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LATEST EXHIBITS, deeds and chores:

(not including endless work on Froissart, proofreading, misunderstanding tech stuff, vexatiae [sic], and including some odd bits of humor and pith from authors much older than me that strike my fancy and often make me smile — so you may, too.)

December 31, 2009. A few riddles to end the year (and good riddance!), from The Encyclopedia of Comedy, by J. Melville Janson, 1897:

Why is a proud girl like a music box?
Because she is full of airs.

Why is the world like a piano?
Because there are so many flats and sharps in it.

What's the difference between a sailor and a prize-fighter?
One is lashed to the mast and the other is mashed to the last.

Why does a hen lay an egg?
Because she can't lay a brick.

Which travels faster — heat or cold?
Heat; for you can catch cold easy.

Why are pipes humbugs?
Because the best are mere-shams.

What is the difference between stabbing a man and killing a hog?
One is assaulting with intent to kill; the other is killing with intent to salt.

When is a chair like a ladies' dress?
When it's sat-in.

Out with the old, and in with the old! Stay tuned for more old, old jokes to welcome the New Year.

December 25, 2009. Merry Christmas! For a joyous bit of Christmas cheer by my favorite 19th century American writer, Frederic Cozzens, read A Christmas Piece. And for a thoughtful and touching description of a "Modern" creche that he visited, read La Creche.

And another chapter on old Paris, proofed but without pictures is online: Chapter V: Paris in the Later Middle Ages, from Paris: Its Sites, Monuments and History, by Maria Hornor Lansdale, 1898.

I also missed announcing that another chapter by Lansdale is online: Chapter III: Paris in the Dark Ages.

10 more Chapters of Froissart are online: Chapters 100-109, Book III, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries. They have been spell-checked only, and not finally proofed.

And your joke for the day, from The Encyclopedia of Comedy, by J. Melville Janson, 1897, page 150:

What holds all the snuff in the world?

No one nose.

December 7, 2009. A treat! A few original and modern jokes (copyrighted for a change, so give credit to the budding humorists): The first from Ryan, age 7, in Bozeman, Montana, at the moment:

Q. What is a boxer's favorite drink?

A. "Punch!"

And by his big sister, Destiny, who created it while cooking her specialty:

Q. What is inside you that helps you digest breakfast?

A. Your Pancakereas!

Online and proofed, the chapter from the anonymous book, "The American Biography," on still another Lee: Colonel Henry Lee.

10 more Chapters of Froissart are online: Chapters 90-99, Book III, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries. They have been spell-checked only, and not finally proofed.

Some more French extracts and are online and proofed, from The World's Wit and Humor, Volume X:

Jean Gresset, with most of the classically funny poem of the parrot Ver-Vert,

P. J. de Béranger,
Jean de la Fontaine,
Alexis Piron,
Brueys and Palaprat, and
René Le Sage.

December 7, 2009. Some more French extracts [proofed] and are online, from The World's Wit and Humor, Volume X:

Philippe Quinault ,
Edmé Boursault,
Clapiers de Vauvenargues,
J. F. Regnard,
Pierre de Marivaux,
Caron de Beaumarchais, and
Denis Diderot.

From Hints from Squints, by Henry H. Pattengill, 1905. p. 12:


An Irishman fell from a 16-story building, and as he passed every open window on his way down, he yelled out, "All right so far!"

November 28, 2009. Some French extracts [now proofed !] and such, from The World's Wit and Humor, Volume X:

The funniest author so far is Vincent Voiture, with two of his Letters, so, being funny, of course he ended up murdered during the Fronde, the civil war in 17th century France.

This gave me a chuckle, too:

On Cotin
by Nicolas Boileau

Of all the pens which my poor rimes molest,
Cotin’s is sharpest, and succeeds the best.
Others outrageous scold and rail downright,
With hearty rancor, and true Christian spite.
But he, a readier method does design,
Writes scoundrel verses, and then says they’re mine.

Jean de la Bruyère had this Thought:

This good we get from the perfidiousness of woman, that it cures us of jealousy.

Some other bits are by:

François Rabelais,
Cyrano de Bergerac,
Paul Scarron,
A few of the Maxims and Sentences of François de la Rochefoucauld,
Blaise Pascal,
The above epigram, and two less funny items by Nicolas Boileau,
The above Thought, and a little more by Jean de la Bruyère,
Honoré de Balzac.

November 26, 2009. Another 30 chapters of Froissart are online: Chapters 60-89, Book III, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries.

The chapters are only spell-checked and not finally proofed, and the pictures are not yet up, why? Because reading and typing the account of a horrible, destructive and ineffectual 100-year war that England, the invaders, ultimately lost is pretty depressing no matter how important, instructive and charming the book and the author may be. It is especially hard to read twice since it seems that we still believe in 100-year wars. America has spent about 25% of her time in wars in the last century. So much for enlightenment — and moral, ethical and humane progress.

I think that nobody reads history because it is hard to face the stupidity and viciousness of man and the sociopathy, really psychopathy, of those who send the young to fight for them. Not to mention they would then, if they read Froissart, know the un-improving economic, political and social consequences of war to both the invaders and the invadees.

And a "Joke", which is a really funny old example of the perpetually corrupt American law system with its absolute judicial immunity in America, which explains our high crime rate, from "Masterpieces of Humor," Volume V, 1903, p. 38:

It was before an Irish trial justice. The evidence was all in, and the plaintiff's attorney had made a long, eloquent and logical argument. Then the defendant's attorney took the floor, "What you doing?" asked the justice, as the lawyer began. "Going to present our side of the case." "I don't want to hear both sides argued. It has a tindincy to confuse the Coort." So the defendant's lawyer sat down.

Should you need an resounding example of how much we do need extensive judicial reform, thanks to PTAVE's newsletter, see How Alabama judge Herman Thomas is cleared by his peers for personally spanking prisoners, and it is done in his special office, paid for by taxpayers, and by ignoring the jurors' verdicts of guilty.

Obviously, the Thanksgiving spirit has passed me by so far this morning. I plan to work on it. Let me see . . . What is in all these books lying around that will help?

. . . . . . . .

Now, I remember! I am thankful for Bill Thayer. Here's something that might make him smile, even though it is not something he would put on the superb American History section of his site, because it is too gossipy. I, on the other hand, like to put stuff that has a few tidbits of humor, intended or not, even if from sources who are jaundiced propagandists — usually if some primary source material is thrown in. Before the Civil War, there was only one famous General Lee, and the anonymous book, "The American Biography," was written when this was the case, in 1833, and it includes a chapter on the other General Lee: Charles Lee, Major-General in the American Army.

And I am thankful for Mike Maddigan, The Industrious Dullard, who finds the most interesting books, like this one, and goes above and beyond in helping people who share his fetish/passion.

The chapter ends with a priceless quote, from General Lee's will:

“I desire most earnestly, that I may not be buried in any church or churchyard, or within a mile of any presbyterian or anabaptist meeting-house; for since I have resided in this country, I have kept so much bad company while living, that I do not choose to continue it while dead.”

