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Ever Heard This? - Over Three Hundred Good Stories by F. W. Chambers
Release Date: March 19, 2012 [EBook #39202]
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A lover and his lass sought a secluded lane, but to their disgust a small boy arrived there too. Said the lover:
"Here's a penny. Go and get some sweets."
"I don't want any sweets."
"Well, here's a shilling. Run away."
"I don't want a shilling."
"Then here's half a crown."
"I don't want half a crown."
"Well, what do you want?"
"I want to watch."
A little boy, who had had some insight into the disposal of surplus kittens, on being shown his mother's newly arrived twins, laid his finger on that which struck his fancy, and said, "That's the one I'll have kept."
A raw Highlander from a northern depot was put on guard at the C.O.'s tent. In the morning the Colonel looked out, and though he prided himself on knowing all his men the sentry's face was unfamiliar.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"A'am fine, thank ye," was the reply, "an' hoo's yerself?"
Jones was proud of his virtues. "Gentlemen, for twenty years I haven't touched whisky, cards, told a lie, done an unkind deed, or smoked, or sworn," he said.
"By Jove! I wish I could say that," Brown exclaimed enviously.
"Well, why don't you?" said a mutual friend. "Jones did."
A Scot and a minister were in a train together travelling through a lovely part of Scotland.
Beautiful scenery--mountains, dales, rivers, and all the glories of Nature. When passing a grand mountain they saw a huge advertisement for So-and-So's whisky.
The Scot gave a snort of disgust. The minister leant forward and said, "I'm glad to see, sir, that you agree with me, that they should not be allowed to desecrate the beauties of Nature by advertisement."
"It's no' that, sir," said the Scot bitterly, "it's rotten whusky."
Bishop Blomfield, having forgotten his written sermon, once preached ex tempore, for the first and only time in his life, choosing as his text "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." On his way home he asked one of his congregation how he liked the discourse. "Well, Mr. Blomfield," replied the man, "I liked the sermon well enough, but I can't say I agree with you; I think there be a God!"
A lawyer who was sometimes forgetful, having been engaged to plead the cause of an offender, began by saying: "I know the prisoner at the bar, and he bears the character of being a most consummate and impudent scoundrel." Here somebody whispered to him that the prisoner was his client, when he immediately continued: "But what great and good man ever lived who was not calumniated by many of his contemporaries?"
Mr. Brown expressed to his landlady his pleasure in seeing her place a plate of scraps before the cat. "Oh, yes, sir," she replied. "Wot I says, Mr. Brown, is, be kind to the cats, and yer'll find it saves yer 'arf the washin'-up."
A foolish fellow went to the parish priest, and told him, with a very long face, that he had seen a ghost. "When and where?" said the pastor. "Last night," replied the timid man, "I was passing by the church, and up against the wall of it, did I behold the spectre." "In what shape did it appear?" replied the priest. "It appeared in the shape of a great ass." "Go home and say not a word about it," rejoined the pastor; "you are a very timid man, and have been frightened by your own shadow."
A precocious child found the long graces used by his father before and after meals very tedious. One day, when the week's provisions had been delivered, he said, "I think, father, if you were to say grace over the whole lot at once, it would be a great saving of time."
A farmer in the neighbourhood of Doncaster was thus accosted by his landlord: "John, I am going to raise your rent." John replied, "Sir, I am very much obliged to you, for I cannot raise it myself."
Ayrton, Charles Lamb's friend, only made one joke in his life; it was this. Lamb had his usual Wednesday-evening gathering, and Martin Burney and the rest were playing at whist. Ayrton contented himself with looking on. Presently he said to Burney, in an undertone, the latter not being notorious for his love of soap and water, "Ah! Martin, if dirt were trumps, what hands you'd hold!"
An old woman received a letter from the post-office at New York. Not knowing how to read and being anxious to know the contents, supposing it to be from one of her absent sons, she called on a person near to read it to her. He accordingly began and read: "Charleston, June 23rd. Dear Mother"--then making a stop to find out what followed (as the writing was rather bad), the old lady exclaimed: "Oh, 'tis my poor Jerry, he always stuttered!"
A rude young fellow seeing an aged hermit going by him barefoot said, "Father, you are in a miserable condition if there is not another world." "True, son," said the hermit, "but what is thy condition if there is?"
A London girl visited the country on May Day. She came to a pond whose shallows were full of tadpoles--thousands and thousands of little black tadpoles flopping about in an inch of mud and water. "Oh," she said, "look at the tadpoles! And to think that some day every one of the horrid, wriggling things will be a beautiful butterfly!"
A member of an impecunious family having hurried off to the Continent to avoid the importunities of his creditors, a celebrated wit remarked, "It is a pass-over that will not be much relished by the Jews."
At Durham assizes a deaf old lady, who had brought an action for damages against a neighbour, was being examined, when the judge suggested a compromise, and instructed counsel to ask what she would take to settle the matter. "His lordship wants to know what you will take?" asked the learned counsel, bawling as loud as ever he could in the old lady's car. "I thank his lordship kindly," answered the ancient dame; "and if it's no illconwenience to him, I'll take a little warm ale!"
"Sir," said a barber to an attorney who was passing his door, "will you tell me if this is a good half-sovereign?" The lawyer, pronouncing the piece good, deposited it in his pocket, adding, with gravity, "If you'll send your lad to my office, I'll return the three and fourpence."
Sir G. Rose, the great punster, on observing someone imitating his gait, said, "You have the stalk without the rose."
The late Judge C---- one day had occasion to examine a witness who stuttered very much in delivering his testimony. "I believe," said his Lordship, "you are a very great rogue." "Not so great a rogue as you, my lord, t-t-t-takes me to be."
A man who was fond of visiting his friends and outstaying his welcome had been cordially received by a Quaker who treated him with attention and politeness for some days. At last his host said, "My friend, I am afraid thee wilt never visit me again." "Oh, yes, I shall," he replied. "I have enjoyed my visit very much; I will certainly come again." "Nay," said the Quaker, "I think thee wilt not visit me again." "What makes you think I shall not come again?" asked the visitor. "If thee does never leave," said the Quaker, "how canst thee come again?"
A celebrated wit coming from a bank which had been obliged to close its doors, slipped down the steps into the arms of a friend.
"Why, what's the matter?" said the latter.
"Oh," was the quick reply, "I've only lost my balance."
After a long drought, there fell a torrent of rain: and a country gentleman observed to Sir John Hamilton, "This is a most delightful rain; I hope it will bring up everything out of the ground." "By Jove, sir," said Sir John, "I hope not; for I have buried three wives."
Mr. Pitt was discoursing at a Cabinet dinner on the energy and beauty of the Latin language. In support of the superiority which he affirmed it to have over the English, he asserted that two negatives made a thing more positive than one affirmative possibly could. "Then," said Thurlow, "your father and mother must have been two complete negatives to make such a positive fellow as you are!"
"Why, you have never opened your mouth this session," said Sir Thomas Lethbridge to Mr. Gye; replied Mr. Gye, "Your speeches have made me open it very frequently. My jaws have ached with yawning."
Jane had asked for an evening off to go to her first dance. Returning at a very early hour, she was asked by her master whether she had enjoyed herself. "No, indeed, sir," she replied, "I was most insulted." "How was that, Jane?" "I 'adn't been there very long, sir, when a young man comes up and hactually hasks whether my programme was full. And I'd only 'ad two sandwiches."
"Shure an' it's married Oi am!" said Pat to an old friend he had not seen for a long time. "You don't mane it?" "Faith, an' it's true. An' Oi've got a fine healthy bhoy, an' the neighbours say he's the very picture of me." "Och, niver moind what they say," said Mick. "What's the harm so long as the child is healthy."
An Irish parson of the old school, in whom a perception of the ridiculous was developed with a Rabelaisian breadth of appreciation, was asked by a clodhopper to explain the meaning of a miracle. "Walk on a few paces before me," said his reverence, which having done the peasant was surprised to feel in the rear a kick, administered with decided energy. "What did you do that for?" demanded the young man angrily. "Simply to illustrate my meaning," replied the cleric blandly; "if you had not felt it, it would have been a miracle."
A gentleman at a musical party asked a friend, in a whisper, how he should stir the fire without interrupting the music. "Between the bars," replied the friend.
A Quaker was examined before the Board of Excise, respecting certain duties; the commissioners thinking themselves disrespectfully treated by his theeing and thouing, one of them with a stern countenance asked him--"Pray, sir, do you know what we sit here for?"--"Yea," replied Nathan, "I do; some of thee for a thousand, and others for seventeen hundred and fifty pounds a year."
"Willy, why were you not at school yesterday?" asked the teacher.
"Please, mum," answered the absentee, "Muvver made marmalade yesterday and she sent me to the cemetery."
"What on earth for?"
"To collect some jam pots, mum."
A country clergyman, meeting a neighbour, who never came to church, although an old fellow above sixty, reproved him on that account, and asked if he ever read at home? "No," replied the man, "I can't read." "I dare say," said the clergyman, "you don't know who made you." "Not I, in troth," said the countryman. A little boy coming by at the time, "Who made you, child?" said the parson. "God, sir," answered the boy. "Why, look you there," quoth the honest parson. "Are you not ashamed to hear a child of five or six years old tell me who made him, when you, that are so old a man, cannot?" "Ah!" said the countryman. "It is no wonder that he should remember; he was made but t'other day, it is a great while, master, sin' I was made."
Jimmy giggled when the teacher read the story of the man who swam across the Tiber three times before breakfast.
"You do not doubt that a trained swimmer could do that, do you?"
"No, sir," answered Jimmy, "but I wonder why he did not make it four and get back to the side where his clothes were."
An old farmer lay so dangerously ill that the doctor gave no hope of recovery.
Whilst lying in an apparently semi-conscious state, he suddenly opened his eyes, and said to his wife, who was watching by his bedside: "Mary, that's a nice smell, it's just like a ham cooking. I almost think I could eat a little, if it is cooked."
The reply was, "Thee get on with the dying, that ham is for the funeral."
In the course of the play one of the characters had to say to a very plain actor, "My lord, you change countenance"; whereupon a young fellow in the pit cried, "For heaven's sake, let him!"
Little Jimmy had been sent early to bed, but he could not sleep. Presently he called out to his mother in plaintive tones, "Mummy, bring me a glass of water, I'm so thirsty." No reply being vouchsafed him, he repeated his request after a short interval. And this time received an abrupt answer, "If you don't be quiet I'll come up to slap you." Suddenly a thought struck him and still in plaintive voice he cried, "Mummy, when you come to slap me, bring me a glass of water."
A young dude (with a monocle) and very irregular features while travelling by train was at first much amused by the grimaces of a boy who was sitting facing him. The boy, however, was obviously laughing at him so the dude asked him if he could share the joke.
"Joke!" said the boy, "it's your face I'm laughing at."
"Well, I can't help my face, can I?"
"No," replied the boy, leaving the train, "but you could stay at home."
A man once went to purchase a horse of a Quaker. "Will he draw well?" asked the buyer. "Thee wilt be pleased to see him draw." The bargain was concluded, and the farmer tried the horse, but he would not stir a step. He returned and said, "That horse will not draw an inch." "I did not tell thee that it would draw, friend, I only remarked that it would please thee to see him draw, so it would me, but he would never gratify me in that respect."
