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APOTHEGMES NEW AND OLD.
Julius CÆSAR did write a collection of apophthegmes, as appears in an epistle of Cicero ; I need say no more for the worth of a writing of that nature. It is pity his book is lost: for I imagine they were collected with judgement and choice ; whereas that of Plutarch and Stobæus, and much more the modern ones, draw much of the dregs. Certainly they are of excellent
They are “ mucrones verborum,” pointed speeches. Cicero prettily calleth them “salinas," salt pits, that you may extract salt out of, and sprinkle it where you will. They serve to be interlaced in continued speech. They serve to be recited upon occasion of themselves. They serve if you take out the kernel of them, and make them your own. I have, for my recreation, in my sickness, fanned the old, not omitting any, because they are vulgar, for many vulgar ones are excellent good; nor for the meanness of the person, but because they are dull and flat; and adding many new, that otherwise would have died.
1. When Queen Elizabeth had advanced Raleigh, she was one day playing on the virginals, and my Lo. of Oxford and another nobleman stood by. It fell out so, that the ledge before the jacks was taken away, so as the jacks were seen: my Lo. of Oxford and the other nobleman smiled, and a little whispered. The Queen marked it, and would needs know what the matter was ? My Lo. of Oxford answered : “ That they smiled to see that when jacks went up, “ heads went down."
2. Henry the Fourth of France his queen was great with child; count Soissons, that had his expectation upon the crown, when it was twice or thrice thought that the queen was with child before, said to some of his friends, “ That it was but with a pillow.” This had someways come to the king's ear; who kept it till when the queen waxed great : called the count of Soissons to him, and said, laying his hand upon the queen's belly; " Come, cousin, “it is no pillow ?"~" Yes, sir,” answered the count of Soissons, “ It is a pillow for all France to sleep upon."
3. There was a conference in parliament between the upper house and the lower, about a bill of accountants, which came down from the lords to the commons; which bill prayed, That the lands of accountants, whereof they were seized when they
entered upon their office, mought be liable to their arrears to the queen. But the commons desired, That the bill mought not look back to accountants that were already, but extend only to accountants hereafter. But the lo. treasurer said, “ Why, I pray ' you, if you had lost your purse by the way, would
you look forwards, or would you look back ? The “ queen hath lost her purse.”
4. Queen Elizabeth, the morrow of her coronation, went to the chapel ; and in the great chamber, Sir John Rainsford, set on by wiser men, (a knight that had the liberty of a buffoon,) besought the queen aloud ; “ That now this good time, when “ prisoners were delivered, four prisoners, amongst “ the rest, mought likewise have their liberty who “ who were like enough to be kept still in hold.” The
“Who they were ?” And he said; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who had long “ been imprisoned in the Latin tongue; and now he “ desired they mought go abroad among the people “ in English.” The queen answered, with a grave countenance ; “ It were good (Rainsford) they
were spoken with themselves, to know of them “ whether they would be set at liberty ?”
5. The lo. keeper, Sir Nicholas Bacon, was asked his opinion by queen Elizabeth of one of these monopoly licences ? And he answered, “Will you “ have me speak truth, Madam? • Licentia omnes « deteriores sumus :'” We are all the worse for a licence.
queen asked ;
6. Pace, the bitter fool, was not suffered to come at the queen, because of his bitter humour. Yet at one time, some persuaded the queen that he should come to her; undertaking for him, that he sheuld keep compass : so he was brought to her, and the queen said: “ Come on, Pace; now we “shall hear of our faults." Saith Pace; “ I do “ not use to talk of that that all the town “ talks on."
7. My lo. of Esses, at the succour of Rhoan, made twenty-four knights, which at that time was a great matter. Divers of those gentlemen were of weak and small means; which when queen Elizabeth heard, she said, “ My lo. mought have done well “ to have built his alms-house, before he made his knights.”
8. A great officer in France was in danger to have lost his place; but his wife, by her suit and means making, made his peace; whereupon a pleasant fellow said, “ That he had been crushed, but that he “ saved himself upon his horns.”
9. Queen Ann Bullen, at the time when she was led to be beheaded in the Tower, called one of the king's privy chamber to her, and said to him, “ Commend me to the king, and tell him, "he is constant in his course of advancing me; “ from a private gentlewoman he made me a “ marquisse, and from a marquisse a queen ; and “ now, he had left no higher degree of earthly
honour, he hath made me a martyr.”