Thanks to Mike Maddigan, again, here's a pamphlet: The Pioneer Printer of New Orleans, by Douglas C. McMurtrie, on the early printers in New Orleans, before it became part of the United States. This pamphlet is on excellent paper and is the best quality pamphlet I have seen, especially on a such a specialized subject. The publisher is The Eyncourt Press in Chicago.

November 17, 2009. Another 10 chapters of Froissart — not finally proofed sans pictures, too, but "its better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick," as Bracy Elmo used to say: Chapters 50-59, Book III, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries, are online.

Some scattered limericks, etc., from 700 Limerick Lyrics, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, p. 127:

A cheese that was aged and gray
Was walking and talking one day.
     Said the cheese, "Kindly note
     My mama was a goat
And I'm made out of curds by the whay."

From p. 158:

The lightning flashed, the lightning crashed,
     The skies were rent asunder,
With shriek and wail loud blew the gale,
     And then it rained like thunder.

From p. 123:

Said the mate of this vessel unique
To the cap'n, "What port shall we sique?"
     Said the cap'n, "We'll dock 'er
     In Davy Jones' locker;
The bloomin' old tub's sprung a lique."

From p. 159;

"I guess it's time to go,"
     Remarked at last the bore;
"An excellent guess," she answered;
     "Why didn't you guess before?"

October 31, 2009. The first 50 Chapters, Book III,, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries, are online, but only partially proofed, and still without the engravings.

Note: By "partially proofed" I mean spell-checked, which is woefully inadequate. Also, the printers of this edition were terrible, and whoever proofed the galleys was as bad. Multiple typos and inconsistencies flourish throughout the text. I have tried to fix some, where they were easy to figure out, adding forgotten quote marks, missing periods, etc. Although the original texts and MSS were notorious for misspelling proper names, this edition adds insult to injury by messing up with known proper names, as well as haphazardness in the use of the French spellings of common words and places. So I have evened out that sort of thing, for example: I always include the accent on hôtel, which is proper in French, although the text doesn't do it regularly. The town of Corunna in Spain, is first spelled "Coruña," for the first 20 chapters then all of a sudden reverts to Corunna. I left it as it first appears.

All I can figure is that the printers were drinking even more on the job than they were in Ben Franklin's day and it finally affected their work, but now they were joined by the proofreaders, too! See Franklin's account of working at presses in England. On the other hand, maybe it always did affect quality, which might also explain the terrors and errors in English spelling for centuries.

A Limerick that apparently generated two follow-ups: you can pick your ending, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, p. 112:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket;
     But his daughter named Nan
     Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

But he followed the pair to Pawtucket,
The man and the girl with the bucket;
     And he said to the man
     He was welcome to Nan,
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.

So pa followed the man to Andover,
And discovered him living in clover,
     "Tho my daughter you've won,
     You can't have my mon.
In regard to that bucket, Andover."

October 20, 2009. The last chapters of the Second Book (of Four) of Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries, Chapters 139-179 are online, but only partially proofed, and still without the engravings. The translation is in a 2 volume set, these chapters begin the second volume of Thomas Johnes' translation.

I can't decide which is worse, doing pictures, or proofreading.

By the way, if anybody ever does drywall for you (aka sheetrock), make sure you insist on the use of a dropcloth, and that they protect the walls with reusable plastic, if they are only doing ceilings. They may try to say that it will cost extra if they clean up, and you can save money by doing it yourself, with just water and a sponge.


Trust me, just trust me, tell them to use some cheap dropcloths if they are so unprofessional they don't have them as part of their equipment. Or they're 'professional' shysters that opt to pad their bill by an unnecessary charge for cleaning up. That type will then leave thrifty little you with the biggest mess you ever saw. With that sort of blaggardy overpaid workers, you will now spend the rest of your life cleaning up drywall clumps, slabs, dribbles, drips and dust, with water and a sponge... plus paint scraper, chisel, wirebrushes, mops, rags and a whole lot of cussing.

N.B. As read in Queed, by Henry Syndnor Harrison, a "blaggard" is a punk, or local scumbag, bad egg, defiler of innocent girls, etc. It's the spelling of the British pronunciation of "blackguard."

In Eastern Kentucky, blackguard is still used, as a verb! It is pronounced Black + guard, instead of "blaggard." It is still used today, as are many other relics of early modern English. The isolation of Appalachia, led to the preservation of many Elizabethan terms.

Here's a costume idea for Halloween, straight from 700 Limerick Lyrics, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, p. 47:

There was a young person named Willy
Whose actions were what you'd call silly;
     He went to a ball,
     Dressed in nothing at all,
Pretending to represent Chili.

October 7, 2009. Online: Churchyard Charms and Cures, by Reverend R. Wilkin Rees, from Antiquities and Curiosities of the Church, edited by William Andrews.

A few non-limericks, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, p. 155:

I met a goat and said to him,
     "The question, pray excuse,
Why do you always wag your chin?"
     Quoth he, "Because I chews!"


Baby in the caldron fell —
     See the grief on mother's brow,
Mother loves her darling well —
     Darling's quite hard-boiled by now.


He told her the old, old story,
     'Till she to believe him grew,
And married the man, and after that
     'Most any old story would do.


"Oh, Dorothy darling, do give me a kiss?"
     Her reply was not quite what he'd reckoned.
"Oh, I couldn't do that," said coy little Miss;
     "But I'll lend you just one for a second."


"I dote upon oaks," said the languishing maid.
     "So noble, so stately, though few;
Tell me, now, Mr. Jones, what's your favorite tree?"
     And he tenderly answered her, "Yew."

October 1, 2009. Now online from Antiquities and Curiosities of the Church, edited by William Andrews :

People and Steeple Rhymes, by William Andrews,

Sun-Dials, by Thomas Frost.

September 20, 2009. And again, more chapters are online from Antiquities and Curiosities of the Church, edited by William Andrews :

Wearing Hats in Church, by William Andrews,

The Stool of Repentance, by Cuming Walters,

Cursing by Bell, Book, and Candle, by Reverend Canon Benham.

Some silliness now, from Through Missouri on a Mule, by Thos. W. Jackson, Chicago: 1904; p. 30-31 :

I saw some advertisements that read like this :

     Furnished room-itism.

     Wanted, girls to sew buttons on the fourth floor.

     Another read like this :

     Three young ladies want washing.

     Dear Doctor: — I read your advertisement, where you claimed your medicine would make hair come out, and will say, after taking two bottles, my hair is coming out nicely. I think by the time I drink one more bottle, it will all be out.

     Dear Doctor: — Before taking your medicine, I could hardly see my way. After taking three bottles, I can see my finish.

     Wanted, a woman with one tooth to bite holes in doughnuts.

     Wanted, a man with a wooden leg to mash potatoes.

     Wanted, a man eighteen years old to work in an office; must have twenty-five years experience.

     An ice cream advertisement :

     Eat, drink and keep cool today, for tomorrow you may die and it may be still hotter.

     A Missouri farmer advertising a big, fat hog :

     Anyone wanting a big, fat hog, come out and see me.

     There was an article on the art of love-making, that went like this :

Just take your girl in fond embrace,
And put both arms around her waist,
And draw her up with gentle grace,
Till you get her to the proper place;
Then, heart to heart, and face to face,
Lip to lip, and nose to nose,
Flippity-flop, and away she goes.