A country schoolmaster had two pupils, to one of whom he was partial, and to the other severe. One morning it happened that these two boys were late, and were called up to account for it. "You must have heard the bell, boys; why did you not come?" "Please, sir," said the favourite, "I was dreaming that I was going to Margate, and I thought the school-bell was the steamboat-bell." "Very well," said the master, glad of any pretext to excuse his favourite. "And now, sir," turning to the other, "what have you to say?" "Please, sir," said the puzzled boy, "I--I--was waiting to see Tom off!"
A lady said to her husband, in a friend's presence:
"My dear, you certainly want a pair of new trousers." "No, I think not," replied the husband.
"Well," interposed the friend, "I think the lady who always wears them, ought to know."
"Young man," said an inquisitive old lady, to a tram conductor, "if I put my foot on that rail shall I receive an electric shock?"
"No, mum," he replied, "unless you place your other foot on the overhead wire."
An Irish fisherman passed himself off to the captain of a ship near the coast of Ireland as a qualified pilot. He knew nothing of the coast. "This is a very dangerous shore here," said the captain to him, when he was on board. "Yes, it is, your honour," replied the fellow. "There are a great many dangerous rocks about here, I believe," observed the captain. "Yes, there are, and," a dreadful crash coming, "this is one of them," coolly returned the fisherman.
A briefless barrister was spending his time at the Courts when his clerk came to him with the news that a man was at his chambers with a brief. The barrister immediately hurried from the Courts for fear the client should escape him. "Stop, sir, stop," cried his clerk. "You needn't hurry, sir, I've locked him in."
A private in a company of engineers gained a certain reputation for mending his comrades' watches. His reputation reached his captain's ears, who one day said to him, "Jones, I hear you are clever at watch-mending, here take this one of mine and see what you can make of it." Some few days after, Jones took back the watch. "Well, Jones, how much do I owe you?" "Three shillings," was the reply. "Well, here you are, and thank you," said the captain. "Oh! I forgot," said Jones, "here are three wheels which I had over."
"Do people ever take advantage of the invitation to use this church for meditation and prayer?" a City verger was once asked. "Yes," he replied, "I catched two of 'em at it the other day!"
A Methodist who kept a grocer's shop was heard one day to say to his assistant, "John, have you watered the rum?" "Yes." "Have you sanded the brown sugar?" "Yes." "Have you damped the tobacco?" "Yes." "Then come in to prayers."
A gentleman who had an Irish servant, having stopped at an inn for several days, desired to have the bill. Finding a large quantity of port placed to his servant's account he questioned him about it. "Please your honour," cried Pat, "do read how many they charge for." "One bottle port, one ditto, one ditto, one ditto." "Stop, stop, stop, master," exclaimed Paddy, "they are cheating you. I know I had some bottles of port, but I did not taste a drop of their ditto."
Robbie met a neighbour smoking some fine tobacco sent by his son in America. He took out his own pipe ostentatiously. "Hae ye a match, Sandy?" he queried. The match was forthcoming, but nothing more. "I do believe," said Robbie, "I hae left ma tobacco at hame." "Then," said Sandy, after a silence, "ye micht gie me back ma match."
The Vicar (discussing the Daylight Saving Bill): "But why have you put the small clock on and not the big one?" Old Man: "Well, it's like this, sir; grandfeyther's clock 'ave been tellin' th' truth for ninety year, and I can't find it i' my heart to make a liar o' he now; but li'le clock, 'e be a German make, so it be all right for 'e."
"Well, you're not two-faced anyway," said one man who had been quarrelling with another: "I'll say that for you."
"That's a very handsome acknowledgment," said the other, mollified.
"Because if you were," the first one continued, "you wouldn't be seen with that one."
An old gentleman of eighty-four having taken to the altar a young damsel of about sixteen, the clergyman said to him--"The font is at the other end of the church." "What do I want with the font?" said the old gentleman. "Oh! I beg your pardon," said the clerical wit, "I thought you had brought this child to be christened."
An Irishman was once brought up before a magistrate, charged with marrying six wives. The magistrate asked him how he could be so hardened a villain? "Please, your worship," says Paddy, "I was just trying to get a good one."
A certain minister going to visit one of his sick parishioners, asked him how he had rested during the night. "Oh, wondrous ill, sir," replied he, "my eyes have not come together these three nights." "What is the reason of that?" said the other. "Alas! sir," says he, "because my nose was between them."
Jones, who was a student of economy, lamented the death of his horse. His friend sympathised and enquired the cause. "He was a wonderful horse, and if he had lived another day he would have proved a theory I have been pursuing." "How is that?" "Well, you see," replied Jones, "I reckon that it's all nonsense about having to spend so much on a horse's keep. I started this one with the ordinary feed, but gradually reduced the quantity." "And what did he have yesterday?" "Well, I'd got him down to one oat."
Three young fellows were strolling along a country lane, and saw approaching them a very patriarchal-looking old man. Thinking to take a rise out of him, they accosted him thus: "Hail, Father Abraham, Father Isaac, or Father Jacob." "Nay, my sons," the old man replied, "I am none of these, but rather Saul seeking his father's asses, and lo! here have I found them."
"I expect six clergymen to dine with me on Sunday next," said a gentleman to his butler. "Very good, sir," said the butler. "Are they High Church or Low Church, sir?" "What on earth can that signify to you?" asked the astonished master. "Everything, sir," was the reply. "If they are High Church, they'll drink; if they are Low Church, they'll eat!"
A gentleman, calling for small beer at another gentleman's table, finding it very hard, gave it to the servant again without drinking. "What!" said the master of the house, "don't you like the beer?" "It is not to be found fault with," answered the other, "for one should never speak ill of the dead."
A lady having invited a gentleman to dinner on a particular day, he had accepted, with the reservation, "If I am spared." "Weel, weel," replied she, "if ye're dead, I'll no' expect ye."
A story of a Tudor judge is told of Sir Nicholas Bacon, who in the time of Elizabeth was importuned by a criminal to spare his life on account of kinship.
"How so?" demanded the judge.
"Because my name is Hog and yours is Bacon; and hog and bacon are so near akin that they cannot be separated."
"Ay," responded the judge dryly, "but you and I cannot yet be kindred--for the hog is not bacon until it be well hanged."
A country traveller was asked by the landlord of the inn at which he had put up how he had slept. "Well," he replied, "union is strength--a fact of which your inmates seem to be unaware; for had the fleas been unanimous last night they might have pushed me out of bed." "Fleas!" said the landlord, in astonishment, "I was not aware that I had a single one in the house." "I don't believe you have," retorted the traveller, "they are all married and have uncommonly large families."
"Martha, dost thou love me?" asked a Quaker youth of one at whose shrine his heart's holiest feelings had been offered up. "Why, Seth," she answered, "we are commanded to love one another, are we not?" "Ay, Martha, but dost thee regard me with the feeling the world calls love?" "I hardly know what to tell thee, Seth, I have greatly feared that my heart was an erring one. I have tried to bestow my love on all, but I have sometimes thought, perhaps, that thee was getting rather more than thy share."
A gentleman, inspecting lodgings to be let, asked the pretty girl, who showed them, "And are you, my dear, to be let with the lodgings?" "No," answered she, "I am to be let alone."
A gentleman who was on a tour, attended by an Irish servant-man, who drove the vehicle, was several times puzzled with the appearance of a charge in the man's daily account, entered as "Refreshment for the horse, 2d." At length he asked Dennis about it. "Och! sure," said he, "it's whipcord it is!"
A Scotch minister was once sent for to visit a sick man. On arriving at the house he enquired:
"What church do you attend?"
"Barry kirk," replied the invalid.
"Why, then, did you not send for your own minister?"
"Na, na," replied the sick man, "we would not risk him. Do you no' ken it's a dangerous case of typhoid?"
A lady who had named her house Kismet engaged an Irish servant. Bridget desiring to know the meaning of Kismet was told it signified "Fate." Shortly after, Bridget was painfully and laboriously descending the stairs. "What is the matter?" asked her mistress. "I've got fearful corns on my Kismet," was the reply.
A small boy, asked to name the four seasons, replied: "Pepper, salt, mustard, and vinegar." Another, asked for the principal gases, said: "Oxygen and Cambridgen."
Jack was rather put out on the arrival of a new little brother. "But, Mummy, he has no hair." "No, Jack, he has no hair." "Mummy, he has no teeth." "Oh, no, Jack, no teeth now." "Oh, Mummy, dear, you've been had; they have given you an old 'un."
One of the best remembered of Hook's efforts in extemporising is that recorded of his improvising at a party when Mr. Winter was announced, a well-known inspector of taxes. Without a moment's break in his performance Hook went on:--
"Here comes Mr. Winter, inspector of taxes, I'd advise you to give him whatever he axes, I'd advise ye to give him without any flummery-- For though his name's Winter his actions are summary."
A thoughtful child said to her mother on the way to church: "Mummy, dear! Shall we have that hymn to-day about the she bear?" "I don't remember any hymn about a she bear, darling," replied the perplexed mother. "Whatever do you mean, child?" "I mean the hymn that goes, 'Can a mother's tender care, Cease towards the child she bear?'"
A girl of tender age was a witness at a trial.
"Do you know what an oath is, my child?" asked the judge.
"Yes, sir, I am obliged to tell the truth."
"And what will happen if you tell lies?"
"I shall go to the naughty place," replied the child.
"Are you sure of that?"
"Yes, sir, quite sure."
"Let her be sworn," said the judge; "it is clear she knows a great deal more than I do."
Calling one day at Saunders and Otley's library, a subscriber was very angry because certain books that he had ordered had not been sent. He was so heated in his indignation that one of the partners could stand it no longer, and told him so.
"I don't know who you are," was the customer's retort, "and I don't want to annoy you personally, as you may not be the one in fault; it's your confounded house I blame. You may be Otley, or you may be Saunders; if you are Saunders, damn Otley! if you are Otley, damn Saunders! I mean nothing personal to you."
A father chiding his son for not getting up early, told him as an inducement, that a certain man being up in good time, found a purse containing money. "That may be," replied the son, "but he that lost it was up before him."
An ingenious gentleman had been showing at a dinner-table how he could cut a pig out of orange peel. A guest who was present tried again and again to do the same, but after strewing the table with the peel of a dozen oranges exclaimed, "Hang the pig! I can't make him." "Why no," said the performer, "you have done more--instead of one pig you have made a litter."
"I'm sorry to see you giving way to drink like this, Pat," said the village priest, "you that were always such a respectable boy, too." "Shure, an' Oi'm obleeged to do it, your 'anner," replied Pat. "Oi have to dhrink to droun me trubles." "H'm," said his interrogator, "and do you succeed in drowning them?" "No, begorra," cried Pat, "shure an' that's the warst uv it. The divvles can shwim!"
A Southerner with no love for Scotland returned from his first trip to the North, and was asked by a Scot if he had not acquired a better opinion of Scotland. What did he now think of it? "That it is a very vile country to be sure," answered the traveller. "Well, sir!" retorted the nettled Scot, "God made it!" "Certainly he did!" came the instant acknowledgment; "but we must always remember that He made it for Scotsmen."
An Irish post-boy having driven a gentleman many miles during torrents of rain, was asked if he was not very wet? "Arrah! I wouldn't care about being very wet, if I wasn't so very dry, your honour."
"Friend Maltby, I am pleased that thou hast got such a fine organ in thy church." "But," said the clergyman, "I thought you were strongly opposed to having an organ in a church?" "So I am," said Friend Obadiah, "but then if thou wilt worship the Lord by machinery, I would like thee to have a first-rate instrument."
