A.D. 1625.



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Woodblock emblem on the title-page of A Collection of Apothegmes New and Old, by the Right Honourable Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, Viscount St. Alban, published in London in 1661, printed by Sarah Griffin for William Lee.


JULIUS CÆSAR did write a collection of apophthegms, 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 judgment and choice; whereas that of Plutarch and Stobæus, and much more the modern ones, draw much of the dregs. Certainly they are of excellent use. 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 were like enough to be kept still in hold.” The queen asked; “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.

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 should 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 Essex, 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 almshouse, 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.”

10. Bishop Latimer said, in a sermon at court, “That he heard great speech that the king was poor; and many ways were propounded to make him rich; for his part he had thought of one way, which was that they should help the king to some good office, for all his officers were rich.”

11. Cæsar Borgia, after long division between him and the lords of Romagna, fell to accord with them. In this accord there was an article, that he should not call them at any time all together in person. The meaning was, that knowing his dangerous nature, if he meant them treason, some one mought be free to revenge the rest. Nevertheless, he did with such fine art and fair carriage win their confidence, that he brought them altogether to council at Cinigaglia; where he murdered them all. This act, when it was related unto Pope Alexander, his father, by a cardinal, as a thing happy, but very perfidious; the pope said, “It was they that had broke their covenant first, in coming all together.”

12. Pope Julius the Third, when he was made pope, gave his hat unto a youth, a favourite of his, with great scandal. Whereupon, at one time, a cardinal that mought be free with him, said modestly to him, “What did you holiness see in that young man, to make him cardinal?” Julius answered, “What did you see in me to make me pope?”

13. The same Julius, upon like occasion of speech, Why he should bear so great affection to the same young man? would say, “that he had found by astrology that it was the youth’s destiny to be a great prelate; which was impossible except himself were pope. And therefore that he did raise him, as the driver on of his own fortune.”

14. Sir Thomas More had only daughters at the first, and his wife did ever pray for a boy. At last he had a boy, which after, at man’s years, proved simple. Sir Thomas said to his wife, “Thou prayedst so long for a boy, that he will be a boy as long as he lives.”

15. Sir Thomas More, the day that he was beheaded, had a barber sent to him, because his hair was long; which was thought would make him more commiserated with the people. The barber came to him, and asked him, “Whether he would be pleased to be trimmed?” “In good faith, honest fellow,” said Sir Thomas, “the king and I have a suit for my head, and till the title be cleared, I will do no cost upon it.”

16. Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, a great champion of the Papists, was wont to say of the Protestants who ground upon the Scripture, “That they were like posts, that bring truth in their letters, and lies in their mouths.”

17. The Lacedæmonians were besieged by the Athenians in the Port of Pellae, which was won, and some slain, and some taken. There was one said to one of them that was taken, by way of scorn, “Were not they brave men that lost their lives at the Port of Pellae?” He answered, “Certainly a Persian arrow is much to be set by, if it can choose out a brave man.”

18. After the defeat of Cyrus the younger, Falinus was sent by the king to the Grecians, who had for their part rather victory than otherwise, to command them to yield their arms; which when it was denied, Falinus said to Clearchus; “Well then, the king lets you know, that if you remove from the place where you are now encamped, it is war: if you stay, it is truce. What shall I say you will do?” Clearchus answered, “It pleaseth us, as it pleaseth the king.” “How is that?” said Falinus. Saith Clearchus, “If we remove, war: if we stay truce:” and so would not disclose his purpose.

19. Clodius was acquitted by a corrupt jury, that had palpably taken shares of money: before they gave up their verdict, they prayed of the senate a guard, that they might do their consciences freely, for that Clodius was a very seditious young nobleman. Whereupon all the world gave him for condemned. But acquitted he was. Catulus, the next day seeing some of them that had acquitted him together, said to them; “What made you to ask of us a guard? Were you afraid your money should have been taken from you?”

20. At the same judgment, Cicero gave in evidence upon oath: and the jury, which consisted of fifty-seven, passed against his evidence. One day in the senate Cicero and Clodius being in altercation, Clodius upbraided him and said, “The jury gave you no credit.” Cicero answered, “Five-and-twenty gave me credit: but there were two-and-thirty that gave you no credit, for they had their money beforehand.”

21. Many men, especially such as affect gravity, have a manner after other men’s speech to shake their heads. Sir Lionel Cranfield would say, “It was as men shake a bottle, to see if there were any wit in their head or no?”

22. Sir Thomas More, who was a man in all his lifetime that had an excellent vein in jesting, at the very instant of his death, having a pretty long beard, after his head was upon the block, lift it up again, and gently drew his beard aside, and said, “This hath not offended the king.”

23. Sir Thomas More had sent him by a suitor in chancery two silver flagons. When they were presented by the gentleman’s servant, he said to one of his men, “Have him to the cellar, and let him have of my best wine:” and, turning to the servant, said, “Tell thy master, friend, if he like it, let him not spare it.”

24. Diogenes, having seen that the kingdom of Macedon, which before was contemptible and low, began to come aloft when he died, was asked how he would be buried? He answered, “With my face downwards; for within a while the world will be turned upside down, and then I shall lie right.”

25. Cato the elder was wont to say; that the Romans were like sheep; a man were better drive a flock of them, than one of them.

26. Themistocles in his lower fortune was in love with a young gentleman who scorned him; when he grew to his greatness, which was soon after, he sought to him: Themistocles said, “We are both grown wise, but too late.”

27. Demonax the philosopher, when he died, was asked touching his burial. He answered, “Never take care for burying me, for stink will bury me.” He that asked him said again: “Why, would you have your body left to dogs and ravens to feed upon?” Demonax answered, “Why, what great hurt is, if having sought to do good, when I lived, to men; my body do some good to beasts, when I am dead.”

28. Jack Roberts was desired by his tailor, when the reckoning grew somewhat high, to have a bill of his hand. Roberts said, “I am content, but you must let no man know it.” When the tailor brought him the bill, he tore it as in choler, and said to him, “You use me not well; you promised me nobody should know it, and here you have put in, “Be it known unto all men by these presents.’”

29. When Lycurgus was to reform and alter the state of Sparta; in the consultation one advised, that it should be reduced to one absolute popular equality: but Lycurgus said to him; “Sir, begin it in your own house.”

30. Phocion, the Athenian, a man of great severity, and noways flexible to the will of the people, one day, when he spake to the people, in one part of his speech, was applauded; whereupon he turned to one of his friends, and asked, “What have I said amiss?”

31. Sir Walter Raleigh was wont to say of the ladies of Queen Elizabeth’s privy-chamber and bed-chamber, “that they were like witches, they could do hurt, but they could do no good.”

32. Bion, that was an atheist, was showed in a port city, in a temple of Neptune, many tables of pictures, of such as had in tempests made their vows to Neptune, and were saved from shipwreck: and was asked, “How say you now? Do you not acknowledge the power of the gods?” But he said, “Yes, but where are they painted that have been drowned after their vows?”

33. Bias was sailing, and there fell out a great tempest; and the mariners, that were wicked and dissolute fellows, called upon the gods; but Bias said to them, “Peace, let them not know you are here.”

34. Bion was wont to say; “That Socrates, of all the lovers of Alcibiades, only held him by the ears.”

35. There was a minister deprived for inconformity, who said to some of his friends, “That if they deprived him, it should cost an hundred men’s lives.” The party understood it, as if, being a turbulent fellow, he would have moved sedition, and complained of him; whereupon being convented and apposed upon that speech, he said his meaning was, “That if he lost his benefice, he would practise physic, and then he thought he should kill an hundred men in time.”

36. Michael Angelo, the famous painter, painting in the pope’s chapel the portraiture of hell and damned souls, made one of the damned souls so like a cardinal that was his enemy, as everybody at first sight knew it. Whereupon the cardinal complained to Pope Clement, desiring it might be defaced; who said to him, “Why, you know very well, I have power to deliver a soul out of purgatory, but not out of hell.”

37. There was a philosopher about Tiberius, that looking into the nature of Caius, said of him; “that he was mire and mingled with blood.”

38. Alcibiades came to Pericles, and stayed a while ere he was admitted. When he came in, Pericles civilly excused it, and said; “I was studying how to give my account.” But Alcibiades said to him, “If you will be ruled by me, study rather how to give no account.”

39. Cicero was at dinner, where there was an ancient lady that spake of her years, and said, “she was but forty years old.” One that sat by Cicero rounded him in the ear, and said; “She talks of forty years old; and she is far more, out of question.” Cicero answered him again; “I must believe her, for I have heard her say so any time these ten years.”

40. Pope Adrian the Sixth was talking with the Duke of Sesa, “that Pasquil gave great scandal, and that he would have him thrown into the river:” but Sesa answered, “Do it not, holy father, for then he will turn frog; and whereas now he chants but by day, he will then chant both by day and night.”

41. There was a soldier that vaunted before Julius Cæsar of hurts he had received in his face. Julius Cæsar knowing him to be but a coward, told him; “You were best take heed next time you run away, how you look back.”

42. There was a bishop that was somewhat a delicate person, and bathed twice a day. A friend of his said to him; “My lord, why do you bathe twice a day?” The bishop answered; “Because I cannot conveniently bathe thrice.”

43. Mendoza that was viceroy of Peru, was wont to say, “that the government of Peru was the best place that the King of Spain gave, save that it was somewhat too near Madrid.”

44. Secretary Bourn’s son kept a gentleman’s wife in Shropshire, who lived from her husband, with him: when he was weary of her, he caused her husband to be dealt with to take her home, and offered him five hundred pounds for reparation; the gentleman went to Sir H. Sidney to take his advice upon this offer, telling him, “that his wife promised now a new life; and, to tell him truth, five hundred pounds would come well with him; and besides, that sometimes he wanted a woman in his bed.” “By my troth,” said Sir Henry Sidney, “take her home, and take the money: and then whereas other cuckolds wear their horns plain, you may wear yours gilt.”

45. There was a gentlemen in Italy that wrote to a great friend of his upon his advancement to be cardinal, that he was very glad of his advancement, for the cardinal’s own sake; but he was sorry that himself had lost so good a friend.

46. When Rabelais lay on his death-bed, and they gave him the extreme unction, a familiar friend of his came to him afterwards, and asked him how he did? Rabelais answered, “Even going my journey, they have greased my boots already.”