September 15, 2009. Some more chapters from Antiquities and Curiosities of the Church, edited by William Andrews :

Heathen Customs, by Reverend A. N. Cooper,

Fish and Fasting, by Reverend J. Hudson Barker,

Shrove-tide and Lenten Customs, by Reverend J. Hudson Barker, too.

Okay Monsieur Guillame, how about these, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, op. cit., p. 111 :

There was an old lady named Carr
Who took the 3.3 to Forfar;
     For she said: "I conceive
     It is likely to leave
Far before the 4.4 to Forfar."

There was an old man of Tarentum
Who gnashed his false teeth till he bent 'em.
     When they asked him the cost
     Of what he had lost,
He replied: "I can't say, for I rent 'em."

And from p. 160;

"My supper's cold!"
     He swore with vim,
And then she made
     It hot for him.

September 13, 2009. Well, The King of the Mountains, by Edmond About, is done and proofed. It is in English and the translator is uncredited. A great story!

Part I of Lee of Virgina, by Henry Tyrrell, is online. This is part of a series for the British Pall Mall Magazine of 1897. This is how of the English viewed this American icon.

William Andrews, (Old Church Lore) edited a later book of odd antiquarian essays from the "olden time." Here are some of these essays from Antiquities and Curiosities of the Church :

Church History and Historians, by Cuming Walters,

Supernatural Interference in Church Building, by W. E. A. Axon,

Ecclesiastical Symbolism in Architecture, by Rev. J. Hudson Barker,

Acoustic Jars, by George C. Yates, a very interesting study, with a little church scandal tossed in,

Crypts, by John T. Page.

And that calls for a limerick, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, it is certainly funny, if you know something about lady's fashions at the time of writing (1906), p. 150:

"You're lively to-day," said the William Goat,
     As he watched his helpmeet hustle.
She said: "I have just eaten some women's wear,
      And I'm just full of bustle.

September 7, 2009. John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the U. S. wrote a poem, and it is online here: The Wants of Man with a brief Bio, and an extract on Nullification from one of his speeches.

Also online: Chapter IV: Paris in the Early Middle Ages, from Paris: Its Sites, Monuments and History, by Maria Hornor Lansdale, 1898.

And a little wisdom from Lord Chesterfield: Absence of Mind, An Absent Man, and Indispensable Accomplishments.

There is a Patron Saint for drunks, according to this story: St. Martin In Spain, from Patrañas, or Spanish Stories, Legendary and Traditional, by Rachel Busk. And for more from the same book, see:

Filial Love Before All,
Doña Terea,
The Steeple of Coveña,
The Hermit and the Fig-Tree,
Don Alonso De Aguilar,

A few limericks, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, p. 90:

He cried as they stood at the garden gate,
"Oh, give me a kiss, my own, my fate;"
     Just then, as her father came that way,
     The lover got something beginning
               with "K,"
But it wasn't a kiss, I'm sorry to say.


A noble red man of the Sioux
Drank of firewater glasses a fioux
     He let out one wild yell,
     Then collapsed in a cell,
Thirty days is the time he will dioux.


A jester who had a toothache,
To a dentist's his way did be-tache,
     But nought could assuage
     His grief and his ruage,
When the wrong tooth was pulled by mis-tache.


You've probably heard many times
Of the woman whose parrot sang chimes;
     Her name was Miss Barrett,
     She hadn't a parrot,
But we say that she had 'cause it rhymes.

September 1, 2009. The whole book, The Pleasures of Life, by John Lubbock,is now complete. The last chapters are:

Elfinspell Online Introduction,
The Title Pages,
The Preface and Contents,
Chapter VII: The Pleasures of Travel,
Chapter VII: The Pleasures of Home,
Chapter IX: Science ,
Chapter X: Education .

Also online, some Sonnets by Michelangelo, translated by J. A. Symonds.

Along with Don Jaime de Aragon, from Patrañas, or Spanish Stories, Legendary and Traditional, by Rachel Busk.

Lastly, I added 2 extracts by the amazingly popular 19th century author, William Harrison Ainsworth, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey and The Progress of the Pestilence.

And I ran across this anonymous Renaissance poem, which surprisingly enough was included in a large literature collection from the early, prudish 1900's, despite its raciness. It was included in a collection of songs called Davison's 'Poetical Rhapsody' (1602):

My Love in her attire doth show her wit,
     It doth so well become her :
For every season she hath dressings fit,
     For winter, spring, and summer.
     No beauty she doth miss,
          When all her robes are on ;
     But Beauty's self she is
          When all her robes are gone.

August 27, 2009. Online, from The Pleasures of Life, by John Lubbock:

Chapter IV: The Choice of Books,
Chapter V: Friends,
Chapter VI: Time.

Some limericks, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, p. 103:

A feudist who lived in Ky.
Said, "Yes, I hev been purty ly.
     Fer I've never been hit
     In the back — that is, yit" — 
Now he's dead — but he surely was ply.

There was a co-ed from Cayenne.
Who ate onions, club cheese and senne-senne.
     Till a bad fright one day
     Took her breath quite away
And we hope she won't find it agenne.

[Elf.Note :  Senne-senne is a very hard and chewy, tiny, square piece of strong licorice that has been eaten for over a hundred years.]

Said a maid, "I shall marry for lucre."
Then her ma stood right up and schuckre,
     But just the same
     When a chance came
The old dame said no word to rebuchre.

Whenever people think they have invented some hot, new trendy fashion, a little curious antiquarian knowledge may prove humbling. There's been a recent style when all the young people are wearing their shirts inside out as a "statement of Cool-dom."

Now, it just so happens, that you can read in Yorkshire Wit, Character, Folklore and Customs, written in 1911 (!!!) by Richard Blakeborough, on p. 146 sq.:

"To this day there are fisher lasses who wear their chemises wrong side out when their sailor lads are away at sea and stormy weather threatens.

     "A friend of mine within the last five years heard a fisher lass say to a group of her friends, 'A deeant leyke t' leeak o' yon cloods, an' t' wind's gittin up; let's gan yam an' to'n wer sarks,' and ever one of those who had a loved one on the water promptly did so.

     "Again, does a maiden fear that her lover is growing cold, she turns her chemise, so as to win back his cooling affections. This, like most other beliefs, is dying out. It is rather an undertaking, as fashion goes, for a lass to undress and dress again nowadsys. [In the Edwardian period.]

"Her Jack war on t' sea,
An' t' tuckkins marked her swelling breast,
Fer her sark war to'n'd aboot.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ."

[Elf.Note :
        "deeant" is 'don't,'
        "leeak" is 'look,'
        "sark" is a chemise, or under-shirt,
        "to'n" is 'turn,'
        "gan yam" is go home,
        "wer" is 'our,'
        "tuckkins" are the tucks or pleats of the chemise.]

August 23, 2009. Online: Chapter III: A Song of Books, by John Lubbock, from The Pleasures of Life. He passes on this little song:

“Oh for a booke and a shadie nooke,
  Eyther in-a-doore or out ;
  With the grene leaves whispering overhede,
  Or the streete cryes all about.
  Where I maie reade all at my ease.
  Both of the newe and olde ;
  For a jollie goode booke whereon to looke,
  Is better to me than golde.”