A little boy had been brought up with much care. On his eighth birthday he was given a nicely bound Prayer Book by his aunt. After a brief examination he pushed the book on one side disappointedly. On being asked the reason he said, "I don't like anything 'Common.'"
At a shop-window in the Strand there appeared the following notice: "Wanted, two apprentices, who will be treated as one of the family."
"My lord," said a witness, "you may believe me or not, but I have stated not a word that is false, for I have been wedded to truth from infancy."
"Yes, sir," replied the Judge drily, "but the question is, how long have you been a widower."
"I can't stand the missus, sir," said a servant in a complaining voice to her master.
"It's a pity, Mary," said the master sarcastically, "that I couldn't have selected a wife to suit you."
"Sure, sir," replied Mary, "we all make mistakes."
A visitor at a Devonshire fishing village asked the parson what was the principal diet of the villagers. "Fish mostly," said the Vicar. "But I thought fish was a brain food, and these are the most unintelligent folk I ever saw," remarked the tourist. "Well," replied the parson, "just think what they would look like if they didn't eat fish!"
A gentleman lately dismissed a clever but dishonest gardener. For the sake of his wife and family he gave him a character, and this is how he worded it: "I hereby certify that A. Brown has been my gardener for over two years, and that during that time he got more out of my garden than any man I ever employed."
The wife of a small farmer in Perthshire went to a chemist with two prescriptions--one for her husband, and the other for her cow. Finding she had not money to pay for both, the chemist asked her which she would take. "Gie me that for the coo," said the wife; "if my man were to dee, I could sune get another; but I am not sae sure if I would sune get another coo."
It was baking day and mother was very busy with other duties also. "May," she cried, "see if the cake is done. Put a knife in it and if it comes out clean you'll know that it is finished." "Yes," added father, "and if it comes out clean stick the others in too."
"You have saved my life," said the old man whom the young hero had just pulled out of the river. "As a reward you may marry my daughter there." The hero glanced at the daughter, then grasped the old man. "What are you doing?" asked the perplexed father. "Going to drop you in again," he replied.
A merchant 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."
"Do you suffer from cold feet?" the doctor asked the young wife.
"Yes," she replied.
He promised to send her some medicine to take.
"Oh," she said nervously. "They're--not--not mine."
A master of a ship called out, "Who is below?" A boy answered, "Will, sir." "What are you doing?" "Nothing, sir." "Is Tom there?" "Yes," said Tom. "What are you doing?" "Helping Will, sir."
Freddy: "Papa, may I study elocution?"
Proud Father: "Indeed you may, my boy, if you wish. You desire to become a great orator, do you?"
"Yes, that's it."
"And some day perhaps have your voice ringing in the vaulted chamber of the first legislative assembly in the world?"
"I shouldn't care for that. I want to be an after-dinner speaker."
"Ah, you are ambitious for social distinction, then?"
"No--I want the dinners."
An itinerant "old-clo" woman on reaching a village in an irritated condition proceeded to the general shop with a request for a certain useful powder. The shopkeeper expressed his ability to supply her need either in packet form or loose. "Don't you worry about no packet, young man," she said. "Jest pour it down here," indicating her open collar.
An editor being asked at dinner if he would take some pudding, replied, in a fit of abstraction, "Owing to a crowd of other matter, we are unable to find room for it."
A class of boys were undergoing an examination in Scripture. The subject was the Good Samaritan. "And why do you consider the Pharisee, after looking at him, passed by on the other side?" "Because he saw he had been robbed already," was the answer given.
A well-known judge was so afraid of draughts that the air of his courts was always of a very high temperature. One of his colleagues once explained this habit by saying that he was preparing the bar for a future state.
A beggar in Dublin had been a long time besieging an old gouty, testy, limping gentleman, who refused his mite with much irritability; on which the mendicant said, "Ah, plase your honour's honour, I wish your heart were as tender as your toes."
Little May was going to tea, and her mother was giving her some words of advice. "There will be a Bishop, dear; remember always to address him as My Lord when you speak."
During the afternoon the Bishop approached May, and, patting her on the head, said, "Well, little girl, how old are you?"
The Bishop's surprise was great when she replied, "My God, I'm eight."
One of the best known of Hook's puns was uttered to a visitor to his house at Fulham. The visitor, looking at Putney Bridge, said that he had heard that it was a good investment, and turning to his host asked if that was really so. "I really don't know," was the answer, "but you have only to cross it and you will certainly be tolled."
A Welsh parson, in his sermon, told his congregation how kind and respectful we ought to be towards each other, and added, that in this respect we were greatly inferior to animals. To prove this, he mentioned as an example the circumstance of two goats, which met one another upon a narrow plank across a river, so that they could not pass by without one thrusting the other off, "Now, how do you think they did? Why, I'll tell you. One lay down, and let the other leap over him. Ah, my beloved, let us live like goats."
Assistant: "Do the shoes fit, madam?"
Madam: "Oh, yes, they fit me perfectly; but they hurt me terribly when I try to walk."
An odd instance of the force of technical training is afforded by a story of one of the official attendants at a funeral. Having been charged with a message from a relative of the departed to another guest, he came across the room, and translating it into his own language, said, "If you please, sir, the corpse's brother would be happy to take wine with you."
The fervent temperance orator stopped in the midst of his speech, and said, impressively: "I wish all the pubs were at the bottom of the sea." Voice in crowd, "Hear, hear!" "Ah, there speaks a noble teetotaller!" "Not at all, I'm a diver."
An Irishman, who was to undergo trial for theft, was being comforted by his priest. "Keep up your heart, Dennis, my boy. Take my word for it, you'll get justice." "Troth, yer riverence," replied Dennis in an undertone, "and that's just what I am afraid of."
"What does God have for His dinner, mother?" asked Willy.
"Sh-h. You must not ask such questions. God does not need any dinner."
"Then I suppose he has an egg for his tea."
Speaking of the different languages of Europe, a professor thus described them: "The French is the best language to speak to one's friend; the Italian to one's mistress; the English to the people; the Spanish to God, and the German to a horse."
Debt Collector: "Is your master at home?"
Servant (curtly): "No, he isn't."
Debt Collector (suspiciously): "But I can see his hat hanging up in the hall."
Servant: "Well, what's that got to do with it? One of my dresses is hanging on the line in the back garden, but I'm not there!"
One day a celebrated advocate was arguing before a very stupid and very rude Scotch judge who, to express his contempt of what he was saying, pointed with one forefinger to one of his ears, and with the other to the opposite one.
"You see this, Mr. ----?"
"I do, my lord," said the advocate.
"Well, it just goes in here and comes out there!" and his lordship smiled with the hilarity of a judge who thinks he has actually said a good thing.
"I do not doubt it, my lord. What is there to prevent it?"
An old inhabitant of Kilmarnock had taken more whiskey than was good for him. On his way home, feeling very tired, he lay down in the churchyard for a rest, with his head against a tombstone. He was suddenly aroused from his sleep by the blast of a trumpet. He woke in a fright, thinking the end of the world had come, but when he found himself alone, exclaimed, "Well, this is a poor show for Kilmarnock."
A waggish curate overheard the schoolmaster giving lessons in grammar. "You cannot place a, the singular article," said the preceptor, "before plural nouns. No one can say a pigs, a women, a----" "Nonsense," cried the curate, "the prayerbook teaches us to say a-men."
A juryman asked to be excused as he was deaf in one ear. "I don't think that matters," said the judge; "let him be sworn, we only hear one side of a case at a time."
"Bridget, I don't think it looks well for you to entertain company in the kitchen the way you do," said the young mistress.
"Thanks, mum," replied the cook; "but I wouldn't like t' take him int' th' parlour--he spits t'baccy."
Mistress: "Mary, don't let me catch you kissing the grocer's boy again."
Mary: "Lor', mum, I don't mean to, but you do bob around so."
A new sentry was on guard outside the residence of a general; a small green was in front of the house and the strict orders were that no one was to cross it, human or otherwise, save the General's cow. An old lady coming to visit, bent her steps across the lawn as a short cut, but was called on by the sentry asking her to return. She was not unnaturally somewhat put out and said, with a stately air, "But do you know who I am?" "I don't know who you be, ma'am," replied the immovable sentry, "but I knows you b'aint--you b'aint the General's cow!"
A youth asked permission of his mother to go to a ball. She told him it was a bad place for little boys. "Why, mother, didn't you and father use to go to balls when you were young?" "Yes, but we have seen the folly of it," said the mother. "Well, mother," exclaimed the son, "I want to see the folly of it too!"
An East-India Governor having died abroad his body was put in spirit, to preserve it for internment in England. A sailor on board the ship being frequently drunk, the captain forbade the purser, and indeed all in the ship, to let him have any liquor. Shortly after the fellow appeared very drunk. How he obtained the liquor, no one could guess. The captain resolved to find out, promising to forgive him if he would tell from whom he got the liquor. After some hesitation, he hiccupped out, "Why, please your honour, I tapped the Governor."
Two recruits were discussing the Great War and the possible date of their being sent to the front. Said one to the other, "I wouldn't mind getting killed, Charlie, if it wasn't so d----d permanent."
A drunken man was found by the roadside in the suburbs of Dublin, lying on his face, apparently in a state of physical unconsciousness. "He is dead," said a countryman of his, who was looking at him. "Dead!" replied another, who had perceived him to be merely intoxicated; "by the powers, I wish I had just half his disease!"
An honest rustic went into the shop of a Quaker to buy a hat, for which fifteen shillings were demanded. He offered twelve shillings. "As I live," said the Quaker, "I cannot afford to give it thee at that price." "As you live!" exclaimed the countryman, "then live more moderately, and be hanged to you." "Friend," said the Quaker, "thou shalt have the hat for nothing. I have sold hats for twenty years, and my 'As I live' trick has never been found out till now."
A Chinaman was much worried by a vicious-looking dog which barked at him in an angry manner. "Don't be afraid of him," said a friend. "You know the old proverb: 'A barking dog never bites.'"
"Yes," said the Chinaman, "you know proverb, I know proverb, but does d--n dog know proverb?"
It was just before the opening of the Academy and Swiper was growling as usual.
"I wish I had a fortune," he said, "I'd never paint again."
"By Jove, old man," replied his visitor, "I wish I had one. I'd give it to you!"
At one of the meetings of a literary club a dish of peas was brought in, become almost grey with age. "You ought to carry these peas to Kensington," said one of the party. "Why?" asked another. "Because it's the way to Turn 'em Green."
Goldsmith hearing this is delighted and made a note of the joke. The next evening, dining out, he was pleased to find a dish of yellow peas on the table. "These ought to be sent to Kensington," he said. "Why?" he was asked. "Because that's the way to make them green," he replied.
A farmer once took his son into an Assize Court. The lad gaped with open mouth at the resplendent figure of the judge, arrayed in scarlet and ermine. Suddenly the judge made a sign to the usher, and the lad exclaimed, "Why, father, it's alive. I thought he were a waxwork."
Mike: "I did an extraordinary thing to-day. I had the last word with a woman."
Ike: "That so? How'd it occur?"
Mike: "Coming home on the car I said, 'Won't you have my seat, madam?'"
A foreign lord, who resided for a time in England, had his own way of dealing with the question of tips. When his friends, who had dined with him, were going away, he always attended them to the door; and if they offered any money to the servant who opened it (for he never suffered but one servant to appear), he always prevented them, saying, in his manner of speaking English, "If you do give it, give it to me, for it was I that did buy the dinner."
