Part 1 out of 14
Produced by Suzanne Shell, Sandra Brown and the Online Distributed
[Transcriber's Note: the Contents and Index were added to this e-book
by the transcriber]
JOKES, STORIES, AND
HAROLD WORKMAN WILLIAMS
MARY KATHARINE REELY
ON THE POSSESSION OF A SENSE OF HUMOR
TOASTERS, TOASTMASTERS AND TOASTS
Nothing so frightens a man as the announcement that he is expected to
respond to a toast on some appallingly near-by occasion. All ideas he
may ever have had on the subject melt away and like a drowning man he
clutches furiously at the nearest solid object. This book is intended
for such rescue purpose, buoyant and trustworthy but, it is to be hoped,
Let the frightened toaster turn first to the key word of his topic in
this dictionary alphabet of selections and perchance he may find toast,
story, definition or verse that may felicitously introduce his remarks.
Then as he proceeds to outline his talk and to put it into sentences, he
may find under one of the many subject headings a bit which will happily
and scintillatingly drive home the ideas he is unfolding.
While the larger part of the contents is humorous, there are inserted
many quotations of a serious nature which may serve as appropriate
The jokes and quotes gathered for the toaster have been placed under the
subject headings where it seemed that they might be most useful, even at
the risk of the joke turning on the compilers. To extend the usefulness
of such pseudo-cataloging, cross references, similar and dissimilar to
those of a library card catalog, have been included.
Should a large number of the inclusions look familiar, let us remark
that the friends one likes best are those who have been already tried
and trusted and are the most welcome in times of need. However, there
are stories of a rising generation, whose acquaintance all may enjoy.
Nearly all these new and old friends have before this made their bow in
print and since it rarely was certain where they first appeared, little
attempt has been made to credit any source for them. The compilers
hereby make a sweeping acknowledgment to the "funny editors" of many
books and periodicals.
ON THE POSSESSION OF A SENSE OF HUMOR
"Man," says Hazlitt, "is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he
is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what
things are and what they ought to be." The sources, then, of laughter
and tears come very close together. At the difference between things as
they are and as they ought to be we laugh, or we weep; it would depend,
it seems, on the point of view, or the temperament. And if, as Horace
Walpole once said, "Life is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to
those who feel," it is the thinking half of humanity that, at the sight
of life's incongruities, is moved to laughter, the feeling half to
tears. A sense of humor, then, is the possession of the thinking half,
and the humorists must be classified at once with the thinkers.
If one were asked to go further than this and to give offhand a
definition of humor, or of that elusive quality, a sense of humor, he
might find himself confronted with a difficulty. Yet certain things
about it would be patent at the outset: Women haven't it; Englishmen
haven't it; it is the chiefest of the virtues, for tho a man speak with
the tongues of men and of angels, if he have not humor we will have none
of him. Women may continue to laugh over those innocent and innocuous
incidents which they find amusing; may continue to write the most
delightful of stories and essays--consider Jane Austen and our own Miss
Repplier--over which appreciative readers may continue to chuckle;
Englishmen may continue, as in the past to produce the most exquisite of
the world's humorous literature--think of Charles Lamb--yet the
fundamental faith of mankind will remain unshaken: women have no sense
of humor, and an Englishman cannot see a joke! And the ability to "see a
joke" is the infallible American test of the sense of humor.
But taking the matter seriously, how would one define humor? When in
doubt, consult the dictionary, is, as always, an excellent motto, and,
following it, we find that our trustworthy friend, Noah Webster, does
not fail us. Here is his definition of humor, ready to hand: humor is
"the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating
ludicrous or absurdly incongruous elements in ideas, situations,
happenings, or acts," with the added information that it is
distinguished from wit as "less purely intellectual and having more
kindly sympathy with human nature, and as often blended with pathos." A
friendly rival in lexicography defines the same prized human attribute
more lightly as "a facetious turn of thought," or more specifically in
literature, as "a sportive exercise of the imagination that is apparent
in the choice and treatment of an idea or theme." Isn't there something
about that word "sportive," on the lips of so learned an authority,
that tickles the fancy--appeals to the sense of humor?