47. There was a king of Hungary took a bishop in battle, and kept him prisoner: whereupon the pope writ a monitory to him, for that he had broke the privilege of holy church, and taken his son. The king sent an embassage to him, and sent withal the armour wherein the bishop was taken, and this only in writing, “Vide num hæc sit vestis filii tui:”

48. There was a suitor to Vespasian, who, to lay his suit fairer, said it was for his brother; whereas indeed it was for a piece of money. Some about Vespasian, to cross him, told the emperor that the party his servant spoke for, was not his brother; but that it was upon a bargain. Vespasian sent for the party interested, and asked him; “Whether his mean was his brother or no?” He durst not tell untruth to the emperor, and confessed that he was not his brother. Whereupon the emperor said, “This do, fetch me the money, and you shall have your suit despatched.” Which he did. The courtier, which was the mean, solicited Vespasian soon after about his suit: “Why,” saith Vespasian, “I gave it last day to a brother of mine.”

49. When Vespasian passed from Jewry to take upon him the empire, he went by Alexandria, where remained two famous philosophers, Apollonius and Euphrates. The emperor heard the discourse, touching matter of state, in the presence of many. And when he was weary of them, he brake off, and in a secret derision, finding their discourses but speculative, and not to be put in practice, said, “O that I might govern wise men, and wise men govern me.”

50. Cardinal Ximenes, upon a muster, which was taken against the Moors, was spoken to by a servant of his to stand a little out of the smoke of the harquebuss; but he said again, “That that was his incense.”

51. Vespasian asked of Apollonius, what was the cause of Nero’s ruin? Who answered, “Nero could tune the harp well, but in government he did always wind up the strings too high, or let them down too low.”

52. Mr. Bromley, solicitor, giving in evidence for a deed, which was impeached to be fraudulent, was urged by the counsel on the other side with this presumption, that in two former suits, when title was made, that deed was passed over in silence, and some other conveyance stood upon. Mr. Justice Catline taking in with that side, asked the solicitor, “I pray thee, Mr. Solicitor, let me ask you a familiar question; I have two geldings in my stable, and I have divers times business of importance, and still I send forth one of my geldings, and not the other; would you not think I set him aside for a jade?” “No, my lord,” said Bromley, “I would think you spared him for your own saddle.”

53. Alonso Cartilio was informed by his steward of the greatness of his expense, being such as he could not hold out with. The bishop asked him wherein it chiefly arose? His steward told him, in the multitude of his servants. The bishop bade him make a note of those that were necessary, and those that mought be spared. Which he did. And the bishop taking occasion to read it before most of his servants, said to his steward, “Well, let these remain because I need them; and these other also because they have need of me.”

54. Queen Elizabeth was wont to say, upon the commission of sales, “That the commissioners used her like strawberry wives, that laid two or three great strawberries at the mouth of their pot, and all the rest were little ones; so they made her two or three good prizes of the first particulars, but fell straightways.

55. Queen Elizabeth was wont to say of her instructions to great officers, “That they were like to garments, strait at the first putting on, but did by and by wear loose enough.”

56. Mr. Marbury the preacher would say, “That God was fain to do with wicked men, as men do with frisking jades in a pasture, that cannot take them up, till they get them at a gate. So wicked men will not be taken up till the hour of death.”

57. Thales, as he looked upon the stars, fell into the water; whereupon it was after said, “That if he had looked into the water he might have seen the stars, but looking up to the stars he could not see the water.”

58. The book of deposing King Richard the Second, and the coming in of Henry the Fourth, supposed to be written by Doctor Hayward, who was committed to the Tower for it, had much incensed Queen Elizabeth; and she asked Mr. Bacon, being then of her learned counsel, “Whether there was any treason contained in it?” Mr. Bacon intending to do him a pleasure, and to take off the queen’s bitterness with a merry conceit, answered, “No, madam, for treason I cannot deliver opinion that there is any, but very much felony.” The queen, apprehending it gladly, asked, “How? and wherein?” Mr. Bacon answered, “Because he had stolen many of his sentences and conceits out of Cornelius Tacitus.”

59. Mr. Popham, when he was speaker, and the Lower House had sat long, and done in effect nothing; coming one day to Queen Elizabeth, she said to him; “Now, Mr. Speaker, what hath passed in the Lower House?” He answered, “If it please your majesty, seven weeks.”

60. Pope Sixtus the Fifth, who was a poor man’s son, and his father’s house ill thatched, so that the sun came in in many places, would sport with his ignobility, and say, “He was ‘nato di casa illustre:’ son of an illustrious house.”

61. When the King of Spain conquered Portugal, he gave special charge to his lieutenant, that the soldiers should not spoil, lest he should alienate the hearts of the people: the army also suffered much scarcity of victual. Whereupon the Spanish soldiers would afterwards say, “that they had won the king a kingdom, as the kingdom of heaven used to be won: by fasting and abstaining from that that is another man’s.”

62. Cicero married his daughter to Dolabella that held Cæsar’s party: Pompey had married Julia, that was Cæsar’s daughter. After, when Cæsar and Pompey took arms one against the other, and Pompey had passed the seas, and Cæsar possessed Italy, Cicero stayed somewhat long in Italy, but at last sailed over to join with Pompey; who when he came unto him, Pompey said, “You are welcome, but where left you your son-in-law?” Cicero answered, “With your father-in-law.”

63. Nero was wont to say of his master Seneca, “That his style was like mortar of sand without lime.”

64. Sir Henry Wotton used to say, “that critics are like brushers of noblemen’s clothes.”

65. Queen Elizabeth being to resolve upon a great officer, and being by some, that canvassed for others, put in some doubt of that person whom she meant to advance, called for Mr. Bacon, and told him, “She was like one with a lantern seeking a man;” and seemed unsatisfied in the choice she had of men for that place. Mr. Bacon answered her, “That he had heard that in old time there was usually painted on the church walls the day of doom, and God sitting in judgment, and St. Michael by him with a pair of balances; and the soul and the good deeds in the one balance, and the faults and the evil deeds in the other: and the soul’s balance went up far too light. Then was our lady painted with a great pair of beads, who cast them into the light balance, and brought down the scale: so, he said, place and authority, which were in her hands to give, were like our lady’s beads, which though men, through divers imperfections, were too light before, yet when they were cast in, made weight competent.”

66. Mr. Savill was asked by my Lord of Essex his opinion touching poets. Who answered my lord; “that he thought them the best writers, next to those that writ prose.”

67. Mr. Mason of Trinity College sent his pupil to another of the fellows, to borrow a book of him, who told him, “I am loath to lend my books out of my chamber, but if it please thy tutor to come and read upon it in my chamber he shall as long as he will.” It was winter, and some days after the same fellow sent to Mr. Mason to borrow his bellows; but Mr. Mason said to his pupil, “I am loath to lend my bellows out of my chamber, but if thy tutor would come and blow the fire in my chamber he shall as long as he will.”

68. Nero did cut a youth, as if he would have transformed him into a woman, and called him wife; there was a senator of Rome that said secretly to his friend, “It was a pity Nero’s father had not such a wife.”

69. Galba succeeded Nero, and his age being much despised, there was much license and confusion in Rome; whereupon a senator said in full senate, “It were better live where nothing is lawful, than where all things are lawful.”

70. In Flanders, by accident a Flemish tiler fell from the top of a house upon a Spaniard, and killed him, though he escaped himself; the next of the blood prosecuted his death with great violence, and when he was offered pecuniary recompense, nothing would serve him but “lex talionis;” whereupon the judge said to him, “that if he did urge that kind of sentence, it must be, that he should go up to the top of the house, and then fall down upon the tiler.”

71. Queen Elizabeth was dilatory enough in suits, of her own nature; and the Lord Treasurer Burleigh, to feed her humour, would say to her, “Madam, you do well to let suitors stay; for I shall tell you, ‘bis dat, qui cito dat:’ if you grant them speedily, they will come again the sooner.”

72. They feigned a tale of Sixtus Quintus, that after his death he went to hell, and the porter of hell said to him, “You have some reason to offer yourself to this place; but yet I have order not to receive you: you have a place of your own, purgatory; you may go thither.” So he went away, and sought purgatory a great while and could find no such place. Whereupon he took heart, and went to heaven, and knocked; and St. Peter asked, “Who was there?” He said, “Sixtus pope.” Whereunto St. Peter said, “Why do you knock? you have the keys.” Sixtus answered, “It is true; but it is so long since they were given, as I doubt the wards of the lock be altered.”

73. Charles, King of Sweden, a great enemy of the Jesuits, when he took any of their colleges, he would hang the old Jesuits, and put the young to his mines, saying, “that since they wrought so hard above ground, he would try how they could work under ground.”

74. In chancery one time when the counsel of the parties set forth the boundaries of the land in question, by the plot; and the counsel of one part said, “We lie on this side, my lord;” and the counsel of the other part said, “And we lie on this side:” the Lord Chancellor Hatton stood up and said, “If you lie on both sides, whom will you have me to believe.”

75. Vespasian and Titus his eldest son were both absent from Rome when the empire was cast upon him: Domitian his younger son was at Rome, who took upon him the affairs; and being of a turbulent spirit, made many changes; and displaced divers officers and governors of provinces, sending them successors. So when Vespasian came to Rome, and Domitian came into his presence, Vespasian said to him, “Son, I looked when you would have sent me a successor.”

76. Sir Amyas Pawlet, when he saw too much haste made in any matter, was wont to say, “Stay a while, that we may make an end the sooner.”

77. The deputies of the reformed religion, after the massacre which was upon St. Bartholomew’s day, treated with the king and queen-mother, and some other of the council, for a peace. Both sides were agreed upon the articles. The question was, upon the security of performance. After some particulars propounded and rejected, the queen-mother said, “Why, is not the word of a king sufficient security?” One of the deputies answered, “No, by St. Bartholomew, madam.”

78. When the archduke did raise his siege from Grave, the then secretary came to Queen Elizabeth. The queen, having first intelligence thereof, said to the secretary, “Wot you what? The archduke has risen from the Grave.” He answered, “What, without the trumpet of the archangel?” The queen replied, “Yes, without sound of trumpet.”

79. Francis the First used for his pleasure sometimes to go disguised: so walking one day in the company of the Cardinal of Bourbon near Paris, he met with a peasant with a new pair of shoes upon his arm: so he called unto him and said; “By our lady, these be good shoes, what did they cost thee?” The peasant said, “Guess.” The king said, “I think some five sols.” Saith the peasant, “You have lied; but a carlois.” “What, villain,” saith the Cardinal of Bourbon, “thou art dead, it is the king.” The peasant replied, “The devil take him of you and me, that knew so much.”

