1632 By George Herbert

The Parson's Surveys.

THe Countrey Parson hath not onely taken a particular
Survey of the faults of his own Parish, but a generall
also of the diseases of the time, that so, when his occasions
carry him abroad, or bring strangers to him, he may be the
better armed to encounter them. The great and nationall
sin of this Land he esteems to be Idlenesse; great in it selfe,
and great in Consequence: For when men have nothing to
do, then they fall to drink, to steal, to whore, to scoffe, to
revile, to all sorts of gamings. Come, say they, we have
nothing to do, lets go to the Tavern, or to the stews, or what
not. Wherefore the Parson strongly opposeth this sin,
whersoever he goes. And because Idleness is twofold, the
one in having no calling, the other in walking carelesly in our
calling, he first represents to every body the necessity of a
vocation. The reason of this assertion is taken from the
nature of man, wherein God hath placed two great Instru-
ments, Reason in the soul, and a hand in the Body, as
ingagements of working: So that even in Paradise man had a
calling, and how much more out of Paradise, when the evills
which he is now subject unto, may be prevented, or diverted
by reasonable imployment. Besides, every gift or ability is a
talent to be accounted for, and to be improved to our Masters
Advantage. Yet is it also a debt to our Countrey to have
a Calling, and it concernes the Common-wealth, that none
should be idle, but all busied. Lastly, riches are the blessing
of God, and the great Instrument of doing admirable good;
therfore all are to procure them honestly, and seasonably,
when they are not better imployed. Now this reason crosseth
not our Saviours precept of selling what we have, because
when we have sold all, and given it to the poor, we must not
be idle, but labour to get more, that we may give more,
according to St. Pauls rule, Ephes. 4. 28. I Thes. 4. 11, 12.
So that our Saviours selling is so far from crossing Saint
Pauls working, that it rather establisheth it, since they that
have nothing, are fittest to work. Now because the onely
opposer to this Doctrine is the Gallant, who is witty enough
to abuse both others, and himself, and who is ready to ask,
if he shall mend shoos, or what he shall do? Therfore the
Parson unmoved, sheweth, that ingenuous and fit imployment
is never wanting to those that seek it. But if it should be, the
Assertion stands thus: All are either to have a Calling, or
prepare for it: He that hath or can have yet no imployment,
if he truly, and seriously prepare for it, he is safe and within
bounds. Wherefore all are either presently to enter into a
Calling, if they be fit for it, and it for them; or else to examine
with care, and advice, what they are fittest for, and to prepare
for that with all diligence. But it will not be amisse in this
exceeding usefull point to descend to particulars: for exact-
nesse lyes in particulars. Men are either single, or marryed:
The marryed and house-keeper hath his hands full, if he do
what he ought to do. For there are two branches of his
affaires; first, the improvement of his family, by bringing
them up in the fear and nurture of the Lord; and secondly,
the improvement of his grounds, by drowning, or draining,
or stocking, or fencing, and ordering his land to the best
advantage both of himself, and his neighbours. The Italian
says, None fouls his hands in his own businesse: and it is an
honest, and just care, so it exceed not bounds, for every one
to imploy himselfe to the advancement of his affairs, that
hee may have wherewithall to do good. But his family is his
best care, to labour Christian soules, and raise them to their
height, even to heaven; to dresse and prune them, and take
as much joy in a straight-growing childe, or servant, as a
Gardiner doth in a choice tree. Could men finde out this
delight, they would seldome be from home; whereas now,
of any place, they are least there. But if after all this care well
dispatched, the house-keepers Family be so small, and his
dexterity so great, that he have leisure to look out, the Village
or Parish which either he lives in, or is neer unto it, is his
imployment. Hee considers every one there, and either
helps them in particular, or hath generall Propositions to the
whole Towne or Hamlet, of advancing the publick Stock,
and managing Commons, or Woods, according as the place
suggests. But if hee may bee of the Commission of Peace,
there is nothing to that: No Common-wealth in the world
hath a braver Institution then that of Justices of the Peace:
