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1.19. Of the generall constitution of the bodies of the Britons. Chap. 20.

Of the generall constitution of the bodies of the Britons. Chap. 20.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 _SUch as are bred in this Iland are men for the most part of a good complexion, tall of sta|ture, strong in bodie, white of colour, and thereto of great boldnesse and courage in the warres. As for their generall comelinesse of person, the te|stimonie of Gregorie the great, at such time as he saw English capteins sold at Rome, shall easilie confirme what it is, which yet dooth differ in sundrie shires and soiles, as also their proportion of mem|bers, as we may perceiue betwéene Herefordshire and Essex men, or Cambridge shire and the Londo|ners for the one, and Pokington and Sedberrie for the other; these latter being distinguished by their no|ses and heads, which commonlie are greater there than in other places of the land. As concerning the stomachs also of our nation in the field, they haue al|waies beene in souereigne admiration among for|ren princes: for such hath béene the estimation of our souldiers from time to time, since our Isle hath béene knowne vnto the Romans, that wheresoeuer they haue serued in forren countries, the cheefe brunts of seruice haue beene reserued vnto them. Of their con|quests and bloudie battels woone in France, Ger|manie, and Scotland, our histories are full: & where they haue beene ouercome, the victorers themselues confessed their victories to haue béene so déerelie bought, that they would not gladlie couet to ouer|come often, after such difficult maner. In martiall prowesse, there is little or no difference betwéene Englishmen and Scots: for albeit that the Scots haue beene often and verie gréeuouslie ouercome by the force of our nation, it hath not béene for want of manhood on their parts, but through the mercie of God shewed on vs, and his iustice vpon them, sith they alwaies haue begun the quarels, and offered vs méere iniurie with great despite and crueltie.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 Leland noting somewhat of the constitution of our bodies, saith these words grounding (I thinke vpon Aristotle, who writeth that such as dwell neere the north, are of more courage and strength of bodie than skilfulnesse or wisdome.) The Britons are white in colour, strong of bodie, and full of bloud, as peo|ple inhabiting neere the north, and farre from the equinoctiall line, where the soile is not so fruitfull, and therefore the people not so feeble: whereas contrari|wise such as dwell toward the course of the sunne, are lesse of stature, weaker of bodie, more nice, deli|cate, fearefull by nature, blacker in colour, & some so blacke in déed as anie crow or rauen. Thus saith he. Howbeit, as those which are bred in sundrie places of the maine, doo come behind vs in constitution of bo|die, so I grant, that in pregnancie of wit, nimble|nesse of limmes, and politike inuentions, they gene|rallie exceed vs: notwithstanding that otherwise these gifts of theirs doo often degenerate into méere subtiltie, instabilitie, vnfaithfulnesse, & crueltie. Yet Alexander ab Alexandro is of the opinion, that the fertilest region dooth bring foorth the dullest wits, and contrariwise the harder soile the finest heads. But in mine opinion, the most fertile soile dooth bring foorth the proudest nature, as we may see by the Campani|ans, who (as Cicero also saith) had Penes eos ipsum domi|cilium superbiae. But nether of these opinions do iustlie take hold of vs, yet hath it pleased the writers to saie their pleasures of vs. And for that we dwell northward, we are commonlie taken by the forren historiographers, to be men of great strength and little policie, much courage and small shift, bicause of the weake abode of the sunne with vs, whereby our braines are not made hot and warmed, as Pachy|merus noteth lib. 3: affirming further, that the people inhabiting in the north parts are white of colour, blockish vnciuill, fierce and warlike, which qualities increase, as they come neerer vnto the pole; whereas the contrarie pole giueth contrarie gifts, blacknesse wisdome, ciuilitie, weakenesse, and cowardise, thus saith he. But alas, how farre from probabilitie or as if there were not one and the same conclusion to be made of the constitutions of their bodies, which dwell vnder both the poles. For in truth his assertion hol|deth onelie in their persons that inhabit néere vnto and vnder the equinoctiall. As for the small tariance of the sunne with vs, it is also confuted by the length EEBO page image 115 of our daies.Non vi sed vir|tute, non armis sed ingenio vin|ct [...]n [...]tur A [...]gli. Wherefore his reason seemeth better to vphold that of Alexander ab Alexandro afore alled|ged, than to prooue that we want wit, bicause our brains are not warmed by the tariance of the sunne. And thus also dooth Comineus burden vs after a sort in his historie, and after him Bodinus. But thanked be God, that all the wit of his countriemen, if it may be called wit, could neuer compasse to doo so much in Britaine, as the strength and courage of our Englishmen (not without great wisedome and fore|cast), haue brought to passe in France, The Galles in time past contemned the Romans (saith Caesar) bi|cause of the smalnesse of their stature: howbeit, for all their greatnesse (saith he) and at the first brunt in the warres, they shew themselues to be but féeble, neither is their courage of any force to stand in great calamities. Certes in accusing our wisedome in this sort, he dooth (in mine opinion) increase our commen|dation. For if it be a vertue to deale vprightlie with singlenesse of mind, sincerelie and plainlie, without anie such suspicious fetches in all our dealings, as they commonlie practise in their affaires, then are our countrimen to be accompted wise and ver|tuous. But if it be a vice to colour craftinesse, sub|tile practises, doublenesse, and hollow behauiour, with a cloake of policie, amitie and wisedome: then are Comineus and his countrimen to be reputed vicious, of whome this prouerbe hath of old time beene vsed as an eare marke of their dissimulation,