80. There was a conspiracy against the emperor Claudius by Scribonianus, examined in the senate; where Claudius sat in his chair, and one of his free servants stood at the back of his chair. In the examination, that freed servant, who had much power with Claudius, very saucily had almost all the words: and amongst other things, he asked in scorn one of the examinats, who was likewise freed servant of Scribonianus; “I pray, sir, if Scribonianus had been emperor, what would you have done?” He answered; “I would have stood behind his chair and held my peace.”

81. Dionysius the tyrant, after he was deposed and brought to Corinth, kept a school. Many used to visit him; and amongst others, one, when he came in, opened his mantle and shook his clothes, thinking to give Dionysius a gentle scorn; because it was the manner to do so for them that came in to him while he was tyrant. But Dionysius said to him; “I prithee do so rather when thou goest out, that we may see thou stealest nothing away.”

82. Hannibal said of Fabius Maximus, and of Marcellus, whereof the former waited upon him, that he could make no progress, and the latter had many sharp fights with him; “That he feared Fabius like a tutor, and Marcellus like an enemy.”

83. Diogenes, one terrible frosty morning, came into the market-place, and stood naked, quaking, to show his tolerance. Many of the people came about him, pitying him: Plato passing by, and knowing he did it to be seen, said to the people as he went by, “If you pity him indeed, leave him alone.”

84. Sackford, master of the requests to Queen Elizabeth, had diverse times moved for audience, and been put off. At last he came to the queen in a progress, and had on a new pair of boots. When he came in, the queen said to him, “Fy, sloven, thy new boots stink.” “Madam,” said he, “it is not my new boots that stink; but it is the stale bills that I have kept so long.”

85. One was saying that his great-grandfather, and grandfather, and father, died at sea; said another that heard him, “And I were as you, I would never come at sea.” “Why,” saith he, “where did your great-grandfather, and grandfather, and father die?” He answered; “Where but in their beds?” Saith the other, “And I were as you, I would never come in bed.”

86. Aristippus was earnest suitor to Dionysius for somewhat, who would give no ear to his suit. Aristippus fell at his feet, and then Dionysius granted it. One that stood by said afterwards to Aristippus, “You a philosopher, and to be so base as to throw yourself at the tyrant’s feet to get a suit.” Aristippus answered, “The fault is not mine, but the fault is in Dionysius, that carries his ears in his feet.”

87. There was a young man in Rome, that was very like Augustus Cæsar; Augustus took knowledge of it, and sent for the man, and asked him, “Was your mother never at Rome?” He answered, “No, sir, but my father was.”

88. A physician advised his patient that had sore eyes, that he should abstain from wine; but the patient said, “I think, rather, sir, from wine and water; for I have often marked it in blear eyes, and I have seen water come forth, but never wine.”

89. When Sir Thomas More was lord chancellor, he did use, at mass, to sit in the chancel: and his lady in a pew. And because the pew stood out of sight, his gentleman-usher ever after service, came to the lady’s pew, and said, “Madam, my lord is gone.” So when the chancellor’s place was taken from him, the next time they went to church, Sir Thomas himself came to his lady’s pew, and said; “Madam, my lord is gone.”

90. At an act of the commencement, the answerer gave for his question, that an aristocracy was better than a monarchy. The replier, who was a dissolute fellow, did tax him, that being a private bred man, he would give a question of state. The answerer said, that the replier did much wrong the privilege of scholars, who would be much straitened if they should give questions of nothing but such things wherein they are practised: and added, “We have heard yourself dispute of virtue, which no man will say you put much in practice.”

91. There was a dispute, whether great heads or little heads had the better wit. And one said, “It must needs be the little; for that it is a maxim, Omne majus continet in se minus.”

92. Solon when he wept for his son’s death, and one said to him, “Weeping will not help;” answered, “Alas, therefore I weep, because weeping will not help.”

93. Solon being asked, whether he had given the Athenians the best laws, answered, “Yes, the best of those that they would have received.”

94. One said to Aristippus, “It is a strange thing why men should rather give unto the poor, than to philosophers.” He answered, “Because they think themselves may sooner come to be poor, than to be philosophers.”

95. Alexander used to say of his two friends, Craterus and Hephæstion; that Hephæstion loved Alexander, and Craterus loved the king.

96. It fell out so, that as Livia went abroad in Rome, there met her naked young men that were sporting in the streets, which Augustus was about severely to punish in them; but Livia spake for them, and said, “It was no more to chaste women than so many statues.”

97. Alonso of Arragon was wont to say in commendation of age, “That age appeared to be best in four things: old wood best to burn; old wine to drink; old friends to trust; and old authors to read.”

98. It was said of Augustus, and afterward the like was said of Septimius Severus, both which did infinite mischief in their beginnings, and infinite good toward their ends, “that they should either have never been born or never died.”

99. Queen Isabella of Spain used to say “Whosoever hath a good presence, and a good fashion, carries letters of recommendation.”

100. Trajan would say of the vain jealousy of princes, that seek to make away those that aspire to their succession; “That there was never kind that did put to death his successor.”

101. When it was represented to Alexander, to the advantage of Antipater, who was a stern and imperious man, that he only of all his lieutenants wore no purple, but kept the Macedonian habit of black; Alexander said, “Yea, but Antipater is all purple within.”

102. Constantine the Great, in a kind of envy, himself being a great builder, as Trajan likewise was, would call Trajan “Parietaria:” wall-flower; because his name was upon so many walls.

103. Philip of Macedon was wished to banish one for speaking ill of him. But Phillip answered; “Better he speak where we are both known, than where we are both unknown.”

104. A Grecian captain advising the confederates that were united against the Lacedæmonians, touching their enterprise, gave opinion, that they should go directly upon Sparta, saying; “That the state of Sparta was like rivers; strong when they had run a great way, and weak towards their head.”

105. Alonso of Arragon was wont to say of himself, “That he was a great necromancer, for that he used to ask counsel of the dead:” meaning books.

106. Lucullus entertained Pompey in one of his magnificent houses: Pompey said, “This is a marvellous fair and stately house for the summer: but methinks it should be very cold for winter.” Lucullus answered, “Do you not think me as wise as divers fowls are, to change my habitation in the winter season?”

107. Plato entertained some of his friends at a dinner, and had in the chamber a bed, or couch, neatly and costly furnished. Diogenes came in and got upon the bed, and trampled it, saying, “I trample upon the pride of Plato.” Plato mildly answered, “But with greater pride.”

108. One was examined upon certain scandalous words spoken against the king. He confessed them, and said; “It is true, I spake them, and if the wine had not failed, I had said much more.”

109. Pompey, being commissioner for sending grain to Rome in time of dearth, when he came to the sea, found it very tempestuous and dangerous, insomuch as those about him advised him by no means to embark; but Pompey said, “It is of necessity that I go, not that I live.”

110. Trajan would say, “That the king’s exchequer was like the spleen; for when that did swell, the whole body did pine.”

111. Charles the Bald allowed one, whose name was Scottus, to sit at the table with him, for his pleasure: Scottus sat on the other side of the table. One time the king being merry with him, said to him; “What is there between Scott and sot?” Scottus answered; “The table only.”

112. Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, in a famine, sold all the rich vessels and ornaments of the church, to relieve the poor with bread; and said, “There was no reason that the dead temples of God should be sumptuously furnished, and the living temples suffer penury.”

113. There was a marriage made between a widow of great wealth, and a gentleman of a great house, that had no estate or means. Jack Roberts said, “That marriage was like a black pudding; the one brought blood, and the other brought suet and oatmeal.”

114. Demosthenes was upbraided by Æschines, that his speeches did smell of the lamp. But Demosthenes said, “Indeed there is a great deal of difference between that which you and I do by lamp-light.”

115. Demades the orator, in his age was talkative, and would eat hard: Antipater would say of him, that he was like a sacrifice, that nothing was left of it but the tongue and the paunch.

116. When King Edward the Second was amongst his torturers, who hurried him to and fro, that no man should know where he was, they set him down upon a bank: and one time, the more to disguise his face, shaved him, and washed him with cold water of a ditch by: the king said; “Well, yet I will have warm water for my beard:” and so shed abundance of tears.

117. The Turks made an expedition into Persia, and because of the strait jaws of the mountains of Armenia, the bashaws consulted which way they should get in. Says a natural fool that stood by, “Here is much ado how you shall get in; but I hear nobody take care how you should get out.”

118. Sir Thomas More, when the counsel of the party pressed him for a longer day to perform the decree, said; “Take Saint Barnaby’s day, which is the longest day in the year.” Now Saint Barnaby’s day was within few days following.

119. One of the fathers saith, “That there is but this difference between the death of old men and young men; that old men go to death, and death comes to young men.”

120. Philo Judæus saith, that the sense is like the sun; for the sun seals up the globe of heaven, and opens the globe of earth: so the sense doth obscure heavenly things, and reveals earthly things.

121. Cassius, after the defeat of Crassus by the Parthians, whose weapons were chiefly arrows, fled to the city of Charras, where he durst not stay any time, doubting to be pursued and besieged; he had with him an astrologer, who said to him, “Sir, I would not have you go hence, while the moon is in the sign of Scorpio.” Cassius answered, “I am more afraid of that of Sagittarius.”

122. Alexander, after the battle of Granicum, had very great offers made him by Darius; consulting with his captains concerning them, Parmenio said, “Sure I would accept of these offers, if I were as Alexander.” Alexander answered, “So would I, if I were as Parmenio.”

123. Alexander was wont to say, he knew himself to be mortal, chiefly by two things; sleep and lust.

124. Augustus Cæsar was invited to supper by one of his old friends that had conversed with him in his less fortunes, and had but ordinary entertainment. Whereupon, at his going, he said; “I did not know you and I were so familiar.”

125. Augustus Cæsar would say; “That he wondered that Alexander feared he should want work, having no more to conquer; as if it were not as hard a matter to keep as to conquer.”

126. Antigonus, when it was told him that the enemy had such volumes of arrows that they did hide the sun, said; “That falls out well, for it is hot weather, and we shall fight in the shade.”

127. Augustus Cæsar did write to Livia, who was over-sensible of some ill-words that had been spoken of them both: “Let it not trouble thee, my Livia, if any man speak ill of us: for we have enough that no man can do ill unto us.”

128. Chilon said, that kings, friends, and favourites, were like casting counters; that sometimes stood for one, sometimes for ten, sometimes for an hundred.

