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From The Repository of Wit and Humor; comprising more than One Thousand Anecdotes, Odd Scraps, Off-Hand Hits, and Humorous Sketches; selected and arranged by M. Lafayette Byrn, M. D.; Boston: John P. Jewitt & Co., 1857; pp. 31-55.



WHEN Dr. Johnson was on his tour to the Hebrides, he dined at the house of George Gordon, Esq., of Gordon Bank, near Kelso, in company with Lord Kaimes and other gentlemen. In the evening, when tea and coffee were introduced, Miss Gordon, the host’s daughter, directed the servant to hand the doctor some tea-cakes peculiar to Scotland, called scones, or girdle-cakes. Dr. Johnson pushed the man’s hand back, signifying that he would not taste them. The young lady, who had superintended their making, feeling a little disappointed, determined to try her efforts on the doctor, she presented them herself, observing they were made purposely for him. The doctor looked good-naturedly at Miss Gordon (who had been silent the whole time of dinner), and said, taking the cakes, “Have you a tongue? I have not heard you speak this day.” The young lady answered, “My benefit, sir, has been in hearing.” The doctor instantly replied, “I have not heard so good a thing said this day.” And this in the company of the author of “The Elements of Criticism.”

TWO suitors in chancery, being reconciled to each other after a very tedious and expensive suit, applied to an artist to paint a device in commemoration of their returning amity and peace. The artist accordingly pained one of them in his shirt, and the other stark naked.

A GENTLEMAN meeting a very young and beautiful girl in the pump-room at Bath, asked her why she drank the waters. “From mere wantonness, sir,” replied she. “And pray, madam,” said he, “have they cured you?”


WHEN Dr. Percy first published his collection of Ancient English Ballads, perhaps he was too lavish in commendation of the beautiful simplicity and poetic merit he supposed himself to discover in them. This circumstance provoked Johnson to observe, one evening, at Miss Reynold’s tea-table, that he could rhyme as well, and as elegantly, in common narrative and conversation. For instance, says he,

“As, with my hat upon my head,
     I walked along the Strand,
  I there did meet another man,
     With his hat in his hand.”

Or, to render such poetry subservient to my own immediate use,

“I therefore pray thee, Renny dear,
     That thou wilt give to me,
  With cream and sugar softened well,
     Another dish of tea.

“Nor fear that I, my gentle maid,
     Sall long detain the cup,
  When once unto the bottom I
     Have drunk the liquor up.

“Yet hear, alas! this mournful truth,
     Nor hear it with a frown;
  Thou canst not make the tea so fast
     As I can gulp it down.”

And thus he proceeded through several more stanzas, till the reverend critic cried out for quarter. Such ridicule, however, was not unmerited. The editor of the Biographia Dramatica judiciously observes, “It has sometimes happened that those who have been tempted to reprint specimens of the rude poetry of our early writers have likewise persuaded themselves that these trifles were possessed of a further degree of value than they may justly challenge as the records 33 of fugitive customs, or the repositories of ancient language. When Rowe, in his Prologue to Jane Shore, without exception, declared that

‘These venerable ancient song-inditers
 Soared many a pitch above our modern writers,

he certainly said what he neither believed himself, nor could wish any part of his audience or his readers to believe. Such literary falsehoods deserve to be exposed as often as they are detected.”

A PHYSICIAN who lived in London visited a lady who resided at Chelsea. After continuing his visits for some time, the old lady expressed an apprehension that it might be inconvenient for him to come so far on her account. “O, by no means,” replied the doctor; “I have another patient in the neighborhood, and I always set out to kill two birds with one stone.”

DR. HENNIKER being in private conversation with the Earl of Chatham, his lordship asked him, among other questions, what was wit. “Wit,” he replied, “my lord, is what a pension would be, given by your lordship to your humble servant, — a good thing well applied.”