At a temperance lecture the speaker told of a Dutchman and his companion who went into Delmonico's in New York to get a lunch. They were surprised at being charged nine dollars! The Dutchman began to swear. "Don't you swear," said the other, "God has already punished Delmonico. I have got my pocket full of his spoons."
An Irish farmer was asked by his landlord if the report of his intended second marriage was true, and replied--"It is, yer honner." "But your first wife has only been dead a week, Pat," said the landlord. "An' shure," retorted Pat, "she's as dead now as she ever will be, yer honner."
A cleric, whose name was Mountain, being a candidate for a vacant see in the gift of the Lord Chancellor, waited upon his lordship to present his application. Said the Chancellor, "What influence do you possess?" "None," said the candidate, "except faith. You will remember, my lord, that, if thou have faith, and shall say to this mountain, Be thou cast into the sea, verily it shall be done." Said the Chancellor, "Brother Mountain, go into that see."
"Mother," said little Eva on the way from church, "babies aren't so good as they used to be, are they?" "Whatever makes you think that?" replied her mother. "Well, little Willie can't talk yet, and he's nearly two, but Job could talk when he was a baby." "Where does it tell you that, dear?" asked mother. "Don't you remember the lesson this morning, mother? It said that Job cursed the day he was born!"
A woman having fallen into a river, her husband went to look for her, proceeding up the stream from the place where she fell in. The bystanders asked him if he was mad--she could not have gone against the stream. The man answered, "She was obstinate and contrary in her life, and no doubt she was the same at her death."
Lazarus Goldstein the auctioneer, being somewhat run down, was ordered on a sea voyage by his doctor. After several days on board during which period nothing had occurred to break the monotony of this to him overpeaceful existence, he was suddenly aroused from his afternoon siesta by the cry "A sail, a sail." His eyes brightened and calling his wife, he said, "Sarah, where is dot catalogue?"
An under officer of the Customs at the port of Liverpool, running heedlessly along the ship's gunnel, happened to slip overboard, and was drowned. The body soon being recovered, the coroner's jury was summoned. One of the jurymen returning home, was asked what verdict they brought in, and whether they found it "felo-de-se"? "Ay, ay!" says the juryman, shaking his noddle. "He fell into the sea, sure enough."
A Quaker gentleman, riding in a carriage with a fashionable lady decked with a profusion of jewellery, heard her complain of the cold. Shivering in her lace bonnet and shawl, as light as a cobweb, she exclaimed, "What shall I do to get warm?" "I really don't know," replied the Quaker solemnly, "unless thee should put on another breast-pin."
An eminent Scottish divine met two of his own parishioners at the house of a lawyer, whom he considered too sharp a practitioner. The lawyer ungraciously put the question, "Doctor, these are members of your flock; may I ask, do you look upon them as white sheep or as black sheep?" "I don't know," answered the divine drily, "whether they are black or white sheep; but I know, if they are long here, they are pretty sure to be fleeced."
A lady at a dinner-party was sitting next to a musician, and, thinking she ought to say something about music, turned to her neighbour and said: "Has Bach been composing much of late?" "No, madam, but I hear he has been decomposing for some time!"
A parson in the country, taking his text from St. Matthew, chap. viii. 14, "And Peter's wife's mother lay sick of a fever," preached for three Sundays together on the same subject. Soon after, two country fellows going across the churchyard and hearing the bell toll, one asked the other, who it was for. "Perhaps," replied he, "it is for Peter's wife's mother, for she has been sick of a fever these three weeks."
An old gentleman went out to tea, and being somewhat deaf was unable to join in the general conversation. A kind-hearted lady wishing to make him feel at home, said: "Do you like bananas?" To which he replied, "No; I prefer the old-fashioned nightshirt."
Towards the close of a meeting at Exeter Hall at which Bishop Wilberforce had made an eloquent speech the audience began to go away. A gentleman whose name was on the programme said to the Bishop, "I need not speak; I hardly think they expect me." "To be sure they do," said Wilberforce; "don't you see they are all going."
On seeing a large picture by Watts from Theodore and Honoria a friend once asked Lord Houghton what it represented. "Oh!" he replied, "you have heard of Watts's Hymns. These are Watts's Hers!"
At an evening party a new game was suggested. The guests were each to make the most hideous grimaces that they could and the prize was to go to the ugliest effort.
After long scrutiny the judge awarded the prize to a lady seated away from the others. "I'm not playing," she replied indignantly.
A story told of William the Fourth, if genuine, shows that king possessed on occasion of a ready tact which is so happy as to be wit. The story runs that when dining with several officers he ordered a waiter to "take away that marine," pointing to an empty bottle. "Your Majesty!" exclaimed one of the officers, "do you compare an empty bottle to a member of our branch of the service?" "Yes," answered the king. "I mean to say that it has done its duty once and is ready to do it again."
John's wife complains, that John discoursesAnd thinks of nothing else but horses.Whilst John, a caustic wag,Says it's wonderful to seeHow thoroughly their tastes agree,--For, that his wife, as well as he,Most dearly loves a nag.
It was a dark wintry night, when a belated traveller, in a lonely country district, found himself entirely lost as to his locality.
He wandered aimlessly for some time, till at last he found himself against what he considered a signpost.
All efforts to find out any name on the same failing, he climbed the post and read the words, "Wet paint."
Sheridan had taken a new house and meeting Lord Guildford, he mentioned his change of residence, and also a change in his own habits. "My lord, everything is carried on in my new house with the greatest regularity--everything in short goes like clockwork." "Ah!" replied Lord Guildford meaningly, "tick, tick, tick, I suppose."
An Irishman charged with an assault, was asked by the judge whether he was guilty or not. "How can I tell," was the reply, "till I have heard the evidence?"
A bailiff who had tried numerous expedients in vain to arrest a Quaker, resolved to adopt the habit and manner of one, in hope of catching the primitive Christian. In this disguise, he knocked at the Quaker's door and inquired if he was at home. The housekeeper replied, "Yes." "Can I see him?" "Walk in, friend," she said, "and he shall see thee." The bailiff, confident of success, walked in, and after waiting nearly an hour, rung a bell, and on the housekeeper appearing, said, "Thou promised me I should see friend Aminadab." "No, friend," answered the housekeeper, "I promised he should see thee. He hath seen thee, but he doth not like thee."
A small boy walking across a common with his mother espied a bunny. "Look, mother, there goes a rabbit!" "Nonsense, my boy, it must have been imagination." "Mother, is imagination white behind?"
"Call that a kind man," said an actor, speaking of an absent acquaintance; "a man who is away from his family, and never sends them a farthing! Call that kindness!" "Yes, unremitting kindness," Jerrold replied.
A well-known judge was credited with being parsimonious. A friend once asked him, "What are you going to do with your money? You cannot take it with you, and if you could it would melt!"
The celebrated Bubb Doddington was very lethargic. Falling asleep one day after dinner with Sir Richard Temple and Lord Cobham, the general, the latter reproached Doddington with his drowsiness. Doddington denied having been asleep; and to prove that he had not offered to repeat all Lord Cobham had been saying. Cobham challenged him to do so. Doddington repeated a story and Lord Cobham owned he had been telling it. "And yet," said Doddington, "I did not hear a word of it but I went to sleep because I knew that about this time you would tell that story."
Curran and Father O'Leary were dining with Michael Kelly when the barrister said: "Reverend Father, I wish you were St. Peter." "And why, Counsellor, would you wish I were St. Peter?" asked O'Leary. "Because, Reverend Father, in that case you would have the keys of heaven, and could let me in." "By my honour and conscience, Counsellor," answered O'Leary, "it would be better for you if I had the keys of the other place, for then I could let you out."
The serving-maid was awkward and the joint fell on the floor. The young mistress was naturally upset and cried, "Now we've lost our dinner."
"Indeed you haven't," said Jane, "I've got my foot on it."
A recruiting sergeant addressing an honest country bumpkin with--"Come, my lad, thou'lt fight for thy King, won't thou?" "Voight for my King," answered Hodge, "why, has he fawn out wi' onybody?"
IRELAND FOR EVER
An Irishman homeward bound from America frequently expressed his delight by shouting, "Hurrah for Ireland!" "Hurrah for Ireland!" to the intense amusement of most of the passengers. One irascible old fellow, however, barely concealed his irritation at Pat's outbursts, and at last, exasperated beyond endurance, retorted, "Hurrah for Hell!" "That's right," said Pat. "Every man for his own country."
Thackeray was fond of telling the story of two men relating their adventures. One of them had told his companion something as having happened to him which was extremely improbable; the other capped it by a statement still more outrageous. "What a liar you must be, Jack," said his friend, to which he replied, "Well, we are telling lies, aren't we?"
The diner-out had waited a quarter of an hour for his soup. Calling the waiter he asked, "Have you ever been to the Zoo?"
"No, sir," was the reply.
"Well, you ought to go. You'd enjoy watching the tortoises whiz past."
AN UNKNOWN TONGUE
During the long French war, two old ladies in Stranraer were going to the kirk, the one said to the other, "Was it no' a wonderfu' thing that the Breetish were aye victorious ower the French in battle?" "Not a bit," said the other old lady, "dinna ye ken the Breetish aye say their prayers before ga'in into battle?" The other replied, "But canna the French say their prayers as weel?" The reply was most characteristic, "Hoot! jabbering bodies, wha could understan' them."
"Did you present your account to the defendant?" inquired a lawyer of his client. "I did, your Honour." "And what did he say?" "He told me to go to the devil." "And what did you say then?" "Why, then I came to you."
A lady who gave herself great airs of importance, on being introduced to a gentleman for the first time, said, with much cool indifference, "I think, sir, I have seen you somewhere." "Very likely," replied the gentleman, "you may, ma'am, as I have often been there."
An Englishman and a Scotsman were on a walking tour in the Highlands when they came to a signpost which said, "Five miles to Stronachlachar." Underneath this was written, "If you cannot read inquire at the baker's." The Englishman laughed heartily when he read it, but refused to tell the Scotsman the joke. That night the Englishman was surprised at being woke up by his companion, who seemed much amused at something. Asking the reason, the Scotsman replied, "Och, mon, I hae just seen the joke--the baker might not be in."
Shortly after the commencement of the Peninsular War, a tax was laid on candles, which, as a political economist would prove, made them dearer. A Scotch wife in Greenock remarked to her chandler, Paddy Macbeth, that the price was raised, and asked why? "It's a' awin' to the war," said Paddy. "The war!" said the astonished matron. "Gracious me! are they gaun to fecht by candlelicht?"
A woman gave her little child a cloth to warm while she was otherwise busied. The child held it to the fire, but so near that it changed colour presently, and began to look like tinder; upon which the child called to its mother, "Mamma, is it done enough when it looks brown?"
A certain rich laird in Fife, whose weekly contribution to the church collection never exceeded one penny, one day, by mistake, dropped into the plate at the door a five-shilling piece; but discovering his error before he was seated in his pew, hurried back, and was about to replace the coin by his customary penny, when the elder in attendance cried out, "Stop, laird, ye may put in what ye like, but ye maun take naething out!" The laird, finding his explanations went for nothing, at last said, "A weel, I suppose I'll get credit for it in heaven." "Na, na, laird," said the elder, "ye'll only get credit for the penny."