129. Theodosius, when he was pressed by a suitor, and denied him; the suitor said, “Why, sir, you promised it.” He answered; “I said it, but I did not promise it if it be unjust.”

130. Agathocles, after he had taken Syracuse, the men whereof, during the siege, had in a bravery spoken of him all the villany that might be, sold the Syracusans for slaves, and said, “Now if you use such words of me, I will tell your master of you.”

131. Dionysius the elder, when he saw his son in many things very inordinate, said to him, “Did you ever known me do such things?” His son answered, “No, but you had not a tyrant to your father.” The father replied, “No, nor you, if you take these courses, will have a tyrant to your son.”

132. Calisthenes, the philosopher, that followed Alexander’s court, and hated the king, being asked by one, how one should become the famousest man in the world, answered, “By taking him away that is.”

133. Sir Edward Coke was wont to say, when a great man came to dinner to him, and gave him no knowledge of his coming, “Sir, since you sent me no word of your coming, you must dine with me; but if I had known of it in due time, I would have dined with you.”

134. The Romans, when they spake to the people, were wont to style them, “Ye Romans:” when commanders in war spake to their army, they styled them, “My soldiers.” There was a mutiny in Cæsar’s army, and somewhat the soldiers would have had, yet they would not declare themselves in it, but only demanded a mission, or discharge; though with no intention it should be granted: but knowing that Cæsar had at that time great need of their service, thought by that means to wrench him to their other desires: whereupon with one cry they asked mission. Cæsar, after silence made, said; “I for my part, ye Romans.” This title did actually speak them to be dismissed: which voice they had no sooner heard, but they mutinied again; and would not suffer him to go on with his speech, until he had called them by the name of his soldiers: and so with that one word he appeased the sedition.

135. Cæsar would say of Sylla, for that he did resign his dictatorship; “Sylla was ignorant of letters, he could not dictate.”

136. Seneca said of Cæsar, “that he did quickly show the sword, but never leave it off.”

137. Diogenes begging, as divers philosophers then used, did beg more of a prodigal man, than of the rest which were present. Whereupon one said to him; “See your baseness, that when you find a liberal mind, you will take most of him.” “No,” said Diogenes, “but I mean to beg of the rest again.”

138. Jason the Thessalian was wont to say, “that some things must be done unjustly, that many things may be done justly.”

139. Sir Nicholas Bacon being keeper of the seal, when Queen Elizabeth, in progress, came to his house at Redgrave, and said to him, “My lo. what a little house have you gotten?” said, “Madam, my house is well, but it is you that have made me too great for my house.”

140. Themistocles, when an ambassador from a mean estate did speak great matters, said to him, “Friend, your words would require a city.”

141. Agesilaus, when one told him there was one did excellently counterfeit a nightingale, and would have had him hear him, said, “Why I have heard the nightingale herself.”

142. A great nobleman, upon the complaint of a servant of his, laid a citizen by the heels, thinking to bend him to his servant’s desire; but the fellow being stubborn, the servant came to his lord, and told him, “Your lordship, I know, hath gone as far as well you may, but it works not; for yonder fellow is more perverse than before.” Said my lord, “Let’s forget him a while, and then he will remember himself.”

143. One came to a cardinal in Rome, and told him, that he had brought his lordship a dainty white palfrey, but he fell lame by the way. Saith the cardinal to him, “I’ll tell thee what thou shalt do: go to such a cardinal, and such a cardinal,” naming him some half a dozen cardinals, “and tell them as much; and so whereas by thy horse, if he had been sound, thou couldst have pleased but one, with thy lame horse thou mayst please half a dozen.”

144. Iphicrates the Athenian, in a treaty that he had with the Lacedæmonians for peace, in which question was about security for observing the same, said, “The Athenians would not accept of any security, except the Lacedæmonians did yield up unto them those things, whereby it might be manifest, that they could not hurt them if they would.”

145. Euripides would say of persons that were beautiful, and yet in some years, “In fair bodies not only the spring is pleasant, but also the autumn.”

146. After a great fight, there came to the camp of Consalvo, the great captain, a gentleman, proudly horsed and armed. Diego de Mendoza asked the great captain, “Who is this?” Who answered, “It is Saint Ermin, who never appears but after a storm.”

147. There was a captain sent to an exploit by his general with forces that were not likely to achieve the enterprise; the captain said to him, “Sir, appoint but half so many.” “Why?” saith the general. The captain answered, “Because it is better fewer die than more.”

148. They would say of the Duke of Guise, Henry, that had sold and oppignerated all his patrimony, to suffice the great donatives that he had made; “that he was the greatest usurer of France, because all his state was in obligations.”

149. Crœsus said to Cambyses, “that peace was better than war; because in peace the sons did bury their fathers, but in the wars the fathers did bury their sons.”

150. There was a harbinger who had lodged a gentleman in a very ill room, who expostulated with him somewhat rudely; but the harbinger carelessly said; “You will take pleasure in it when you are out of it.”

151. There was a cursed page that his master whipt naked, and when he had been whipt, would not put on his clothes: and when his master bade him, said, “Take them you, for they are the hangman’s fees.”

152. There was one that died greatly in debt: when it was reported in some company, where divers of his creditors were, that he was dead, one began to say, “In good faith, then, he hath carried five hundred ducats of mine with him into the other world:” and another said, “And two hundred of mine;” and some others spake of several sums of theirs. Whereupon one that was amongst them said, “Well, I perceive now, that though a man cannot carry any of his own with him into the next world, yet he may carry other men’s.”

153. Francis Carvajall, that was the great captain of the rebels of Peru, had often given the chase to Diego Centeno, a principal commander of the emperor’s party: he was afterwards taken by the emperor’s lieutenant, Gasca, and committed to the custody of Diego Centeno, who used him with all possible courtesy; inasmuch as Carvajall asked him, “I pray, sir, I have been so used to see your back, as I knew not your face.”

154. Carvajall, when he was drawn to execution, being fourscore and five years old, and laid upon the hurdle, said, “What! young in cradle, old in cradle!”

155. There is a Spanish adage, “Love without end hath no end:” meaning, that if it were begun not upon particular ends it would last.

156. Cato the elder, being aged, buried his wife, and married a young woman. His son came to him, and said; “Sir, what have I offended, that you have brought a stepmother into your house?” The old man answered, “Nay, quite contrary, son: thou pleasest me so well, as I would be glad to have more such.”

157. Crassus the orator had a fish which the Romans called Muræna, that he made very tame and fond of him; the fish died, and Crassus wept for it. One day falling in contention with Domitius in the senate, Domitius said, “Foolish Crassus, you wept for your Muræna.” Crassus replied, “That is more than you did for both your wives.”

158. Philip, Alexander’s father, gave sentence against a prisoner what time he was drowsy, and seemed to give small attention. The prisoner, after sentence was pronounced, said, “I appeal.” The king somewhat stirred, said; “To whom do you appeal?” The prisoner answered, “From Philip when he gave no ear, to Philip when he shall give ear.”

159. The same Philip maintained arguments with a musician in points of his art, somewhat peremptorily; but the musician said to him, “God forbid, sir, your fortune were so hard that you should know these things better than myself.”

160. There was a philosopher that disputed with the Emperor Adrian, and did it but weakly. One of his friends that stood by, afterwards said unto him, “Methinks you were not like yourself last day, in argument with the emperor; I could have answered better myself.” “Why,” said the philosopher, “would you have me contend with him that commands thirty legions?”

161. Diogenes was asked in a kind of scorn, “What was the matter, that philosophers haunted rich men, and not rich men philosophers?” He answered, “Because the one knew what they wanted, the other did not.”

162. Demetrius, King of Macedon, had a petition offered him divers times by an old woman, and still answered, “he had no leisure.” Whereupon the woman said aloud, “Why then give over to be king.”

163. The same Demetrius would at times retire himself from business, and give himself wholly to pleasures. One day of those his retirings, giving out that he was sick, his father Antigonus came on the sudden to visit him, and met a fair dainty youth coming out of his chamber. When Antigonus came in, Demetrius said, “Sir, the fever left me right now.” Antigonus replied, “I think it was he that I met at the door.”

164. There was a merchant in debt that died. His goods and household stuff were set forth for sale. A stranger would needs buy a pillow there, saying, “This pillow sure is good to sleep upon, since he could sleep that owed so many debts.”

165. A lover met his lady in a close chair, she thinking to have gone unknown, he came and spake to her. She asked him, “How did you know me?” He said, “Because my wounds bleed afresh;” alluding to the common tradition, that the wounds of a body slain will bleed afresh upon the approach of the murderer.

166. A gentleman brought music to his lady’s window. She hated him, and had warned him often away; and when he would not desist, she threw stones at him. Whereupon a gentleman said unto him, that was in his company, “What greater honour can you have to your music, than that stones come about you, as they did to Orpheus?”

167. Cato Major would say, “That wise men learned more by fools than fools by wise men.”

168. When it was said to Anaxagoras, “The Athenians have condemned you to die:” he said again, “And nature them.”

169. Demosthenes when he fled from the battle, and that it was reproached to him, said, “that he that flies might fight again.”

170. Antalcidas, when an Athenian said to him, “Ye Spartans are unlearned;” said again, “True, for we have learned no evil vice of you.”

171. Alexander, when his father wished him to run for the prize of the race at the Olympian games, for he was very swift, answered; “He would, if he might run with kings.”

172. When Alexander passed into Asia, he gave large donatives to his captains, and other principal men of virtue; insomuch as Parmenio asked him, “Sir, what do you keep for yourself?” He answered, “Hope.”

173. Antigonus used to often go disguised, and to listen at the tents of his soldiers; and at a time heard some that spoke very ill of him. Whereupon he opened the tent a little, and said to them, “If you would speak ill of me, you should go a little farther off.”

174. Vespasian set a tribute upon urine; Titus his son emboldened himself to speak to his father of it: and represented it as a thing indign and sordid. Vespasian said nothing for the time: but a while after, when it was forgotten, sent for a piece of silver out of the tribute money, and called to his son, bidding him to smell it; and asked him, whether he found any offence. Who said, “No.” “Why so?” saith Vespasian again; “yet this comes out of urine.”

175. There were two gentlemen otherwise of equal degree, save that the one was of the ancienter house. The other in courtesy asked his hand to kiss: which he gave him; and he kissed it; but said withal, to right himself by way of friendship, “Well, I and you, against any two of them:” putting himself first.

