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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Punster's Pocket-book, by 
Charles Molloy Westmacott

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Title: The Punster's Pocket-book
       or, the Art of Punning Enlarged by Bernard Blackmantle,
              illustrated with numerous original designs by Robert

Author: Charles Molloy Westmacott

Illustrator: Robert Cruikshank

Release Date: July 17, 2012 [EBook #40266]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Bryan Ness, Laura and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

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The Art of Punning





"Give me the man, when all is done,
That wisely cracks a jest or pun.


Numerous Original Designs







His Most Gracious Majesty,












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[Pg v]





Wit led the way—with sportive jest,
Next, Humour, most fantastic drest;
The Graces, eldest of the Nine,
Followed—collecting from each shrine,
Where Genius shed a ray of light,
Which might improve, instruct, delight.

Messieurs the Punsters,

I may with great propriety contend, that under such merry designation, I am addressing a very large portion of the British public. If, beneath your patronage, this little work should prove as[Pg vi] successful as the flattering anticipations of some friendly adepts in the art of punning have induced me to expect, it is my intention to collect and publish, annually, all the choicest Morceaux and Vagaries relating to punning that can be obtained from the wits and witty works of our own times: for which purpose I solicit communications of original Puns and Epigrams, directed to my Publishers. In arranging the present work, I have endeavoured to bring together all that was important to a proper understanding of the Merry Art; to which are annexed examples by the most celebrated Punsters of their day; many of which now, for the first time, appear in print. Illustrated by fourteen original and appropriate designs, from that mirth-inspiring graphic humourist, Robert Cruikshank.

For mine own whims, scattered here and there through the work, they will, I have no doubt, be easily discovered, by their very humble pretensions to any right of admission into the phalanx of great names in whose company they are now associated.[Pg vii] But, Wits and Critics, as ye are powerful, be merciful; and remember, that taste and industry for such a task are the great requisites of a compiler, and that it is not essentially necessary for a good collector to be a great artist.


Author of the English Spy, Editor of The Spirit of
the Public Journals, &c. &c.


Portrait of his Majesty George the Fourth.


Explanation of the Emblematic Border to the Portrait of the King, containing an Epitome of British Sovereignty.

The Genius of Ancient Britain is represented by a Druidical head encircled by a wreath of oak; the face is partly hidden behind the blazonry of modern achievement. The head, supported by the Roman eagle and the Saxon horse, is inclosed in the involutions of the scroll which proceeds from it, and which next embraces the devouring eagle of Scandinavia, and the warlike lion of Normandy. Following these are emblems of the contests of the houses of York and[Pg viii] Lancaster, surrounded by the rival roses. The Scriptures opened are appropriate to the Tudor family; and their national emblem, the thistle, is considered most emblematical of the Stuart race. A lion, with the cap of liberty, denotes the benefits England has derived from their successors, the Prince of Orange; and the unicorn chained to the scroll is indicative of Hanover attached to the sovereignty of Great Britain. The imperial crown of Charlemagne, which surmounts Brunswick, is nearly obscured and lost behind the crown and sceptre of a British sovereign, George the Fourth,


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[Pg 1]





What are Puns, and Jests, and Quirks?
But Literary Fireworks.

Here are squibs for dull November;
Crackers, too, for gay December;
Rockets, charged with wit and fun;
Wild-fires made to touch and run;
Blue-lights from the Em'rald Isle;
British-balls, to chase the bile;
Roman fires, and jeux d'esprits;
From Vatican, and Thuilleries;
And here's Blackmantle—punning elf—
To personate Guy Vaux himself.

It will doubtless be the opinion of many a reader that a Prefatory Essay on such a subject as Punning can possess little of interest, and nothing of novelty. I would, however, request any one entertaining this idea to suspend his judgment till he has given the matter ampler consideration.[Pg 2]

In addressing these preliminary remarks to punsters in general, I think I have taken effectual means to render them of universal interest. When a certain author, who had dedicated one of his volumes "to those who think," was charged with want of judgment in catering for such a limited number of individuals, he justified his discernment by observing, that, however little numerous the body of thinking people might be, every reader would at least rank himself in that class. Our question can stand on much broader ground; for we assert, without fear of contradiction, that of the many judicious persons who, without doubt, will peruse and patronise these pages, not one will be found who is not only, se judice, a punster, but who has not, probably "many a time and oft," exhibited among his boon companions whatever portion of talent he may possess in that line of wit. It has been asked by a well-known writer, "Did any man of liberal education ever go through his teens without perpetrating the crime of making verses?" I am contented to wave the narrow distinction, by which uneducated persons would be excepted, and, with respect to the nobler and far more generally diffused art of punning, would inquire, Does any one, whatever be his rank or attainments, reach his twentieth year, with[Pg 3]out (we will not speak so inaccurately as to say, perpetrating the crime, but) contributing one or more puns to the common stock? Certainly not. What the ancients rather hyperbolically asserted of writing (for the many, who were uninstructed in the mechanical part of that art, could not by possibility have exercised it), Scribimus indocti doctique, is literally true as applied to punning: lettered and unlettered, all alike pun away. From the humble son of Crispin, who, having nothing but one of his sutorial weapons at hand wherewith to despatch his cotelette de bœuf, remarked that his all was at stake, to the gifted Sheridan, who discovered that Doctors' Commons was the greatest thoroughfare in England, in virtue of the old adage, "where there is a WILL there is a WAY," each man sports his calembourg.

Still, as it frequently happens that what is most generally practised, is far from being best understood, so is it with punning. It has been too much the case to treat it with levity and inconsiderateness; to regard it as mere trifling; to view it at best as a feeble missile from the armoury of wit, only adapted for the "puny (query punny?) whipster," and which those who are qualified to wield more va[Pg 4]luable weapons would scarcely deign to employ. I trust that, in the course of these introductory observations, I shall effectually dispel all such erroneous prejudices, and shall satisfactorily assert the true dignity of the art, so that my readers may join with me in exclaiming,

"Punica se quantis attollet gloria rebus!"

and may perceive, that it is not only venerable from its antiquity, and supported by the authority of persons of taste and learning, who have invariably cultivated it, but is likewise highly beneficial to the bodily health, moral feeling, and intellectual improvement of the community.

With respect to its antiquity, we find it treated of by the most eminent writers upon rhetoric among the ancients, who not only class it among the beauties of language, but have stamped it with the dignity of a distinct figure of speech, assigning to it an appropriate name. I make no observations upon the injudicious attempts of some modern commentators to ally it to the paranomasia, it being evidently the antanaclasis of the rhetoricians. The great Aristotle (Rhet. ch. 11.) enumerates two or three different species of παραγραμματα, the name[Pg 5] he gives to puns, in his remarks upon this figure, and cites examples of each kind, with expressions of commendation, from some of the most celebrated Greek authors. In Cicero's treatise on Oratory, a variety of instances of the antanaclasis are quoted, and highly praised by him for their wit. His own puns, with which his works abound, are more distinguished for their number than their excellence: humour does not appear to have been his forte, but his frequent attempts at punning sufficiently evince the high estimation in which it was held by himself and his contemporaries. The ancient poets, strange as it may appear, were not, in general, adepts in this art, if we except Aristophanes among the Greeks, and Ovid and Martial among the Latins. From the two last mentioned writers (the former of whom indeed would readily furnish a cento of puns) I beg leave to select two examples. The one is where Ovid makes Leander say, "Posito cum veste timore;" the other is the well-known epigram by Martial on the emperor Nero:

"Quis negat Æneæ natum de stirpe Neronem?
Sustulit hic matrem, Sustulit ille patrem."

I adduce these examples, because Addison, after erroneously defining a pun to be merely "a conceit[Pg 6] arising from the use of two words that agree in the sound, but differ in the sense," goes on to inform us that if translated into a different language, it will vanish in the experiment; in fact he would represent it as vox et præterea nihil, a sound, and nothing but a sound. Unquestionably there are a multitude of puns that might answer this description, but it is far from being applicable to all. In the two instances I have just brought forward, the words posito and sustulit can be exactly translated into English, and both the sense and the pun retained. The truth is, that Addison, like many more who have thought proper to be very severe on the talents of the punning fraternity, was evidently not very accurately acquainted with the nature of what he was attacking.

If the plea of antiquity can thus be justly advanced in favour of punning, the continued adherence of all nations in all periods to the practice, may likewise with reason be urged in its support. Nor are its ramifications of slight importance. It may be considered as the origin of technical terms, most of which, if properly analysed, will prove to be virtual puns or conundrums; as the parent of double entendre of every description; and even as containing the germs of that slang formerly con[Pg 7]fined to the lower walks of life, but, in our more enlightened days, emulously studied even among the Corinthian pillars of polished society.

The number of final letters, which among the French are mere ciphers in pronunciation, has always given them a decided advantage in puns of mere words over every other nation. Their writings and conversation are alike replete with them; but they are almost invariably of that kind alluded to by Addison, which are lost if clothed in any but their native dress. Indeed this is almost a necessary consequence of the very circumstance already alluded to, which ensures them such superior facility in the production of puns. A brace of these I shall present my readers with, both as exhibiting a strong confirmation of what I have above said, and as being of modern date, and, in my opinion, of sterling excellence. The first of these is the reply made by a Parisian wit, to a person who asked him what was the true distinction between a flea and a louse. He answered that they were only disciples of different philosophers: the lice being followers of Epictetus (des pique-têles), and the fleas of Epicurus (des piqueurs). The other is an epigram, much talked off at the time of its appearance in the French metropolis, written by some wag, under a[Pg 8] picture of Louis XVIII. painted by Le Gros, and placed in one of the public exhibitions. The striking resemblance of the head and neck of that monarch to those of a rabbit is well known; and of this circumstance the malicious epigrammatist thus happily avails himself in the pasquinade referred to:

Le Gros l'a peint! (le gros lapin!)
Le Gros l'a peint!
Notre bon souverain.
De la peinture admirez la magie:
Tout le monde à la fois s'écrie,
Le Gros l'a peint!
Le Gros l'a peint!

As I have assumed the privilege in these remarks of being as desultory and digressive as I please, I shall here notice what I term macaroni punning, effected by a fictitious mélange of different languages. Sometimes this will arise from the inspection of a single word. Who, for instance, can forbear smiling at the curious orthoepical coincidence by which an accommodating fair one is in Latin designated meretrix? This, however, is the simplest effort of the macaroni class, and far from implying that ingenuity visible in higher flights of the same kind, which are frequently conspicuous[Pg 9] for their wit and pithiness. Lord Erskine's inscription on his tea chest, Tu doces, is of great merit in its way. Lord Norbury, I believe, has the reputation of having observed, upon seeing some young fellow vain of his personal attractions almost in tears at contemplating the manner in which the nocturnal attacks of a band of jumpers had disfigured his face, "Fle-bit, he will weep." His countryman Curran's reply to his rival counsel Egan, will not easily be forgotten. The latter, coming out of court, and observing on Curran's coat a certain disgrace to the poll, addressed him in the words of Virgil:

"Dic mihi, Damœta, cujum pecus? an Melibœi?"

Curran immediately replied by completing the passage:

"Non, verum Ægonis: nuper mihi tradidit Ægon."

Probably, however, Swift's impromptu quotation on seeing a Cremona violin swept off a table by a lady's mantua:

"Mantua, væ! miseræ nimium vicina Cremonæ,"

will always stand at the head of puns of this class.

I own that I am particularly delighted with a[Pg 10] good macaroni pun. It necessarily implies, not only superior wit, but a considerable fund of learning, on the part of the punster. And what is still better, it shows that this learning is free from the rust of pedantry, tending to enliven those around him, and not to create in him a repulsive conceit, and a haughty estrangement from society. His candle is not hidden under a bushel, but freely and cheerfully dispenses its light: His treasure is not kept in the form of useless hoarded bullion, but is converted into a valuable circulating medium, the coin being liberally and extensively distributed by its owner.

The inmates of universities have usually been remarked for their attachment to punning. The men of Cambridge, in particular, have ever, from their foundation, been distinguished by their excellence as paragrammatists. It surely not a little exalts this noble art, that those who have enjoyed peculiar opportunities of justly appreciating every thing connected both with abstruse and polite literature, should have sedulously cultivated it. And I think I may be allowed to say, in contradiction to the reiterated attempts of prejudice and stupidity to undervalue it, that I never met with a person[Pg 11] incapable of some degree of excellence in punning, who was remarkable for any species of wit above the practical jokes of a merry-andrew.

But it is not only on its high antiquity, its extensive diffusion, or the distinguished authorities that can be adduced in support of it, that the claims of punning are founded. The philosopher who defined man to be το ζωον γελων, certainly selected the only characteristic besides that of speech, which particularly and exclusively distinguishes man from the brute creation.

"'Twas said of old, deny it now who can,
The only laughing animal is man.
The bear may leap, its lumpish cubs in view,
Or sportive cat her circling tail pursue;
The grin deep-lengthen pug's half-human face,
Or prick'd up ear confess the simp'ring ass:
In awkward gestures awkward mirth be shown,
Yet, spite of gesture, man still laughs alone."

Now to the exercise of this high and distinguished prerogative of our nature, what is a more certain stimulant than a pun? If it be good, you laugh at the pun; if bad, at the punster; and in either case, he is almost certain to laugh himself. More[Pg 12]over, the punster is one of all others, "quem jocus risusque circumvolat;" not only witty himself, but the cause of wit in others; for it is rarely, indeed, in the social circle, that one pun is not the signal for a series of others. The cards are generally played after the first is led, till the suit is fairly out.

But laughter is not only one of the principal faculties which distinguish man from inferior animals; it likewise contributes greatly to the promotion and preservation of health. "Laugh and grow fat," is a very old and a very wise adage.

And observe, the fat which thus increaseth the ribs is wholesome, good, firm fat, bearing no resemblance whatever to the adipose envelope of the bloated and corpulent. Those who are clothed with laughter-begotten fat are, moreover, in general, of humour frank and free, cordial, cheerful, and enterprising; as dissimilar to the indolent, arthritic, or the selfish gourmand, as to the cadaverous, saturnine, acetous beings who stalk about like so many skeletons, galvanised into temporary motion, and presenting a memento mori to all they meet. And if such be the genial, the beneficial, effects of laughter, can we laud too highly the[Pg 13] practice of punning, that most apt and prompt instrument of promoting it?

In another point of view, too, this art doth not a little contribute to the advancement and improvement of moral feeling. How often have the asperities incident to conversation been instantly softened down by the means of a well-timed pun? How many a rising storm of colloquial debate and controversial wrath has been dispelled by the same salutary agency, when wisdom would have failed to convince, or mediation to conciliate? The able punster has perhaps more frequent opportunities than any other character, of securing the blessing pronounced upon the peace-maker.

The pious Dr. Watts, in his Introduction to Logic, has commented on the moral as well as literary evils arising from the number of equivocal and the comparative paucity of univocal words. Now the knowledge of a disease being half its cure, who is so likely to be exempt from the evils arising from the above-mentioned sources as the punster? Every fresh touch of his art may be considered as a discovery of some more of these dangerous equivocals, and indeed his whole life may be regarded as a philanthropic voyage in quest of them, com[Pg 14]bining the double advantage of exciting mirth by their timely production, and affording a salutary warning to the hearer against the employment of such Proteus terms in grave and serious discussion. Thus again we see the paragrammatist enabled to contribute in a high degree to the social enjoyment, literary improvement, and moral amelioration of his fellow creatures.

If wit consists principally, as the first of modern philosophers has affirmed, in the unexpected association of ideas apparently far removed in their nature from each other, punning must, in its very essence, claim to rank in the highest class of wit. And how must the frequent exercise of searching for such associations, and bringing them however recondite to light, sharpen the intellect of the individual engaged in it! We have already adverted to the general practice of this art among the members of our universities; we may likewise observe that the learned body of the law, a body distinguished perhaps beyond any other for their superior shrewdness, and extent of general information, are universally partial to it. The barrister who pleads, and the judge who directs, are alike ambitious to display their excellence in this highly[Pg 15] prized art; and justice herself, though for the sake of her character she must needs be blind, is rarely found deaf to the sallies of the punster.

Ohe! jam satis est. Sufficient, we are persuaded, has been said to satisfy all persons of the value and excellence of punning, except indeed the obstinately incredulous; and such, as a just punishment, we would excommunicate for ever from the enjoyment of puns, and the society of punsters. Can we pronounce a severer doom?

But as the best of things are the most liable to abuses, so has the cause of punning suffered much from the want of judgment evinced by many of its votaries. Anxious, as far as possible, to contribute to maintaining this noble art in the possession of its well-merited reputation, we venture a few words of caution to some of its professors on the errors too frequently committed by them.

Imprimis, a pun, like an epigram, is worth little indeed if the point can be anticipated. Hence proper names, though they have in some few instances been successfully worked upon, are in general bad materials for the punster. The attempt to pun upon Black, White, Green, Brown, Scott, England, and id genus omne, if productive of any[Pg 16] laughter, is of that only which is excited by the imbecility and empty pretensions of him who makes it. In justice to our contemporary John Bull, we must observe that on this very dangerous ground, he is almost the only person who has had the singular felicity of uniformly appearing with success.

For the same reason that we object to proper names, we need scarcely observe that all trite puns are detestable. There are a number of words, such as heart, love, soul, last, grave, and a host of others, that have been fairly worn thread-bare in the service. Let him whose wit is not competent to discover some other sources than these hackneyed ones, be a listener, but by no means a speaker in a circle of punsters. Decies repetita placebit, however just it may be as the criterion of merit in a poem, will never do for a pun, one of whose chief excellencies is novelty,—nay, which often, however rich at the moment of its utterance, will not successfully admit of repetition, even to those who have never before heard it, at another time and under different circumstances.

A pun can rarely be considered very good, which involves a difference of orthography. It appears[Pg 17] like a descent from its true dignity to the level of a common conundrum.

Lastly, let every punster bear in mind, that punning is only the sauce of conversation, and that he who thinks to entertain by introducing it continually into his discourse, resembles a man who should present me with a dish of Cayenne pepper alone by way of a meal. It may likewise be observed, that what is usually called an inveterate, is never a good punster. The constant desire of display, by accustoming himself to be contented with mediocrity, or something below it, almost disqualifies him from uttering any thing above it. We may say with justice, "a pun spoken in good season, how good is it!" Time, and place, and persons too, must be regarded. The punster, while he enlivens conversation, is one of the greatest acquisitions to a company; when he only interrupts it, he is one of its greatest nuisances. Much more could we add concerning both the theory and practice of this art, but we would not willingly become tedious. Gentle reader, whosoever thou art, receive in good part what we have here written; imbue thyself with such a love of punning, and such a sense of its dignity, that thy efforts may exalt and not degrade it: so shalt thou merit the[Pg 18] good wish which, with a sincere heart, we now bestow upon thee: Mayest thou become one of the warmest admirers of punning, and shine as one of the first of punsters!

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[Pg 19]




Once on a time in merry mood,
Jove made a Pun of flesh and blood:
A double two-faced living creature,
Androgynos, of two-fold nature,
For back to back with single skin
He bound the male and female in;
So much alike, so near the same,
They stuck as closely as their name.
Whatever words the male exprest,
The female turn'd them to a jest;
Whatever words the female spoke,
The male converted to a joke:
So, in this form of man and wife
They led a merry punning life.
The gods from heaven descend to earth,
[Pg 20]Drawn down by their alluring mirth;
So well they seem'd to like the sport,
Jove could not get them back to court.
Th' infernal gods ascend as well,
Drawn up by magic puns from hell.
Judges and furies quit their post,
And not a soul to mind a ghost.
'Heyday!' says Jove: says Pluto too,
'I think the Devil's here to do;
Here's hell broke loose, and heaven's quite empty;
We scarce have left one god in twenty.
Pray what has set them all a-running?—
'Dear brother, nothing else but punning.
Behold that double creature yonder
Delights them with a double entendre.'
'Odds-fish,' says Pluto, 'where's your thunder?
Let's drive, and split this thing asunder!'
'That's right,' quoth Jove; with that he threw
A bolt, and split it into two;
And when the thing was split in twain,
Why then it punn'd as much again.
''Tis thus the diamonds we refine,
The more we cut, the more they shine;
And ever since your men of wit,
Until they're cut, can't pun a bit.
So take a starling when 'tis young,
[Pg 21]And down the middle slit the tongue,
With groat or sixpence, 'tis no matter,
You'll find the bird will doubly chatter.
'Upon the whole, dear Pluto, you know,
'Tis well I did not slit my Juno!
For, had I done't, whene'er she'd scold me,
She'd make the heavens too hot to hold me.'
The gods, upon this application,
Return'd each to his habitation,
Extremely pleas'd with this new joke;
The best, they swore, he ever spoke.

[Pg 22]

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[Pg 23]










"Ex ambiguâ dictâ vel argutissima putantur; sed non semper in joco, sæpe etiam in gravitate versantur. Ingeniosi enim videtur, vim verbi in aliud atque cæteri accipiant, posse ducere."

Cicero, de Oratore, Lib. ii. 61, 2.

[Pg 24]

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[Pg 25]






Your honour's character is too well known in the world to stand in need of a dedication; but I can tell you, that my fortune is not so well settled but I stand in need of a patron. And therefore, since I am to write a dedication, I must, for decency, proceed in the usual method.

First, I then proclaim to the world your high and illustrious birth: that you are, by the father's side, descended from the most ancient and celebrated family of Rome, the Cascas; by the mother's, from Earl Percy. Some indeed have been so malicious as to say, your grandmother kill'd-her-kin: but, I think if the authors of the report were found out, they ought to be hampered. I will allow that the world exclaims deservedly against your mother, because she is no friend to the bottle;[Pg 26] otherwise they would deserve a firkin, as having no grounds for what they say. However, I do not think it can sully your fine and bright reputation; for the credit you gained at the battle of Hogshed, against the Duke of Burgundy, who felt no sham-pain, when you forced him to sink beneath your power, and gave his whole army a brush, may in time turn to your account; for, to my knowledge, it put his highness upon the fret. This indeed was no less racking to the king his master, who found himself gross-lee mistaken in catching a tartar. For the whole world allowed, that you brought him a peg lower, by giving him the parting-blow, and making all his rogues in buckram to run. Not to mention your great a-gillity, though you are past your prim-age; and may you never lack-age, with a sparkling wit, and brisk imagination! May your honour also wear long, beyond the common scantling of human life, and constantly proceed in your musical diversions of pipe and sack-but, hunting with tarriers, &c. and may your good humour in saying, "I am-phor-a-bottle," never be lost to the joy of all them that drink your wine for nothing, and especially of,

Your humble servant,

Tom Pun-Sibi.
[Pg 27]




Hæe nos, ab imis Pun-icorum annalibus
Prolata, longo tempore edidimus tibi.Fest.

