The Wit and Wisdom of Marchamont Nedham

On King Charles I

I will shew you more Tricks here, than ever Hocus-Pocus did at Bartholomew Faire. It will yield us at least a Month’s Sport; and I mean to anatomize every Paper, week after week, till I have gone quite through, keeping still to my old Motto, ‘For the better Information of the People’. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

Never did any great tennis-ball of passion and fortune roll about more than he has done. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

What may we say, when a King (whose private affections ought not to sway him in public Affaires) shall forsake the Great Council of his Kingdome, to be ruled wholly by his Wife?  Sa Majesté Générallissime, Generallissima of all the Traitors in England, Scotland and Ireland. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

No man of Conscience or Honesty but must condemn him for he rejoiced in the ruin of his faithful Subjects. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

Where is King Charles? What’s become of him? It were best to send Hue and Cry after him. If any man can bring any tale or hiding of a wilful King, which hath gone astray these four years from his Parliament, with a guilty Conscience, bloody Hands, a Heart full of broken Vows and Protestations: give notice to Britanicus and you shall be well paid for your pains. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

Charles being in the Saddle took a course to ride the Nation quite off its Legs; all his Reign was to enslave, and embroil the People, and to enhance the Prerogative; for which he died a Martyr, being executed a Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer, and a public Enemy to the Nation. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

The tattling sexe extoll him for his love to his wife: I pray you take notice of these women, it is ten to one but they have the breeches. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

On Queen Henrietta Maria

The petticoat Machiavelli. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

That there be a public Thanksgiving by all the Ladies of Honour for the great deliverance of Harry’s Testiculanorums (the implication being that the Queen was having an affair with a Henry Jermyn, Earl of St Albans). – “Mercurius Britanicus”

On the Scottish and Scotland

Their chief Leaders gape only after Profit and Preferment, and (according to the custom of all Foreigners in Arms) will make no distinction between Friend and Foe, so they may satisfy their covetous and ambitious ends. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

A country which sticks like a scab upon the fair body of this unfortunate island. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

A Scotchman enters Hell at birth
And ’scapes when he goes to earth
Assured no worse a Hell can come
Than that which he enjoyed at home.
Digitus Dei; or, God’s justice upon treachery and treason, exemplifyed in the life and death of the late James, Duke of Hamilton”

On Cornwall

The very arse of Christendom.
“Mercurius Britanicus”

On France and the French

The French, those Monkeys of mankind, are very busy at Tennis, and they bandy Bullets instead of Balls. Now the game begins indeed, and the Crown is at hazard.
“Mercurius Britanicus”

The French court is a ‘walking Bordello’ where Duke of Orleans, ‘the true Monsieur, stands straddling, and when he converses even with the civilest Ladies, faces them in the same posture, ordering and tossing his Pike, with his hands in his Cod-piece’.
“Mercurius Britanicus”

They design upon our Cloth-Trade, and many of our useful Manufactures, by Money tempting away the Makers of them to go and settle in France, and by them get their own People to be instructed in the making of them. And in the meanwhile, to advance and encourage their own Manufacture; and cause ours to lie upon our own hands when made, they lay heavy Impositions upon all English Cloth, Stuffs, &c. that are or shall be Imported into France; which is the ready way to blow up many of our Merchants, and most of our Manufactures, and undo Thousands of poor People who depend upon them for a Subsistence by Work. No wonder then it hath been observed, That we do not of late send into France the Fourth or Fifth part of what Goods and Commodities we formerly sent over. Nay, I hear, That Monsieur Colbert, one of their principal Ministers, is at this very time consulting and advising with Merchants and others, to give our Trade a further diminution; while we (such is the fondness of our Nation!) are bewitched with an affectation of French Commodities. Their Behaviour, their Fashions, their Garb, their mean way of Housekeeping, French music, French Dancing-Masters, French Air in our very Countenances, French Legs, French Hats, French Compliments, French Grimaces; only we have not so frequent the French shrug of the shoulder, because we are not generally so low – and itchy.
Christianissimus Christianandus, or, Reason for the reduction of France to a more Christian state in Europ