176. Nerva the emperor succeeded Domitian, who had been tyrannical; and in his time many noble houses were overthrown by false accusations; the instruments whereof were chiefly Marcellus and Regulus. The Emperor Nerva one night supped privately with six or seven: amongst whom there was one that was a dangerous man; and began to take the like courses as Marcellus and Regulus had done. The emperor fell into discourse of the injustice and tyranny of the former time, and by name of the two accusers; and said, “What should we do with them, if we had them now?” One of them that was at supper, and was a free-spoken senator, said, “Marry, they should sup with us.”

177. There was one that found a great mass of money digging under ground in his grandfather’s house: and being somewhat doubtful of the case, signified it to the emperor that he had found such treasure. The emperor made a rescript thus: “Use it.” He writ back again, that the sum was greater than his estate or condition could use. The emperor writ a new rescript thus: “Abuse it.”

178. A Spaniard was censuring to a French gentleman the want of devotion amongst the French; in that, whereas in Spain, when the sacrament goes to the sick, any that meets with it turns back and waits upon it to the house whither it goes: but in France they only do reverence, and pass by. But the French gentleman answered him, “There is reason for it; for here with us, Christ is secure amongst his friends; but in Spain there be so many Jews and Maranos that it is not amiss for him to have a convoy.”

179. Coranus, the Spaniard, at a table at dinner, fell into an extolling of his own father, saying, “If he could have wished of God, he could not have chosen amongst men a better father.” Sir Henry Savil said, “What, not Abraham?” Now Coranus was doubted to descend of a race of Jews.

180. Consalvo would say, “The honour of a soldier ought to be of a strong web;” meaning, that it should not be so fine and curious that every little disgrace should catch and stick in it.

181. One of the Seven was wont to say; “That laws were like cobwebs; where the small flies were caught, and the great brake through.”

182. Bias gave in precept, “Love as if you should hereafter hate; and hate as if you should hereafter love.”

183. Aristippus, being reprehended of luxury by one that was not rich, for that he gave six crowns for a small fish, answered, “Why, what would you have given?” The other said, “Some twelvepence.” Aristippus said again, “And six crowns are no more with me.”

184. There was a French gentleman speaking with an English, of the law Salique; that women were excluded from inheriting the crown of France. The English said, “Yes; but that was meant of the women themselves, not of such males as claimed by women.” The French gentleman said, “Where do you find that gloss?” The English answered, “I’ll tell you, sir: look on the back side of the record of the law Salique, and there you shall find it endorsed:” implying there was no such thing as the law Salique, but that it is a mere fiction.

185. There was a friar in earnest dispute about the law Salique, that would needs prove it by Scripture; citing that verse of the gospel, “Lilia agri non laborant neque nent;” the lilies of the field do neither labour nor spin; applying it thus: That the flower-de-luces of France cannot descend, neither to the distaff nor to the spade: that is, not to a woman nor to a peasant.

186. Julius Cæsar, as he passed by, was, by acclamation of some that stood in the way, termed King, to try how the people would take it. The people showed great murmur and distaste at it. Cæsar, finding where the wind stood, slighted it, and said, “I am not king, but Cæsar;” as if they had mistaken his name. For Rex was a surname amongst the Romans as King is with us.

187. When Crœsus, for his glory, showed Solon his great treasures of gold, Solon said to him, “If another king come that hath better iron than you, he will be master of all this gold.”

188. There was a gentleman that came to the tilt all in orange-tawny, and ran very ill. The next day he came again all in green, and ran worse. There was one of the lookers on asked another; “What is the reason that this gentleman changeth his colours?” The other answered, “Sure, because it may be reported, that the gentleman in the green ran worse than the gentleman in the orange-tawny.”

189. Aristippus said; “That those that studied particular sciences, and neglected philosophy, were like Penelope’s wooers, that made love to the waiting woman.”

190. Plato reprehended severely a young man for entering into a dissolute house. The young man said to him, “Why do you reprehend so sharply for so small a matter?” Plato replied, “But custom is no small matter.”

191. There was a law made by the Romans against the bribery and extortion of the governors of provinces. Cicero saith in a speech of his to the people, “That he thought the provinces would petition to the state of Rome to have that law repealed. “For,” saith he, “before, the governors did bribe and extort as much as was sufficient for themselves; but now they bribe and extort as much as may be enough not only for themselves, but for the judges, and jurors, and magistrates.”

192. Archidamus, King of Lacedæmon, having received from Philip, King of Macedon, after Philip had won the victory of Chæronea upon the Athenians, proud letters, writ back to him, “That if he measured his own shadow, he would find it no longer than it was before his victory.”

193. Pyrrhus, when his friends congratulated to him his victory over the Romans, under the conduct of Fabricius, but with great slaughter of his own side, said to them again, “Yes, but if we have such another victory, we are undone.”

194. Cineas was an excellent orator and statesman, and principal friend and counsellor to Pyrrhus, and failing in inward talk with him, and discerning the king’s endless ambition; Pyrrhus opened himself unto him, that he intended first a war upon Italy, and hoped to achieve it; Cineas asked him, “Sir, what will you do then?” “Then,” saith he, “we will attempt Sicily.” Cineas said, “Well, sir, what then?” Saith Pyrrhus, “If the gods favour us, we may conquer Africa and Carthage.” “What then, sir?” saith Cineas. “Nay then,” saith Pyrrhus, “we may take our rest, and sacrifice and feast every day, and make merry with our friends.” “Alas, sir,” said Cineas, “may we not do so now without all this ado?”

195. The ambassadors of Asia Minor came to Antonius, after he had imposed upon them a double tax, and said plainly to him: “That if he would have two tributes in one year, he must give them two seed-times and two harvests.”

196. Plato was wont to say of his master Socrates, that he was like the apothecaries’ gallipots; that had on the outside apes, and owls, and satyrs; but within, precious drugs.

197. Lamia the courtezan had all power with Demetrius, King of Macedon, and by her instigations he did many unjust and cruel acts; whereupon Lysimachus said, “that it was the first time that he ever knew a whore to play in tragedy.”

198. Themistocles would say of himself, “That he was like a plane-tree, that in tempests men fled to him, and in fair weather men were ever cropping his leaves.”

199. Themistocles said of speech, “That it was like arras, that spread abroad shows fair images, but contracted is but like packs.”

200. Bresquet, jester to Francis the First of France, did keep a calendar of fools, wherewith he did use to make the king sport; telling him ever the reason why he put any one into his calendar. When Charles the Fifth, emperor, upon confidence of the noble nature of Francis, passed through France, for the appeasing the rebellion of Gaunt, Bresquet put him into his calendar. The king asked him the cause. He answered, “Because you have suffered at the hands of Charles the greatest bitterness that ever prince did from another, nevertheless he would trust his person into your hands.” “Why, Bresquet,” said the king, “what wilt thou say, if thou seest him pass back in as great safety as if he marched through the midst of Spain?” Saith Bresquet; “Why, then I will put him out, and put you in.”

201. Lewis the Eleventh of France, having much abated the greatness and power of the peers, nobility, and court of parliament, would say, “That he had brought the crown out of ward.”

202. Sir Fulk Grevil, in parliament, when the Lower House, in a great business of the queen’s, stood much upon precedents, said unto them, “Why do you stand so much upon precedents? The times hereafter will be good or bad. If good, precedents will do no harm; if bad, power will make a way where it finds none.”

203. When peace was renewed with the French in England, divers of the great counsellors were presented from the French with jewels: the Lord Henry Howard, being then Earl of Northampton, and a counsellor, was omitted. Whereupon the king said to him, “My lord, how happens it that you have not a jewel as well as the rest?” My lord answered, according to the fable in Æsop; “Non sum Gallus, itaque non reperi gemmam.”

204. An orator of Athens said to Demosthenes; “The Athenians will kill you if they wax mad.” Demosthenes replied, “And they will kill you if they be in good sense.”

205. Alexander sent to Phocion a great present of money. Phocion said to the messenger, “Why doth the king send to me and to none else?” The messenger answered, “Because he takes you to be the only good man in Athens.” Phocion replied, “If he thinks so, pray let him suffer me to be so still.”

206. Cosmus, Duke of Florence, was wont to say of perfidious friends, “that we read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.”

207. Æneas Sylvius, that was Pope Pius Secundus, was wont to say; that the former popes did wisely set the lawyers on work to debate, whether the donation of Constantine the Great to Sylvester, of St. Peter’s patrimony, were good and valid in law or no? the better to skip over the matter in fact, whether there were ever any such thing at all or no.

208. At a banquet where those that were called the seven wise men of Greece were invited by the ambassador of a barbarous king; the ambassador related that there was a neighbour mightier than his master, picked quarrels with him, by making impossible demands, otherwise threatening war; and now at that present had demanded of him, to drink up the sea. Whereunto one of the wise men said, “I would have him undertake it.” “Why,” saith the ambassador, “how shall he come off?” “Thus,” saith the wise man: “let that king first stop the rivers which run into the sea, which are no part of the bargain, and then your master will perform it.”

209. At the same banquet, the ambassador desired the seven, and some other wise men that were at the banquet, to deliver every one of them some sentence or parable, that he might report to his king the wisdom of Græcia, which they did; only one was silent; which the ambassador perceiving, said to him, “Sir, let it not displease you; why do not you say somewhat that I may report?” He answered, “Report to your lord, that there are of the Grecians that can hold their peace.”

210. One of the Romans said to his friend, “What think you of one who was taken in the act and manner of adultery?” The other answered, “Marry, I think he was slow at despatch.”

211. Lycurgus would say of divers of the heroes of the heathen, “That he wondered that men should mourn upon their days for them as mortal men, and yet sacrifice to them as gods.”

212. A Papist being opposed by a Protestant, “that they had no Scripture for images,” answered, “Yes; for you read that the people laid their sick in the streets, that the shadow of saint Peter might come upon them; and that a shadow was an image, and the obscurest of all images.”

213. There is an ecclesiastical writer of the Papists, to prove antiquity of confession in the form that it now is, doth note, in very ancient times, even in the primitive times, amongst other fool slanders spread against the Christians, one was, “That they did adore the genitories of their priests. Which, he saith, grew from the posture of the confessant, and the priest in confession; which is, that the confessant kneels down, before the priest sitting in a chair raised above him.”

214. Epaminondas, when his great friend and colleague in war was suitor to him to pardon an offender, denied him; afterwards, when a concubine of his made the same suit, he granted it to her; which when Pelopidas seemed to take unkindly, he said, “Such suits are to be granted to whores, but not to personages of worth.”

