From The Treasury of Wit. With Comic Engravings. London: Printed for T. Allman, 1836; pp. 1-50.







Quin, being one day in a coffee house, saw a young beau enter, in an elegant negligée dress, quite languid with the heat of the day. “Waiter,” said the coxcomb, in an affected faint voice, “Waiter, fetch me a dish of coffee, weak as water, and cool as a zephyr!”

Quin, in a voice of thunder, immediately vociferated, “Waiter, bring me a dish of coffee, hot as h—ll, and strong as d——t—n.” The beau, starting, exclaimed, “Pray, waiter, what is that gentleman’s name?” Quin in the same tremendous tone, exclaimed, “Waiter, pray what is that lady’s name?”


Some time ago, a member of parliament applied to the post-office, to know why some of his franks had been charged. The answer was, “We supposed, Sir, they were not of your writing. The hand is not the same!” “Why, not precisely the same: but the truth is, I happened to be a little tipsey when I wrote them!” “Then, Sir, will you be so good in future as to write drunk, when you make free.


A gentleman’s servant bringing into the dining-room (where the company were all assembled,) a nice roasted tongue, tripped in the midst of the floor, and spread the tongue and sauce on the carpet. The master of the house, not the least affected by the accident, soon removed the embarrassment of his guests, as well as of the servant, by saying, with much good humour, “There’s no harm done, gentlemen, its merely a lapsus linguæ.” This fortunate jeu de mot excited much merriment. A very sagacious gentleman, struck with the happy effect of the above accident, was determined to make a similar exhibition. He invited a large party, and when they were all assembled he had directed his servant to let fall a piece of roast beef on the floor. The servant obeyed his injunctions: the company felt hurt at the accident. “Be not uneasy, my friends,” cried the witty landlord, “ ’tis only a lapsus linguæ.1


A French lady wrote the following laconic epistle to her husband: — 

“Je vous ecris, parceque je n’ai rien a faire: je finis, parceque je n’ai rien dire.

“A Paris.”2


A physician ordered a patient to live higher (i. e. more freely); the poor man mistook the 3 doctor, and removed to the garret, where, unfortunately, he expired before his next visit.


The late Bonnel Thornton, like most wits, was a lover of conviviality, which frequently led him to spend the whole night in company, and all the next morning in bed. On one of these occasions, an old female relation, having waited on him before he had arisen, began to read him a familiar lecture on prudence; which she concluded by saying, “Ah! Bonnel, Bonnel! I see plainly that you’ll shorten your days.” “Very true, Madam, but by the same rule, you must admit that I shall lengthen my nights.


Job, chap. i. ver. 21. Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither. In discoursing from these words, I shall observe the three following things: First, man’s ingress into the world; secondly, his progress through the world; and, thirdly, his egress out of the world. To return, first, man’s ingress into the world is naked and bare; secondly, his progress through the world is trouble and care; and thirdly, his egress out of the world is nobody knows where. To conclude, if we do well here, we shall be well there; and I could tell you no more were I to preach a year.


When Paddy Blake heard an English gentleman speaking of the fine echo at the lake of Killarney, which repeats the sound forty times, 4 he very promptly observed, “Faith, that’s nothing at all to the echo in my father’s garden, in the county of Galway: if you say to it, ‘How do you do, Paddy Blake?’ it will answer, ‘Pretty well, I thank you, Sir.’ ”


An Irish drummer being employed to flog a deserter, the sufferer, as is usual in such cases cried out, “Strike higher!” The drummer, accordingly, to oblige the poor fellow, did as he was requested. But the man still continuing to roar in agony, “Devil burn your bellowing!” cried Paddy; “there is no pleasing of you, strike where one will.”


A mischievous English rider, who happened to sleep at an inn with an Irishman, whose naked leg was hanging over the bed, wantonly buckled a spur round his ancle. In tossing about in his slumbers, Pat drew his foot across the other leg, and mangled it most cruelly. On discovering his situation, he knocked up the bootjack-boy, and swore at him for “an awkward scoundrel, for taking off his boots and letting a spur remain.


A miser, having lost a hundred pounds, promised ten pounds’ reward to any one who should bring it him. An honest poor man, who found it, brought it to the old gentleman, demanding the ten pounds. But the miser, to baffle him, alleged there were a hundred and 5 ten pounds in the bag when lost. The poor man, however, was advised to sue for the money; and, when the cause came on to be tried, it appearing that the seal had not been broken, nor the bag ripped, the judge said to the defendant’s counsel, “The bag you lost had a hundred and ten pounds in it, you say?” “Yes, my lord,” says he. “Then,” replied the judge, “according to the evidence given in court, this cannot be your money, for here were only a hundred pounds; therefore, the plaintiff must keep it till the true owner appears.”


James I., King of England, asking the Lord Keeper Bacon what he thought of the French ambassador? He answered, that he was a tall, proper man. “Ay,” replied the king, “what think you of his headpiece — is he a proper man for an ambassador?” “Sir,” said Bacon, “tall men are like high houses, wherein commonly the uppermost rooms are worst furnished.”


An honest jack tar would be coached up to town from Deptford, but thought it a very unbecoming thing in him, who had just been paid off, and had plenty of money, not to have a whole coach to himself; he, of course, took all the seats, seating himself at the same time upon the top. The coach was about to set off, when a gentleman appeared, who was holding an altercation with the coachman, about the absurdity of his insisting that the seats were all taken, and not a person in the coach. Jack, 6 overhearing high words, thought, as he had paid full freight, he had a right to interfere, and inquired what was the matter. When being told that the gentleman was much disappointed at not getting a seat, he replied, “You lubber, stow him away in the hold; but I’ll be d——d if he come upon deck.”


A person who had just two thousand a-year, being unwilling to leave any thing to his heirs, resolved to spend, not only the annual income, but also the principal. He accordingly made a calculation, that he could not possibly live longer than fourscore years; but, happening to survive all, he found himself reduced to beggary during the last half dozen years of his life; and actually begged charity from door to door, whining out, “Pray give something to a poor man, who has lived longer than he thought for.”


In the year 1809 was interred, in the burial ground of St. Martin in the Fields, the body of Hew Hewson, who died at the advanced age of 85. He was a man of no mean celebrity, though no funeral escutcheons adorned his hearse, or heir expectant graced his obsequies. He was no less a personage than the identical Hugh Strap, whom Dr. Smollet has rendered so conspicuously interesting in his life and adventures of Roderick Random, and for upwards of forty years had kept a hair dresser’s shop in the above parish. The deceased was a very intelligent man, and took delight in recounting 7 the adventures of his early life. He spoke with pleasure of the time he passed in the service of the doctor, and it was his pride as well as boast, to say he had been educated at the same seminary with so learned and distinguished a character. His shop was hung round with Latin quotations, and he would frequently point out to his customers and acquaintances the several scenes in Roderick Random pertaining to himself, which had their foundation, not in the doctor’s inventive fancy, but in truth and reality. The meeting in a barber’s shop at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the subsequent mistake at the inn, their arrival together in London, and the assistance they experienced from Strap’s friend, were all of that description. He left behind him an interlined copy of Roderick Random, pointing out these facts, showing how far they were indebted to the genius of the doctor, and to what extent they were bottomed in reality. He could never succeed in gaining more than a respectable subsistence by his trade, but he possessed an independence of mind superior to his humble condition. Of late years he was employed as keeper of the promenade in Villiers Walk, Adelphi, and was much noticed and respected by the inhabitants who frequented that place.