The carter was going out with a lantern one evening, when he met the farmer who employed him; he was asked where he was going. "Courting," was the reply. The farmer replied, "You don't want a lantern to go courting with. When I went courting I never took a lantern." "I can quite believe you," said the man, "when I look at your missus!"
An old gentleman was observed earnestly looking on the sands, evidently for some object he had lost.
An inquisitive onlooker asked, "Have you lost something?" "Yes," was the reply.
Not quite satisfied, the inquisitive one said, "Is it anything important?" "Yes," again came the answer, "I have lost my toffee." "But, surely, the toffee would be useless if you found it, as it would be full of sand." "But my teeth are in it," was the prompt reply.
In a dark room in an Irish cabin Biddy was searching for the whisky bottle, when her husband enquired, "What is't yer lookin' for?" "Nuthin', Pat," answered Biddy. "Sure," replied the husband, "you'll find it in the bottle where the whisky was."
The elementary class was being instructed in chemistry, and the master, after several lessons, asked: "What is water?" One very young but bright pupil promptly replied: "A colourless fluid that turns black when you wash your hands."
Two Irish porters meeting at Dublin, one addressed the other with, "Och, Thady my jewel, is it you? Are you just come from England? Pray did you see anything of our old friend Pat Murphy?" "The devil a sight," he replied, "and what's worse I'm afraid I never shall." "How so?" "Why he met with a very unfortunate accident lately." "Amazing! What was it?" "Oh, indeed nothing more than this; he was standing on a plank talking devoutly to a priest, at a place in London which I think they call Brixton, when the plank suddenly gave way, and poor Murphy got his neck broke."
Mackintosh was once taking Parr for a drive when the horse became restive and the scholar became nervous. "Gently, Jemmy," said Parr, "don't irritate him; always soothe your horse, Jemmy. You'll do better without me. Let me down, Jemmy." The horse was stopped enough for the purpose, and no sooner had Parr safely descended than his advice changed. "Now, Jemmy, touch him up. Never let a horse get the better of you. Touch him up, conquer him, don't spare him. And now I'll leave you to manage him--I'll walk home."
A boy of only nine years old was asked many questions by a bishop, and gave very prompt answers to them all. At length the prelate said, "I will give you an orange if you will tell me where God is." "My Lord," replied the boy, "I will give you two if you will tell me where He is not."
There was a certain Bishop of Amiens who was a saint and yet had a good deal of wit. A lady went to consult him whether she might wear rouge; she had been with several directeurs, but some were so severe, and some so relaxed, that she could not satisfy her conscience, and therefore was come to Monseigneur to decide for her, and would rest by his sentence. "I see, Madam," said the good prelate, "what the case is: some of your casuists forbid rouge totally; others will permit you to wear as much as you please. Now, for my part, I love a medium in all things, and therefore I permit you to wear rouge on one cheek only."
Father Healy was talking to a friend in the street when a youth came up begging alms; having received a penny he scampered off, revealing in his retreat a very tattered apparel. "That is a nice cut of an Irish landlord," said the priest. "How so?" asked the friend, "Because he has rents in a rear."
"Well, Master Jackson," said the minister, walking homeward after service with an industrious labourer, who was a constant attendant, "well, Master Jackson, Sunday must be a blessed day of rest for you who work so hard all the week. And you make a good use of the day, for you are always to be seen at church." "Ah, sir," replied Jackson, "it is indeed a blessed day; I works hard enough all the week, and then I comes to church o' Sundays, and sets me down, and lays my legs up, and thinks o' nothing!"
It was examination day at one of the R.A.M.C. headquarters.
"And if a man suffering from trench feet were brought to you, how would you treat him?" asked the examiner.
The recruit, a Londoner with a good knowledge of the licensing laws, quickly answered: "You won't catch me that way, sir. We should both pay for our own."
"What are you studying now?" asked Mrs. Johnson.
"We have taken up the subject of molecules," answered her son.
"I hope you will be very attentive and practise constantly," said the mother. "I tried to get your father to wear one, but he could not keep it in his eye."
Professor Johnson, the antiquary, returning meditatively from a learned discourse, came upon the recumbent body of a man in front of a house. Being a Samaritan he proffered his services, and discovered that the man lived on the first floor. Thither he piloted him and opening a door pushed him gently in. Reaching again the ground floor another human being confronted him and he also needed help to the first floor. But when our Professor found yet another fellow-creature in distress his curiosity was aroused and he said:
"It is strange that there should be three men needing help to the first floor of the same house."
"Not so strange, mister," replied the prone figure, "seeing as 'ow you've dropped me down the lift 'ole twice."
A pretty girl was complaining to a young Quaker that she was dreadfully troubled by chaps on her lips. "Friend Mary!" replied the Quaker, "thou shouldst not permit the chaps to come so near the lips."
A farmer became the father of twins and on learning the news he was so delighted that he hurried to the nearest post-office and sent this telegram to his sister-in-law.
"Twins to-day. More to-morrow."
The Daylight Saving Bill has its detractors as well as its advocates. Of the former it is said that milkmen are the chief, but as Jones said to William: "It's but natural. A milkman would pour cold water on anything."
A doctor of eminence was called up on the telephone by an anxious lady. "Are you a baby specialist?" he was asked.
"No," was the reply, "I'm a full-grown man."
A boy in an office was dissatisfied with his prospects and gave notice. "You are making a mistake," said his employer, "you will do better to remain here. Remember, a rolling stone gathers no moss."
"Who wants moss?" replied the youth. "Where's the market for it, I should like to know?"
An old gentleman engaged a footman, and having instructed him in his duties asked him if he understood sequences.
"I don't know, sir," replied the man; "will you please explain?"
"Why," he said, "when I ask you to lay the cloth, you are to put the knives, forks, salt, etc., on the table."
"Oh, sir," replied the footman, "if that's all, no doubt I shall please you."
His master, being ill one morning, ordered him to fetch a nurse with all speed. He did not return until late at night, and on being reproached explained the delay by telling that he went and found the nurse who was below; the sequences of a nurse, he thought, were a chemist, a doctor, a surgeon, and an undertaker; and he had asked them all to attend--in fact they were now waiting below.
A lawyer travelling by the Great Western to his circuit, wished to be alone in order to study a brief, and having for his single companion a mild clergyman, he got rid of him by affecting insanity. This he did so naturally that all the clergyman's efforts, after the first quarter of an hour, were directed to soothe and conciliate his fellow-passenger. As they passed the great Middlesex Asylum, he observed, like a nurse with a fractious child, "How pretty Hanwell looks from the railway." "Ah," answered the lawyer, with a slight bark, "you should see how the railway looks from Hanwell." At the next station the divine got out precipitately, and left the lawyer to himself.
Willie had reached the tender and somewhat difficult age of six when his uncle Edward came on a visit. His first conversation proved rather trying.
"Uncle, you must be a sort o' cannibal.
"A what, sir? What d'yer mean, sir?" returned the uncle.
"'Cause mamma said you was always livin' on somebody!"
When it was suggested that the squire's son should enter Parliament he was asked which side he would take. The young man replied that he would vote with those who had the most to offer him, and that he should wear on his forehead a label "To Let." "Do, Tom," commented his father, "and write underneath those words 'unfurnished.'"
A clergyman who was an enthusiastic geologist always carried his specimens about in a handkerchief such as navvies use to carry their dinners in. One day, as he was returning home with the handkerchief full of specimens, he saw a navvy seated at the top of a well swearing vigorously because he could not make the windlass work.
"My friend," said the clergyman gravely, "do you know Satan?"
"Satan," said the man; "who's he? Wait a moment, sir," he added, "I'll ask my mate. Bill," he called, "do you know Satan?"
The answer came from down the well: "No. Why?"
"Well," said the one at the top, eyeing the handkerchief, "there's a bloke up here wot's got his dinner!"
A little girl received a present of a Teddy Bear. Unfortunately one of its eyes was injured in the post. Asked what name she had given it, the child said, "I call it Gladly, because I read in a book the other day, 'Gladly my cross I'd bear.'"
"Ah!" said a conceited young parson, "I have this afternoon been preaching to a congregation of asses." "Was that the reason why you always called them beloved brethren?" a lady inquired.
On his removal to Bath after his retirement, Quin, the actor, found himself extravagantly charged for everything, and at the end of the week complained of this to Beau Nash, saying that he had invited him to Bath as being the cheapest place in England for a man of taste and a bon vivant. Nash, himself no mean utterer of wit, replied saying that his townsmen had acted upon truly Christian principles. "How so?" demanded Quin. "Why!" concluded the Beau, "you were a stranger and they took you in."
The little boy was discovered in front of the rabbit-hutch with a perplexed frown on his forehead. "What's twice two?" he shouted. No response. "What's twice two?" he repeated. "There, I knew teacher was wrong when he said rabbits multiply quickly."
A clergyman during his first curacy found the ladies of the parish too helpful. He soon left the place. Some while later he met his successor. "How are you getting on with the ladies?" asked the escaped curate. "Oh, very well," was the answer, "there's safety in numbers." "I found it in Exodus," was the reply.
"Bridget," said the mistress in a reproving tone of voice, "breakfast is very late this morning. I noticed last night that you had company in the kitchen, and it was nearly twelve o'clock when you went to bed."
"It was, ma'am," admitted Bridget. "I knew you was awake, for I heard ye movin' about; an' I said to meself ye'd need sleep this mornin', an' I wouldn't disturb ye wid an early breakfast, ma'am."
Two "nuts" were passing a field where a labourer was sowing. "Well, old man," said one of them to him, "it's your business to sow, but we reap the fruits of your labour." To which the countryman replied, "'Tis very likely you may, truly; for I am sowing hemp."
"George," said the farmer half-way through the first banquet in which his son took part, "be careful of the drink. When you see those two lights at the end of the room appear to be four, you may be sure you have had enough, and stop." "But, father," replied the interested son, "I see only one light at present."
Bishop Creighton used to tell a story of the ready wit of Magee, his predecessor in the see of Peterborough. Magee had been staying at some country place, and on his leaving, the innkeeper had presented an extortionate bill, at the same time expressing the hope that his visitor had had change and rest. "No, indeed," was Magee's reply, "the waiter has got the change and you have got the rest."
A young recruit was somewhat perturbed regarding a regulation about which his comrades had told him. "If you please, sergeant," he said, "the other fellows say I've got to grow a moustache." "Oh, there's no compulsion about growing a moustache, my lad; but you mustn't shave your upper lip," was the reply.
A traveller, lost on a Yorkshire moor, met a member of a shrewd and plain-speaking sect. "This is the way to York, is it not?" said the traveller. To which the other replied, "Friend, first thou tellest me a lie, and then thou askest me a question."
A gentleman, having a light sovereign which he could not pass, gave it to his Irish servant, and asked him to pass it. At night he asked him if he had got rid of the coin. "Yes, sir," replied the man, "but I was forced to be very sly; the people refused it at breakfast and at dinner; so, at a cinema where the admission was threepence, I whipped it in between two halfpence, and the man put it in his pocket and never saw it."
"Children," said the Sunday school superintendent, "this picture illustrates to-day's lesson: Lot was warned to take his wife and daughters and flee out of Sodom. Here is Lot and his daughters, with his wife just behind them; and there is Sodom in the background. Now has any girl or boy a question before we take up the study of the lesson? Well, Susie?"
"Pleathe, thir," lisped the latest graduate from the infant class, "where ith the flea?"
