From The Treasury of Wit. With Comic Engravings. London: Printed for T. Allman, 1836; pp. 50-100.
TREASURY OF WIT.
WITH COMIC ENGRAVINGS.
A literary lady expressing to Dr. Johnson her approbation of his Dictionary, and in particular, her satisfaction at his not admitting into it any improper words. “No, Madam,” replied he, “I hope I have not soiled my fingers. I find, however, that you have been looking for them.”
During one of our retreats in the last Dutch campaign, when the army was flouncing through the mud in a part of the road uncommonly bad, a company of the guards was much scattered; the commanding officer called out to the men to form two deep. “D—me!” shouts a grenadier, from between two mountains of mud, “I am too deep already.”
A celebrated clergyman, of the baptist persuasion, was unfortunately, in his younger days, obliged to be confined; a singular instance of the natural quickness of his genius showed itself. While in the state alluded to, he fancied he had two heads on his shoulders. His 51 keeper, wishing to correct such an idea, whilst he was complaining of the immense trouble he had in taking care of them, told him he also had two heads. The gentleman cast his eyes contemptuously upon him, saying, that it was not possible, as he had not brains enough for one.
A gentleman, taking an apartment, told the landlady, “I assure you, madam, I never left a lodging but my landlady shed tears.” She answered, “I hope it was not, Sir, that you went away without paying.”
“How are you this morning,” said Fawcett to Cooke. “Not at all myself,” says the tragedian. “Then, by G—d, I congratulate you,” replied Fawcett; “for be whoever else you will, you will be a gainer by the bargain.”
A young lady who was just come out of the country, and affected to dress in a very plain manner, was sitting on a bench at Bath, as Nash and some of his companions were passing by; upon which, turning to one of them, he said, “There is a smart country girl; I will have some discourse with her.” Then going up to the lady, “So, child,” says he, “you are just come to Bath, I see?” “Yes, Sir,” answered the lady. “And you have been a good girl in the country, and learned to read your book, I hope?” “Yes, Sir?” “Pray, now,” says he, 52 “let me examine you. I know you have read your Bible, and history of Tobit and his Dog; now, can you tell me what was the dog’s name?” “Yes, Sir,” says she, “his name was Nash, and an impudent dog he was.”
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.
Three young conceited wits, as they thought themselves, passing along the road near Oxford, met a grave old gentleman, with whom they had a mind to be rudely merry: “Good morrow, father Abraham,” said one; “Good morrow, father Isaac,” said the next; “Good morrow, father Jacob,” cried the last. “I am neither Abraham, Isaac, nor Jacob,” replied the old gentleman, “but Saul, the son of Kish, who went out to seek his father’s asses; and, lo! here I have found them.”
Mrs. Montague was one day conversing with Mr. Fox, in her own house; the subject probably was politics; at least there is no subject on which they were less likely to agree. In the course of the conversation the lady grew warm: at last, she was so much nettled by some remarks of Mr. Fox’s, that she declared to him, she did not care three skips of a louse for him. Mr. Fox 53 turned aside, and in a few moments produced the following impromptu: —
“Says Montague to me, and in her own house;
I do not care for you three skips of a louse.
I forgive it; for women, however well bred,
Will still talk of that which runs most in their head.”
During the poll for the Westminster election between Mr. Fox, Lord Hood, and Sir Cecil Wray, a dead cat was thrown on the hustings; one of the adherents of the latter observed, it stunk worse than a Fox. “No wonder,” said Mr. Fox, “considering it is a poll cat.”
When Foote was at Salt Hill, he dined at the Castle, and when Partridge produced the bill, which was rather exorbitant, Foote asked him his name? “Partridge, a’nt please you,” said he. “Partridge!” returned Foote, “it should be Woodcock, by the length of your bill.”
A gentleman having engaged to fight a main of cocks, directed his feeder in the country, who was an Irishman, to pick out two of the best, and bring them to town. Paddy having made his selection, put the two cocks together in a bag, and brought them with him in the mail coach. When they arrived, it was found that upon their journey they had almost torn each other in pieces; on which Paddy was severely taken to task for his stupidity, in 54 putting both cocks into one bag. “Indeed,” said the honest Hibernian, “I thought there was no risk of their falling out as they were going to fight on the same side.”
Dr. Henniker being in private company with the Earl of Chatham, his lordship asked him, among other questions, what was wit, according to his opinion: “Wit,” he relied, “my lord, is what a pension would be, given by your lordship to your humble servant — a good thing well applied.”
A citizen dying greatly in debt, it coming to his creditors’ ears. “Farewell,” said one, “there is so much of mine gone with him.” “And he carried so much of mine,” said another. One hearing them make their several complaints, said, “Well, I see now, that though a man can carry nothing of his own out of the world, yet he may carry a great deal of other men’s.”
A certain lady in the north of Scotland, who amused herself by superintending the agricultural operations on her estate, was one day interrogating her overseer, whether a field of oats, which they were examining, was ready for leading into the barn-yard. “I think, madam,” said John, who lisped and stammered a good deal, “the sheaves are a little wet in the a-a-rs-es yet.” “Fye, fye, John,” said her ladyship, “you ought never to use that nasty 55 word.” “Fat sall I ca’t then, Madam?” “You ought to say stubble-end.” “Very well, Madam, I’ll mind neist time.” The lady went home, desiring her grieve to follow her, in order to receive some farther orders. Having ascended one pair of stairs, her ladyship called out, “Where are you, John?” “I am at your stubble-end, Madam.”
The late Rev. Neil M‘Vicar, one of the ministers of the West church, taking a walk on an afternoon, discovered a woman (one of his parishioners), who had got a glass extraordinary, sitting by the road side, with her burden lying in the mud before her. “O will ye help me up wi’ my bundle, Sir?” said she. “Fye, fye, Janet, to see the like of you in such a plight — do you know where all drunkards go to?” “Help me up wi’ my bundle, Sir, and I’ll tell you.” “Well, well,” says the parson, “I shall. Now — answer my question.” “Well — to tell you the truth, Sir — just whar the drop o’ guid drink is to be gotten.”
A gentleman crossing the Strand, was applied to by a man, who sweeps the cross ways, for charity. The gentleman replied, “I am going a litle farther, and will remember you when I return.” “Please your honour,” says the man, “it is unknown the credit I give in this way.”
Jack Banister and his friend Suet walking 56 one day in Piccadilly, a young man on the Bath coach cried out, “How d’ye do, Dicky Gossip?” “How comes the fellow to know me?” said Suet. “Why not?” replied Banister, “don’t you see he is on the stage.”
