"I can assure thee, Peacock, that Richard was a prince of a very agreeable aspect, and excelled in every personal accomplishment; neither was his heart a stranger to the softer passions of tenderness and pity"

— Smollett, Tobias (1721-1777)

Place of Publication
Printed for Robinson and Roberts
"I can assure thee, Peacock, that Richard was a prince of a very agreeable aspect, and excelled in every personal accomplishment; neither was his heart a stranger to the softer passions of tenderness and pity"
Metaphor in Context
Orator Taycho had received some articles of intelligence which embarrassed him a little at first; but these difficulties soon vanished before the vigour of his resolutions. He knew, that not only the town of Quib-quab was fortified by art, but also, that the whole adjacent country was almost impregnable by nature: that one Chinese general blocked up the passes with a strong body of forces, in the route which was to be followed by Yaff-rai; and that another commanded a separate corps in the neighbourhood of Quib-quab, equal, at least, in number to the detachment of Ya-loff, whom he might therefore either prevent from landing, or attack after he should be landed: or finally, should neither of these attempts succeed, he might reinforce the garrison of Quib-quab [Page 12] so as to make it more numerous than the besieging army, which, according to the rules of war, ought to be ten times the number of the besieged. On the other hand, in order to invalidate these objections, he reflected that Fortune, which hath such a share in all military events, is inconstant and variable; that as the Chinese had been so long successful in Fatsisio, it was now their turn to be unfortunate. He reflected that the dæmon of folly was capricious; and that as it had so long possessed the rulers and generals of Japan, it was high time it should shift its quarters, and occupy the brains of the enemy; in which case they would quit their advantageous posts, and commit some blunder that would lay them at the mercy of the Japonese. --With respect to the reduction of Quib-quab, he had heard, indeed, that the besiegers ought to be ten times the [Page 13] number of the garrison besieged; but as every Japonese was equivalent to ten subjects of China, he thought the match was pretty equal. He reflected, that even if this expedition should not succeed, it would be of little consequence to his reputation, as he could plead at home, that he neither conceived the original plan, no appointed any of the officers concerned in the execution. It is true, he might have reinforced the army in Fatsisio, so as to leave very little to Fortune: but then he must have substracted something from the strength of the operations in Tartary, which was now become the favourite scene of the war; or he must have altogether suspended the execution of another darling scheme, which was literally his own conception. There was an island in the great Indian ocean, at a considerable distance from Fatsisio; and here the
[Page 14] Chinese had a strong settlement. Taycho was inflamed with the ambition of reducing this island, which was called Thin-quo; and for this purpose he resolved to embark a body of forces which should co-operate with the squadron of Fune destined to cruize in those latitudes. --The only difficulty that remained was to choose a general to direct this enterprize. --He perused a list of all the military officers in Japan; and as they were all equal in point of reputation, he began to examine their names, in order to pitch upon that which should appear to be the most significant: and in this particular, Taycho was a little superstitious. Not but that surnames, when properly bestowed, might be rendered very useful terms of distinction: but I must tell thee, Peacock, nothing can be more preposterously absurd than the practice of inheriting [Page 15] cognomina, which ought ever to be purely personal. I would ask thee, for example, what propriety there was in giving the name Xenophon, which signifies one that speaks a foreign language, to the celebrated Greek who distinguished himself, not only as a consummate captain, but also as an elegant writer in his mother-tongue? What could be more ridiculous than to denominate the great philosopher of Crotona Pythagoras, which implies a stinking speech? Or what could be more misapplied than the name of the weeping philosopher Heraclitus, signifying military glory? The inheritance of surnames, among the Romans, produced still more ludicrous consequences. The best and noblest families in Rome derived their names from the coarsest employments, or else from the corporeal blemishes of their ancestors. [Page 16] The Pisones were millers: the Cicerones and the Lentuli were so called from the vetohes and the lentils which their forefathers dealt in. The Fabij were so denominated from a dung-pit, in which the first of the family was begot by stealth in the way of fornication. A ploughman gave rise to the great family of the Serrani, the ladies of which always went without smocks. The Suilli, the