For it is both a security to the King, who hath so many
dispersed Officers at his beck throughout the Kingdome,
accountable for the publick good; and also an honourable
Imployment of a Gentle, or Noble-man in the Country he
lives in, inabling him with power to do good, and to restrain
all those, who else might both trouble him and the whole
State. Wherefore it behoves all, who are come to the gravitie,
and ripenesse of judgement for so excellent a Place, not to
refuse, but rather to procure it. And whereas there are
usually three Objections made against the Place; the one,
the abuse of it, by taking petty Countrey bribes; the other,
the casting of it on mean persons, especially in some Shires:
and lastly, the trouble of it: These are so far from deterring
any good man from the place, that they kindle them rather
to redeem the Dignity either from true faults, or unjust asper-
sions. Now, for single men, they are either Heirs, or younger
Brothers: The Heirs are to prepare in all the fore-mentioned
points against the time of their practice. Therefore they are
to mark their Fathers discretion in ordering his House and
Affairs; and also elsewhere, when they see any remarkable
point of Education or good husbandry, and to transplant it
in time to his own home, with the same care as others, when
they meet with good fruit, get a graffe of the tree, inriching
their Orchard, and neglecting their House. Besides, they
are to read Books of Law, and Justice; especially, the
Statutes at large. As for better Books of Divinity, they are
not in this Consideration, because we are about a Calling,
and a preparation thereunto. But chiefly, and above all
things, they are to frequent Sessions and Sizes; for it is both
an honor which they owe to the Reverend Judges and Magis-
trates, to attend them, at least in their Shire; and it is a great
advantage to know the practice of the Land; for our Law is
Practice. Sometimes he may go to Court, as the eminent
place both of good and ill. At other times he is to travell
over the King's Dominions, cutting out the Kingdome into
Portions, which every yeer he surveys peece-meal. When
there is a Parliament, he is to endeavour by all means to be
a Knight or Burgess there; for there is no School to a Par-
liament. And when he is there, he must not only be a
morning man, but at Committees also; for there the par-
ticulars are exactly discussed, which are brought from thence
to the House but in generall. When none of these occasions
call him abroad, every morning that hee is at home hee must
either ride the Great Horse, or exercise some of his Military
gestures. For all Gentlemen, that are now weakned, and
disarmed with sedentary lives, are to know the use of their
Arms: and as the Husbandman labours for them, so must
they fight for, and defend them, when occasion calls. This is
the duty of each to other, which they ought to fulfill: And the
Parson is a lover of and exciter to justice in all things, even as
John the Baptist squared out to every one (even to Souldiers)
what to do. As for younger Brothers, those whom the Parson
finds loose, and not ingaged into some Profession by their
Parents, whose neglect in this point is intolerable, and a
shamefull wrong both to the Common-wealth, and their
own House: To them, after he hath shew'd the unlawfulness
of spending the day in dressing, Complementing, visiting,
and sporting
, he first commends the study of the Civill Law,
as a brave, and wise knowledg, the Professours whereof were
much imployed by Queen Elizabeth, because it is the key of
Commerce, and discovers the Rules of forraine Nations.
Secondly, he commends the Mathematicks, as the only
wonder-working knowledg, and therefore requiring the best
spirits. After the severall knowledg of these, he adviseth to
insist and dwell chiefly on the two noble branches therof, of
Fortification, and Navigation; The one being usefull to all
Countreys, and the other especially to Hands. But if the
young Gallant think these Courses dull, and phlegmatick,
where can he busie himself better, then in those new Planta-
tions, and discoveryes, which are not only a noble, but also
as they may be handled, a religious imployment? Or let
him travel into Germany, and France, and observing the
Artifices, and Manufactures there, transplant them hither,
as divers have done lately, to our Countrey's advantage.

Editor's Note: Herbert deals with many of these suggestions for improvement in "The Church Porch." [See list of subjects.]

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