215. The Lacedæmonians had in custom to speak very short, which being an empire, they might do at pleasure: but after their defeat at Leuctra, in an assembly of the Grecians, they made a long invective against Epaminondas; who stood up, and said no more than this; “I am glad we have taught you to speak long.”

216. Fabricius, in conference with Pyrrhus, was tempted to revolt to him; Pyrrhus telling him, that he should be partner of his fortunes, and second person to him. But Fabricius answered, in a scorn, to such a motion, “Sir, that would not be good for yourself: for if the Epirotes once knew me, they will rather desire to be governed by me than by you.”

217. Fabius Maximus being resolved to draw the war in length, still waited upon Hannibal’s progress to curb him; and for that purpose he encamped upon the high ground; but Terentius his colleague fought with Hannibal, and was in great peril of overthrow; but then Fabius came down from the high grounds, and got the day. Whereupon Hannibal said, “that he did ever think that that same cloud that hanged upon the hills would at one time or other give a tempest.”

218. There was a cowardly Spanish soldier that in a defeat the Moors gave, ran away with the foremost. Afterwards, when the army generally fled, the soldier was missing. Whereupon it was said by some, that he was slain. “No sure,” said one, “he is alive; for the Moors eat no hare’s flesh.”

219. Hanno the Carthaginian was sent commissioner by the state, after the second Carthaginian war to Rome, to supplicate for peace, and in the end obtained it: yet one of the sharper senators said, “You have often broken with us the peaces whereunto you have been sworn; I pray, by what gods will you swear?” Hanno answered, “By the same gods that have punished the former perjury so severely.”

220. Thales being asked when a man should marry, said; “Young men not yet, old men not at all.”

221. Thales said, “that life and death were all one.” One that was present asked him, “Why do not you die then?” Thales said again, “Because they are all one.”

222. Cæsar, after first he had possessed Rome, Pompey being fled, offered to enter the sacred treasury to take the money’s that were there stored; and Metellus, tribune of the people, did forbid him: and when Metellus was violent in it, and would not desist, Cæsar turned to him, and said; “Presume no farther, or I will lay you dead.” And when Metellus was with those words somewhat astonished, Cæsar added, “Young man, it had been easier for me to do this than to speak it.”

223. An Ægyptian priest having conference with Solon, said to him: “You Grecians are ever children; you have no knowledge of antiquity, nor antiquity of knowledge.”

224. The council did make remonstrance unto Queen Elizabeth of the continual conspiracies against her life; and namely of a late one: and showed her a rapier taken from a conspirator that had a false shape, being of brown paper, but gilt over as it could not be known from a shape of metal, which was devised to the end that, without drawing it, the rapier might give a stab; and upon this occasion advised her that she should go less abroad to take the air weekly, unaccompanied, as she used. But the queen answered; “That she had rather be dead, than put in custody.”

225. Chilon would say, “That gold was tried with the touchstone, and men with gold.”

226. Zelim was the first of the Ottomans that did shave his beard, whereas his predecessors wore it long. One of his bashaws asked him, Why he altered the custom of his predecessors? He answered, “Because you bashaws may not lead me by the beard, as you did them.”

227. Diogenes was one day in the marketplace with a candle in his hand; and being asked, “What he sought?” he said, “He sought a man.”

228. Bias being asked, how a man should order his life, answered, “As if a man should live long, or die quickly.”

229. Queen Elizabeth was entertained by my Lord Burleigh at Theobald’s: and at her going away, my lord obtained of the queen to make seven knights. They were gentlemen of the country, of my lord’s friends and neighbours. They were placed in a rank, as the queen should pass by the hall, and to win antiquity of knighthood, in order, as my lord favoured; though indeed the more principal gentlemen were placed lowest. The queen was told of it, and said nothing: but when she went along, she passed them all by, as far as the screen, as if she had forgot it; and when she came to the screen, she seemed to take herself with the manner, and said, “I had almost forgot what I promised.” With that she turned back, and knighted the lowest first, and so upward. Whereupon Mr. Stanhope, of the privy-chamber, a while after told her; “Your majesty was too fine for my Lord Burleigh.” She answered; “I have but fulfilled the Scripture; ‘the first shall be last, and the last first.’”

230. Simonides being asked of Hiero, “what he thought of God?” asked a seven-night’s time to consider it; and at the seven-night’s end he asked a fortnight’s time; at the fortnight’s end, a month. At which Hiero marvelling, Simonides answered; “that the longer he thought upon the matter, the more difficult he found it.”

231. Anacharsis, would say, concerning the popular estates of Græcia, that “he wondered how at Athens wise men did propose, and fools did dispose.”

232. Solon compared the people unto the sea, and orators to the winds: for that the sea would be calm and quiet, if the winds did not trouble it.

233. Socrates was pronounced by the oracle of Delphos to be the wisest man of Greece, which he would put from himself ironically, saying, “there would be nothing in him to verify the oracle, except this; that he was not wise and knew it; and others were not wise, and knew it not.”

234. Cato the elder, what time many of the Romans had statues erected in their honour, was asked by one in a kind of wonder, “Why he had none?” He answered, “He had much rather men should ask and wonder why he had no statue, than why he had a statue.”

235. Sir Fulke Grevil had much private access to Queen Elizabeth, which he used honourably, and did many men good; yet he would say merrily of himself, “That he was like Robin Goodfellow; for when the maids split the milkpans, or kept any racket, they would lay it upon Robin; so what tales the ladies about the queen told her, or other bad offices that they did, they would put it upon him.”

236. Socrates, when there was showed him the book of Heraclitus the Obscure, and was asked his opinion of it, answered, “Those things that I understood were excellent, I imagine so were those that I understood not; but they require a diver of Delos.”

237. Bion asked an envious man that was very sad, “What harm had befallen unto him, or what good had befallen under another man?”

238. Stilpo the philosopher, when the people flocked about him, and that one said to him, “The people come wondering about you as if it were to see some strange beast!” “No,” saith he, “it is to see a man which Diogenes sought with his lantern.”

239. Antisthenes being asked of one what learning was most necessary for man’s life? Answered; “To unlearn that which is naught.”

240. There was a politic sermon, that had no divinity in it, was preached before the king. The king, as he came forth, said to Bishop Andrews; “Call you this a sermon?” The bishop answered, “And it please your majesty, by a charitable construction, it may be a sermon.”

241. Bishop Andrews was asked at the first coming over of the Archbishop of Spalato, whether he were a protestant or no? He answered, “Truly I know not: but he is a detestant of divers opinions of Rome.”

242. Caius Marius was general of the Romans against the Cimbers, who came with such a sea of multitude upon Italy. In the fight there was a band of the Cadurcians of a thousand, that did notable service; whereupon, after the fight, Marius did denison them all for citizens of Rome, though there was no law to warrant it. One of his friends did represent it unto him, that he had transgressed the law, because that privilege was not to be granted but by the people. Whereto Marius answered, “That for the noise of arms he could not hear the laws.”

243. Æneas Sylvius would say, that the Christian faith and law, though it had not been confirmed by miracles, yet was worthy to be received for the honesty thereof.

244. Henry Noel would say, “That courtiers were like fasting-days; they were next the holy-days, but in themselves they were the most meager days of the week.”

245. Mr. Bacon would say, that it was in business, as it is frequently in ways: that the next way is commonly the foulest; and that if a man will go the fairest way, he must go somewhat about.

246. Augustus Cæsar, out of great indignation against his two daughters, and Posthumus Agrippa, his grandchild; whereof the first two were infamous, and the last otherwise unworthy, would say, “That they were not his seed, but some imposthumes that had broken from him.”

247. Cato said, “The best way to keep good acts in memory, was to refresh them with new.”

248. Pompey did consummate the war against Sertorius, when Metellus had brought the enemy somewhat low. He did also consummate the war against the fugitives, whom Crassus had before defeated in a great battle. So when Lucullus had had great and glorious victories against Mithridates and Tigranes; yet Pompey, by means his friends made, was sent to put an end to that war. Whereupon Lucullus taking indignation, as a disgrace offered to himself, said, “that Pompey was a carrion crow: when others had strucken down bodies, then he came to prey upon them.”

249. Diogenes when mice came about him as he was eating, said, “I see, that even Diogenes nourisheth parasites.”

250. Epictetus used to say, “That one of the vulgar, in any ill that happens to him, blames others; a novice in philosophy blames himself; and a philosopher blames neither the one nor the other.”

251. Hiero visited by Pythagoras, asked him, of what condition he was? Pythagoras answered, “Sir, I know you have been at the Olympian games.” “Yes,” saith Hiero. “Thither,” saith Pythagoras, “come some to win the prizes. Some come to sell their merchandise, because it is a kind of mart of all Greece. Some come to meet their friends, and to make merry; because of the great confluence of all sorts. Others come only to look on. I am one of them that come to look on.” Meaning it, of philosophy, and the contemplative life.

252. Mr. Bettenham used to say, that riches were like muck; when it lay in a heap it gave but a stench and ill odour, but when it was spread upon the ground, then it was cause of much fruit.

253. The same Mr. Bettenham said that virtuous men were like some herbs and spices, that give not their sweet smell, till they be broken and crushed.

254. There was a painter became a physician; whereupon one said to him, “You have done well; for before the faults of your work were seen; but now they are unseen.”

255. One of the philosophers was asked, “what a wise man differed from a fool?” He answered, “Send them both naked to those that know them not, and you shall perceive.”

256. Cæsar, in his book that he made against Cato, which is lost, did write, to show the force of opinion and reverence of a man that had once obtained a popular reputation: “That there were some that found Cato drunk, and they were ashamed instead of Cato.”

257. Aristippus, sailing in a tempest, showed signs of fear. One of the seamen said to him, in an insulting manner, “We that are plebeians are not troubled; you that are a philosopher are afraid.” Aristippus answered, “that there is not the like wager upon it, for me to perish and you.”

258. There was an orator that defended a cause of Aristippus, and prevailed. Afterwards he asked Aristippus, “Now, in your distress, what did Socrates do you good?” Aristippus answered, “Thus, in making true that good which you said of me.”

259. Aristippus said, “He took money of his friends, not so much to use it himself, as to teach them how to bestow their money.”

260. A strumpet said to Aristippus, “That she was with child by him:” he answered, “You know that no more than if you went through a hedge of thorns, you could say, This thorn pricked me.”

