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William the Conqueror

THAT it is dangerous to exercise our raillery on those men “whose swords are sharper than their pens,” the present anecdote may verify.

Philip the First, of France, frequently indulged his humour at the expence of the Conqueror’s rather too large embonpoint and prominent belly. When William remained uncommonly long at Rouen, Philip, who did not much approve of his proximity to his court, frequently, in a jesting manner, enquired of his courtiers if they did not know when William would lie-in? The Conqueror, informed of this jest, gave him to understand that, when he should get abroad, he would come to return his compliments, for his kind enquiries, to Saint Genevieve, at Paris, with ten thousand lances, instead of candles! Whatever might be the wit of these monarchs, the arms of William were not contemptible. Such was the vengeance he took for the raillery of Philip, that he desolated in a short time the French Vexin, burnt the city of Mantes, and massacred the inhabitants; and, had not his death impeded his progress, he very probably would have conquered France, as he had England.