From Joe Miller’s Jest Book, which is a pirated but exact version of The Jest Book, selected and arranged by Mark Lemon, except for some Americanized spellings; New York : Hurst & Co., no date; pp. 1-22.
( Jests 1-99. )
POPE dining once with Frederic, Prince of Wales, paid the prince many compliments. “I wonder, Pope,” said the prince, “that you, who are so severe on kings, should be so complaisant to me.”— “It is,” said the wily bard, “because I like the lion before his claws are grown.”
SIR WATKIN WILLIAMS WYNNE talking to a friend about the antiquity of his family, which he carried up to Noah, was told that he was a mere mushroom of yesterday. “How so, pray ?” said the baronet. “Why,” continued the other, “when I was in Wales, a pedigree of a particular family was shown to me : it filled five large skins of parchment, and near the middle of it was a note in the margin : ‘About this time the world was created.’ ”
A CERTAIN noble lord, being in his early years much addicted to dissipation, his mother advised him to take example by a gentleman, whose food was herbs and his drink water. “What ! Madam,” said he, “would you have me to imitate a man who eats like a beast, and drinks like a fish ? ”
A POOR woman, who had attended several confirmations, 2 was at length recognized by the bishop. “Pray, have I not seen you here before ?” said his lordship. “Yes,” replied the woman, “I get me conform’d as often as I can : they tell me it is good for the rheumatis.”
LORD CHANCELLOR HARDWICK’S bailiff, having been ordered by his lady to procure a sow of a particular description, came one day into the dining-room when full of company, proclaiming with a burst of joy he could not suppress, “I have been at Royston fair, my lady, and I have got a sow exactly of your ladyship’s size.”
THE following lines were written on seeing a farrago of rhymes that had been scribbled with a diamond on the window of an inn : —
“Ye who on windows thus prolong your shames,
And to such arrant nonsense sign your names,
The diamond quit — with me the pencil take,
So shall your shame but short duration make;
For lo, the housemaid comes, in dreadful pet,
With red right hand, and with a dishclout wet,
Dashes out all, nor leaves a wreck to tell
Who ’t was that wrote so ill ! — and loved so well ! ”
A MAN of sagacity, being informed of a serious quarrel between two of his female relations, asked the persons if in their quarrels either had called the other ugly ? On receiving an answer in the negative, “O, then, I shall soon make up the quarrel.”
A HIGHLANDER, who sold brooms, went into a barber’s shop in Glasgow to get shaved. The barber bought one of his brooms, and, after having shaved him, asked the price of it. “Tippence,” said the Highlander. “No, no,” says the shaver; “I’ll give you a penny, and if that 3 does not satisfy you, take your broom again.” The Highlander took it, and asked what he had to pay. “A penny,” says Strap. “I’ll gie ye a baubee.” says Duncan, “and if that dinna satisfy ye, pit on my beard again.”
A WEALTHY merchant of Fenchurch Street, lamenting to a confidential friend that his daughter had eloped with one of his footmen, concluded, by saying, “Yet I wish to forgive the girl, and receive her husband, as it is now to late to part them. But then his condition; how can I introduce him ?” — “Nonsense,” replied his companion; “introduce him as a Liveryman of the city of London. What is more honorable ?”
LADY ———, spoke to the butler to be saving of an excellent cask of small beer, and asked him how it might be best preserved. “I know no method so effectual, my lady,” replied the butler, “as placing a barrel of good ale by it.”
A STRANGER to law courts hearing a judge call a sergeant “brother,” expressed his surprise. “Oh,” said one present, “they are brothers — brothers-in-law.”
It was the habit of Lord Eldon, when Attorney-General, to close his speeches with some remarks justifying his own character. At the trial of Horne Tooke, speaking of his own reputation, he said : “It is the little inheritance I have to leave my children, and, by God’s help, I will leave it unimpaired.” Here he shed tears; and, to the astonishment of those present, Mitford, the Solicitor-General, began to weep. “Just look at Mitford,” said a by-stander to Horne Tooke; “what on earth is he crying for ?” Tooke replied, “He is crying to think what a small inheritance Eldon’s children are likely to get.”4
JERROLD one day met a Scotch gentlemen, whose name was Leitch, and who explained that he was not the popular caricaturist, John Leech. “I’m aware of that; you’re the Scotchman with the i-t-c-h in your name,” said Jerrold.