I've raked the ashes of the dead, to show
Puns were in vogue five thousand years ago.

The great and singular advantages of Punning, and the lustre it gives to conversation, are commonly so little known in the world, that scarce one man of learning in fifty, to their shame be it spoken, appears to have the least tincture of it in his discourse. This I can impute to nothing but that it hath not been reduced to a science; and indeed Cicero seemed long ago to wish for it, as we may gather from his second book de Oratore[1], where he has this remarkable passage: "Suavis autem est et vehementer sæpe utilis jocus et facetiæ cum [Pg 28]ambiguitate—in quibus tu longè aliis meâ sententiâ, Cæsar, excellis: quo magìs mihi etiam testis esse potes, aut nullam esse artem salis, aut, si qua est, eam nos tu potissimum docebis." "Punning is extremely delightful, and oftentimes very profitable; in which, as far as I can judge, Cæsar, you excel all mankind; for which reason you may inform me, whether there be any art of Punning; or, if there be, I beseech you, above all things, to instruct me in it." So much was this great man affected with the art, and such a noble idea did he conceive of it, that he gave Cæsar the preference to all mankind, only on account of that accomplishment!

[1] Lib. ii. liv.

Let critics say what they will, I will venture to affirm, that Punning, of all arts and sciences, is the most extraordinary: for all others are circumscribed by certain bounds; but this alone is found to have no limits, because to excel therein requires a more extensive knowledge of all things. A Punner must be a man of the greatest natural abilities, and of the best accomplishments: his wit must be poignant and fruitful, his understanding clear and distinct, his imagination delicate and cheerful; he must have an extraordinary elevation of soul, far above all mean and low conceptions; and these must be sustained with a vivacity fit to express his[Pg 29] ideas, with that grace and beauty, that strength and sweetness, which become sentiments so truly noble and sublime.

And now, lest I should be suspected of imposing upon my reader, I must entreat him to consider how high Plato has carried his sentiments of this art (and Plato is allowed by all men to have seen farther into Heaven than any Heathen either before or since). Does not he say positively, in his Cratylus, "Jocos et Dii amant," the gods themselves love Punning? which I am apt to believe from Homer's ἂσβεστος γἑλως, unextinguished laughter; because there is no other motive could cause such continued merriment among the gods.

As to the antiquity of this art, Buxtorf proves it to be very early among the Chaldeans; which any one may see at large, who will read what he says upon the word ציךז Pun, Vocula est Chaldæis familiarissima, &c. "It is a word that is most frequently in use among the Chaldeans," who were first instructed in the methods of punning by their magi, and gained such reputation, that Ptolemæus Philo-punnæus sent for six of those learned priests, to propagate their doctrine of puns in six of his principal cities; which they did with such success, that his majesty ordered, by public edict, to have a[Pg 30] full collection of all the puns made within his dominions for three years past; and this collection filled one large apartment of his library, having this following remarkable inscription over the door:

Ἱκτϛειον ψυχης,

"The shop of the soul's physic[2]."

[2] Vide Joseph. Bengor. Chronic. in Edit. Georg. Homedidæ. Scriem Godoliæ Tradit. Hebraic. Corpus Paradoseon Titulo Megill. c. i. 8. Chronic. Samarit. Abulphetachi. Megillat. Taanit.

Some authors, but upon what ground it is uncertain, will have Pan, who in the Æolic dialect is called Pun, to be the author of Puns, because, they say, Pan being the god of universal nature, and Punning free of all languages, it is highly probable that it owes its first origin, as well as name, to this god: others again attribute it to Janus, and for this reason—Janus had two faces; and of consequence they conjectured every word he spoke had a double meaning. But, however, I give little credit to these opinions, which I am apt to believe were broached in the dark and fabulous ages of the world; for I doubt, before the first Olympiad, there can be no great dependence upon profane history.

[Pg 31]

I am much more inclined to give credit to Buxtorf; nor is it improbable that Pythagoras, who spent twenty-eight years at Egypt in his studies, brought this art, together with some arcana of philosophy, into Greece; the reason for which might be, that philosophy and punning were a mutual assistance to each other: "For," says he, "puns are like so many torch-lights in the head, that give the soul a very distinct view of those images, which she before seemed to grope after as if she had been imprisoned in a dungeon." From whence he looked upon puns to be so sacred, and had such a regard to them, that he left a precept to his disciples, forbidding them to eat beans, because they were called in Greek πυννοι. "Let not," says he, "one grain of the seeds be lost; but preserve and scatter them over all Greece, that both our gardens and our fields may flourish with a vegetable, which, on account of its name, not only brings an honour to our country, but, as it disperses its effluvia in the air, may also, by a secret impulse, prepare the soul for punning, which I esteem the first and great felicity of life."

This art being so very well recommended by so great a man, it was not long before it spread through all Greece, and at last was looked upon to[Pg 32] be such a necessary accomplishment, that no person was admitted to a feast who was not first examined, and if he were found ignorant of punning, he was dismissed with Ἑκἁς ἑϛε, βἑζηλοι, "Hence, ye profane!"

If any one doubts the truth of what I say, let him consult the apophthegms of Plutarch, who, after he had passed several encomiums upon this art, gives some account of persons eminent in it; among which (to shorten my preface) I choose one of the most illustrious examples, and will entertain the courteous reader with the following story: "King Philip had his collar-bone broken in a battle; and his physician expecting money of him every visit, the king reproved him with a pun, saying he had the key in his own hands." For the word κλἑεις, in the original, signifies both a key and a collar-bone[3].

[3] Vide Plut. Apophth. p. 177.

We have also several puns recorded in Diogenes Laertius's "Lives of the Philosophers;" and those made by the wisest and gravest men among them, even by Diogenes the cynick, who, although pretending to withstand the irresistible charms of punning, was cursed with the name of an abhorrer [Pg 33]Yet, in spite of all his ill-nature and affectation (for he was a tub-preacher), he made so excellent a pun, that Scaliger said, "He would rather have been author of it, than king of Navarre." The story is as follows: Didymus (not Didymus the commentator upon Homer, but a famous rake among the ladies at Athens) having taken in hand to cure a virgin's eye that was sore, had this caution given him by Diogenes, "Take care you do not corrupt your pupil." The word κὁρα signifies both the pupil of the eye and a virgin[4].

[4] See Laërtius.

It would be endless to produce all the authorities that might be gathered, from Diodorus Siculus, Herodotus, Proconosius, Bergæus, Dionysius Halicarnassensis, Lycophron, Pindar, Apollonius, Menander, Aristophanes, Corinthus Cous, Nonnus, Demosthenes, Euripides, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, &c.; from every one of which I should have produced some quotations, were it not that we are so unfortunate in this kingdom not to have Greek types sufficient for such an undertaking[5]: for [Pg 34]want of which, I have been put to the necessity, in the word κὁρα, of writing an alpha for an éta.

[5] Though it is no uncommon thing for a country printer to be without Greek types, this could scarcely be a serious complaint at Dublin in 1719.

However, I believe it will not be amiss to bring some few testimonies, to show in what great esteem the art of punning was among the most refined wits at Rome, and that in the most polite ages, as will appear from the following quotations.

Quinctilian says[6], "Urbanitas est virtus quædam, in breve dictum, verum sensu duplici, coacta, et apta ad delectandos homines," &c. Thus translated, "Punning is a virtue, comprised in a short expression, with a double meaning, and fitted to delight the ladies."

[6] Institut. Orator. lib. vi. p. 265.

Lucretius also,

Quò magìs æternum da dictis, Diva, leporem.

"Goddess, eternal puns on me bestow."

And elsewhere,

Omnia enim lepidi magìs admirantur, amántque
Germanis quæ sub verbis latitantia cernunt:
Verbaque constituunt simili fucata sonore,
Nec simili sensu, sed quæ mentita placerent.

"All men of mirth and sense admire and love
[Pg 35]Those words which like twin-brothers doubtful prove;
When the same sounds a different sense disguise,
In being deceived the greatest pleasure lies."

Thus Claudian:

Vocibus alternant sensus, fraudisque jocosæ,
Vim duplicem rident, lacrymosaque gaudia miscent.

"From word to word th' ambiguous sense is play'd;
Laughing succeeds, and joyful tears are shed."

And Martial:

Sit mihi, Cinna, comes, salibus dictisque facetus,
Qui sapit ambiguos fundere ab ore sonos.

"Cinna, give me the man, when all is done,
That wisely knows to crack a jest and pun."

Petronius likewise will tell you,

Dicta, sales, risus, urbana crepundia vocum,
Ingenii facilis quæ documenta dabunt.

"Jokes, repartees, and laugh, and pun polite,
Are the true test to prove a man is right."

And Lucan:

Illi est imperium risus, qui fraude leporis
Ambigua fallens, humeros quatit usque solutis
Nexibus, ac tremuli trepidant curvamina dorsi,
Et jecur, et cordis fibras, et pandit anhelas
Pulmonis latebras—

"He's king of mirth, that slightly cheats our sense
With pun ambiguous, pleasing in suspense;
The shoulders lax become, the bending back
Upheaved with laughter, makes our ribs to crack;
E'en to the liver he can joys impart,
[Pg 36]And play upon the fibres of the heart;
Open the chambers of longues[7], and there
Give longer life in laughing, than in air."

[7] Potius lungs, as a Dutch commentator would observe.

But to come nearer home, and our own times; we know that France, in the late reign, was the seat of learning and policy; and what made it so, but the great encouragement the king gave punners above any other men: for it is too notorious, to quote any author for it, that Lewis le Grand gave a hundred pistoles for one single pun-motto, made upon an abbot, who died in a field, having a lily growing out of his a—:

"Habe mortem præ oculis.
Abbé mort en prez au culiz."

Nor was his bounty less to Monsieur de Ferry de Lageltre the painter (though the pun and the picture turned against himself), who drew his majesty shooting, and at some distance from him another man aiming at the same fowl, who was withheld by a third person, pointing at the king, with these words from his mouth,

"Ne voyez vous le Roy tirant?"

Having now, from the best authorities, plainly proved the antiquity and excellence of the art of[Pg 37] punning, nothing remains but to give some general directions as to the manner how this science is to be taught.

1. Let the husband teach his wife to read it.

2. Let her be appointed to teach her children.

3. Let the head servant of the family instruct all the rest, and that every morning before the master and mistress are up.

4. The masters and misses are to repeat a rule every day, with the examples; and every visiting-day be brought up, to show the company what fine memories they have.

5. They must go ten times through the book, before they be allowed to aim at a pun.

6. They must every day of their lives repeat six synonymous words, or words like in sound, before they be allowed to sit down to dinner,— such as

Assent, Ascent.
A Lass, Alas.
Bark, Barque.

Alter, Altar.
A Peer, Appear.
Barbery, Barberrie.

They are all to be found in metre, most laboriously compiled by the learned author of "The English School-master," printed anno 1641, London edit. p. 52.[Pg 38]

7. If any eldest son has not a capacity to attain to this science, let him be disinherited as non-compos, and the estate given to the next hopeful child.

——Si quid novisti rectius istis,
Candidus imperti: si non, his utere mecum[8].

"If any man can better rules impart,
I'll give him leave to do't with all my heart!"

[8] Hor. Ep. I. i. 67.





There is a remarkable passage in Petronius Arbiter, which plainly proves, by a royal example, that punning was a necessary ingredient to make an entertainment agreeable. The words are these: "Ingerebat nihilominus Trimalchio lentissima voce, Carpe. Ego, suspicatus ad aliquam urbanitatem [Pg 39]toties iteratam vocem pertinere, non erubui eum qui supra me accumbebat hoc ipsum interrogare. At ille qui sæpius ejusmodi ludos spectaverat, Vides, inquit, illum qui obsonium carpit, Carpus vocatur. Itaque quotiescunque dicit Carpe, eodem verbo et vocat et imperat." And it is further remarkable, that every day of his life he made the same pun at dinner and supper.

[Pg 40]


Lest my modesty should be called in question, for venturing to appear in print, in an age so famous for politeness and ingenuity, I think I am bound to say this in my own defence, that these few sheets were not designed to be made public, as being written for my own private use: but what will not the importunity of friends conquer? they were no sooner discovered in my study, but my merry friend George Rochfort, my learned acquaintance Patrick Delany, and my much honoured patron Jonathan Swift, all unanimously agreed, that I should do my own reputation and the world that justice, as to send "such a treasure of knowledge" (as they were pleased to express themselves) to the press. As for the work itself, I may venture to say, it is a work of time and experience, and entirely unattempted before. For which reason, I hope the candid reader will be favourable in his judgment upon it, and consider that all sciences in[Pg 41] their infancy have been weak and feeble. The next age may supply where I have been defective; and the next perhaps may produce a Sir Isaac in punning. We know that logicians first spun out reason in categories, predicaments, and enunciations; and at last they came to wind up their bottoms in syllogisms, which is the completing of that science.

The Chaldeans began the mathematics, in which the Egyptians flourished. Then these, crossing the sea by the means of Thales the Milesian, came into Greece, where they were improved very much by Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Œnopides of Chios. These were followed by Briso, Antipho, Hippocrates, &c. But the excellence of the algebraic art was begun by Geber, an Arabian astronomer (whence as is conceived the word algebra took its rise), and was much since improved by Cardanus, Tartaglia, Clavius, Stevinus, Ghetaldus, Herigenius, Fran. Van Schooten, Florida de Beaune, &c.

But to return to the Art of Punning again; the progress and improvement of which, I hope, will be equal to the sciences I have mentioned; or to any superior to them, if there be such: reader, I must trespass a little longer on your patience, and tell you an old maxim, Bonum quo communius, eo me[Pg 42]lius, "Good, the more common, the better it is." You see, I have in imitation of the industrious bee gathered my honey from various flowers; but yet I cannot say, without some diminution and loss to the persons from whom I have taken the examples to my rules, who are likely never to use their puns again.

And here to avoid the imputation of ingratitude, I must declare to the world, that my worthy friend Dr. R——, who is singularly remarkable for his unparalleled skill in punning, and a most industrious promoter of it, has been a very great instrument in bringing this work to light, as well by animating me to proceed in it, as by endeavouring to procure a good letter for the impression.

The favourable acceptance that my puns have met with in some private companies, makes me flatter myself, that my labours therein will be candidly accepted, as they have been cordially intended to serve my native country.

Tom Pun-sibi.

From my Study, up one Pair of
Stairs, ill-contrived Streetwards,
August 9th, 1719.
[Pg 43]


"Punnata dicuntur, id ipsum, quod sunt, aliorum esse dicuntur, aut alio quovis modo ad aliud referuntur."

Puns, in their very nature and constitution, have a relation to something else; or, if they have not, any other reason why will serve as well.

The Physical Definition of Punning, according to Cardan.

Punning is an art of harmonious jingling upon words, which, passing in at the ears, and falling upon the diaphragma, excites a titillary motion in those parts; and this being conveyed by the animal spirits into the muscles of the face, raises the cockles of the heart.

The Moral Definition of Punning.

Punning is a virtue that most effectually promotes the end of good fellowship, which is laughing.[Pg 44]

N.B. I design to make the most celebrated punners in these kingdoms examples to the following rules.

Rule 1. The capital Rule. He that puns, must have a head for it; that is, he must be a man of letters, of a sprightly and fine imagination, whatever men may think of his judgment; like Dr. Swift[9], who said, when a lady threw down a Cremona-fiddle with a frisk of her mantua,

"Mantua væ miseræ nimium vicina Cremonæ!"

[9] In the early editions of the tract, this admirable pun is ascribed to Dr. Delany.

Or if you would have a more obvious reason, St. Dennis never made a pun after his head was cut off. Vid. Popish Legend, tom. lxxviii. p. 15,000.

R. 2. The rule of Forehead. He must have good assurance, like my Lord B——, who puns in all companies.

R. 3. The Brazen Rule. He must have better assurance, like Brigadier C——, who said, 'That, as he was passing through a street, he made to a country fellow who had a hare swinging on a stick over his shoulder, and, giving it a shake, asked him whether it was his own hair, or a perriwig?' whereas it is a notorious Oxford jest.[Pg 45]

R. 4. The Rule of Impudence. He must have the best assurance, like Dr. D——, who, although I had in three fair combats worsted him, yet had the impudence to challenge me a fourth time.

R. 5. Any person may pun upon another man's puns about half an hour after he has made them; as Dr. E—— and Mr. F—— frequently do.

I remember one day I was in company with them, and upon Major G—— saying, 'That he would leave me the gout for a legacy,' I made answer, and told the company,' I should be sorry to have such a leg as he.' They both snapped it up in their turns, and had as much applause for the pun as I had.

R. 6. The Rule of Pun upon Pun. All puns made upon the word pun are to be esteemed as so much old gold. Ex. gr. suppose two famous punsters should contend for the superiority, and a man should wittily say, 'That is a Carthaginian war:'

Q. How, sir?

A. Why, sir, it is a Pun-ick war.

R. 7. The Socratic Rule is, to instruct others by way of question and answer.

Q. Who was the first drawer?[Pg 46]

A. Potiphar.

Q. Which is the seat of the spleen?

A. The hips.

Q. Who were the first bakers?

A. The Crustumenians. (Masters of the Rolls, quoth Capt. Wolseley).

Q. Where did the first hermaphrodites come from?

A. Middle-sex.

Q. What part of England has the most dogs?

A. Bark-shire.

Q. From whence come the first tumblers?

A. From Somerset.

Q. Who were the first mortgagers of land?

A. The people of Cumber-land.

Q. What men in the world are the best soldiers?

A. Your red-haired men, because they always carry their fire-locks upon their shoulders.

Q. Why should a man in debt be called a diver?

A. Because he has dipped over head and ears.

Q. Why are ladies of late years well qualified for hunting?

A. Because they come with a hoop and a hollow.

Q. Why are the Presbyterians, Independents, &c. said to be vermin?[Pg 47]

A. Because they are in-sects.

Q. Where were the first breeches made?

A. At Thy-atira.

Q. Who were the first gold-finders?

A. The Turditani.

Q. What part of the world is best to feed dogs in?

A. Lap-land.

Q. What prince in the world should have a boar for his arms?

A. The duke of Tusk-any.

Q. Where do the best corn-cutters live?

A. At Leg-horn.

Q. Why are horses with grease in their heels the best racers?

A. Because their heels are given to running.

Q. What is the reason that rats and mice are so much afraid of base violins and fiddles?

A. Because they are strung with cat-gut.

Q. If a lawyer is a whig, and pretends to be a Tory, or vice versa, why should his gown be stripped off?

A. Because he is guilty of sham-party.

Q. How many animals are concerned in the formation of the English tongue?

[Pg 48]

A. According to Buck-anan, a great number; viz. cat-egorical, dog-matical, crow-nological, flea-botomy, fish-ognomy, squirril-ity, rat-ification, mouse-olæum, pus-illanimity, hare-editary, ass-tronomy, jay-ography, stag-yrite, duck-tility.

Q. Where were the first hams made?

A. They were made in the temple of Jupiter Hammon, by the Hamadryades; one of them (if we may depend upon Baker's Chronicle) was sent as a present to a gentleman in Ham-shire, of the family of the Ham-iltons, who immediately sent it to Ham-ton-court, where it was hung up by a string in the hall, by way of rarity, whence we have the English phrase ham-strung.

Thus did great Socrates improve the mind,
By questions useful since to all mankind;
For, when the purblind soul no farther saw,
Than length of nose, into dark Nature's law,
His method clear'd up all, enlarged the sight,
And so he taught his pupils with day-light.

R. 8. The Rule of Interruption. Although the company be engaged in a discourse of the most serious consequence, it is and may be lawful to interrupt them with a pun. Ex. gr. suppose them poring over a problem in mathematics, you may, without offence, ask them 'How go squares with[Pg 49] them?' You may say too, 'That, being too intent upon those figures, they are become cycloeid, i. e. sickly-eyed; for which they are a pack of loga-rithms, i. e. loggerheads.' Vide R. 34.

R. 9. The Rule of Risibility. A man must be the first that laughs at his own pun; as Martial advises:

"Qui studet alterius risum captare lepore,
Imprimis rictum contrahat ipse suum."

"He that would move another man to laughter,
Must first begin, and t'other soon comes after."

R. 10. The Rule of Retaliation obliges you, if a man makes fifty puns, to return all, or the most of them, in the same kind. As for instance: Sir W—— sent me a catalogue of Mrs. Prudence's scholars, and desired my advice as to the management of them:

Miss-Chief, the ringleader.

Miss-Advice, that spoils her face with paint.

Miss-Rule, that does every thing she is forbid.

Miss-Application, who has not done one letter in her sampler.

Miss-Belief, who cannot say the Creed yet.

Miss-Call, a perfect Billingsgate.[Pg 50]

Miss-Fortune, that lost her grandmother's needle.

Miss-Chance, that broke her leg by romping.

Miss-Guide, that led the young misses into the dirt.

Miss-Lay'd, who left her porringer of flour and milk where the cat got at it.

Miss-Management, that let all her stockings run out at heels for want of darning.

For which I sent the following masters:

Master-Stroke, to whip them.

Master-Workman, to dress them.

Master-Ship, to rig them.

Master-Lye, to excuse them.

Master-Wort, to purge them.

Master-Piece, to patch them.

Master-Key, to lock them up.

Master-Pock, to mortify them.

If these can't keep your ladies quiet,
Pull down their courage with low diet.
Perhaps, dear sir, you'll think it cruel
To feed them on plain water-gruel;
But take my word, the best of breeding!
As it is plain, requires plain feeding.

Vide Roscommon.
[Pg 51]

R. 11. The Rule of Repetition: You must never let a pun be lost, but repeat and comment upon it till every one in the company both hears and understands it; ex. gr. Sir, I have good wine to give you; excellent pontack, which I got 'pon tick; but, sir, we must have a little pun-talk over it; you take me, sir, and you, and you too, madam.—There is pun-talk upon pontack, and 'pon tick too, hey.