                                                   OLD ENGLISH SONG.

Some catchy little words, that deserve to be revived, from Yorkshire Wit, Character, Folklore and Customs, by Blakeborough, p. 347:

Caffy, adj.   Worthless.

     Caggy, adj.   Touchy, disposed to quarrel.

     Cagmag, adj and n.    Worthless.

Caffy Cagmag sounds like a great name for a villain, doesn't it?

Blakeborough also reports this old Yorkshire saying, on p. 112:

A dimple on the chin brings a fortune in,
A dimple on the cheek leaves the fortune for to seek.

August 23, 2009. Online: True Happiness, by Seneca, based primarily on the translation of Robert L'Estrange, only slightly edited by W. Clode (according to him).

Chapter II: The Happiness of Duty, by John Lubbock, from The Pleasures of Life.

Some Epigrams by W. Savage Landor, written before 1856, the first is a commentary on graffiti 'artists' :


Barbarians must we always be ?
     Wild hunters in pursuit of fame ?
     Must there be nowhere stone or tree
Ungashed with some ignoble name.
O Venus !  in thy Tuscan dome
     May every god watch over thee !
Apollo !  bend thy bow o'er Rome,
     And guard they sister's chastity.
Let Britons paint their bodies blue
     As formerly, but touch not you.



Now from the chamber all are gone
Who gazed and wept o'er Wellington ;
Derby and Dis do all they can
To emulate to great a man :
If neither can be quite so great,
Resolved is each to LIE in state.

Elf.Note :  He is referring to 2 Conservatives, The Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli, who later became a Prime Minister of England.

And a couple of Epigrams from Punch, written before 1856 :


To win the maid the poet tries,
And sometimes writes to Julia's eye.
She likes a verse — but, cruel whim,
She still appears a-verse to him.



His majesty you should not say of Fritz,
That king is neuter ;  so for His, use Its.

For Bill Thayer's stellar literary constellation collection:


by Charles Graham Halpine.

O'RYAN was a man of might
    Whin Ireland was a nation,
But poachin' was his heart's delight
    And constant occupation.
He had an ould militia gun,
    And sartin sure his aim was ;
He gave the keepers many a run,
    And would n't mind the game laws.

St. Patrick wanst was passin' by
    O'Ryan's little houldin',
And, as the Saint felt wake and dhry,
    He thought he 'd enther bould in.
"O'Ryan," says the Saint, "avick !
    To praich at Thurles I 'm goin',
So let me have a rasher quick,
    And a dhrop of Innishowen."

"No rasher will I cook for you,
    While betther is to spare, sir,
But here 's a jug of mountain dew,
    And there 's a rattlin' hare, sir."
St. Patrick he looked mighty sweet,
    And says he, "Good luck attind you,
And, when you 're in your windin' sheet,
    It 's up to heaven I 'll sind you."

O'Ryan gave his pipe a whiff —
    "Them tidin's is thransportin',
But may I ax your saintship if
    There 's any kind of sportin' ?"
St. Patrick said, "A Lion 's there,
    Two Bears, a Bull, and Cancer —"
"Bedad," says Mike, "the huntin 's rare ;
    St. Pathrick, I 'm your man, sir."

So, to conclude my song aright,
    For fear I 'd tire your patience,
You 'll see O'Ryan any night
    Amid the constellations.
And Venus follows in his track
    Till Mars grows jealous really,
But, faith, he fears the Irish knack
    Of handling the shillaly.

August 21, 2009. A [mildly] consoling and thoughtful essay, The Duty of Happiness, by Sir John Lubbock, from The Pleasures of Life, is now online and proofed.

From Through Missouri on a Mule, by Thos. W. Jackson, Chicago: 1904; p. 76 :

What is the difference between a sewing machine and a kiss ?
     One sews seams nice and the other seems so nice.


It if takes three feet to make a yard, how many bottles of mucilage [glue] does it take to make a yard stick ?


What is the difference between a young dog and an incline ?
     One is a slow pup, and the other is a slope up.

August 17, 2009. Online: Introduction by Hilaire Belloc, and Chapter II: Lutetia (Roman Paris), from Paris: Its Sites, Monuments and History, by Maria Hornor Lansdale, 1898.

Belloc corresponded with Ms. Lansdale for at least 39 years, according to this description of this Collection of his letters to her held at Princeton.

August 14, 2009. A limerick, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, p. 95:

Mr. Bogworthy rented a suite.
In a building without any huite.
     He lived there for six months,
     But never kicked onths,
For a surgeon has cut off his fuite.

August 10, 2009. This is proofreading time around here. [Shudder!].

Interesting, distracting article from the UK Telegraph by Sophie Borland states :

"Email Fraud: Doctors are easier to scam".

It then goes on to say that other professionals like architects and engineers are more gullible, too.

Another curious discovery. There is a more anonymous search engine, "ixquick", that received the European Privacy Seal in 2008.

July 21, 2009. If you liked the first 2 Chapters of The King of the Mountain, by Edmond About, now online and proofed: Chapter III of The King of the Mountain, by Edmond About, translated into English.

From The Encyclopedia of Comedy, by J. Melville Janson, 1897; page 74:


Little Willie found an old looking-glass
     And he scraped the mercury all off ;
He swallowed the shining substance,
     Thinking it would cure his cough.
The next day when his mother
     Told her neigbor, Mrs. McGown,
She said, "It was a cold day for Willie
     When the mercury went down."

and from the same book, p. 56:

If the devil had his choice, which of us would he take away first?

     Why, me, of course; he knows he can have you any day.

July 18, 2009. Online and proofed: The first 2 Chapters of that wonderful, funny 19th century book — The King of the Mountain, by Edmond About, translated into English (the translator is uncredited).

June 28, 2009. Being a one-trick pony, I can either garden or work on my website it seems. So gardening took over, then work, and I forgot how to type!

I did discover that Minnesota and Alaska, in June, are covered with wild Lupines everywhere you look. As usual, local males have no idea what it is called although they have seen it around their entire lives. Isn't it funny how 'outdoorsy types' know so much about spending their off-time running around on gas-powered vehicles (often drunk), destroying ecosystems (still drunk), killing animals all weekend with modern weapons (drunk, too) and pretend they are nature lovers, but yet they don't know the name of a single plant. All that and they also think they are getting exercise !!!

Don't get me wrong, their women-folk applaud and collude, fostering these delusions.

June 10, 2009. Online:

Abbey Of Abingdon, from Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales, Their Legendary Lore and Popular History, by by John Timbs re-edited, revised, and enlarged by Alexander Gunn.

For another example of the age-old tradition of beating and other civilized, 'Christian' methods of torturing children by teachers, see Wallingford Castle, from Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales, Their Legendary Lore and Popular History, by by John Timbs re-edited, revised, and enlarged by Alexander Gunn.

May 28, 2009. For Susan W., a truly welcome transplant from England, in Prescott, AZ.: Windsor Castle and its Romances, from Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales, Their Legendary Lore and Popular History, by by John Timbs re-edited, revised, and enlarged by Alexander Gunn.