A FRENCHMAN having frequently heard the word press made use of to imply persuade, as “press that gentlemen to take some refreshment,” “press him to stay to-night,” thought he would show his talents by using a synonymous term; and, therefore made no scruple one evening to cry out in company, “Pray squeeze that lady to sing.”



WHEN James Boswell took Dr. Johnson to his father’s house in Scotland, old Boswell, astonished at the singularity of his manners, remarked that Jamie had brought an odd chiel along with him. “Sir,” said Boswell, “he is the grand luminary of our hemisphere: quite a constellation, sir!” “Ursa Major, I suppose,” said the old gentlemen.


THE village of Moffat has of late years thriven considerably, by reason of the visitors attracted to it by a mineral well in the neighborhood. As its prosperity, however, is great during the summer months, so it is little during the desolate period of winter. The neighboring villagers, who, of course, envy Moffat during the days of its splendor, have long had a standing joke about the town. “If you meet,” say they, “a Moffat man in summer anywhere out of doors, and ask him where he resides, he vociferates, — ‘Moffat, and be d—d!’ But, on the contrary, if you ask the same question in winter, his answer is expressed in the most piteous strain, — ‘Moffat, God help us!’ ”

THE first time General Howe went to court, after his return from America, he had to his carriage a very handsome pair of bay horses. A person, who observed them, exclaimed, “Where could the general get his bays?”  “Not in America,” replied a bystander.

IN a coffee-house in London the following hint was once stuck up by a witty wag: “Gentlemen learning to spell are requested to use yesterday’s papers.”



THIS great painter, perceiving that the works of painters sold much dearer after the death of their authors, wisely determined to anticipate the reversionary profits of talent; and, to effect this, thought he could not adopt a better expedient than to cease to live to the public. In order to execute this singular stratagem, he absented himself from the town of Anvers, and his wife and children counterfeited affliction by putting on the black. The trick succeeded, and in a very short time all the pieces of the pretended deceased were bought up at very high prices.


THE Abbé Regnier, secretary of the French Academy, was collecting in his hat from each member a contribution for a certain purpose. The president, Roses, one of the Forty, was a great miser, but had paid his quota; which the Abbé not perceiving, he presented the hat a second time. Roses, as was to be expected, said he had already paid. “I believe it,” answered Regnier, “though I did not see it.” “And I,” added Fontenelle, who was beside him, “saw it, but I do not believe it.”

ONE day, Boswell trying to make a definition of man that would distinguish him from all other animals, calls him “a cooking animal. A man can dress a good dinner, and every man is more or less a cook in seasoning what he himself eats.” “Your definition,” replied Burke, “is good; I now see the full force of the common proverb, — There is reason in the roasting of eggs.”



HAS an observation on the Beggar’s Opera, which, whether just or not, is new and ingenious. “It has,” he said, “had a beneficial effect in refining highwaymen, and making them less ferocious, more polite; in short, more like gentlemen.”


BOSWELL telling him that he had seen at the Blue-Stocking Club a number of ladies sitting round a worthy and tall friend of theirs (Johnson), and listening to his literature, “Ay,” said Burke, “like maids round a May-pole.”


A FELON, who was just on the point of being turned off, asked the hangman if he had any message to the place where he was going. “I will trouble you with a line,” replied the finisher of the law.

BARRYMORE happening to come late to the theatre, and having to dress for his part, was driven to the last moment, when, to heighten his perplexity, the key of his drawer was missing. “Never mind,” replied Banister, coolly, “if you have swallowed the key, it will serve — to open your chest.

WHEN Foote was at Salt-Hill, he dined at the Castle; and when Partridge produced the bill, which was rather exorbitant, Foote asked him his name. “Partridge, an ’t please you,” said he. “Partridge!” returned Foote, “it should be Woodcock, by the length of your bill.”