Galli ridendo fidem frangunt. &c.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 How these latter points take hold in Italie, I meane not to discusse. How they are dailie practised in manie places of the maine, & he accompted most wise and politike, that can most of all dissemble; here is no place iustlie to determine (neither would I wish my countrimen to learne anie such wisedome) but that a king of France could saie; Qui nescit dissi|mulare, nescit regnare, or viuere, their owne histories are testimonies sufficient. Galen, the noble physician, transferring the forces of our naturall humors from the bodie to the mind, attributeth to the yellow co|lour, prudence; to the blacke, constancie; to bloud, mirth; to phlegme, courtesie: which being mixed more or lesse among themselues, doo yéeld an infinit varietie. By this means therefore it commeth to passe, that be whose nature inclineth generallie to phlegme, cannot but be courteous: which ioined with strength of bodie, and sinceritie of behauiour (quali|ties vniuersallie granted to remaine so well in our nation, as other inhabitants of the north) I cannot see what may be an hinderance whie I should not ra|ther conclude, that the Britons doo excell such as dwell in the hoter countries, than for want of craft and subtilties to come anie whit behind them. It is but vanitie also for some to note vs (as I haue often heard in common table talke) as barbarous, bicause we so little regard the shedding of our bloud, and ra|ther tremble not when we sée the liquor of life to go from vs (I vse their owne words.) Certes if we be barbarous in their eies, bicause we be rather infla|med than appalled at our wounds, then are those ob|iectors flat cowards in our iudgement: sith we thinke it a great péece of manhood to stand to our tackling, vntill the last drop, as men that may spare much bicause we haue much: whereas they hauing lesse are afraid to lose that little which they haue: as Frontinus also noteth. As for that which the French write of their owne manhood in their histories, I make little accompt of it: for I am of the opinion, that as an Italian writing of his credit; A papist in|treating of religion, a Spaniard of his méekenesse, or a Scot of his manhood, is not to be builded on; no more is a Frenchman to be trusted in the report of his owne affaires, wherein he dooth either dissemble or excéed, which is a foule vice in such as professe to deale vprightlie, Neither are we so hard to stran|gers as Horace wold séeme to make vs, sith we loue them so long as they abuse vs not, & make accompt of them so far foorth as they despise vs not. And this is generallie to be verified, in that they vse our priui|leges and commodities for diet, apparell and trade of gaine, in so ample manner as we our selues enioy them: which is not lawfull for vs to doo in their coun|tries, where no stranger is suffered to haue worke, if an home-borne be without. But to procéed with our purpose.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 With vs (although our good men care not to liue long, but to liue well) some doo liue an hundred yéers, verie manie vnto foure score: as for thrée score, it is taken but for our entrance into age, so that in Bri|taine no man is said to wax old till he draw vnto thréescore, at which time God spéed you well commeth in place; as Epaminondas sometime said in mirth, af|firming that vntill thirtie yeares of age, You are welcome is the best salutation;Salutations according to our ages. and from thence to thréescore, God kéepe you; but after thréescore, it is best to saie, God spéed you well: for at that time we begin to grow toward our iournies end, whereon manie a one haue verie good leaue to go. These two are also noted in vs (as things apperteining to the firme constitutions of our bodies) that there hath not béene séene in anie region so manie carcasses of the dead to remaine from time to time without corrupti|on as in Britaine: and that after death by slaughter or otherwise, such as remaine vnburied by foure or fiue daies togither, are easie to be knowne and dis|cerned by their fréends and kindred; whereas Tacitus and other complaine of sundrie nations, saieng, that their bodies are Tam fluidae substantiae, that within certeine houres the wife shall hardlie know hir hus|band, the mother hir sonne, or one fréend another af|ter their liues be ended. In like sort the comelinesse of our liuing bodies doo continue from midle age (for the most) euen to the last gaspe, speciallie in mankind. And albeit that our women through bearing of chil|dren doo after fortie begin to wrinkle apace, yet are they not commonlie so wretched and hard fauoured to looke vpon in their age, as the French women, and diuerse of other countries with whom their men also doo much participate; and there to be so often wai|ward and peeuish, that nothing in maner may con|tent them.

Compare 1577 edition: 1 I might here adde somewhat also of the meane stature generallie of our women, whose beautie commonlie excéedeth the fairest of those of the maine, their comlinesse of person and good proporti|on of limmes, most of theirs that come ouer vnto vs from beyond the seas. This neuerthelesse I vtterlie mislike in the poorer sort of them, for the wealthier doo sildome offend herein: that being of themselues without gouernement, they are so carelesse in the education of their children (wherein their husbands also are to be blamed) by means whereof verie ma|nie of them neither fearing God, neither regarding either maners or obedience, doo oftentimes come to confusion, which (if anie correction or discipline had béene vsed toward them in youth) might haue proo|ued good members of their common-wealth & coun|trie, by their good seruice and industrie. I could make report likewise of the naturall vices and vertues of all those that are borne within this Iland, but as the full tractation herof craueth a better head than mine to set foorth the same, so will I giue place to other men that list to take it in hand. Thus much therefore of the constitutions of our bodies: and so much may suffice.

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