R. 12. The Elementary Rule. Keep to your elements, whether you have fish, fowl, or flesh, for dinner: As for instance, Is not this fish which Mr. Pool sent me, ex-stream sweet? I think it is main good, what say you? O' my sole, I never tasted better, and I think it ought to take plaice of any that swims: though you may carp at me for saying so, I can assure you that both Dr. Spratt and Dr. Whaley are of my mind.—This is an excellent fowl, and a fit dish for high-flyers. Pray, sir, what is your o-pinion of this wing? As for the leg, the cook ought to be clapper-clawed for not roasting it enough. But, now I think of it, why should this be called the bird of Bacchus? A. Because it was dressed by your drunken cook. Not at all. You mistake the matter. Pray is it not a grape-lover; i. e. grey plover? Are you for any[Pg 52] of this mutton, Sir? If not, I can tell you, that you ought to be lamb-asted; for you must know that I have the best in the country. My sheep bear away the bell, and I can assure you that, all weathers, I can treat my friends with as good mutton as this: he that cannot make a meal of it, ought to have it ram-med down his throat.

R. 13. The Rule of Retrospection. By this you may recall a discourse that has been past two hours, and introduce it thus: 'Sir, as you were saying two hours ago—you bought those stockings in Wales; I believe it, for they seem to be well-chose, i. e. Welsh-hose.'—'Sir, you were saying, if I mistake not, an hour or two ago, that soldiers have the speediest justice. I agree with you in that; for they are never without red-dress.'

R. 14. The Rule of Transition; which will serve to introduce any thing that has the most remote relation to the subject you are upon; ex. gr. If a man puns upon a stable, you may pun upon a cornfield, a meadow, a horse-park, a smith's or sadler's shop; ex. gr. One says, His horses are gone to rack.' Then you answer, 'I would turn out the rascal that looks after them. Hay, sir, don't you think I am right? I would strike while the iron is hot; and pummel the dog to some purpose.'[Pg 53]

R. 15. The Rule of Alienation; which obliges you, when people are disputing hotly upon a subject, to pitch upon that word which gives the greatest disturbance, and make a pun upon it. This has not only occasioned peace in private companies, but has put a stop to hot wranglings in parliaments and convocations, which otherwise would not so soon come to a resolution: for, as Horace says, Ridiculum acri, &c.; and very often it is found so. Sir —— —— once, in parliament, brought in a bill which wanted some amendment; which being denied him by the house, he frequently repeated, 'That he thirsted to mend his bill.' Upon which, a worthy member got up, and said, 'Mr. Speaker, I humbly move, since that member thirsts so very much, that he may be allowed to mend his draught.' This put the house into such a good humour, that his petition was granted.

R. 16. The Rule of Analogy is, when two persons pun upon different subjects, after the same manner. Ay, says one, 'I went to my shoe-maker's to-day for a pair of shoes which I bespoke a month ago; and when all came to all, the dog bristles up to me with a thousand excuses, that I thought there would never be an end of his discourse: but, upon my calling him a rascal, he began to wax warm,[Pg 54] and had the impudence to bid me to vamp off, for he had not leisure now to talk to me, because he was going to dinner: which vexed me indeed to the very sole. Upon this I jumped out of his shop in a great rage, and wished the next bit he eat might be his last.' Says another, 'I went to a tanner's that owed me some money; and (would you think it?) the pitiful fellow was fleshed at it, insomuch that forsooth he could not hide his resentment, but told me, that it was enough to set a man horn mad to be dunned so early in a morning: and, as for his part, he would curry favour no longer with me, let me do my worst. Thus the unmannerly cur barked at me, &c.'

R. 17. The Sophistical Rule is, fixing upon a man's saying which he never spoke, and making a pun upon it, as, 'Ay, sir, since you say he was born in Bark-shire, I say he is a son of a bitch.'

R. 18. The Rule of Train, is a method of introducing puns which we have studied before; ex. gr. By talking of Truelock the gun-smith, his very name will provoke some person in the company to pun. Then you proceed: 'Sir, I smell powder, but you are plaguy weak in your mainspring for punning; I would advise you to get a better stock, before you pretend to let off: though you may[Pg 55] think yourself prime in this art, you are much mistaken, for a very young beginner may be a match for you. Ay, sir, you may cock and look big; but, u-pan my word, I take you to be no more than a flash; and Mrs. Skin-flint, my neighbour, shall pun with you for a pistole, if I do not lose my aim, &c.'

R. 19. The Rule of Challenge. As for instance, when you have conned over in your mind a chain of puns, you surprise the best punner in company, after this manner: 'Say Tan-pit, if you dare.'

R. 20. The Sanguine Rule allows you to swear a man out of his pun, and prove yourself the author of it; as Dr. S—served Capt. W—, who was told how a slater, working at his house, fell through all the rafters from top to bottom, and that upon this accident he said, 'He loved to see a man go cleverly through his work.' 'That is mine, by —,' said the Doctor.

R. 21. The Rule of Concatenation is making a string of puns as fast as you can, that nobody else can put in a word till you have exhausted the subject; ex. gr. There was one John Appleby, a gardener, fell in love with one Mrs. Curran, for her cherrycheeks and her lily white hand; and soon after he got her consent to graft upon her[Pg 56] stock. Mr. Link the parson was sent for, who joined the loving pair together; Mr. Rowintree and Mr. Holy-oak were bride-men. The company were, my lady Joan Keel, who came-a-mile on foot to compliment them; and her maid Sally, remarkable for her carrots, that rid upon a chestnut. There was Dr. Burrage too, a constant medlar in other people's affairs. He was lately im-peach'd for murdering Don Quick-set. Mrs. Lettice Skirret and Mrs. Rose-merry were the bride-maids; the latter sang a song to oblige the company, which an arch wag called a funeral dirge: but, notwithstanding this, our friend John began to thrive upon matrimony like a twig in a bush. I forgot to tell you, that the tailor had so much cabbage out of the wedding suit, there was none at all for supper.

R. 22. The Rule of Inoculating is, when a person makes an excellent pun, and you immediately fix another upon it; as Dean Swift one day said to a gentleman, who had a very little bob wig, 'Sir, the dam of your wig is a whisker;' upon which I came in very à propos, and said, 'Sir, that cannot be, for it is but an ear-wig.'

R. 23. The Rule of Desertion allows you to bring a man into a pun, and leave him to work it out: as, suppose you should hear a man say the[Pg 57] word incomparable——Then you proceed, in-com-incom-par-par-rable-rable——So let the other make his best of it.

R. 24. The Salick Rule is, a pretence to a jumping of wits: that is, when a man has made a good pun, the other swears with a pun he was just coming out with it. One night, I remember, Mr.—— served Dr.—— so. The former saying over a bottle, 'Will, I am for my mistress here.' 'How so?' says Tom. 'Why, I am for Wine-if-red.' 'By this crooked stick[10],' said Tom, 'I was coming out with it.'

[10] Cane-a-wry, i. e. Canary.

R. 25. The Etymological Rule is, when a man hunts a pun through every letter and syllable of a word: as for example, I am asked, 'What is the best word to spend an evening with?' I answered, 'Potatos; for there is po—pot—pota—potat—potato, and the reverse sot-a-top.'

R. 26. The Rule of Mortification is, when a man having got the thanks and laugh of a company for a good pun, an enemy to the art swears he read it in "Cambridge Jests." This is such an inversion of it, that I think I may be allowed to make examples of these kind of people in verse:

[Pg 58]

Thus puppies, that adore the dark,
Against bright Cynthia howl and bark;
Although the regent of the night,
Like us, is gay with borrow'd light.

R. 27. The Professionary Rule[11] is, to frame a story, and swear you were present at an event where every man talked in his own calling; ex. gr. Major—— swears he was present at the seizing of a pick-pocket by a great rabble in Smithfield; and that he heard

A Tailor say, 'Send the dog to hell.'

The Cook, 'Let me be at him, I'll baste him.'

The Joiner, 'It is plain the dog was caught in the fact; I saw him.'

The Blacksmith, 'He is a fine spark indeed!'

The Butcher, 'Knock down the shambling cur.'

The Glazier, 'Make the light shine through him.'

The Bookseller, 'Bind him over.'

The Sadler, 'Pummel him.'

The Farmer, 'Thrash the dog.'

[Pg 59]

A Popish Priest going by, 'I'll make the Devil fly out of him.'

[11] An improvement on this rule was adopted by Dr. Swift, in his "Full and True Account of Wood's Procession to the Gallows."

R. 28. The Brazen-head Rule is, when a punster stands his ground against a whole company, though there is not one to side with him, to the utter destruction of all conversation but his own. As for instance—says one, 'I hate a pun.'—Then he, 'When a pun is meant, is it a punishment?'—'Deuce take your quibbling!'—'Sir, I will not bate you an ace, cinque me if I do; and I'll make you know that I am a sice above you.'—'This fellow cannot talk out of his element.'—'To divert you was all I meant.'

R. 29. The Hypothetic Rule is, when you suppose things hardly consistent to be united, for the sake of a pun: as for instance—suppose a person in the pillory had received a full discharge of eggs upon every part of his face but the handle of it; why should he make the longest verses in the world? Ans. Versos Alexandrinos, i. e. All-eggs-and-dry-nose.

R. 30. The Rule of Naturalization is, that punning is free of all languages: as for the Latin Romanos you may say 'Roman nose'—Temeraria, 'Tom, where are you?'—Oxoniæ prospectus, 'Pox on you, pray speak to us. For the French quelque[Pg 60] chose, you may say in English 'kick shoes.' When one says of a thief, 'I wish he was transported;' answer, 'he is already fur enough.' Dr. Swift made an excellent advantage of this rule one night: when a certain peevish gentleman in his company had lost his spectacles, he bid him 'have a good heart, for, if it continued raining all night, he would find them in the morning.'—'Pray, how so?'—'Why, sir,

'Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula manè.'

R. 31. The Rule of Random. When a man speaks any thing that comes uppermost, and some good pun-finder discovers what he never meant in it, then he is to say, 'You have hit it!' As Major Grimes did: complaining that he staid at home by reason of an issue in a leg, which was just beginning to run, he was answered by Mr.—, 'I wonder that you should be confined who have such running legs.' The Major replied, 'You have hit it; for I meant that.'

R. 32. The Rule of Scandal. Never to speak well of another punster; ex. gr. 'Who, he! Lord, sir, he has not sense enough to play at crambo;' or 'He does not know the meaning of synonymous[Pg 61] words;' or, 'He never rose so high as a conundrum or a carrywhichit.'

R. 33. The Rule of Catch is, when you hear a man conning a pun softly to himself, to whip it out of his mouth, and pass it upon the company for your own: as for instance; mustard happened to be mentioned in company where I was, and a gentleman with his eyes fixed upon the ceiling, was at Mus—mus, sinapi—sinapi—snap eye—bite nose;—One in the company, over-hearing him, bit him, and snapped it up, and said, 'Mustard is the stoutest seed in the world, for it takes the greatest man by the nose.'

R. 34. The Golden Rule allows you to change one syllable for another; by this, you may either lop off, insert, or add to a word; ex. gr.

For Church—Kirk.
For Bangor—Clangor.
For Presbyter—Has-biter.

This rule is of such consequence, that a man was once tried for his life by it. The case was thus: A certain man was brought before a judge of assize for murder: his lordship asked his name, and being answered Spillman, the judge said, 'Take away Sp, and his name is Ill-man; put K to it, and it is Killman: away with him, gaoler; his very name[Pg 62] has hanged him[12].' This 34th rule, on this occasion, became a rule of court, and was so well liked, that a justice of peace, who shall be nameless, applied every tittle of it to a man brought to him upon the same account, after this manner: 'Come, sir, I conjure you, as I am one of his majesty's justices of the peace, to tell me your name.'—'My name, an't please you, is Watson.'—'O ho, sir! Watson! mighty well! Take away Sp from it, and it is Ill-man, and put K to it, and it is Kill-man: away with him, constable, his very name will hang him.'

[12] A presbyterian preacher of the last age chose to exemplify the Golden Rule, by dissecting the name of the great enemy of mankind: 'Take away D, and it is Evil, take away the E, and it is Vile, take away the V, and it is IllIll, Vile, Evil, Devil.'

Let us now consider a new case; as for instance, 'The church of England, as by law established.' Put a T before it, and it is Test-ablished: take away the Test and put in o, and it is Abolished.

Blank Page

How much was Tom Gordon, the late ingenious author of Parson Alberoni, obliged to it, in that very natural story which he framed concerning the preacher, where he tells you, one of the congregation called [Pg 63] the minister an Humbassandor for an Ambassador[13].

[13] The story here alluded to is told in a pamphlet, entitled, 'A modest Apology for Parson Alberoni, Governor to King Philip, a Minor, and universal Curate of the whole Spanish Monarchy, &c. by Thomas Gordon, Esq. 1719,' and is as follows: 'There is, in a certain diocese in this nation, a living worth about six hundred pounds a-year. This, and two or three more preferments, maintain the doctor in becoming ease and corpulency. He keeps a chariot in town, and a journeyman in the country; his curate and his coach-horses are his equal drudges, saving that the four-legged cattle are better fed, and have sleeker cassocks, than his spiritual dray-horse. The doctor goes down once a-year, to shear his flock and fill his pockets, or, in other words, to receive the wages of his embassy; and then, sometimes in an afternoon, if his belly do not happen to be too full, he vouchsafes to mount the pulpit, and to instruct his people in the greatness of his character and dullness. This composes the whole parish to rest; but the doctor one day denouncing himself the Lord's Ambassador with greater fire and loudness than could have been reasonably expected from him, it roused a clown of the congregation, who waked his next neighbour with, 'Dost hear, Tom, dost hear?'—'Ay,' says Tom, yawning, 'what does he say?'—'Say?' answered the other, 'he says a plaguy lie, to be sure; he says as how he is my Lord's Humbassandor, but I think he is more rather the Lord's Receiver-General, for he never comes but to take money.' Six hundred pounds a-year is, modestly speaking, a competent fee for lulling the largest congregation in England asleep once in a twelvemonth. Such tithes are the price of napping; and such mighty odds are there between a curtain lecture and a cushion lecture.' See the collection of Tracts by Gordon and Trenchard, vol. i. p. 130.

Give me leave, courteous reader, to recommend to your perusal and practice this most excellent [Pg 64]rule, which is of such universal use and advantage to the learned world, that the most valuable discoveries, both as to antiquities and etymologies, are made by it; nay, further, I will venture to say, that all words which are introduced to enrich and make a language copious, beautiful, and harmonious, arise chiefly from this rule. Let any man but consult Bentley's Horace, and he will see what useful discoveries that very learned gentleman has made by the help of this rule; or, indeed, poor Horace would have lain under the eternal reproach of making 'a fox eat oats,' had not the learned doctor, with great judgment and penetration, found out nitedula to be a blunder of the librarians for vulpecula; which nitedula, the doctor says, signifies a grass-mouse, and this clears up the whole matter, because it makes the story hang well together: for all the world knows, that weazles have a most tender regard and affection to grass mice, whereas they hate foxes as they do fire-brands. In short, all various lections are to be attributed to this rule: so are all the Greek dialects; or Homer would[Pg 65] have wanted the sonorous beauty of his oio's. But the greatest and best masters of this rule, without dispute, were the Dorians, who made nothing of saying tin for soie, tenos for ekeinos, surisdomes for surizomen, &c. From this too we have our quasis in Lexicons. Was it not, by rule the 34th, that the Samaritan, Chaldee, Æthiopic, Syriac, Arabic, and Persian languages were formed from the original Hebrew? for which I appeal to the Polyglot. And among our modern languages, are not the Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, derived and formed from the Latin by the same power? How much poets have been obliged to it, we need no further proof than the figures prothesis, epenthesis, apocope, paragoge, and ellipsis. Trimming and fitting of words to make them more agreeable to our ears, Dionysius Halicarnassensis has taken notice of, in his book 'De Compositione Vocum,' where he pleasantly compares your polite reformers of words to masons with hammers, who break off rugged corners of stones, that they may become more even and firm in their places.

But after all, give me leave to lament, that I cannot have the honour of being the sole inventor of this incomparable rule: though I solemnly protest, upon the word of an author (if an author may[Pg 66] have credit), that I never had the least hint toward it, any more than the ladies' letters and young children's pronunciation, till a year after I had proposed this rule to Dr.——, who was an excellent judge of the advantage it might be to the public; when, to my great surprise, tumbling over the third tome of Alstedius, p. 71, right loth to believe my eyes, I met with the following passage: "Ambigua multam faciunt ad hanc rem, oujusmodi exempla plurima reperiuntur apud Plautum, qui in ambiguis crebro ludit. Joci captantur ex permutatione syllabarum et vocum, ut pro Decretum, Discretum; pro Medicus, Mendicus et Merdicus: pro Polycarpus, Polyeopros. Item ex syllabarum ellipsi, ut ait Althusisus, cap. iii. civil. convers. pro Casimirus, J'rus; pro Marcus, Arcus; pro Vinosus, Osus; pro Sacerdotium, Otium. Sic, additione literæ, pro Urbanus, Turbanus:" which exactly corresponded to every branch and circumstance of my rule. Then, indeed, I could not avoid breaking out into the following exclamations, and that after a most pathetic manner: "Wretched Tom Pun-Sibi! Wretched indeed! Are all thy nocturnal lucubrations come to this? Must another, for being a hundred years before thee in the world, run away with the glory of thy own invention? It is true, he[Pg 67] must. Happy Alstedius! who, I thought, would have stood me in all-stead, upon consulting thy method of joking! All's tedious to me now, since thou hast robbed me of that honour which would have set me above all writers of the present age. And why not, happy Tom Pun-Sibi? did we not jump together like true wits? But, alas! thou art on the safest side of the bush; my credit being liable to the suspicion of the world, because you wrote before me. Ill-natured critics, in spite of all my protestations, will condemn me, right or wrong, for a plagiary. Henceforward never write any thing of thy own; but pillage and trespass upon all that ever wrote before thee: search among dust and moths for things new to the learned. Farewell, study; from this moment I abandon thee: for, wherever I can get a paragraph upon any subject whatsoever ready done to my hand, my head shall have no further trouble than see it fairly transcribed!"—And this method, I hope, will help me to swell out the Second Part of this work.


[Pg 68]




Mirandi novitate movebere mostri.Ovid.

[14] The Art of Punning was originally printed at Dublin in 1719, immediately reprinted in London, and then pretty generally ascribed to Dr. Swift. It appears, however, that in this instance the Dean was only an assistant; the piece having been written by Dr. Sheridan, and corrected and improved by Dr. Swift, Dr. Delany, and Mr. Rochfort. Although it does not seem calculated to give offence to any one, it however called forth the above Satire from the pen of Dr. Tisdal.

Tom was a little merry grig,
Fiddled and danced to his own jig;
Good-natured, but a little silly;
Irresolute, and shally-shilly:
What he should do, he cou'dn't guess.
Swift used him like a man at chess;
[Pg 69]He told him once that he had wit,
But was in jest, and Tom was bit.
Thought himself second son of Phœbus,
For ballad, pun, lampoon, and rebus.
He took a draught of Helicon,
But swallowed so much water down,
He got a dropsy; now they say, 'tis
Turn'd to poetic diabetes;
For all the liquor he has pass'd,
Is without spirit, salt, or taste:
But, since it pass'd, Tom thought it wit,
And so he writ, and writ, and writ:
He writ the famous Punning Art,
The Benefit of p—s and f—t;
He writ the Wonder of all Wonders;
He writ the Blunder of all Blunders;
He writ a merry farce or poppet,
Taught actors how to squeak and hop it;
A treatise on the Wooden-man[15],
A ballad on the nose of Dan;
The art of making April fools,
The four-and-thirty quibbling rules.
The learned say, that Tom went snacks
With Philomaths, for almanacks;
[Pg 70]Though they divided are, for some say,
He writ for Whaley, some for Cumpstey[16].
Hundreds there are, who will make oath,
That he writ almanacks for both;
And, though they made the calculations,
Tom writ the monthly observations!
Such were his writings, but his chatter
Was one continual clitter-clatter.
Swift slit his tongue, and made it talk,
Cry, 'Cup o' sack,' and 'Walk, knave, walk!'
And fitted little prating Pall
For wire-cage, in Common-Hall;
Made him expert at quibble-jargon,
And quaint at selling of a bargain.
Pall, he could talk in different linguos,
But he could not be taught distinguos:
Swift tried in vain, and angry thereat,
Into a spaniel turn'd the parrot;
Made him to walk on his hind-legs,
He dances, fawns, and paws, and begs;
Then cuts a caper o'er a stick[17],
Lies close, does whine, and creep, and lick:
Swift put a bit upon his snout,
Poor Tom! he daren't look about;
[Pg 71]But when that Swift does give the word,
He snaps it up, though 'twere a t—.
Swift strokes his back, and gives him victual,
And then he makes him lick his spittle.
Sometimes he takes him on his lap,
And makes him grin, and snarl, and snap.
He sets the little cur at me;
Kick'd, he leapt upon his knee;
I took him by the neck to shake him,
And made him void his album Græcum.
'Turn out the stinking cur, pox take him!'
Quoth Swift: though Swift could sooner want any
Thing in the world, than a Tanta-ny,
And thus not only makes his grig
A parrot, spaniel, but his pig.

[15] The wooden-man was a famed door-post in Dublin.

[16] Famous Irish almanack makers.

[17] This was literally true between Swift and Sheridan.


The Second Part of this Work will be published with all convenient expedition: to which will be added, A small Treatise of Conundrums, Carriwhichits, and Long-petites; together with the Winter-fire's Diversion; The Art of making Rebuses; The Antiquity of Hoop-petticoats proved from Adam's two Daughters, Calmana and Delbora, &c. &c. [Pg 72]&c.