The Duchess of York having desired her housekeeper seek out for a laundress, a decent looking woman, was recommended to the situation. “But,” said the housekeeper, “I am afraid she will not suit your royal highness; as she is a soldier’s wife, and these people are generally loose characters!” What is 8 it you say;” said the duke, who had just entered the room, “a soldier’s wife! Pray, madam, what is your mistress? I desire that the woman may be immediately engaged.”


Two friends, who had not seen each other a great while, meeting by chance, one asked the other how he did? He replied, that he was not very well, and was married since they had last met. “That is good news, indeed.” “Nay, not so very good neither, for I have married a shrew.” “That is bad, too.” “Not so bad neither, for I had two thousand pounds with her.” “That is well again.” “Not so well neither, for I laid it out in sheep and they all died of the rot.” “That was hard, in truth.” “Not so hard neither, for I sold the skins for more than the sheep cost me.” “Aye, that made you amends.” “Not so much amends neither, for I laid out my money in a house, and it was burned.” “That was a great loss indeed.” “Not so great a loss neither, for my wife was burned in it!


On a trial at the Admiralty sessions, for shooting a seaman, the counsel for the crown asking one of the witnesses which he was for, plaintiff or defendant, Plaintiff or defendant!” says the sailor, scratching his head, “why, I don’t know what you mean by plaintiff or defendant. I come to speak for that man, there!” pointing at the prisoner. “You are a pretty fellow for a witness,” says the counsel, “not to know what plaintiff or defendant means.” Some 9 time after, being asked by the same counsel, what part of the ship he was in at the time, “Abaft the binnacle, my lord,” says the sailor. “Abaft the binnacle!” replied the barrister, “what part of the ship is that?” “Ha! ha! ha!” chuckled the sailor; “an’t you a pretty fellow for a counsellor,” pointing archly at him with his finger, “not to know what abaft the binnacle is?”


Dr. Franklin, when last in England, used pleasantly to repeat an observation of his negro servant, when the doctor was making the tour of Derbyshire, Lancashire, &c. “Every ting, Massa, work in dis country; water work; wind work; fire work; smoke work; dog work (he had before noticed the last at Bath); man work; bullock work; horse work; ass work; every ting work here but de hog; he eat, he drink, he sleep, he do noting all day, he walk about like gentleman!


Colonel Bond, who had sat as one of the judges on the trial of King Charles I., died a day or two before Cromwell; who, it was strongly reported, was likewise dead. “No, no,” said a gentleman who had better information, “he has only given bond to the devil for his future appearance.”


A young man, in a large company, descanting very flippantly on a subject, his knowledge of 10 which was evidently superficial, the Duchess of Devonshire asked his name. “ ’Tis Scarlet,” replied a gentleman who stood by. “That may be,” said her grace, “and yet he is not deep read.


A gentleman being on a morning visit to Lady Bridget Tollemache, the conversation turned on fashion and female dress. The long waists and short waists, the high heads and low heads, the high heels and the low heels, each had their turn; at length said her ladyship, “So, Sir, extremes of fashion do not meet with your approbation, but pray what do you think of short petticoats?” “That fashion,” said he, “your ladyship may carry as high as you please.”


Not long since, a Jew came to the Court of King’s Bench to justify a bail for £1,800, when on the usual questions being asked him, if he was worth £1,800 and all debts paid, he replied, “My lords! Upon my vord, dis is a very great shum; and, as I am not really vort de half, I vill not justify, my lords, for it; but, as de attorney here did give me £20 bank not to justify, vat vod your lordships have me do vid de monies?” The Earl of Mansfield, who seemed struck with the answer, immediately replied, “You are an honest Jew, and I would advise you by all means to keep the note!” which Mordecai Israel accordingly did; and, as his lordship was going out of court, the Israelite with many bows and scrapes, said, “I hombly 11 tank your lordship; for you are the first who ever called me an honest Jew.”


John Rap, of the parish of Burton Agnes, near Bridlington, in Yorkshire, was so unkind a husband, so severe a father, so rigid a master, and so bad a neighbour in general, that not a tear was shed at his funeral. The sexton observed, that he had officiated in that capacity forty-five years, and that an instance of the sort had never happened before; and, that it might not disgrace the village, seized a little boy and lugged his ears most severely, which soon produced the desired effect.


Some time after a late nobleman had abjured the Roman Catholic religion, he was sent ambassador to France, where he resided several years. Being one day at an entertainment, a noble duke, his near relation, rallying him on the score of religion, asked his lordship whether the ministers of state, or the ministers of the gospel, had the greatest share in his conversion? “Good God, my lord duke!” replied the witty peer, “How can you ask me such a questions? Do you not know, that when I quitted the Roman Catholic religion, I left off confession?”


A gentleman, begging Villiers, the witty Duke of Buckingham, to employ his interest for him at court, added, that he had nobody to depend on but God and his Grace. “Then,” said the duke, “your condition is desperate: 12 you could not have named any two beings who have less interest at court.”


Sir Richard Steele having one day invited to his house a great number of persons of the first quality, they were surprised at the number of liveries which surrounded the table; and after dinner, when wine and mirth had set them free from the observation of rigid ceremony, one of them inquired of Sir Richard how such an expensive train of domestics could be consistent with his fortune. Sir Richard very frankly confessed, that they were fellows of whom he would very willingly be rid; and being then asked why he did not discharge them, declared, “that they were bailiffs, who had introduced themselves with an execution; and whom, since he could not send them way, he had thought it convenient to embellish them with liveries, that they might do him credit while they staid.” His friends were diverted with the expedient, and, by paying the debt, discharged their attendance; having obliged Sir Richard to promise that they should never again find him graced with a retinue of the same kind.


A Mid-Lothian farmer observing to his plough-boy that there was a fly in his milk. “O, never mind, Sir,” said the boy, “it winna drown; there’s nae sae meikle o’t.” “Gude wife,” said the farmer, “Jock says he has o’er little milk!” “There’s milk enough for a’ my bread,” said the sly rogue.


Punning was, at least, no crime in the days of the first of the Stuarts, nor kings nor nobles were above it. The great Lord Bacon was reduced to such extreme poverty, towards the latter end of his life, that he wrote to James I. for assistance in these words: “Help me, dear sovereign lord and master, and pity me so far, that I, who have been born to a bag, be not now in my age forced in effect to bear a wallet: nor that I, who desire to live to study, may be driven to study to live.” Those who may be disposed to excuse this “jeu de mot,” may not perhaps be so indulgent to a former letter of the same great man to Prince Charles, wherein he hopes that “as the father was his Creator the son will be his Redeemer.


