mountebank


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mountebank

(formerly) a person who sold quack medicines in public places
References in classic literature ?
Word was brought to Count Leonardo that a company of mountebanks besought his hospitality.
Send hither the mountebanks. Afterward, broil them with the priests."
He scoffed at them as adventures, mountebanks, sideshow riffraff, dime museum freaks; he assailed their showy titles with measureless derision; he said they were back-alley barbers disguised as nobilities, peanut peddlers masquerading as gentlemen, organ-grinders bereft of their brother monkey.
That gentleman was a sort of Barnum, the director of a troupe of mountebanks, jugglers, clowns, acrobats, equilibrists, and gymnasts, who, according to the placard, was giving his last performances before leaving the Empire of the Sun for the States of the Union.
Some few are mountebanks. Others more particularly belong to the race of philosophers.
Then, the religious spirit yielding inevitably in part to that of merrymaking, minstrels and mountebanks began to flock to the celebrations; and regular fairs, even, grew up about them.
Men who had lounged about all night in smock-frocks and leather leggings, came out in silken vests and hats and plumes, as jugglers or mountebanks; or in gorgeous liveries as soft-spoken servants at gambling booths; or in sturdy yeoman dress as decoys at unlawful games.
In their train were minstrels, not unknown in London streets; wandering players, whose theatres had been the halls of noblemen; mummers, rope-dancers, and mountebanks, who would long be missed at wakes, church ales, and fairs; in a word, mirth makers of every sort, such as abounded in that age, but now began to be discountenanced by the rapid growth of Puritanism.
On mentioning this at Monte Video, I was told that a vessel containing some mountebanks and their horses, being wrecked in the Plata, one horse swam seven miles to the shore.
"Stop this at once," Zarathustra cries, "long have thy speech and thy species disgusted me...Out of love alone shall my contempt and my warning bird take wing; BUT NOT OUT OF THE SWAMP!" It were well if this discourse were taken to heart by all those who are too ready to associate Nietzsche with lesser and noiser men,--with mountebanks and mummers.
Then the theatre is open for nothing, then the waters of Monblaisir begin to play (it is lucky that there is company to behold them, for one would be afraid to see them alone)--then there come mountebanks and riding troops (the way in which his Transparency was fascinated by one of the horse-riders is well known, and it is believed that La Petite Vivandiere, as she was called, was a spy in the French interest), and the delighted people are permitted to march through room after room of the Grand Ducal palace and admire the slippery floor, the rich hangings, and the spittoons at the doors of all the innumerable chambers.
Of course, I may have got the wrong term, it could easily be mountebank (a person who sells quack cures, attracting and influencing an audience by tricks, storytelling, etc).