Tom Ashe died last night. It is conceived he was so puffed up by my lord lieutenant's favour, that it struck him into a fever. I here send you his dying speech, as it was exactly taken by a friend in short-hand. It is something long, and a little incoherent; but he was several hours delivering it, and with several intervals. His friends were about the bed, and he spoke to them thus:

My Friends,

It is time for a man to look grave, when he has one foot there. I once had only a punnic fear of death; but of late I have pundred it more seriously. Every fit of coughing hath put me in mind of my [Pg 73]coffin; though dissolute men seldomest think of dissolution. This is a very great alteration: I, that supported myself with good wine, must now be myself supported by a small bier. A fortune-teller once looked on my hand, and said, 'This man is to be a great traveller; he will soon be at the Diet of Worms, and from thence go to Ratisbone.' But now I understand his double meaning. I desire to be privately buried, for I think a public funeral looks like Bury fair; and the rites of the dead too often prove wrong to the living. Methinks the word itself best expresses the number, neither few nor all. A dying man should not think of obsequies, but ob se quies. Little did I think you would so soon see poor Tom stown under a tomb stone. But as the mole crumbles the mould about her, so a man of small mould, before I am old, may moulder away. Sometimes I've rav'd that I should revive; but physicians tell me, that, when once the great artery has drawn the heart awry, we shall find the cor di all, in spite of all the highest cordial. Brother, you are fond of Daffy's elixir: but, when death comes, the world will see that, in spite of Daffy down Dilly, whatever doctors may design by their medicines, a man in a dropsy drops he not, in spite of Goddard's drops, though none are reckoned such [Pg 74]high drops?—I find death smells the blood of an Englishman: a fee faintly fumbled out will be a weak defence against his fee-fa-fum.—$1.$2. are no letters in death's alphabet; he has not half a bit of either: he moves his scythe, but will not be moved by all our sighs. Every thing ought to put us in mind of death. Physicians affirm, that our very food breeds it in us; so that in our dieting, we may be said to di eating. There is something ominous, not only in the names of diseases, as di-arrhœa, di-abetes, di-sentery, but even in the drugs designed to preserve our lives; as di-acodium, di-apente, di-ascordium. I perceive Dr. Howard (and I feel how hard) lay thumb on my pulse, then pulls it back, as if he saw lethum in my face. I see as bad in his; for sure there is no physic like a sick phiz. He thinks I shall decease before the day cease; but, before I die, before the bell hath toll'd, and Tom Tollman is told that little Tom, though not old, has paid nature's toll, I do desire to give some advice to those that survive me. First, let gamesters consider that death is hazard and passage, upon the turn of a die. Let lawyers consider it as a hard case. And let punners consider how hard it is to die jesting, when death is so hard in digesting.

[Pg 75]

As for my lord-lieutenant the Earl of Mungomerry, I am sure he be-wales my misfortune; and it would move him to stand by, when the carpenter (while my friends grieve and make an odd splutter) nails up my coffin. I will make a short affidavi-t, that, if he makes my epitaph, I will take it for a great honour; and it is a plentiful subject. His excellency may say, that the art of punning is dead with Tom. Tom has taken all puns away with him. Omne tulit pun-Tom.——May his excellency long live tenant to the queen in Ireland. We never Herberd so good a governor before. Sure he mun-go-merry home, that has made a kingdom so happy. I hear, my friends design to publish a collection of my puns. Now I do confess, I have let many a pun go, which did never pungo; therefore the world must read the bad as well as the good. Virgil has long foretold it: Punica mala leges.——I have had several forebodings that I should soon die: I have of late been often at committees, where I have sat de die in diem.——I conversed much with the usher of the black rod: I saw his medals; and woe is me dull soul, not to consider they are but dead men's faces stampt over and over by the living, which will shortly be my condition.

[Pg 76]

Tell Sir Anthony Fountain, I ran clear to the bottom, and wish he may be a late a river where I am going. He used to brook compliments. May his sand be long a running; not quick sand like mine! Bid him avoid poring upon monuments and books; which is in reality but running among rocks and shelves, to stop his course. May his waters never be troubled with mud or gravel, nor stopt by any grinding stone! May his friends be all true trouts, and his enemies laid as flat as flounders! I look upon him as the most fluent of his race; therefore let him not despond. I foresee his black rod will advance to a pike, and destroy all our ills.

But I am going; my wind in lungs is turning to a winding sheet. The thoughts of a pall begin to a pall me. Life is but a vapour, car elle va pour la moindre cause. Farewell: I have lived ad amicorum fastidium, and now behold how fast I dium!

Here his breath failed him, and he expired. There are some false spellings here and there; but they must be pardoned in a dying man.[Pg 77]






You must give me leave to complain of a pestilent fellow in my neighbourhood, who is always beating mortar; yet I cannot find he ever builds. In talking, he useth such hard words, that I want a Drugger-man to interpret them. But all is not gold that glisters. A pot he carries to most houses where he visits. He makes his prentice his gally slave. I wish our lane were purged of him. Yet he pretends to be a cordial man. Every spring his shop is crowded with country-folks, who, by their leaves, in my opinion, help him to do a great deal of mischief. He is full of scruples; and so very litigious, that he files bills against all his acquaintance: and, though he be much troubled with the simples, yet I assure you he is a Jesuitical dog; as you may know by his bark. Of all poetry he loves the dram-a-tick. I am, [Pg 78]&c.



Worthy Mr. Pennyfeather,

Madam Johnson has been very ill-used by her servants; they put shillings into her broth instead of groats, which made her stamp. I hear they had them from one Tom Ducket, a tenant to Major Noble, who I am told is reduced to nine-pence. We are doubting whether we shall dine at the Crown or the Angel. Honest Mark Cob, who has been much moydored of late, will dine with us, but 'Squire Manypenny and Captain Sterling desire to be excused, for they are engaged with Ned Silver to dine in Change-alley. They live in great har-mony; they met altogether last week, and sate as loving as horses in a pound. I suppose you have heard of the rhino-ceros lately arrived here. A captain was cash-iered on Wednesday. A scavenger abused me this morning, but I made him down with his dust, which indeed was a far-thing from my intentions. Mrs. Brent had a pi-stole [Pg 79]from her; I would a' ginny'e a good deal for such another. Mrs. Dingley has made a souse for your collard-eel. Alderman Coyn presents his service to you. I have nothing but half-pens to write with, so that you must excuse this scrawl. One of my seals fell into a chink. I am, without alloy,

Your most obedient,

P.S. Mr. Cole presents his service to you, of which I am a-tester.




Manifold have been the judgments which Heaven, from time to time, for the chastisement of a sinful people, has inflicted on whole nations. For when the degeneracy becomes common, 'tis but just the punishment should be general: Of this kind, in our own unfortunate country, was that destructive pestilence, whose mortality was so fatal, as to sweep[Pg 80] away, if Sir William Petty may be believed, five millions of Christian souls, besides women and Jews.

Such also was that dreadful conflagration ensuing, in this famous metropolis of London, which consumed, according to the computation of Sir Samuel Morland, 100,000 houses, not to mention churches and stables.

Scarce had this unhappy nation recovered these funest disasters, when the abomination of playhouses rose up in this land: from hence hath an inundation of obscenity flowed from the court and overspread the kingdom. Even infants disfigured the walls of holy temples with exorbitant representations of the members of generation: nay, no sooner had they learnt to spell, but they had wickedness enough to write the names thereof in large capitals: an enormity observed by travellers to be found in no country but England.

But when whoring and popery were driven hence by the happy Revolution, still the nation so greatly offended, that Socinianism, Arianism, and Whistonism triumphed in our streets, and were in a manner become universal.

And yet still, after all these visitations, it has pleased Heaven to visit us with a contagion more[Pg 81] epidemical, and of consequence more fatal: this was foretold to us, first, by that unparalleled eclipse in 1714; secondly, by the dreadful coruscation in the air this present year; and, thirdly, by the nine comets seen at once over Soho-square, by Mrs. Katherine Wadlington, and others: a contagion that first crept in among the first quality, descended to their footmen, and infused itself into their ladies—I mean the woeful practice of PUNNING. This does occasion the corruption of our language, and therein of the word of God translated into our language, which certainly every sober Christian must tremble at.

Now such is the enormity of this abomination, that our very nobles not only commit punning over tea, and in taverns, but even on the Lord's day, and in the king's chapel: therefore, to deter men from this evil practice, I shall give some true and dreadful examples of God's revenge against punsters.

The Right Honourable——(but it is not safe to insert the name of an eminent nobleman in this paper, yet I will venture to say that such a one has been seen; which is all we can say, considering the largeness of his sleeves)—This young nobleman was not only a flagitious punster himself, but was[Pg 82] accessary to the punning of others, by consent, by provocation, by connivance, and by defence of the evil committed; for which the Lord mercifully spared his neck, but as a mark of reprobation wryed his nose.

Another nobleman of great hopes, no less guilty of the same crime, was made the punisher of himself with his own hand, in the loss of 500 pounds at box and dice; whereby this unfortunate young gentleman incurred the heavy displeasure of his aged grandmother.

A third of no less illustrious extraction, for the same vice, was permitted to fall into the arms of a Dalilah, who may one day cut off his curious hair, and deliver him up to the Philistines.

Colonel F——, an ancient gentleman of grave deportment, gave into this sin so early in his youth, that whenever his tongue endeavours to speak common sense, he hesitates so as not to be understood.

Thomas Pickle, gentleman, for the same crime, banished to Minorca.

Muley Hamet, from a wealthy and hopeful officer in the army, turned a miserable invalid at Tilbury-Fort.

[Pg 83]

——Eustace, Esq. for the murder of much of the King's English in Ireland, is quite deprived of his reason, and now remains a lively instance of emptiness and vivacity.

Poor Daniel Button, for the same offence, deprived of his wits.

One Samuel, an Irishman, for his forward attempt to pun, was stunted in his stature, and hath been visited all his life after with bulls and blunders.

George Simmons, shoemaker at Turnstile in Holborn, was so given to this custom, and did it with so much success, that his neighbours gave out he was a wit. Which report coming among his creditors, nobody would trust him; so that he is now a bankrupt, and his family in a miserable condition.

Divers eminent clergymen of the university of Cambridge, for having propagated this vice, became great drunkards and Tories.

From which calamities, the Lord in his mercy defend us all, &c. [Pg 84]&c.


When Adam and Eve, as the saints all believe,
From the garden of Eden were driven;
They put up a prayer to king Joe in his chair,
That a boon he would grant them from heaven.
'Twas in vain that old Jove 'gainst their petition strove,
Madame Juno determined to grapple
His arguments keen; said the thunderer's queen,
"Where's the sin, pray, of stealing an apple?
Send Momus, I beg, let him carry an egg,
To earth's now disconsolate son;
And bid Mistress Eve, that no longer she grieve,
For the gods have enclosed them a Pun."
Now downward the sprite on the earth did alight,
And cracking the shell on the floor,
Gave birth to a Pun, full of humour and fun,
And sadness they never knew more.


By the learned Author of Hermes.

On the subject of puns the late learned author of Hermes and Philological Inquiries has the following remarks and extracts:

[Pg 85]A Pun seldom regards MEANING, being chiefly confined to SOUND.

Horace gives a sad example of this spurious wit, where (as Dryden humorously translates it) he makes Persius the buffoon exhort the patriot Brutus to kill Mr. King, that is, Rupilius Rex, because Brutus, when he slew Cæsar, had been accustomed to KING-KILLING.

Hunc Regem occide; operum
Hoc mihi crede tuorum est.

We have a worse attempt in Homer, where Ulysses makes Polypheme believe his name was ΟΤΤΙΣ, and where the dull Cyclops, after he had lost his eye, upon being asked by his brethren who had done so much mischief, replies, 'twas done by ΟΤΤΙΣ, that is, by NOBODY.

Enigmas are of a more complicated nature, being involved either in pun or metaphor, or sometimes in both.

Ἁνδῥ ἑιδον ωυρἱ χαλκὁν ἑπ' ἱνἑρι κολλἡσαντα

I saw a man, who, unprovoked with ire,
Stuck brass upon another's back by fire.

This Enigma is ingenious, and means the operation of cupping, performed in ancient days by a machine of brass.

In such fancies, contrary to the principles of good metaphor and good writing, a perplexity is caused, not by accident, but by design, and the pleasure lies in the being able to resolve it.

[Pg 86]


The English are noted for punning on people's names, in allusion to their talent or profession.—Grimaldi was called, from his "grim faces," Grim-all-day; Macready, from his quick study, "Make ready;" Young, from his youthful appearance, "the young actor;" Kean, from his new readings, "the keen actor;" Sinclair, from his beautiful voice, "Mr. Sing clear;" Miss Tree, the lovely vocalist, "the Mystery," &c. &c. &c.: innumerable are the instances in the political world, but quant. suff. Perhaps one of the most laughable of the present day is the pun upon Mr. Thomas Bish, the stockbroker's name; he was then at the head of one of the most respectable tea-dealing establishments in London. His friends sunk his Christian name, excepting the first letter, and jocosely called him Mr. Tea Bish: perhaps the joke was borrowed from an epigram on Mr. Twining, the tea-dealer, viz.

"How curiously names with professions agree,
For Twining would be wining, dispossess'd of his T.

But we shall favour the reader with a few of the best modern examples.[Pg 87]


Men once were surnamed from their shape or estate,
(You all may from history worm it:)
There was Lewis the Bulky, and Henry the Great,
John Lackland, and Peter the Hermit.
But now, when the door-plates of misters and dames
Are read, each so constantly varies
From the owner's trade, figure, and calling, surnames
Seem given by the rule of contraries.

Mr. Fox, though provoked, never doubles his fist,
Mr. Burns in his grate has no fuel,
Mr. Playfair won't catch me at hazard or whist,
Mr. Coward was wing'd in a duel.
Mr. Wise is a dunce, Mr. King is a Whig,
Mr. Coffin's uncommonly sprightly,
And huge Mr. Little broke down in a gig
[Pg 88]While driving fat Mrs. Golightly.

Mrs. Drinkwater's apt to indulge in a dram,
Mrs. Angel's an absolute fury,
And meek Mr. Lyon let fierce Mr. Lamb
Tweak his nose in the lobby of Drury.
At Bath, where the feeble go more than the stout,
(A conduct well worthy of Nero,)
Over poor Mr. Lightfoot, confined with the gout,
Mr. Heaviside danced a Bolero.

Miss Joy, wretched maid, when she chose Mr. Love,
Found nothing but sorrow await her:
She now holds in wedlock, as true as a dove,
That fondest of mates, Mr. Hayter.
Mr. Oldcastle dwells in a modern-built hut,
Miss Sage is of madcaps the archest;
Of all the queer bachelors Cupid e'er cut,
Old Mr. Younghusband's the starchest.

Mr. Child, in a passion, knock'd down Mr. Rock,
Mr. Stone like an aspen-leaf shivers,
Miss Poole used to dance, but she stands like a stock
[Pg 89]Ever since she became Mrs. Rivers.
Mr. Swift hobbles onward, no mortal knows how,
He moves as though cords had entwined him;
Mr. Metcalfe ran off, upon meeting a cow,
With pale Mr. Turnbull behind him.

Mr. Barker's as mute as a fish in the sea,
Mr. Miles never moves on a journey,
Mr. Gotobed sits up till half-after-three,
Mr. Makepiece was bred an attorney.
Mr. Gardner can't tell a flower from a root,
Mr. Wilde with timidity draws back;
Mr. Ryder performs all his journeys on foot,
Mr. Foote all his journeys on horseback.

Mr. Penny, whose father was rolling in wealth,
Kick'd down all the fortune his dad won,
Large Mr. Le Fever's the picture of health,
Mr. Goodenough is but a bad one.
Mr. Cruickshank stept into three thousand a-year
By showing his leg to an heiress:—
Now I hope you'll acknowledge I've made it quite clear
Surnames ever go by contraries.

New Monthly Magazine.
[Pg 90]




Here lies old John Magee, late the landlord at the Sun,
He never had an ail, unless when all his ale was done:
The Sun was on the sign, tho' what sign his sun was on,
No studier of the Zodiac could ever hit upon.
Some said it was Aquarius, so queerious he'd get;
But he declared no soda-hack should ever share his whet.
His burnish'd sun was sol-o, soul-heart'ning was his cheer,
And quaffing of good porter long kept him from his bier.
As draughtsman he'd no equal, his drawings were so good,
And many a noble draught has he taken from the wood,—
[Pg 91]Rare spirited productions, with tasty views near Cork;
And then he had a score or two rum characters in chalk.
Above the mantel-taillee his tally it was nail'd,
And though he had lost one eyesight, his hop-ticks never fail'd.
Good ale and cider sold here, oft made the soldier halt,
And sailor Jack, his sail aback, would hoist aboard his malt;
Most cordially he'd pour out a cordial for the fair,
Whose peeper meant to ogle the peppermint so rare;
While buxom Jean would toss off the juniper so gay,
And swear it was both sweet and nice as any shrub in May.
At last John took to drinking, and drank till drunk with drink;
His stuffing he would stuff in till stuff began to shrink;
Tho' mistress shook her hand high, he suck'd the sugar-candy,
And often closed his brand eye by tippling of the brandy.
His servants always firking, his firkins ran so fast,
And staggering round his bar-rails, his barrels breathed their last;
[Pg 92]And when he treated all hands his Hollands ran away,
Nor reap'd he fruit from any seed for aniseed to pay.
And though he drank the bitters, his bitters still increas'd,
He puff'd the more parfait au cœur till all his efforts ceas'd.
The storm, alas! was brewing, the brewer drew his till,
And Mrs. Figg, for 'bacca, to back her brought her bill.
Distillers still'd his spirits, but couldn't still his mind;
He told the bailiff he would try a bail if he could find;
But fumbling round the tap-room, Death tapp'd him on the head,
So here he lies quite flat and stale, because, d'ye see, he's dead.

Literary Gazette.

[Pg 93]





Who's he, that from our board is running?

He, Sir's an enemy to punning,

A bashful foe, who loves not wit—

Ergo, because he's none of it

Within his cranium; and at table

Sits like the fox in Æsop's fable,

Watching the grapes he'd fain devour,

And disappointed, calls them sour.

A laugh would decompose his metal,

And like a dog, with a tin kettle

Dangling at his tail, he runs

From witty wags who deal in puns.



It has just been communicated to me, that you are about to collect and publish a Punster's Pocket-[Pg 94]Book, for the express purpose of promoting that pernicious vice, which is already much too prevalent. As an antidote to the evil, I hope you will not fail to insert this my special protest.


I am a bashful young man of good fortune, who, to use the phrase of the mode, have just come out, and made my entré into the world with the reputation of being a gentleman and a scholar. I could wish you to notice a minor evil in society which tends to poison the springs of taste and knowledge, by bringing forward the flippant, and throwing back the reflective, speaker. I allude to the vice of punning, which tends to destroy all the profit and pleasure of conversation, and embarrass, in the greatest degree, the young and inexperienced.

It is my fate to mix with a circle of fashionable dilettanti, each of them capable of sustaining a part in rational discourse, and of conducting the intellectual conflict with some share of vigour and learning; who, nevertheless, meet together to fritter away time, patience, and attention, with a series of unconnected quibbles and conundrums. Instead of the rich web of fancy, glowing with the vivid creations of lively, intelligent minds, the conversation [Pg 95]presents a motley intermixture of shreds of wit and patches of conceit, a chequer-work of incongruities, the very orts and scraps of the "Feast of Reason," the dozings of science, and dregs of literature. If I relate to this group of punsters the most affecting circumstance, I am heard with impatience and inattention, till I chance unwittingly to utter a word susceptible of a double or triple interpretation. The mischievous spark of folly immediately ignites, the moral interest of my tale is undermined, and a loud report of laughter announces the explosion. The genius of orthography frowns in vain: puns are, by the law of custom, entitled to claim entrance into the sensorium either by the eye or the ear: but when a pseudo pun ("for indeed there are counterfeits abroad") is perceptible to neither sense—when read, its wit is not discoverable; and when heard, it cannot be understood: to avoid the horror of an explanation, I find myself obliged to perjure my senses by laughing in ignorance and very sadness, and thus contribute a sanction to the practice I would fain abolish. The evil is subversive of the first principle of society. Is it little to hunger for the bread of wisdom, and to be fed with the husks of folly? Is it little to thirst for [Pg 96]the Castalian fount, and see its waters idly wasted in sport or malice? Is it little to seek for the interchange of souls, and find only the reciprocity of nonsense?


To which complaint, I add this note
And sketch, by way of antidote,
The glorious art can life enhance,
A Pun will cause a Bear to dance,
And as we here have proof,—provoke
A bashful man to stand a joke.

[Pg 97]

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[Pg 98]





The sovereign medicine of life,
The antidote to care and strife—
Is friendship, and the cheerful bowl,
When humour meets a kindred soul:
Then flows the epigram, and pun,
From starry eve, to morning's sun;
And Laughter, "holding both his sides,"
The rubs and jeers of life derides.
Then honest hearts, elate with glee,
Forget the world, and black ennui;
For nought like punch, and puns, can drown,
The supercilious rich man's frown,
Or free the heart, a prey to care,
From fortune's ills and fell despair.

Bernard Blackmantle.

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[Pg 99]


The seeds of punning are in the minds of all men."
Addison, Spectator, No. 61.


Among the few highly favoured individuals who were included in the select evening parties of his present Majesty, George the Fourth, while at the Pavilion, Brighton, was the facetious Reverend J. Wright. On one occasion the king suggested to his brother, the Duke of York, some intention he had of doing a particular act, to which the duke dissented, and his Majesty referred to the D.D. on which the reverend jocularly observed, "The king can do no wrong." Then, said his Majesty, "Fred. I shall pursue my object, for you hear I have 'Wright Divine' on my side."


Sir George C., better known as Col. C., was said to have had an intrigue with a Mrs. Kitchen. When the king was told of it, he said, "It was[Pg 100] very natural that a Cooke should be fond of Kitchen stuff, but if he meddles with the Coles he will get out of the frying-pan into the fire." The Coles were cousins to the lady.


Sir George Hill, the vice-treasurer of Ireland, and a near relative to the Londonderry family, was among the visitors at the Pavilion. Dr. Tierney remarked, that Sir George was getting old and feeble—"If I mistake not," replied the king, "he is going down hill very rapidly."

"Hume and Croker had a sharp contest last night," said the Earl of Liverpool to his Majesty, "but it ended in smoke." "I don't wonder at that," replied the monarch; "The Fire of Croker was sure to smoke like Irish turf beneath the weight of Scotch Hume-i-dity."

Sir Edmund Nagle said he wondered that the king of France did not feel offended at the squibs let off against him in the English newspapers. "Pshaw!" said the king, "he would be a fool indeed to be frightened at a squib in London,[Pg 101] when at Paris he is sitting on a barrel of gunpowder."