THE government, having threatened to proceed rigorously against those who refused to pay the assessed taxes, offered to them a remission of one fourth. “This at least,” said a sufferer, “may be called, giving them some quarter.”
LORD NORTH, who was very corpulent before a severe sickness, said to his physician after it, “Sir, I am obliged to you for introducing me to some old acquaintances.” — “Who are they, my lord ?” — “My ribs,” replied his lordship, “which I have not felt for many years until now.”
WHEN Lord Sandwich was to present Admiral Campbell, he told him, that probably the king would knight him. The admiral did not much relish the honor. “Well, but,” said Lord S., “perhaps Mrs. Campbell will like it.” — “Then let the king knight her,” answered the rough seaman.
DANIEL PURCELL, the famous punster, was desired to make a pun extempore. “Upon what subject ?” said Daniel. “The king,” answered the other. “O, sir.” said he, “the king is no subject.”
A NOTORIOUS miser having heard a very eloquent charity sermon, exclaimed, “This sermon strongly proves the necessity of alms. I have almost a mind to turn beggar.”5
SHERIDAN made his appearance one day in a pair of new boots; these attracting the notice of some of his friends, “Now guess,” said he, “how I came by these boots ?” Many probable guesses then took place. “No !” said Sheridan, “no, you’ve not hit it, nor ever will, — I bought them, and paid for them !”
IN a large party, one evening, the conversation turned upon young men’s allowance at college. Tom Sheridan lamented the ill-judging parsimony of many parents in that respect. “I am sure, Tom,” said his father, “you need not complain; I always allowed you eight hundred a year.” — “Yes, father, I must confess you allowed it; but then it was never paid.”
DR. PITCAIRN had one Sunday stumbled into a Presbyterian church, probably to beguile a few idle moments (for few will accuse that gentleman of having been a warm admirer of Calvinism), and seeing the parson apparently overwhelmed by the importance of his subject : “What makes the man greet ? ” said Pitcairn to a fellow that stood near him. “By my faith, sir,” answered the other, “you would perhaps greet, too, if you were in his place, and had as little to say.” — “Come along with me, friend, and let’s have a glass together; you are too good a fellow to be here,” said Pitcairn, delighted with the man’s repartee.
WHEN a late Duchess of Bedford was last at Buxton, and then in her eighty-fifth year, it was the medical farce of the day for the faculty to resolve every complaint of whim and caprice into “a shock of the nervous system.” Her grace, after inquiring of many of her friends in the rooms what brought them there, and being generally answered for a nervous complaint, was asked in her turn, 6 “What brought her to Buxton ?” — “I came only for pleasure,” answered the healthy duchess; “for, thank God, I was born before nerves came into fashion.”
SHERIDAN was very desirous that his son Tom should marry a young woman of large fortune, but knew that Miss Callander had won his son’s heart. Sheridan, expiating on the folly of his son, at length exclaimed, “Tom, if you marry Caroline Callander, I’ll cut you off with a shilling !” Tom could not resist the opportunity of replying, and looking archly at his father said, “Then, sir, you must borrow it.” Sheridan was tickled at the wit, and dropped the subject.
GEORGE III, having purchased a horse, the dealer put into his hands a large sheet of paper, completely written over. “What’s this ?” said his majesty. “The pedigree of the horse, sire, which you have just bought,” was the answer. “Take it back, take it back,” said the king, laughing; “it will do very well for the next horse you sell.”
DR. BUSBY, whose figure was beneath the common size, was one day accosted in a public coffee-room by an Irish baronet of colossal stature, with, “May I pass to my seat, O Giant ?” When the doctor, politely making way, replied, “Pass, O Pigmy !” — “O, sir,” said the baronet, “my expression alluded to the size of your intellect.” — “And my expression, sir,” said the doctor, “to the size of yours.”