They could never yet set any bounds on their ambition. – Christianissimus Christianandus, or, Reason for the reduction of France to a more Christian state in Europ

It was, and ever will be, the true interest of all princes to oppose the French designs. – Christianissimus Christianandus, or, Reason for the reduction of France to a more Christian state in Europ

A public pest among states and princes. – Christianissimus Christianandus, or, Reason for the reduction of France to a more Christian state in Europ

On civil lawyers

The excrement of Justinian. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

On Cromwell

Now Nol have at thy nose, I have shot nothing but paper bullets all this while. Therefore Snout look about thee, for if thou be catched we’ll put thy neck (in stead of thy nose) in a noose. – “Mercurius Pragmaticus”

Nol Cromwell arrived (after Pride’s Purge), as if he poor man had no hand in the business then joined the king-killing committee. – “Mercurius Pragmaticus”

In came that pure holy Goblin Nol Cromwell, who brought in along his fellow saint Henry Marten, who looks thin, as if he had gotten a Scottish clap. – “Mercurius Pragmaticus”

Silent be the barbarian shows of Caesar’s Rome,
A better Caesar is come, as a new star in the sky.
Greater than Caesar he, choosing no Caesar to be.
A crown others may grasp; enough for him, that he could.
– “Mercurius Pragmaticus”

On Henry Ireton, Cromwell’s son-in-law

The penman-general of the army.
– “Mercurius Pragmaticus”

On Charles II

This is Dad’s own Son, two faces under one hood, being an Hereditary Posture. – “Mercurius Politicus”

All that begins with the name of Charles is unlucky, and must down. – “Mercurius Politicus”

Young Tarquin slunk away in a Fly-boat, and embarked like Poor-John, ships being sent to scour the Road of King-Fishers, if the young Trout had been worth taking. – “Mercurius Politicus”

On religion

Popery is tyranny, Puritanism is anarchy. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

Bishops: The big bellies, the red-nose tribe of priests preach nothing else but broadsword divinity to hack and throw down the main pillars of reformation and liberty. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

There are 180 sects in London. These are all of some religion. Show me that are of any religion at all in Oxford. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

Those filthy dreamers of the clergy. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

Of all sinners, your Cathedral men are the worst. Some of your Prebends make nothing of sinning with the little singing boys after the Anthem. Oh! This is prodigious lust, which rages after Organ pipes and Surplices. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

From Sodomy and private murder to public Treason and Rebellion there is not any crime whereof they were not guilty; and from the penalty whereof they were not guarded by impunity and exemption from secular power. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

Churchmen of all religions and nations are of the same humour, to embroil the world up to its ears in blood rather than part with one tittle of that power and profit which may serve to satisfy the avarice and ambition of their interest and order. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

On Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert was much beholden to the gallantry of his horse, who in the conclusion surpassed all the rest of his followers in swiftness. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

On forms of Government

The sword and sovereignty ever walk hand in hand. – “Mercurius Politicus”

There is no everlasting Principle in Government, as to any one particular Form. For, the Rules and Reasons of Government cannot be always the same, it depending upon future contingents; and therefore, must be alterable according to the variety of emergent Circumstances and Accidents; so that no certain Form can be prescribed at all times, seeing that which may be most commendable at one time, may be most condemnable at another. – “Mercurius Politicus”

Be resolved, oh ye commons of the Kingdom, you have paid dear for your liberties and whosoever he was that endeavoured to rob you of them is, ipso facto, a tyrant.  – “Mercurius Pragmaticus”

‘Tis a godly thing States to reform by murder. – “Mercurius Pragmaticus”

Fair words, gentle carriage, and a reputation of Clemency are of more force for the taming of turbulent spirits in a new Commonwealth, than Prisons, Forfeiture of Goods, Banishment, Bodily punishment, or Death itself. – “The Case of the Common-wealth of England Stated”

Love is the surest Guard of States and Princes; which is no way to be obtained but by gentleness & mercy, whereas severity sows the first seeds of Sedition & Enmity. – “The Case of the Common-wealth of England Stated”

The common people are naturally of a loose disposition, so that if they may enjoy a kind of dissolute liberty, they like the present state of Government whatsoever it be. – “The Case of the Common-wealth of England Stated”