AN Episcopalian lady at Alloa had a Presbyterian husband, on whose death she applied to her own clergyman to have the burial service read over him. He refused to do so; which being reported to old Skinner, the poet, he remarked, “Hoot, sic a stiff ass! If it had been me, I wad hae said, ‘Ay, the mae the merrier.’ ”

AN English nobleman being in company with a certain minister of state, the latter was observing “there could be nothing more ridiculous than the manner in which the council of state assembled in some of the negro nations. In the council-chamber are placed twelve large jars, half full of water; twelve councillors of state enter naked; and, stalking along with great gravity, each leaps into his jar, and immerses himself up to his chin, and in this pretty attitude they deliberate on national affairs.” “You do not smile,” continued the minister of state to the noble lord who sat next him. “Smile! — no,” answered his lordship. “I see every day things more ridiculous than that.” “Pray, what?” returned the minister. “A country,” replied the nobleman, “where the jars alone sit in council.”

MICHAEL ANGELO, in his picture of the last judgment in the Pope’s Chapel, painted among the figures in hell that of a certain cardinal, who was his enemy, so like that everybody knew it at first sight. The cardinal complained to Pope Clement the Seventh, and desired that it might be defaced. “I have power to deliver a soul out of purgatory, but not out of hell,” replied his Holiness.



WHEN Handel’s L’Allegro and Il Penseroso were exhibited at Birmingham a few years ago, the following passage (as Mr. Wharton says, “for obvious reasons”) was more applauded than any in the whole performance:

“Such notes as warbled to the string
  Drew iron tears down Pluto’s cheek.”

A PERSON was boasting that he was sprung from a high family in Ireland. “Yes,” said a bystander, “I have seen some of the same family so high that their feet could not touch the ground.”

AN anecdote is told of a Jacobite gentleman, of the name of Cochrane, who, being applied to for permission to take a stone from his quarry, near Falkirk, to serve as a headstone for Sir Robert Monro, of Foulis, answered, “Od, I’ll gie ye headstanes for them a’, an’ ye like;” meaning all Sir Robert’s party.


THE word Tontine is only a cant word, derived from the name of an Italian projector. This was one Laurence Tonti, a creature of Cardinal Mazarin, who, finding the people extremely out of humor with his eminence’s administration, imagined he could reconcile them by a proposal of making people rich in an instant, without trouble or pains. His scheme was a lottery of annuities, with survivorship, which he proposed in 1653, with the consent of the court; but the parliament would not register the edict. Three years after, 39 he tried his project again, for building a stone bridge over the Seine, when it had both the favor of the court and the sanction of parliament, under the title of Banque Royale, but it failed again; for, somebody having given it the unlucky name of Tontine, nobody in Paris would trust his money in a lottery that had an Italian title. The last attempt poor Tonti made was to get his plan adopted by the clergy for the payment of their debts; but, though they acknowledged the ingenuity of it, they rejected it, as unfit for their purpose.

Such was the invention of the Tontine. We will now show when it first came into use. When Louis XIV. was distressed by the league of Augsberg, and granted money beyond what the revenues of the kingdom would furnish, for supplying his enormous expenses, he had recourse to the plans of Tonti, which, though long laid aside, were not forgotten; and, by an edict in 1689, created a Tontine Royale of one million four hundred thousand livres annual rent, divided into fourteen classes. The actions were three hundred livres apiece, and the proprietors were to received ten per cent., with benefit of survivorship in every class. The scheme was executed but very imperfectly; for none of the classes rose to above twenty-five thousand livres, instead of one hundred thousand, according to the original institution, thought the annuities were very regularly paid. A few years after, the people seeming in better humor for projects of this kind, another Tontine was erected upon nearly the same terms; but this was never above half full. They both subsisted in the year 1726, when the French king united the thirteenth class of the first Tontine with the fourteenth of the second, all the actions of which were possessed by Charlotte Bonnemay, widow of Lewis Barbier, a surgeon of Paris, who died at the age of ninety-six. This gentlewoman had ventured three 40 hundred livres in each Tontine; and in the last year of her life she had for her annuity seventy-three thousand five hundred livres, or about three thousand six hundred pounds a year, for about thirty pounds.