A BUTCHER of some eminence was lately in company with several ladies at a game of whist, where, having lost two or three rubbers, one of the ladies addressing him, asked, “Pray, sir, what are the stakes now ?” To which, ever mindful of his occupation, he immediately replied, “Madam, the best rump I cannot sell lower than tenpence halfpenny a pound.”7
THREE gentlemen being in a coffee-house, one called for a dram, because he was hot. “Bring me another,” says his companion, “because I am cold.” The third, who sat by and heard them, very quietly called out, “Here, boy, bring me a glass, because I like it.”
A PERSON to whom the curiosities, buildings, &c., in Oxford were shown one very hot day, was asked by his companion if he would see the remainder of the University. “My dear sir,” replied the connoisseur, “I am stone blind already.”
A SATIRIC poet underwent a severe drubbing, and was observed to walk ever afterwards with a stick. “Mr. P. reminds me,” says a wag, “of some of the saints, who are always painted with the symbols of their martyrdom.”
IN a small party, the subject turning on matrimony, a lady said to her sister, “I wonder, my dear, you have never made a match ; I think you want the brimstone” ; — she replied, “No, not the brimstone, only the spark.”
A COACHMAN, extolling the sagacity of one of his horses, observed, that “if anybody was to go for to use him ill, he would bear malice like a Christian.”
DR. A., physician at Newcastle, being summoned to a vestry, in order to reprimand the sexton for drunkenness, he dwelt so long on the sexton’s misconduct, as to draw from him this expression : “Sir, I thought you would have been the last man alive to appear against me, as I have covered so many blunders of yours ! ”8
A RICH man sent to call a physician for a slight disorder. The physician felt his pulse, and said, “Do you eat well ?” — “Yes,” said the patient. “Do you sleep well ?” — “I do.” — “Then,” said the physician, “I shall give you something to take away all that ! ”
SIR GEORGE ETHEREGE, having run up a score at Lockit’s, absented himself from the ordinary. In consequence of this, Mrs. Lockit was sent to dun him and threaten him with an action. He told the messenger that he would certainly kiss her if she stirred a step in it ! On this, the message being brought, she called for her hood and scarf, and told her husband, who interposed, “that she should see if there was any fellow alive that had the impudence !” — “Pr’ythee, my dear, don’t be so rash,” replied the good man; “You don’t know what a man may do in a passion.”
IN a bookseller’s catalogue lately appeared the following article : “Memoirs of Charles the First,— with a head capitally executed.”
A LUNATIC in Bedlam was asked how he came there ? He answered, “By a dispute.” — “What dispute ?” The bedlamite replied, “The world said I was mad ; I said the world was mad, and they outwitted me.”
SOME years ago, says Richardson, in his anecdotes of painting, a gentleman came to me to invite me to his house. “I have,” says he, “a picture of Rubens, and it is a rare good one. Little H. the other day came to see it, and says it is a copy. If any one says so again, I’ll break his head. Pray, Mr. Richardson, will you do me the favor to come, and give me your real opinion of it ? ”9
“HOW does your new-purchased horse answer ? ” said the late Duke of Cumberland to George Selwyn. “I really don’t know,” replied George, “for I never asked him a question.”
A BARRISTER entered the hall with his wig very much awry, of which he was not at all apprised, but was obliged to endure from almost every observer some remark on its appearance, till at last, addressing himself to Mr. Curran, he asked him. “Do you see anything ridiculous in this wig.” — “Nothing but the head,” was the answer.
A LADY, after performing, with the most brilliant execution, a sonato on the pianoforte, in the presence of Dr. Johnson, turning to the philosopher, took the liberty of asking him if he was fond of music ? “No, madam,” replied the doctor; “but of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.”
A YOUNG man met a rival who was somewhat advanced in years, and, wishing to annoy him, inquired how old he was ? “I can’t exactly tell,” replied the other; “but I can inform you that an ass is older at twenty than a man at sixty !”
[This story is 400 years old, at least, titled Two Knights of Castille, by Poggio Bracciolini HERE. — Elf.Ed.]
THE following admonition was addressed by a Quaker to a man who was pouring forth a volley of ill language against him : “Have a care, friend, thou mayest run thy face against my fist.”