A poor man married an esquire’s daughter. As the rich man would not be reconciled, or give him any portion, he christened all his children by the father-in-law’s surname, that they might convey, as beggars, the family name to posterity.


It was told Lord Chesterfield, that Mrs. M., a termagant and scold, was married to a gamester; on which his lordship said, “that cards and brimstone made the best matches.”


Buck, the player, at York, was asked how 14 he came to turn his coat twice? He replied, smartly, “that one good turn deserved another.”


On Sterne’s entering the coffee-house at York, a Mr. A, staring him full in the face, said he hated a parson; upon which Sterne said, “And so, Sir, does my dog; for as soon as I put on my gown and cassock, he falls a barking.” “Indeed,” replies A., “how long has he done so?” “Ever since he was a puppy, Sir,” answered Sterne, “and I still look upon him as one.”


One asked another what the word genius meant? The other said, “If you had it in you, you would not ask the question; but, as you have not, you will never know what it means.”


Preached by the Rev. Mr. Dodd, in a hollow tree.

The Rev. Mr. Dodd, a very worthy minister, who lived a few miles from Cambridge, had rendered himself obnoxious to many of the Cantabs, by frequently preaching against drunkenness; several of whom meeting him on a journey, they determined to make him preach in a hollow tree, which was near the road side. Accordingly, addressing him with great apparent politeness, they asked him if he had not lately preached much against drunkenness? On his replying in the affirmative, they insisted that he should now preach from a text of their 15 own choosing. In vain did he remonstrate on the unreasonableness of expecting him to give them a discourse without study, and in such a place; they were determined to take no denial, and the word MALT was given him by way of text; on which he immediately delivered himself as follows: —

“Beloved, let me crave your attention. I am a little man, come at a short warning, to preach a short sermon, from a small subject, in an unworthy pulpit, to a small congregation. Beloved, my text is MALT: I cannot divide it into words, it being but one; or into syllables, it being but one: I must therefore of necessity divide it into letters, which I find to be these four, M, A, L, T.

“M, my beloved, is Moral; A, is Allegorical; L, is Literal; T, is Theological. The Moral is set forth to teach you drunkards good manners, therefore, M, Masters; A, All of you; L, Listen; T, to my Text. The Allegorical is when one thing is spoken, and another thing is meant. The thing spoken of is Malt; the thing meant is the Juice of Malt; which you Cantabs make — M, your Master; A, your Apparel; L, your Liberty; and T, your Trust. The Literal is according to the Letter — , Much; A, Ale; L, Little; T, Trust. The Theological is according to the effects that it works, and these I find to be of two kinds: first in this world; secondly in the world to come. The effects that it works in this world are, in some — M, Murder; in others, A, Adultery; in all L, Looseness of Life; and some, T, Treason. The effects that it works in the world to come, are — M, Misery; A, Anguish; L, Lamentation; and T, Torment. And so much for this time and text.


“I shall improve this, first, by way of exhortation — M, Masters; A, All of you; L, Leave off; T, Tippling; or, secondly, by way of excommunication — M, Masters; A, All of you, L, Look for; T, Torment. Thirdly, by way of caution, take this. A drunkard is the annoyance of modesty, the spoil of civility, the destruction of reason, the brewer’s agent, the alehouse benefactor, his wife’s sorrow, his children’s trouble; his own shame, his neighbour’s scoff, a walking swill-bowl, the picture of a beast, and the monster of a man. Now to, &c.”


Miss E., spinster at York, frequented the prayers at the Minster regularly twice a day. She was turned of threescore; and had from infancy been so used to call her mother mamma! that when she repeated the 6th verse of the 55th Psalm, In sin hath my mother conceived me, she used to chant it, In sin hath my mamma conceived me.


Lord Chesterfield sent the following lines to lady Mary —  ——, indisposed with a cold: —

The dews of the night most carefully shun,

Those tears of the sky for the loss of the sun.


A person passing through Ainwick, and observing upon a door, “Haswell, Surgeon, &c.” remarked, that gentleman’s name would be as well without the H.”


A person reading the names of Young, Senior, and Young, Junior, on a shop bill, said, the first was a contradiction, and the second, a tautology.


Two Irish labourers, being at the execution of the malefactors on the new scaffold before Newgate, one says to the other, “Arrah, Pat, now! but is there any difference between being hanged here and being hanged in chains?” “No, honey!” replied he, “no great difference; only one hangs about an hour, and the other hangs all the days of his life.


A fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, on the eve of his departure from the University, preached at St. Mary’s upon these words, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all. And owing a great sum of money in the town, enlarged mightily on the first part of the text, Have patience, &c. “Now,” says he, “I should come to the second part, and I will pay you all; but having pressed too long on your patience, I must leave that till the next opportunity; so pray have patience with me!”


A physician travelled in Cambridgeshire, and found the roads so inaccessible around a town, that he repaired to the rector of the parish, and exclaimed, “Ah, Sir! you may preach 18 long enough, but your parishioners will never mend their ways.”


A Welch parson in his discourse, told his congregation, “how kind and respectful we should be to one another,” and said, “we were even inferior to brutes in that point.” He brought in an example of two goats, which met one other on a very narrow bridge, over a river, so that they could pass by without one thrusting the other off. “How do you think did they do? I’ll tell you: one laid him down and let the other leap over him. Ah! beloved, let us live like goats.”


A link-boy asked Dr. Burges, the preacher if he would have a light. “No, child,” says the Doctor, “I am one of the lights of the world.” “I wish then,” replied the boy, “you was hung up at the end of our alley, for we live in a devilish dark one.”


A lady beating time on a table, as destitute of harmony as time, asked another, if she knew what she played? “I do,” answered she, “you play the fool.


The Rev. Dr. ——, who lived near York, had a cherry-tree (being a corpulent man, he could not pull 19 them himself), employed a lad for the purpose; and when he mounted the tree, he put a whistle into his mouth, and he called out, “whistle, lad, whistle,” that he might not eat the cherries.


The renowned Peter the Great, being at Westminster Hall in term time, and seeing multitudes of people swarming about the courts of law, is reported to have asked some about him, what all those busy people were, and what they were about? and being answered, “They are lawyers.” “Lawyers!” returned he, with great vivacity, “why I have but four in my whole kingdom, and I design to hang two of them as soon as I get home.”


“When I have a cold in my head,” said a gentleman in company, “I am always remarkably dull and stupid.” “You are much to be pitied, then, Sir,” replied another, “for I don’t remember ever to have seen you without a cold in your head.”