A LOW English pasquinading pamphlet upon the Scottish nation, printed in the year 1701, says, “They are foes to all copy-hold tenures in divinity, and will much rather preach extempore nonsense than give sound sermons from notes.* In the time of King James I., after his coming to England, one of his own country thus accosted him: ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘I am sorry to see your majesty so dealt with by your prelatical tantivies as you are. Alas! they can neither preach nor pray but by the beuk; if your majesty will please hear me, I ’se do baith without.’ And so he did, till the king told him ’he preached and prayed as if he had never leuked in a beuk in his whole life.’

*  The pamphlet ends with the following couplet:

“The things that are abominated there
  Are clean shirts, swine’s flesh, and the common prayer.”

DR. JOHNSON, being in company with Boswell, was remarking that the Scotch, previous to the union, were little better than savages, without the accomodations of civilized life, when the following dialogue took place: Boswell. “We had wine before the union.” Johnson. “No, sir; you had some weak stuff, the refuse of France, which would not make you drunk.”Boswell. “I assure you, sir, there was a great deal of drunkenness.” Johnson. “No, sir; there were people who died of dropsies, which they contracted in trying to get drunk.”



THE following anecdote is related of the Duke of Lauderdale. “This nobleman, when first minister of state, was invited to dinner by the then Lord Chancellor [probably Roches], and as splendidly entertained as the poverty of the country would permit. At taking leave, says he, ‘My lord, I ’se con you muckle thanks for your generous and noble treat, which puts me in mind of a proverb we have in use amongst us, namely, That feuls make feats, and wise men eat them.’ The other, loth to be outdone in point of civility, replied, ‘You say very true, my lord; and it is as true that wise men make proverbs, and feuls repeat them.’ ”


ON the day that this prince, with his family, was brought back from Varennes, it is asserted that from Strasburgh to Paris there were more than five hundred thousand persons under arms. The king, on this occasion, taking a part in the extraordinary spectacle, smiled on the people, and, with much ingenuousness, said, “Well, here I am!”


WHEN Capt. Payne had fallen on the deck of his vessel, by the severe wound he received, his waiting-man, who was passionately attached to him, started up, and seizing a pike exclaimed, “You have killed my master, and I will revenge him!” and instantly ran the British lieutenant of marines through the body. He then leaped over overboard, and, amid a shower of shot, swam safe and triumphant to the American shore.



AN advocate of Toulouse, usually composed the speeches which were to be delivered by the president. It happened that, during the absence of the advocate, an occasional speech was required, which the president composed as well as he could. When he was delivering it, a counsellor, who observed him embarrassed, cited these words from Genesis: “Adam, ubi es?” — “Adam, where art thou?”


THIS princess (daughter of Louis XIV.), speaking to the ambassador of Morocco, expressed her disapprobation of the plurality of wives allowed by Mahomet. “We should only require one each,” replied the courteous ambassador, “if they were all like your highness.”


AT the time that Madame de Stael was writing “Memoirs of her Life,” a friend asked he how she should depict herself when she came to that part of her life where adventures of gallantry formed so conspicuous a part. “O!” said she, “I shall represent myself only as a bust.”


A RESPECTABLE public functionary in Dundee, of parsimonious habits, was one day rallied by a friend from the country upon the extreme shabbiness of his attire. “Hoot, man,” answered the baillie, “its nae matter; everybody kens me here;” meaning that, his character being perfectly known in 43 the place, it was quite unnecessary that he should fortify his pretensions by fine clothes. It happened that the same friend met him afterwards in the streets of London, and, finding his clothes no better, expressed still greater surprise than before, adding that surely his former excuse would not now avail him. “Hoot, man,” answered the pertinacious miser, “naebody kens me here!”