I confess that for a time I was of an opinion contrary to what is here written ‘til some causes made me reflect with an impartial eye upon the affairs of this new Government. – “The Case of the Common-wealth of England Stated”

It is pity, that the people of England, being born as free as any people in the World, should be of such a supple humour and inclination, to bow under the ignoble pressures of an Arbitrary Tyranny, and so unapt to learn what true Freedom is. – “The Excellencie of a Free-State”

Ignorance is the mother of devotion. – “The Excellencie of a Free-State”

He’s an Oaf that thinks an Oath can tame a Prince beyond his pleasure. – “Newes from Brussels”

Interest is the true zenith of every state and person though clothed never so much with the specious disguise of religion, justice and necessity and actions are the effects of interests from whom they proceed, and to whom they tend naturally, as the stone doth downward. – “The Case Stated Between England and the United Provinces”

The Kingdome shall bee brought to bed of that prodigious Monster which they call a full and free Parliament, wherein the high-shoes, the Reverend Coblers, and Kettle-menders, must all come a gossiping. – “Mercurius Pragmaticus”

A succession of Powers & Persons is the only remedy against self-seeking. – “The Excellencie of a Free-State”

On the Republican Great Seal of State: A stamp or print, after the Dutch model of butter boxes. –“Mercurius Pragmaticus”

On the Council of State’s four Peers: Salisbury the stout, Pembroke the witty, Denbigh the chaste and Mulgrave the pretty. – “Mercurius Pragmaticus”

On peace talks:

Oh that I had a voice of thunder to awake and undeceive the deluded people all over the kingdom. Evil advisers, snakes in the green grass. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

What an harsh melody this Quire of Screech-Owls make; Mischief finds many Messengers. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

On loyalty

Allegiance is Rebellion now. – Mercurius Pragmaticus”

Royalist rival Sir John Berkenhead

But hark ye, thou mathematical liar, that framest lies of all dimensions, long, broad and profound lies, and then playest the botcher, the qubbiling prick-louse every week in tacking and stitching them together; I tell thee (Berkenhead) thou art a known notorious odious forger: and though I will not say thou art (in thine own language) the son of an Egyptian whore, yet all the world knows thou art an underling pimp to the whore of Babylon, and thy conscience an arrant prostitute for base ends. This is truth, not railing. – “Mercurius Britanicus”

On the Earl of Shaftesbury

A dapper conscience, he was a pettifogger of politics, shifts his principles like his shorts, quit an unlucky side in a fright at the noise of a new-prevailing party, a will-with-a-wisp that he uses to lead men out of the way then leaves them at last in a ditch and darkness and nimbly retreats for self-security. – A Pacquet of advices and animadversions, sent from London to the men of Shaftsbury.

On being jailed

Being very sensible of my sad suffering (after six Weekes imprisonment) upon suspicion of being the Author of Mercurius Pragmaticus; and finding that many others have been, and may be, imprisoned upon the same Accompt, or the like, for scandalous Pamphlets, I thought meet (having little else to do in Prison) to descend somewhat into the nature of my supposed Crime; which I judged might be best understood out of the monuments of History and Policy. – “The Case of the Common-wealth of England Stated”

On medical practice

I could willingly write a Treatise touching the mischiefs done by bleeding in most Diseases, as well as Agues and Fevers; in the meantime, I say, the frequent opening of Veins is the Bane of our own Nation, and that it ought not to be admitted, unless it be in some few Cases of Urgency. – “Medela medicinae a plea for the free prosestion and renovation of the art of physick our of the noblest and most authentick writers tending to the rescue of mankind from the tyranny of diseases, and of physicians themselves, from the pedansism of old authors and present dictators”

Physicians and Patients agree upon a Cure; which is usually managed by Diet-Drinks, ill prepared Pills, and other Ceremonies of the Rack due to Sinners. – “Medela medicinae”

On censorship

There is, and hath been, in every Age, a certain Itch of scribbling; and when Governors shall enact Lawes against such scurrilous Productions, they give them a kind of Reputation, and make them the more sought after. – “Mercurius Politicus”

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