A FELLOW boasting in company of his family, declared even his own father died in an exalted situation. Some 10 of the company looking incredulous, another observed, “I can bear testimony to the gentleman’s veracity, as my father was sheriff for the county when his was hanged for horse-stealing.”
WHEN General V——— was quartered in a small town in Ireland, he and his lady were regularly besieged as they got into their carriage by an old beggar-woman, who kept her post at the door, assailing them daily with fresh importunities. One morning, as Mrs. V. stepped into the carriage, the woman began : “Oh, my lady ! success to your ladyship, and success to your honor’s honor : for sure I did not dream last night that her ladyship gave me a pound of tea, and your honor gave me a pound of tobacco.” — “My good woman,” said the general “dreams go by the rule of contrary.” — “Do they so ?” rejoined the old woman; “then it must mean, that your honor will give me the tea, and her ladyship the tobacco.”
BOSWELL, dining one day with Dr. Johnson, asked him if he did not think that a good cook was more essential to the community than a good poet. “I don’t suppose,” said the doctor, “that there’s a dog in the town but what thinks so.”
A GENTLEMAN at an inn, seeing that the lights were so dim as only to render the darkness visible, called out, “Here, waiter, let me have a couple of decent candles to see how these others burn.”
A GENTLEMAN, at whose house Swift was dining in Ireland, after dinner introduced remarkably small hock-glasses, and at length turning to Swift addressed him : “Mr. Dean, I shall be happy to take a glass of hic, hæc, hoc, with you.” — “Sir,” rejoined the doctor, “I shall be happy to comply, but it must be out of a hujus glass.”11
DR. ROBERTSON observed, that Johnson’s jokes were the rebukes of the righteous, described in Scripture as being like excellent oil. “Yes,” exclaimed Burke, “oil of vitriol ! ”
FOOTE being in company, and the wine producing more riot than concord, he observed one gentleman so far gone in debate as to throw the bottle at his antagonist’s head; upon which, catching the missile in his hand, he restored the harmony of the company by observing, that “if the bottle was passed so quickly, not one of them would be able to stand out the evening.”
MR. ROGERS was requested by Lady Holland to ask Sir Philip Francis whether he was the author of Junius. The poet approached the knight, “Will you, Sir Philip, — will your kindness excuse my addressing to you a single question ?” — “At your peril, sir !” was the harsh and the laconic answer. The intimidated bard retreated to his friends, who eagerly asked him the result of his application. “I don’t know,” he answered, “whether he is Junius ; but, if he be, he is certainly Junius Brutus.”
A LOVING husband once waited on a physician to request him to prescribe for his wife’s eyes, which were very sore. “Let her wash them,” said the doctor, “every morning with a small glass of brandy.” A few weeks after, the doctor chanced to meet the husband. “Well, my friend, has your wife followed my advice ?” — “She has done everything in her power to do it, doctor” ; said the spouse, “but she never could get the glass higher than her mouth.”
ELWES, the noted miser, used to say, “If you keep one 12 servant, your work is done; if you keep two, it is half done; and if you keep three, you may do it yourself.”
ADMIRAL LORD HOWE, when a captain, was once hastily awakened in the middle of the night by the lieutenant of the watch, who informed him with great agitation that the ship was on fire near the magazine. “If that be the case,” said he, rising leisurely to put on his clothes, “we shall soon know it.” The lieutenant flew back to the scene of danger, and almost instantly returning, exclaimed, “You need not, sir, be afraid, the fire is extinguished.” — “Afraid !” exclaimed Howe, “what do you mean by that, sir ? I never was afraid in my life” ; and looking the lieutenant full in the face, he added, “Pray, how does a man feel, sir, when he is afraid ? I need not ask how he looks.”
JOHN HORNE TOOKE’S opinion upon the subject of law was admirable. “Law,” he said, “ought to be, not a luxury for the rich, but a remedy, to be easily, cheaply, and speedily obtained by the poor.” A person observed to him, how excellent are the English laws, because they are impartial, and our courts of justice are open to all persons without distinction. “And so,” said Tooke, “is the London Tavern, to such as can afford to pay for their entertainment.”