Dr. Parr was very fond of whist and very impatient of any want of skill on the part of those with whom he was playing. Taking a hand with three poor players he was asked by a friend how he was getting on, and replied with cutting sarcasm, "Pretty well, considering that I have three adversaries."
An American doctor being called upon to prescribe for a child, whose ailment was not clear to him, said to the nurse, "I'll give the little cuss a powder, then it'll have a fit, and I'm a dab at fits."
A clergyman had preached on the subject of Jacob's ladder, and his son, who was present, was much impressed. A few days later he told his father that he had dreamed about his father's discourse. "And what did you see, my son?" "I dreamt," replied the boy, "that I saw a ladder reaching from the ground up into the clouds. At the foot of the ladder were many pieces of chalk and no one was allowed to ascend without taking a piece for the purpose of placing a mark on each rung for each sin committed." "Very interesting, my boy, and what else?" "Well, father, I thought I would go up and I marked the rungs as I went, but I hadn't got very far when I heard someone coming down." "Yes," said the father, "and who was that?" "You, father," replied the boy. "I, whatever was I coming down for?" "More chalk," was the reply.
A photographer went with a friend to an exhibition of paintings. The latter called his attention to a portrait of an angular lady in evening dress. "Ha," he exclaimed in professional tones, "over-exposed and underdeveloped."
"If a bloater and a half cost three ha'pence, what would thirteen cost?" Tommy did not know and was sent into an adjoining classroom to work out the problem. The boy was very quiet, and on looking to see what he was doing the master discovered him before a blackboard covered with figures. "How are you getting on, Tommy?" he asked. "What was the question, sir?" he replied. "If a bloater and a half----" "Oh, bloaters--I've been working it out in kippers!"
During a cross-examination an undertaker produced his business card, on which was a telegraphic address. He was asked why the latter should be necessary.
"Oh," interposed the judge, "I suppose it is for the convenience of people who want to be buried in a hurry."
A clergyman met a parishioner of dissolute habits. "I was surprised but very glad to see you at the prayer meeting last evening," he said. "So that's where I was!" replied the man.
An old negro was taken ill, and called in a physician of his own race. After a time, as there were no signs of improvement, he asked for a white doctor. Soon after arriving, the doctor felt the old man's pulse, and then examined his tongue. "Did your other doctor take your temperature?" he asked. "I don't know, boss," replied the ailing negro, "I hain't missed nothing but my watch as yet."
When Whitfield first went to America, observing, during his voyage, the dissolute manners of the crew, he invited them to one of his pious declamations, and took occasion to reprehend them for their loose manner of living. "You will certainly," says he, "go to hell. Perhaps you may think I will be an advocate for you; but, believe me, I will tell of all your wicked actions." Upon this one of the sailors, turning to his messmate, observed, "Ay, Jack, that's just the way at the Old Bailey; the greatest rogue always turns king's evidence."
"Grandma, shall I have a face like you when I get old?" asked the enfant terrible.
"Yes, my dear, if you're good."
A student, showing the Museum at Oxford to a party, produced, among many other curiosities, a rusty sword. "This," said he, "is a sword with which Balaam was going to kill his ass." One of the company observed that he thought Balaam had no sword, but only wished for one. "You are right," replied the student, "and this is the very sword he wished for."
The local Council had decided that in consequence of untiring and devoted service they would grant an honorarium to one of their staff.
One of the oldest and most energetic members rose to speak in favour of the presentation, but expressed his opinion that the Council certainly ought to ascertain first whether the young man could play the instrument.
A well-known cleric came to a stile occupied by a farm lad, who was eating his bread and bacon luncheon. The boy making no attempt to allow his reverence to pass, was told that he seemed to be "better fed than taught." "Very likely," answered the lad, "for ye teaches Oi, but Oi feeds meself."
A lady asked a very silly Scotch nobleman, how it happened that the Scots who came out of their own country were, generally speaking, men of more abilities than those who remained at home. "Oh, madam," said he, "the reason is obvious. At every outlet there are persons stationed to examine all who pass, that, for the honour of the country, no one be permitted to leave it who is not a man of understanding." "Then," said she, "I suppose your lordship was smuggled."
The teacher asked the arithmetic class: "What is the meaning of the word average?" A small boy replied: "It's a thing that hens lay eggs on." "Why?" "Because I've read that a hen lays an egg on an average once a day."
A gentleman was one day relating to a Quaker a tale of deep distress, and concluded very pathetically by saying, "I could not but feel for him." "Verily, friend," replied the Quaker, "thou didst right in that thou didst feel for thy neighbour; but didst thou feel in the right place--didst thou feel in thy pocket?"
A clergyman calling at Hawarden, while Mr. Gladstone still held the reins, Mrs. Gladstone entertained him, till her husband, who was upstairs writing, was disengaged. The minister lamented the terrible state of affairs in Ireland and elsewhere, but added consolingly, "There is One above us who will set all right." "Oh, yes," exclaimed Mrs. G., "he'll be down directly."
A member of a celebrated theatrical family made his first appearance on the operatic stage. His voice, however, was so bad that the conductor of the orchestra called out to him at rehearsal: "Mr. Kemble, Mr. Kemble, you are murdering the music." "My dear Sir," came the retort, "it is far better to murder it outright than to keep on beating it as you do."
To a country squire, who having been worsted in an argument with his rector, remarked, "If I had a son who was an idiot, by Jove! I'd make him a parson," Sydney Smith quietly replied, "I see that your father was of a different mind."
A man who had a large family, and but very moderate means to support them, was lamenting to an acquaintance of no family and a large fortune how difficult it was to make both ends meet. "We should not repine," replied his friend; "He that sends mouths, sends food." "That I do not deny," replied the other; "only permit me to observe, He has sent me the mouths, and you the food."
The Vicar, conducting a Sunday afternoon service, was trying to interest the children in the Burial Service.
He was dealing with the part which speaks of the changing of the earthly body: but found several of his audience busily engaged in conversation.
Determined to secure better attention if possible, he asked the following question, "And now, Mary Jones, who made your vile body?" To which came the ready answer, "Please, sir, mother did, and I made the skirt."
A gentleman having an estate in the Highlands advertised the shootings to let, and told his gamekeeper, Donald, to praise the place for all it was worth.
An Englishman, inquiring of Donald as to how it was stocked with game, first asked if it had any deer.
Donald's reply was, "Thoosands of them."
"Thoosands of them, too."
"Thoosands of them, too."
"Thoosands of them, too."
The Englishman, thinking Donald was drawing the long bow, asked if there were any gorillas. Donald drew himself up.
"Well, they are no' so plentifu'; they jist come occasionally, noo and again, like yoursel'."
It is related of a coachman that his medical adviser prescribed animal food as the best means of restoring health and activity. "Patrick," said he, "you're run down a bit, that's all. What you need is animal food." Remembering his case a few days afterwards, he called upon Pat at his stable. "Well, Pat," he asked, "how are you getting on with the treatment?" "Oh, shure, sir," Pat replied, "Oi manage all right with the grain and oats, but it's mighty hard with the chopped hay."
A doctor, being summoned to a vestry, in order to reprimand the sexton for drunkenness, dwelt so long on the sexton's misconduct that the latter was constrained to say: "Sir, I was in hopes you would have treated my failings with more gentleness, and that you would have been the last man alive to appear against me, as I have covered so many blunders of yours."
"I cannot conceive how Jonah could live in the stomach of a whale," someone said to Father Healy one day.
"Oh, that's nothing," was the reply, "I saw a friend coming out of a fly this morning."
At a religious meeting a lady persevered in standing on a bench, and thus intercepting the view of others, though repeatedly requested to sit down. A reverend old gentleman at last rose, and said gravely, "I think if the lady knew that she had a large hole in each of her stockings, she would not exhibit them in this way." This had the desired effect--she immediately sat down. A young minister standing by, blushed to the temples, and said, "O brother! how could you say what was not the fact." "Not the fact!" replied the old gentleman; "if she had not a large hole in each of her stockings, I should like to know how she gets them on."
"How is it, Mary, that whenever I enter the kitchen I always find a man there?" enquired a mistress.
"I don't know, ma'am, indeed, unless it be them there soft shoes ye wears, that don't make no noise," replied Mary.
An English gentleman, travelling through the county of Kilkenny, came to a ford, and hired a boat to take him across. The water being rather more agitated than was agreeable to him, he asked the boatman if any person was ever lost in the passage! "Never," replied Terence; "never. My brother was drowned here last week; but we found him again the next day."
"You are not opaque, are you?" sarcastically asked one man of another who was standing in front of him at the theatre. "Faith, an' Oi'm not," replied the other. "It's O'Brien that Oi am."
An old woman walking down the church aisle during service in a large red cloak, heard the minister say, "Lord, have mercy upon us!" then the clerk repeated, "Lord, have mercy upon us!" and then the whole congregation echoed, "Lord, have mercy upon us!" "Bless my heart!" cried she, stopping short, "did ye never see an old woman in a red cloak before."
"Pat, can you tell me what is an Irish 'bull'?" asked an inquiring tourist. "Well, if your honour has seen four cows lying down in a field, an' one of them standing up, that 'ud be a bull!" retorted Pat triumphantly.
"That's a pretty bird, grandma," said a little boy. "Yes, and he never cries," replied the old lady. "That's because he's never washed," rejoined the youngster.
"Now, Pat," said a magistrate sympathetically to an "old offender," "what brought you here again?" "Two policemen, sor," was the laconic reply. "Drunk, I suppose?" queried the magistrate. "Yes, sor," said Pat, without relaxing a muscle, "both av them."
"As you are well up in biblical points, will you tell us the difference between the cherubim and seraphim?" Father Healy was once asked.
"Well, I believe there was a difference between them a long time ago, but they have since made it up."
An amusing anecdote is told by Schopenhauer in support of his theory of the ridiculous. One man said to another, "I am very fond of taking long walks by myself." "So am I," said the other; "our tastes are congenial, so let us take long walks together."
A nursery-maid was leading a little child up and down a garden. "Is't a laddie or a lassie?" asked the gardener. "A laddie," said the maid. "Weel," said he, "I'm glad o' that, for there's ower mony women in the world." "Heck, mon," said Jess, "did ye no ken there's ay maist sown o' the best crop?"
A wealthy Irish-American was proud of the opportunity to do the honours and "show off" on the occasion of a visit to New York of one of his compatriots from the "Ould Counthry." To dazzle him he invited him to dine at one of the most notable and "toniest" of restaurants. "Now, me bhoy," he said, "just you follow my lead, and I'll order everything of the best." Seated at table, the host led off with--"Waiter, fetch a couple of cocktails." His friend gave himself away, however, when he whispered audibly--"Waiter, if ye don't moind, I'd rather have a wing."
A milliner's apprentice, about to wait upon a duchess, was fearful of committing some error in her deportment. She therefore consulted a friend as to the manner in which she should consult this great personage, and was told that, on going before the duchess, she must say her Grace, and so on. Accordingly, away went the girl, and, on being introduced, after a very low curtsey, she said: "For what I am going to receive, the Lord make me truly thankful." To which the duchess answered: "Amen!"
A dull preacher in a country church sent all the congregation to sleep, except an idiot, who sat with open mouth, listening. The parson became enraged, and, thumping the pulpit, exclaimed, "What! all asleep but this poor idiot!" "Aye," replied the lad, "and if I had not been a poor idiot, I should have been asleep too."