Why? Because it is not her all-time favorite castle, Dover Castle is. I have an essay on Kensington Palace, one of her other favorites, on this site already, as well as two on Edinburgh Castle, which she never saw but heard was "spectacular." Dover Castle, though, is still pending, and I compromised, and put this in till I find that dang book.

May 28, 2009. The Oldest English Epic, by Francis B. Gummere, is now complete, index and all.

From The Encyclopedia of Comedy, by J. Melville Janson, 1897; page 174:

Why can't a fisherman be generous?

     Because his business makes him sel-fish.

May 18, 2009. Why the worry about a swine flu epidemic world-wide? When with war, the number one most preventable cause of death, disbility, poverty, anger and grief in the world, WHO and everybody else closes their myopic little eyes.

Deor's Song, The Hildebrand Lay, and Waldere, some of the oldest English poetry, translated by Gummere, are all online. The notes and commentary are fairly extensive and entertaining.

And a toast by Lord Byron:


Laugh at all things,
Great and small things,
     Sick or well, at sea or shore;
While we're quaffing,
Let's have laughing,
     Who the divil cares for more?

May 14, 2009.

A Birthday Chirp

My name is Karl, I am a noble Finn,
And I travelled to the North North Land
To find my fair Maiden.

A Maiden perfect,  a Maiden true,
A Maid with all a Finn does crave :
Fair of Face, and fair of Form,
With the courage of a Brave.

She comes complete with faithful Dog,
And when her Trust was hardly won,
Luna kindly invited Me, too,
To come and join their Fun.

My sweet’s a Wizard with a Kettle,
Ufta !  I eat like any King,
That’s just a lucky Plus,
Cuz, as everybody knows,
Us Finns eat anything.

So she can’t play Poker, it is true,
She’s kinda short for Basketball,
But for all-round Joy, there is no doubt,
She’s the only One to call.

Here’s a happy, happy Birthday
To the favorite Bird of this here Finn,
For me, the only Chick I want and need
. . . . . . . Is Robin !!!

Be happy!


(Now truth be told, this little poem,
Was not by Karl so written,
But if he didn’t, or if he couldn’t,
Don’t mean that he don’t think it.

[He is  a dear, dear guy !]

As the author of this limerick,
And the hen that laid that Robin chick,
Karl better  feel like this inside
Or, come what may,
Noble Finn or not. . . .

He’s Finnished ! )

··· Finni ···

May 12, 2009. Okay, Karl, whaddya-know -- it's all ready! Farm Spies, How the Boys Investigated Field Crop Insects, by Conradi and Thomas.

Melissa, a 14-year-old in Virginia, MN., told me this joke today:

"What's brown and sticky?"

     "A stick!"

May 7, 2009. I'd forgotten about this skit which cracked me up years ago, when I first bought some odd books in odd places to go on the web. For kicks, I made the webpage colors the same as the costume of one of the lead characters. Here's Inside Stuff, A Gastronomical Fantasy, by Theodore Pratt.

May 4, 2009. The Chapter on the 'The Latinizing of the West,' from The Medieval Mind, by Henry Osborn Taylor, is online.

From The Encyclopedia of Comedy, by J. Melville Janson, 1897; page 11:

I've got a hundred thousand dollars back of me. I don't know how far back it is, but if if ever catches up to me I'll show you great excitement in this town.


It's wonderful how careless people are in our days. If a person walks on the street some one is bound to step on his toes and say "excuse me;" jab an umbrella in his eye and say "excuse me" after the harm is done. The other day I saw an expressman knock a man down and run right over him with a big team and after he ran over him the expressman hollered "look out." The man looked up and said: "Why, are you coming back?"


Note, the text has 'hallowed' not 'hollered,' meaning to "Halloo" or "hail loudly" but I doubt that this is the usual way to spell it. Even if it is, it certainly is insensible to us today. There are many typos in this text.

May 3, 2009. Finally! For Carl, the dear of my dear daughter, Chapter 1, The Boll-Weevil, from Farm Spies, How the Boys Investigated Field Crop Insects, by A. F. Conradi, and W. A. Thomas.

Here's a joke that pertains to it, from The Encyclopedia of Comedy, by J. Melville Janson, 1897; page 204:


MR. A. — I moved since I saw you, and the house is full of roaches. I told the landlord about it and he told me to try paris green.

MR. B. — Did you do it?

MR. A. — I’ve taken three doses and it don’t seem to do any good.

All done! Online now, and improved with a linked Table of Contents and a Linked Index, corrected several errors (in spelling and indexing, and one gross mistake in meaning:

The English Correspondence of Saint Boniface: Being for the Most Part Letters Exchanged Between the Apostle of the Germans and His English Friends: Translated and Edited with an Introductory Sketch of the Saint’s Life by Edward Kylie, M.A.

And a Question from "The Bare-foot Chronicles" —

Which do you prefer? Stepping on fur-balls WARM (freshly hacked, yakked and spewed) or ICE COLD (middle of night to early a.m.) ???

April 25, 2009. From the "Dang It All !!! Department" :

I had to take down the Ludwig text because the original German is still under copyright. Although the translation is public domain in the United States, the German copyright of the original supercedes that.

So if anybody knows how to contact the descendants of Emil and Elga Ludwig, let me know, pretty please.

However, for penance I put up some more Letters to, by, and about St. Boniface, from The English Correspondence of Saint Boniface: Being for the Most Part Letters Exchanged Between the Apostle of the Germans and His English Friends: Translated and Edited with an Introductory Sketch of the Saint’s Life by Edward Kylie, M.A.

For partial-penance, the Chapter on the 'Genesis of the Mediaeval Genius,' from The Medieval Mind, by Henry Osborn Taylor, is online.

For mild consolation, another Chapter by Taylor is online. It is mainly on a German Rock Star of the 12th century, see 'German considerations: Walther Von Der Volgelweide'.

Not only was Walther hugely popular, he hung out with other famous singers which led to a Medieval 'Battle of the Bands,' called The Singer-War, or the Battle of the Wartburg, which is described in this essay on the castle: The Wartburg, by L. Puttich.

To atone, completed and proofed and now online, Professor Hermann Steuding's Greek and Roman Mythology & Heroic Legend, Translated from the German and Edited by Lionel D. Barnett.

For delight, though, here's a chapter fraught with entrepeneurial possibilities: Ear-Tickling, by Lord Chesterfield.

The only joke Laura (a very nice person in Aurora, Minnesota)can ever remember, is one her daughter brought home from school years ago, is this:

What kind of milk comes from cows with short-legs?
     Dragon (draggin') Milk.

April 25, 2009. That supernice Bill Thayer has inserted links and the Loeb section numbers into the Tacitus' Germany and Agricola !

Thanks to him, that makes it dang-near the best little version of the English translation on the web.

From the Encyclopedia of Comedy, by J. Melville Janson (Comedian), 1895; p. 174, 169. 157:

What is the difference between a mother and a barber?
     The latter has razors to shave and the former has shavers to raise.

