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Francis Bacon (1561–1626).  Apophthegms New and Old.  1857.

Spurious Apophthegms

Inserted by the Publisher of the Third Edition of the Resuscitatio; 1671

[There remain sixteen apophthegms which appear to have been introduced into the collection without any authority, and have no right to be there. But as they are to be found in all editions of Bacon’s collected works, and readers may wish to judge for themselves, I add them here; with references to the book from which they were taken. 1]   1
  1. 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 account of kindred. “Prithee,” 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 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.” 2   2
  2. 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.” 3   3
  3. 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.” 4   4
  4. A thief being arraigned at the bar for stealing of 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. 5   5
  5. 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.” 6   6
  6. A rough-hewn seaman, being brought before a wise just-ass for some misdemeanor, 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 where he stood, saying, “it were better to stand where he was than go to a worse place:” the justice thereupon, to shew the strength of his learning, took him by the shoulder, and said, “Thou shalt go nogus vogus,” instead of nolens volens. 7   7
  7. 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 six-pence: 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.” 8   8
  8. A witty rogue coming into a lace-shop, said he had occasion for some lace; choice whereof being shewed him, he at last pitched upon one pattern, and asked them, how much they would have for so much as would reach from ear to ear, 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.” 9   9
  9. 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. 10   10
  10. 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.” 11   11
  11. A company of scholars going together to catch conies, carried one scholar with them, which had not much more wit than he was born with; and to him they gave in charge, that if he saw any, he should be silent, for fear of scaring them. But he no sooner espied a company of rabbits before the rest, but he cried aloud, Ecce multi cuniculi, which in English signifies, “Behold many conies;” which he had no sooner said, but the conies ran to their burrows: and he being checked by them for it, answered, “Who the devil would have thought that the rabbits understood Latin?” 12   12
  12. A man being very jealous of his wife, insomuch that which way soever she went, he would be prying at her heels; and she being so grieved thereat, in plain terms told him, “that if he did not for the future leave off his proceedings in that nature, she would graft such a pair of horns upon his head, that should hinder him from coming out of any door in the house.” 13   13
  13. A citizen of London passing the streets very hastily, came at last where some stop was made by carts; and some gentlemen talking together, who knew him; where being in some passion that he could not suddenly pass, one of them in this wise spoke unto him: “That others had passed by, and there was room enough, only they could not tell whether their horns were so wide as his.” 14   14
  14. A tinker passing Cheapside with his usual tone, “Have you any work for a tinker?” an apprentice standing at a door opposite to a pillory there set up, called the tinker, with an intent to put a jest upon him, and told him, “that he should do very well if he would stop those two holes in the pillory;” to which the tinker answered, “that if he would but put in his head and ears a while in that pillory, he would bestow both brass and nails upon him to hold him in, and give him his labour into the bargain.” 15   15
  15. A young maid having married an old man, was observed on the day of marriage to be somewhat moody, as if she had eaten a dish of chums, which one of her bridemen observing, bid her be cheery; and told her moreover, “that an old horse would hold out as long, and as well as a young, in travel.” To which she answered, stroking down her belly with her hand, “But not in this road, Sir.” 16   16
  16. A nobleman of this nation, famously known for his mad tricks, on a time having taken physic, which he perceiving that it began well to work, called up his man to go for a surgeon presently, and to bring his instruments with him. The surgeon comes in all speed; to whom my Lord related, that he found himself much addicted to women, and therefore it was his will that the cause of it might be taken away, and therefore commanded him forthwith to prepare his instruments ready for to geld him; so the surgeon forthwith prepares accordingly; and my Lord told him that he would not see it done, and that therefore he should do his work the back way; so both parties being contented, my L. makes ready, and when he perceives the surgeon very near him, he lets fly full in his face: which made the surgeon step back; but coming presently on again, “Hold, hold (saith my Lord) I will better consider of it: for I see the retentive faculty is very weak at the approach of such keen instruments.” 17   17
Note 1. See above, pp. 315, 316, 322. [back]
Note 2. Witty Apophthegms, 10. [back]
Note 3. Id. 11. [back]
Note 4. Id. 30. [back]
Note 5. Id. 31. [back]
Note 6. Id. 38. [back]
Note 7. Id. 43. [back]
Note 8. Id. 60. [back]
Note 9. Id. 74. [back]
Note 10. Id. 88. [back]
Note 11. Id. 108. [back]
Note 12. Id. 134. [back]
Note 13. Id. 149. [back]
Note 14. Id. 153. [back]
Note 15. Id. 160. [back]
Note 16. Id. 166. [back]
Note 17. Id. 176. [back]