The emperor Sigismund was reproached for rewarding instead of destroying his enemies, as by that means he gave them an opportunity to injure him. “What?” said the noble-minded monarch, “do not I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
An archbishop of Canterbury, making a tour into the country, stopped at an inn for refreshment. Being at the window, he observed at a distance, in a solitary wood, a well-dressed man alone, talking, and acting a kind of part. The prelate’s curiosity was excited to know what the stranger was about, and accordingly sent some of his servants to observe him, and hear what he was rehearsing; but they bringing him back an answer no way satisfactory, his grace resolved to go himself. He accordingly repaired to the wood, ordering his attendants to keep at a distance. He addressed the stranger very politely, and was answered with the same civility. A conversation having been once entered into, though not without interruptions by an occasional soliloquy, his grace asked what he was about? “I am at play,” he replied. “At play!” said the prelate; “and with whom? You are all alone.” “I own,” said he, “Sir, you do not perceive my antagonist; but I am playing with 57 God!” “Playing with God! (his lordship thinking the man out of his mind) this is a very extraordinary party: and pray, at what game, Sir, are you playing?” “At chess, Sir.” The archbishop smiled; but the man seeming peaceable, he was willing to amuse himself with a few more questions. “And do you play for any thing, Sir?” “Certainly.” “You cannot have any great chance, as your adversary must be so superior to you.” “He does not take any advantage, but plays merely like a man.” “Pray, Sir, when you win or lose, how do you settle your accounts?” “Very exactly and punctually, I promise you.” “Indeed! pray how stands your game?” The stranger, after muttering something to himself, said, “I have just lost it.” “And how much have you lost?” “Fifty guineas.” “That is a great sum; how do you intend paying it? Does God take your money?” “No; the poor are his treasurers: he always sends some worthy person to receive the debt; and you are at present the purse-bearer.” Saying this he pulled out his purse, and reckoning fifty guineas, put them into his grace’s hand, and retired, saying he should play no more that day.
The prelate was quite fascinated; he did not know what to make of this extraordinary adventurer; he viewed the money, found all the guineas good, recalled what had passed, and began to think there must be something more in this man than he had discovered. However, he continued his journey, and applied the money to the use of the poor, as had been directed.
Upon his return, he stopped at the same inn; and perceiving the same person again in the wood, in his former situation, he resolved to have a little farther conversation with him, and 58 went alone to the spot where he was. The stranger was a comely man, and the prelate could not help viewing him with a kind of religious veneration, thinking, by this time, that he was inspired to do good in this uncommon manner. The prelate accosted him as an old acquaintance, and familiarly asked him, how the chance had stood since they had first met? “Sometimes for me, and sometimes against me; I have both lost and won.” “And are you at play now?” “Yes, Sir; we have played several games to-day.” “And who wins?” “Why, Sir, at present, the advantage is on my side; the game is just over; I have a fine stroke; check mate, there it is.” “And pray, Sir, how much have you won?” “Five hundred guineas.” “That is a handsome sum; but how are you to be paid?” “I pay and receive in the like manner; he always sends me some good rich man when I win; and you, my lord, are the person. God is remarkably punctual upon these occasions.”
The archbishop had received a considerable sum that very day; the stranger knew it, and producing a pistol by way of receipt, the prelate found himself under the necessity of giving up his cash; and by this time discovered the divine inspired gamester to be neither more nor less than a thief. His lordship had, in the course of his journey, related the first part of this adventure; but the latter part he very prudently took great pains to conceal.”
A gentleman having a remarkably bad breath, was met by Lord Thurlow in Pall Mall, who, seeing him booted and spurred, asked him where 59 he had been. “I have been taking the air this morning,” says he, “which was rather disagreeable, too, as I had a d—d north wind full in my face all the time.” “Come, come,” says his lordship, “don’t you complain; by G—d, the north wind had the worst of it.”
A lady, whose taste equals her economy, was under the necessity of asking a friend to dinner; the following is an actual copy of the bill of fare, with the expense of each dish: —
Top. — Two herrings 0 2
Middle. — 1½ ounce butter melted 0 1½
Bottom. — 3 mutton chops cut very thin 0 4½
One side. — 1 lb. of small potatoes 0 1
Opposite. — Pickled cabbage 0 0½
Fish removed. — 2 larks roasted, plenty of crumbs 0 3
Mutton removed. — French roll boiled for pudding 0 1
Parsley for garnish 0 0½
The dinner was served up on china; looked tasty and pretty; the table small and well-proportioned: it is worth knowing how to serve up seven dishes, consisting of fish, meat, fowls, pudding, vegetables, and sauce, for fourteenpence.
Dr. Johnson happening to sit in a coffee-room where a dog was very troublesome, he bid the 60 waiter kick him out; but, in the hurry of business, he forgot it. The dog continuing to pester him, he said, if the waiter did not kick the dog out, he would kick him out. “Sir,” said a young coxcomb, “I perceive you are not fond of dogs.” “No,” said the doctor, “nor of puppies either.”
A young woman of Dublin, apprehensive of some unhappy effect from an illicit amour which she had for some time carried on with a Dutch sailor, mentioned her situation to a friend, who advised her to place her future offspring to her young master, as being the richer man of the two.” “I was thinking of that,” replied the fair one, “but then you know the child will discover all when it begins to speak Dutch.”
An exciseman walking by a river, espied a boy fishing, who knew him to be of that honourable profession. “My pretty lad,” says he, what dost thou fish for?” “I fish for the Devil,” replied the boy, “but I want the right bait to catch him.” “What bait is that?” says the other. “Indeed, Sir, I have been told, there is no better bait in the world than an exciseman.”
A prisoner in the Fleet lately sent to his creditor, to let him know that he had a proposal to make which he believed would be for their mutual benefit. Accordingly, the creditor calling 61 on him to hear it, “I have been thinking,” said he, “that it is a very idle thing for me to lie here, and put you to the expense of seven groats a week. My being so chargeable to you has given me great uneasiness; and God knows what it may cost you in the end. Therefore, what I would propose is this: you shall let me out of prison; and, instead of seven groats, you shall allow me only eighteenpence a week; and the other tenpence shall go towards the discharge of the debt.”
Voltaire says, that superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy: the very foolish daughter of a very wise mother.
M. Hare, formerly the envoy to Poland, had apartments in the same house with Mr. Fox; and, like his friend Charles, had frequent dealings with the monied Israelites. One morning, as he was looking out of his window, he observed several of the tribe assembled at the door, for admittance, “Pray, gentlemen,” says he, “are you Fox hunting, or Hare hunting, this morning/”
Two boys belonging to the chaplains of two different men of war, entertaining each other with an account of their respective manners of living, “How often, Jack,” says one of them, “do you go to prayers?” “We only pray,” replied Jack, “when we are afraid of a storm, 62 or are going to fight.” “Aye,” says the former, “there’s some sense in that; but my master makes us go to prayers when there’s no more occasion for it than for me to jump into the sea.”