(N. B. A "shaver" is American slang for 'children.' It is near obsolete, since it is not familiar to anybody less than 30 years old, if Karl and Tory are any indication. It is a common nickname for kids, witness this use of shaver.)

What is the difference between a mountain and a pill?
      One is hard to get up, the other is hard to get down.

What is the difference between a church bell and a politician?
      One peals from the steeple and the other steals from the people.

Why is a cat's tail like the ends of the earth?
     Because it's fur to the end.
     But if the cat has no tail?
     Then it would not be so fur.

April 20, 2009. Now for some Survival Accounts, from Entertaining Literary Curiosities, etc., by William Jefferson. Here, you can read 3 reports of shipwrecked, or abandoned, sailors, including Alexander Selkirk (Robinson Crusoe).

And online: From Parton's Humorous Poetry:

Biographical Note on William Allingham, plus his poem Venus Of The Needle.

Biographical Note on Joseph Addison, plus Addison's Epigrams: The Countess of Manchester, To An Ill-Favored Lady, To A Capricious Friend, and To A Rogue.

Biographical Note on the Infamous 'Anonymous', citing Punch Magazine.

Biographical Note on Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, plus an Epigram by him on On a Full-Length Portrait of Beau Marsh.

April 19, 2009. It takes a lot to make me laugh today and this did it:




All hale !  thou mighty annimil — all hale !
You are 4 thousand pounds, and am purty wel
Peporshund, thou tremenjos boveen nuggit !
I wonder how big you was wen you
Wos little, and if yure mother wud no you now
That you 've grone so long, and thick, and phat ;
Or if yure father would rekognize his offspring
And his kaff, thou elefanteen quodrupid !
I wonder if it hurts you mutch to be so big,
And if you grode it in a month or so.
I spose wen you wos young tha did n't gin
You skim milk but all the kreme you kud stuff
Into your little stummick, jest to see
How big yude gro ;  and afterward tha no doubt
Fed you on otes and ha and sich like,
With perhaps an occasional punkin or squosh !
In all probability yu don't no yure enny
Bigger than a small kaff; for if you did,
Yude brake down fences and switch your tail,
And rush around, and hook, and beller,
And run over fowkes, thou orful beast,
O, what a lot of mince pize yude maik,
And sassengers, and your tale,
Whitch kan't wa fur from phorty pounds,
Wud maik nigh unto a barrel of ox-tail soop,
And cudn't a heep of stakes be cut oph yu,
Whitch, with salt and pepper and termater
Ketchup, wouldn't be bad to taik.
Thou grate and glorious inseckt !
But I must klose, O most prodijus reptile !
And for mi admirashun of yu, when yu di,
I'le rite a node unto yore peddy and remanes,
Pernouncin' yu the largest of yure race ;
And as I don't expect to have a half of dollar
Agin to spare for to pa to look at yu, and as
I ain't a ded head, I will sa, farewell.

It's from Parton's Humorous Poetry, pp. 646-647, first published in 1856.

April 14, 2009. This may sound dumb, but with all these pirates hijacking big ships, I keep wondering who is falling asleep on the watch? With sonar and radar to navigate during foggy and dark seas, effectively find the big fishies, the odd iceberg or submarine, as well as other ships — this ignoramus wonders how in the heck anybody can get onboard these ships without being detected?

Having night watches (appropriately accoutred with modern technology), as of old, must not be a modern naval tradition. No one reads in the Elizabethan annals of a ship being taken by pirates without anybody not knowing in advance that the possibility was imminent! The vigilant seadogs, sighting the predators (or prey) a fair ways off, had a choice to fight or flee 400 years ago. Not today, though, it seems.

Giving up on modern news snippets, I would much rather tell you that On Mediterranean Shores, by Emil Ludwig, is now online and even proofed! [Addendum: removed see entry for April 27, above.]

Ludwig was a popular journalist and author, and was internationally famous after World War I. His look at the Mediterranean cities during the 1920's is interesting. No mention of a fear of piracy during his cruise! And this was just after World War I.

Also ready to go, The Life of Agricola, by Tacitus, the revised Oxford translation with handy footnotes.

With this, the "Handy Literal Translation" of Tacitus' Germany and Agricola is complete.

Hopefully, further links of interest will be added in the near future, but the basics are all there.

April 7, 2009. Proofed and officially online, from Professor Hermann Steuding's Greek and Roman Mythology & Heroic Legend: The Mythology and Religion of the Romans, Translated from the German and Edited by Lionel D. Barnett.

March 31, 2009. Well, it only took me a coupla years, but Joe Miller's Jest Book is 100% complete, including the 1711 jokes and the equally voluminous Index.

Remember, this is the American version, a rip-off of Mark Lemon's Jest Book, other than a (very) few Americanized spellings, it is exactly the same.

Here are 3 selections:


Lord Chesterfield, being told that a certain termagant and scold was married to a gamester, replied, “that cards and brimstone  made the best matches.”


The reigning bore  at one time in Edinburgh was Professor L——; his favorite subject the North Pole. One day the arch tormentor met Jeffrey in a narrow lane, and began instantly on the North Pole. Jeffrey, in despair, and out of all patience, darted past him, exclaiming, “Hang the North Pole !” Sydney Smith met Mr. L—— shortly after, boiling over with indignation at Jeffrey’s contempt of the North Pole. “O, my dear fellow,” said Sydney, “never mind; no one minds what Jeffrey says, you know; he is a privileged person, — he respects nothing, absolutely nothing. Why, you will scarcely credit it, but it is not more than a week ago that I heard him speak disrespectfully of the Equator. 


[Reverend] Sydney Smith once said :  “I remember entering a room with glass all round it at the French embassy, and saw myself reflected on every side. I took if for a meeting of the clergy,  and was delighted of course.”

March 27, 2009. A couple of hundred more jokes, proofread, from Joe Miller's Jest Book, which is really a plagiarized copy of Mark Lemon's Jest Book are online.

March 23, 2009. [Monday] Mt. Redoubt, the volcano which has been simmering for a month near Anchorage Alaska, has ERUPTED !!! Only ash clouds, apparently. None of the ash has headed towards Anchorage, so Tory is fine.

She is peeved because, after waiting for so long in vain, when it did finally erupt, it happened during the night! And on the last night of spring break! so they couldn't go down and see it and help collect ash and stuff.

She is also ticked because if there is no ash fall there in Anchorage there will be school as usual.

What did she expect? After all, this is not "Ash Wednesday!"

March 21, 2009. Online (and proofed): the chapter on Genoa and the Mediterranean, by Emil Ludwig, from On the Mediterranean, translated by Eden and Cedar Paul, a travelogue by a famous journalist and author, who interviewed Stalin and Mussolini.

From Mark Lemon's Jest Book, aka Joe Miller's Jest Book, p. 77:


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

March 20, 2009. Word from Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin: Carolyn passed along a cute joke that came home from school — along with her daughter, Natalie, age 13:

What was Beethoven doing in his grave?


Some house-cleaning on Elfinspell: Mark Lemon's, Joe Miller's Jest Book, has been shuffled off into a new folder. The start page is the same, go there to find your way to the 1731 jokes!