Swinburne, in his “Treatise on Wills,” &c. relates the following curious anecdote: — 

The will of a gentleman was disputed, on the ground of his having been insane, and therefore not competent to make one. On the part of the legatees several witnesses were examined, to prove the sanity of the testator, and amongst other evidence, the following was given, which decided the opinion of the judges in their favour:


A poor chimney sweep, who was nearly starved, sat himself down by the door of a cook’s shop in Holborn, and endeavoured to allay the cravings of his stomach, by inhaling the steams which arose from the kitchen where the various viands were cooking. This went on for me time, till at length the sweep rose to pursue his way. The owner of the cook’s shop, however, stopped him, and demanded sixpence of him as remuneration. Against this the poor sweep violently protested, alleging, that he had not had any thing from him. The cook, however, was not to be pacified, and insisted, that as he had allayed his appetite with the steam arising from his meat, he was entitled to remuneration for it. In vain did the sweep remonstrate; and it was finally settled to refer the cause to the arbitration of the first passer-by; this happened to be the identical gentleman mentioned above: after hearing both sides of the question attentively, he desired the sweep to give him the sum demanded, and the cook to bring him two plates, which being done, he rattled the sixpence between them for some time, and then returned it to the sweep, observing, “that as he had been satisfied with the smell of the cook’s meat, the cook must be also satisfied with the sound of his money.1


A gentleman went to see his son at Westminster school, under the great Dr. Busby. While they were in discourse, over a bottle of wine, the Doctor sent for the boy. “Come,” says he, “young man, as your father is here, take a glass of wine;” and quoted this Latin 21 sentence: Paucum Vini acuit Ingenium, (a little wine sharpens the wit). The lad replied, Sed plus Vini, plus Ingenii! (the more wine, the more wit!). “Hold, young man,” replied the Doctor, “though you argue on mathematical principles, you shall have but one glass!”


An old female methodist, preached about the country that she had been eleven months in heaven. One of the audience started up and said, “It was a pity that she did not stay the other odd month, as she might then have gained a settlement.”


A sailor, half groggy, passing along the street of a certain seaport town, discovered over an admiral’s door an escutcheon, and very naturally took it for an alehouse. The gentleman (a ruddy looking portly man,) standing at the door, he clapped him on the shoulder, “D—n it, landlord, you look like an honest fellow, give us a cup of the best.” The gentleman, to carry on the joke, ordered his servant to bring him some beer: which being done, the jolly tar drank towards the landlord’s very good health, and inquired what was to pay, which the officer told him he might settle the next time he came that way.


A dog stole a piece of meat out of a Quaker’s porridge-pot; upon which the Quaker calmly said, that he would not lift up the arm of the 22 flesh against him, but give him a gentle reproof; and so turning the dog out, he shouted “a mad dog!” in consequence of which, the poor animal was instantly stoned to death.


A gentleman at Armagh, of more gravity than knowledge, conversing lately on the “Mendicity Association” of that town, made the following sage remark. “These dicities are good things, but I think there should be women-dicities, as well as men-dicities; for there as many of the one sex begging as of the other!”


A father chiding his son for not leaving his bed at an earlier hour, told him, as an inducement, that a certain man being up betimes found a purse of gold. “It might be so,” replied the son, “but he that lost it was up before him.


A Welchman, being at a sessions and seeing the prisoners hold up their hands at the bar, related to some of his acquaintances, that the judges were good fortunetellers, for if they did but look at their hands, they certainly could tell whether they would live or die.


An apothecary at York, meeting a Mr. F., asked him where he had been? he said, “At 23 Tristram Shandy’s, to get some Attic Salt.” The former, repeating “Attic Salt!” and muttering to himself Attic Salt; goes home and rummages his shop for the salt. The next time he met F. he told him he had examined his salts, and found that he had Glauber, and all the other salts except that particular one, which he concluded was a French salt; and wished he would ask Tristram to put him in the way of procuring some of it.


A student of the Middle Temple being just called to the bar, sent for the peruke maker, to measure him for a new tie wig. The peruquier, on applying his apparatus in one direction, was observed to smile. Upon which the young barrister, desiring to know what ludicrous circumstance gave rise to his mirth, the barber replied, that he could not but remark the extreme length of his honour’s head: “That’s well,” said the student; “we lawyers have occasion for long heads.” The barber, who had by this time completed the dimensions, now burst out into a fit of laughter; and, an explanation being insisted on, at last declared, “That he could not possibly contain himself, when he discovered that his honour’s head was just as thick as it was long.”


A bailiff, clapping a man on the shoulder, said, “I arrest you, Sir, for a horse.” “Why, thou coxcomb” replied the man, “thou canst not be such a fool; look at me again; what likeness can you see? I’ll show thee a horse’s 24 trick, however:” and giving him a sudden kick, and a well-applied blow, left him in the kennel, and ran off.


An honest peasant settled in a small village, where, in a short time, he gained the good will of all his neighbours. He had, however, the misfortune to lose one of his best milch-cows in the first year, which grieved him exceedingly; while his wife, who was an excellent manager, took it to heart to much, that she absolutely fell sick and died. The good man lamented the loss of his helpmate with the most unaffected sorrow, and remained for some months quite inconsolable. His neighbours now thought it their duty to reason him into resignation. “My friend,” said one of them, “the wife you have lost was really an excellent woman, but still you have a good remedy; you are a young and an honest man, and you will find no difficulty irocuring another. For my part,” continued he, “I have three daughters, and I shall be happy to call you son-in-law.” Another, on this, offered him his sister; and a third, his niece. “Good God!” says the mourner, “what a strange place this is, since a man who lives here had better lose his wife than his cow! My wife is dead: and, lo! you tell me I may pick and choose, to supply her place: but when my poor cow died, nobody ever thought of offering me another!”

Comic engraving of a room, with a man, in 19th century dress, seated in a chair and talking with two men standing on either side of him.  There are 3 women in the background.

VALUE OF A WIFE.  Page 24.


During the contest for the representation of Westmoreland (June 1818), between Mr. 25 Brougham and Lord Londsdale’s interest, it was stated in a large company, that no less than one hundred and one clergymen had voted for the Lowthers: a partisan of Mr. Brougham observed, “the Lord gave the word, and great was the multitude of preachers.


An old Roman soldier, being involved in a lawsuit, implored the protection of Augustus, who referred him to one of his courtiers for an introduction to the judges. On which the brave veteran, piqued at the emperor’s coolness, exclaimed, “I did not use your highness thus, when you were in danger at the battle of Actium, but fought for you myself!” disclosing, at the same time, the wounds he had received on that memorable occasion. This retort so affected Augustus, that he is said to have personally pleaded the soldier’s cause.”


Mr. Fox, on his canvass, having accosted a tradesman, whom he solicited for his vote, the blunt elector replied, “I cannot give you my support; I admire your abilities, but d—n your principles!” Mr. Fox instantly retorted, My friend, I laud your sincerity, but d—n your manners.”


The same gentleman having applied to a shopkeeper in Westminster for his vote and interest, the man produced a halter, with which he said he was ready to oblige him. The orator, 26 without hesitation, replied, “I return your thanks, my friend, for your very polite offer, but I should be sorry to deprive you of so valuable a family piece.”