A little girl, who knew very well the painful anxiety which her mother had long suffered, during a tedious course of litigation, hearing that she had at last lost her law-suit, innocently cried out, “O, my dear mamma! how glad I am that you have lost that nasty law-suit which used to give you so much uneasiness!”
A gentleman married a lady who was deformed, and had a large fortune; when it was said, that her husband had taken her by weight, and paid nothing for fashion.
A West Indian, who had a remarkably fiery nose, having fallen asleep in his chair, a negro boy, who was in waiting, observed a mosquito hovering round his face. Quashi eyed the insect very attentively; at last he saw him alight on his master’s nose, and immediately fly off. — “Ah, d—n you heart,” exclaimed the negro, me d—n glad see you burn your foot.”
A man said, “he would not go on the sea, because all his ancestors were drowned.” — 63 A mother replied, “If they had died in their beds, he might say he would not go to bed for the same reason.”
Banister being informed by a friend that his banker was expected to stop payment, he requested him to procure the balance of his account, for which he presented him a cheque for the amount. His friend, with too great anxiety to serve him, in his haste fell down and dislocated his collar-bone. Banister, on being informed of the accident, observed, “Poor fellow, in endeavouring to recover my balance, he lost his own.”
A man, whose wife had for some time been indisposed, going home one evening, was informed that she was dead. “Well,” said the husband, “I am going to the club; send for me if I should be wanted.” In about two hours he returned, and was going to bed as usual; when the maid cried out — “Lord, Sir! don’t go there! I have made a bed for you in the other chamber.” “Yes, but I will, Betty,” returned he; “I never yet had a peaceable day with her, and am determined to have one quiet night before we part.”
Lord Mansfield being willing to save a man who stole a watch, desired the jury to value it at tenpence; upon which the prosecutor cries out, “Tenpence, my lord, why the very fashion 64 of it cost me five pounds.” “Oh,” says his lordship, “we must not hang a man for fashion’s sake.”
One of the people called Quakers, equally remarkable for his gallantry to the fair sex, as for his urbanity of manners, was one day walking in the streets of Edinburgh with a handsome young lady (one of the sisterhood), who remarked to him that the heat of the day was oppressive; on which the Quaker recommended her to throw off a petticoat. The lady replied, “Between you and I, friend G——s, I have but one on.” “And between thee and me,” replied Broad Brim, “even that is one too many.”
A traveller boasting of the many countries and cities he had seen, one of the company asked him if he had ever been in Cosmography? He, taking it for the name of a city, said, “We saw it at a distance, but as we went past we could not visit it.”
A gentleman’s servant let go his master’s horse on the road, and seeing a man at a distance, called out to stop the horse. The man, who proved to be a sailor, threw a stone and knocked the horse down; on which the servant, in a great fury, said, “I only told you to stop him!” “Yes,” replied the sailor, “and I did it effectually.”65
A gentleman having occasion to call for Mr. Joseph G—n, writer, found him at home in his writing chamber. He remarked the great heat of the apartment, and said, “It was hot as an oven.” “So it ought,” replied Mr. G., “for ’tis here I make my bread.”
Sterne’s maid servant asked her master leave to go to a public execution at the Tyburn, near York. Soon after she set off, she returned blubbering and all in tears. On her master asking the cause of her grief, and why she cried, she answered, because she had lost her labour, for before she reached the gallows, the man was reprieved.
Dr. Brown, chaplain to the Bishop of Hereford, dining one day with his lordship, in company with a young lady to whom he paid his addresses, was asked for his toast after dinner: when the bishop, perceiving him to hesitate, cried, “O, I beg your pardon, Doctor; your toast is not yet Brown.”
An Irish soldier, who came over with General Moore, being asked if he met with much hospitality in Holland? “O yes,” replied he,” too much; I was in the hospital almost all the time I was there.”66
A courtier asked an old woman, who sat by the road side, as the king passed by, if she saw his majesty? She answered, “I want nothing of him: kings are made for subjects, not subjects for kings, why then should I regard him who is the public servant?”
A rich man sent to call a physician, for a slight disorder. The physician felt his pulse, and said, “Do you eat well?” “Yes,” said the patient. “Do you sleep well?” “I do.” “Then,” said the physician, “I shall give you something to take away all that!”
A young officer who had lost his right arm, remarked to his friend, that he should not now be much feared. “No,” shrewdly replied his friend, “you will now always be considered an armless fellow.”
The late Marquis of Tavora, at Lisbon, used to call his servants rogues, rascals, &c., but he made it a rule never to call them sons of wh—s; for he said, they might be the sons of his mother.
Mrs. Drummond, the late famous preacher amongst the Quakers, being asked by a gentleman 67 if the spirit had never inspired her with the thoughts of marriage. “No, friend,” says she, “but the flesh often has.”
A country vicar, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, giving his text out of Hebrews, pronounced it, He brews 10 and 12 (meaning the chapter and verse). An old toper, who sat half asleep under the pulpit, thinking he talked of brewing so many bushels to the hogshead, “By the Lord,” said he, “and no bad liquor neither.”
A gallant old gentleman of the name of Page, finding a young lady’s glove at a watering place, presented it to her with the following words: —
“If from your glove you take the letter G,
Your glove is love, which I devote to thee:”
To which the lady returned the following neat answer —
“If from your Page you take the letter P,
Your Page is age, and that won’t do for me.”
A physician, being called to a young lady who was indisposed, wished to feel her pulse; at which, blushing with that false shame which is an almost infallible token of the want of true modesty, and apparently dreading that the doctor should touch her naked arm, the chaste creature drew down the sleeves of her gown close to her hand. The physician, perceiving 68 this, immediately took up the flap of his coat, and entirely covering his own hand, while he affected to feel her pulse, “A linen pulse, Miss,” said he, “should always have a woollen doctor.”
An Irishman purchased the sixteenth of a lottery ticket, for which, as they were high, he paid a guinea and a half. In a few days it came up a twenty pound, and on application at the lottery office, he received three-and-twenty shillings for his share. “Well,” says Pat, “I’m glad it’s no worse; as it was but a twenty pound, I have only lost eight-and-sixpence; but if it had been a twenty thousand, I must have been ruined.”
An Irish officer lost a parcel of silk stockings, and sent a bellman about to offer a reward for them, which was so small, that a friend observed he could not expect to recover them; “Ah! by J—s,” says Paddy, “I advertised them as worsted ones.”
The late Lord Holland was one morning condoling with Dr. Campbell on their mutual infirmities, and lamenting, with a considerable degree of petulance, the inconveniences to which the want of health subjected mankind, when advanced in years. The door opened, and a well-known paymaster and contractor entered the room, florid and full of health. They congratulated him on his sanguine looks. 69 “Yes,” he said, “Providence has been very good to me, for I have never known a moment’s sickness in my life.” This declaration by no means softened the asperity of Lord Holland’s countenance. The contractor saw all was not right, and took his leave.