In an application to his Lordship for an injunction to restrain the proprietors of the "Gazette of Fashion" from selling the song of "We're a' Noddin," the Chancellor perceiving the trifling nature of the cause, after hearing the defendant, observed, "I will dismiss both parties, by granting an injunction against Cease your Funning."


On a recent occasion, having taken his seat in the Admiralty Court, inquired separately of the advocates, if they had any motion to move; and being answered in the negative, the judge very good humouredly replied, "Then, gentlemen, the best thing we can do will be to move ourselves."

Kicking the Bucket.

As the Earl Bathurst and George Canning were walking along Pall Mall, the Earl struck his foot, by accident, against a small pail, (which some[Pg 102] careless servant had left at the door), and turned it over; "Why, your lordship has kicked the bucket," said the facetious orator; "No, not so bad as that, George," replied the witty earl, "I've only turned a little pale (i. e. pail)."


Few persons ever enjoyed a greater facility of punning upon the ancient languages than his lordship. For instance, on one of the articles of his breakfast apparatus, Lord E. had inscribed Tu doces, literally Thou—Tea—Chest.


"Your Grace speaks without reason, and too much in a passion," said a Spanish brunette to whom he had made a proposal, and was pressing it somewhat close. "Ah! my dear little angel," said the great captain, "reason has nothing to do with love; and passion is very desirable when we are on the point of entering into immediate action."


A noble lord who was aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington, visited the Duke early on the morning[Pg 103] of the battle of Salamanca, and perceiving him lying on a very small camp bedstead, observed that his Grace "had not room to turn himself." The Duke immediately replied, "When you have lived as long as I have, you will know that when a man thinks of turning in his bed, it is time he should turn out of it."


Being told that a great public defaulter had married his kept-mistress, observed, "That fellow is always robbing the public."


When the Marquis of Hertford opened his splendid hotel in Piccadilly, Mrs. Coutts was one of the visitors present—much to the annoyance of certain of our fair nobility. In reply to an observation of hers, upon the splendour and magnificence of the furniture and decorations, Rogers archly remarked, that, "besides splendour, there was so much good taste in the ornaments and society—every thing in the rooms was so chaste and delicate."

[Pg 104]


The beautiful Lady Hamilton having at her table given "Mr. Abraham Goldsmidt" as a toast, and Lord Nelson only half filling his glass, she cried, "Come, come, my Lord, you must not sham Abraham."


A friend consoling with the comedian during a severe attack of the gout, observed, that the disease prolonged life, and added, "Any body might take a lease of yours." "Then it must be," quoth Jack writhing with pain, "at a rack rent."


Jack Bannister, praising the hospitalities of the Irish, after his return from a trip to the sister kingdom, was asked if he had ever been at Cork? "No," replied the wit, "but I have seen a great many drawings of it."


Luttrell and Sam Rogers met together at the Chinese Saloon the other day. "This must be a famous speculation," said Sam; "I think the proprietor of the Anatomie Vivante should take his motto from my favourite epistle in Horace—

'Annonæ prosit—
Vir BONUS.'"

[Pg 105]

"Why," said Luttrell, "I think the man a humbug; you'll find plenty of living skeletons in our hospitals—so I think a better motto may be found for him in the same epistle, which you have quoted so often—

'Vir BONUS est QUIZ.'"


C.J. Fox, and Mr. Hare, his friend, both much incommoded by duns, were together in a house, when seeing some very shabby men about the door, they were afraid they were bailiffs in search of them. Not knowing which was in danger, and wishing to ascertain it, Fox opened the window, and calling to them, said, "Pray, gentlemen, are you Fox-hunting, or Hare-hunting?"


The witty Lord Ross having spent all his money in London, set out for Ireland in order to recruit his purse. On his way he happened to meet with Sir Murrough O'Brien, driving for the capital in a lofty phaeton, with six fine dun-coloured horses. "Sir Murrough," exclaimed his Lordship, "what a contrast between you and me! I have left my duns behind me; you are driving your duns before you.[Pg 106]


Early one morning, the Doctor passing by the end of the Old Bailey, observed a great crowd collected, and upon inquiring of Boswell what it meant, was informed that one Vowel was going to be hanged for forgery. "Well," replied the Doctor, "it is very clear, Bozzy, that it is neither U nor I."

Dr. Johnson.

A pert young fellow who had made some abortive attempts as an author, and notwithstanding the shallowness of his pretensions, was on excellent terms with himself, had long been labouring for an opportunity of being introduced to the Doctor, and at length succeeded in obtaining an invitation to Mr. Thrale's. Having taken proper means to be frequently accosted by his name, which, in his own fond imagination, was "fama super æthera notum," he sat for some time in expectation of being accosted by the Lexicographer. Finding, however, that his hopes were vain, he at length ventured to break the ice. Approaching the Doctor with a smile of self-sufficiency, "My name, Doctor Johnson," [Pg 107]said he, "is——; you have probably heard of me as being of some celebrity in the literary world." "Yes, I have indeed," was the sarcastic reply he received, "of very unfortunate celebrity."


The Doctor used to say, that a man's happiness was secure in proportion to the small number of his wants; and he added, that, all his life, he had endeavoured to prevent the multiplication of them in himself. A Mr. Ketch, on hearing this, said to him, "Then, Doctor, your secret of happiness is, to cut down your wants." "Suspend your puns, Mr. Ketch," said the Doctor, "and I will drop you the hint: My secret is, not to let them grow up."


George Colman being once asked if he were acquainted with Theodore Hook, replied, "Oh yes; Hook and I (eye) are old associates."


"We shall jump into summer all at once," said a friend to James Smith, one very fine day in the early part of the year. "Stop," said the punster, "if it is leap year, you must take a good spring first."[Pg 108]


Shield the composer, on the occasion of Sir George Smart being knighted, said, "It must have been on the merit of his score[19], and not on the score of his merit."

[19] The title was bestowed by the Duke of Richmond, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who it is known was not over rich.


As William Spencer was contemplating the caricatures at Fores's one day, somebody pointed out to him Cruickshanks's design of the "Ostend packet in a squall;" when the wit, without at all sympathizing with the nausea visible on some of the faces represented in the print, exclaimed,

"Quodcunque Ostendis mihi sic incredulus odi."

The amiable Mrs. W. always insists that her friends who take grog, should mix equal quantities [Pg 109]of spirits and water, though she never observes the rule for herself. Reynolds having once made a glass under her directions, was asked by the lady—"Pray, Sir, is it—As You Like It?"—"No, Madam," replied the dramatist, "it is—Measure for Measure."

The Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian.

The first time that Henderson, the player, rehearsed a part at Drury Lane, George Garrick came into the boxes, saying as he entered, "I only come as a spectator." Soon after he made some objection to Henderson's playing, when the young actor retorted—"Sir, I thought you were only to be a Spectator; instead of that you are turning Tatler." "Never mind him, Sir," said David Garrick, "never mind him, let him be what he will, I'll be the Guardian."


The late Mr. A. Cherry, comedian, was written to some years since, with an offer for a good engagement from a manager, who, on a former occasion, had not behaved altogether well to him.[Pg 110] Cherry sent him word, that he had been bit by him once, and he was resolved, that he should not make two bites of A. Cherry.


Mr. Jekyll being told the other day, that Mr. Raine, the barrister, was engaged as the opposing counsel for a Mr. Hay, inquired, "If Raine was ever known to do any good to Hay?"

A Fault in Candles.

Ralph Wewitzer, ordering a box of candles, said he hoped they would be better than the last. The chandler said he was very sorry to hear them complained of, as they were as good as he could make. "Why," says Ralph, "they were very well till about half burnt down, but after that they would not burn any longer."


Mr. Fox supped one evening with Edmund Burke, at the Thatched House, where they were served with dishes more elegant than substantial.[Pg 111] Charles's appetite being rather keen, he was far from relishing the kickshaws that were set before him, and addressing his companion—"These dishes, Burke," said he, "are admirably calculated for your palate—they are both sublime and beautiful."


Horne Tooke, author of the Epea Pteroenta, was remarkable for the readiness of his repartees in conversation. He once received an invitation to a dinner party to meet the celebrated Dr. Parr. "What!" said Horne Tooke, "go to meet a country schoolmaster, a mere man of Greek and Latin scraps! that will never do." Some time after this, he met Dr. Parr in the street, and addressed him with, "Ah! my dear Parr, is it you? how gratified I am to see you!" "What, me?" replied Parr, "a mere country schoolmaster, a man of Greek and Latin scraps?" "Oh my good friend," rejoined Horne Tooke immediately, "those who told you that never understood me; when I spoke of the scraps I meant the tit-bits."

[Pg 112]


During Lord Westmoreland's administration, when a number of new corps were raised in Ireland (and given as jobs and political favours), it was observed, that, when inspected there, the establishment of each regiment was nominally reported to be complete at embarkation for England, but when landed at the other side, many of them had not a quarter of their numbers. "No wonder," said Mr. Curran, "for after being mustered, they are afraid of being peppered, and off they fly, not wishing to pay for the roast."


A gentleman being severely cross-examined by Mr. Dunning, who asked him repeatedly if he did not live within the verge of the court, at length answered that he did. "And pray, sir," said Dunning, "why did you take up your residence in that place?"—"In order to avoid the impertinence of dunning," answered the witness.

Bleeding in Chancery.

On a motion to dissolve the injunction obtained against that useful work the Lancet, the Lord[Pg 113] Chancellor sent it to the Vice, and "hoped there would be no more bleeding," to which Mr. Hart replied, not much, as there was only one operator retained by each side. Ay, but, said his lordship, they may stick to their patient like a Leach.


One wintry day, the Prince of Wales went into the Thatched House Tavern, and ordered a steak: "But (said his Royal Highness), I am devilish cold, bring me a glass of hot brandy and water." He swallowed it, another, and another. "Now, (said he) I am comfortable, bring my steak." On which Mr. Sheridan took out his pencil, and wrote the following impromptu:—

The Prince came in, said it was cold,

Then put to his head the rummer;

Till swallow after swallow came,

When he pronounced it summer.


Charles meeting a thief-taker with a man in his custody, and asking his offence, was told he had stolen a bridle. "Then (said Charles) he wanted to touch the bit."

[Pg 114]


That very sober pious personage, Mr. Wilberforce, reproved his friend Sheridan thus: "My good Sir, (said he) you have drunk a little too much." "Have I? (hiccupped the other) and you, my good Sir, have drunk much too little."


The late Caleb Whitfoord, seeing a lady knotting fringe for a petticoat, asked her, what she was doing? "Knotting, Sir, (replied she;) pray Mr. Whitfoord, can you knot?" He answered, "I can-not."


The judge told an old man with a long beard, who was being examined as a witness, that he "supposed he had a conscience as long as his beard." If, replied the old man, we were all to be judged of by that rule, your lordship would be deemed a most unconscionable judge[20].

[20] Jefferies had no beard.


"Sic sine Morte Mori," was given by some wag as a toast, when Lord Chesterfield and Lord Ty[Pg 115]rawley were both present, at a very advanced age, when Lord Chesterfield said, "Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years; but we don't choose to have it known."


A German baron at a gaming-house, being detected in an odd trick, one of the players fairly threw him out of the one pair of stairs window. On this outrage he took the advice of Foote, who told him "never play so high again."


Felix M'Carthy passing through Clement's Inn, and receiving abuse from some impudent clerks, was advised to complain to the Principal, which he did thus: "I have been abused here by some of the rascals of this inn, and I come to acquaint you of it, as I understand you are the Principal."


Mr. Fox, in the course of a speech, said, "If any thing on my part, or on the part of those with whom I acted, was an obstruction to peace, I could not lie on my pillow with ease." George Tierney (then in administration) whispered to his neighbour, "If he could not lie on his pillow with ease, he can lie in this house with ease."

[Pg 116]


Lee Lewis shooting in a field, the proprietor attacked him: "I allow no person (said he) to kill game on my manor but myself; and I'll shoot you, if I find you here again." "What! (said the comedian) do you mean to make game of me?"


The late Caleb Whitfoord, finding his nephew, Charles Smith, playing the violin, the following bits took place:

W. I fear, Charles, you lose a great deal of time with this fiddling.

S. Sir, I endeavour to keep time.

W. You mean rather to kill time.

S. No, I only beat time.


When Kemble was rehearsing the romance sung by Richard Cœur de Lion, Shaw, the leader of the band, called out from the orchestra, "Mr. Kemble, my dear Mr. Kemble, you are murdering time." Kemble, calmly and coolly taking a pinch of snuff, said, "My dear Sir, it is better for me to murder Time at once than be continually beating him as you do."


Sheridan complained that Congreve's "Love for[Pg 117] Love," had been so much altered and modified to suit the delicate ears of modern mawkishness, that it was quite spoiled. It is now (said he) like modern marriages, with very little of "Love for Love" in it. "His plays," said the wit, "are, I own, somewhat licentious, but it is barbarous to mangle them: they are like horses; when you deprive them of their vice, they lose their vigour."


An auctioneer having turned publican, was soon after thrown into the King's Bench; on which the following paragraph appeared in the Morning Post: "Mr. A., who lately quitted the pulpit for the bar, has been promoted to the bench."


Became a general toast in Ireland after the Union, by which he lost his place, or, as he once said, "his bread and butter." When lamenting his loss, he was told, "Ah! but it's amply made up to you in toast."

A special Pun.

Mr. Twiss being one evening in the boxes of Covent Garden theatre, to see Macbeth: when the hero questions the witches what they are doing,[Pg 118] they answer, "a deed without a name." Our counsellor, whose attention was at that moment directed more to Coke upon Littleton than Shakspeare, catching, however, the actor's words, repeated, "A deed without a name! why, 'tis void."


The comedian meeting a young friend, observed how well he looked. "Ay, (says the other) I have a rare good appetite, and I take care that it be well satisfied; in the first place, every morning I eat a great deal to breakfast." "Then (observes the former) I presume you breakfast in a timber-yard."


A few years ago, it will be remembered, that Mr. John Bannister nearly lost his arm by the bursting of a fowling-piece. Shortly after he observed to a friend, "I may be an actor, but I will not attempt to be a Shooter."


The master of the Wrestler's Inn, at Yarmouth, having solicited Lord Nelson to permit him to put up his arms, and change the name of the inn to The Nelson Hotel; his lordship returned for answer, that he was perfectly welcome to his name, but he must be sensible that he had no arms to spare.[Pg 119]


A severe Irish judge, being at dinner among an assemblage of lawyers, Mr. Curran asked his lordship, if he should have the pleasure of helping him to a slice of pickled tongue which stood before him. "If it were hung (said his lordship), I would try it." "If you were to try it (replied Curran), it would be sure to be hung."


On some one proposing to send an Irish barrister to "Coventry" for refusing to fight a duel, "Sure," said the wit, "that is carrying the joke a little too far."


While a counsellor was pleading at the Irish bar, a louse unluckily peeped from under his wig. Curran, who sat next to him, whispered what he saw. "You joke," said the barrister. "If (replied Mr. Curran) you have many such jokes in your head, the sooner you crack them the better."


MacNally was very lame, and when walking, he had an unfortunate limp. At the time of the Rebellion he was seized with a military ardour, and when the different volunteer corps were forming in[Pg 120] Dublin, that of the lawyers was organized. Meeting with Curran, MacNally said, "My dear friend, these are not times for a man to be idle; I am determined to enter the Lawyers' Corps, and follow the camp." "You follow the camp, my little limb of the law!" said the wit, "tut, tut, renounce the idea; you never can be a disciplinarian." "And why not, Mr. Curran?" said MacNally. "For this reason," said Curran, "the moment you were ordered to march you would halt."


A gentleman told Lord North, that from a variety of losses, he had found himself compelled to reduce his establishment. "And what (said his lordship) have you done with the fine mare you used to ride?" "I have sold her." "Then you have not attended to Horace's maxim:

'Equam memento rebus in arduis


Manners Earl of Rutland meeting Sir Thomas More, shortly after their mutual preferment, and thinking he assumed rather a haughty carriage, observed, "Honores mutant Mores." "No, my lord (said Sir Thomas), the pun will be much better in English, Honors change Manners."

[Pg 121]


Lord Byron observed to Rogers, that punning was the lowest species of wit. "True (said the other), it is the foundation."

Pun beneficial.

Sir William Dawes, archbishop of York, delighted in a good pun. His clergy dining with him the first time after the decease of his lady, he said he feared the company would not find things in so good order as they were in the time of poor Mary, adding with a sigh, "Ah! she was indeed Mare Pacificum." A curate, who pretty well knew the truth of the matter, got himself completely into favour by observing, "Ay, my lord, but she was first Mare Mortuum."

A pun spoiled.

At a dinner of wits, a dish of pease was brought in, become almost grey with age. "Carry these pease to Kensington!" said one of the party. "Why to Kensington?" said another. "Because it's the way to Turn'em green." Dr. Goldsmith going home in the evening with Sir Joshua Reynolds, observed, that he would have given five pounds to make so excellent a pun. "You shall have the opportunity (said the knight) on Tuesday, when[Pg 122] you are to dine with me, and none of the same company will be present." Tuesday came, and the dinner was served up; amongst the other dishes a plate of pease of the same description. "Carry these peas to Kensington," said Goldie. "Why so?" "Because it's the way to make them green!"


Dr. B. long but unsuccessfully paid his addresses to a young lady, whom he used always to give as a toast. Dining one day with a friend, the latter filling his glass, said, "Come, doctor, I'll give you your favourite toast." He answered, "You may do as you please; but for myself, I have already toasted her too long without being able to make her Brown."


"Sir," said the humane M.P. to the facetious dramatist (praising his own bill), "instead of the drovers inhumanly beating the poor bastes as formerly, you will shortly see them applying opodeldoc to their wounds." "Ay;" rejoined the punster, "Steer's of Cow-lane."


The punster, having occasion to call upon the stage manager of Drury Lane, was shown into his room, when the servant remarked, "he feared Mr.[Pg 123] Winston had left the theatre." Peake observing a stage screw lying upon the table before him, took it up and replied, "I perceive he has left his card and name behind him."


A person observing that Mr. Arnold, the proprietor of the English Opera, was an ill-tempered man, but a fortunate one, Charles Westmacott replied, "he knew that to be true, for he was indebted for both his cash and success to pique." (Peake his dramatist and treasurer.)


Appeared originally during the oppressive heat of the season 1825, at the English Opera House: when Arnold observing that the piece did not run according to his expectations, Peake dryly replied, "How can you expect a stout man to run in such very hot weather?"


The late Mr. Charles Bannister going with Mr. Parsons into a shop where there was an electric eel, the latter said, "Charles, what sort of a pie would that eel make?" He answered, "A shock-ing one."


Mr. Canning seeing a certain nobleman rowing a wherry on the Thames, with all the power and skill of a waterman, observed, "Your grace is[Pg 124] certainly prepared for the worst extremities, for by your skull you could always keep your head above water."

Simplicity v. Wit.

A country booby boasting of the numerous acres he enjoyed, Ben Jonson peevishly told him, "For every acre you have of land, I have an acre of wit." The other, filling his glass, said, "My service to you, Mr. Wise-acre!"

Tria juncta in uno.

Mr. Dennis, a gentleman who died about 1764, and was famous for his puns, was once ridiculed for it in a copy of verses by three gentlemen, whose names were Goodwin, Johnstone, and Marshall; he answered them in the following manner: "If Good be the better half of thy name, it is so little in thy nature as not to be perceived, though in conjunction with thy friend John, thou hast helped to make such a noble copy of verses that they ought to be engraven on stone. I would have given steel the preference, if a certain person did not Mar your works, so shall say no more of the matter."

[Pg 125]

W. R. V.-ANA.


"A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."

[There are very few literary persons in London, at least among those connected with the public press, who have not occasionally enjoyed the pleasant, punning, conversational powers of my friend W. R. V. whose whim, wit, and great good nature are not more esteemed, than his unaffected manners, and sincerity of disposition justly entitle him to.]

Some one observed, "Matches are made in Heaven." "Yes," answered he, "and they are very often dipped in the other place."

Two men contending at a tavern upon the point of who wrote that beautiful song on Ingratitude, "Blow, blow, thou wintry wind!" one said Ben Jonson; the other said Shakspeare. R.V. to adjust their differences, observed, "They must have written it between them, for each was a-verse to ingratitude."

A fat gentleman who was at a loss for the name of the nobleman who was shut up in a tower and starved to death, applied to the punster—"You-go-lean-O!" was the reply.[Pg 126]

"A tailor is the ninth part of a man," observed a would-be-wit, in the presence of a knight of the sheers: "But," answered R.V. "a fool's no part at all."

"He that will pun will pick a pocket," observed an old cynic. "You speak from experience," was the stopper to this vinegar cruet.

Rhodes, the punning landlord of the Coal Hole tavern, took the Bell Inn at Hammersmith: R.V. hoped that as he had so long answered the bell, the Bell would now answer him.

One asked him what works he had in the press. "Why, the History of the Bank, with notes; the Art of Cookery, with plates; and the Science of Single Stick, with wood cuts."

A person told him that Louis dix-huit, when he entered London, put up at Grillon's hotel. "I am surprised at that," said he; "his father took his chop at Hatchett's."

A barber recommended him his aromatic essence for the improvement of his hair. "No, no; don't waste your fragrance on the desert hair."

A friend remarked of a gentleman with very large curly whiskers, that he said nothing. "Poor fellow; don't you see he's lock-jawed?"

"How well you put on your cravat," said a crony: "that tie's something new."—"Yes; it's a novel-tie."[Pg 127]

He pacified a quarrelsome fellow one evening by observing, "I should not like to go up in a balloon with you, for fear of our falling out."

Seeing a porter bring in an edition of a new work of his from the press to his bookseller, "Dear me!" he exclaimed, "what a weight is off my mind."

"What a swell you are in your new frock coat," said a quiz to him one day. "Don't you like it?—I do: indeed I'm quite wrapped up in it."

The same person meeting him one day in the city, observing he had on a new waistcoat, asked if it was a city cut. "No," answered he, "it's a west-cut."

Dining at the Wrekin tavern, he asked for a wine glass: the waiter, in bringing it, inadvertently let it fall—"Zounds! I did not ask you for a tumbler!"

