Reference > Quotations > S.A. Bent, comp. > Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men
S.A. Bent, comp.  Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men.  1887.
John Wilkes
        [A famous English politician and wit, called by Johnson “the phœnix of convivial felicity;” born in London, 1727; educated at Leyden; member of Parliament, 1757; founded “The North Briton,” 1762; in No. 45 accused the king of “an infamous fallacy” in a speech from the throne; imprisoned in the Tower; expelled from the House for libel, 1764, and outlawed; elected for Middlesex, but unseated, and re-elected; Lord Mayor of London, 1774, and admitted to sit for Middlesex, which he represented for many years; died 1797.]
God forget you! He’ll see you d—— first!
          An exclamation caused by the concluding sentence of a speech of Lord Thurlow’s: “When I forget my king, may my God forget me!” Burke added, “The best thing that could happen to you.”
  His opponent at Brentford said, “I will take the sense of the meeting.”—“And I will take the nonsense,” added Wilkes; “and we will see who has the best of it.”
  He replied to the Prince Regent, who asked when he became so loyal, by saying, “Ever since I had the honor of knowing your Royal Highness.” But he said of George III., “I love the king so much that I hope never to see another.”
  He refused to take a hand at whist, saying, “I am so ignorant that I cannot tell a king from a knave.”
  “Fish,” he once said, “is almost the only rare thing by the seaside.”
  He remarked of an unmannerly man in a chop-house, “Usually the bear is brought to the stake: here the steak is brought to the bear.”
  Wilkes said of Burke’s florid style, “His oratory would sometimes make one suspect that he eats potatoes and drinks whiskey.” In speaking of Wilkes and his mob-following, Burke substituted humeris for numeris in Horace’s line (“Odes,” IV. 2),—
                    “—numerisque fertur
Lege solutis,”
so that it might read,—
        “He is carried on shoulders uncontrolled by law.”
BOSWELL’S Johnson, 1778.    
Burke also said of the popular excitement in favor of Wilkes, “Whenever the people have a feeling, they commonly are in the right. They sometimes mistake the physician.”

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