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SOME ADDITIONAL APOPHTHEGMS
SELECTED FROM A C0MMON-PLACE BOOK IN THE HAND-WRITING OF DR. RAWLEY, PRESERVED AT LAMBETH.
MSS. No. 1034.1
[the manuscript from which the following apophthegms are selected bears no date or title. But the contents show that it was a common-place book in which Dr. Rawley entered memoranda from time to time; and a few dates occur incidentally; the earliest of which is 8 September 1626, (five months after Bacon's death,) and the latest is 25 May 1644. The memoranda are of various kinds, many of them relating to Bacon and his works, many to Dr. Rawley's private aftairs. Among them are a number of anecdotes, some very good, but not stated to be derived from Bacon or otherwise connected with him, and therefore not noticed here. It is true that several of the apophthegms printed by Tenison in the Baeoniana are set down in this manuscript without any hint that Bacon had anything to do with them. It is possible therefore that they too may have been of Dr. Rawley's own selection; who seems to have had a taste for good stories, and seldom spoiled them. But judging by the style, I think it more probable that most of them were copied from Bacon's own notes.]
1 See above, p. 322.
1. Apophthegms. My Lo.:l I was the justest judge that was in England these 50 yeares: But it was the justest censure in Parliament that was these 200 yeares.
2. The same Mr. Bacon2 went towards Finchley to take the air. There had been growing not long before a pretty shady wood. It was then missing: Said Mr. Bacon, Stay, I've not lost my thoughts in a wood, but methinks I miss a wood here. Saith a country fellow, It is newly cut down. Said Mr. Bacon, Sure he was but a churl that ought it, to cut down a wood of great pleasure and to reap but small profit into his purse. Said the fellow, It was the Bishop of London.8 Then answered Mr. Bacon, Oh, was it he: he's a learned man: it seems this was an obscure place before, and the Bishop hath expounded the text.
3. A flattering courtier undertook to make a comparison betwixt my Lord St. Alban and Treasurer Cranfield. Said he, My Lord St. Alban had a pretty turning wit, and could speak well: but he wanted that profound judgment and solidity of a statesman that my Lord of Middlesex hath. Said a courtier that stood by: Sir I wonder you will disparage your judgment so much as to offer to make any parallel betwixt these two. I'll tell you what: when these two men shall be recorded in our chronicles to after ages, men will wonder how my Lord St. Alban could
1 That is, "my Lord St. Alban said of himself." This is the first entry in the book, and is set down in a kind of cipher; the consonants being written in Greek characters, and the six vowels represented by the six numerals; la; 2 e;3=i;4=o;5 = u;6 = y.
3 In the MS. this follows the story of Bacon and the fishermen at Chelsea. Rawlev's Collection, No. 36.
8 Bishop Aylmer, probably; who died in 1594. See Nichols's Progr. Eliz. iii. p. 369.
fall; and they will wonder how my Lord of Middlesex could rise.
4. There was one would say of one that he thought every man fit for every place.1
5. My Lord Chancellor told the King, that if he hestowed 7000Z. upon Paul's steeple, he could not lay out his money where it should be more seen.
0. When they sat in commission about reedifyiug Paul's steeple, some of the rich aldermen being there, it was motioned to build a new spire upon it. A rich alderman answered; My Lords, you speak of too much cost: Paul's is old: I think a good cap would do well. My Lord Chancellor, who was for the spire, answered: Mr. Alderman, you that are citizens are for the cap; but we that are courtiers are for the hat and feather.
7. [There was] an old woman whom the minister asked, How many commandments there were. She answered, it was above her learning: she was never taught it. Saith the minister, there are ten. Good Lord (said the old woman) a goodly company. He told them her particularly, and then asked her if she had kept them all? Kept them? (said she:) alas master, I am a poor woman: I have much ado to keep myself.
'8. Sir Harry Mountague came to my Lord Chancellor before he went to the court to Newmarket, and told him; My Lord, I come to do my service to your Lordship: I am even going to Newmarket and I hope to bring the staff2 with me when I come back. Mv Lord (said my Lord Chancellor) take heed what vou do: I can tell you wood is dearest at Newmarket of any place in England.
1 This sounds to me very like n note of Bacon's; though his name is not mentioned.
2 The Lord Trcaiurer's staff.
9. When the said Lord lost his Treasurer's place, he camp to my Lord St. Alban, and told him how thev had used him; that though thev had taken away the Lord Treasurer's place, yet they had made him Lord President of the Counsel: Why, saith my Lord St. Alban, the King hath made me an example and you a president.1
10. When Sergeant Heale who is known to be good in giving in evidence, but otherwise unlearned in the law, was made the Queen's sergeant, Mr. Bacon said; The Queen should have a sergeant de facto et non de jure.
11. At the King's Bench bar, Sergeant Heale, before he was the Queen's sergeant, contended with Mr. Bacon to be first heard; and said, Why I am your ancient: Mr. Bacon gently answered, Not in this place; for I staid here long, and you are come but risjht now.
12. There was a tall gentleman and a low gentleman were saying they would go to the Shrive's to dinner; Go, saith the one, and I will be your shadow. Nay, saith the other, I will be your shadow. Mr. Bacon standing by said, I'll tell you what you shall do: Go to dinner and supper both; and at dinner when [the shadows are] shorter than the bodies, you shall be the shadow; and at supper you shall be the other's shadow.2
1 So precedent was usually spelt in those days. 1 So the MS. It should be " the other shall be your shadow." But the thing is better told in a common-place book of Bacon's own (Harl. MSS. 7017.). "The two that went to a feast both at dinner and supper, neither known, the one a tall, the other a short man; and said they would be one another's shadows. It was replied, it fell out fit: for at noon the short man might be the long man's shadow and at night the contrary."
13. He thought Moses was the greatest sinner that was, for he never knew any break both tables at once but he.1
14. He said he had feeding swans and breeding swans; but for malice, he thanked God, he neither fed it nor bred it.2
15. At the Parliament, when King James spied Mr. Gorge, one of my Lord Chancellor's men, who was somewhat fantastical, and stood by there with one rose white and another black; the King called my Lord unto him, and said easily in his ear; My Lord Chancellor, why does your man yonder wear one rose white and another black? My Lord answered; In truth, Sir, I know not, unless it be that his mistress loves a colt with one white foot.
16. Sir Walter Coape and Sir Francis Bacon were competitors for the Mastership of the Wards. Sir Francis Bacon certainly expecting the place had put most of his men into new cloaks. Afterward when Sir Walter Coape carried the place, one said merrily that Sir Walter was Master of the Wards, and Sir Francis Bacon of the Liveries.
17. My Lord St. Alban said, that wise nature did never put her precious jewels into a garret four stories high: and therefore that exceeding tall men had ever very empty heads.3
18. My Lord St. Alban invited Sir Ed. Skory to go with him to dinner to a Lord Mayor's feast. My Lord sate still and picked a little upon one dish only.
1 This is written in cipher.
2 This saying is alluded to by Rawley in his Life of Bacon.
8 I have seen tins quoted somewhere as Bacon's answer to King James when pressed for his opiuion as to the capacity of a French ambassador who was very tall.