Sitting in company with one of those people who find fault with every thing, good, bad, or indifferent, he could not refrain from quizzing the old fellow. "True, true; we have nothing new or good now-a-days: Waterloo bridge is a catchpenny, Herschell's telescope all my eye, the steam engine a bottle of smoke, and the safety-coach a complete take in."

Bearcroft the classic observed to him, that learning was pabulum animi, food of the mind. "Yes,"[Pg 128] replied he, "and that's the reason, I suppose, the collegians wear trencher caps."

On George the Fourth landing at Calais in 1820, the wind was so boisterous as to blow off his foraging cap, greatly inconveniencing him: a brave officer, Captain Jones of the Brunswicks, who stood near, presented His Majesty with his own, which the King graciously accepted, and wore until he got to his carriage. This drew from him the following impromptu:

"Whether in peace or war,
If hostile dangers frown,
It is the soldier's care
To guard his Monarch's crown."

He blamed a friend for dedicating a very clever work to a certain nobleman, notorious for his stupidity. "My book wanted a title," was the reply. "Oh!" he observed, "but it might otherwise have been peer-less."

On Sir Robert Wilson's motion for investigating the affair that deprived him of his rank as General being lost, he lamented it as very hard that they should refuse him "even a major-ity."

Being proposed a member of the Phœnix Club, he asked when they met:—"Every Saturday evening during the winter."—"Then," said he, "I shall never make a Phœnix, for I can't rise from the fire."

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[Pg 129]





Pure as Imported.


The counsel archly crack their joke
On every word the witness spoke;
The Jury, laughing, like the fun,
And Norbury sums up with a Pun.

[21] Many of these whims have never before appeared in print.

A good Pun has, from time immemorial, been quite as admissible in our courts of law, as a good plea; and not unusually has proved successful with the feelings of a jury, when the latter, left entirely to the more weighty arguments of precedents and rejoinder, would only have produced a temporary suspension of the understanding. Lord Norbury's talent as a punster is proverbial, and his wit upon all occasions as clear as his judgments are sound: scarcely a packet of Irish papers arrive in the sister kingdom, but the first inquiry of the humourist is after the last good thing of the Chief Justice's; and, if he fails to encounter a new pun, he retreats homewards like a city sportsman, without game for the morrow; for pun-less, he is quite as [Pg 130]miserable as if he was penny-less; and if he cannot crack a new joke at the club, he is like to go cracked himself with vexation in consequence.

It is one of the evils attending eminence in any art, that many loose performances will be attributed to genius, for the sake of notoriety, which would cause a blush upon the cheek of the talented individual under whose cognomen they are surreptitiously launched forth into public life. Every new pun, made by the Emeralders, whether invented in the Four Courts of Dublin, or at the midnight orgies held in the broad and narrow Courts of London, at the Fives Court or the Tennis Court, the King's Court, or the Courts of law and equity, are all heaped upon the great original, Lord Norbury; who has, in consequence, as many sins of this sort to bear with, as any criminal that ever appeared before his legal tribunal. In selecting from an accredited stock, the compiler of this little book has endeavoured to affix to the Noble Punster, only, the legitimate offspring of his own creation; or at least such, if any one has stolen in, as may not disgrace his witty family.


Is, "Right can never die;" then, said his lordship, punning thereon, "right must be left for ever."

[Pg 131]


"Who is that lovely girl?" exclaimed Lord Norbury, riding in company with his friend Counsellor Grahaarty. "Miss Glass," replied the barrister. "Glass!" reiterated the facetious judge; "by the love which man bears to woman, I should often become intoxicated, could I press such a glass to my lips!"


The numerous and severe animadversions on Lord Norbury in the Imperial Parliament, only afforded his Lordship an opportunity for a supplemental criticism, viz. "That the English Broom (Brougham) wanted an Irish stick to it;" an appendage which, in the early part of his Lordship's career, he certainly would have been very ready to furnish.


The late Counsellor Egan, well known by the appellation of Bully Egan, from his rough courage, got into the Irish parliament during the administration of the late Marquis of Rockingham, and joined with the Whigs of that day in a most outrageous opposition to the administration of the noble Marquis, upon the question of regency, when[Pg 132] the opposition succeeded in voting the unlimited regency of Ireland to the Prince of Wales. The Marquis, unable to rally, fled to England without beat of drum, leaving the oppositionists masters of the political field. Not content with this retreat, the Whigs continued to pelt the character of the noble Marquis, by way of post obit, and to heap all those maledictions upon his administration, when defunct, which they had so indefatigably done while living. Amongst the rest, Mr. Egan, in the course of a debate, thought proper to introduce in his speech an episode, in which he proposed, "Now that the Marquis was politically dead, to pencil his epitaph;" and this he did in such coarse and ponderous words, that Mr. Toler, the present Lord Norbury, in his reply, termed this effort of Egan, penciling with a pickaxe.


On passing sentence of death upon a prisoner who had been convicted of privately stealing a time piece, Lord Norbury, after dwelling upon the enormity of his crime, concluded a very impressive speech by observing, that he had been grasping at time, and caught eternity.

[Pg 133]


Meeting with a lady in Dublin who was possessed of considerable property in a distant part of the country, and in whose welfare he had taken great interest, particularly during the progress of a bill through parliament for draining her lands, he accosted her, "Ah, my dear Mrs. G——, how d'ye do?—how goes on your water ways?—I must come and take a view of your little canal and locks."


A man having been capitally convicted before Lord Norbury, was, as usual, asked what he had to say why judgment of death should not pass against him—"Say!" replied he, "why, I think the joke has been carried far enough already, and the less that is said about it the better; so if you please, my lord, we'll drop the subject." "The subject may drop," replied his lordship.


A gentleman helping his Lordship to some pie made of raspberry jam, inquired if he would have some more fruit? "Jam satis," replied the punster.

[Pg 134]


"Lord Byron calls his abusers dogs," said a friend to Lord Norbury; "No doubt he wishes them and their censures cur-tailed," was the reply.


Riding one day with a friend of the name of Speare, whose horse appeared to jolt him very much, his Lordship could not help observing it. "He is young, and awkward in his paces, but may mend," said Speare. "By the bye, my Lord, I want a name for him." "It must be Shake-speare, then," retorted his Lordship.


Sir Abraham Bradley King, Lord Mayor of Dublin, declined, through prudential motives, from giving, during his mayoralty, the Orange toast, so offensive to the King James's party. James, the next Lord Mayor, was not so particular, but gave it at his first dinner. Lord Norbury, who was present, could not help observing, "You are no friend to King,—James."

[Pg 135]


Lord Norbury calling one day on Mrs. O'Connor, the mattrass-maker in Sackville Street, Dublin, who is a very pretty woman, remonstrated with her on having so long delayed sending home his order: "Sure your Lordship," said the good woman, with great naiveté, "there's no curled hair to be had now in Dublin, neither for love nor money." "By the powers above," replied his Lordship, looking amorously, "but it was very plentiful in this city, Mrs. O'Connor, when I was a curly boy."


Late on a Saturday evening, as Lord Norbury had concluded charging the jury, after a laborious and long trial, when they retired to make up their verdict, a barrister got up to make a motion respecting a horse, that had been returned to a jockey for not being sound. His lordship complained of his being much tired after the business of the day, and begged they would postpone the business till Monday. The lawyer, anxious to push forward the business, said it would only occupy him a few minutes to try it. His Lordship rising, said in his usual dry way: "Gentlemen, to-morrow is a holiday; you will have time and leisure to try the horse yourselves."

[Pg 136]


Lord Norbury being in company with some lawyers, was asked, had he seen a pamphlet that was written by O'Grady, in which he was reflected on? replied, "Yes, yes, I took it to the water-closet with me." When told who was the author, he replied, "Ha! I did not think my friend Grady intended me such a wipe."


Lord Norbury, while indisposed, was troubled with a determination of blood to the head. Surgeon Carrol accordingly opened the temporal artery; and whilst attending to the operation, his Lordship said to him, "Carrol, I believe you were never called to the bar?" "No, my Lord, I never was," replied the surgeon.—"Well, I am sure, Doctor, I can safely say you have cut a figure in the Temple."


On being informed, last autumn, of the elopement of Mrs. Moore, whose maiden name was Woodcock, Lord Norbury said, "Then we must look out our fleecy hosiery."—"Why so, my Lord?" "Because it is an unerring symptom of a sudden, long, and severe winter to see, so early in the season, the Woodcocks forsake the Moors."

[Pg 137]


Lord Norbury, meeting the Marchioness of Conyngham and Lady Elizabeth riding on horseback in the Phœnix Park, took occasion to admire the beauty of their horses: "The gift of His Majesty," said her Ladyship artlessly: "and Lady Elizabeth's is also a royal present."—"Then I understand," said Lord Norbury, "His Majesty mounts you both."


A gentleman on circuit narrating to his Lordship some extravagant feat in sporting, mentioned that he had lately shot thirty-three hares before breakfast.—"Thirty-three hares!" exclaimed Lord Norbury: "Zounds, Sir! then you must have been firing at a wig."


A report having reached his Lordship that a female pedant, who was well known as a blue stocking and linguist, was about to be married, he observed, "He could answer for her disposition to conjugate, but feared she would have no opportunity of declining."

[Pg 138]


At a trial in the Irish Court, Mr. Hope, an eminent attorney, being employed as agent in a certain cause, apologized to the court for the absence of Mr. Joy, his counsel, requesting that it would delay for a few minutes, till Mr. Joy, who was engaged in another court, would return. Some time having elapsed, Lord Norbury addressed the bar, saying, "Gentlemen, I think we had better proceed with the business of the day—although

'Hope told a flattering tale,
That Joy would soon return.'"


A witness being interrogated by Lord Norbury, in a manner not pleasing to him, turned to an acquaintance, and told him in a half whisper, that he did not come there to be queered by the old one. Lord Norbury heard him, and instantly replied in his own cant, "I'm old, 'tis true, and I'm rum sometimes—and for once I'll be queer, and send you to quod."

[Pg 139]


Mr. Curran was to dine with Lord Norbury, when Mr. Toler. His dinner hours were late, which Mr. Curran always disliked. Mr. Toler was going to take his ride, and meeting Mr. Curran walking towards his house, said, "Do not forget, Curran, you dine with me to-day." "I rather fear, my friend," replied Mr. Curran, "it will be so long first, that you may forget it."


In a celebrated trial, wherein Mr. Trumble was plaintiff, and Mr. Allpress of Abbey-street, defendant, before Lord Norbury and a special jury, Mr. Serjeant Johnson, Counsellor Leland, and one or two more very fat barristers were employed for the defendant. The opposite bar were remarkably thin spare men, viz. Messrs. Goold, North, Pennyfather, &c. Mr. Johnson, in defending his client from paying a penal rent, in the heat of argument said, "My Lord and gentlemen of the jury, the opposite party stand forth like Shylock in the play, with their knife outstretched to cut from us the very pound of flesh!" Lord Norbury very tritely interrupted the learned serjeant by saying, "Mr. Johnson, the opposite bar perhaps conceive you can spare it better."

[Pg 140]


When it was told to Lord Norbury, that sentence of transportation to Botany Bay was passed upon the notorious Mr. Smith, who had been detected in clandestinely pocketing some notes off the vestry-room table, after the collection for the Charity Schools of St. Michael's Church, in November 1819, he jocosely replied, "that he thought it very hard, as it was no uncommon thing to have note takers at all such public meetings."


The Persian Ambassador having, among other public places, visited the Irish Courts of Justice, in November Term of 1819, coming into the Court of Common Pleas whilst it was sitting, the business was suspended for a short time, to view so extraordinary a personage, he being fully dressed in the eastern costume, long beard, &c. After he had retired, one of the Judges asked Lord Norbury what he thought of him, his Lordship wittily replied, "he might be a very clever man, but he was certain he was not a close shaver."


The counsel in the Irish courts are not always so decorous and attentive as they should be. During[Pg 141] the examination of a witness, Lord Norbury had occasion once or twice to request silence; when the man, in a reply to a question from his lordship relative to his occupation, answered that "he kept a racket court." "Indeed," said the judge, and looking archly at the bar, continued, "and I am very sorry to say that I am Chief Justice of a racket court much too often."


A certain Irish musical amateur, who was very irritable, had a party of vocal and instrumental friends on a particular evening in every week at his own house; when some wags, more desirous of promoting discord than harmony, used to assemble under his windows, making the most hideous noises, or in the Irish phraseology, "giving him a shaloo," upon which the amateur dislodged the contents of a certain chamber utensil upon the heads of some passers by, but unfortunately missed his persecutors. For this assault an action was brought and tried before Lord Norbury, who, in summing up the case to the jury, good humouredly observed, "that the plaintiffs must be considered in the light of uninvited guests, and it could not be denied that they had been treated by the defendant with pot-luck."

In a humorous trial between the rival managers,[Pg 142] Messrs. Daly and Astley, respecting the right of the latter to perform the farce of "My Grandmother," at the Peter-street theatre, Dublin, Daly's counsel stated, that the penalties recoverable from the defendant, for his infringement of the rights of the patent theatre, would all be given to that excellent charity the Lying-in Hospital. Mr. Toler, in reply, observed, "That it was notorious, no man in Dublin had contributed more largely, in one way, to the Lying-in Hospital than Mr. Daly; and it was therefore but fair, if he recovered in this action, that he should send them the cash. But," continued the facetious counsel, "although Mr. Daly's attachment to good pieces is proverbial, we do not choose that he shall monopolize all the good pieces in Dublin, from 'My Grandmother' down to 'Miss in her Teens.'"


He's dead! alas, facetious punster,
Whose jokes made learned wigs with fun stir:
From heaven's high court, a tipstaff's sent,
To call him to his pun-ishment:—
Stand to your ropes! ye sextons, ring!
Let all your clappers ding, dong, ding!
Nor-bury him without his due,
He was himself a Toler[22] too!

[22] The Learned Judge's name.

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[Pg 143]



Two merry wags, of Cockney land,
Well known at Rhodes's, in the Strand,
Where tavern wits choice puns let fly,
Resolved their dogs and guns to try.
Dress'd cap-a-pee, in sporting suit,
With jacket, belt, and net to boot,
Away they trudge to Hampstead Rise,
To take the pheasants by surprise.
And what will strange appear, though true,
A poor stray'd cock-bird came in view,
Uprising 'tween the punning elves,
Who miss'd the bird, but shot themselves.
Condoling on their hapless gunning,
They yet could not desist from punning:
"Ne'er mind, Tom, peasants each we've hit."
"Why leave the aitch, Ned, out of it?"
"Because," quoth Ned, "I'd fain forget
The aitch that frets my body yet."
"Still pop for pop," quoth Tom again.
Says Ned, "I feel a shooting pain;
But then I've heard, those who aspire
To be good sportsmen must stand fire."
"Agreed," cries Tom, "and in my head
'Tis now engraved in molten lead."

By Bernard Blackmantle.


When More had few years Chancellor been,
No more suits did remain;
The like shall never more be seen,
Till More be there again!

[Pg 144]


The nation is pawn'd! we shall find to our cost,
And the minister since has the duplicate lost.
We shall all be undone by the politic schemer,
Who, though "Heav'n-born[23]," will not prove a Redeemer.

[23] In the ministerial prints Mr. Pitt was usually so designated.


A mighty DULL ASS is old prosing Dallas,
And quite as dull and prosing is his Son—
What! fifteen shillings for the book! Alas!
No pleasant "Recollection"——I am done.


Dean Swift's barber one day told him that he had taken a public house. "And what's your sign?" said the Dean. "Oh, the pole and bason; and if your worship would just write me a few lines to put upon it, by way of motto, I have no doubt but it would draw me plenty of customers." The Dean took out his pencil, and wrote the following couplet, which long graced the barber's sign:

Rove not from pole to pole, but step in here,
Where nought excels the shaving but the beer."

[Pg 145]

Impromptu, on Miss M. Tree's intended marriage and
retirement from the stage.

You bloom and charm us!—still the bosom grieves,
When Trees of your description take their leaves.

On his giving a Fete on board the Hecla.

Dear Captain Parry, you are right
To give the belles a levee;
God grant your dancing may be light,
For oh! your book is heavy.

Elia's Pen.

Says Elia, "Zounds, this pen is hard!"
Quoth Samuel Rogers, "Do not huff;
But write away, my honey bard,
You soon can make it soft enough."


Good Friday rain'd, Sam Rogers dined
On soles, for fish were all the go;
And Sam allowed the Fri was good,
Although the day was but so so.

[Pg 146]

Written at Holly Lodge, Highgate, by the Duke of
Gordon, and presented in the Drawing-room by the
Marquis of Huntley.

An apple, we know, caused old Adam's disgrace,
Who from Paradise quickly was driven;
But yours, my dear Tom, is a happier case,
For a Melon transports you to heaven.


Her mourning is all make-believe;
'Tis plain there's nothing in it;
With weepers she has tipp'd her sleeve,
The while she's laughing in it.


'Tis true I am ill, but I need not complain;
For he never knew pleasure who never knew Payne.


God's noblest work's an honest man,
Says Pope's instructive line;
To make an honest woman, then,
Most surely is divine.

[Pg 147]


You move the people, when you speak,
For one by one, away they sneak.


Any-mad-versions when like this I see,
Animadversions they will draw from me.

With his Lordship's night-cap, that caught fire on the
Poet's head, as he was reading in bed at Merton.

Take your night-cap again, my good lord, I desire,
For I wish not to keep it a minute;
What belongs to a Nelson, where'er there is fire,
Is sure to be instantly in it.

Card-table epitaph.

Clarinda reign'd the queen of hearts,
Like sparkling diamonds were her eyes;
Till by the knave of clubs' false arts,
Here bedded by a spade she lies.

[Pg 148]


"The Macadamized streets are extremely dusty."—
Morning Paper.

Adam was made of borrow'd dust;
So says the Bible; and, 'tis plain,
Macadam, to discharge the trust,
To dust turns all the ways of men.

A hint to clever men employed on such occasions.

"Poor Peter Pike is drown'd, and neighbours say
The jury mean to sit on him to day."
"Know'st thou for what?" said Tom.—Quoth Ned, "no doubt
'Tis merely done to squeeze the water out."

Royal Pun-Dit.

Come, lament, all ye Rogers, of punning renown,
Whose praises are sung by the[24] Puss sex,
For the pun of all puns that enraptures the town
Is the last by his big Grace of Sus-sex.
[Pg 149]
In dispensing last week the Dispensary toasts,
And telling the names of its Patrons,
He stumbled on two, of whom Watling Street boasts,
No matter if spinsters or matrons.

First came Mrs. Church, and then came Mrs. Bliss:
Said his Grace "Were such joys ever given!
We enter the first—for the way we can't miss:
We enter the second—'tis Heaven!"

[24] Puss, a domestic animal—allegorically a mature spinster—a tabby.—Johnson.


Your prose and verse alike are bad,
Methinks you both transpose;
Your prose e'en like your verse runs mad,
And all your verse is prose.

The following was sent to Shield, the ingenious Composer, for his Ivory Ticket of admission to a Concert, by his friend Peter Pindar.

Son of the string, (I do not mean Jack Ketch,
Though Jack, like thee, produceth dying tones,)
Oh! yield thy pity to a starving wretch,
And for to-morrow's treat, pray send thy bones!

[Pg 150]

On Southey's house being on fire.

Pierios vatis Theodori flamma Penates,
Abstulit: hoc Musis, hoc tibi, Phœbe, placet?
O scelus, ô magnum facinus, crimenque deorum,
Non arsit pariter quod domus et dominus.
Martial, Lib. xi. Epig. 94.

The Laureate's house hath been on fire! the Nine
All smiling saw that pleasant bonfire shine:
But, cruel fate! Oh damnable disaster!
The house—the house is burnt, and not the master!

The Inclosure Bill.

If 'tis a crime in man or woman,
A goose to pilfer from a common;
What can a parliament excuse,
To steal a common from a goose?

A lady remarkably short in stature.

Thrice happy Tom—I think him so;
For mark the poet's song,—
"Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long."

[Pg 151]


His time was quick, his touch was fleet,
Our gold he nimbly finger'd;
Alike alert with hands and feet,
His movements have not linger'd.

Where lies the wonder of the case?
A moment's thought detects it;
His practice has been thorough-bass,
A chord will be his exit.


A father and son much addicted to drink,
Sat each quaffing his grog with high glee;
Said the parent, "Why, Tom, thou dost drink mighty deep,
Though you'll say that you take after me."

"No, father," cried Tom, "I will never say so,
Nor do so, I hope, by St. Paul;
For, 'tis certain, that if I did take after you,
I should drink scarcely any at all!"


If Love's a flame, as ancient poets prove,
Ah, me! how cold's the fire of my Love.

[Pg 152]


Ye ladies who paint, may most safely declare,
With Horace, that dust and a shadow ye are.


An epigram, what is it, honey?
A little poem, short and funny;
About four lines in length,—not more:
Then this is one, for here are four.


Iron was his chest,
Iron was his door;
His hand was iron,
And his heart was More.

Written during the O.P. contest.

Actor and Architect, he tries
To please the critics, one and all;
This bids the private tiers to rise,
And that the public tears to fall.


Old maids, in hell, 'tis said, lead apes;
It may be true—but, tarry—
They're bachelors that fill those shapes
Because they did not marry.

[Pg 153]


How D.D. swaggers, M.D. rolls!
I dub them both a race of noddies:
Old D.D. has the cure of souls,
And M.D. has the care of bodies.
Between them both, what treatment rare
Our souls and bodies must endure!
One has the cure without the care,
And one the care without the cure.


"Pray does one More, a lawyer, live hard by?"
"I do not know of one," was the reply;
"But if one less were living, I am sure,
Mankind his absence safely might endure."


In critics this country is rich;
In friendship and love who can match 'em:
When writers are plagued with the itch,
They hasten most kindly to scratch 'em.

[Pg 154]


The Society of Clement's Inn having had iron
bars put up at the entrance to prevent porters,
cattle, or other nuisances from coming in,—it
called forth the following lines from a "fat
single gentleman" to the principal and ancients.

Ye principal and ancient men, attend
To one of your unfortunate fat lodgers,
Whose studies make him lusty;—oh! befriend!
Or I shall surely call you ancient codgers.

'Tis true I came here, looking to the bar,
And hop'd to have a call some day unto it;
But at your entrance now there many are,
Indeed so many, that I can't get thro' it.

