button to main menu  Gents Mag 1821 part 1 p.23

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Gentleman's Magazine 1821 part 1 p.23

  Archie Armstrong

Archibald Armstrong, Jester

... ...
ARCHIBALD ARMSTRONG*, better known by the name of Archee, was Jester to the Court of James and Charles I. - He had a particular spleen against Archbishop Laud, who was, on more occasions than one, the butt of his wit. After the Liturgy had been rejected in Scotland, he had the temerity to ask the prelate, 'Who is fool now?' and termed the stool which was thrown at Forbes's head in the pulpit, 'the stool of repentance.' For this insolence the King ordered him to pull of his fool's coat, and to suffer flagellation and dismissal; and appointed as his successor a person called 'Muckle John,' who was the last Jester in this country†. Armstrong, about a week after his discharge, put on a suit of black, and being interrogated concerning his coat, said,
"O, my Lord of Canterbury hath taken it from me, because either he or some of the Scots Bishops may have use for it themselves: but he hath given em a black coat for it, to colour my knavery with, and now I speak what I please (so it be not against the prelates) for this coat hath a far greater privilege than the other had‡."
Few will think but it was necessary to put a stop to the impertinence of this man; for, of all others, a Jester should never meddle with affairs not in his immediate vocation. - His Jests were printed in 12mo, with his portrait by Cecill, in which he is represented in a long parti-coloured cloak, with a hat and feather. Subjoined to the print are these lines:

"Archee, by kings and princes grac'd of late,
Jested himself into a fair estate;
And in this book, doth to his friends commend,
His jeers, taunts, tales, which no man can offend."
These verses seem to hint that Armstrong had acquired a handsome competency. Granger doubts the authenticity of the bon-mots, and says that they 'are indeed, in general, very unworthy of him.'
"A Banquet of Jests, or Change of Cheare. Being a Collection of Moderne Jests, Witty Jeeres, Pleasant Taunts, Merry Tales:" the 5th impression, "Printed for Richard Royston, and are to be sold at his shoppe in Ivie-lane, at the signe of the Angell, 1639," pp.190. When the first edition was printed, we are not informed, but are inclined to fix it in 1631: another appeared in 1636.
No.15. "Of a Freese Jerkin. - An honest good fellow, having worne a thread-bare jerkin for the space of two yeares and an halfe; as soon as he had compast
* Neale, Hist. Purit. II. 332.
Ȃ Granger.
‡ Morgan's Phoenix Britannicus, p.462.
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