Sunday, November 28, 2010

L'Estrange: A Mountebank and a Bear.

As a Quack was Exposing his Bills and his med'cines upon a Stage, in the Quality both of a Doctor and a Jack-Pudding, Thousands and Thousands of People Gaping and Staring at him with as much Reverence and Attention, as if every Word that came out of his Mouth had dropt from the Lips of an Oracle: It happen'd just in the Nick of this Interim, that an Officer of Paris-Garden was Leading one of his Majesties Bears, that way, with a Ring through the Nose of him. The Rabble immediately upon the Novelty of this Adventure, quitted the Mountebank, and Gather'd in Multitudes about the Bear, Shouting and Huzzaing along with him, as if it had been a Procession to a Pope-burning, or peradventure some more Pompous Spectacle. The Bear upon this Noise and Bussle (though none of the Quickest-Witted Animals) made a Speech to the Crowd after the best manner. Heark ye my Friends, says he, I'm Glad to see you so Merry at my being led like a Sot by the Nose thus; but pray let's Laugh at one another by Turns, for you are every Jot as Ridiculous to Me, as I am to You, the Mobile are led by the Ears just as the Bears are led by the Noses; and that's all the Difference in the Case betwixt us.

The Mobile are altogether for Noise and Novelty, and One New Thing drives out another: Nay, we take Pleasure in the very Spectacle that Effectually Abuses us; as a Bear with a Ring in his Nose, is no more then an Emblem of every Man of us, for we are led as much as He, some by the Ear or Eye; others by our Lusts and Affections: But in fine, every Soul of us some way or other.

Source: L'Estrange 478.
(not in Mille) (not in Perry)

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