Bubulci, and the Porci, were descended from a swine-herd, a cow-herd, and a hogbutcher. --What could be more disgraceful than to call the senator Strabo, Squintum ; or a fine young lady of the house of Poeti, Pigsnies? or to distinguish a matron of the Limi, by the appellation of Sheep's-eye? --What could be more dishonourable than to give the surname of Snub-nose to P. Silius, the proprætor, because his great-great-great-grand-father had a nose of that [Page 17] make? Ovid, indeed, had a long nose, and therefore was justly denominatedNaso: but why should Horace be called Flaccus, as if his ears had been stretched in the pillory: I need not mention the Burrhi Nigri, Rufi, Aquilij, and Rutilij, because we have the same foolish surnames in England; and even the Lappa; for I myself know a very pretty miss called Rough-head, tho' in fact there is not a young lady in the Bills of Mortality, who takes more pains to dress her hair to the best advantage. The famous dictator whom the deputies of Rome found at the plough, was known by the name of Cincinnatus, or Ragged-head. Now I leave you to judge how it would sound in these days, if a footman at the play-house should call out, "My Lady Ragged-head's coach. Room for my Lady Ragged-head." I am doubtful whether the English name of Hale [Page 18] does not come from the Roman cognomenHala, which signified stinking-breath. What need I mention thePlauti, Panci, Valgi, Vari, Vatiæ, and Scauri; the Tuditani, the Malici, Cenestellæ, and Leccæ; in other words, the Splay-foots, Bandy-legs, Shamble-shins, Baker-knees, Club-foots, Hammer-heads, Chubby-cheeks, Bald-heads, and Letchers. --I shall not say a word of the Buteo, or Buzzard, that I may not be obliged to explain the meaning of the word Triorchis, from whence it takes its denomination; yet all those were great families in Rome. But I cannot help taking notice of some of the same improprieties, which have crept into the language and customs of this country. Let us suppose, for example, a foreigner reading an English news-paper in these terms: "Last Tuesday the right honourable Timothy Sillyman, secretary of state [Page 19] for the Southern department, gave a grand entertainment to the nobility and gentry at his house in Knavesacre. The evening was concluded with a ball, which was opened by Sir Samuel Hog and Lady Diana Rough-head. --We hear there is purpose of marriage between Mr. Alderman Small-cock and Miss Harriot Hair-stones, a young lady of great fortune and superlative merit. --By the last mail from Germany we have certain advice of a compleat victory which General Coward has obtained over the enemy. On this occasion the general displayed all the intrepidity of the most renowned hero:-- by the same canal we are informed that Lieutenant Little-fear has been broke by a court-martial for cowardice. --We hear that Edward West, Esq; will be elected president of the directors of the East-India company for the ensuing year. It is reported [Page 20] that Commodore North will be sent with a squadron into the South-Sea. --Captains East and South are appointed by the Lords of the Admiralty, commanders of two frigates to sail on the discovery of the North-west passage. --Yesterday morning Sir John Summer, bart. lay dangerously ill at his house in Spring-garden: he is attended by Dr. Winter: but there are no hopes of his recovery. --Saturday last Philip Frost, a dealer in Gunpowder, died at his house on Snowbill, of a high fever caught by overheating himself in walking for a wager from No Man's Land to theWorld's End . --Last week Mr. John Fog, teacher of astronomy in Rotherhith, was married to the widow Fairweather of Puddledock. --We hear from Bath, that on Thursday last a duel was fought on Lansdown, by Captain Sparrow and Richard Hawke, Esq; in which the latter was [Page 21] mortally wounded. --Friday last ended the sessions at the Old Bailey, when the following persons received sentence of death. Leonard Lamb, for the murder of Julius Wolf; andHenry Grave, for robbing and assaulting Dr. Death, whereby the said Death was put in fear of his life. Giles Gosling, for defrauding Simon Fox of four guineas and his watch, by subtle craft, was transported for seven years; and David Drinkwater was ordered to be set in the stocks, as an habitual drunkard. The trial of Thomas Green, whitster at Fulham, for a rape on the body ofFlora White, a mulatto, was put off till next sessions, on account of the absence of two material evidences, viz. Sarah Brown, clear-starcher of Pimlico, and Anthony Black, scarletdyer of Wandsworth." I ask thee, Peacock, whether a sensible foreigner, who understood the literal meaning [Page 22] of these names, which are all truly British, would not think ye were a nation of humorists, who delighted in cross-purposes and ludicrous singularity? But, indeed, ye are not more absurd in this particular, than some of your neighbours. --I know a Frenchman of the name of Bouvier, which signifies Cow-keeper, pique himself upon his noblesse; and a general called Valavoir, is said to have lost his life by the