An Englishman and a Welshman were disputing in whose country was the best living. Said the Welshman, "There is such noble housekeeping in Wales, that I have known above a dozen cooks employed at one wedding dinner." "Ay," answered the Englishman, "that was because every man toasted his own cheese."
"I intend to pray that you may forgive Casey for having thrown that brick at you," said the parson, when he called to see a man who had been worsted in a mêlée. "Mebbe yer riv'rence 'ud be saving toime if ye'd just wait till Oi git well, an' then pray for Casey," replied the patient.
Sir William B----, speaking at a parish meeting, made some proposals which were objected to by a farmer. Highly enraged, "Sir," says he to the farmer, "do you know that I have been at the two Universities, and at two colleges in each University?" "Well, sir," said the farmer, "what of that? I had a calf that sucked two cows, and the more he sucked, the greater calf he grew."
When Sir Richard Steele was fitting up his great room in York Buildings, for public orations, he happened at that time to be behindhand in his payments to his workmen; and coming one day among them to see how they were working, he ordered one of them to get into the rostrum and make a speech, that he might observe how it could be heard. The fellow mounting and scratching his pate, told him he knew not what to say, for in truth he was no orator. "Oh!" said the knight, "no matter for that, speak any thing that comes uppermost." "Why here, Sir Richard," says the fellow, "we have been working for you these six months, and cannot get one penny of money. Pray, Sir, when do you intend to pay us?" "Very well, very well," said Sir Richard; "pray come down; I have heard enough; I cannot but own that you speak very distinctly, though I don't much admire your subject."
A little boy having been much praised for his quickness of reply, a gentleman present observed, that when children were keen in their youth, they were generally stupid and dull when they were advanced in years, and vice versa. "What a very sensible boy, sir, must you have been!" returned the child.
A lady and gentleman conversing together, the latter observed that he always slept in gloves, because it made his hands so soft. "Do you sleep in your hat, too?" the lady asked.
Residence in the parish is, of course, required of those who desire their banns to be proclaimed, and an expectant bride and bridegroom must qualify themselves by staying several nights in the parish where such banns are published.
"Do you sleep in the parish?" asked a rector of an intending benedict.
"Yes, sir, I have slept through several of your sermons," was the surprising answer.
An illiterate person, who always volunteered to "go round with the hat," but was suspected of sparing his own pocket, overhearing once a hint to that effect, replied, "Other gentlemen puts down what they thinks proper, and so do I. Charity's a private concern, and what I give is nothing to nobody."
The great Sheridan, giving his son Tom a lecture, said, "You have been fooling about as a bachelor quite long enough. You ought to settle down and take a wife." Tom innocently asked, "Whose wife shall I take?"
A Bishop, arriving at the end of a railway journey, the porter began collecting his luggage, and said: "How many articles are there, sir?" "Thirty-nine," replied the Bishop imperturbably. The porter hunted round, then said in despair: "There are only fourteen here, sir." "Ah," said the Bishop, smiling, "you are evidently a dissenter."
A good story of the late portly Duchess of Teck was told by Canon Teignmouth Shore. Her Royal Highness was seated at dinner between Shore and another canon when the former said that she must find herself in rather an alarming position:--
"Canon to right of you, Canon to left of you, Volleys and thunders."
"Well," replied the Duchess, "this is the very first time I have been connected with the Light Brigade."
"Why is it, Dennis, that you are always fighting with Willie Simpkins? I never hear of you quarrelling with any of the other boys in the neighbourhood." "He's the only one I can lick," answered Dennis.
The squire rides up to a farmhouse, and, seeing the small son of the farmer outside, asks the youngster where his father is, and gets the following reply: "Father is in yonder field with the pigs. You'll know him--he's got a 'at on!"
A Quaker bought from one Bacon a horse which proved to be unsound. Meeting the seller shortly after he taxed him with bad faith and asked him to take the horse back again. But this he refused to do, and finding his remonstrances in vain the Quaker addressed him thus very calmly, "Friend, thou hast doubtless heard of the devil entering the herd of swine, and I find that he still sticks fast to the bacon. Good morning to thee, friend."
The inventor of a new feeding bottle for infants sent out the following among his directions for using: "When the baby is done drinking it must be unscrewed and laid in a cool place under the hydrant. If the baby does not thrive on fresh milk, it should be boiled."
A doctor accustomed to high fees had been attending Garrick, charging two guineas a visit. The patient began to grudge this sum and at length decided to halve it, and on the termination of a visit handed the doctor the fee which he had resolved was sufficient. The physician began looking about him as though in search of something. He was asked if he had lost anything. "Sir," replied the doctor, "I believe I have dropped a guinea." "No, doctor," said the patient with quiet significance, "it is I that have dropped a guinea."
A City gentleman was invited down to the country for "a day with the birds." His aim was not remarkable for its accuracy, to the great disgust of the man in attendance, whose tip was generally regulated by the size of the bag. "Dear me!" at last exclaimed the sportsman, "but the birds seem exceptionally strong on the wing this year!" "Not all of them, sir," was the answer. "You've shot at the same bird about a dozen times. 'E's a-follering you about, sir." "Following me about? Nonsense! Why should a bird do that?" "Well, sir," came the reply, "I dunno, I'm sure, unless it's for safety."
It is well known that the veterans who preside at the examinations of surgeons question minutely those who wish to become qualified. After answering very satisfactorily the numerous enquiries made, a young gentleman was asked, if he wished to give his patient a profuse perspiration, what would he prescribe? He mentioned many diaphoretic medicines in case the first failed, but the unmerciful questioner thus continued, "Pray, sir, suppose none of those succeeded, what step would you take next?" "Why, sir," enjoined the harassed young Esculapius, "I would send him here to be examined; and if that did not give him a sweat, I do not know what would."
Someone was endeavouring to convince a certain old lady by quotations from Scripture on some point or other. "You see, Madam," said he, "St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians says," and he repeated the passage to her (as he thought, very impressively). "Yes," replied the lady, very collectedly, "I know all about that; but that's just where Paul and I differ!"
During the high price of coals, a gentleman, meeting his coal-merchant, asked whether it was a good time to lay in a stock? The knight of the black diamonds shook his head, saying, "Coals are coals now, sir." To which his customer replied, "I am very glad to hear it, for the last you sent me were all slates."
Uncle George gave a children's party. Janet, aged eight, after a silence asked him to help her to some more jam. "Certainly, Janet, but why not help yourself?" The answer came pat, "Because I thought you'd give me more."
Two ladies, sisters, of whom one was a widow and the other with a husband still living in India, called at a house, and on the former leaving, a gentleman offered to escort her to her carriage. But the sisters resembled each other so much that he mistook the widow for the married one, and when she remarked to him, on the way to the door, how very hot it was, he replied, "Yes, but not so hot as where your husband is!"
Two navvies were arguing on education of the present day.
One was of opinion that it was practically of little use, the other that it was of the greatest value. "Look at my boy Jack," he said, "he can answer any question you like to ask him. Here he comes, bringing my dinner. You ask him anything you like." "Jack," said the other, "your father tells me you are getting on well at school. How many are seven and four?" "Twelve," was the prompt reply.
"There you are," said the proud father, "right, within one, first blooming guess."
One of the chosen people, who was condemned to be hanged, was brought to the gallows, and was just on the point of being turned off, when a reprieve arrived. Moses was informed of this, and it was expected he would instantly have quitted the cart, but he stayed to see his two fellow-prisoners hanged; and being asked why he did not get about his business, he said, "He waited to see if he could bargain with the hangman for the two shentlemen's clo'."
"Education is a good thing, Tim, an' don't you run it down." "Ever had any of it, Pat?" "Me? Well, I should say yes. I went to night school all one winter." "An' what did you get to show for it, Pat?" "What did I get? I got four overcoats, three hats, and seven umbrellas. Don't you tell me that going to school is a waste of time."
A parish minister was in the habit of preaching two sermons on a Sunday morning to save his parishioners another journey to church. A young girl in the congregation became so tired and hungry that at the beginning of the second sermon she whispered to her grandmother, who accompanied her, "Come awa', granny, and gang hame, this is a lang grace, and na meat."
The dinner had been a huge success, and a highly ornamented pie was much praised. The cook having been complimented was asked how she had managed to impart so much artistic taste into the design. "Well, mum," she replied, "I did it with your false teeth."
A public man was appealing on behalf of a certain charity, when a note was handed up to him asking if it would be right for a bankrupt to contribute in response to his appeal. The speaker referred to this in the course of his lecture and said decidedly that such a person could not do so in Christian honesty. "But, my friends," he added, "I would advise you who are not insolvent not to pass the plate this evening, as if you do the people will be sure to say: 'There's another bankrupt!'"
Captain: "What's he charged with, Casey?"
Officer: "I don't know the regular name fer it, captain; but I caught him a-flirting in the park."
Captain: "Ah, that's impersonatin' an officer."
Facetious Doctor (to artist): "The pictures which hang on the walls are your failures, I suppose?"
Dyspeptic Artist: "Yes. And that's where you doctors have the pull over us. You can bury yours."
Jim was being chastised by his father, and a passer-by stopped to enquire the reason for the punishment. He was informed that Jim had not locked up the chicken house the previous night. "But surely that's not a very bad offence: the chickens are sure to come home again." The father replied hurriedly, "That's just where the trouble is, Mister, they wouldn't come home; they'd go home."
A young and energetic curate suggested to the vicar that Sunday afternoon services should be held in the church for the school children.
The Vicar gave his consent, and on the following Sunday afternoon the curate marshalled the children in the churchyard four a-breast to march into the church.
He selected the hymn "Onward, Christian soldiers," and decided to conduct them into the church, in real Salvation Army style, walking backwards.
On entering the church they commenced the verse, "See the mighty army, Satan leading on;" and he wondered why the congregation laughed.
A shoemaker in Dublin, getting on well in the way of business, became proud. One day there were customers in the shop when the shop-boy came in to say that the mistress bid him say dinner was ready. "What's for dinner, sir?" asked the shoemaker. "Herrings, sir," answered the boy. "All right," said the shoemaker, and when he went up to dinner he reprimanded the boy for not mentioning something decent and big, telling the boy always to mention a good feed when there were any people in the shop. A few days afterwards the boy came to say that dinner was ready. "What's for dinner, sir?" asked the shoemaker. "Fish, sir," answered the boy. "What sort of fish?" asked the shoemaker. "A whale, sir," answered the boy.
Countryman (to dentist): "I wouldn't pay nothin' extra for gas. Jest pull her out, even if it does hurt."
Dentist: "You are plucky, sir. Let me see the tooth."
Countryman: "Oh, 'tain't me that's got the toothache; it's me wife. She'll be here in a minute."
"I rise for information," said a member of the legislative body. "I am very glad to hear it," said a bystander, "for no man wants it more."
A dispute about precedence once arose between a Bishop and a Judge, and, after some altercation, the latter thought he would quite confound his opponent by quoting the passage, "For on these two hang all the Law and the Prophets." "Do you not see," said the lawyer in triumph, "that even in this passage of Scripture, we are mentioned first?" "I grant you," said the Bishop, "you hang first."
LUCUS A NON LUCENDO
A man living in a quiet country place invited a neighbour to dine and spend the evening with him. The night being dark, when it was time to go, the guest, who had done himself very well, begged to be allowed to borrow a large lantern in the hall to light him on his way. The next day the host sent his servant round with the following note: "Dear old chap, I shall be glad to have back my parrot and cage if you have finished with it."
