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The Greeks also used it anciently, as appeareth by Venus mantle lined with stars, though afterwards they changed the form thereof into their cloaks, called Pallia, as some of the Irish also use. And the ancient Latins and Romans used it, as you may read in Virgil, who was a very great antiquary: that Evander, when AEneas came to him at his feast, did entertain and feast him, sitting on the ground, and lying on mantles. Inasmuch as he useth the very word mantile for a mantle. “— Humi mantilia sternunt.”
So that it seemeth that the mantle was a general habit to most nations, and not proper to the Scythians only, as you suppose.
Iren. I cannot deny but that anciently it was common to most, and yet since then disused and laid away. But in this later age of the world, since the decay of the Roman empire, it was renewed and brought in again by those northern nations, when breaking out of their cold caves and frozen habitations, into the sweet soil of Europe, they brought with them their usual weeds, fit to shield the cold, and that continual frost, to which they had at home been inured: the which yet they left not off, by reason that they were in perpetual wars, with the nations whom they had invaded, but, still removing from place to place, carried always with them that weed, as their house, their bed, and their garment; and, coming lastly into Ireland, they found there more special use thereof, by reason of the raw, cold climate, from whom it is now grown into that general use, in which that people now have it. After whom the Gauls succeeding, yet finding the like necessity of that garment, continued the like use thereof.
Eudow. Since then the necessity thereof is so commodious, as you allege, that it is instead of housing, bedding, and clothing, what reason have you then to wish so necessary a thing cast off?
Iren. Because the commodity doth not countervail the discommodity; for the inconveniences which thereby do arise, are much more many; for it is a fit house for an out-law, a meet bed for a rebel, and an apt cloak for a thief. First the out-law being for his many crimes and villanies banished from the towns and houses of honest men, and wandering in waste places, far from danger of law, maketh his mantle his house, and under it covereth himself from the wrath of heaven, from the offence of the earth, and from the sight of men. When it raineth it is his pent-house; when it bloweth it is his tent; when it freezeth it is his tabernacle. In summer he can wear it loose, in winter he can wrap it close; at all times he can use it; never heavy, never cumbersome. Likewise for a rebel it is as serviceable. For in his war that he maketh, if at least it deserve the name of war, when he still flyeth from his foe, and lurketh in the thick woods and strait passages, waiting for advantages, it is his bed, yea and almost his household stuff. For the wood is his house against all weathers, and his mantle is his couch to sleep in. Therein he wrappeth himself round, and coucheth himself strongly against the gnats, which in that country do more annoy the naked rebels, whilst they keep the woods, and do more sharply wound them than all their enemies swords, or spears, which can seldom come nigh them : yea and oftentimes their mantle serveth them, when they are near driven, being wrapped about their left arm instead of a target, for it is hard to cut through with a sword, besides it is light to bear, light to throw away, and, being, as they commonly are, naked, it is to them all in all. Lastly for a thief it is so handsome, as it may seem it was first invented for him; for under it he may cleanly convey any fit pillage that cometh handsomely in his way, and when he goeth abroad in the night in free-booting, it is his best and surest friend; for lying, as they often do, two or three nights together abroad to watch for their booty, with that they can prettily shroud themselves under a bush or a bank side, till they can conveniently do their errand: and when all is over, he can, in his mantle, pass through any town or company, being close hooded over his head, as he useth, from knowledge of any to whom he is endangered. Besides this, he, or any man else that is disposed to mischief or villany, may under his mantle go privily armed without suspicion of any, carry his head-piece, his skean; or pistol if he please, to be always in readiness. Thus necessary and fitting is a mantle, for a bad man, and surely for a bad house-wife it is no less convenient: for some of them that be wandering women, called of them Mona-shul, it is half a wardrobe; for in summer you shall find her arrayed commonly but in her smock and mantle to be more ready for her light services: in winter, and in her travail, it is her cloak and safeguard, and also a coverlet for her lewd exercise. And when she hath filled her vessel, under it she can hide both her burden, and her blame; yea, and when her bastard is born, it serves instead of swaddling clouts. And as for all other good women which love to do but little work, how handsome it is to lie in and sleep, or to louse themselves in the sun-shine, they that have been but a while in Ireland can well witness. Sure I am that you will think it very unfit for a good house-wife to stir in, or to busy herself about her housewifery in such sort as she should. These be some of the abuses for which I would think it meet to forbid all mantles. Eudor. O evil-minded man, that having reckoned up so many uses of a mantle, will yet wish it to be abandoned Sure I think Diogenes dish did never serve his master for more turns, notwithstanding that he made it his dish, his cup, his cap, his measure, his water-pot, than a mantle doth an Irishman. But I see they be most to bad intents, and therefore I will join with you in abolishing it. But what blame lay you to the glib P take heed, I pray you, that you be not too busy therewith for fear of your own blame, seeing our Englishmen take it up in such a general fashion to wear their hair so immeasurably long, that some of them exceed the longest Irish glibs. Iren. I fear not the blame of any undeserved dislikes: but for the Irish glibs, they are as fit masks as a mantle is for a thief. For whensoever he hath run himself into that peril of law, that he will not be • known, he either cutteth off his glib quite, by which he becometh nothing like himself, or pulleth it so low down over his eyes, that it is very hard to discern his thievish countenance. And therefore fit to be trussed up with the mantle.