"I can't get out," as Sterne's poor starling said,
Unless I ask the porter to unlock it;
This must be alter'd, as I'm so well fed,
Or 'gainst my corpus you must strike a docket.

This may reduce me to a decent size,
[Pg 155]And let me pass your cursed bars of iron;
Put up to keep us from the London cries,
Which now your sanctum sanctorum environ.

For if I can't be taken in, 'tis clear
I cannot be let out; and that gives trouble.
Ye principal and ancient men, oh! hear!
And let me pass the bar—I'm David Double.


That Homer should a bankrupt be
Is not so very Odd-d'ye-see;
If it be true, as I am instructed,
So Ill-he-had his books conducted.

On a Gentleman bringing on a severe fit of illness, by an excess in walking exercise, in order to preserve his health.

Prithee cease, my good friend, to expend thus your breath;
'Tis in vain these exertions you make:
And to "walk for your life" against sure-footed death,
Is the very "worst step you can take!"

[Pg 156]

On a Methodist Chapel, the vaults under which were used as wine cellars:

There's a spirit above and a spirit below,
A spirit of joy and a spirit of woe:
The spirit above is a spirit divine;
The spirit below is a spirit of wine.


Two musical parties to Bladud belong,
To delight the old rooms and the upper:
One gives to the ladies a supper, no song;
The other a song and no supper.


Though nature thee of thy right hand bereft,
Right well thou writest with the hand that's left.


Print on my lips another kiss,
The picture of thy glowing passion—
Nay, this wont do—nor this—nor this—
But now—Ay, that's a proof impression.

[Pg 157]


Though much you're scar'd by Mars in arms,
At fighting much dejected;
Yet Venus, with her naked charms,
Has seen you—More-affected.

From the French.

Woman is
In infancy a tender flower,
Cultivate her;
A floating bark in girlhood's hour,
Softly freight her.
A fruitful vine when grown a lass,
Prune and please her;
Old, she's a heavy charge, alas!
Support and ease her.

On a Lady far advanced in years, who was a great Card-player, having married her Gardener.

Trumps ever rul'd the charming maid,
Sure all the world must pardon her;
The destinies turned up a spade;
She married John the gardener.

[Pg 158]

The Lamb and the Horse being their Insignia.

The Lamb, the lawyer's innocence declares;
The Horse, their expedition in affairs;
Hail, happy men! such emblems well describe
The specious cunning of your legal tribe:
For say what client can expect a loss
From Lamb-like lawyers, fleeter than a Horse?
No more let Chancery's ills be endless counted,
Since on the Pegasus of Law ye're mounted.
And ye, poor suitors! mark your simple fate
The shorn lambs ye—that crowd the Temple gate.


"Some demon, sure," says wond'ring Ned,
"In Newton's brain has fix'd his station!"
"True," Dick replies, "you've rightly said,
I know his name,—'tis demon-stration."


Ladies! the stags (as wise men say)
Change horns but once a-year:
Whereas your stags change ev'ry day,
As plainly does appear.

[Pg 159]


Some men brush on, and some brush off,
And some brush out of sight!
While Grieves's[25] brush makes thousands rush
To see it every night.

[25] The eminent talents of this distinguished artist have been for a series of years displayed in the beautiful scenery produced at Covent Garden Theatre.


If on this pedestal we see
Our great Achilles and Protector,
Why then the inference must be,
He whom he vanquished was a Hector.

On reading that Madame Fodor had endangered her life by drinking vinegar to reduce her shape.

Against Fodor's existence, it may truly be said,
That custom has raised an unnatural strife;
For if she gets fat—she loses her bread;
And if she gets thin—she loses her life.

[Pg 160]

On seeing Mrs. Siddons at Covent-Garden Theatre, on the first night of the appearance of Miss Dance.

Piozzi, when eighty, at a dance led the first,
But she was mirth's votary through life's pleasant trance,
And though fame knows not age, yet our wonder is just,
Where Melpomene's self comes to welcome the Dance.

On seeing Miss Foote in the part of Ariel, so exquisitely played by Miss Tree.

Where's Ariel? that is, where is Tree?
Whose voice and form so truly suit in't;
Surely the public must agree,
The Manager has put his Foot in't.

On the Commons passing the Catholic Bill one day, and on the next throwing out a Toll for passing Blackfriars Bridge.

England's friendly to all, let folks say what they will,
From Gentile, or Jew, she ne'er was a rover;
Her Commons first passed the Catholic Bill,
[Pg 161]And the very next day vote for the Pass over.

On reading that Captain Parry embarked on board the "Fury" Discovery Ship early in Passion Week.

Parry's rage for discovery exceeds all, no doubt,
For both captain and crew in a Fury set out;
But still some excuse will appear for this freak,
When we learn the affair took place in Passion week.

On reading in the Paper a supposition that Shakspeare was lame.

That Shakspeare was lame, from his sonnets you'd gain,
But halt ere such men with weakness you're branding;
An abler hand never guided a pen,
And his works plainly show he'd a strong understanding.

The Sovereign's name being cut George IIII. and not as heretofore George IV. with a laurel wreath.

Pistrucci, in thine art divine,
Thou never wast more clever;
Long may the laurel mark our Sovereign's line,
But may the I.V. never!

[Pg 162]

On Captain Fitz-Clarence's life being preserved by the interposition of Serjeant Legge, at the capture of the Conspirators in Cato Street.

When war destruction on the soldier deals,
Some seek from death a refuge in their heels;
E'en brave Fitz-Clarence, in the deadly strife,
We find indebted to his Legge for life!


Jack from his box surveys the house around,
Views in the pit a friend with glass erect,
Whose rusty coat with many a gaping wound
First draws the cut oblique, and then the cut direct.

"How now," cries Will! (whilst all around him heard),
"Cut an old friend! why, Jack, what are you after?
Oh, oh, the coat! 'pon honor that's absurd;
Charles is so droll, I've cracked my sides with laughter."

[Pg 163]


That U follows Q
Is not always true;
When your pigtail I view,
Then queue follows you.


When British flags triumphant scour'd the main,
Trade unrestricted bless'd the industrious swain;
But now in vain 'gainst hostile floods he fags.
Oh that the main would scour the British flags!


If wit and elegance combined,
With harmless satire glowing,
Can gain applause, or charm the mind,
It is to your Pen-owing.


When Apollo appears, vain would Discord oppose;
With a "Deluge" of music the house overflows;
His (Boxer) Bochsa beats time, who's forced to impart
Nought but pleasure arising from Harmony's Smart.

[Pg 164]


"Leave off your puns," said Jack to Bill,
"Give me a bon mot if you will."
"A what? a bon mot! how absurd!
Whoever gave you a good word."


Here lies, who living never lied,
A friend sincere, of courage tried;
No slave to wealth, to vice unknown,
Though oft reduced to pick a bone.
Patch'd was his coat, both red and white,
And shaggy too his outward plight;
Yet grateful still his master serv'd,
And from allegiance never swerv'd.
A sportsman true, who at a word
Would point, and oft bring down his bird:
Or fetch, or carry, hunt, or find,
Whate'er was of the feather'd kind.
"By no disease—no blast he fell,
"But, like to fruit that's mellow'd well,
"Dropp'd on the earth, worn out by time,
"As clock that can no longer chime:"
Here Carlo stopp'd—for want of breath,
Outrun at last by Nimrod death.

Bernard Blackmantle.

Blank Page

[Pg 165]






For Illustration, see Vignette to Title.

Great Plato and Homer, and half a score sages,
Who flourished as scholars in heathen-like ages,
Have all of them prov'd, if their writings you'll seek,
That Puns were esteem'd both by Hebrew and Greek:
Nay, more, that the gods loved and practised the fun,
And their merriment owed to the mirth-making Pun.
There's Buxtorf, a learned Chaldean, hath told,
That Ptolemæus Philo-punnæus, of old,
Sent for six learned priests, for his principal city,
To propagate punning and make the folks witty:
And so well did the priests with the people succeed,
That their Puns were collected, and thus 'twas decreed;
"In a temple devoted to punning and wit,
"In letters of gold, on the front shall be writ;
"'The shop for the physic to gladden the soul,'"—
Where the sick, sad, and broken of heart are made whole.
Here Janus contended with Pan for the throne,
When his double-faced godship unrivalled shone;
For no matter how wittily Pan punn'd away,
Janus turn'd round his head from the "grave to the gay,"
Till the audience, fill'd with amazement and wonder,
Decided for Janus's double entendre.
Bernard Blackmantle.
[Pg 166]





"Touch but his gunpowder wit with a merry fire, and
you shall instantly hear a good report."

"A punster's wit, what is it like?"
"The electric spark, from Merc'ry ta'en;"
"Or gunpowder," says merry Mike,
"Touch it, you bid adieu to pain."


Two scholars of Brazen Nose College, Oxford, playing at backgammon, a third came in to size, that is, to obtrude for a dinner. The owner of the room throwing the dice, and addressing himself alternately to his visitors, said

"If I bate you an ace,
Deuce take me;
for it would be-tray a weakness
in a man who could not cater for himself.
Therefore sink me
if you do size."


"I am happy, Ned, to hear the report that you have succeeded to a large landed property!" "And I am sorry, Tom, to tell you that it is groundless."

[Pg 167]


In the Latin version of the Bible there is the following passage:—Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram ædificabo meam ecclesiam. The French, in rendering these words into their own tongue, convert them into a proof that St. Peter was the corner stone here spoken of—Tu es Pierre, et sur cette pierre j'edifierai mon eglise!!!


An amateur, famous for taking a front seat in the pit the first night of a new opera, was dreadfully annoyed one night by the big drum, opposite to whose "loud sounds" he was unfortunately placed. He expressed his uneasiness so frequently, that the performer made use of the word "man-milliner" once or twice, in derision of his tender auriculars. "Man-milliner!" said the gentleman, "I am none, but you're the vilest tambour-worker I ever met with."


A gentleman asked another if he would have a skait on the Serpentine;—"Most certainly; but I can't trust to my soles and heels: besides, I should lose my character."—"Lose your character!"—"Aye, I should become a back-slider."—"Oh," answered his friend, "come along; you'll do, if you commence on fundamental principles."

[Pg 168]


A gentleman employing a porter whose name was Russel, asked him jocularly, "Pray is your coat of arms the same with the duke of Bedford's?" "Our arms (answered the fellow) are, I suppose, pretty much alike; but there is a confounded difference in our coats."


A canon of Exeter Cathedral died a few weeks since; a gentleman, crossing the Cathedral-yard in that city, accidentally met a friend, to whom he said—"So, Canon H—— is dead!"—"Indeed!" replied the other, "I was not aware that cannons went off in that way."—"Yes, they do," rejoined the first, "for I have just heard the report!"


"Does your husband expectorate?" said an apothecary to a poor Irish woman who had long visited his shop for her sick husband—"Expect to ate, yer honour—no sure, and Paddy does not expect to ate—he's nothing at all to ate!" The humane man sent a large basin of mixture from a tureen of soup then smoking on his table.


An apothecary asserted that all bitter things were hot. "Pardon me, (said his friend), this is a bitter cold day."

[Pg 169]


When the Custom-house corps first made their public appearance, it was observed by one, that they looked as formidable as so many Alexanders. "Rather say," said another, "that they appear more like Seizers," (Cæsars.)


Two Oxonians dining together, one of them noticing a spot of grease on the neckcloth of his companion, said, "I see you are a Grecian."—"Pooh!" said the other, "that's far-fetched."—"No, indeed," says the punster, "I made it on the spot."


A craniologist and a disciple of Lavater disputing the merits of their several professions; says the Skullist, "What we cannot get into their noddles, we get out of them."—"Yes," says the physiognomist, "God help the heads saddled with such a theory! for whilst one galls, t'other spurs 'em."


A wag, upon seeing the name of "Mr. Ledger, conductor of the Albion Library," in the list of deaths, observed, "Ah! poor fellow! his day-book's closed, and he's posted, I suppose, to his long account."—"By no means improbable," said another, "seeing he was engaged in book-keeping all his life!"

[Pg 170]


A gentleman dreadfully ill was recommended to a celebrated physician—"Oh," replies he, "I have called several times, but he's always out." "Why then," observes his friend, "try another." "Who?" "Who! why Sir Ever-hard-Home."


A prize was offered in a certain society sacred to the Latin classics, for the best "Carmen" to celebrate Christmas. A jocose tradesman, in the city, sent the meeting two of his carters, saying, he knew no better carmen in the world to celebrate the festive season, as they had been "keeping it up" for the last fortnight.


A very agreeable lady of the name of Riggs, being one season at Margate, in the house with six others, her relations, and only one gentleman to attend the whole; when one regretting that they had not more of the male creation, she replied, "If we complain of not being well manned, I am sure we are well rigged."


A man in the city, amongst many curiosities, exhibited the identical boot worn by Frederick the Great. A gentleman viewing it, asked where the bullet wound was; "Och, (said the fellow from the sister country) it's been healed lately."

[Pg 171]


One Hog was to be tried before Judge Bacon, who told him he was his kinsman. "Well (replied the learned judge), no hog can become bacon till he is hanged, and then I'll allow your claim."


A jolly vicar, in a state of inebriety, making a zig-zag course to his house, was asked by a friend who met him, whence he came? He said, "I have been spinning out the evening with my neighbour Freeport."—"And now (replied the other), you are reeling it home."


A young man of the name of Cæsar having married a young lady called Rome, a wag wrote upon his door, "Cave, Cæsar, ne tua Roma fiat respublica."


A youth was incurably addicted to the vile sin of punning. His father, who detested a pun not less than old Mr. Shandy himself, imposed a fine of half a crown for each commission of this offence. One day the father and son passing along, saw a man in the pillory. The punster could scarcely refrain from a pun with which he was big. The presence of dad, however, restraining his tongue, he indulged his wit by whistling, "Through the wood, laddie."

[Pg 172]


A new comedy, on its third representation, being thinly attended, the author observed that it was all owing to the war. "No (said the manager) I fear it is owing to the piece."


A Frenchman in a coffee-house called for a gill of wine, which was brought him in a glass. He said it was the French custom to bring wine in a measure. The waiter answered, "Sir, we wish for no French measures here."


A person asked the minister of his parish what was meant by "He was clothed with curses as with a garment."—"My good friend (said the minister), it means that he had got a habit of swearing."


A certain tavern-keeper, who opened an oyster-shop as an appendage to his other establishment, was upbraided by a neighbouring oyster-monger, as being ungenerous and selfish. "And why (said he), would you not have me sell-fish?"


At a ball given lately by a very rich individual, M. de C. found himself vis-à-vis at a table d'écarté, with a valet-de-chambre whom he had turned away some days before. "This time at least," said M.[Pg 173] de S. to whom the circumstance was related, "this time, at least, he knew whom he had to deal with!"


A poor corset-maker, out of work, and starving, thus vented his miserable complaint: "Shame that I should be without bread; I that have stayed the stomachs of thousands!"


At a church in Ireland, where there was a popular call for a minister, as it is termed, two candidates offered to preach, whose names were Adam and Low. The latter preached in the morning, and took for his text, "Adam, where art thou?" He made a very excellent discourse, and the congregation were much edified. In the afternoon Mr. Adam preached upon these words, "Lo! here am I." The impromptu and the sermon gained him the appointment.


Horne Tooke having, in a political argument, obtained an advantage over his opponent, concluded by saying, "his irritable friend looked as red with vexation as a Turkey Cock." The other, thinking to wound his feelings by a cutting retort to this sarcasm, observed "that he dared to say Mr. Tooke[Pg 174] had quite forgotten who his father was?" "Oh! no indeed, I have not," said Tooke, "he was a Turkey Merchant, (i. e. a Poulterer.)"


It being told the comedian, during his stay at Brighton, that Mrs. Coutts had offered five thousand pounds for Byam-House, Munden exclaimed, "My wigs and eyes! five thousand pounds to buy-a-mouse! What the devil will the woman do next?"


1. The Count de Sedan held that little state as a fief of the crown of France, of which he was in other respects a subject. Louis XIV. wishing to put his paw upon this domain, had the Count arrested and clapped into the Bastille, on a supposed charge of treason. The result was, that, in order to save his life, he gave up his possessions; on which the wits of Paris made this pun—"Il donnoit Sedan (ses dents) pour sauver sa tête."

2. Madame de Stael has been much admired for her handsome figure, and particularly her fine arm, but unfortunately disfigured by her deformed foot. Being in a gallery at Paris, where there was an empty pedestal, vain of her person, she mounted, and placed herself in an attitude to display her[Pg 175] figure to advantage; but unluckily one of her feet peeped out. A wit approached, and seeming to look only at the pedestal, exclaimed, "O le vilain Pie-de-stal!"

3. Mons. St. Priest, who had been ambassador from the court of France to the Ottoman Porte, was afterwards sent, in a diplomatic capacity, to the Hague; but on account of some ceremonial being neglected, he refused to enter the gates of that place. This gave occasion to the wits of Paris to observe, that he was still "ambassadeur à la Porte."

"English Spy."

"I don't see the bee's wing in this port, Mr. Blackstrap, that you are bouncing about," said a London traveller to a timber merchant. "No, sir," said the humourist, "it is not to be seen until you are a deal higher in spirits; the film of the wing is seldom discernible in such mahogany-coloured wine as this." "Sir, I blush like rose-wood at your impertinence." "Ay, sir, and you'll soon be as red as logwood, or as black as ebony, if you will but do justice to the bottle," was the reply. "There is no being cross-grained with you," said[Pg 176] the timber-merchant. "Not unless you cut me," retorted Blackstrap, "and you are not sap enough for that." "Gentlemen," continued the facetious wine-merchant, "if we do not get a little fruit, I shall think we have not met with our dessert; and although there be some among us whose principals are worth a plum, there are very few of their representatives, I suspect, who will offer any objections to my reasons."


A Londoner told his friend that he was going to Margate for a change of hair; "You had better," said the other, "go to the wig-maker's shop."

The two Taymen.

About the time of the issue of the new crown-pieces, Messrs. Bish and Sparrow, the advertising tea-dealers, though strongly opposed to each other, for two of a trade never agree, set about, highly to their credit, a reformation in the price and quality of the "fragrant lymph." An old Irish woman, fond of a cup of "good mixed," thought, what much more sensible people do, that the above worthies were no less than patriots; but she even went further; on being asked by a neighbour the[Pg 177] meaning round the edge of the coin of "Decus et Tutamen," said she, "By the powers I suppose Decus means the King, but Bish and Sparrow are the Two Taymen."

Managing the Pack.

A country gentleman, who was celebrated for taking the lead with some of the first-rate hunts, became so much reduced in circumstances by his attachment to gaming, as to accept the office of dealer at a gambling table. A friend (like Matthews's Dr. Prolix), with infinite promptitude, observed, "that he continued to follow his old predilection, for he still managed the pack."


"In the city, while Currie was Raiking together his cash, Sir John Lubbock Fostered his Clarkes; Sir William Kay knew his Price; Rogers felt Toogood to smash; one house in Fleet-street Praed to get through it; and while another chuckled like a Child, the Goslings were looking Sharp after their concerns—poor Hodsoll," added the dunce, "was obliged to give up his Stirling capital; but Stevenson knew his partner was worth his Salt; Dorien, Magens, and Dorien, got Mello with rejoicing, and Jansen was never near being 'done[Pg 178] Brown;' Paxton and Cockerell, according to culinary custom, sent their Trail to take care of the long-bills; and though Fry might have been in a Stew for a time, he (like the Smiths of Mansion House-street) soon had his Payne removed.

"At the west end of the town, though Scott Claude up his money at the moment, he soon began to pay again; Kinnaird said he could Ransom his credit whenever he chose; while the other house in Pall-mall declared they had More-land than would settle the claims of all their creditors; and although Marten expected a Call on Arnold, they were equally steady with the house of Cocks (part-Ridges) at Charing-cross, who crowed most lustily at their own stability; every body knows, said the wag, that Green-wood never breaks, and as for Thomas's in Henrietta-street, it was very soon ascertained that there, all was Wright."


Receiving a youth back who has been expelled for a misdemeanour, upon condition that he be severely flogged, appears to be a very odd mode of healing the breech.


The peculiar new mode of drilling the soldiers in St. James's Park, ought, from the variety of their evolutions, to be termed quadrilling.

[Pg 179]


Speaking of professions, there must be somebody in every way. "Ay," replied Taylor the flute player, "and there is a great number of folks in one another's way."


To make a competent double bass player, it requires a head-piece, while a wind instrument performer wants only a mouth-piece (i. e. a reed).


A needy adventurer coming to London, who was very thin, observed to S. Taylor, that he only wanted to pick up a little bread among the musical profession; to which the joker replied, "If you can pick up a little flesh at the same time, it will not be amiss."


A person who was addicted to "pledge his honor" upon all occasions, observed, on looking through the window, "It rains, upon my honor." "Yes," said Taylor, "and it will rain upon MY honor if I go out."


"Do you know," said an Oxonian to his friend, "why an acre of land bought on a stipulation to[Pg 180] pay the purchase-money a year hence, resembles an ancient lyric song? Because it is An-acre-on-tick.


"You are never witty," said a friend, "until you are well warmed with wine." "That may be," replied the punster: "but it is no reason, good sir, that I am to be well-roasted."


Foster, the oboe player, of Drury Lane Theatre (and who also belonged to the Excise Office) happened one day, at a rehearsal, to be playing rout of time. Shaw, the leader, began to stamp violently, and said, "Why don't you play in better time, you member of the Excise Office?" Upon which Foster replied, "None of your jeers to members of the Excise Office: you seem to be a member of the Stamp Office yourself."


A professional harpist (who was a very incompetent performer), one night at Drury Lane Theatre, boasted of the elegant figure upon the head of his harp; observing that it cost him eight guineas the cutting of it. Foster immediately exclaimed, "Sir, if I play'd upon the harp, I would endeavour to cut a figure myself."

[Pg 181]


"To get into the gallery of the House of Commons," said a punster, "a man must have the ribs of a rhinoceros; to obtain a good place in the body of the house, the qualities of a camelion; to secure a seat on the treasury bench, he must not fear to tread-a-wry. Opposition he must write thus—'oppo'-site—position; ministerial, men-who-steer-well. Private bills he may quote as examples of private punishment; the speaker's dinners, a speechless banquet, where every guest leaves politics for polite-tricks. To speak well and long, you must display artificial feelings, have leathern lungs, a face of brass, an elephant's sagacity, and a lion's courage; and, with all these qualifications, you may perchance be considered bearable; without them you are certain to come in for a scrape[26]."

