Billeder på siden


42. When my Lord President of the Council came first to be Lord Treasurer, he complained to my Lord Chancellor of the troublesomeness of the place ; for that the Exchequer was so empty. The Lord Chancellor answered; My Lord, be of good cheer, for now you shall see the bottom of your business at the first.

43. When his Lordship was newly advanced to the Great Seal, Gondomar came to visit him. My Lord said; That he was to thank God and the King for that honour ; but yet, so he might be rid of the burthen, he could very willingly forbear the honour; and that he formerly had a desire, and the same continued with him still, to lead a private life. Gondomar answered ; That he would tell him a tale ; of an old rat, that would needs leave the world ; and acquainted the young rats that he would retire into his hole, and spend his days solitarily; and would enjoy no more comfort: and commanded them upon his high displeasure, not to offer to come in unto him. They forbore two or three days; at last, one that was more hardy than the rest, incited some of his fellows to go in with him, and he would venture to see how his father did; for he might be dead. They went in, and found the old rat sitting in the midst of a rich Parmesan cheese. So he applied the fable after his witty manner.3

44. Rabelais tells a tale of one that was very fortunate in compounding differences. His son undertook the same course“, but could never compound any. Whereupon he came to his father, and asked him, what art he had to reconcile differences 25 He answered, he had no other but this: to watch when the two parties were much wearied, and their hearts were too great to seek reconcilement at one another's hands; then to be a means betwixt them, and upon no other terms. After which the son went home, and prospered in the same undertakings.6

62. There was an agent here for the Dutch, called Caroon ; and when he used to move the Queen for further succours and more men, my lord Henry Howard would say; That he agreed well with the name of Charon, ferryman of hell ; for he came still for more men, to increase regnum umbrarum.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I Lamb, MS. p. 10.

upon his blessing. Lamb. MS. p. 4. so if he left the world he would retire to some rich place. Lamb. MS. • So Lamb. MS. p. 63. R. has " said course. 5 what trick he had to make friends. Lamb. MS.

6 he would even be the means betwixt them. After which time the son prospered in the trade. Lamb. MS.

63. They were wont to call referring to the Masters in Chancery, committing. My Lord Keeper Egerton, when he was Master of the Rolls, was wont to ask; What the cause had done, that it should be committed ?

64. They feigned a tale, principally against Doctors' reports in the Chancery; That Sir Nicholas Bacon, when he came to heaven gate, was opposed, touching an unjust decree which had been made in the Chancery. Sir Nicholas desired to see the order, whereupon the decree was drawn up; and finding it to begin Veneris, etc. Why, (saith he) I was then sitting in the Star-chamber; this concerns the Master of the Rolls ; let him answer it. Soon after came the Master of the Rolls, Cordal, who died indeed a small time after Sir Nicholas Bacon; and he was likewise stayed upon it; and looking into the order, he found, that upon the reading of a certificate of Dr. Gibson, it was ordered, that his report should be decreed. And so he put it upon Dr. Gibson, and there it stuck.

65. Sir Nicholas Bacon, when a certain nimble-witted counsellor at the bar, who was forward to speak, did interrupt him often, said unto him; There is a great difference betwixt you

and me : a pain to me to speak, and a pain to you to hold your peace.

66. The same Sir Nicholas Bacon, upon bills exhibited to discover where lands lay, - upon proof that they had a certain quantity of land, but could not set it forth, was wont to say ; And if you cannot find your land in the country, how will you have me find it in the Chancery?

67. Mr. Houland, in conference with a young student, arguing a case, happened to say; I would ask you but this question. The student presently interrupted him, to give him an answer. Whereunto Mr. Houland gravely said ; Nay, though I ask you a question, yet I did not mean you should answer me; I mean to answer myself.

91. Archbishop Grindall was wont to say; That the physicians here in England were not good at the cure of particular diseases; but had only the power of the Church, to bind and loose.

123. Titus Quinctius was in the counsel of the Achaians, what time they deliberated, whether in the war then to follow between the Romans and King Antiochus, they should confederate themselves with the Romans, or with King Antiochus? In that counsel the Ætolians, who incited the Achaians against the Romans, to disable their forces, gave great words, as if the late victory the Romans had obtained against Philip king of Macedon, had been chiefly by the strength and forces of the Ætolians themselves : And on the other side the embassador of Antiochus did extol the forces of his master; sounding what an innumerable company he brought in his army; and gave the nations strange names; As Elymæans, Caducians, and others. After both their harangues, Titus Quinctius, when he rose up, said ; It was an easy matter to perceive what it was that had joined Antiochus and the Ætolians together ; that it appeared to be by reciprocal lying of each, touching the other's forces.

