Borde, Andrew

, or as he styles himself in Latin, Andreas Perforatus, was a very singular character, and the reputation he acquired among his contemporaries must be considered in a great measure as a proof of the ignorance and credulity of the times. He was born at Pevensey in Sussex about 1500, and was educated at Oxford; but before he had taken a degree, entered among the Carthusians in or near London. He afterwards left them, and studied physic at Oxford; and then travelled over most parts of Europe and Africa. On his return he settled at Winchester, where he practised physic with considerable reputation, and in this capacity he is said to have served Henry VIII. In 1541 and 1542 he was at Montpellier, where he probably took the degree of doctor, in which he was soon after incorporated at Oxford. He lived then for some time at Pevensey, and afterwards returned to Winchester, still observing all the austerities of the order to which he formerly belonged; though he has been accused of many irregularities. It is certain that his | character was very odd and whimsical, as appears from the books he wrote; yet he is said to have been a man of great wit and learning, and an “especial physician.” That he was not of consequence eminent enough to rank with the first of his profession, may be inferred from his dying insolvent in the Fleet, April 1549. Bale intimates that he hastened his end by poison on the discovery of his keeping a brothel for his brother bachelors. His works are very various in their subjects; one of the most considerable is intituled, “A book of the introduction of knowledge,” black letter, imprinted by William Coplande, without date. He there professes to teach all languages, the customs and fashions of all countries, and the value of every species of coin. This is a motley piece, partly in verse and partly in prose; and is divided into thirty-nine chapters, before each of which is a wooden cut, representing a man in the habit of some particular country. His well known satire on the Englishman, who, to express the inconstancy and mutability of his fashions, is drawn naked with a cloth and a pair of sheers in his hand, is borrowed from the Venetians, who characterised the French in that manner. Before the 7th chapter is the effigies of the author, under a canopy, with a gown, a laurel on his head, and a book before him. The title of this chapter shews how the author dwelt in Scotland and other islands, and went through and round about Christendom. An edition of this singular work was printed in London in 1542. His “Breviary of Health,” which is a very trifling, coarse, and weak performance, was published in 1.547, and is supposed by Fuller to be the first medical piece written in English. As a specimen of the style, take what follows, which is the beginning of the Prologue, addressed to physicians: “Egregious doctors and maisters of the eximious and arcane science of physicke, of your urbanity exasperate not yourselves against me for making this little volume.” This work, with a second part called the “Extravagants,” was reprinted in 4to, 1575. He was also author of the following; “Compendyouse Regimente, or Dietary of Healthe made in Mounte Pyllor,” an edition of which was printed several years after his death, in 1562. A famous jest book called the “Merrye tales of the madmen of Gotham;” “The historye of the miller of Abingdon and the Cambridge scholars,” the same with that related by Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales; a book of “Prognostics,| and another of Urines, &c. It is said that the phrase “Merry Andrew” is derived from him. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. I.—Hearne’s Preface to Benedictus Abbas Petroburgensis.— Dodd’s Ch. Hist. vol. I. —Warton’s Hist, of Poetry, vol. III. p. 70—78.—Gent. Mag. vol. LVIII. and LIX—Ritson’s Bibl. Poet.—Cooper’s Muses library, p. 86.—Phlilips’s Theatrum Poet. Angl.