whimsical impropriety of his surname, which signifies *[1] Go and see. --You may remember an Italian minister called Grossa-testa, or Great-head, though in fact he had scarce any head at all. That nation has, likewise, its Sforzas, Malatestas, Boccanigras, Porcinas, [Page 23] Giudices; its Colonnas, Muratorios, Medicis, and Gozzi; Endeavours, Chuckle-heads, Black Muzzles, Hogs, Judges, Pillars, Masons, Leeches, and Chubby-chops. Spain has itsAlmohadas, Girones, Utreras, Ursinas, and Zapatas; signifying Cushions, Gores, Bullocks, Bears, and Slippers. The Turks, in other respects a sensible people, fall into the same extravagance, with respect to the inheritance of surnames. An Armenian merchant, to whom I once belonged at Aleppo, used to dine at the house of a cook whose name was Clockmaker; and the handsomest Ichoglan in the Bashaw's seraglio was surnamed Crook-back . --If we may believe the historian Buck, there was the same impropriety in the same epithet bestowed upon Richard III. king of England, who, he says, was one of the best-made men of the age in which he lived: but here [Page 24] I must contradict the said Buck, from my own knowledge. Richard had, undoubtedly, one shoulder higher than the other, and his left arm was a little shrunk and contracted: but, notwithstanding the ungracious colours in which he has been drawn by the flatterers of the house of Lancaster, I can assure thee, Peacock, that Richard was a prince of a very agreeable aspect, and excelled in every personal accomplishment; neither was his heart a stranger to the softer passions of tenderness and pity. The very night that preceded the fatal battle of Bosworth, in which he lost his life, he went in disguise to the house of a farmer in the neighbourhood, to visit an infant son there boarded, who was the fruit of an amour between him and a young lady of the first condition. Upon this occasion, he embraced the child with all the marks of paternal affection, and doubtful of the issue [Page 25] of the approaching battle, shed a flood of tears at parting from him, after having recommended him to the particular care of his nurse, to whom he gave money and jewels to a considerable value. After the catastrophe of Richard this house was plundered, and the nurse with difficulty escaped to another part of the country; but as the enemies of Richard now prevailed, she never durst reveal the secret of the boy's birth; and he was bred up as her own son to the trade of brick-laying, in which character he lived and died in an advanced age at London. --Moreover, it is but justice in me, who constituted part of one of Richard's yeomen of the guard, to assure thee that this prince was not so wicked and cruel as he has been represented. The only share he had in the death of his brother Clarence, was his forbearing to interpose in the behalf of that prince [Page 26] with their elder brother king Edward IV. who, in fact, was the greatest brute of the whole family: neither did he poison his own wife; nor employ assassins to murder his two nephews in the Tower. Both the boys were given by Tyrrel in charge to a German Jew, with directions to breed them up as his own children, in a remote country; and the eldest died of a fever at Embden, and the other afterwards appeared as claimant of the English crown:--all the world knows how he finished his career under the name of Perkin Warbeck. --So much for the abuse of surnames, in the investigation of which I might have used thy own by way of illustration; for, if thou and all thy generation were put to the rack, they would not be able to give any tolerable reason why thou shouldest be called Peacock rather than Crablouse. --But it is now high [Page 27] time to return to the thread of our narration. Taycho, having considered the list of officers, without finding one name which implied any active virtue, resolved that the choice should depend upon accident. He hustled them all together in his cap, and putting in his hand at random, drew forth that of Hob-nob; a person who had grown old in obscurity, without ever having found an opportunity of being concerned in actual service. His very name was utterly unknown to Fika-kaka; and this circumstance the orator considered as a lucky omen; for the Cuboy had such a remarkable knack at finding out the least qualified subjects, and overlooking merit, his new collegue concluded (not without some shadow of reason) that Hob-nob's being unknown to the prime minister, was a sort of negative presumption in favour of his character. This officer was accordingly [Page 28] placed at the head of an armament, and sent against the island of Thin-quo, in the conquest of which he was to be supported by a squadron of Fune already in those latitudes, under the command of the chief He-Rhumn.
Searching "heart" and "stranger" in HDIS (Prose); found again "passion"
7 entries in the ESTC (1769, 1786, 1795, 1797, 1799).

Tobias Smollett, The History and Adventures of an Atom, 2 vols. (London: Robinson and Roberts, 1769). <Link to ECCO>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.