From The Treasury of Wit. With Comic Engravings. London: Printed for T. Allman, 1836; pp. i-iv.[front-paper]
CUTTING MISTAKE. Page 212.
An Idiot’s Reply. — “How shameful it is that you should fall asleep,” said a dull preacher to his drowsy audience, “while that poor creature,” pointing to an idiot, who stood staring at him, “is both awake and attentive.” “Perhaps, Sir,” replied the fool, “I should have been asleep too, if I had not been an idiot.”
The Editor of the present little Volume, offers to his readers a collection of humorous pieces, which he hopes may beguile away many a tedious hour that, more or less, all of us partake of, and dispel that ennui which many thousands labour under — such are his hopes in ushering these “Jeu de Mots,” into the world. No task is more difficult than an attempt to please all — expressions which delight some disgust others; while refined ideas and metaphors are to the multitude, what the rays of a brilliant summer sun are to the blind. As an apology for works of this nature (often condemned by those very persons on whom they have the effect of raising mirth and laughter), innumerable proofs might be given — the greatest and wisest men of all ages and nations have not disdained to become the parents of a pun; and two examples of our own country will surely suffice, when the names of a Shakspeare1 and a Bacon are exhibited. Among the many advantages which this collection lays claim to, are the number and variety of original pieces, which now, for the first time, appear [iv] in print; and, upon comparison, it is hoped, that in point of typographical execution, this Volume will be found equal, if not superior, to any work of a similar kind now in existence.
On the merits of the etchings which accompany this Work, it is quite unnecessary to dwell; they have been executed by one of the first artists of the day. It is therefore hoped that The Treasury of Wit will amply succeed in meriting the favour and patronage of the public. But as, according to the old adage, “brevity is the soul of wit,” the Editor, to avoid the imputation of widely digressing from the regulations of a Preface, here concludes. Having passed the rubicon, his performance is before the public, whether it is such an one (which he flatters himself it is) as he has represented.
“Let the world, which knows not how to spare,
Yet rarely blames unjustly, now declare.”2
1 Shakespeare has been the accepted spelling of the famous Bard for only the last century or so. In the 1800’s, the spelling used above, Shakspeare, was considered most proper by many. Another common spelling was preferred by other authors during that time as well: Shakspere.
2 Lord Byron, in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.