[26] Alluding to the practice of the members scraping their feet upon the floor when a speaker is considered tiresome.


If you mean to be a domestic animal, never marry a woman of a wild disposition. An ugly helpmate, though she may have the wealth of Plutus, and the virtues of an angel, can never be considered as a[Pg 182] lovely wife. If you would live happily, always whistle when your wife whines or scolds. If she should grow furious, take yourself into the cool air, without trying to pacify her. A man who exposes himself to a storm is sure to get pelted. Never offend the ears of a modest woman by a coarse or indelicate expression: the fairest mirror is stained by a passing breath. Never marry a woman for money, lest, obtaining the honey, you are stung by the queen bee. Never lose an opportunity for making a good pun, when you can do it consistent with good nature, and without endangering the esteem of good friends. A pun, to pass current, should bear the stamp of wit, and be struck off in the mint of originality. A genuine bad pun is not always a bad joke. Late hours make lazy servants, a loquacious wife, and end in making a long purse light, a long illness heavy, and long life very uncertain.

Bernard Blackmantle.


Blackmantle's labours here, are done,
Ye wits, and wags, in mirth who revel;
Approve each epigram and pun,
And Bernard proves a merry devil.

Blank Page

[Pg 183]







Originally printed as one of Dean Swift's Three Manuscripts,
discovered at St. Patrick's Abbey.


[27] This highly celebrated little book, it will by some be remembered, was written to ridicule Sir John Carr's 'Stranger in Ireland;' and a more happy, witty, original, and pleasant satire, is not to be found in the English language. The book is now out of print, and only to be met with in the libraries of the curious. Had I any reason to suppose that the author (Mr. Dubois), would have republished his work, much as I should have had to regret the loss of these articles here, I certainly would not have taken them to do injury to their own witty and original parent.

We observe in Homer's Batrachomyomachia, that the instant the frog Calaminthius sees the mouse Pternoglyphus, he is so frightened that he abandons his shield and jumps into the lake: and this confirms our etymology of the mouse's name, Turn ugly face.

[Pg 184]

In the same poem, also, we find a warrior-mouse called Lichenor, which some, who, like certain commentators on Shakspeare, will always be running to the Greek for interpretations, consider as signifying one addicted to licking, but here we see the imbecility of foreign resources, and the great strength of our own. Their explanation is certainly something near the mark, but for a mouse, how much more germain to the matter is ours—Lick and gnaw? It is true, that I may have mistaken the sense of my opponents' language, but even granting them the full latitude of understanding by their words, as applied to our military mouse, that he was one addicted to licking or conquering, yet is it by no means so full and expressive as it appears in our exposition. Besides, it must be remembered that Lichenor was not so much "addicted to licking" as to being licked, witness the frog Hypsiboas's running him through the body with a rush. See I. 202.

At v. 244, we have the mouse Sitophagus, who like many a soldier of modern times had recourse to his heels and betook himself to a snug dry ditch—[Greek: êlato d'es taphon]. I had always some suspicion that this name was particularly corrupted in the last syllable, and the foregoing circumstance has, fortunately for the literary world, furnished me with a conjecture that seems to place the etymology of this coward's title beyond all doubt:—Set off again—his invariable custom on these occasions, which was perhaps owing to his having studied the art militaire in Hudibras, where he learnt that

——Timely running's no mean part
Of conduct in the martial art.
[Pg 185]

Sitophagus, from Set off again, is perfectly within the canon of parcè detorta, which it may not be amiss here to repeat:

"New words are allowable, if they descend," says Horace, "from the English[28] spring, with a sparing distortion."

[28] Anglo fonte cadent, parcè detorta.

So Horace doubtless wrote, and thus I always read the passage, correcting the corruption (Græco fonte) which has so long obtained, to the injury of truth and good letters.

I have neither leisure nor inclination to go through the whole of the names of the heroes in Homer's battle of the frogs and mice; nor is it necessary, for it must be apparent to every ingenuous critic that they are all derived from one source. Such, however, as occur to me elsewhere, and are thought by many to have very different roots, I shall notice for the purpose of dispelling the clouds of error, and restoring the light of truth.

Pallas. This word should be written thus 'Pallas, with an apostrophe, as in the instance of 'fore for afore. Its origin then clearly appears. The goddess was so called on account of the Gorgon's head on her shield, that had the power of killing or turning into stone, which was indeed enough to Appal us.

In a very singular work, printed in 1611, and entitled Stafford's Niobe, I find something like an attempt to prove that the goddess of wisdom acquired the name of Pallas from the Paleness she occasions in her followers. The author's words are simply, "Pallas, whose liverie is paleness," which, if allowed to have any etymological[Pg 186] bearing, will, from their date, at once deprive me of all credit for originality in this department of philology. The learned reader is left to decide on this nice point.

Venus, from wean us, as it is even now elegantly pronounced by many. As the heavenly Venus had that power with the Gods, so has each earthly one with us, namely, to wean us from all other earthly things, and hence the undoubted derivation.

Ἡγεμων, or Egemon, with the Greeks, meant a general, and is very evidently borrowed from a vulgar phrase amongst us, most pointedly significant of the office of a general, with respect to his soldiers, viz. to egg 'em on. It will be observed, that I have sunk the aspirate, which is a mere vulgarism in the Greek speaker, as in such instances as the following amongst ours, viz. "Hi ham" for I am.

Macrones, a people on the confines of Colchis, and I should suppose, though Flaccus does not mention it, and I have no leisure to turn to Herodotus, remarkable for their partiality to dress, since the word is clearly an abbreviated pronunciation of Macaronies.

Celsus. This philosopher composed a treatise against the Christians, which having a good sale, one of the Christians, in a merry mood, said, he sells us, and from that moment he bore his present name.

L. Mummius, a Roman consul, who acquired his cognomen of mummius, or mummy us, from being sent against the Achæans, whom he beat most unmercifully.

Boreas. This wind was long without a name, until the people feeling its northern blasts exceedingly troublesome, would be continually crying, "how they bore us!" which in time gave rise to the word boreas,[Pg 187] or as it was originally pronounced bore us. Here we presently come at the etymology of the verb to bore, which has hitherto baffled all research and made futile every conjecture. It cannot be questioned that the Persian Boreus, and Borus the son of Perieres, had their names from some such obnoxious qualities as are attributed to the wind, though we are at a loss to guess what they were, and are by no means willing to venture an hypothesis that may lead to indecency. It is worthy of remark, as an astonishing fact, that these gentlemen are mentioned by Polyænus and Apollodorus, but without a word in the Stratagems of the one, or in the Bibliotheca of the other, that throws any light on the matter.

Philostratus. A famous sophist, and very liberal and expensive in his entertainments, from which circumstance his friends very properly gave him the cognomen of fill us, treat us. The penultimate of Philostratus is short in its derived state, but this is a liberty perfectly excusable in these cases, and coming assuredly under the description of parcè detorta.

Mannus. It is imagined that this divinity obtained his name from having once undertaken to furnish some fleet with men; but from being a German God, and for other reasons, I confess that I have no great faith in this etymology.

Æsymnus. This anxious politician's consulting Apollo, according to Pausanias, on the subject of legislation, made the witlings of his time call the God his nurse, and then in ridicule exclaim ease him nurse, which speaks for itself.

Bacchus, or Back us; and admirably so called, be[Pg 188]cause he is found to be the second best in the world, inspiring courage even in a coward.

Confucius. About the etymology of the title of this famous Chinese philosopher, we are much in the dark; but it seems in the greatest degree probable that he obtained it from being a philosopher of the modern description, who put every thing into confusion.

Damon. This poet received his name from a circumstance that attended his banishment from Athens. When the sentence was brought to him, he began d—ning and swearing most bitterly, on which the officer, a rough fellow, said, "Oh, you may Damn on as long as you like, it does not signify, you must go." And go he did, but still swearing; and the people, who are tickled with a feather, hearing the officer's observations repeated, nicknamed him Damon, or as it was formerly written and spoken, Dammon.

Alala. The goddess of war. See Plutarch de Glor. Athen. So called because the moment she took the field on any side, that side had the battle all hollow.

Æsacus. He persecuted a nymph so much who did not like him, that she at last plunged into the sea, and was metamorphosed into a parrot, and in that state still continued to exclaim, as she was wont, he's a curse, which soon became the lover's appellation.

Titans. A title given to the sons of Cœlus and Terra, by Saturn, when they warred against him. They were at first known as Hyperion, Briareus, &c.; but when the god heard that they were about to fight with him, he smiled, and cried, "Ay, ay,—ecod they're tight 'uns!" and this name has distinguished them ever since.[Pg 189]

The above word reminds me of an eastern one—[Hebrew: nodba] or Abaddon, which will as indubitably as a thousand instances of the like nature, prove the superior antiquity of the English language over that of the Jews, as well as that of the Greeks, and it is very probable, in an equal degree, over every other, dead or alive. Abaddon is a name belonging to the devil, and the most ignorant will not scruple to confess that they plainly perceive its expressive etymology in A bad 'un.

In fine—sunt certi denique fines—There have been writers who have scarcely left Troy or its famous war "a local habitation and a name;" others go still further, and say that no such man as Homer, the author of the Iliad, ever existed; and a third party, proceeding another step, talk of proving incontestibly that there never were any ancients. But one wise man (with whom I am proud to join issue) positively affirms, that those who are called the ancients were born in the infancy of the world, and do not deserve the title, but that we who live in this enlightened age, with all the wisdom of past times at our command, are, truly speaking, the just and legitimate ancients. This, being reasonably substantiated, lends its powerful assistance to confirm the opinion respecting the prime antiquity of our native tongue, and I cannot conclude without indulging the irresistible impulse I feel to acknowledge, that I have no more doubt than I have with respect to any thing yet stated, that it will ultimately prove to be the universal language.[Pg 190]






"Comitantibus armis,

PUNica se—attollet gloria." Virg. Æn. iv.

Prefatory remarks on the art of punning—its antiquity from Homer's outis, through Sophocles, Cicero, &c. down to Shakspeare, &c. Its advantages over wit. Wit requires wit in the hearer to comprehend it—a lasting and insuperable objection to its universality. Puns, on the contrary, require no wit to make them, nor any to understand them. Prove this by their well-known effect on stupidity in drawing-rooms, theatres, &c. An act to abolish punning would be the destruction of three-quarters of what are called the wits of our times, and fifteen-sixteenths of the dramatic writers.

Under these circumstances of fashion and prevalence, a man might as well go into a gambling house without knowing how to play, as into company without knowing how to make himself agreeable by punning. Rules are necessary for the acquisition of every art. Let what Ovid desired to have said of him, in respect to love, be said of me, with regard to punning—"Magister erat."[Pg 191]

In the rules divide thus—puns for every day, in one week, in winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Puns, in these different seasons, for men, and puns for women, varied according to the class of life, and the rank held in the particular establishment, &c. &c.

First day—Sketch to be filled up.

Sunday.—This is a day of rest for all things but women's tongues and puns—they have none. You go to church, of course, to set a good example to your family, but let them attend to the parson, you may be preparing puns against dinner-time, when you expect a party.

The man of the house is nothing without his wife. It is becoming that she should assist you—she is your help-mate. Connive together, and let her put leading questions. Half an hour before dinner—company come. All very stupid as usual. Mrs.—— observes, that she fears that the dinner will be rather late, as she was obliged to take Adam, the footman, to the park, on account of the children. The husband immediately remarks, that Adam may be the first of men, but he is a damn slow fellow.

Mrs.——. My dear Tom, you deserve a Cane for that.

Mr.——. Ay, if you were Able to give it to me, who am a host to-day. Perhaps you were on the Eve of saying this; well, there's as much chance in these things as in a Pair o' dice.

(A general laugh.)

[Pg 192]

Here you are at the end of this excellent subject. I don't know that any thing more can be made of it.

N.B. Hire no man unless his name is Adam, or he will suffer you to call him so.

Let your children enter. Miss Lucy, George, and Theodore, all punsters, but this day is devoted to the father. Call your daughter, Lucy, because, if you are a profound scholar, you can frequently bring in "luce clarior." Your other girl, Sally, ran away with an apothecary. Mrs.—— will say this, and you'll exclaim, "Ah, Sal volatile!"

Invite a poor French priest[29] to your table at these times. He is always to ask, when your children appear, "Est ce qu'ils sont tous par la même mère?"

[29] The word Emigré, which appears in this article as before printed, would at once destroy the unquestionable right Swift has to the honour of this MS. for Emigré did not obtain in our language till long after his death.

When you are to reply—"Yes, I believe they are all by the same mare, but I won't answer for the horse[30]."

[30] This has been given to Foote; but dates decide.

This is not very complimentary to your wife; but it would be a pretty joke indeed, if a good pun was to be lost for such a trifling consideration.

If you consult decency too much, there's an end of wit. He who digs for diamonds must not be over squeamish about dirt. Here Mrs.—— may say, "My dear Tom, I wish the man would bring up the dinner."

Mr. ——. "Bring up the dinner, my love? Heaven forbid! As Dido says, that's 'sic sic,' so so[31]."

[31] Æn. iv. 660.[Pg 193]

You must not be too nice, as I observed before.

(Mrs. —— rings the bell.)

Enter Servant.

Mrs. ——. Is dinner ready?

Mr. (Looking round.)—The chops are, I'm sure.

Adam. It is dishing now, ma'am.

(A crash heard as if an accident.)

Mr. —— Dishing indeed—I fear it's dished.

Dinner—all seated.

Mrs. ——. Will any body take soup?

Mr. ——. What, before grace, you graceless rogues. There's no parson here, I see; though we are not without some of the cloth. Well, I'll say it—grace at dinner is meet.

[A universal laugh. The sight of dinner is a breeder of good-humour.]

Take care to have the salt-cellars put on the table empty.

Mr. ——. Why what the devil's this—no salt!

Mrs. ——. (As planned.)—You have salt enough, I'm sure, my dear.

Mr. ——. "Ego punior ipse," Ovid. Very well, very well! my wife is not amiss: but the salt, Adam.

Adam. Sir, the house-keeper's gone out, and I don't know where to get any.

Mr. ——. Why an't here four salt sellers?

[The Frenchman does not understand this, but he is to laugh heartily nevertheless.]

Mrs. ——. Here, Adam; take this key, and you'll find some in the store-room, at the top of the house.

[Pg 194]

Mr.——. Attic salt, eh! ha, ha, ha! Well, come let's fall to; this meat will keep no longer without salt.

Mrs. ——. My dear Tom, that rich dish will only give you the gout.

Mr. ——. Pooh! "Chacun à son gout." Why should not I eat it, as well as another?

Mrs. ——. Bless me, how you mangle that duck.

Mr. ——. Mangle it, my love. Well, I think that's better than to wash and iron it; but tell me how you'll have it done, and you shall find me ductile.

[Many opportunities will offer of making obscene puns, but I give no rules for these; they come naturally to every punster! All I shall say is, that they must never be neglected.]

Let your cook be famous for pancakes. One of your little boys must inquire for some.

Mr. ——. My dear, this is Sunday; you know we can't have pancakes till Fri-day.

[Many more puns must be introduced. Champaign, real pain; after all cheese is best, &c.]

The company will, probably, add some, and you may, also, by accident; however, you'll have this advantage over your friends, that you'll be certain of all these while you're with your wife, and at home. Your acquaintance, of course, have names, and if they have no other merit, it's very hard if you can't make something of them in the pun way. Any blockhead can do that.


Mr. ——. "Give every man his deserts." Shakspeare.

[Pg 195]

Mrs. ——. My love, shall I send you a peach?

Mr. ——. Yes, and if it isn't a good one, I'll impeach your judgment.

By connivance with the Frenchman, he must offer you a pinch of Maccuba snuff, saying he's sorry it is not better, but his Tonquin bean has lost its flavour. You then reply—Ay, I see it's one of the has-beens.

Mrs. ——. Oh! that's too bad.

Mr. ——. Why, it's wit at a pinch, at any rate; therefore it need not make you baw—l, as if I had got into the wrong box.—(Turning to the boys.)—What's Latin for goose, eh!

Boys. Brandy, papa!

Mrs. ——. You'll kill yourself with that vile liquor.

Mr. ——. How can that be—Isn't it eau de vie?

Mrs. ——, at some time, must call for the nutmeg grater.—You take it, and address your neighbour: Sir, you are a great man, but here is a grater.

The sweetmeats will be praised of course.

Mr. ——. All my wife's doing. Nancy's a notable woman, I assure you; but I'm more not able than she is, an't I, my dear?

Ladies all rise.

Mrs. ——. (Blushing.)—I can take a hint. My dear, pray touch the bell.

Mr. ——. (Chucking a young lady under the chin.)—Yes, my love, I'll touch the belle.

Mrs. ——. (Going.)—You wag!

Mr. ——. No, I think you wag, but—(bowing)—I bow to you.

The ladies gone, the gentlemen need no instructions. They will all have recourse to their mother tongue, and[Pg 196] the most ignorant will shine the most. The master must begin with half a dozen obscene puns, to make himself agreeable, and the conversation general[32].

[32] Here I have run my pencil through several puns on the ladies' retiring. Though he says it is unnecessary, Swift could not help indulging the natural bent of his genius, which is a strong proof of the authenticity of the MS. An additional evidence appears in a query in a memorandum made on the margin of this MS. for the puns for a farmer. Some one, who has rye-fields, is to write to him—Pray send me men to mow rye? and he is to return a skull. Memento mori—Don't you see? But query—will mowing rye do for any but our Irish farmers?


Mr.——. (Entering after all the rest.)—Ah! Mrs.——, what I see you are at home to a t to-night.

Boys. Pa, we have had no tea.

Mr.——. "Sine te juventas." That's wrong. It is right that you should not be left out.

Mrs.—— purposely sends a dish of tea to a lady, without sugar, of which she complains.

Mr.——. (Handing the sugar basin.)—Well, ma'am, if you do not like it, you may lump it.

[Miss Lucy plays on the piano-forte, but is to fail in her first attempt.]

Mrs.——. (As planned.)—That comes of playing at sight.

Mr.——. At sight! Why what the deuce would come if she was to shut her eyes?

If any thing like serious or sensible conversation should be introduced, and there's no knowing what some dull fellow may not do, put an end to it at once[Pg 197] with a pun. If he talk of war, suppose he means the Pun-ic war, and say that in your battles you are with Livy—"Punctim magìs quam cœsim peto hostem." If he speak of the army, look archly at your wife, and say you expect soon to have a son in arms, &c. Should he mention the Prince of Wales, inquire, which is greater, the Dolphin of France or the Prince of Wales? solving the question immediately with Juvenal's

"Delphinis Balæna Britannica major."
Than Dolphins greater is the British Whale.

Now something about going into Bedfordshire and the land of Nod will wind up what is commonly called a very pleasant day, full of wit, humour, and repartee. I must not forget to observe, that, if you can add any practical jokes, which lead to puns, and fall at all short of murder, the treat will be improved.

Viz. Pinch a piece out of a man's arm, to say you did not know there was any harm. Break his shin—that's leg-al. Pull away his chair[33] when he is sitting down—you've good ground for it. Run your head against his—two heads are better than one. Overturn the milk-jug on him—then he's in the milky way. So with the urn—then he's in hot water. When he hops about, say he seems in a lame-ntable way. Let the boys knock the candle into some lady's lap—this you may call a wick-ed thing, &c. &c. Intersperse these, with other such amiable pleasantries as these, and all the fools (a commanding majority in every assembly in the country), will shout for joy, extol your wit, and applaud your ingenuity.

[33] Memorandum. This joke is recommended, by the surgeons, for all seasons; but, in my system, better arranged, it will be proper to distinguish. In the winter, when the carpet's down, you are glad to bring that affair on the tapis. In the spring, the earth begins to bear every thing. In the summer, it's "summum jus," because it's "summa injuria," and the carpet being up, you give him board with a deal of pleasure, that's plain: and in the autumn, you allude to the fall. Besides, what does he do in a chair—all flesh is grasshay!

[Pg 198]




Dedication to the King, i
A Word to the Witty and the Wise, iii
Description of Frontispiece, vii
Prolegomena on Punning,1
Origin of Punning,19
Art of Punning, by Swift and Sheridan,23
Satire on Sheridan, by Dr. Tisdal,68
Dying Speech of Tom Ashe,72
A Pestilent Neighbour,77
Punning Epistle on Money,78
God's Revenge against Punning, by Dr. Arbuthnot,79
The Birth of a Pun,84
Antiquity of Puns,85
Punning on Surnames,86
Punning run mad,90
Bashful on Punning,93
Examples in Punning,97
W. R. V—ana,125
Punning Epigrams,143
The Punster's Court,165
Puns for all Purposes,166
A Punning Essay,183
Every Man his own Punster,190



1. Vignette to Title—The Punster's Court
2. The Dance of Wit, v
3. Squibs and Crackers, a 5th of November scene,1
4. The Androgynos, or Jove's Pun,19
5. The Art of Punning,23
6. The Lord's Humbassador,63
7. The Dancing Punster,70
8. The Birth of a Pun,84
9. The Bashful Punster,93
10. The Magic of Punning,96
11. The Punster's Bowl,97
12. Lord Norbury and Court,129
13. The Sporting Punsters,143
14. Death of Poor Carlo,164
15. Gunpowder Wit,166
16. Tartani's Dream,182

With Numerous Elegant Vignettes interspersed through the Work.


Except for obvious typos and printer errors, which have been corrected without comment, the author's spelling, grammar, and use of punctuation are retained as in the original publication, with the following exceptions:

Page44. Change cremona to Cremona.
... threw down a Cremona-fiddle with a ...

Page47. Change tory to Tory.
... pretends to be a Tory, or ...

Page52. Correct typo. Change recal to recall.
... you may recall a discourse...

Page 128. Opening quote added in the paragraph ending
"_even a major-ity_."

Page180. Correct typo. Change, to.
... it is An-acre-on-tick.

There are three apparent printer errors in the list of illustrations. Although there are html links directing the reader to pages 70, 84, and 166, there are no illustrations on those pages in the original publication.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Punster's Pocket-book, by 
Charles Molloy Westmacott


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