IT was formerly a custom of the magistrates of Edinburgh, on the king’s birth-day, to erect a stage, or theatre as it was called, at the Cross, upon which they assembled, and in solemn style drank his majesty’s health. During the performance of this ceremony, in the year 1748, it happened that there came on a dreadful thunder-storm, which compelled the company to make a hasty retreat into one of the neighboring houses, where they remained till the air again became clear. On their returning to complete the interrupted solemnity, it was found that the rain, in their absence, had dabbled all the wine out of their glasses, leaving only water behind. Upon this incident a Jacobite wrote an epigram, the first stanza of which recounted the miracle of the water converted into wine at the marriage of Cana, and the second proceeded thus:

“But when, to drink great Brunswick’s health,
     Our tribunes mounted le thêatre,
  Heaven would not countenance their mirth,
     But turned their claret into water.”

THE settled aversion Dr. Johnson felt towards an infidel he expressed to all ranks and at all times, without the smallest 44 reserve; for, though on common occasions he paid the greatest deference to birth or title, yet his regard for truth and virtue never gave way to meaner considerations. We talked of a dead wit one evening, and somebody praised him. “Let us never,” said he, “praise talents ill-employed, sir. We foul our mouths by commending such infidels.” “Allow him the lumières, at least,” entreated one of the company. “I do allow him, sir, just enough to light him to hell,” was the reply.


DANAS, Bishop of Laveur, who assisted at the Council of Trent, having prescribed in one of his discourses rules for the conduct of the Sovereign Pontiff, a cardinal interrupted the bishop by saying, “Gallus cantat.” Danas answered immediately, “Ultinam ad Galli cantum petras resissceret” and continued his discourse.


A FLORENTINE ignoramus was ridiculing Magliabechi on his great age: the learned man replied, “An ass is older at twenty than a man at sixty years.”

[This joke was 400 years old even then, see Poggio’s Version, on this site, Facetia XLI. — Elf.Ed.]

A BEGGAR, one day, said to the Emperor Maximilian, “We are all children of the same Father,” as an incitement to bestow alms. The emperor gave him a trifle. “This is a very little for a monarch,” said the beggar. “True,” replied the emperor, “but if every one of your brothers gave you as much, you would be richer than I.”


A CERTAIN preacher having changed his religion, was much blamed by his friends for having deserted them. To excuse himself, he said he had seven reasons; and, being asked what they were, replied, “A wife and six children.”

A BROADWAY fop ask a friend what apology he should make for not being one of the party the day before, to which he had a card of invitation. “O, my dear sir,” replied the wit, “say nothing about it; you were never missed.”

WHEN the Persian ambassador was in England, he was paid a handsome compliment by Captain Topham. As he was showing the many wounds he had received in the wars against the Turks, the captain said that his excellency’s skin would sell for little or nothing, it had so many holes in it.

A GENTLEMAN dining with a friend, observing the top dish of fish was not quite so fresh as might have been wished, took one, and put it to his mouth and then to his ear. The lady of the house having asked him the reason, he answered, “I had a brother who was shipwrecked the day before yesterday; so I was asking if the fish could give information concerning his body, to which it replied it knew nothing of the transaction not having been at sea these three weeks.”

PARENTS who are ignorant of their duty will be taught, by the misconduct of their children, what they ought to have done.



IN the late Professor Hill’s class, the gilded buttons of one of the students happened to reflect the rays of the sun upon the professor’s face, who, as may be supposed, ordered the gentleman to give over throwing reflections on him. The student, totally ignorant of the matter, with the utmost simplicity said, “That he would be the last in the class who would cast reflections on the professor.”

LEE LEWIS shooting in a field, the proprietor attacked him violently: “I allow no person to kill game on my manor, but myself; and I’ll shoot you, if you come ere again.” “What!” said the other, “I suppose you mean to make game of me.”

A MAN without modesty is lost to all sense of honor and virtue.

A GREAT chance in life is like a cold bath in winter, — we all hesitate at the first plunge.