WHILE Commodore Anson’s ship, the Centurion, was engaged in close fight with the rich Spanish galleon, which he afterwards took, a sailor came running to him, and cried out, “Sir, our ship is on fire very near the powder magazine.” — “Then pray, friend,” said the commodore, not in the least degree discomposed, “run back and assist in putting it out.”
A COCKNEY being out one day amusing himself with 13 shooting, happened to fire through a hedge, on the other side of which was a man standing. The shot passed through the man’s hat, but missed the bird. “Did you fire at me, sir ?” he hastily asked. “O ! no, sir,” said the shrewd sportsman, “I never hit what I fire at.”
IT is related of the great Dr. Clarke, that when in one of his leisure hours he was unbending himself with a few friends in the most playful and frolicsome manner, he observed Beau Nash approaching; upon which he suddenly stopped : “My boys,” said he, “let us be grave : here comes a fool.”
AT one of the Holland-house Sunday dinner-parties, a year or two ago, Crockford’s Club, then forming, was talked of; and the noble hostess observed, that the female passion for diamonds was surely less ruinous than the rage for play among men. “In short, you think,” said Mr. Rogers, “that clubs are worse than diamonds.” This joke excited a laugh; and when it had subsided, Sydney Smith wrote the following impromptu sermonet — most appropriately on a card : —
Thoughtless that “all that’s brightest fades,”
Unmindful of that Knave of Spades,
The Sexton and his Subs :
How foolishly we play our parts !
Our wives on diamonds set their hearts,
We set our hearts on clubs !
A PHYSICIAN attending a lady several times, had received a couple of guineas each visit; at last, when he was going away, she gave him but one; at which he was surprised, and looking on the floor, “I believe, madam,” said he, “I have dropt a guinea.” — “No, sir,” replied the lady, “it is I that have dropt it.”14
A FACETIOUS fellow having unwittingly offended a conceited puppy, the latter told him he was no “gentleman.” — “Are you a gentleman ?” asked the droll one. “Yes, sir,” bounced the fop. “Then, I am very glad I am not,” replied the other.
DR. LLOYD, Bishop of Worcester, so eminent for his prophecies, when by his solicitations and compliance at court he got removed from a poor Welsh bishopric to a rich English one, a revered dean of the Church said, that he found his brother Lloyd spelt Prophet with an F.
DR. HICKRINGAL, who was one of King Charles the Second’s chaplains, whenever he preached before his Majesty, was sure to tell him of his faults from the pulpit. One day his Majesty met the doctor in the Mall, and said to him, “Doctor, what have I done to you that you are always quarrelling with me ?” — “I hope your Majesty is not angry with me,” quoth the doctor, “for telling the truth.” — “No, no,” says the king, “but I would have us for the future be friends.” — “Well, well,” quoth the doctor, “I will make it up with your Majesty on these terms, — as you mend I ’ll mend.”
A CHIMNEY-SWEEPER’S boy went into a baker’s shop for a twopenny loaf, and conceiving it to be diminutive in size, remarked to the baker that he did not believe it was weight. “Never mind that,” said the man of dough, “you will have the less to carry.” — “True,” replied the lad, and throwing three half-pence on the counter left the shop. The baker called after him that he had not left money enough. “Never mind that,” said young sooty, “you will have the less to count.”15
LORD KAMES used to relate a story of a man who claimed the honor of his acquaintance on rather singular grounds. His lordship, when one of the justiciary judges, returning from the north circuit to Perth, happened one night to sleep at Dunkeld. The next morning, walking towards the ferry, but apprehending he had missed his way, he asked a man whom he met to conduct him. The other answered with much cordiality : “That I will do, with all my heart, my lord; does not your lordship remember me? My name’s John ——; I have had the honor to be before your lordship for stealing sheep ?” — “Oh, John, I remember you well; and how is your wife? she had the honor to be before me, too, for receiving them, knowing them to be stolen.” — “At your lordship’s service. We were very lucky, we got off for want of evidence; and I am still going on in the butcher trade.” — “Then,” replied his lordship, “we may have the honor of meeting again.”