March 19, 2009. A little scent lore, now. Heather Shoemaker, the owner of Casa de Olivia is a very nice, very smart person who is engaged in creating a Perfumer's Encyclopedia, and she is using old, hard to find texts. So, since I discovered some interesting pictures, and a few odd facts, in the section called Trees and Plants Mentioned in the Bible, in Peter Parley's Merry Stories, the more interesting ones are now online (including a picture of the frankincense tree!). Not all relate to perfumery, but some are mentioned in much of Classical literature and a picture of those plants is nice to have on hand. Here they are:

The Algum-Tree,

The Plane-Tree,

The Camphor-Tree,

The Balsam-Tree,


The Mustard-Plant,

The Cinnamon-Tree,

Calamus, or Sweet Cane,

The Anise,

The Rose,

I heard a pretty clever excuse from Vasily, my pen-friend from Tomsk, in western Siberia. It is the Russian excuse for forgetfulness — just say "I have a maiden's memory!"

March 18, 2009. For reference to the funniest parody on this site, (Tory's favorite item): A Poe-m of Passion, by C. F. Lummis,, I have put online the original tragi-spooky poem of lost love: Annabel Lee, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Almost as funny, here is another poem from The Heart of Oak Books, edited by Charles Eliot Norton: The Despairing Lover, by William Walsh.

March 17, 2009. Happy St. Patrick's Day! In the spirit, here is the old song by the lawyer Milliken in the 18th century, and popular for years: The Groves of Blarney, with notes by Charles Eliot Norton.

The Online Edtion of Classical Geography by H. F. Tozer, the shorter version in the Literature Primers Series, edited by John Richard Green for The American Book Company, is finally proofed !

A wondrous event! The Kentucky Board of Medicine has finally made Ultram (Tramadol) a controlled substance. It has always been an addictive narcotic, but was marketed as if it was an alternative to traditonal opiates. Being a huge little bit of felonious marketing disinformation, lots of doctors believed the manufacturers and their drug reps. Terribly, though, the Boards of Medicine and the DEA in every state in America, didn't question or read the drug's own description in the PDR entry which confirmed that it was addictive. It's pretty amazing that Kentucky saw the light sooner than most other states.

This is extremely good news, as a lot of doctors and patients still don't know that it is addictive.

March 5, 2009. A short blurb on the discovery of a Mammoth in 1832, as reported in French in The Curious Archives is here, in the original French, and translated into English here.

A litle anecdote about Henry Clay, from Masterpieces of Humor, Vol. V, 1903, p. 76:


Attorney-General Garland confesses that he is not a success at poker. Henry Clay was more fortunate. He used to have card parties at the Ashland homestead, and it is not on record that the speculation was a bad one. One day a young lady visitor from the North, to whom the sight of the poker tables was rather an alarming one, said to the wife of the statesman:
     "Mrs. Clay, doesn't it shock you to see your husband playing cards so much in his own house?"
     "Oh, no," replied the benevolent old lady innocently, "he 'most always wins."

March 4, 2009. I forgot to mention a bit of information I just learned:

If you should read the descriptions of older and used books on websites: an untrimmed book is one that has not had the edges cut, so they have wider margins and may be a little raggedy. An unopened book, on the other hand, is one that, in previous times, was folded in quarters and then sewn (bound) together. The buyer then had to cut the pages at the folds so that he could turn some of the pages. There were special tools that were sold to do this. These looked like current letter-openers.

Bill Cole, an antiquarian book-dealer, of Cole & Contreras/Sylvan Book Gallery, in Spain, was kind enough to tell me the difference between an uncut and an unopened book.

If you should buy a book with unopened pages, use a very sharp knife to open the pages or you can tear the page or make your own brand-new raggedy edges.

February 17, 2009. A little humor from the last week:

A sheriff in northern Minnesota told me that they found a frog on the side of the road. What did they do with it? It was towed.

Stacy, in Wisconsin, apologized for not being able to offer advice (when I asked for an opinion on my 4 sorry bulbs that came up withered), saying that she had "such a bad green thumb." I then told her, "If there's any green on my thumb, it would be mold!"

Tory was worried a few weeks ago about a trigonometry test. Full of reassuring advice: that if she got stuck during the test, I told her to: "Pray to the Math God for a sine!"

Other than that, I have been proofreading.

I also found this old nursery rhyme I had never heard before, in Popular Nursery Tales and Rhymes, London: George Routledge and Sons; undated but late 1800's, p. 113:

Good King Arthur.

When good King Arthur ruled this land,
     He was a goodly king;
He bought three pecks of barley-meal,
     To make a bag-pudding.

A bag-pudding the king did make,
     And stuff'd it well with plums:
And in it put great lumps of fat,
     As big as my two thumbs.

The king and queen did eat thereof,
     And noblemen beside;
And what they could not eat that night,
     The queen next morning fried.

February 4, 2009. The rest of The Golden Fairy Book is online. All of the stories, and the pictures by H. R. Millar, were stolen from issues of the Strand Magazine in England, by the American publisher Appleton & Company, in 1894. This was long after several decades of pushing for copyright protection laws on both sides of the Atlantic!

The newest stories are not yet finally proofed. The pictures are not online, nor will be probably. The book was very expensive and scanning will hurt the binding. The images can be found on the scanned copies of the old Strand Magazine online.

Here are the stories that complete the book:

The Enchanted Whistle, translated from the French of Alexandre Dumas,
(very good story, pretty funny, too.)

Barak Hageb and His Wives, translated from the Hungarian of Moritz Jokai,
(one of the best stories in this collection)

The Hermit, translated from the French of Voltaire,

Ashik-Kerib. A Turkish Tale, translated from the Russian of M. Lermontov,

The Little Grey Man, translated from the French of Edouard Laboulaye,
(also funny.)

The Silver Penny, translated from the Hungarian,

The Slippers of Abou-Karem. A Turkish Tale, translated from the French of Xavier Marmier,

The Three Sisters and Their Glass Hearts, translated from the Russian,

Rajeb's Reward. An Arabian Tale, translated from the French of M. P. Granal,

The Three Lemons, translated from the Italian,

Drak the Fairy, translated from the French of Souvestre,

Kojata, translated from the Russian,

The Lost Spear. A South African Story, by Barnard Lewis, uncredited in this text,

Zerbin the Wood-cutter, translated from the French of Edouard Laboulaye.

Another great little joke from the 1937 Edition of The Parisian Burlesquers, a little paperbacked mini-cartoon mag :

Our new office boy is so clever that if you give him two guesses he can tell which way the elevator is going.

From U. S. Snapshots, A National Cyclopædia, by Oliver McKee, Boston, Massacusetts: A. M. Thayer & Co.; and it has this morsel on p. 357;

Shinplasters. — During the war [Civil War], private individuals not being able to secure small change, they issued private notes of ten, twenty-five, and fifty cents denomination, and circulated them in their business. The notes were called shinplasters, because they had no value outside of particular localities, except possibly as plasters for broken shins. The small notes issued by the government in after years from this source derived the name of shinplasters.

February 1, 2009. 20 more chapters of Froissart are proofed. If anybody had read this book in school, they would have been able to predict the economic consequences of warfare, the increase in crime, and the failure of any agreements made at gun-point by the conquered.