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 raise his choler, so as to draw from him this expression: — “Sir, I was in hopes you would have treated my failings with more gentleness, or that you would have been the last man alive to appear against me, as I have covered so many blunders of yours!


A Cantab having been affronted by the mayor, who was a butcher, resolved to take an opportunity of being even with him; accordingly, when it came to be his turn to preach before the corporation, in the prayer before the sermon, he made use of the following expression: “And since, O Lord! thou hast commanded us to pray for our enemies, herein we beseech thee for the right worshipful the mayor: give him the strength of Sampson, and the courage of David; that he may knock down sin like an ox, and cut the throat of iniquity like a sucking-calf; and let his horn be exalted above his brethren.”


When Lord Chesterfield was in administration, 27 he proposed a person to his late majesty, as proper to fill a place of great trust, but which the king himself was determined should be filled by another. The council, however, resolved not to indulge the king, for fear of a dangerous precedent. It was Lord Chesterfield’s business to present the grant of the office for the king’s signature. Not to incense his anger, by asking him abruptly, he, with accents of great humility, begged to know with whose name his majesty would be pleased to have the blanks filled up? “With the devil’s!” replied the king, in a paroxysm of rage. “And shall the instrument,” said the earl, coolly, “run as usual, ‘Our trusty well-beloved cousin and counsellor?’ ” A repartee at which the king laughed heartily, and with great good humour signed the grant.


A late attorney-general receiving a client, who was intimate with him, in his library, the gentleman expressed surprise at the number of wigs that were hanging up. “Yes, there are several,” replies the lawyer; “that,” pointing to a scratch, “is my common business wig; that my chancery wig; that my House of Lords wig; and that my court wig.” ”And pray, Sir, where is your honest man’s wig? “O,” replied the lawyer, “that’s not professional.


A malefactor under sentence of death, petitioned Lord Chancellor Bacon for a reprieve, pretending to be a relation. His lordship said, he could not possibly be Bacon till he had first been hung.


A chimney-sweeper in a certain borough town, being one of the last voters at a violently contested election, was strongly pressed by each candidate to honour him with his vote. The fellow, who was for some time at a loss to tell which fine gentlemen most merited his suffrage, at last recollecting that he had often heard of kissing hands among the great folks, declared that he would not vote for either, unless they would kiss his hand. One of them accordingly came forward, and, having vainly endeavoured to persuade the sweep to dispense with so disagreeable a ceremony, actually saluted his sooty fingers; after which, confidently claiming the expected reward, “No, no,” says the chimney-sweeper, “I sha’nt vote for you; for I’m very sure he that would kiss my hand would kiss any minister’s a—e.”


A young fellow was extolling a lady’s beauty very highly, and one of his companions allowed she had beauty, except that she had a bad set of teeth. “Very true,” said the first, “but she is a fine woman in spite of her teeth.


Take all the ladies and gentlemen you can get; place them in a room with a slow fire; stir them well; have ready a pianoforte, a harp, a handful of books or prints; put them in from time to time: when the mixture begins to settle, sweeten it with politesse, or wit, if you have it, if not, flattery will do as well, and 29 is very cheap. When all have stewed together for two or three hours, put in one or two turkeys, some tongues, sliced beef or ham, tarts, cakes, and sweetmeats, and some bottles of wine; the more you put the better, and the more substantial your rout will be. — N. B. Fill your room quite full, and let the scum run off of itself.


A Highlander, who sold brooms, went into a barber’s shop in Glasgow to be shaved. The barber bought one of his brooms, and, after he had shaved him, asked the price. “Twopence,” said the Highlander.” “No, no,” said the barber, “I’ll give you a penny; if that does not satisfy you, take your broom again, and we’ll not make a bargain.” The Highlander took it, and asked him what he had to pay. “A penny,” says Mr. Razor. “No, by my fait now,” says Duncan, “I’ll give you a halfpenny, and if that does not satisfy you, put on my beard as it was before, and we’ll na mak a bargain.”


A bishop of Exeter, having just established a poor-house for twenty-five old women, in conversation one day with Lord Mansfield, asked him for an inscription; upon which his lordship directly took out his pencil, and on a slip of paper wrote as follows: — 

“Under this roof
the Lord Bishop of Exeter
twenty-five women.”


All the teeth of a certain talkative lady being loose, she asked the Chevalier Ruspini the cause of it, who answered, “It did proceed from the violent shocks her ladyship did give them with her tongue.”


At Gibraltar there was a great scarcity of water, and a general complaint of the want of it. An Irish officer said, he was very easy about the matter, for he had nothing to do with water; if he only got his tea in the morning, and punch at night, it was all that he wanted.


David Hume and Lady W. once passed the Firth from Kinghorn to Leith together, when a violent storm rendered the passengers apprehensive of a salt-water death; and her ladyship’s terrors induced her to seek consolation from her friend, who with infinite sang froid assured her, he thought there was great probability of their becoming food for fishes. “And pray, my dear friend,” said lady W., “which do you think they will eat first?” “Those that are gluttons,” replied Hume, “will undoubtedly fall foul of me, but the epicures will attack your ladyship.”


A gentleman came into an inn in Chelmsford 31 upon a very cold day, and could get no room near the fire; whereupon he called the ostler to fetch a peck of oysters, and give them to his horse. “Will your horse eat oysters?” replied the ostler. “Try him,” said the gentleman. Immediately, the people running to see this wonder, the fire side was cleared, and the gentleman had his choice of seats. The ostler brought back the oysters, and said the horse would not meddle with them. “Why then,” says the gentleman, “I must be forced to eat them myself.”


A Quaker married a woman of the church of England. After the ceremony, the vicar asked for his fees, which he said were a crown. The Quaker, astonished at the demand, said, if he would show him any text in the scripture, which proved his fees were a crown, he would give it unto him; upon which the vicar directly turned to the twelfth chapter of Proverbs, verse 4th, where it is said, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” “Thou art right,” replied the Quaker, “in thy assertion: Solomon was a wise man; here are the five twelvepenny pieces, and something beside to buy thee a pair of gloves.”


Some time since, at one of our seaports, a noble naval commander, who is a strict disciplinarian, accosted a drunken sailor in the street, with “What ship do you belong to?” Jack, who was a dry fellow, notwithstanding he was drunk, and had a very eccentric countenance, 32 answered with much sang froid, “Don’t know.” “Do you know who I am?” “No.” “Why, I am commander-in-chief.” “Then,” replied he archly, “you have a d—d good birth of it, that’s all I know.”


One asked an old man what he had done to live to so great an age? He answered, “When I could sit I never stood: I married late, was soon a widower, and never married again.”


An Irish gentleman, in the warmth of national veneration, was praising Ireland for the cheapness of provisions; a salmon might be bought for sixpence, and a dozen mackerel for twopence. “And pray, Sir, how came you to leave so cheap a country?” “Arrah! honey, where were the sixpences and twopences to be got?”