124. Plato was amorous of a young gentleman, whose name was Stella, that studied astronomy, and went oft in the clear nights to look upon the stars. Whereupon Plato wished himself heaven, that he mought look upon Stella with a thousand eyes.

153. Themistocles, after he was banished, and had wrought himself into great favour afterwards, so that he was honoured and sumptuously served; seeing his present glory, said unto one of his friends, If I had not been undone, I had been undone.

214. A certain countryman being at an Assizes, and seeing the prisoners holding up their hands at the bar, related to some of his acquaintance; That the judges were good fortune-tellers ; for if they did but look upon a man's hand, they could tell whether he should live or die.

216. A seaman coming before the judges of the Admiralty for admittance into an office of a ship bound for the Indies, was by one of the judges much slighted, as an insufficient person for that office he sought to obtain; the judge telling him; That he believed he could not say the points of his compass. The seaman answered; That he could say them, under favour, better than he could say his Pater-noster. The judge replied; That he would wager twenty-shillings with him upon that.

The seaman taking him up, it came to trial: and the seaman began, and said all the points of his compass very exactly : the judge likewise said his Pater-noster : and when he had finished it, he required the wager according to agreement; because the seaman was to say his compass better than he his Pater-noster, which he had not performed. Nay, I pray, Sir, hold, (quoth the seaman,) the wager is not finished: for I have but half done : and so he immediately said his compass backward very exactly ; which the judge failing of in his Pater-noster, the seaman carried away the prize.

239. A certain friend of Sir Thomas Moore's, taking great pains about a book, which he intended to publish, (being well conceited of his own wit, which no man else thought worthy of commendation,) brought it to Sir Thomas Moore to peruse it, and pass his judgment upon it; which he did: and finding nothing therein worthy the press, he said to him with a grave countenance; That if it were in verse, it would be more worthy. Upon which words, he went immediately and turned it into verse, and then brought it to Sir Thomas again; who looking thereon, said soberly; Yes, marry, now it is somewhat, for now it is rhyme ; whereas before it was neither rhyme nor reason.

247. A gentleman that was punctual of his word, and loved the same in others, when he heard that two persons had agreed upon a meeting about serious affairs, at a certain time and place; and that the one party failed in the performance, or neglected his hour; would usually say of him, He is a young man then.'

249. His lordship when he had finished this collection of Apophthegms, concluded thus: Come, now all is well: they say, he is not a wise man that will lose his friend for his wit ; but he is less a wise man that will lose his friend for another man's wit.

[ocr errors]

I “He broke his promise,” said Sir Ralph, “he is a young man then, under twenty years old; and no exception to be taken."-Lamb. MS.

2 “ When Sir John Finch and myself had gone over my lord's apophthegms, he said, “ Now it is well: you know it is a common saying that he is an unwise man who will lose his friend for his jest : but he is a more unwise man who will lose his friend for another man's jest." "-Lamb. MS. p. 10.




1. PLUTARCH said well, It is otherwise in a commonwealth of men than of bees. The hive of a city or kingdom is in best condition when there is least of noise or buz in it.

2. The same Plutarch said of men of weak abilities set in great place, That they were like little statues set on great bases, made to appear the less by their advancement.

3. He said again, Good fame is like fire. When you have kindled it, you may easily preserve it; but if once you extinguish it, you will not easily kindle it again ; at least, not make it burn as bright as it did.

4. The answer of Apollonius to Vespasian is full of excellent instruction: Vespasian asked him, What was Nero's overthrow ? He answered, Nero could touch and tune the harp well; but in government sometimes he used to wind the pins too high, sometimes to let them down too low. And certain it is, that nothing destroyeth authority so much as the unequal and untimely interchange of power pressed too far, and relaxed too much.

5. Queen Elizabeth seeing Sir Edward in her garden, looked out at her window, and asked him in Italian, What does a man think of when he thinks of nothing? Sir Edward (who had not had the effect of some of the Queen's grants so soon as he had hoped and desired) paused a little, and then made answer, Madam, he thinks of a woman's promise. The Queen shrunk in her head; but was heard to say, Well, Sir Edward, 1 must not confute you. Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor.


I See Preface, pp. 115. 119.

• Queen Elizabeth saw Sir Edward Dier in her garden, she looking out at window, and asked him in Italian, What does a man think of when he thinks of nothing? Sir Edward Dier, after a little pause, said in Italian, Madam, of a woman's promise. The Queen shrunk in her head and shut the window.--- Lamb. MS. p. 21.

« ForrigeFortsæt »