“There now, Campbell, there now,” said the angry peer, pointing to the door, “you see what Providence has been about, taking care of that scoundrel’s health, forsooth! and not minding what becomes of your dropsical belly, or of my d—d ringworm.”
The ingenious author of the art of tormenting says, you are never to marry a widow unless her first husband was hanged; for this plain reason, that she will be eternally twitting and upbraiding you by repeatedly saying, what a charming dear man her first husband was.
King James the First gave all manner of liberty and encouragement to the exercise of buffoonery, and took great delight in it himself. Happening once to bear somewhat hard on one of his Scotch courtiers, “By my saul,” returns the peer, “he that made your majesty a king, spoiled the best fool in Christendom.”
The Duke of Rutland, when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, kept Peg Plunket, the orange girl. On his entrance into the theatre at Dublin, a 70 fellow called out from the upper gallery “Who has got Peg?” On which a chairman below answered, “Manners. you rascal.”
A gentleman remarking to his friend the cheerfulness of some convicts for transportation, as they were going to be put on board, said, he thought they seemed to be very happy; one of them overhearing him, replied, “Aye, aye, master, you see we are here happy enough, but if you was to go along with us, you would be quite transported.”
The following was, in consequence of an evening’s frolic, inscribed by some wags of Oxford, over an apothecary’s door: —
Catharticum, Emeticum, Narcoticum,
Et omne quod exit in um;
As the late old Lord Nugent was riding out in the coach of the Duchess of Kingston, whose family he well knew, and whose prudery he liked to expose, he put his head out of the window, on the Surrey side of the Thames, and after looking earnestly for some time, exclaimed, “Good God, that I should live to see this!” “Why, my lord! what is it that you see?” rejoined the duchess, casting her eyes the same way. “Why, my lady, a group of women 71 bathing at broad noon day!” “Women,” said she, looking more inquisitively; “Why, my lord, they are all men!” “Well,” replied his lordship, “it may be so; for your grace’s eyesight is much better than mine!”
A soldier, just before the battle of Fontenoy, having forgot his prayers, repeated this grace: “For what I am going to receive, the Lord make me thankful.”
King Charles II. on a certain time paying a visit to Dr. Busby, the doctor is said to have strutted through the school with his hat upon his head, while his majesty walked complaisantly behind him, with his hat under his arm: but when he was taking his leave at the door, the doctor, with great humility thus addressed the king: “I hope your majesty will excuse my want of respect hitherto; but if my boys were to imagine there was a greater man in the kingdom than myself, I should never be able to rule them.”
King James was wont to be very earnest with the country gentlemen to go from London to their country houses, and sometimes he would say thus to them: “Gentlemen, at London you are like ships in a sea, which show like nothing; but in your country villages you are like ships in a river, which look like great things.”72
During the siege of Gibraltar, in the absence of the fleet, and when an attack was daily expected, one dark night, a sentry, whose post was near the Devil’s Tower, and facing the Spanish lines, was standing at the end of his walk, whistling, looking towards them, his head filled with nothing but fire and sword, miners, breaches, storming, and blood-shed! — By the side of his box stood a deep-neck’d earthen jug, in which was the remainder of his supper, consisting of boiled peas. A large monkey (of which there are plenty at the top of the rock), encourag’d by the man’s silence, and allured by the smell of the peas, ventured to the jug, and endeavouring to get at its contents, thrust his head so far into the neck as to be unable to withdraw it; at this instant the soldier turned round, and came whistling towards his box; the monkey, unable to get clear of it, started up to run off with the jug sticking on his head. This terrible apparition no sooner saluted the eyes of the sentry, than his frantic imagination converted poor pug into a fine blood-thirsty Spanish grenadier, with a tremendous high cap on his head; full of this dreadful idea, he instantly fired his piece, roaring out that the enemy had scaled the walls. The guard took the alarm, the drums were beat, signal guns fired, and in less than ten minutes the governor and his whole garrison were under arms. The supposed grenadier being very much incommoded by his cap, and almost blinded by the peas, was soon overtaken and seized; and by his capture, the tranquillity of the garrison was restored without that 73 slaughter and blood-shed which every man had prognosticated in the beginning of the direful alarm.
THE ALARMED CENTINEL. Page 72.
Rabelais says, “the attornies are to the lawyers what the apothecaries are to the physicians, only they do not deal in scruples.
A proud parson and his man, riding over a common, saw a shepherd tending his flock in a new coat; the parson asked in a haughty tone, who gave him that coat? “The same people,” said the shepherd, “that clothe you, the parish.” The parson, nettled a little, rode on murmuring a considerable way, and sent the man back to ask the shepherd if he would come to live with him, for he wanted a fool. The man went to the shepherd accordingly, and delivered his master’s message, concluding that his master really wanted a fool. “Are you going away then?” said the shepherd. “No,” answered the other. “Then you may tell your master,” replied the shepherd, “his living won’t maintain three of us.”
When a child, he found the long graces used by his father before and after meals very tedious. One day after the winter’s provision has been salted, “I think, father,” said Benjamin, “if you were to say grace over the whole cask once for all, it would be a great saving of time.”74
That Dr. Johnson was of an unaccommodating disposition, the following anecdote evinces: one evening, in company, he was displaying the misery of human life, and maintaining that no one, in whatever situation, could be happy in this world; when an old maiden lady, remarkable for her cheerfulness and resignation, observed, “I must be allowed, Sir, to differ from you, for, thank heaven, I am extremely happy.” “Madam, ’tis impossible,” cried Johnson, sternly, “for you are old, and ugly, and sickly, and poor!”
A lady, seeing at the window of linen-draper, who had not been long in business, that very common lure, “The goods of this shop selling under prime cost!” stepped into a friend’s, who happened to live within two or three doors, and inquired whether he thought his neighbour was really seling uer prime cost, and would let her have any good bargains? “As to bargains,” replied her friend, “I am really at a loss to answer, but, with respect to selling under prime cost, that can most positively assure you, must be impossible; for, to my certain knowledge, he has never paid a single farthing for any thing he has in his shop.”
A clergyman chose for his text the following words: “Which of will go up with me to Ramoth Gilead?” Then pausing, he again and 75 again repeated the words, when a gallant tar started from his seat, and looking around with an eye full of indignation, exclaimed, “Will none of you go with the worthy gentlemen? Then, d—me, I will go myself.”
An Irish officer had the misfortune to be dreadfully wounded in one of the battles in Holland. As he lay on the ground, an unfortunate soldier, who was near him, and was also severely wounded, made a terrible howling, when the officer exclaimed, “D—n your eyes, what do you make such a noise for — do you think there is nobody killed but yourself!”