261. The Lady Paget, that was very private with Queen Elizabeth, declared herself much against her match with Monsieur. After Monsieur’s death, the queen took extreme grief, at least as she made show, and kept within her bedchamber and one ante-chamber for three weeks’ space, in token of mourning; at last she came forth into her privy-chamber, and admitted her ladies to have access unto her, and amongst the rest my Lady Paget presented herself, and came to her with a smiling countenance. The queen bent her brows, and seemed to be highly displeased, and said to her, “Madam, you are not ignorant of my extreme grief, and do you come to me with a countenance of joy?” My Lady Paget answered, “Alas, and it please your majesty, it is impossible for me to be absent from you three weeks, but that when I see you, I must look cheerfully.” “No, no,” said the queen, not forgetting her former averseness to the match, “you have some other conceit in it, tell me plainly.” My lady answered, “I must obey you: it is this, I was thinking how happy your majesty was, in that you married not Monsieur; for seeing you take such thought for his death, being but your friend; if he had been your husband, sure it would have cost you your life.”

262. Sir Edward Dyer, a grave and wise gentleman, did much believe in Kelly the alchemist, that he did indeed the work, and made gold: insomuch that he went into Germany, where Kelly then was, to inform himself fully thereof. After his return, he dined with my lord of Canterbury, where at that time was at the table Dr. Brown the physician. They fell in talk of Kelly. Sir Edward Dyer, turning to the archbishop said, “I do assure your grace, that that I shall tell you is truth, I am an eyewitness thereof; and if I had not seen it, I should not have believed it. I saw Master Kelly put of the base metal into the crucible; and after it was set a little upon the fire, and a very small quantity of the medicine put in, and stirred with a stick of wood, it came forth in great proportion; perfect gold; to the touch, to the hammer, to the test.” My lord archbishop said, “You had need take heed what you say, Sir Edward Dyer, for here is an infidel at the board.” Sir Edward Dyer said again pleasantly, “I would have looked for an infidel sooner in any place than at your grace’s table.” “What say you, Dr. Brown?” saith the bishop. Dr. Brown answered, after his blunt and huddling manner, “The gentleman hath spoken enough for me.” “Why,” saith the bishop, “what hath he said?” “Marry,” saith Dr. Brown, “he said, he would not have believed it, except he had seen it, and no more will I.”

263. Democritus said, “That truth did lie in profound pits, and when it was got, it needed much refining.”

264. Doctor Johnson said that in sickness there were three things that were material; the physician, the disease, and the patient: and if any two of these joined, then they have the victory; for, “Ne Hercules quidem contra duos.” If the physician and the patient join, then down goes the disease, for the patient recovers: if the physician and the disease join, then down goes the patient, that is where the physician mistakes the case: if the patient and the disease join, then down goes the physician, for he is discredited.

265. Alexander visited Diogenes in his tub, and when he asked him what he would desire of him? Diogenes answered, “That you would stand a little aside, that the sun may come to me.”

266. Diogenes said of a young man that danced daintily, and was much commended, “The better, the worse.”

267. Diogenes called an ill musician, Cock. “Why?” saith he. Diogenes answered; “Because when you crow, men use to rise.”

268. Heraclitus the Obscure said; “The dry light was the best soul:” meaning, when the faculties intellectual are in vigour, not wet, nor, as it were, blooded by the affections.

269. There was in Oxford a cowardly fellow that was a very good archer; he was abused grossly by another, and moaned himself to Walter Raleigh, then a scholar, and asked his advice what he should do to repair the wrong had been offered him; Raleigh answered, “Why, challenge him at a match of shooting.”

270. Whitehead, a grave divine, was much esteemed by Queen Elizabeth, but not preferred, because he was against the government of bishops. He was of a blunt stoical nature: he came one day to the queen, and the queen happened to say to him, “I like thee the better, Whitehead, because thou livest unmarried.” He answered again, “In troth, madam, I like you the worse for the same cause.”

271. There was a nobleman that was lean of visage, but immediately after his marriage he grew pretty plump and fat. One said to him, “Your lordship doth contrary to other married men; for they at the first wax lean, and you wax fat.” Sir Walter Raleigh stood by, and said, “Why, there is no beast, that if you take him from the common, and put him into the several, but he will wax fat.”

272. Diogenes seeing one, that was a bastard, casting stones among the people, bade him take heed he hit not his father.

273. Dr. Laud said, “that some hypocrites and seeming mortified men, that held down their heads like bulrushes, were like the images that they place in the very bowing of the vaults of churches, that look as if they held up the church, but are but puppets.”

274. It was said among some of the grave prelates of the council of Trent, in which the school-divines bore the sway; that the schoolmen were like the astronomers, who, to save the phænomena, framed to their conceit eccentrics and epicycles, and a wonderful engine of orbs, though no such things were: so they, to save the practice of the church, had devised a number of strange positions.

275. It was also said by many concerning the canons of that council, “That we are beholden to Aristotle for many articles of our faith.”

276. The Lo. Henry Howard, being lord privy-seal, was asked by the king openly at the table, where commonly he entertained the king, upon the sudden, “My lord, have you not a desire to see Rome?” My lord privy-seal answered, “Yes, indeed, sir.” The king said, “And why?” My lord answered, “Because, and it please your majesty, it was once the seat of the greatest monarchy, and the seminary of the bravest men of the world, amongst the heathen: and then again, because after it was the see of so many holy bishops in the primitive church, most of them martyrs.” The king would not give it over, but said, “And for nothing else?” My lord answered, “Yes, and it please your majesty, for two things especially: the one to see him, who, they say, hath so great a power to forgive other men their sins, to confess his own sins upon his knees before a chaplain or priest; and the other to hear Antichrist say his creed.”

277. There was a nobleman said of a great counsellor, “that he would have made the worst farrier in the world; for he never shod horse but he cloyed him: so he never commended any man to the king for service, or upon occasion of suit, or otherwise, but that he would come in, in the end with a but, and drive in a nail to his disadvantage.”

278. There was a lady of the west country, that gave great entertainment at her house to most of the gallant gentlemen thereabout, and amongst others Sir Walter Raleigh was one. This lady, though otherwise a stately dame, was a notable good housewife; and in the morning betimes she called to one of her maids that looked to the swine, and asked, “Is the piggy served?” Sir Walter Raleigh’s chamber was fast by the lady’s, so as he heard her. A little before dinner, the lady came down in great state into the great chamber, which was full of gentlemen: and as soon as Sir Walter Raleigh set eye upon her, “Madam,” saith he, “Is the piggy served?” The lady answered, “You best know whether you have had your breakfast.”

279. There was a gentleman fell very sick, and a friend of his said to him, “Surely, you are in danger; I pray send for a physician.” But the sick man answered, “It is no matter, for if I die, I will die at leisure.”

280. There was an Epicurean vaunted, that divers of other sects of philosophers did after turn Epicureans; but there was never any Epicureans that turned to any other sect. Whereupon a philosopher that was of another sect said, “The reason was plain; for that cocks may be made capons, but capons could never be made cocks.”















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


* This apophthegm is also found in his Essay of Empire.


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, I must not confute you.” Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor.

6. When any great officer, ecclesiastical or civil, was to be made, the queen would inquire after the piety, integrity, learning of the man. And when she was satisfied in these qualifications, she would consider of his personage. And upon such an occasion she pleased once to say to me, “Bacon, how can the magistrate maintain his authority when the man is despised?”

7. In eighty-eight, when the queen went from Temple-bar along Fleet-street, the lawyers were ranked on one side, and the companies of the city on the other; said Master Bacon to a lawyer that stood next him, “Do but observe the courtiers; if they bow first to the citizens, they are in debt; if first to us, they are in law.”

8. King James was wont to be very earnest with the country gentlemen to go from London to their country houses. And sometimes he would say thus to them, “Gentlemen, at London you are like ships in a sea, which show like nothing; but in your country villages you are like ships in a river, which look like great things.”

9. Soon after the death of a great officer, who was judged no advancer of the king’s matters, the king said to his solicitor Bacon, who was his kinsman, “Now tell me truly, what say you of your cousin that is gone?” Mr. Bacon answered. “Sir, since your majesty doth charge me, I’ll e’en deal plainly with you, and give you such a character of him, as if I were to write his story. I do think he was no fit counsellor to make your affairs better: but yet he was fit to have kept them from growing worse.” The king said, “On my so’l, man, in the first thou speakest like a true man, and in the latter like a kinsman.”

10. King James, as he was a prince of great judgment, so he was a prince of marvellous pleasant humour; and there now come into my mind two instances of it. As he was going through Lusen, by Greenwich, he asked what town it was? They said, Lusen. He asked a good while after, “What town is this we are now in?” They said still, ’twas Lusen. “On my so’l,” said the king, “I will be king of Lusen.”

11. In some other of his progresses, he asked how far it was to a town whose name I have forgotten. They said, “Six miles.” Half an hour after, he asked again. One said, “Six miles and an half.” The king alighted out of his coach, and crept under the shoulder of his led horse. And when some asked his majesty what he meant? “I must stalk,” said he, “for yonder town is shy, and flies me.”

12. Count Gondomar sent a compliment to my Lord St. Albans, wishing him a good Easter. My lord thanked the messenger, and said, “He could not at present requite the count better than in returning him the like; that he wished his lordship a good passover.”

13. My Lord Chancellor Elsmere, when he had read a petition which he disliked, would say, “What, you would have my hand to this now?” And the party answering, “Yes;” he would say further, “Well, so you shall: nay, you shall have both my hands to it.” And so would, with both his hands, tear it in pieces.

14. I knew a wise man,* that had it for a byword, when he saw men hasten to a conclusion, “Stay a little while that we may make an end the sooner.”

15. Sir Francis Bacon was wont to say of an angry man who suppressed his passion, “That he thought worse than he spake;” and of an angry man that would chide, “That he spoke worse than he thought.”

16. He was wont also to say, “That power in an ill man was like the power of a black witch; he could do hurt but no good with it.” And he would add, “That the magicians could turn water into blood, but could not turn the blood again to water.”

17. When Mr. Attorney Cook, in the exchequer, gave high words to Sir Francis Bacon, and stood much upon his higher place: Sir Francis said to him, “Mr. Attorney, the less you speak of your own greatness, the more I shall think of it; and the more, the less.”

18. Sir Francis Bacon, coming into the Earl of Arundel’s garden, where there were a great number of ancient statues of naked men and women, made a stand, and, as astonished, cried out, “The resurrection.”