IT was with as much delicacy as satire that Porson returned, with the manuscript of a friend, the answer, “That it would be read when Homer and Virgil were forgotten, but not till then.”
Scotland ! thy weather’s like a modish wife,
Thy winds and rains for ever are at strife;
So termagant awhile her thunder tries.
And when she can no longer scold, she cries.
AN ancient sage uttered the following apothegm: — “The goodness of gold is tried by fire, the goodness of women by gold, and the goodness of men by the ordeal of women.”16
THE facetious Mr. Bearcroft told his friend Mr. Vansittart, “Your name is such a long one, I shall drop the sittart, and call you Van for the future.” — “With all my heart,” said he : “by the same rule, I shall drop croft, and call you Bear ! ”
WHEN the Prince of Orange, afterwards William the Third, came over to this country, five of the seven bishops who were sent to the Tower declared for his highness; but the other two would not come into the measures. Upon which Dryden said, that “the seven golden candlesticks were sent to be assayed in the Tower, and five of them proved prince’s metal.”
THROUGH an avenue of trees, at the back of Trinity College, a church may be seen at a considerable distance, the approach to which affords no very pleasing scenery. 17 Porson, walking that way with a friend, and observing the church, remarked, “That it put him to mind of a fellowship, which was a long dreary walk, with a church at the end of it.”
A MAN meeting his friend, said, “I spoke to you last night in a dream.” — “Pardon me,” replied the other, “I did not hear you.”
“PRAY, Mr. Abernethy, what is the cure for gout ?” asked an indolent and luxurious citizen. “Live upon sixpence a day, and earn it ! ” was the pithy answer.
SEVERAL young gentlemen once got up a play at Cambridge. On the day of representation one of the performers took it into his head to make an excuse, and his part was obliged to be read. Hobhouse came forward to apologize to the audience, and told them that a Mr. ——- had declined to perform his part. The gentleman was highly indignant at the “a,” and had a great inclination to pick a quarrel with Scrope Davies, who replied that he supposed Mr. ——- wanted to be called the Mr. So-and-so. He ever afterwards went by the name of the “Definite Article.”
ROGERS, when a certain Mr. P., in a review of his poems, said “he wrote very well for a banker,” wrote, in return, the following : —
“They say he has no heart, and I deny it:
He has a heart, and — gets his speeches by it.”
THE present Lord Chancellor remarked of a young barrister who had just made a speech of more poetry than law, “Poor young man, he has studied the wrong Phillips.”
“WHAT’S the matter ?” inquired a passer-by, observing a crowd collected around a black fellow, whom an officer was attempting to secure, to put aboard an outward-bound whale ship, from which he had deserted. “Matter ! matter enough,” exclaimed the delinquent, “pressing a poor Negro to get oil.”
A SEEDSMAN being lately held to bail for using inflammatory language respecting the Reform Bill, a wag observed, it was probably in the line of his profession — to promote business, he wished to sow sedition.
COUNSELLOR CRIPS being on a party at Castle-Martyr, one of the company, a physician, strolled out before dinner into the churchyard. Dinner being served, and the doctor not returned, some one expressed his surprise where he could be gone to. “Oh,” says the counsellor, “he is but just stept out to pay a visit to some of his old patients.”
DR. JOHNSON being asked his opinion of the title of a very small volume remarkable for its pomposity, replied, “That it was similar to placing an eight-and-forty pounder at the door of a pigsty.”
AS a man who, deeply involved in debt, was walking in the street with a very melancholy air, one of his acquaintance asked him why he was so sorrowful “Alas !” said 19 he, “I am in a state of insolvency.” — “Well,” said his friend, “if that is the case, it is not you, but your creditors, who ought to wear a woful countenance.”
DURING the short time that Lord Byron was in Parliament, a petition, setting forth the wretched condition of the Irish peasantry, was one evening presented, and very coldly received by the “hereditary legislative wisdom.” — “Ah,” said Lord Byron, “what a misfortune it was for the Irish that they were not born black ! They would then have had plenty of friends in both houses.”