A grotesque instance of the sudden power of gratitude is shewn in a modern Kentish anecdote, perfectly well attested:

A parson of Whitestable, named Patten, was well known in his own neighbourhood as a man of great oddity, great humour, and equally great extravagance. Once standing in need of a new wig, his old one defying all farther assistance of art, he went over to Canterbury, and applied to a barber, young in the business, to make him one. The tradesman, who was just going to dinner, begged the honour of his new customer’s 33 company at his meal, to which Patten most readily consented. After dinner a large bowl of punch was produced, and the happy guest, with equal readiness, joined in its demolition. When it was out, the barber was proceeding to business, and began to handle his measure, when Mr. Patten desired him to desist, saying he should not make his wig. “Why not!” exclaimed the honest host: “have I done any thing to offend you, Sir?” “Not in the least,” replied the guest; “I find you are a very honest good-natured fellow; so I will take somebody else in. Had you made it, you would never have been paid for it.”


A country esquire asked Judge Burnet, when he was in the height of delivering his charge at the castle of York, if he had seen the rhinoceros? Upon which the judge paused. The esquire went on, “Not seen the rhinoceros, my lord?” To which his lordship replied, “that the etiquette was not yet settled between them, as they both had their trumpets, which should visit the first, whether he should wait upon the rhinoceros, or the rhinoceros upon him.”


A gentleman calling upon a friend in the city, who was attended by a physician from the west end of the town, inquired of the doctor on one of his visits, if he did not find it inconvenient to attend his friend from such a distance? “Not at all, Sir,” replied the doctor, “for having another patient in the adjoining street, I can kill two birds with one stone.” “Can you so?” replied the 34 sick man; “then you are too good a shot for me;” and dismissed him.


A gentleman entered a box at the playhouse in his boots and spurs, and said that he came to town on purpose to see Orpheus; when, unluckily his spurs getting entangled in a lady’s petticoat, she replied, “and Eu-rid-i-ce.


A Mr. Fuller and a Mr. Sparrowhawk walking together, among other merry discourse, says Fuller, “What is the difference between an owl and sparrowhawk?” “O!” says Sparrowhawk, “ ’tis fuller in the face, fuller in the body, and fuller all over.”


A painter, employed in painting a West India ship in the river, was suspended on a stage under the ship’s stern. The captain, who had just got into the boat alongside, for the purpose of going ashore, ordered the boy to let go the painter (the rope which makes fast the boat): the boy instantly went aft, and let go the rope by which the painter’s stage was held. The captain, surprised at the boy’s delay, cried out, “D—n your eyes, you lazy dog, why don’t you let go the painter?” The boy replied, “He’s gone, Sir, pots and all.”


When Quin was one day lamenting his growing 35 old a pert young fellow asked him what he would now give to be as young as he? “I would be content,” replied Quin, “to be as foolish.”


An officer in battle happening to bow, a cannon-ball passed over his head, and took off the head of a soldier who stood behind him. “You see,” said he, “that a man never loses by politeness.


The Laird of M‘N—b was writing to one of his Dulcineas from an Edinburgh coffee-house, when a gentleman of his acquaintance observed, that he was setting at defiance the laws of orthography and grammar. “D—n your blood!” exclaimed the Highland chieftain, “how can a man write grammar with a pen like this?”

Black and white photograph of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, on a hill surrounded with haze, taken from below that includes a clear view of a street and buildings, taken in the late 19th century.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, with a view of the castle, circa 1901.


A man carried a bag about Scarborough, in which he said he had a cherry coloured cat. The gentry flocked round him to see this great curiosity. When the man let the cat out of the bag, it proved a black one. He desired they would not wonder, as there were black cherries as well as red ones.


Mr. Curran, the late celebrated Irish advocate, was walking one day with a friend, who was extremely punctilious in his conversation, hearing a person near him say curosity, for curiosity, he exclaimed, “How that man murders 36 the English language!” “Not so bad,” replied Curran, “he has only knocked an I out.


Lord Clive asked a chaplain to one of the regiments in the East India Company’s service for a toast, who, with much simplicity exclaimed, “Alas, and alack a day! what can I give?” “Nothing better,” replied his lordship. “Come, gentlemen, a bumper to the parson’s toast. “A lass and a lack a day!”

N. B. A lack of rupees is a hundred thousand pounds.


Dryden’s translation of Virgil being commended by a right reverend bishop, Lord Chesterfield said, “The original is indeed excellent, but every thing suffers by a translation — except a bishop.”


A gentleman said to Mr. Curran, “Would you not have known this boy to be my son from his resemblance to me?” “Yes,” replied Curran, “the maker’s name is stamped upon the blade.


Mr. Curran cross-examining a horse jockey’s servant, asked his master’s age. “I never put my hand in the mouth to try,” answered the witness. The laugh was against the counsel till he retorted, “You did perfectly right, friend, for your master is said to be a great bite.”


A miniature painter, upon his cross-examination by Mr. Curran, was made to confess, that he carried his improper freedoms with a particular lady so far as to attempt to put his arm round her waist. “Then, Sir,” said the counsel, “I suppose you took that waist (waste) for a common.


The famous Rabelais followed the Cardinal of Lorrain to Rome, and attended on him as his physician. This prelate being gone to pay his duty to the new pope, Gregory XIII., was, according to custom, admitted to the honour of kissing his holiness’s toe. Rabelais, who was present, appearing surprised and shocked at the sight of such a beastly action, hastened out of the room, and went away. The cardinal, on his return home, asked him, angrily, what made him run away before he was presented to the pontiff, with the gentlemen of his retinue. “I crave your eminency’s pardon,” answered Rabelais; “but seeing you, who are a cardinal, a great prince, and my master, kiss the pope’s toe, I thought the greatest honour that could fall to my share would be to kiss his holiness’s backside.”


A physician seeing Charles Bannister about to drink a glass of brandy, said, “Don’t drink that filthy stuff; brandy is the worst enemy you have.” “I know that,” replied Charles, “but you 38 know we are commanded by Scripture to love our enemies.”


Some few years since, there was a Marshal of the King’s Bench, whose name was Thomas; who, from some circumstances, became extremely obnoxious to the prisoners, or, as they are termed, the benchers; one of them on some occasion or other, spread a report of his death, which gave rise to the following epitaph: — 

Beneath this stone lies Marshal
He’s gone: ’tis well;
We thank thee, Hell,
For taking such a rascal
from us.


A master of a ship at Liverpool, about to take an oath before a magistrate, to clear out at the Custom-house, the maid went to fetch a Testament, but not being able to find one, the magistrate told the captain, “He might swear by G—, and that might do as well.”


A gentleman lay in so dangerous a way, that his friend sent to inquire after his health, attended with a message that he would pray for his recovery: the answer was, he desired that he would not, as he was a wicked fellow, his prayers, so far from being of avail, might be the means of bringing an old house over his head, and hasten his departure.