Iren. There is amongst the Irish a certain kind of people, called Bards, which are to them instead of poets, whose profession is to set forth the praises or dispraises of men in their poems or rhymes, the which are had in so high regard and estimation amongst them, that none dare displease them for fear to run into reproach through their offence, and to be made infamous in the mouths of all men. For their verses are taken up with a general applause, and usually sung at all feasts and meetings, by certain other persons, whose proper function that is, who also receive for the same great rewards and reputation amongst them.
Eudow. Do you blame this in them which I would otherwise have thought to have been worthy of good account, and rather to have been maintained and augmented amongst them, than to have been disliked 2 for I have read that in all ages Poets have been had in special reputation, and that, methinks, not without great cause ; for besides their sweet inventions, and most witty lays, they have always used to set forth the praises of the good and virtuous, and to beat down and disgrace the bad and vicious. So that many brave young minds, have oftentimes through hearing the praises and famous eulogies of worthy men sung and reported unto them, been stirred up to affect the like commendations, and so to strive to the like deserts. So they say that the Lacedæmonians were more excited to desire of honour, with the excellent verses of the Poet Tyrtaeus, than with all the exhortations of their captains, or authority of their rulers and magistrates.
Iren. It is most true, that such Poets as in their writings do labour to better the manners of men, and through the sweet bait of their numbers, to steal into the young spirits a desire of honour and virtue, are worthy to be had in great respect. But these Irish are are for the most part of another mind, and so far from instructing young men in moral discipline, that they themselves do more deserve to be sharply disciplined; for they seldom use to choose unto themselves the doings of good men for the arguments of their poems, but whomsoever they find to be most licentious of life, most bold and lawless in his doings, most dangerous and desperate in all parts of disobedience and rebellious disposition, him they set up and glorify in their rhymes, him they praise to the people, and to young men make an example to follow. Eudor. I marvel what kind of speeches they can find, or what face they can put on, to praise such bad persons as live so lawlessly and licentiously upon stealths and spoils, as most of them do, or how can they think that any good mind will applaud or approve the same. Iren. There is none so bad, Eudoxus, but shall find some to favour his doings; but such licentious parts as these, tending for the most part to the hurt of the English, or maintenance of their own lewd liberty, they themselves being most desirous thereof, do most allow. Besides this, evil things being decked and attired with the gay attire of goodly words, may easily deceive and carry away the affection of a young mind, that is not well stayed, but desirous by some bold adventures to make proof of himself; for being, as they all be brought up idly, without awe of parents, without precepts of masters, and without fear of offence, not being directed, nor employed in any course of life, which may carry them to virtue, will easily be drawn to follow such as any shall set before them; for a young mind o: rest; if he be not still busied in some goodness, he will find himself such business as shall soon busy all about him. In which if he find any to praise him, and to give him encouragement, as those Bards and Rhymers, do for little reward, or a share of a stolen cow, then waxeth he most insolent and half mad with the love of himself and his own lewd deeds. And as for words to set forth such lewdness, it is not hard for them to give a goodly and painted shew thereunto, borrowed even from the praises which are proper to virtue itself. As