I LIVE in Julia’s eyes,” said an affected dandy in Colman’s hearing. “I do n’t wonder at it,” replied George; “since I observed she has a sty in them when I saw her last.”
AS a worthy city baronet was gazing one evening at the gas lights in front of the Mansion-house, an old acquaintance came up to him and said, “Well, Sir William, are you studying astronomy ?” — “No, sir,” replied the alderman, “I am studying gas-tronomy.”
A VERY volatile young lord, whose conquests in the female world were numberless, at last married. “Now, my lord,” said the countess, “I hope you ’ll mend.” — “Madam,” says he, “you may depend on it, this is my last folly.”
WHEN the Earl of Bradford was brought before the Lord Chancellor, to be examined upon application for a statute of lunacy against him, the chancellor asked him, “How many legs has a sheep ?” — “Does your lordship mean,” answered Lord Bradford, “a live sheep or a dead 20 sheep ?” — “Is it not the same thing ?” said the chancellor. “No, my lord,” said Lord Bradford, “there is much difference; a live sheep may have four legs; a dead sheep has only two : the two fore legs are shoulders; but there are but two legs of mutton.”
WHEN George II. was once expressing his admiration of General Wolfe, some one observed that the General was mad. “Oh ! He is mad, is he !” said the king, with great quickness, “then I wish he would bite some other of my generals.”
TWO old ladies, who were known to be of the same age, had the same desire to keep the real number concealed; one therefore used upon a New-year’s-day to go to the other, and say, “Madam, I am come to know how old we are to be this year.”
A PRISONER being called on to plead to an indictment for larceny, was told by the clerk to hold up his right hand. The man immediately held up his left hand. “Hold up your right hand,” said the clerk, “Please your honor.” said the culprit, still keeping up his left hand, “I am left-handed.”
DR. BURNEY, who wrote the celebrated anagram on Lord Nelson, after his victory of the Nile, “Honor est a Nilo” (Horatio Nelson), was shortly after on a visit to his lordship, at his beautiful villa at Merton. From his usual absence of mind, he neglected to put a nightcap into his portmanteau, and consequently borrowed one from his lordship. Before retiring to rest, he sat down to study, as was his common practice, having first put on the cap, and was shortly after alarmed by finding it in flames; he 21 immediately collected the burnt remains, and returned them with the following lines : —
“Take your nightcap again, my good lord, I desire,
I would not retain it a minute;
What belongs to a Nelson, wherever there’s fire,
Is sure to be instantly in it.”
A PERSON who had resided for some time on the coast of Africa was asked if he thought it possible to civilize the natives. “As a proof of the possibility of it,” said he, “I have known some negroes that thought as little of a lie or an oath as any European.”
A DYER, in a court of justice, being ordered to hold up his hand, that was all black; “Take off your glove, friend,” said the judge to him. “Put on your spectacles, my lord,” answered the dyer.
A GENTLEMAN having a servant with a very thick skull, used often to call him the king of fools. “I wish,” said the fellow one day, “you could make your words good, I should then be the greatest monarch in the world.”
A LAWYER being sick, made his last will, and gave all his estate to fools and madmen; being asked the reason for so doing; “From such,” said he, “I had it, and to such I give it again.”
TWO city ladies meeting at a visit, one a grocer’s wife, and the other a cheesemonger’s, when they had risen up and took their departure, the cheesemonger’s wife was going out of the room first, upon which the grocer’s lady, pulling her back by the tail of her gown, and stepping 22 before her, said, “No, madam, nothing comes after cheese.”
SIR JOHN HAMILTON, who had severely suffered from the persecutions of the law, used to say, that an attorney was like a hedgehog, it was impossible to touch him anywhere without pricking one’s fingers.
A GENTLEMAN who had an Irish servant, having stopped at an inn for several days, desired to have a bill, and found a large quantity of port placed to his servant’s account, and questioned him about it. “Please your honor,” cried Pat, “do read how many they charge me.” The gentleman began, “One bottle port, one ditto, one ditto, one ditto,” — “Stop, stop, stop, master,” exclaimed Paddy, “they are cheating you. I know I had some bottles of their port, but I did not taste a drop of their ditto.”