A countryman sowing his ground, two smart fellows riding that way, one of them called to him with an insolent air, “Well, honest fellow,” said he, “ ’tis your business to sow, but we reap the fruits of your labour.” To which the countryman replied, “ ’Tis very like you may, for I am sowing hemp.”


A physician, boasting his great knowledge in his profession, said he never heard any complaint from his patients; one wittily replied, “Very likely, Doctor, for the faults of physicians are generally buried with their patients.”


A city alderman’s lady being at a rout, at the West end of the town, was asked to take a hand at cards; she replied, she could not play whisk, but had no objection to kadril. A party sat down. The alderman’s lady happened to be the eldest hand, and began with “1 ax;” the second lady humourously replied, “Madam, I had a good hand, but your ax has cut it to pieces.”


A Scotchman, giving evidence at the bar of the house of Lords in the affair of Captain Porteous, and telling of the variety of shots which were fired upon that unhappy occasion, was asked by the duke of Newcastle, what kind of shot it was? “Why,” said the man, in his 40 broad dialect, “such as they shoot fools (fowls) with, and the like.” “What kind of fools?” says the duke, smiling at the word. “Why, my lord, dukes (ducks) and sic kin’ of fools.


A gentleman remarked the other day to an Irish baronet, that the science of optics was now brought to the highest perfection; for that, by the aid of a telescope, which he had just purchased, he could discern objects at an incredible distance. “My dear fellow,” replied the good humoured baronet, “I have one at my lodge in the county of Wexford that will be a match for it; it brought the church of Enniscorthy so near to my view, that I could hear the whole congregation singing Psalms.”


A captain of a ship of war unluckily had his laced hat on in an engagement at sea, when the enemy aimed at him; which a sailor observing, instantly stept upon the quarter deck, pulled it off and put it on his head, and his own cap upon the captain’s, “Now, Sir,” says he, “you cannot but say I covered your head in the day of battle.”


A serious affair lately took place at a small church in Wales. The pastor having a tame goat, which followed him to the church and sat under the pulpit, the animal was so struck with the nodding of a drowsy Cambrian, who sat opposite him, that, taking the frequent inclinations of 41 his head for a challenge to combat, he made a butt at his supposed antagonist, who, not observing from whence the blow proceeded, struck the person next to him. The parson, who was also of the quorum, would have committed the drowsy Cambrian, when brought before him next day, especially as the latter had been convicted of reading and commenting on the newspapers; but it was proved by several witnesses, that his goat was the first aggressor, he observed, “that if the people tespised tivine service, it would be no wonder if the peasts of the field were to rise upon all the chakopins in the country.”


Take the external (M y) from Majesty, and what is it? a jest.


The witty and licentious earl of Rochester meeting with the great Isaac Barrow the park, told his companions that he would have some fun with the rusty old put. Accordingly, he went with great gravity, and taking off his hat, made the doctor a profound bow, saying, “Doctor, I am yours to my shoe tie.” The doctor, seeing his drift, immediately pulled off his beaver, and returned the bow, with, “My lord, I am yours to the ground.” Rochester followed up his salutation by a deeper bow, saying, “doctor, I am yours to the centre.” Barrow, with a very lowly obeisance, replied “My lord, I am yours to the Antipodes.” His lordship, nearly gravelled, exclaimed, “Doctor, I am yours to the lowest pit of hell.” — “There, 42 my lord,” said Barrow, sarcastically, “I leave you,” and walked off.


The earl once endeavoured to throw off his wit upon a young academician at Oxford, by thus accosting him:

“Pray, Mr. Student, can you tell

  Which is the nearest way to hell?”

The other instantly retorted:

“Some say Woodstock, I say nay,

  For Rochester’s the nearest way.


Lord Chesterfield, on viewing Lady M——, a reputed Jacobite adorned with orange ribands at the anniversary ball at Dublin, in memory of King William, thus addressed her, extempore:

“Thou little Tory, where’s the jest

  To wear those ribands in thy breast;

  When that breast, betraying, shows

  The whiteness of the rebel rose?”


As the late Mr. Rich, whose abilities as a Harlequin are universally known, was one evening returning home from the playhouse in a hackney coach, he ordered the coachman to drive him to the Sun, then a famous tavern in Clare Market. Just as the coach passed one of the windows of the tavern, Rich, who perceived it to be open, dexterously threw himself out of the coach window into the room. The coachmen, who saw nothing of this transaction, 43 drew up, descended from his box, opened the coach door, and let down the step; then taking off his hat, he waited for some time, expecting his fare to alight; but at length looking into the coach, and seeing it empty, he bestowed a few hearty curses on the rascal who had bilked him, remounted his box, turned about, and was returning to the stand; when Rich, who had watched his opportunity, threw himself into the coach, looked out, asked the fellow where the devil he was driving, and desired him to turn about. The coachman, almost petrified with fear, instantly obeyed, and once more drew up to the door of the tavern. Rich now got out; and, after reproaching the fellow with his stupidity, tendered him his money. “No, God bless your honour,” said the coachmen, “my master has ordered me to take no money to-night.” “Pshaw!” said Rich: “your master’s a fool; here’s a shilling for yourself,” — “No, no,” said the coachman, who by that time had remounted his box, “that won’t do; I know you too well, for all your shoes — and so, Mr. Devil, for once you ’re outwitted!”


Mr. Money, a little dapper man, was dancing at the York assembly with a tall lady of the name of Bond; on which Sterne said, “There was a great bond for a little money.


Laid by Colley Cibber, that he would bid the
audience kiss his a—e on the public stage.