Sir C. S. —— being at an inn on the road, a report came that a gentleman had been robbed, on which he swore, “That a single highwayman should not rob him.” The next morning, going on his journey, one met him, and repeated the very words that Sir C. S. —— had made use of the night before; “But there are two of you,” replied Sir C. S. ——. The man, surprised by the impromptu, suddenly turned his head round to look for his comrade, when Sir C. S. —— instantly shot him dead.
Sir W. B. ——, who swears almost at every word, calling one day on his return from seeing Godfrey’s experiment, tried to extinguish fire in a house, by throwing into the room chemical balls, which he had prepared, Foote asked him 76 if the balls answered? “Aye, d—me,” says Sir W ——, “they would extinguish hell.” “Then,” replied the wit, “order a number of them to be put into your coffin.”
Charles once said over his bottle, in his usual lively way, that he supposed some stupid peasant would write a nonsensical epitaph on him when he was gone. “Now,” says his majesty, “I should like to have something appropriate and witty. Rochester, let’s have a touch of your pen on the subject.” His lordship instantly obeyed, and produced the following: —
“Here lies our Sovereign Lord the King,
Whose word no man relied on;
Who never said a foolish thing,
And never did a wise one.”
For this keen effusion Rochester remained some time in disgrace.
Dean Swift once preached a charity sermon at St. Patrick’s, Dublin, the length of which disgusted many of his auditors; which, coming to his knowledge, and it falling to his lot soon after to preach another sermon of the like kind in the same place, he took special care to avoid falling into the former error. His text was, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” The dean, after repeated his text in a more than commonly emphatical tone, added, “Now, my beloved brethren, you hear the terms of this loan; if you like the security, 77 down with your dust.” It is worthy of remark, that the quaintness and brevity of this sermon produced a very large contribution.
At a gentleman’s table, after dinner, the conversation fell upon the Turkish policy; when his wife happening to be one of the company, he directed his discourse to her, dwelt much on polygamy, and the privilege the Turks enjoyed of a plurality of women, and concluded by saying, he wished he had been born a Mussulman. To which she replied, “My dear, you know very well you would have made but a very sorry Turk.”
A French officer, more remarkable for his birth and spirit than his riches, had served the Venetian republic with great valour and fidelity for some years, but had not met with preferment adequate, by any means, to his merits. One day he waited on an “Illustrissimo,” whom he had often solicited in vain, but on whose friendship he had still some reliance. The reception he met with was cool and mortifying; the noble turned his back on the necessitous veteran, and left him to find his way to the street, through a suit of apartments magnificently furnished. He past them lost in thought, till, casting his eye on a sumptuous sideboard, where stood on a damask cloth, as a preparation for a showy entertainment, an invaluable collection of Venice glass, polished and formed to the highest degree of perfection, he took hold of a corner of the linen, and turning to a 78 faithful English mastiff, who always accompanied him, said to the animal, in a kind of absence of mind, “There! my poor old friend! you see how these scoundrels enjoy themselves, and yet how we are treated!” The poor dog looked up in his master’s face, and wagged his tail, as if he understood him. The master walked on, but the mastiff slackened his pace, and laying hold of the damask cloth with his teeth, at one hearty pull, brought all the sideboard in shivers to the ground, and deprived the insolent noble of his favourite exhibition of splendour.
Some persons broke into the stables belonging to a troop of horse, which was quartered some time since at Carlisle, and wantonly docked the tail of every horse close to the rump! The captain, relating the circumstance next day to a brother officer, said he was at a loss what to do with the horses; “I fancy you must dispose of them by wholesale,” was the reply. “Why by wholesale?” “Because you’ll certainly find it impossible to re-tail them.”
A very avaricious divine seeing a poor boy of a promising appearance in a deplorable condition, called him to the door, and giving him a mouldy piece of bread, asked him if he could read, to which he answered in the negative; to the questions, whether he could say the Belief and the Lord’s Prayer, the answer was the same. “Well,” said the divine, “I will teach you that, say after me: Our father,” said the 79 instructor. “Our father!” repeated the poor boy, “What, your father as well as mine?” “Yes, certainly.” “Then we are brothers?” “To be sure we are,” was the reply. “Why then,” replied the boy, pulling the crust from under his coat, “how could you give your poor brother this mouldy piece of bread?”
An English stock jobber, well known upon ’Change as a man of unexampled parsimony, although possessed of an immense fortune, one day met a very poor man, one of his own relations. “Come hither, George,” said the miser, “do you know I have just now made my will, and remembered you handsomely, my boy.” “God bless you, brother,” said the grateful man, “you will be rewarded for so charitable an action, for you could not have thought of a more distressed family.” “Are you indeed so very poor, George?” “Sir, my family’s starving,” said the man almost crying. “Harkye then, George, if you will allow me a good discount, I will pay you immediately.” We need not add, that the terms were accepted of, while they parted equally pleased with the bargain they had concluded.
The rector of —— one day gave his curate a list of the sick persons in the parish, in order that he might visit them. Soon after, the rector asked him how such a poor woman did (mentioning her name)? The curate replied, that she was dead. The rector said that could not possibly be, for he had just met her in the 80 street; when the curate, in his defence, made answer, that she told him the last night that she could not live till the morning, and he supposed a woman going out of the world would not tell an untruth.
When Mrs. Macaulay published her Loose Thoughts, Garrick, who was in company with Foote, said it was a very improper title for a lady: to which Foote replied, he was quite of a different opinion, for the sooner a woman got rid of her loose thoughts the better.
One being asked of what use Monks are to the world, answered, “Just the same as the rats in Noah’s Ark.”
Aristotle, being reproached for giving alms to a bad man, answered, “I did not give it to the man, I gave it to humanity.”
The late Lord Willoughby de Broke was a very singular character, and had more peculiarities than any nobleman of his day. Coming once out of the House of Peers, and not seeing his servant among those who were waiting at the door, he called out in a very loud voice, “Where can my fellow be?” “Not in Europe, my lord,” said Anthony Henley, who happened to be near him, “not in Europe.”81
Philip the Second sent a very young ambassador to Pope Sixtus the Fifth. Sixtus asked him, “If his master had so very few subjects, that he could not find a person for an ambassador with a beard somewhat larger than his?” The young man answered, “If my master had been aware, holy father, that merit consisted in a great beard, he would have sent a he-goat ambassador!”
Quand un cordier, cordiant, veut corder une corde,
Pour sa corde, corder, trios cordons il accorde,
Mais, si une des cordons, de la corde, decorde,
Le cordon decordant, fait decorder la corde.
These humorous lines have been turned verbatim into the same number of English verses, only substituting the pure English word twist for the exotic chord: —
When a twister a twisting will twist him a twist,
For the twisting his twist, he three twines doth entwist;
But if one of the twines of the twist doth untwist,
The twine that untwisteth, untwisteth the twist.
