindication

AND now forbear, if you can, readers, to smile in the parting, at the grave counsel of our wise Smectymnuus; who, after he hath tired his reader with a tedious volume, in answer to my short “Defence,” adviseth me very sadly, that my “words” may be “less in number.”
  1
  Yet, howsoever his weary loquacity may, in this causeless exprobration, deserve to move your mirth; I shall resolve to make good use of his counsel. Est olitor sæpe opportuna locutus. 1 In the sequel, my words, which were never yet taxed for an offensive superfluity, shall be very few; and such as, to your greater wonder, I shall be beholden for, to my kind adversaries.  2
  The rereward of my late Defence was backed by the sound testimony of Dr. Abraham Scultetus, the famous Professor of Heidelberg, and the great oracle in his time of the Palatinate; who, in both the tenets of Episcopacy by Divine Right, and the unwarrantableness of Lay Presbytery, agrees so fully with me as I do with myself: the grounds whereof, I dare confidently say, are such, as no wit of man can overthrow or weaken.  3
  Now what say my Smectymnuans to this? “For brevity sake, we will content ourselves with what that learned Rivet spake, when these two treatises of Scultetus were showed to him, by a great prelate amongst us, and his judgment required: Hæc omnia jamdudum sunt protrita et profligata; all these have been long since overworn, and beaten out, and baffled.”  4
  In good time, brethren! And why should not I take leave to return the same answer to you, in this your tedious velitation of Episcopacy? There is not one new point in this your overswoln and unwieldy bulk. No hay-cock hath been oftener shaken abroad, and tossed up and down in the wind, than every argument of yours hath been agitated by more able pens than mine: Hæc omnia jamdudum sunt protrita et profligata. Why should I abuse my good hours; and spend my last age, devoted to better thoughts, in an unprofitable babbling?  5
  You may, perhaps, expect to meet with fitter matches, that have more leisure. The cause is not mine alone; but common to this whole Church, to the whole Hierarchy, to all the Fathers of the Church throughout the world, to all the dutiful sons of those Fathers wheresoever. You may not hope, that so many learned and eminent divines, who find themselves equally interested in this quarrel, can suffer either so just a cause unseconded, or so high insolence unchastised.  6
  For myself, I remember the story that Plutarch tells of the contestation between Crassus and Deiotarus; men well stricken in age, and yet attempting several exploits, not so proper for their gray hairs. “What,” said Crassus to Deiotarus, “dost thou begin to build a city, now in the latter end of the day?” “And truly,” said Deiotarus to him again, “I think it somewhat with the latest for you to think of conquering the Parthians.” Some witty lookers-on will, perhaps, apply both these to me. It is the city of God, the evangelical Jerusalem, which some factious hands have miserably demolished: is it for shaking and wrinkled hands to build up again, now in the very setting and shutting-in of the day? They are dangerous and not inexpert Parthians, who shoot out their arrows, even bitter invectives, against the sacred and apostolical government of the Church; and such, as know how to fight, fleeing: are these fit for the vanquishing of a decrepit leader?  7
  Shortly, then, since I see that our Smectymnuans have vowed, like as some impetuous scolds are wont to do, to have the last word; and have set up a resolution, by taking advantage of their multitude, to tire out their better-employed adversary, with mere length of discourse; and to do that by bulk of body, which by clean strength they cannot; I have determined to take off my hand from this remaining controversy of Episcopacy (wherein I have said enough already, without the return of answer; and, indeed, anticipated all those threadbare objections, which are here again regested to the weary reader), and to turn off my combined opposites to matches more meet for their age and quality: with this profession, notwithstanding, that, if I shall find, which I hope I never shall, this just and holy cause, whether out of insensibleness or cautious reservedness, neglected by more able defenders, I shall borrow so much time from my better thoughts, as to bestow some strictures, where I may not afford a large confutation. I have ever held [Greek]; 2 which, as it holds in whatsoever matter of discourse, so especially in this so beaten subject of Episcopacy; wherein, since I find it impossible for my adversaries to fall upon any but former notions, oft urged, oft answered, “For brevity sake we will content ourselves with what that learned Rivet spake of the two treatises of Scultetus, Hæc omnia jamdudum sunt protrita et profligata,” with this yet for a conclusion, that if, in this their wordy and wearisome volume, they shall meet with any one argument, which they dare avow for new, they shall expect their answer by the next post.  8
 
Note 1. Est olitor, etc. = Even a market gardener may often speak in season. [back]
Note 2. [Greek] = a great book is a great evil. [back]
 
 
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