Page:The Story of Nell Gwyn.djvu/113

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97
SAYINGS OF CHARLES II.

was the cognomen at all disagreeable to him. Mrs. Holford, a young lady much admired by the King, was in her apartments singing a satirical ballad upon Old Rowley the King, when he knocked at her door. Upon her asking who was there, he, with his usual good humour, replied, "Old Rowley himself, madam."[1] Hobbes he called "the Bear." "Here comes the Bear to be baited," was his remark, as soon as he saw the great philosopher surrounded by the wits who rejoiced in his conversation.[2] A favourite yacht received from him the name of Fubbs—in honour of the Duchess of Portsmouth, who was become notably plump in her person.[3] The queen he called "a bat," in allusion to her short, broad figure, her swarthy complexion, and the projection of her upper lip from a protuberant foretooth.[4]

His politeness was remarkable, and he could convey a rebuke in the style of a wit and a gentleman. When Penn stood before him with his hat on—the King put off his, "Friend Charles," said Penn, "why dost thou not keep on thy hat?" "'Tis the custom of this place," replied the monarch, "that

  1. Granger's Biog. Hist. iv. 50, ed. 1775.
  2. Aubrey's Life of Hobbes. See also Tom Brown, i. 174, "King Charles II. compared old Hobbes to a bear."
  3. Hawkins's History of Music, iv. 359, n.
  4. Lord Dartmouth in Burnet, i. 299, ed. 1823.