THE best government is that in which the law speaks instead of the lawyer.

VICE can never know itself and virtue; but virtue knows both itself and vice.

MODERATION is commonly firm, and firmness is commonly successful.

WE hope to grow old, and yet we fear old age; that is, we are willing to live, and afraid to die.

ABSENCE diminishes moderate passions, and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes tapers and adds fury to the fire.




ON a summer’s evening a shepherd, from a little eminence, beheld the adjacent sea; the winds were hushed, the waves had lost their motion; at a little distance he perceived boats and vessels, which seemed in perfect security to sport upon the surface. Struck with the beauty and novelty of the appearance, he forgot the pleasures of a rural life, forgot all he had heard of the dangerous and deceitful ocean; he exchanged his flock for merchandise, and embarked before he repented his rashness. A sudden storm arose; the sea, no longer serene, but like a tiger aroused from sleep, assumed the appearance of an enraged enemy, and threatened him with death in eveyr wave. In fine, he lost his bark, he lost his goods; and it was beyond his hopes that, half drowned and fainting, he himself escaped alive to land. He became wise by his misfortune, and gladly returned to the life of a shepherd. The next time he saw the sea, it was again smooth and silent as at first; but he beheld it unmoved “It is in vain,” says he, “to think to deceive me again; I have no mind to suffer a second shipwreck.”


SOME soldiers once fell upon a watchman in a small town in Ireland, in a lonely street, and took away his money and coat. He immediately repaired to the captain of the regiment, to complain of his misfortune. The captain asked him whether he had on the waistcoat he then wore when he was robbed by the soldiers. “Yes, sir,” replied the poor fellow. “Then, my friend,” rejoined the captain, “I can assure you they do not belong to my company; otherwise they would have left you neither waistcoat nor shirt.”

[This joke was 400 years old even then, see Poggio’s Version, on this site, Facetia XLI. — Elf.Ed.]


A DISPUTE arising relative to the best mode of dressing a beef-steak, the controversy was determined by one of the disputants giving Shakspeare as an authority. “If when ’t were done ’t were well done, then ’t were well it were done quickly.

THE Marquis de Grance, returning from the army extremely dirty, immediately repaired to court. The lords in waiting observed that he had the appearance of a groom. “Acknowledged,” said the marquis, “and I shall curry your aides instantly.”

AN epicure requested his landlord to get him a spare rib. The innkeeper declared he had none, saving one, and that was a very crooked rib, which he should be glad enough to spare.

AS a boy was leading a calf with both hands, a nobleman happened to pass by upon the high-way; the boy, it seems, minded the calf more than the lord, and went drudging on, without moving his hat. “Why, sirrah,” says the nobleman, “have you no more manners than to stand staring me in the face, with your hat on?” “Alas,” says the boy, “I’ll put off my hat with all my heart, if your lordship will but alight, and hold my calf in the mean time.”

A FOP, introducing his friend, a plain man, into company, said, “Gentlemen, I’ll assure you he is not so great a fool as he seems.” “No,” replied the gentleman, “that’s the difference between me and my friend.”



ONE day the Duke of Tuscany was amusing himself in seeing Cortone painting, who was representing a child crying. “I’ll soon make him change his note,” cried out the painter. He then gave a touch of his pencil, and the same child appeared laughing; again, by another stroke of the pencil, he represented him in his former state. “Thus, prince,” said the artist, “you see how easy it is to make children either laugh or cry.”


JOHNSON, when about sixty-nine years of age, in order to ascertain whether his mental powers were impaired, determined to try to learn a new language, and fixed upon the low Dutch. Finding he learned it with facility, he desisted, thinking the experiment had been sufficiently tried. Mr. Burke’s ready discernment perceived, instantaneously, that it was not a fair trial, as the low Dutch is a language so near our own. Had it been one of the languages entirely different, he might, he said, be soon satisfied.


“I HAVE lost my appetite,” said a gigantic Irish gentleman, and an eminent performer on the trencher, to Mark Supple. “I hope,” said Supple, “no poor man has found it, for it would ruin him in a week.”

IN a single century, four thousand millions of human beings appear on the face of the earth, act their busy parts, and sink into its peaceful bosom.



THE late Countess of Kenmore, who was a devout Catholic, passing one day, from her devotions at a chapel in Dublin, through a lane of beggars, who are there certainly the best actors in Europe in the display of counterfeit misery, her ladyship’s notice was particularly attracted by one fellow apparently more wretched than all the rest, and she asked him, “Pray, my good man, what’s the matter with you?” The fellow, who well knew her simplicity and benevolence, answered, “O, my lady, I’m deaf and dumb.” “Poor man,” replied the innocent lady, “how long have you been so?” “Ever since I had the favor, last Christmas.” The lady presented him with a half-crown, and went away piously commiserating his misfortunes.


“THE undersigned retires from the editorial chair with complete conviction that all is vanity. From the hour he started this paper to the present time, he has been solicited to lie upon every given subject, and can’t remember ever having told a wholesome truth without diminishing his subscription list or making an enemy. Under these circumstances of trial, and having a thorough contempt for himself, he retires, in order to recruit his moral constitution.”

“COME here, you mischievous fellow.” “Won’t you whip me, father?” “No.” “Will you swear you won’t?” “Yes.” “Then I won’t come, father; for Parson Alwood says, ‘He that will swear will lie.’ ”



SOON after the publication of Mr. Home’s “History of the Rebellion of 1745,” a clergyman in Roxburghshire, who had read the book, happened to mention, at a presbytery dinner, that the author gave a very amusing account of the conduct of the volunteers who took arms for the defence of Edinburgh against Prince Charles’ approaching army, none of whom, when the hour of danger arrived, could be prevailed upon by their officer to stir a step. Mr. Patten, the minister of Crailing, here interrupted his brother, with good-humored warmth, — “Home,” said he, “does not play us fair there; I can attest that I was one of seven who marched to the West Port!”


ADMIRAL FORBES was remarkable, above all other men, for his extensive and universal knowledge. His meritorious deeds, detailed, would fill a volume. One or two anecdotes we shall give of him, a just tribute to the memory of departed greatness. When the warrant for executing Admiral Byng was offered for signature at the admiralty board, Admiral Forbes refused to sign it, at the same time humbly laying at his majesty’s feet his objections.

A TAR half seas over, swaggering into an auction-room, and hearing the auctioneer bawling out two or three times, “Who bids more than ninepence half-penny?” asked, “May we bid what we please?” “O, yes,” replied the seller, “anything you please, sir.” “Why then,” said Jack, “I bid you a good-night, and be hanged to you!”



TWO gentlemen passing a blackberry-bush when the fruit was unripe, one said it was ridiculous to call them black berries, when they were red. “Don’t you know,” said his friend, “that blackberries are always red when they are green?”

PIOVANO ARLOTTO, a famous Italian priest, and a great traveller, being on the point of embarking on a voyage, was solicited by several of his friends to purchase a variety of things for them in the country he was going to visit. The curate received all their commissions with great politeness, put the memorandum in his pocket-book very carefully, and promised to oblige every friend. At his return, they all crowded round him to receive their purchases; but, to their surprise, he had executed but one single commission. This partiality affronted the rest, he made his apology in the following speech: “Gentlemen, when I set sail I laid all your memorandums on the gallery of the ship, to peruse them, that I might put them in order to be executed regularly; when suddenly a squall arose, which blew them overboard, and it was impossible for me to remember their divers contents.” “However,” replied one of them, “you have brought Mr. —— his silks.” “Very true,” says Piovano; “but the reason is that he enclosed in his memorandum a number of ducats, the weight of which prevented it from being carried away by the wind with yours.”