Cibber was engaged in a paper war with Pope; and being told one day that Pope intended to 44 prosecute him for making too free with his character, Cibber happened to be in a peevish temper, and replied, “He may kiss my a—e!” Upon this, one of his friends, who was upon the banter, observed, that that was not language for a gentleman, and that he was sure that he (Cibber) would not say so to Pope’s face. “By G—d, Sir,” says Colley, “I would tell him so, or any puppy that should take his part!” This assertion was what they were fishing for, as they now perceived that he was in a right cue to be worked up to any pitch; and so it proved; for, before they parted, they provoked him to a bet of one hundred guineas, that he would bid Pope kiss his a—e in the public playhouse; bid the company he sat with kiss his a—e, let them be who they would; bid box, pit, and gallery, separately kiss his a—e, likewise; and, in conclusion, bid the whole house kiss his a—e all together. This mad wager soon got wind and it was generally known that Pope was to be at the play the next night. When the time came, the house was crowded. Now, as it was the beginning of term, the solicitor and attorney-general were both in the stage-box, according to an ancient custom; and who should be perched plump between them but Alexander the Little. Well, Colley had bought the collar, and he was resolved to go through with it: so just as the last music was playing, and the curtain ready to be drawn up, he rang the bell, and pushed boldly on the stage. Cibber bowed, the house clapped; he bowed again: all was attention; and thus he began: — “Ladies and gentlemen, I have a story to tell you; to which, if you do not honour me with an indulgent hearing, I shall lose one hundred guineas.” Upon this an universal clap ensured, and a general cry of “The story! The story!” He then proceeded 45 thus: — “You must know, ladies and gentlemen, that there lived in this city an honest old trencher-maker, who had saved a very considerable fortune; and, having two sons, called Kill ’em All and Kiss my A—e, he left all his landed estate to his eldest son, Kill ’em All, and his business and stock-in-trade to his youngest son, Kiss my A—e. Now it happened, ladies and gentlemen, that Kill ’em All in a few years prodigally spent his patrimony; and, what does he do, but set up his business of trencher-maker directly under the nose of his brother Kiss my A—e. It is an old saying, that two of trade can never agree, and I am sure it is a true one, for no sooner was this opposition begun, than the two brothers began to hate the sight of each other; so that if they both chanced to be at the play on the same night, you would see Kill ’em All in the pit, and Kiss my A—e in the gallery; or else Kill ’em All in the gallery, and Kiss my A—e in the pit. Indeed, sometimes you might see Kill ’em All in the pit, or gallery, and Kiss my A—e in the boxes. By and by they got into a paper war; but as neither of them could write themselves, they employed scribblers on each side to do it for them; so Kill ’em All chose your humble servant, and Kiss my A—e Mr. Pope (bowing to him). Soon after the commencement of the paper war, they went to law with each other about defamation. Kill ’em All chose for counsel the Solicitor-General, and Kiss my A—e Mr. Attorney-General: no, I mistake; Kill ’em All chose the Attorney-General, and Kiss my A—e Mr. Solicitor (bowing occasionally to both). At last, by the interposition of friends, they agreed to submit to an arbitration; and then it was finally settled, that, to obviate all subsequent disputes, Kill ’em All’s 46 trenchers should, for the future, be made all square, and those of Kiss my A—e all round.”

This piece of humour was received with great applause, and Cibber fairly won his wager.


Two men were great enemies; the one gave his daughter to the other for wife. Being upbraided for it, he replied, “that he did it out of spite, for he could not vex him more than by giving him a vixen to wife!”


A tall man, whose mother had an indifferent character, asked a little man how it happened that he was so short; the little man replied, “I had the misfortune to have only one father.


Captain B—— says, this is the method of catching tigers in India: a man carries a board, on which a human figure is painted; as soon as he arrives at the den, he knocks behind the board with a hammer; the noise suddenly rouses the tiger, when he flies in a direct line at the board, and grasps it: and the man behind it clenches his claws into the wood, and so secures him.


The late well-known Sandy Wood, surgeon in Edinburgh, was walking through the streets of that city during the time of an illumination, when he observed a young rascal, not above 47 twelve years of age, breaking every window he could reach, with as much industry as if he had been doing the most commendable action in the world. Enraged at this mischievous disposition, Sandy seized him by the collar, and asked him what he meant by thus destroying the honest people’s windows? “Why, it ’s all for the good of trade,” replied the young urchin, “I am a glazier.” “All for the good of trade, is it?” said Sandy, raising his cane, and breaking the boy’s head: “There, then, that’s for the good of my trade — I am a surgeon.”


When the celebrated Beau Nash was ill, Dr. Cheyne wrote a prescription for him. The next day the doctor coming to see his patient, inquired if he had followed his prescription? “No, truly, doctor,” said Nash, “if I had, I should have broken my neck, for I threw it out of a two-pair of stairs window.”


Lord M———, advanced in years, married a young girl; when his friends rallied him upon it, how he could possibly expect at his years to possess the heart of so young a female, he replied, “That he had rather possess a corner of her heart, than the whole heart of an old woman, who was tottering into the grave like himself.”


A quack doctor sent for a farrier to look at his horse; after the horse was sound, the doctor asked the man what he was indebted for his 48 cure? He replied, “You know it is a rule never to take fees of the profession.”


An itinerant painter staid so long at a country inn, that though willing to depart, he had not money wherewithal to defray his lodging. So the landlord, not willing to subscribe to a bad debt, settled it with him, that he should paint him a new sign: the subject, a bear; and the price, a guinea. But the painter said if the bear had a chain drawn round about his neck (and which he said he would advise him to), it would cost a half a guinea more. The host was not agreeable to this extra expense. Accordingly the sign was painted, and the painter went his ways, when the rain descended, and washed away the bear. Some time after the innkeeper met the painter on the road, and said he had imposed upon him, for that the bear was fled. “Look you here,” replied the painter, “did not I advise you to have the chain about his neck; which, if it had taken place, he would have remained there still.”

Comic engraving of a city street in the middle of which is a fat tavern keeper, with an apron, talking to a thin, tall man, dressed in a black frockcoat and tophat.



Judge Burnet, son of the famous Bishop of Salisbury, when young, is said to have been of a wild and dissipated turn. Being one day found by his father in a very serious humour, “What is the matter with you, Tom?” said the Bishop; “what are you ruminating on?” “A greater work than your lordship’s History of the Reformation,” answered the son. “Ay! what is that?” asked the father; “The reformation of myself, my lord,” replied the son.


Garrick, walking one day upon the Boulevards at Paris, with the famous Preville, the first comic actor of the French theatre, to amuse themselves and some of their friends, they imitated two drunken men so well, that the company scampered away to avoid them; when Garrick, in the midst of the career, in a loud whisper, said to his companion, “Preville, votre pied droit n’est pas assez yvre; mettez y la moindre idée de plus:i.e. “Preville, your right foot is not drunk enough; afford it the least idea of a shade more.”


A dragoon was tried in Dublin for deserting, and for carrying off his horse and accoutrements at the same time. When on his trial, an officer asked him what could induce him to take his horse away? To which Pat repied, he ran away with him. “What,” said the officer, “did you do with the money you sold him for?” “That, plase your honour,” said the fellow, with the utmost indifference, “ran away too.


Bishop Thomas, who was a man of great wit and drollery, was observing at a visitation, that he had been four times married; and, should his present wife die, he declared he would take another, whom, it was his opinion, he should also survive. “Perhaps, gentlemen,” continued the bishop, “you do not know the art of getting quit of your wives: I will tell you how I do. 50 I am called a good husband; and so I am; for I never contradict them. But do not you know that the want of contradiction is fatal to women? If you contradict them, that alone is exercise and health, et optima medicamenta (the best medicine in the world) for all women: but if you constantly give them their own way, they will soon languish and pine, or become gross and lethargic for want of exercise.”

Elf.Ed Notes.

 1  This joke was appreciated enough to reappear 60 years later in A Pennyworth of Puns, by David Mcrae, a Scotsman, whose book is also on this site.

 2  Translation: “I write to you because I have nothing to do. I close because I have nothing to say. At Paris.

 3  A remake of a very, very old tale. Here, from the late 13th or early 14th century, is the version from the first Italian short story book, on this site: this novelle was also appreciated enough to reappear 60 years later in IX: Here it is treated of an argument and a judgment that took place in Alexandria, from Il Novellino, translated by Edward Storer.

 2  Receipt is the word they used instead of the modern recipe.


Part  II.