According to Brady (Clavis Calendaria), this designation arose from the fact that in an old romance a prince of the name of Crispin is made to exercise, in honour of his namesake, Saint Crispin, the trade of shoemaking. There is a tradition that King Edward IV., in one of his disguises, once drank with a party of shoemakers, and pledged them. The story is alluded to in the old play of George a-Greene (1599):
Marry, because you have drank with the King, And the King hath so graciously pledged you, You shall no more be called shoemakers; But you and yours, to the worlds end, Shall be called the trade of the gentle craft.
An exclamation of Charles II. when in Parliament attending the discussion of Lord Rosss Divorce Bill.
The king remained in the House of Peers while his speech was taken into consideration,a common practice with him; for the debates amused his sated mind, and were sometimes, he used to say, as good as a comedy.Thomas B. Macaulay: Review of the Life and Writings of Sir William Temple.
Nullos his mallem ludos spectasse.Horace: Satires, ii. 8, 79.
That action is best which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.Hutcheson: Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, sect. 3. (1720.)
Priestley was the first (unless it was Beccaria) who taught my lips to pronounce this sacred truth,that the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation Bentham: Works, vol. x. p. 142.
The expression is used by Beccaria in the introduction to his Essay on Crimes and Punishments. (1764).