Foote and Garrick were at the tavern together, at the time of the regulation of the gold 82 coin. The former pulling out his purse to pay the reckoning, asked the waiter what he should do with a light guinea he had? “Psha! it is worth nothing,” says Garrick, “fling it to the devil!” “Well, David,” says the other, “you are what I always took you for, ever contriving to make a guinea go farther than any other man.”
The Marquis Della Scalas, an Italian nobleman, having invited the neighbouring gentry to a grand entertainment, where all the delicacies of the season were provided; some of the company arrived very early, for the purpose of paying their respects to his excellency: soon after which, the major-domo, entering the dining-room in a great hurry, told the marquis that there was a most wonderful fisherman below, who had brought one of the finest fish in all Italy; for which, however, he demanded a most extravagant price. “Regard not his price,” cried the marquis; “pay him the money directly.” “So I would, please your highness, but he refuses to take any money.” “What, then, would the fellow have?” “An hundred strokes of the strappado on his bare shoulders, my lord; he says he will not bate a single blow.” On this, the whole company ran down stairs to see so singular a man.” “A fine fish!” cried the marquis. “What is your demand, my friend?” Not a quatrini, my lord,” answered the fisherman: “I will not take money. If your lordship wishes to have the fish, you must order me a hundred lashes of the strappado on my naked back; otherwise I shall apply elsewhere.” “Rather than lose 83 the fish,” said the marquis, “we must e’en let this fellow have his humour. Here!” cried he to one of his grooms, “discharge this honest man’s demands: but don’t lay on too hard; don’t hurt the poor devil very much!” The fisherman then stripped, and the groom prepared to execute his lordship’s orders. “Now, my friend,” said the fisherman, “keep an exact account, I beseech you; for I don’t desire a single stroke more than my due.” The whole company were astonished at the amazing fortitude with which the man submitted to the operation, till he had received the fiftieth lash; when, addressing himself to the servant, “Hold, my friend,” cried the fisherman, I have now had my full share of the price.” “Your share!” exclaimed the marquis; “what is the meaning of all this?” “My lord,” returned the fisherman, “I have a partner, to whom my honour is engaged, that he shall have his full half of whatever I receive for this fish; and your lordship, I dare venture to say, will by-and-by own that it would be a thousand pities to defraud him of a single stroke.” “And pray, honest friend,” said the marquis, “who is this partner?” “Your porter, my lord,” answered the fisherman, “who keeps the outer gate, and refused to admit me, unless I would promise him half what I should obtain for the fish.” “Ho! ho!” exclaimed the marquis, laughing very heartily, “by the blessing of heaven, he shall have double his demand in full tale!” The porter was accordingly set for; and, being stripped to the skin, two grooms were directed to lay on with all their might till he had fairly received what he was so well entitled to. The marquis then ordered his steward to pay the fisherman twenty sequins; desiring him to call annually 84 for the like sum, as a recompense for the friendly service he had rendered him.
Mr. Pope being one night crossing the street from Button’s coffee-house, when the moon occasionally peeped through a cloud, was accosted by a link-boy with, “Light, your honour, light your honour!” he repeatedly exclaimed, “I do not want you.” But the lad still following him, he peevishly cried out, “Get about your business, God mend me! I will not give you a farthing; It’s light enough.” “It’s light enough,” echoed the lad, “what’s light enough? your head or your pocket? God mend you, indeed! it would be easier for God Almighty to make two men, than mend one such as you.”
Dean Swift had a shoulder of mutton brought up for his dinner too much done; he sent for the cook, and told her to take the mutton down and do it less. “Please your honour, I cannot do it less.” “But,” says the dean, “if it had not been done enough, you could have done it more, could you not?” “Oh, yes, very easily.” “Why then,” says the dean, “for the future, when you commit a fault, let it be such a one as can be amended.”
When Miss Chudleigh, afterwards Duchess of Kingston, once met Lord Chesterfield in the room at Bath, they in a tete-a-tete conversation 85 began to talk of the company present, and the lady was very communicative in her narrative of things said of lady Caroline, Miss Languisness, &c. &c. and concluded by remarking, “Yet much of this may be scandal; for do you know, my lord, that since I was lately confined to my chamber by illness, they have spread an infamous report of my being brought to bed of twins.” “O, my dear lady, do not be uneasy” replied the peer, “for my part, I have long made up my mind only to believe half what the town says.”
Just before the battle of Malplaquet, a young recruit procured a round iron plate, which he desired the tailor to fasten on the inside of his coat, above his left breast, to secure his heart from being shot through. The tailor fixed it in the seat of his breeches. He no sooner put on his regimentals, than he was ordered to the field of battle. Being obliged to fly, he was getting over a hedge, when a foe gave him a push with his bayonet in the breech, but it luckily hit on the iron plate, and pushed the young soldier clean over the hedge. This favourable circumstance made him honestly confess, that the tailor had more sense than himself, and knew better where his heart lay.
The celebrated Florentine physician, Andrea Baccio, who has been styled the Italian Radcliffe, for his astounding penetration as to diseases, resembled that singular man, also, in the blunt method of delivering his sentiments. 86 He was one day called to attend on a woman of quality. He went, felt her pulse and asked her how old she was. She told him, “above four-score.” “And how long would you live?” said the cross physician, quitting her hand, and making the best of his way out of her house.
Montaigne says, that princes can never arrive at any perfection in the liberal arts, as every lesson they are taught is conveyed to them through the medium of flattery; and the only skill they can possibly attain is that of horsemanship, for a horse will as soon throw the son of a king as the son of a private man.
The late duke of S—— one day saw a countryman on the road with a pig under his arm. The man passing by with his hat on, the duke called out, “Harkee, you fellow, don’t you know that I am the Duke of S——?” On which he pulled the pig by the tail, “Pig, pig,” said he, “look, there’s the Duke of S——.”
Hugh Peters, the Jesuit, was preaching at the Chapel Royal upon these words: “Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?” Job, x. 10. When, in the height of his discourse, the news came that King William was landed, the congregation left him. On which he said he would conclude the discourse, “Come Life, come Death, come William, come the Devil.”87
A young woman, not averse to matrimony, requested her father to look out a husband for her; surprised at the impromptu, he made use of the quotation from St. Paul: “They who marry do well; but they who do not, do better.” “Well,” says she, “let me do well, and let who will do better.”
Two gamesters had deposited a very large stake, to be won by him who threw the lowest throw with the dice. The one thought himself secure of success, on finding that he had thrown two aces. “Hold,” cried other, “wait for my chance.” He threw, and with such dexterity, that, by lodging one of the dice on the other, he showed one ace on the uppermost of them. He was allowed by the company to have won the stakes.
