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of a distant Wiltshire parish to which he paid but few visits. Between him and Lord Falkland there was a kind of intellectual bargain; they read Greek together, and John said that he learnt more than he taught, and that he was amply repaid for his exertion by the fresh, lively light which that sympathetic mind cast upon the great variety of subjects which passed under review in that high argumentative atmosphere.
John was known to his friends as a singularly sweet-tempered, amiable man, one who could count no enemies—with the faults of a scholar, it is true, his hair tangled, his canonical coat dusty, slovenly and negligent in his habits; a bad man of business, and a forgetful, absent-minded fellow. But they condoned these faults as being so unconscious, the externals of a character which could afford to dispense with social ornament; the habit of a dreamy yet active mind, so bent upon reverie and so strenuous in thought, that it could not bear to waste time and trouble upon things that were undeniably unimportant. Genuine absent-mindedness has a great charm for thoughtful men; when it is the index of deliberate abstraction, they are apt to look upon it almost enviously, as the sign of a high aloofness from ordinary sublunary anxieties, an aloofness which they are themselves unable to command.
John was in the habit of thinking a great deal about his fellow-men; he was not philoso
phising nor calculating nor recording in those ruminating periods. He had keen eyes, this untidy, peering scholar, and when others talked he listened. He examined their features curiously; he dwelt with inward delight upon their instinctive gestures--the tones of their voices, the twinkling of their brows, the twitching of their hands; he did not brood and generalise ; his taste was for the special, the particular, the individual, the characteristic. now and then, when pen and paper lay in his way, he would scribble off a rough sketch, as an artist jots down heads and limbs, towers and copses on his blotting-paper, a mental caricature of one of the strange fellows that he was for ever encountering in the world.
Written on loose sheets, sometimes lying in his desk, sometimes left on the table, sometimes dropped over a friend's shoulder, he set no store on these fragments; he did not hand them round with affected carelessness, and come down with his candlestick to search for them when all the world was upstairs. He had no idea of rushing into print, no ambition connected with the publisher. The figure with all its oddities had risen in his mind, and he had the whim to describe it. Done for the moment, he had but a momentary interest in it; and, like the Sibyl, he saw the wind whirl the leaves about, without regard to the precious characters they bore.
Once or twice the humour took him to sketch himself, to outline such lineaments of his own as he had seen reflected in the looks and welcomes of his friends ; to recall for his own amusement a humorous situation or two over which he had often made secret merriment. In words too intimate not to be autobiographical he had written of the downright scholar, whose " perplexitye of mannerliness will not let him feed, and he is sharp set at an argument when he should cut his meate." With a twinkling eye, thinking of the stable-gate at Tew and the big horse-block, he says how such an one “ascends a horse somewhat sinisterly, though not on the left side, and they both goe jogging in grief together;" he tells how he "cannot speak to
“ a Dogge in his own dialect, and understands Greeke better than the language of a Falconer."
But like the squire who excuses trespassing and yet draws the line at poaching, he had suddenly to show his hand. To have his witty distinctions quoted, to see them go to form another's stock-in-trade-that he could put up with ; it was merely another grotesque turn among the oddities of humanity that he was never tired of observing. But when, without his leave, those fly-sheets, those scrawls and sketches on which he had set so little store, suddenly appeared in print, garnered by some careful hand, then he flung himself into the
world with a kind of challenge. Like Virgil he dared them to finish what they had professed to begin, and for himself he proceeded to finish what some one else had begun for him.
He did not set his name to the book, but allowed the world to know who was the author. It was published in 1628 by Edward Blount, stationer and translator, with a preface signed by the latter, but almost certainly inspired by Earles himself, in which he professes to bring forth to the light, as it were, infants which the father would have smothered; but the preface is so void of partiality, it makes so little attempt to compliment the book, or to insist, as even the most judicial friend would have done, on the merits of the work, that it is evidently by the hand of the author—and the author is no less evidently a modest man.
Authors have only been able to wake and find themselves famous since the days of improved communication ; yet John Earles found himself famous as soon as the little ripple of delight could permeate to the outskirts of society. The book was so new and bright, the humour was so penetrating and yet so kind, and it was above all so innocent in its wisdom, that the reading world seized upon it with delight.
This fame resulting from so slender and nugatory a performance was a strange surprise to Earles, and had he not been a man who was
apt all through his life to be surprised at his own successes, it might have turned his brain ; but he broke off and wrote no more, at least in that manner. In five years the book ran through eight editions ; and with the exception of adding a score of pieces to one of the editions -pieces which at his friends' earnest solicitation he gathered out of accumulated papershe wrote nothing else in that kind. Nay, he
. was so austere, that he had suppressed many sheets in the first edition, because there was a dash of coarseness which had somehow invaded their fibre.
He rose quickly in the world after this, and no one envied him or would have detracted from him ; he bore his greatness so quietly and salted it so well with gratitude that it never was anything but pure and fragrant.
The Earl of Pembroke was Lord Chamberlain, and took his chaplain to Court, where he conciliated so many, and showed himself of such even and gracious temper, and possessed of so genial an authority, that when Dr. Duppa was made Bishop of Sarum, John Earles stepped quickly into the post of tutor to the Prince of Wales, afterwards that most gracious monarch, Charles II.
When kings were kings, Arsenius was something of a potentate. A prince's tutor might without absurdity reflect that he held a high and