From U. S. Snapshots, A National Cyclopædia, by Oliver McKee, Boston, Massacusetts: A. M Thayer & Co.; and it has this morsel on p. 251;

O. K. — This is a common abbreviation for "all right." It is supposed to have originated with Andrew Jackson, who puzzled his secretary by endorsing these letters on official papers. It is said that the hero of New Orleans declared that the letters stood for "all correct." However, this story is probably a gross exaggeration."

January 22, 2009. I was horrified to hear that we have legalized child abuse in the U.S.A. in 21 states. Most U.S. family and children's nonproift groups, + human rights nonprofit org's here have a mandate not to act in our own country! That is the only reason they got their non-profit status and can get any federal and state grant money, I suspect. Gag!

In light of that appalling discovery, I have re-written the Introduction to a book that has been ignored quite long enough. Hopefully, now, people might better understand why that can occur in this day and age, by reading the Autobiography of Johannes Butzbach, A Wandering Scholar of the 15th Century,translated by Seybolt and Monroe that I have online.

Read it, part or all, then tell somebody else about it. Wider and such true knowledge has to lead to faster change. This man's life is the best history textbook of the problem: without the sanitizing language of social science-speak (that leads to all those impersonal assessments that actually foster callousness and disregard.)

This is a great and truly important book. Better than almost anything that costs money on the shelves of most modern bookstores. Learning what happened to Johannes will help you to insist it be stopped in America-The-Two-Faced:

"Well, you now have before you all the misery that I had to endure under the rod of the schoolmaster, from my seventh to my twelfth year, and what kind of loyalty that ass of a scholar exhibited toward me, among strangers, after the solicitous recommendations of my parents. May God forgive him the evil he did me. Amen!"

Johannes Butzbach, c. 1506.

There are also some people who have spent their lives fighting this, and continue to do so, but must fight a huge battle against the enormous shroud of secrecy that overlies this glaring practice. So please, be brave, and read the Introduction, [forgive me for my lack of talent,] or skip that, and just read the Autobiography by this amazing monk who survived child slavery by his tutors and teachers to become great and good and very, very wise.

We had unseasonably warm weather during December and early January, right after Tory arrived here from Alaska for her Christmas break. It sure consoled her for leaving her sugar-pie, Karl, and dog, Luna, back in the frozen North.

The day after she left, and since, we have had unseasonably cold weather, here, but it's been dang-near tropical in Alaska. She said that Karl told her to bring the warm weather back with her.

The coincidence seems uncanny. Probably of significant meterological significance, too. Now duly noted, in case her peregrinations further substantiate major climactic aberrations.

Besides the cold weather, it does seem harsh that after decades of attending to the civilization of the young, they then only display the fruits of those years for just 4 weeks!

At long ever-loving last, there is proof that it was not in vain: real conversations, an evident willingness to contribute to the activities of daily living, mutual appreciation of bad puns and silliness. Only 4 weeks of such wonders, then off they go!

That plus the above-noted discovery, on top of the usual Happy December, Sad January hooey, made for long naps and no typing, followed by consolation at last!

Ode on The Consolation for Tuition


When Christmas Break Is Over
(First and Probably Last Draft)

I miss my Tootsie
As you can see,
Cuz candy has no charm for me.

When Toots ain't here.
No other sweet
Comes close, I fear,
To the sweet of my Sweet
When she is here.

The cats are mad,
And scratch and bite,
"Miss Toots is gone!"
And, "That ain't right."
So says furry feline folk,
And when they're mad,
It is no joke!

Me? I ain't mad, nosiree,
Just glum, and blue and snively.
Snow is cold and tea is hot,
This is true both There and Here.
But There? Toots gets smart, and that's a lot.

Drat it all! I s'pose 'tis better Toots is far from me,
Not Here where sweet, but dumb, is all she'd be.

January 19, 2009. I managed to clear up a few small matters that had confused me:

The names of many of the forgotten wits and scholars of the 1800's pop up in a lot of the stuff I have online and sometimes minor contradictory details surface. So I decided to do a little digging on the net — and stay warm. Besides, it is way too cold outside to plant any bulbs. There's no Tory around to do her patent pending rapid-fire Pogo-Stick Planting Method of hole-digging either.

Sydney Smith, the famous wit and clergyman of the 1800's, was often called Sidney Smith in many old books and magazines. He wrote a popular poem that was quoted "from memory" by the character Dr. Bushwhacker, in the funny article by Cozzens, A Peep in the Salad Bowl. Here, though, his first name is spelled Sidney.

Smith is also referred to as a Pennsylvanian by jovial, bombastic Dr. B. when he quotes him. That, plus the different spelling of his first name, made me wonder if there was another man of a similar name in America.

Turns out that the Pennsylvania touch was a bit of typical Dr. B. misinformation — his character is known to do this unintentionally. He is usually prosy, but accurate.

Proof of this can be easily found on the internet in one place. Sidney is the spelling used when the poem was first published in 1796. The title of the poem was, "An Herb Sallad for the Tavern Bowl." Both the date and the Sidney spelling were cited in Sallets, by Dr. Alice Ross, in Hearth to Hearth, her column in The Journal of Antiques and Collectibles, July 2001.

All Dr. Ross's articles about early American cookery are fascinating and she credits her sources as well. What a treat!

The complete poetic recipe for potato salad by Smith (showing that Dr. Bushwhacker's rendition was not word-perfect,) is in Mark Lemon's Jest Book, without crediting the good Reverend. That was a surprise since in many, many other Jests Sydney Smith is explicity given credit. So why he wasn't credited as the author of the poem beats me.

Here's a little bit of Americana for a change. It's from an undated book, published about 1892. This is a guess, since one of the last chapters of the book gives a contemporary account of "The White House Children." It includes a picture of Benjamin Harrison McKee, President Harrison's grandson. Apparently, the boy was joshingly referred to as the 'First Boy in the Land.' In the article it also states that Harrison had been President for 4 years. He was nominated in 1888.

The book is U. S. Snapshots, A National Cyclopædia, by Oliver McKee, Boston, Massacusetts: A. M Thayer & Co.; and it has this morsel on p. 346;

William Henry Harrison's inaugural address was read by Daniel Webster before its delivery. Many points of style did not please Webster, but he took especial ground against Harrison's lavish use of allusions to Roman history. Webster edited the speech, and cut out much of its ancient historical matter, and when, on returning home, the lady of the house at which he stopped remarked that he looked worn out, and asked if anything had happened, Webster replied, "You would think that something had happened if you knew what I have done. I have killed seventeen Roman Pro-Consuls."

January 9, 2009. 17 more chapters of Froissart proofed. Ho-hum!

A great little joke from the 1937 Edition of The Parisian Burlesquers, a little paperbacked mini-cartoon mag, that your grandpappy considered risqué:

"What is the difference between mashed potatoes and pea soup?"

     "Shucks, that's easy," said Little Johnnie Green. "Anybody can mash potatoes."


To see 5 years worth of this page, with some great old jokes and limericks, and practically no diatribes, go to the Archived New Stuff Pages.

Copyright  © 2004-2009 by Elfinspell

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