In the reign of Philip the Third of Spain, two men were found guilty by the inquisition. As they were carrying them to execution, the king, who saw them from a balcony, could not help saying, “There go two men unhappy enough, to die for what they are persuaded of.” This speech took air, and the inquisitor came to him, and told him it was necessary he should submit to some punishment for the offence he had given the holy office. After some disputes it was agreed, that the king should suffer himself to be let blood a porringer full, and that 88 the blood should be burnt by the executioner! which was actually performed in the presence of the grand inquisitor.
A Spanish bishop travelling, came to an inn on a Friday, where the fish was very bad, but there were excellent partridges; the bishop ordered the latter for dinner, when the landlord staring, the bishop said, “Look ye, you blockhead, every priest can transubstantiate bread into flesh, and why may not I change fowl into fish?”
A highwayman and a chimney-sweeper were to be hanged; one for a highway robbery, the other for a burglary. The first attended to the priest on the occasion, at the place of execution; the second wished to do so, and advanced nearer to him, but was repulsed by the highwayman, who desired him to keep farther off. “Sir,” replied the sweep, “I won’t; I have as much right to be here as you have.”
“Your unchristian virulence against me,” said a Huguenot, who had been persecuted for preaching, “shall cost hundreds of people their lives.” This menace brought the author into trouble; he was cited to a court of justice, and was charged with harbouring the most bloody designs against his fellow-subjects. “I am innocent,” said he, “of all you lay to my account. My only meaning was, that I meant 89 (since I could not act as a minister) to practice as a physician.”
Sir F——, alias Double Fee, when at the bar, was examining an evidence, whom he asked, “What are you, Sir?” “A gentleman.” “Pray, Sir, where may your estate lay?” “It lays contiguous to your’s, Sir.” “To mine! where, pray?” “Directly opposite your large brass mine, which has produced you so much, and seems inexhaustible.”
When Major General O’Hara was governor of St. Lucia, a young man, who wanted to marry his aunt, a Madame Le Batt, and who had been refused by the priests of the island, unless he could obtain a dispensation from the Pope, applied to the governor (naturally supposing him as great a man as his holiness) for his permission, which was instantly granted in the following words: —
The bearer of this has my permission to marry his aunt, or his grandmother if he chooses.”
Major General and Pope.
This is to certify, that I, Daniel O’Flanaghan, am not the person that was tarred and feathered by the Liberty Mob on Tuesday last; and that I am ready to give twenty guineas to 90 any one that will bet me fifty that I am the other man who goes by my name. Witness my hand, this 30th July.
When money was raising for the building of Bethlehem Hospital, the agents called upon an old gentleman, and the door not being quite shut, they heard him scolding his maid for throwing away a match she had used to light a fire, without considering the other end might be used also. After entertaining themselves with the dispute for some time, they presented themselves before the old gentleman, and told their errand. He went to his bureau, and took out four hundred guineas, which he gave them. The collectors astonished at his generosity, could not help telling him what they overheard at the door. “Gentleman,” says he, “your surprise is occasioned by a thing of small moment. I keep house, and and save and spend money in my own way. The one furnishes me with the means of doing the other, and both equally gratify my inclination. With regard to benefactions, always expect most from prudent people, who keep their accounts.”
Judge D—— married the sister of Mr. P——, who killed a gentleman unfairly. He applied to King George I. to pardon his relation, confessing at the same time, that little could be urged in his favour; but hoped his majesty would save him and his family from the infamy of P——’s execution. “So, Mr. 91 Judge,” says the king, “what you want is, that I should transfer the infamy from you and your family, to me and my family.”
The father of the late Lord H—d—ck was hanged for forgery. When Lord H. sat as chancellor, an old countryman was examined to a particular fact, the date of which he could not recollect. “All that I remember about it,” says he, “is, that it happened on the day old Yorke was hanged.”
Old Desmaizeaux, a man of wit and pleasantry, was drinking his coffee at Slaughter’s coffee-house, when two strangers came in, and began a warm dispute about some subject of literature. One of them was very polite and moderate, for he had reason on his side; the other was rude and violent, for he was wrong. After some time, the moderate man, unable to bear the violence of his adversary any longer, left the room. Scarce was he gone, before the furious champion, flushed with his victory, turned about to D. and said, “Well, Sir, don’t you think I have mauled my antagonist finely?” “Yes, Sir,” replied the old man, “that you have; and if ever I should fight the Philistines, I should wish to make use of your jaw-bone.” Whence to jaw any one, &c. is termed jawing.
A certain young clergyman, modest almost to bashfulness, was once asked by a country 92 apothecary, of a contrary character, in a public and crowded assembly, and in a tone of voice to catch the attention of the whole company, how it happened that the Patriarchs lived to such extreme old age? To which impertinent question he immediately replied, “Perhaps they took no physic.”
Mr. —— was a very great frequenter of the theatres, and, for his health’s sake, he chose to take a great coat with him. But where should he leave this useful appendage during the performance? The box-keepers would expect at least sixpence; the orange girls would take little less; and, should he leave it at a coffee-house, he must spend threepence to obtain house-room for it. His invention supplied him with a method cheaper and equally secure. He pawned his garment every evening that he attended the play, at a shop near the door for a shilling, which he carried back to it at the close of the play, added one penny for interest, and received his great coat again safe and sound, as it had literally been laid up in lavender.
A couple of sailors happening to join a crowd gathered round Whitfield the preacher, just in time enough to hear him say (after he had exclaimed against the sins of the audience), “And I, your pastor and teacher, shall be forced to bear witness against you at the day of judgment.” “Hollo! Jack,” cries one of them, “d—n my eyes if it is not just as it is at the Old Bailey; the greatest rogue always turns king’s evidence.”93
Two tars, just landed, went to an old acquaintance, who keeps what they humourously called a grog-shop, in a village near Portsmouth, the sign of the Angel. On their entering the place, they stared about for the wished for sign. “There it is!” said one. “Why, you fool,” replied the other, “that’s a peacock.” “Who do you call fool?” retorted Ben, “how the devil should I know the difference, when I never saw an angel in my life.”
A gentleman, who went to take a lodging, asked the maid-servant, a remarkably handsome girl, whether she was to be let with the lodging? She answered, “No,” she was to be “let alone.”
Sir Thomas More, examining a Protestant, on the charge of heresy, whose name was Silver, told him, in his jesting way, “that silver must be tried in the fire.” “Aye!” said Silver, “but quick silver will not abide it.” This reply saved his life.
An American general, L——, was in company where there were some few Scotch. After supper, when the wine was served up, the general rose, and addressed the company in the following words: — “Gentlemen, I must inform you, 94 that when I get a little groggish, I have an absurd custom of railing against the Scotch, I hope no gentleman in company will take it amiss.” With this he sat down. Up starts M——, a Scotch officer, and without seeming the least displeased, said, “Gentlemen, I, when I am a little groggish, and hear any person railing against the Scotch, have an absurd custom of kicking him out of the company, I hope no gentleman will take it amiss.” It is superfluous to add, that that night he had no occasion to exert his talents.
