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An Old College Butler Post by :ndnomad Category :Essays Author :John Earle Date :September 2011 Read :1002

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An Old College Butler

Is none of the worst students in the house, for he keeps the set hours at his book more duly than any. His authority is great over men's good names, which he charges many times with shrewd aspersions, which they hardly wipe off without payment. (His box and counters prove him to be a man of reckoning, yet) he is stricter in his accounts than a usurer, and delivers not a farthing without writing. He doubles the pains of Gollobelgicus,(1) for his books go out once a quarter, and they are much in the same nature, brief notes and sums of affairs, and are out of request as soon. His comings in are like a taylor's, from the shreds of bread, (the) chippings and remnants of a broken crust; excepting his vails from the barrel, which poor folks buy for their hogs but drink themselves. He divides an halfpenny loaf with more subtlety than Keckerman,(2) and sub-divides the a primo ortum so nicely, that a stomach of great capacity can hardly apprehend it. He is a very sober man, considering his manifold temptations of drink and strangers; and if he be overseen, 'tis within his own liberties, and no man ought to take exception. He is never so well pleased with his place as when a gentleman is beholden to him for shewing him the buttery, whom he greets with a cup of single beer and sliced manchet,(3) and tells him it is the fashion of the college. He domineers over freshmen when they first come to the hatch, and puzzles them with strange language of cues and cees, and some broken Latin which he has learnt at his bin. His faculties extraordinary is the warming of a pair of cards, and telling out a dozen of counters for post and pair, and no man is more methodical in these businesses. Thus he spends his age till the tap of it is run out, and then a fresh one is set abroach.


(1) Gallo-Belgicus was erroneously supposed, by the ingenious Mr. Reed, to be the "first news-paper published in England;" we are, however, assured by the author of the "Life of Ruddiman," that it has no title to so honourable a distinction. Gallo-Belgicus appears to have been rather an Annual Register, or History of its own Times, than a news-paper. It was written in Latin, and entitled. "MERCURIJ GALLO-BELGICI: sive, rerum in Gallia, et Belgio potissimum: Hispania quoque, Italia, Anglia, Germania, Polonia. Vicinisque locis ab anno 1588, ad Martium anni 1594, gestarum, NUNCIJ." The first volume was printed in 8vo. at Cologne, 1598; from which year, to about 1605, it was published annually; and from thence to the time of its conclusion, which is uncertain, it appeared in half-yearly volumes. Chalmers' Life of Ruddiman, 1794. The great request in which newspapers were held at the publication of the present work, may be gathered from Burton, who, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, complains that "if any read now-a-days, it is a play-book, or a pamphlet of newes."

(2) Bartholomew Keckerman was born at Dantzick, in Prussia, 1571, and educated under Fabricius. Being eminently distinguished for his abilities and application, he was, in 1597, requested, by the senate of Dantzick, to take upon him the management of their academy; an honour he then declined, but accepted, on a second application, in 1601. Here he proposed to instruct his pupils in the complete science of philosophy in the short space of three years, and, for that purpose, drew up a great number of books upon logic, rhetoric, ethics, politics, physics, metaphysics, geography, astronomy, &c. &c. till, as it is said, literally worn out with scholastic drudgery, he died at the early age of 38.

(3) Of bread made of wheat we have sundrie sorts dailie brought to the table, whereof the first and most excellent is the mainchet, which we commonlie call white bread. Harrison, Description of England prefixed to Holinshed, chap. 6.

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John Earle's essay: Old College Butler

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