A She Precise Hypocrite
An Essay from 'Microcosmographie' by John Earle
otherwise known as 'A Piece Of The World Discovered, In Essays And Characters'

Is one in whom good women suffer, and have their truth misinterpreted by her folly. She is one, she knows not what herself if you ask her, but she is indeed one that has taken a toy at the fashion of religion, and is enamoured of the new fangle. She is a nonconformist in a close stomacher and Ruff of Geneva Print, and her purity consists much in her linen.... Her devotion at the Church is much in the turning up of her eye; and turning down the leaf in her book, when she hears named chapter and verse. When she comes home, she commends the sermon for the scripture, and two hours. She loves preaching better than praying, and of preachers, lecturers; and thinks the weekday's exercise far more edifying than the Sunday's. Her oftest gossipings are Sabbath-day's journeys, where (though an enemy to superstition) she will go in pilgrimage five miles to a silenced minister, when there is a better sermon in her own parish. She doubts of the Virgin Mary's salvation, and dare not saint her, but knows her own place in heaven as perfectly as the pew she has a key to. She is so taken up with faith she has no room for charity, and understands no good works but what are wrought on the Sampler. She accounts nothing vices but superstition and an oath, and thinks adultery a less sin than to swear 'by my truly'. She rails at other women by the names of Jezebel and Delilah; and calls her own daughters Rebecca and Abigail, and not Ann but Hannah.... She overflows so with the Bible, that she spills it upon every occasion, and will not cudgel her maids without Scripture. It is a question whether she is more troubled with the Devil, or the Devil with her: she is always challenging and daring him, and her weapons are spells no less potent than different, as being the sage sentences of some of her own sectaries. Nothing angers her so much as that women cannot preach, and in this point only thinks the Brownist erroneous; but what she cannot at the Church she does at the table, where she prattles more than any against sense and Antichrist, till a Capon's wing silence her. She expounds the priests of Baal, reading ministers, and thinks the salvation of that parish as desperate as the Turks. She is a main derider to her capacity of those that are not her preachers, and censures all sermons but bad ones.... Her conscience is like others' lust, never satisfied, and you might better answer Scotus than her scruples: She is one that thinks she performs all her duty to God in hearing, and shows the fruits of it in talking. She is more fiery against the Maypole than her husband, and thinks he might do a Phineas's Act to break the pate of the fiddler. She is an everlasting argument; but I am weary of her.

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