Lady———— sent a very civil message to Mr. Harris, patentee of Covent Garden theatre, offering him her comedy for nothing. Mr. H. observed, “that her ladyship knew the exact value of it.”
This is a prave world we live in,
To lend, to spend, or to give in: —
Put to peg, to porrow, or to get one’s own,
’Tis the worst world that ever was known,
If you’ll pelieve — Shenkin ap Shone.
Eudamidas, the Corinthian, finding himself drawing near his end, and being in low circumstances, left his two friends, Charixenes and Aretheus, his executors. His will was as follows: — 95 “I leave my mother to Aretheus, to be maintained by him in her old age. I bequeath to Charixenes the care of my daughter, desiring that he would dispose of her in marriage, and portion her with as ample a fortune as his circumstances shall admit; and in case of the death of either of these my friends, I substitute the survivor in his place.” The legatees accepted the legacies with great satisfaction. It happened that Charixenes died a few days after his friend, the testator; the survivorship therefore taking place in favour of Aretheus, he not only took upon himself the care of his friend’s mother, but also made an equal distribution of his estate between the daughter of Eudamidas and an only daughter of his own; solemnizing both their marriages on the same day.
At a church in Scotland, where there was a popular call, two candidates offered to preach, of the names of Adam and Low. The last preached in the morning, and took for his text, “Adam, where art thou?” He made a most excellent discourse, and the congregation were much edified. In the evening Mr. Adam preached and took for his text, “Lo, here am I!” The impromptu and his sermon gained him the church.
A tanner, not far from Swaffham, invited the supervisor to dine with him, and after pushing the bottle about briskly, the supervisor took his leave; but in passing across the tanyard, he unfortunately fell into a vat, and called 96 out amain for the tanner’s assistance to get out, but to no purpose; “For,” says the tanner, “If I draw any hides without giving the twelve hours’ notice, I shall be exchequered and ruined, but I’ll go and inform the exciseman.”
An Irish soldier once returning from battle in the night, marching a little way behind his companion, called out to him, “Hollo, Pat, I have catch’d a Tartar! “Bring him along then!” “Aye, but he won’t come.” “Why then come away without him.” “By Jasus, but he won’t let me!”
CATCHING A TARTAR. Page 96.
Cardinal Wolsey makes so great figure in the English history, that every body should be acquainted with his birth and the manner of his rising in the king’s favour. That he was a butcher’s son at Ipswich is commonly known; but the particular circumstance that first recommended him to Henry VIII. was this: It happened that his majesty had occasion to send to the Emperor Maximilian, about some business that required dispatch, and Wolsey was pitched upon to be the messenger; who, having received his instructions, left the king at Richmond about noon, and by next morning got to Dover; from thence by noon he arrived at Calais, and by night was with the emperor; to whom, having delivered his message, and received a present dispatch, he returned before morning to Calais, and the night following came to the court at Richmond. The next 97 morning he appeared before the king, who, in the utmost violence of rage was about lay him dead at his feet for neglecting to execute his orders, which were of the utmost importance. Wolsey pacified his anger by presenting to him the emperor’s letter. The king, astonished at his speed, asked him if he had met the messenger whom he had sent after him, to acquaint him with a circumstance which in his instructions he had forgotten. Wolsey answered that he had; adding, “That the commands he brought I had dispatched before: for knowing it to be of such necessary dependance on my other instructions, I took the boldness to do it without a commission, for which I humbly beseech your majesty’s forgiveness.” The king, seeing him of such uncommon abilities, not only pardoned him, but bestowed the deanery of Lincoln upon him, and soon after made him his almoner.
Dr. Radcliffe being asked by a patient which was the most difficult to cure, “a disorder contracted by excessive eating, or one brought on by excessive drinking,” the doctor desired the querist to consider which was the most difficult to extract out of a man’s body, “a pipe of wine, or an ox.”
An honest Hibernian, whose bank-pocket (to use his own phrase) had stopt payment, was forced to the sad necessity of perambulating the streets of Edinburgh two nights together, for want of a few pence to pay his lodgings, 98 when accidentally hearing a person talk of the Lying-in Hospital, he exclaimed, “That’s the place for me! Where is it, honey? For I’ve been lying-out these two nights past.”
Francis the First of France, being told that people made very free with his character in their songs, answered, “It would be hard indeed not to allow them a song for their money.”
A poor strolling player was once caught performing the part of a poacher; and being taken before the magistrates, assembled at a quarter sessions, for examination, one of them asked him what right he had to kill a hare; when he replied in the following parody on Brutus’s speech to the Romans, in defence of his killing Cæsar: —
“Britons, Hungrymen, and Epicures! hear me for my cause; and be silent that you may hear: believe me for my honour; and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe: censure me in your wisdom; awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of this hare’s, to him I say, that a poacher’s love for hare was no less than his. If then that friend demand, why a poacher rose against hare, this is my answer — not that I loved hare less, but that I loved eating more. Had you rather that this hare were living, that I had died quite starving; than that this hare were dead, that I might live a jolly fellow? As this hare was pretty, I weep for him; as he was plump I rejoice 99 at it; as he was nimble, I honour him; but as he was eatable, I slew him. There are tears for his beauty, joy for his condition, honour for his speed, and death for his toothsomeness. Who is here so cruel would see me a starved man? If any, speak, for him have I offended. Who is here so silly that would not take a tid-bit? If any, speak, for him have I offended. Who is here so sick that does not love his belly? If any, speak, for him have I offended.” “You’ve offended justice, sirrah,” cried one of the magistrates, out of all patience at this long and strange harangue, which began to invade the time that his own belly told him had arrived. “Then,” replied the culprit, guessing at the hungry feelings of the Bench, “since justice is dissatisfied, it must needs have something to devour; heaven forbid I should keep any justice from dinner; so, if you please I’ll wish your worships a good day, and a good appetite.”
The magistrates, eager to retire, and somewhat pleased with the fellow’s last wish, gave him a reprimand in exchange for the hare, and let him go.
The Bishop of Ermeland lost a great portion of his revenue, in consequence of the occupation of part of Poland by the King of Prussia. Soon after this event, in the year 1773, he waited on his majesty at Potsdam; when the king asked him, if he could, after what had happened, still have any friendship for him? “Sire!” said the prelate, “I shall never forget my duty, as a good subject, to my sovereign.” “I am,” replied the king, “still your very good 100 friend: and likewise presume much on your friendship toward me; for, should St. Peter refuse my entrance into Paradise, I hope you will have the goodness to hide me under your mantle, and take me in along with you.” “Sire!” returned the bishop, “that will, I fear, scarcely be possible; your majesty has cut it too short to admit of my carrying any contraband goods beneath it.”