A lady was telling her doctor that her maid objected to going to the Isle of Wight again, as the climate "was not embracing enough," and added, "What am I to do with such a woman?" The doctor replied, "You had better take her to the Isle of Man."
A canny Scot had got himself installed in the eldership of the church, and, in consequence, had for some time carried round the ladle for the collections. He had accepted the office of elder because some wag had made him believe that the remuneration was six-pence each Sunday, with a bag of meal on New Year's Day. When the time arrived, he claimed his reward, but was told he had been hoaxed. "It may be sae wi' the meal," he said coolly, "but I took care of the saxpences mysel'."
An old Scotch laird used to say he didn't care how he dressed when in London, "because nobody knew him." And he didn't care how he dressed when at home, "because everybody knew him."
Said the youth, in a triumphant tone, to the maid he was about to marry, "Weel, Jenny, haven't I been unco ceevil?" alluding to the circumstance that during their whole courtship he had never even given her a kiss. Her quiet reply was, "Oo, ay, man--senselessly ceevil."
The scene was a hairdresser's, the front of which was so arranged that passers-by could see what was taking place. A small boy approached and observed the process of hair-cutting with some interest; the singeing of a customer surprised the lad, who called to his chum, "Blimey, Charley, they're looking for 'em with a light now."
Two Cockney boys were examining the mummies at the British Museum for the first time, and one of them was much puzzled by the labels denoting the age of the contents. "I wonder what those figures mean?" said Charley, stopping before an exhibit marked B.C. 1500. "Garn, silly, don't you know? That's the number of the motor what run over 'im."
To instil into the mind of his son sound wisdom and business precepts was Cohen senior's earnest endeavour. He taught his offspring much, including the advantages of bankruptcy, failures, and fires. "Two bankruptcies equal one failure, two failures equal one fire," etc. Then Cohen junior looked up brightly.
"Fadder," he asked, "is marriage a failure?"
"Vell, my poy," was the parent's reply, "if you marry a really wealthy woman, marriage is almost as good as a failure."
Two suburban gardeners were swearing vengeance on cats.
"It appears to me," one said, that "they seem to pick out the choicest plants to scratch out of the ground."
"There's a big tomcat," the other said, "that fetches my plants out and then sits and actually defies me."
"Why don't you hurl a brick at him?" asked the first speaker.
"That's what makes me mad," was the reply. "I can't. He gets on top of my greenhouse to defy me."
At a local "Parliament" a member much annoyed the House by continually interrupting the speakers with cries of "Hear! Hear!" One of the latter took the opportunity of alluding to a well-known political character of the times, whom he represented as a person who wished to play the rogue, but had only sense enough to play the fool. "Where," he exclaimed with emphatic continuation, "where shall we find a more foolish knave or a more knavish fool than this?" "Hear! Hear!" was instantly shouted from the usual seat. The speaker bowed and sat down amidst convulsions of laughter.
As the childish wail rang through the house the anxious mother sprang to her feet. Rushing into the hall, she met her little daughter coming in from the garden and carrying a broken doll by the leg.
"What's the matter, darling?" she asked tenderly.
"O-o-oh, m-o-ther," howled the child, "Willie's broken my do-oll!"
"The naughty boy! How did he do it?"
"I-I-I hit him on the head wiv it!" was the slow response.
A humorist asked a medical man, with an air of great seriousness, "Why does hanging kill a man?" "Because," began, the explanation, "inspiration is checked, circulation is stopped, and blood suffuses and congests the brain----" "Bosh!" interrupted the wag, "it is because the rope is not long enough to let his feet touch the ground."
A very strong-minded Scotchwoman had been asking the character of a cook she was about to engage. The lady whom the servant was leaving naturally entered a little upon her moral qualifications, and described her as a very decent woman. To which the first-named replied, "Oh, d--n her decency, can she make good porridge?"
A brow-beating counsel asked a witness how far he had been from a certain place. "Just four yards, two feet, and six inches," was the reply. "How came you to be so exact, my friend?" "Because I expected some fool or other would ask me, and so I measured it."
A Suffolk clergyman asked a schoolboy what was meant in the Catechism by succouring his father and mother. "Giving on 'em milk," was the prompt reply.
A schoolmaster asked one of his scholars, in the winter time, what was the Latin for cold. "Oh! sir," answered the lad, "I forget at this moment, although I have it at my fingers' ends."
A gentleman having his hair cut was asked by the garrulous operator how he would have it done?--"If possible," replied the gentleman, "in silence."
In the midst of a stormy discussion, a gentleman rose to settle the matter in dispute. Waving his hands majestically over the excited disputants, he began:
"Gentlemen, all I want is common sense----"
"Exactly," interrupted the chairman, "that is precisely what you do want!"
The discussion was lost in a burst of laughter.
A Highlander who prided himself on being able to play any tune on the pipes perched himself on the side of one of his native hills one Sunday morning and commenced blowing for all he was worth.
Presently the minister came along and, going up to MacDougall with the intention of severely reprimanding him, asked in a very harsh voice, "MacDougall, do you know the Ten Commandments?"
MacDougall scratched his chin for a moment and then, in an equally harsh voice, said:
"D'ye think you've beat me? Just whistle the first three or four bars, and I'll hae a try at it."
A lady the other day meeting a girl who had lately left her service, inquired, "Well, Mary, where do you live now?"
"Please, ma'am, I don't live nowhere now," replied the girl; "I'm married!"
"Faith, and it's meself as 'ill niver foind my shilling by the loight of a match. If I 'adn't 'ave lost it I could 'ave bought a flashloight to foind it with."
The regular routine of clerkly business ill suited the literary tastes and the wayward habits of Charles Lamb. Once, at the India House, a superior said to him, "I have remarked, Mr. Lamb, that you come very late to the office." "Yes, sir," replied the wit, "but see how early I go!"
"I keep an excellent table," said a lady, disputing with one of her boarders. "That may be true, ma'am," says he, "but you put very little upon it."
"Soldiers must be fearfully dishonest," said a dear old lady in a country village, "as it seems to be a nightly occurrence for a sentry to be relieved of his watch."
A beautiful girl stepped into an American store and asked for a pair of gloves. "Why," said a gallant but impudent clerk, "you may have them for a kiss." "Agreed," said the young lady, pocketing the gloves, and her eyes speaking daggers; "agreed; and as I see you give credit, you may charge it in your books, and collect it the best way you can."
An indifferent artist, who thought himself an excellent painter, was talking pompously about decorating the ceiling of his drawing-room. "I am white-washing it," said he, "and in a short time I shall begin painting." "I think," replied one of his audience, "you had better paint it first, and white-wash it afterwards."
A haughty gentleman entering a restaurant was accosted by the waiter with the inquiry, "Soup, sir? Soup, sir?" The customer took no notice and calmly removed his overcoat, on which the waiter reiterated his question. Becoming angry, the gentleman said, "Is it compulsory?" "No," was the reply, "It's oxtail, sir."
A Fellow of Jesus College was handicapped by stammering, but when he used bad words he could talk fluently. In one of his solitary rambles a countryman met him and inquired the road. "Tu-u-rn," was the reply, "to-to-to--" and so on for a minute or two; at last he burst out, "Confound it, man! you'll get there before I can tell you!"
A poor man came to his minister and begged to be unmarried, for he was very unhappy. The minister assured him that was out of the question, and urged him to put away the notion of anything so absurd. The man insisted that the marriage could not hold good, for the wife was worse than the devil. The minister demurred saying that was quite impossible. "Na," said the poor man, "the Bible tells ye that if ye resist the deil he flees frae ye, but if ye resist her she flees at ye."
A school inspector, finding that the boys whom he was examining were inattentive, endeavoured to pull them together.
"Now then," said he, "will somebody please give me a number and watch how I make the figures?"
"74," called out a youth, and the class gazed while the inspector wrote on the board 47.
Another number was called for and a boy cried out "65" the inspector turned round and wrote 56. As the class took no notice the inspector became annoyed, and asked the boys if they noticed nothing different in the figures. Nobody replied, so he thought he would make another attempt and called again for a number. A long pause ensued, but at last a boy stood up and said 33, adding in a low tone, "See what you can do to twist that round."
An old lady wrote to the S.P.C.A. to protest against the cruel practice of scratching horses. She called special attention to a reference in the morning paper saying that three horses had been scratched on the day of the race--a most cruel and barbarous thing to do.
An Englishman being doubtful of his way inquired if he were on the right road to Dunkeld. With the national inquisitiveness about strangers the countryman asked his inquirer where he came from. Offended at the liberty as he considered it, the traveller reminded the man that where he came from was nothing to him, but all the reply he got was the quiet rejoinder. "Indeed, it's just as little to me whar ye'r gaen."
A gentleman well-known for the violence of his temper had occasion to escort a lady down to dinner one evening. Unfortunately the lady was extremely deaf, of which fact her partner was unaware.
After they were seated, the gentleman addressed the lady, "Madam, may I have the honour to help you to some fish?" But he got no reply; after a pause but still in the most courteous accents, "Madam, have I your permission to send you some fish?" Then a little quicker, "Are you inclined to take fish?" Very quick, and rather peremptory, "Madam, do you choose fish?" At last the storm burst, and to everybody's consternation, with a loud thump on the table and stamp on the floor, "D---- you, will you have any fish!"
An Irishman, being asked the meaning of the phrase "posthumous works" readily answered, "Why, to be sure, they are the books that a man writes after he is dead."
A minister engaged in visiting members in his parish came to the door of a house where his gentle tapping could not be heard for the noise of discussion within. After waiting a little, he opened the door and walked in, saying in an authoritative voice, "I should like to know who is the head of this house."
"Well, sir," said the husband, and father, "if you will sit down for a little while, maybe we'll be able to tell you, for that is the very point we are now trying to settle."
A loin of mutton was on a table, and the gentleman opposite to it took the carving knife in hand. "Shall I cut it saddlewise?" he asked. "You had better cut it bridlewise," replied the master of the house, "for then we shall all stand a better chance to get a bit in our mouths."
"Janet, I think you hardly behave very respectfully to your own minister in one respect," said the minister of a Scottish church to an inattentive member of his congregation.
"Me, sir," exclaimed Janet, "I wad like to see ony man, no to say ony woman, but yoursel say that o' me! what can you mean, sir?"
"Well, Janet, ye ken when I preach, you're almost always fast asleep before I've well given out my text; but when any of these young men from other parishes preach for me, I see you never sleep a wink. Now, that's what I call no using me as you should do."
"Hoot, sir," was the reply, "is that a'? I'll sune tell you the reason of that. When you preach we a' ken the word of God's safe in your hands; but when these young birkies tak' it in haun, my certie, but it tak's us a' to look after them."
A man having been to church and slept through the greater part of the service was asked by his wife on reaching home what text had been used for the sermon. The husband, confused at the question and unwilling to show his ignorance stuttered out, "What profiteth it a man if he lose the whole world and gain his own soul."
Among the conditions of sale by an Irish auctioneer was the following: "The highest bidder to be the buyer, unless some gentleman bids more."
A man went out rabbit-shooting, but could not get any sport. "So," said he, "I lay down where they could not see me, and made a noise like a turnip."
An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotchman who had been on holidays were comparing the souvenirs they had collected. The Englishman had a bust of Shakespeare from Stratford-on-Avon, the Irishman a matchbox of bog oak. "Oh," said the Scotchman, "you can't beat this," and he produced a tea-spoon marked "L.&N.W.R."
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