Ralph Johnson, The Scholars Guide From the Accidence to the University
(London: Tho. Pierrepont, 1665), p. 15:
A Character is a witty and facetious description of the nature and qualities of some person, or sort of people.
RULES for making it.
1. Chuse a Subject, viz. such a sort of men as will admit of variety of observation, such be, drunkards, usurers, lyars, taylors, excise-men, travellers, pedlars, merchants, tapsters, lawyers, an upstart gentleman, a young Justice, a Constable, an Alderman, and the like.
2. Express their natures, qualities, conditions, practices, tools, desires, aims or ends, by witty Allegories or Allusions, to things or terms in nature, or art, of like nature and resemblance, still striving for wit and pleasantness, together with tart nipping jerks about their vices or miscarriages.
3. Conclude with some witty and neat passage, leaving them to the effect of their follies or studies.