19. Sir Francis Bacon, who was always for moderate counsels, when one was speaking of such a reformation of the Church of England, as would in effect make it no church; said thus to him, “Sir, the subject we talk of is the eye of England; and if there be a speck or two in the eye, we endeavour to take them off, but he were a strange oculist who would pull out the eye.”

20. The same Sir Francis Bacon was wont to say; “That those who left useful studies for useless scholastic speculations, were like the Olympic gamesters, who abstained from necessary labours, that they might be fit for such as were not so.”

21. He likewise often used this comparison:Ý “The empirical philosophers are like to pismires; they only lay up and use their store. The rationalists are like to spiders; they spin all out of their own bowels. But give me a philosopher,


* See this also in his Essay of Despatch.

Ý See the substance of this in Nov. Org. ed. Lugd. Bat. p. 105, and Inter Cogitata et Visa, p. 53.


who, like the bee, hath a middle faculty, gathering from abroad, but digesting that which is gathered by his own virtue.”

22. The Lord St. Alban, who was not over hasty to raise theories, but proceeded slowly by experiments, was wont to say to some philosophers, who would not go his pace, “Gentlemen, nature is a labyrinth, in which the very haste you move with will make you lose your way.”

23. The same lord, when he spoke of the Dutchmen, used to say, “That we could not abandon them for our safety, nor keep them for our profit.” And sometimes he would express the same sense in this manner; “We hold the Belgic lion by the ears.”

24. The same lord, when a gentleman seemed not much to approve of his liberality to his retinue, said to him, “Sir, I am all of a piece; if the head be lifted up, the inferior parts of the body must too.”

25. The Lord Bacon was wont to commend the advice of the plain old man at Buxton, that sold besoms: a proud lazy young fellow came to him for a besom upon trust; to whom the old man said, “Friend, hast thou no money? borrow of thy back, and borrow of thy belly, they’ll ne’er ask thee again, I shall be dunning thee every day.”

26. Solon* said well to Crœsus, (when in ostentation he showed him his gold,) “Sir, if any other come that has better iron than you, he will be master of all this gold.”

27. Jack Weeks said of a great man, just then dead, who pretended to some religion, but was none of the best livers, “Well, I hope he is in heaven. Every man thinks as he wishes; but if he be in heaven, ’twere pity it were known.”







1. His majesty James the First, King of Great Britain, having made unto his Parliament an excellent and large declaration, concluded thus, “I have now given you a clear mirror of my mind; use it therefore like a mirror; and take heed how you let it fall, or how you soil it with your breath.”

2. His majesty said to his Parliament at another time, finding there were some causeless jealousies sown amongst them; “That the king and his people, (whereof the Parliament is the representative body,) were as husband and wife; and therefore, that of all other things, jealousy was between them most pernicious.”

3. His majesty, when he thought his council might note in him some variety in businesses, though indeed he remained constant, would say, “That the sun many times shineth watery; but it is not the sun which causeth it, but some cloud rising betwixt us and the sun; and when that is scattered the sun is as it was, and comes to his former brightness.”

4. His majesty, in his answer to the book of the Cardinal of Evereux, (who had in a grave argument of divinity sprinkled many witty ornaments of poesy and humanity,) saith; “That these flowers were like blue and yellow, and red flowers in the corn, which make a pleasant show to those that look on, but they hurt the corn.”

5. Sir Edward Cook, being vehement against the two provincial councils of Wales and the North, said to the king, “There was nothing there but a kind of confusion and hotch potch of justice; one while they were a Star Chamber, another while a King’s Bench, another a common place, another a Commission of Oyer and Terminer.” His majesty answered, “Why, Sir Edward Cook, they be like houses in progress, where I have not nor can have such distinct rooms of state as I have here at Whitehall or at Hampton Court.”

6. The commissioners of the treasure moved the king for the relief of his estate, to disafforest some forests of his, explaining themselves of such forests as lay out of the way, not near any of the king’s houses, nor in the course of his progress, whereof he should never have use nor pleasure. “Why,” saith the king, “do you think that Solomon had use and pleasure of all his three hundred concubines.”

7. His majesty, when the Committees of both Houses of Parliament presented unto him the instrument of Union of England and Scotland, was merry with them; and amongst other pleasant speeches showed unto them the Laird of Lawriston, a Scotchman, who was the tallest and greatest man that was to be seen, and said, “Well, now we are all one, yet none of you will say but here is one Scotchman greater than any Englishman;” which was an ambiguous speech; but it was thought he meant it of himself.

8. His majesty would say to the Lords of his Council, when they sat upon any great matter, and came from council in to him, “Well, you have set, but what have you hatcht!”


* See this in his Essay of the True Greatness of Kingdoms.


9. Queen Elizabeth was importuned much by my Lord of Essex to supply divers great offices that had been long void; the queen answered nothing to the matter, but rose up on the sudden, and said, “I am sure my office will not be long void.” And yet at that time there was much speech of troubles and divisions about the crown to be after her decease: but they all vanished, and King James came in in a profound peace.

10. King Henry the Fourth of France was so punctual of his word after it was once passed, that they called him the King of the Faith.

11. The said King Henry the Fourth was moved by his Parliament to a war against the Protestants: he answered, “Yes, I mean it; I will make every one of you captains; you shall have companies assigned you.” The Parliament observing whereunto his speech tended, gave over, and deserted his motion.

12. A great officer at court, when my Lord of Essex was first in trouble, and that he and those that dealt for him would talk much of my lord’s friends and of his enemies, answered to one of them, “I will tell you, I know but one friend and one enemy my lord hath; and that one friend is the queen, and that one enemy is himself.”

13. The Lord Keeper, Sir Nicholas Bacon, was asked his opinion by my Lord of Leicester, concerning two persons whom the queen seemed to think well of: “By my troth, my lord,” said he, “the one is a grave counsellor, the other is a proper young man; and so he will be as long as he lives.”

14. My Lord of Leicester, favourite to Queen Elizabeth, was making a large chase about Cornbury Park, meaning to enclose it with posts and rails, and one day was casting up his charge what it would come to; Mr. Goldingham, a free-spoken man, stood by, and said to my lord; “Methinks your lordship goeth not the cheapest way to work.” “Why, Goldingham?” saith my lord. “Marry, my lord,” said Goldingham, “count you but upon the posts, for the country will find you railing.”

15. Sir Nicholas Bacon being appointed a judge for the northern circuit, and having brought his trials that came before him to such a pass, as the passing of sentence on malefactors, he was by one of the malefactors mightily importuned for to save his life, which when nothing that he had said did avail, he at length desired his mercy on the account of kindred. “Pr’ythee,” said my lord judge, “how came that in?” “Why, if it please you, my lord, your name is Bacon and mine is Hog, and in all ages hog and bacon have been so near kindred that they are not to be separated.” “Ay, but,” replied Judge Bacon, “you and I cannot be kindred except you be hanged; for hog is not bacon until it be well hanged.”

16. Two scholars and a countryman travelling upon the road, one night lodged all in one inn and supped together, where the scholars thought to have put a trick upon the countryman, which was thus: the scholars appointed for supper two pigeons and a fat capon, which being ready was brought up, and they having sat down, the one scholar took up one pigeon, the other scholar took the other pigeon, thinking thereby that the countryman should have sat still until that they were ready for the carving of the capon, which he perceiving, took the capon and laid it on his trencher, and thus said, “Daintily contrived, every one a bird.”

17. A man and his wife in bed together, she towards morning pretended herself to be ill at ease, desiring to lie on her husband’s side; so the good man to please her came over her, making some short stay in his passage over, where she had not long lain, but desired to lie in her old place again. Quoth he, “How can it be effected?” She answered; "Come over me again.” “I had rather,” said he, “go a mile and a half about.”

18. A thief being arraigned at the bar for stealing a mare, in his pleading urged many things in his own behalf, and at last nothing availing, he told the bench the mare rather stole him than he the mare, which in brief he thus related: that passing over several grounds about his lawful occasions, he was pursued close by a fierce mastiff dog, and so was forced to save himself by leaping over a hedge, which being of an agile body he effected, and in leaping, a mare standing on the other side of the hedge, leaped upon her back, who running furiously away with him, he could not by any means stop her until he came to the next town, in which town the owner of the mare lived, and there was he taken and here arraigned.

19. A notorious rogue being brought to the bar, and knowing his case to be desperate, instead of pleading, he took to himself the liberty of jesting, and thus said, “I charge you in the king’s name to seize and take away that man (meaning the judge) in the red gown, for I go in danger of my life because of him.”

20. A rough-hewn seaman being brought before a wise just-ass for some misdemeanour, was by him sent away to prison: and being somewhat refractory after he heard his doom, insomuch as he would not stir a foot from the place he stood, saying, “It were better to stand where he was than go to a worse place.” The justice thereupon, to show the strength of his learning, took him by the shoulder, and said, “Thou shalt go ‘Nogus vogus,’” instead of “Nolens volens.”

21. A debauched seaman being brought before a justice of the peace upon the account of swearing, was by the justice commanded to deposit his fine in that behalf provided, which was two shillings, he thereupon, plucking out of his pocket a half-crown, asked the justice what was the rate he was to pay for cursing; the justice told him sixpence; quoth he, then, “A pox take you all for a company of knaves and fools, and there’s half-a crown for you, I will never stand changing of money.”

22. A witty rogue coming into a lace shop, said he had occasion for some lace, choice whereof being showed him, he at last pitched upon one pattern, and asked them how much they would have for so much he had occasion for; they told him for so much: so some few words passing between them, he at last agreed, and told down his money for it, and began to measure on his own head, thus saying, “One ear is here, and the other is nailed to the pillory in Bristol, and I fear you have not so much of this lace by you at present as will perfect my bargain; therefore this piece of lace shall suffice at present in part of payment, and provide the rest with all expedition.”

23. A woman being suspected by her husband for dishonesty, and being by him at last pressed very hard about it, made him quick answer with many protestations, “That she knew no more of what he said than the man in the moon:” Now the captain of the ship called “The Moon” was the very man she so much loved.

24. An apprentice of London being brought before the chamberlain by his master, for the sin of incontinency, even with his own mistress; the chamberlain thereupon gave him many Christian exhortations, and at last he mentioned and pressed the chastity of Joseph when his mistress tempted him with the like crime of incontinency. “Ay, sir,” said the apprentice, “but if Joseph’s mistress had been as handsome as mine is, he could not have forborne.”

25. When my Lord President of the Council 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 burden, 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.

26. 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.”
















 - Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning