From Joe Miller’s Jests: or, the Wits Vade-Mecum, London: T. Read, [facsimile reprint in 1861 of the original printed in 1739]; pp. 1-24.
JOE MILLER’s JESTS.
( Jests 1-79. )
1. THE Duke of A----ll, who says more good Things than any Body, being behind the Scenes the First Night of the Beggar’s Opera, and meeting Cibber there, well Colley, said he, how d’you like the Beggar’s Opera? Why it makes one laugh, my Lord, answer’d he, on the Stage; but how will it do in print. O! very well, I’ll answer for it, said the Duke, if you don’t write a Preface to it.*
* See Cibber’s Preface to Provok’d Husband.
2. There being a very great Disturbance one Evening at Drury-Lane Play-House, Mr. Wilks, coming upon the Stage to say something to pacify the Audience, had an Orange thrown full at him, which he having took up, making a low Bow, this is no Civil Orange, I think, said he.
3. Mr. H---rr---n, one of the Commissioners of the Revenue in Ireland, being one 2 Night in the Pit, at the Play-House in Dublin, Monoca Gall, the Orange Girl, famous for her Wit and her Assurance, striding over his Back, he popp’d his Hands under her Petticoats : Nay, Mr. Commissioner, said she, you’ll find no Goods there but what have been fairly entered.
4. Joe Miller sitting one Day in the Window at the Sun-Tavern in Clare-Street, a Fish Woman and her Maid passing by, the Woman cry’d, Buy my Soals; buy my Maids : Ah, you wicked old Creature, cry’d honest Joe, What are you not content to sell your own Soul, but you must sell your Maid’s too?
5. When the Duke of Ormond was young, and came first to Court, he happen’d to stand next my Lady Dorchester, one Evening in the Drawing-Room, who being but little upon the Reserve on most Occasions, let a Fart, upon which he look’d her full in the Face and laugh’d. What’s the Matter, my Lord, said she : Oh! I heard it, Madam, reply’d the Duke, you’ll make a fine Courtier indeed, said she, if you mind every Thing you hear in this Place.
6. A poor Man, who had a termagant Wife, after a long dispute, in which she was resolved to have the last Word, told her, if she spoke one more crooked word he’d beat her Brains out : Why then Ram’s Horns, you Rogue, said she, if I die for’t.
7. A Gentleman ask’d a Lady at Tunbridge, who had make a very large Acquaintance 3 among the Beaus and pretty Fellows there, what she would do with them all. O! said she, they pass off like the Waters; and pray, Madam, reply’d the Gentleman do they all pass the same Way?
8. An Hackney-Coachman, who was just set up, had heard that the Lawyers used to club their Three-Pence a-piece, four of them, to go to Westminster, and being call’d by a Lawyer at Temple-Bar, who, with two others in their Gowns, got into his Coach, he was bid to drive to Westminster-Hall; but the Coachman still holding his Door open, as if he waited for more Company; one of the Gentlemen asked him, why he did not shut the Door and go on, the Fellow, scratching his Head, cry’d you know, Master, my Fare’s a Shilling, I can’t go for Nine-Pence.
9. Two Free-thinking Authors, proposed to a Bookseller, that was a little decayed in the World, that if he would print their Works they would set him up, and indeed they were as good as their Word, for in six Week’s Time he was in the Pillory.
10. A Gentleman was saying one Day at the Tilt-Yard Coffee-House, when it rained exceeding hard, that it put him in Mind of the General Deluge; Zoons, Sir, said an old Campaigner, who stood by, who’s that? I have heard of all the Generals in Europe but him.
11. A certain Poet and Player, remarkable for his Impudence and Cowardice, happening many Years ago to have a Quarrel with Mr. 4 Powel, another Player, received from him a smart Box of the Ear; a few Days after the Poetical Player having lost his Snuff-Box, and making strict Enquiry if any Body had seen his Box; what, said another of the Buskin’d Wits, that which George Powel gave you, t’other Night?
12. Gun Jones, who had made his Fortune himself from a mean Beginning, happening to have some Words with a Person, who had known him some Time, was asked by the other, how he could have the Impudence to give himself so many Airs to him, when he knew very well, that he remember’d him seven Years before, with hardly a Rag to his A----. You lie, Sirrah, reply’d Jones, seven Years ago I had nothing but Rags to my A----.
13. Lord R----- having lost about fifty Pistoles, one Night at the Gaming-Table in Dublin, some Friends condoling with him upon his ill Luck, Faith, said he, I am very well pleas’d at what I have done, for I have bit them, by G--- there is not one Pistole that don’t want Six-Pence of Weight.
14. Mother Needham, about 25 Years ago being much in Arrear with her Landlord for Rent, was warmly press’d by him for his Money, Dear Sir, said she, how can you be so pressing at this dead Time of the Year, in about six Weeks Time both the Par----, and the C--nv---c---n will sit, and then Business will be so brisk, that I shall be able to pay ten Times the Sum.5
15. A Lady being asked how she liked a Gentleman’s Singing, who had a very stinking Breath, the Words are good, said she, but the Air is intolerable.
16. The late Mrs. Oldfield being asked if she thought Sir W. Y. and Mrs. H---n, who had both stinking Breaths, were marry’d: I don’t know, said she, whether they are marry’d; but I am sure there is a Wedding between them.
17. A Gentleman saying something in Praise of Mrs. C----ve, who is, without Dispute, a good Player, tho’ exceeding saucy and exceeding ugly; another said, her Face always put him in Mind of Mary-Bone Park, being desired to explain himself, he said, it was vastly rude and had not one Bit of Pale about it.
18. A pragmatical young Fellow sitting at Table over-against the learned John Scot, asked him what Difference there was between Scot and Sot : Just the Breadth of the Table, answered the other.
19. Another Poet asked Nat Lee if it was not easy to write like a Madman, as he did : No, answered Nat, but it is easy to write like a Fool as you do.
20. Colley, who, notwithstanding his Odes, has now and then said a good Thing, being told one Night by the late Duke of Wharton, that he expected to see him hang’d or beggar’d very soon, by G---d, said the Laureat, if I had your Grace’s Politicks and Morals you might expect both.6
21. Sir Thomas More, for a long time had only Daughters, his Wife earnestly praying that they might have a Boy, at last they had a Boy, who, when he came to Man’s Estate, proved but simple; thou prayedst so long for a boy, said Sir Thomas to his Wife, that at last thou hast got one who will be a Boy as long as he lives.
22. The same Gentlemen, when Lord Chancellor being pressed by the counsel of the Party, for a longer Day to perform a Decree, said, Take St. Barnaby’s Day, the longest in the Year; which happened to be the next Week.
23. This famous Chancellor, who preserved his Humour and his Wit to the last Moment, when he came to be executed on Tower-Hill, the Heads-man demanded his upper Garment as his Fee; ay, Friend, said he, taking off his Cap, That I think is my Upper-Garment.
24. The great Algernon Sidney seem’d to shew as little Concern at his Death, he had indeed got some Friends to intercede with the King for a Pardon; but when he was told, that his Majesty could not be prevailed upon to give him his Life, but that in Regard to his ancient and noble Family, he would remit Part of his Sentence, and only have his Head cut off; nay, said he, if his Majesty is resolved to have my Head he may make a Whistle of my A---- if he pleases.
25. Lady C----g and her two Daughters having taken Lodgings, at a Leather-Breeches Maker’s in Piccadilly, the Sign of the Cock 7 and Leather-Breeches, was always put to the Blush when she was obliged to give any Body Direction to her Lodgings, the sign being so odd a one; upon which my Lady, a very good Sort of Woman, sending for her Landlord, a jolly young Fellow, told him, she liked him and his Lodgings very well, but she must be obliged to quit them on Account of his Sign, for she was ashamed to tell any body what it was, O! dear Madam, said the young Fellow, I would do any Thing rather than lose so good Lodgers, I can easily alter my Sign; so I think, answered my Lady, and I’ll tell you how you may satisfy both me and my Daughters: Only take down your Breeches and let your Cock stand.
26. When Rablais the greatest Drole in France, lay on his Death-Bed, he could not help jesting at the very last Moment, for having received the extreme Unction, a Friend coming to see him, said, he hoped he was prepared for the next World; Yes, yes, reply’d Rablais, I am ready for my Journey now, they have just greased my Boots.
27. Henry the IVth, of France, reading an ostentatious Inscription on the Monument of a Spanish Officer, Here lies the Body of Don, &c. &c. who never knew what Fear was. Then said the King, he never snuffed a Candle with his Fingers.
28. A certain Member of the French Academy, who was no great Friend to the Abbot Furetiere, one Day took the Seat that was commonly 8 used by the Abbot, and soon after having Occasion to speak, and Furetiere being by that time come in; Here is a Place, said he, Gentlemen, from whence I am likely to utter a thousand Impertinences : go on, answered Furetiere, there’s one already.
29. When Sir Richard Steele was fitting up his great room, in York-Buildings, for Public Orations, that very Room, which is now so worthily occupied by the learned and eximious Mr. Professor Lacy. He happened at one Time to be pretty much behind Hand with his Workmen, and coming one Day among them to see how they went forward, he ordered one of them to get into the Rostrum, and make a Speech, that he might observe how it could be heard, the Fellow mounting, and scratching his Pate, told him he knew not what to say, for in Truth he was no Orator. Oh! said the Knight, no Matter for that, speak any thing that comes uppermost. Why here, Sir Richard, said the Fellow, we have been working for you these six Weeks, and cannot get one Penny of Money, pray, Sir, when do you design to pay us? Very well, very well, said Sir Richard, pray come down, I have heard enough, I cannot but own you speak very distinctly, tho’ I don’t admire your Subject.
30. A Country Clergyman meeting a Neighbour who never came to Church, altho’ an old fellow of above Sixty, he gave him some Reproof on that Account, and asked him if he 9 never read at Home : No, replyed the Clown, I can’t read; I dare say, said the Parson you don’t know who made you; not I, in troth, said the Countryman. A little Boy coming by at the same Time, who made you, Child, cry’d the Parson, God, Sir, answered the Boy. Why look you there, quoth the honest Clergyman, are not you ashamed to hear a Child of five or six Years old tell me who made him, when you that are so old a Man can not: Ah, said the Countryman, it is no wonder that he should remember, he was made but t’other Day, it is a great while, Master, sin I were made.
31. A certain reverend Drone in the Country was complaining to another, that it was a great Fatigue to preach twice a Day. Oh! said the other, I preach twice every Sunday, and make nothing of it.
32. One of the foresaid Gentlemen, as was his custom, preaching most exceedingly dull to a Congregation not used to him, many of them slunk out of the Church one after another, before the Sermon was near ended. Truly, said a Gentleman present, this learned Doctor has made a very moving Discourse.
33. Sir William Davenant, the Poet, had no Nose, who going along the Meuse one Day, a Beggar-Woman followed him, crying, ah! God preserve your Eye-Sight; Sir, the Lord preserve your Eye-Sight. Why, good Woman, said he, do you pray so much for my Eye-Sight? Ah! dear Sir, answered the Woman, 10 if it should please God that you grow dim-sighted, you have no Place to hang your Spectacles on.
34. A Welchman bragging of his Family, said, his Father’s Effigies was set up in Westminster-Abbey, being ask’d whereabouts, he said in the same Monument with Squire Thyne’s, for he was his Coachman.
35. A Person was saying, not at all to the Purpose, that really Sampson was a very strong man; Ay, said another, but you are much stronger, for you make nothing of lugging him by the Head and Shoulders.
36. My Lord Strangford, who stammer’d very much, was telling a certain Bishop that sat at his Table, that Balaam’s ass spoke because he was Pri----est---- Priest-rid, sir, said a Valet-de-Chambre, who stood behind his Chair, my Lord would say. No, Friend, reply’d the Bishop, Balaam could not speak himself, and so his Ass spoke for him.
37. The same noble Lord ask’d a Clergyman once, at the bottom of his Table, why the Goose, if there was one, was always plac’d next the Parson. Really, said he, I can give no Reason for it; but your Question is so odd, that I shall never see a Goose for the future without thinking of your Lordship.
38. A Gentleman was asking another how that poor Devil S----ge could live, now my Lord T-----l had turn’d him off. Upon his Wits said the other; That is living upon a slender Stock indeed, reply’d the first.11
39. A Country Parson having divided his Text under two and twenty Heads, one of the Congregation went out of the Church in a great Hurry, and being met by a Friend, he ask’d him, whither he was going? Home for my Night-Cap, answered the first, For I find we are to stay here all Night.
40. A very modest young Gentleman, of the County of Tiperary, having attempted many Ways, in vain, to acquire the Affections of a Lady of great Fortune, at last try’d what was to be done, by the Help of Musick, and therefore entertained her with a Serenade under her Window, at Midnight, but she order’d her Servants to drive him thence by throwing Stones at him; Your Musick, my Friend, said one of his Companions, is as powerful as that of Orpheus, for it draws the very Stones about you.
41. A certain Senator, who is not, it may be, esteemed the wisest Man in the House, has a frequent Custom of shaking his Head when another speaks, which giving Offence to a particular Person, he complained of the Affront; but one who had been long acquainted with him, assured the House, it was only an ill Habit he had got, for though he would oftentimes shake his Head, there was nothing in it.
42. A Gentleman having lent a Guinea for two or three Days, to a Person whose Promises he had not much Faith in, was very much surpriz’d to find he very punctually kept 12 his Word with him; the same Gentleman being sometime after desirous of borrowing the like Sum, No, said the other, you have deceived me once, and I am resolved you shan’t do it a second Time.
43. My Lord Chief Justice Holt had sent, by his Warrant, one of the French Prophets, a foolish Sect, that started up in his Time, to Prison; upon which Mr. Lacy, one of their Followers, came one Day to my Lord’s House, and desired to speak with him, the Servants told him, he was not well, and saw no Company that day, but tell him, said Lacy, I must see him, for I come to him from the Lord God, which being told the Chief Justice, he order’d him to come in, and ask’d him his Business; I come, said he, from the Lord, who sent me to thee, and would have thee grant a Noli Prosequi for John Atkins, whom thou hast cast into Prison: Thou art a false Prophet, answered my Lord, and a lying Knave, for if the Lord had sent thee it wou’d have been to the Attorney-General, he knows it is not in my Power to grant a Noli Prosequi.
44. Tom B---rn---t happening to be at Dinner at my Lord Mayor’s, in the latter Part of the late Queen’s Reign, after two or three Healths, the Ministry was toasted, but when it came to Tom’s Turn to drink, he diverted it for some Time by telling a Story to the Person who sat next him; the chief Magistrate of the City not seeing his Toast go round, call’d out, Gentlemen, where sticks the Ministry? At 13 nothing, by G--d, says Tom, and so drank off his Glass.
45. My Lord Craven, in King James the First’s Reign, was very desirous to see Ben Johnson, which being told to Ben, he went to my Lord’s House, but being in a very tatter’d Condition, as Poets sometimes are, the Porter refus’d him Admittance, with some saucy Language, which the other did not fail to return : My Lord happening to come out while they were wrangling, asked the Occasion of it : Ben, who stood in need of no-body to speak for him, said, he understood his Lordship desired to see him; you, Friend, said my Lord, who are you? Ben Johnson, reply’d the other : No, no, quoth my Lord, you cannot be Ben Johnson who wrote the Silent Woman, you look as if you could not say Bo to a Goose : Bo, cry’d Ben, very well, said my Lord, who was better pleas’d at the Joke, than offended at the Affront, I am now convinced, by your Wit, you are Ben Johnson.
46. A certain Fop was boasting in Company that he had every Sense in Perfection; no, by G--d, said one, who was by, there is one you are entirely without, and that is Common Sense.
47. An Irish Lawyer of the Temple, having occasion to go to Dinner, left these Directions written, and put in the Key-Hole of his Chamber-Door, I am gone to the Elephant and Castle, where you shall find me; and if you can’t read this Note, carry it down to the Stationer’s, and he will read it for you.14
48. Old Dennis who had been the Author of many Plays, going by a Brandy-Shop, in St. Paul’s Church-Yard; the Man who kept it, came out to him, and desired him to drink a Dram, for what Reason said he, because you are a Dramatick Poet, answered the other; well, Sir, said the old Gentleman, you are an out-of-the-way Fellow, and I will drink a Dram with you; but when he had so done, he asked him to pay for it, S’death, Sir, said the Bard, did you not ask me to drink a Dram because I was a Dramatick Poet; yes Sir, reply’d the Fellow, but I did not think you had been a Dram o’Tick Poet.
49. Daniel Purcel, the famous Punster, and a Friend of his, having a Desire to drink a Glass of Wine together, upon the 30th of January, they went to the Salutation Tavern upon Holbourn-Hill, and finding the Door shut, they knock’d at it, but it was not opened to ’em, only one of the Drawers look’d through a little Wicket, and asked what they would please to have, why open your Door, said Daniel, and draw us a Pint of Wine, the Drawer said, his Master would not allow of it that Day, it was a Fast; D--mn your Master, cry’d he, for a precise Coxcomb, is he not contented to fast himself but he must make his Doors fast too.
50. The same Gentleman calling for some Pipes in a Tavern, complained they were too short; the Drawer said, they had no other, and those were but just come in : Ay, said Daniel, 15 I see you have not bought them very long.
51. The same Gentleman as he had the Character of a great Punster, was desired one Night in Company, by a Gentleman, to make a Pun extempore, upon what Subject, said Daniel, the King, answered the other, the King, Sir, said he, is no Subject.
52. G--s E----l, who, tho’ he is very rich, is remarkable for his sordid Covetousness, told Cibber one Night, in the Green Room, that he was going out of Town, and was sorry to part with him, for faith he loved him, Ah! Said Colley, I wish I was a Shilling for your Sake, why so, said the other, because then, cry’d the Laureat, I should be sure you loved me.
53. Lord C----by coming out of the House of Lords one Day, called out, where’s my Fellow! Not in England, by G---d, said a Gentleman, who stood by.
54. A Beggar asking Alms under the Name of a poor Scholar, a Gentleman to whom he apply’d himself, ask’d him a Question in Latin, the Fellow, shaking his Head, said he did not understand him : Why, said the Gentleman, did you not say you were a poor Scholar? Yes, reply’d the other, a poor one indeed, Sir, for I don’t understand one Word of Latin.
55. Several Years ago when Mrs. Rogers the Player, was young and handsome, Lord North and Grey, remarkable for his homely Face, accosting her one Night behind the Scenes, ask’d her with a Sigh, what was a Cure for 16 Love? Your Lordship, said she, the best I know in the World.
56. Colonel ------, who made the fine Fire-Works in St. James’s Square, upon the Peace of Reswick, being in Company with some Ladies, was highly commending the Epitaph just then set up in the Abbey on Mr. Purcel’s Monument,
He is gone to that Place where only his
own Harmony can be exceeded.
Lord, Colonel, said one of the Ladies, the same Epitaph might serve for you, by altering one Word only:
He is gone to that Place, where only his
own Fire-Works can be exceeded.
57. Poor Joe Miller happening one Day to be caught by some of his Friends in a familiar Posture with a Cook Wench, almost as ugly as Kate Cl---ve, was very much rallied by them for the Oddness of his Fancy. Why look ye, said he, Gentlemen, altho’ I am not a very young Fellow, I have a good Constitution, and am not, I thank Heaven, reduced yet to Beauty or Brandy to whet my Appetite.
58. Lady N----, who had but a very homely Face, but was extremely well shap’d, and always neat about the Legs and Feet, was tripping one Morning over the Park in a Mask; 17 and a gentleman followed her a long while making strong Love to her, he call’d her his Life, his Soul, his Angel, and begged with abundance of Earnestness, to have a Glimpse of her Face, at last when she came on the other Side of the Bird-Cage Walk, to the House she was going into, she turned about and pulling off her Mask : Well, Sir, said she, what is it you would have with me? The Man at first Sight of her Face, drew back, and lifting up his Hands, O! Nothing! Madam, Nothing, cry’d he; I cannot say, said my Lady, but I like your Sincerity, tho’ I hate your Manners.
60. Sir B---ch---r W----y, in the Beginning of Queen Anne’s Reign, and three or four more drunken Tories, reeling home from the Fountain-Tavern in the Strand, on a Sunday Morning, cry’d out, we are the Pillars of the Church, no, by G---d, said a Whig, that happened to be in their Company, you can be but the Buttresses, for you never come on the Inside of it.
61. After the Fire of London, there was an Act of Parliament to regulate the Buildings of the City, every House was to be three Stories high, and there were to be no Balconies backwards : A Gloucestershire Gentleman, a Man of great Wit and Humour, just after this Act passed, going along the Street, and seeing a little crooked Gentlewoman, on the other Side of the Way, he runs over to her in great haste, Lord, Madam, said he, how dare you to walk 18 the Streets thus publickly? Walk the Streets! why not? answer’d the little Woman. Because said he, you are built directly contrary to Act of Parliament, you are but two Stories high, and your Balcony hangs over your House-of-Office.
62. One Mr. Topham was so very tall, that if he was living now, he might be shewn at Yeates’s Theatre for a Sight, this Gentleman going one Day to enquire for a Countryman a little Way out of Town, when he came to the House, he looked in at a little Window over the Door, and ask’d the Woman, who sat by the Fire, if her Husband was at Home. No, Sir, said she, but if you please to alight and come in, I’ll go and call him.
63. The same Gentleman walking across Covent-Garden, was asked by a Beggar-Woman, for an Half-penny or Farthing, but finding he would not part with his Money, she begg’d for Christ’s-Sake, he would give her one of his old Shoes; he was very desirous to know what she could do with one Shoe, to make my Child a Cradle, Sir, said she.
64. King Charles II. having ordered a Suit of Cloaths to be made, just at the Time when Addresses were coming up to him, from all Parts of the Kingdom, Tom Killegrew went to the Taylor, and ordered him to make a very large Pocket on one Side of the Coat, and one so small on the other, that the King could hardly get his Hand into it, which seeming very odd, when they were brought home, he 19 ask’d the Meaning of it, the Taylor said, Mr. Killegrew order’d it so; Killegrew being sent for, and interrogated, said, one Pocket was for the Addresses of his Majesty’s Subjects, the other for the Money they would give him.
65. My Lord B--e, had married three Wives that were all his Servants, a Beggar-Woman meeting him one Day in the Street, made him a very low Curtesy, Ah, God Almighty bless your Lordship, said she, and send you a long Life, if you do but live long enough, we shall be all Ladies in Time.
66. Dr. Tadloe, who was a very fat Man, happening to go thump, thump, with his great Legs, thro’ a Street, in Oxford, where some Paviers had been at Work, in the Midst of July, the Fellows immediately laid down their Rammers, Ah! God bless you, Master, cries one of ’em, it was very kind of you to come this Way, it saves us a great deal of Trouble this hot Weather.
67. An Arch-Wagg of St. John’s College, asked another of the same College, who was a great Sloven, why he would not read a certain Author called Go-Clenius.
68. Swan, the famous Punster of Cambridge, being a Nonjuror, upon which Account he had lost his Fellowship, as he was going along the Strand, in the Beginning of King William’s Reign, on a very rainy Day, a Hackney-Coachman called to him, Sir, won’t you please to take Coach, it rains hard : Ay, Friend, said 20 he, but this is no Reign for me to take Coach in.
69. When Oliver first coined his Money, an old Cavalier looking upon one of the new Pieces, read the Inscriptions, on one Side was God with us, on the other, The Commonwealth of England; I see, said he, God and the Commonwealth are on different Sides.
70. Colonel Bond who had been one of King Charles the First’s Judges, dy’d a Day or two before Oliver, and it was strongly reported every where that Cromwell was dead; No, said a Gentleman, who knew better, he has only given Bond to the Devil for his farther Appearance.
71. Mr. Serjeant G---d---r, being lame of one Leg; and pleading before Judge For---e, who has little or no Nose, the Judge told him he was afraid he had but a lame Cause of it : Oh! my Lord, said the Serjeant, have but a little Patience, and I’ll warrant I prove every Thing as plain as the Nose on your Face.
72. A Gentleman eating some Mutton that was very tough, said, it put him in Mind of an old English Poet: Being asked who that was; Chau---cer, replied he.
73. A certain Roman-Catholick Lord, having renounced the Popish Religion, was asked not long after, by a Protestant Peer, Whether the Ministers of the State, or Ministers of the Gospel had the greatest Share in his Conversion : To whom he reply’d, that when he renounced 21 Popery he had also renounced auricular Confession.
74. Michael Angelo, in his Picture of the last Judgment, in the Pope’s Chappel, painted among the Figures in Hell, that of a certain Cardinal, who was his Enemy, so like, that every-body knew it at first Sight : Whereupon the Cardinal complaining to Pope Clement the Seventh, of the Affront, and desiring it might be defaced : You know very well, said the Pope, I have the Power to deliver a Soul out of Purgatory but not out of Hell.
75. A Gentleman being at Dinner at a Friend’s House, the first Thing that came upon the Table was a Dish of Whitings, and one being put upon his Plate, he found it stink so much that he could not eat a Bit of it, but he laid his Mouth down to the Fish, as if he was whispering with it, and then took up the Plate and put it to his own Ear; the Gentleman, at whose Table he was, enquiring into the meaning, he told him he had a Brother lost at Sea, about a Fortnight ago, and he was asking that Fish if he knew any thing of him; and what Answer made he, said the Gentleman, he told me, said he, he could give no Account of him, for he had not been at Sea these three Weeks.
I would not have any of my readers apply this Story, as an unfortunate Gentleman did, who had heard it, and was the next Day whispering a Rump of Beef at a Friend’s House.22
76. An English Gentleman happening to be in Brecknockshire, he used sometimes to divert himself with shooting, but being suspected not to be qualified by one of the little Welch Justices, his Worship told him, that unless he could produce his Qualification, he should not allow him to shoot there, and he had two little Manors; yes, Sir, said the Englishman, every Body may perceive that, perceive what, cry’d the Welchman? That you have too little Manners, said the other.
77. The Chaplain’s Boy of a Man of War, being sent out of his own Ship of an Errand to another; the two Boys were conferring Notes about their Manner of living; how often, said one, do you go to Prayers now, why, answered the other, in Case of a Storm, or any Danger; ay, said the first, there’s some Sense in that, but my Master makes us pray when there is no more Occasion for it, than for my leaping over-board.
78. Not much unlike this Story, is once a Midshipman told one Night, in Company with Joe Miller and myself, who said, that being once in great Danger at Sea, every body was observed to be upon their Knees, but one Man, who being called upon to come with the rest of the Hands to Prayers, not I, said he, it is your Business to take Care of the Ship, I am but a Passenger.
79. Three or four roguish Scholars walking out one Day from the University of Oxford, spied a poor Fellow near Abingdon, asleep in a 23 Ditch, with an Ass by him, loaded with Earthen-Ware, holding the Bridle in his Hand, says one of the Scholars to the rest, if you’ll assist me, I’ll help you to a little Money, for you know we are bare at present; no doubt of it they were not long consenting; why then, said he, we’ll go and sell this old Fellow’s Ass at Abingdon, for you know the Fair is To-morrow, and we shall meet with Chapmen enough; therefore do you take the Panniers off, and put them upon my Back, and the Bridle over my Head, and then lead you the Ass to Market, and let me alone with the Old Man. This being done accordingly, in a little Time after the poor Man awaking, was strangely surprized to see his Ass thus metamorphosed; Oh! for God’s-sake, said the Scholar, take this Bridle out of my Mouth, and this Load from my Back. Zoons, how came you here, reply’d the old Man, why, said he, my Father, who is a great Necromancer, upon an idle Thing I did to disoblige him, transformed me into an Ass, but now his Heart has relented, and I am come to my own Shape again, I beg you will let me go Home and thank him; by all Means, said the Crockrey Merchant, I don’t desire to have any Thing to do with Conjuration, and so let the Scholar at Liberty, who went directly to his Comrades, that by this Time were making merry with the Money they had sold the Ass for: But the old Fellow was forced to go the next Day, to seek, for a new one in the Fair, and after having look’d 24 on several, his own was shewn him for a very good one, O, Ho! Said he, what have he and his Father quarrelled again already? No, no, I’ll have nothing to say to him.