Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Boasting of a Quack
By William Clowes (15401604)
From a Prooved Practise for all young Chirurgeons
THEN riseth out of his chair, fleering and jeering, this miraculous surgeon, gloriously glittering like the man in the moon, with his bracelets about his arms, therein many precious jewels and stones of Saint Vincent his rocks, his fingers full of rings, a silver case with instruments hanging at his girdle, and a gilt spatula1 sticking in his hat, with a rose and a crown fixed on the same, standing upon his comparisons, and said unto me that he would open the wound, and if it were before my face: for (said he) my business lieth not in London, but abroad in the country, and with such persons that I cannot nor will not tarry for you nor for no other whatsoever. And now here he did begin to brag and boast as though all the keys of knowledge did hang at his girdle. For he said he had attained unto the deep knowledge of the making of a certain quintessence which he learned beyond the seas of his master one Bornelious, a great magician. This shameless beast letted not to say that if a man did drink of his quintessence continually every day a certain quantity, the virtue thereof was such that a man should not die before the day of the great Judgement, and that it would preserve in that state he was in at thirty years of age, and in the same strength and force of will although a man were a hundred or six score years of age. Moreover his plaister was answerable unto this, and forsooth he called it the only plaister of the world, and that he attained unto it by his great travail, cost, and charge, and that it was first sent from God by an angel unto a red hill in Almayne, where was in times past a holy man which wrought great marvels only with this plaister, and he never used any other medicine but only this. His precious balm or oil he said no man had, but only he, and that it was as rare a thing to be had or found, as to see a black swan or a winter swallow, and he called it the secret of the world, which is his common vaunting phrase; but God knows the medicines were no such things, but only shadowed under the vizard of deceit, and a bait to steal fame and credit and to catch or scrape up money or ware, for all is fish that cometh unto his net. Then this gaudy fellow with his peerless speeches said that he had done more good cures with his said quintessence, his only plaister and his precious balm than any one surgeon in England had done or could do with all the best medicines and remedies they have. And moreover said that he had spoken nothing but that which he would stand to and prove it. And that he did know that it was not necessary for us common surgeons (as it pleased the bragger to call us) to use such a number of medicines as we do.