“GRAMMER-CLASS, come up. How is grammar divided?” “Why, grammar is divided into Ornithology, Etymology, Swintax and Mahogany.”



A YOUNG Scotchman visiting London with his father, and being much given to punning, his father often reproved him for it, and expressed a wish that he would endeavor to leave it off entirely, and, if possible, display a little genuine wit. One day, taking a walk together, they passed Newgate, where a man was confined in the stocks, with his head firmly jammed in between two ponderous blocks of wood. An excellent pun, strictly in point, instantly occurred to the young man; but, his father being present, he durst not come out with it; so he contented himself with whistling the tune of “Through the wood, Laddie.”

WHEN Dr. Johnson had completed his dictionary, Millar, the bookseller, and principal proprietor of the work, could not help expressing his joy upon the occasion in terms somewhat intemperate, as appears by the following acknowledgment of the receipt of the last sheet of the manuscript: “Andrew Millar sends his compliments to Mr. Samuel Johnson, with the money for the last sheet of the copy of the dictionary, and thanks God he has done with him.” To which Johnson returned this good-humored answer: “Samuel Johnson returns his compliments to Mr. Andrew Millar, and is very glad to find (as he does by his note) that Andrew Millar has the grace to thank God for anything.”

LUCAS DE KEER, an Italian painter, resided in England, in the reign of Elizabeth. He was ordered by that princess to characterize the English in respect to their dress. He drew a man naked; on the ground before him lay various pieces 54 of cloth scattered about of divers colors; in his hand he held a pair of shears; from his mouth a label was pendent, on which these words were inscribed

“I am an Englishman, and naked I stand here,
  Musing in my mind what garment I shall wear.”

The queen was delighted with the performance, commended his wit, and liberally rewarded him.


WHEN Churchill finished his Rosciad, he waited on a well-known publisher with a copy, who was at that time busily employed in a work that made much noise in the world. The bookseller suffered so severely by the publication of poetry, that he was determined to have nothing more to do with the rhyming pupils of Apollo, unless the author would make such a deposit as would secure him from any loss. This Churchill would not comply with.

The bookseller recommended a worthy young man to him, who has just ventured his little fortune in the uncertain sea of ink, and would probably run the hazard of publication. Churchill waited on him, and found everything to his wish.

The publication was advertised, and five days elapsed before five copies were sold.

Churchill was thunderstruck; the bookseller was little less. At the end of four days more he called again, and found six copies had gone off! The poet, conscious of the merit of his poem, was almost frantic, and hurried to a friend to acquaint him with his hard fortune. His friend, who was intimate with Garrick, posted to him in the morning, and informed him what a beautiful picture of his astonishing abilities 55 there was exhibited in the Rosciad. Garrick swallowed the gilded pill instantly, sent for the poem, read it, and sounded its praises wherever he visited that day. The next evening the publisher had not a single copy left; and in a few weeks so many editions went off, that Churchill found himself richer than any poet whose estate lay at that time on Parnassus.

A COUNTRYMAN popped his head into a lottery-office, and seeing only one man sitting at the desk, asked him what he had for sale. To which the would-be wit replied, “Loggerheads.” “Then, sir,” says the countryman, “your trade is almost at an end, for I see you have but one left.”

AN Irish gentleman being visited by a friend of his, was found a good deal ruffled; and, being asked the reason of it, said he had lost a new pair of black silk stockings out of his room, which cost him eighteen shillings, — but that he hoped he should get them again, for he ordered them to be cried, and offered a half-crown reward. His friend observed that the reward was too little for such valuable stockings. “Pho,” said the Irishmen, “I ordered the crier to say they were worsted.”

IN a new-raised corps, a soldier lately observed to his comrade, who was an Irishman, that a corporal was to be dismissed from the regiment. “Faith, and indeed,” replied the Irishman, “I hope it is the corporal who is so troublesome in our company.” “What is his name?” replied the other. “Why, arrah, dear honey, it is Corporal Punishment, to be sure.”

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