Yet if we peruse the dictionary further, especially if we approach that
monument to English scholarship, the great Murray, we shall find that
the problem of defining humor is not so simple as it might seem; for the
word that we use so glibly, with so sure a confidence in its stability,
has had a long and varied history and has answered to many aliases. When
Shakespeare called a man "humorous" he meant that he was changeable and
capricious, not that he was given to a facetious turn of thought or to a
"sportive" exercise of the imagination. When he talks in "The Taming of
the Shrew" of "her mad and head-strong humor" he doesn't mean to imply
that Kate is a practical joker. It is interesting to note in passing
that the old meaning of the word still lingers in the verb "to humor." A
woman still humors her spoiled child and her cantankerous husband when
she yields to their capriciousness. By going hack a step further in
history, to the late fourteenth century, we met Chaucer's physician who
knew "the cause of everye maladye, and where engendered and of what
humour" and find that Chaucer is not speaking of a mental state at all,
but is referring to those physiological humours of which, according to
Hippocrates, the human body contained four: blood, phlegm, bile, and
black bile, and by which the disposition was determined. We find, too,
that at one time a "humour" meant any animal or plant fluid, and again
any kind of moisture. "The skie hangs full of humour, and I think we
shall haue raine," ran an ancient weather prophet's prediction. Which
might give rise to some thoughts on the paradoxical subject of _dry_
Now in part this development is easily traced. Humor, meaning moisture
of any kind, came to have a biological significance and was applied only
to plant and animal life. It was restricted later within purely
physiological boundaries and was applied only to those "humours" of the
human body that controlled temperament. From these fluids, determining
mental states, the word took on a psychological coloring, but--by what
process of evolution did humor reach its present status! After all, the
scientific method has its weaknesses!
We can, if we wish, define humor in terms of what it is not. We can draw
lines around it and distinguish it from its next of kin, wit. This
indeed has been a favorite pastime with the jugglers of words in all
ages. And many have been the attempts to define humor, to define wit, to
describe and differentiate them, to build high fences to keep them
"Wit is abrupt, darting, scornful; it tosses its analogies in your face;
humor is slow and shy, insinuating its fun into your heart," says E. P.
Whipple. "Wit is intellectual, humor is emotional; wit is perception of
resemblance, humor of contrast--of contrast between ideal and fact,
theory and practice, promise and performance," writes another authority.
While yet another points out that "Humor is feeling--feelings can always
bear repetition, while wit, being intellectual, suffers by repetition."
The truth of this is evident when we remember that we repeat a witty
saying that we may enjoy the effect on others, while we retell a
humorous story largely for our own enjoyment of it.
Yet it is quite possible that humor ought not to be defined. It may be
one of those intangible substances, like love and beauty, that are
indefinable. It is quite probable that humor should not be explained. It
would be distressing, as some one pointed out, to discover that American
humor is based on American dyspepsia. Yet the philosophers themselves
have endeavored to explain it. Hazlitt held that to understand the
ludicrous, we must first know what the serious is. And to apprehend the
serious, what better course could be followed than to contemplate the
serious--yes and ludicrous--findings of the philosophers in their
attempts to define humor and to explain laughter. Consider Hobbes: "The
passion of laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from the
sudden conception of eminency in ourselves by comparison with the
inferiority of others, or with our own formerly." According to Professor
Bain, "Laughter results from the degradation of some person or interest
possessing dignity in circumstances that excite no other strong
emotion." Even Kant, desisting for a time from his contemplation of Pure
Reason, gave his attention to the human phenomenon of laughter and
explained it away as "the result of an expectation which of a sudden
ends in nothing." Some modern cynic has compiled a list of the
situations on the stage which are always "humorous." One of them, I
recall, is the situation in which the clown-acrobat, having made mighty
preparations for jumping over a pile of chairs, suddenly changes his
mind and walks off without attempting it. The laughter that invariably
greets this "funny" maneuver would seem to have philosophical sanction.
Bergson, too, the philosopher of creative evolution, has considered
laughter to the extent of an entire volume. A reading of it leaves one a
little disturbed. Laughter, so we learn, is not the merry-hearted,
jovial companion we had thought him. Laughter is a stern mentor,
characterized by "an absence of feeling." "Laughter," says M. Bergson,
"is above all a corrective, it must make a painful impression on the
person against whom it is directed. By laughter society avenges itself
for the liberties taken with it. It would fail in its object if it bore
the stamp of sympathy or kindness." If this be laughter, grant us
occasionally the saving grace of tears, which may be tears of sympathy,
and, therefore, kind!
But, after all, since it is true that "one touch of humor makes the
whole world grin," what difference does it make what that humor is; what
difference why or wherefore we laugh, since somehow or other, in a sorry
world, we do laugh?
Of the test for a sense of humor, it has already been said that it is
the ability to see a joke. And, as for a joke, the dictionary, again a
present help in time of trouble, tells us at once that it is, "something
said or done for the purpose of exciting a laugh." But stay! Suppose it
does not excite the laugh expected? What of the joke that misses fire?
Shall a joke be judged by its intent or by its consequences? Is a joke
that does not produce a laugh a joke at all? Pragmatically considered it
is not. Agnes Repplier, writing on Humor, speaks of "those beloved
writers whom we hold to be humorists because they have made us laugh."
We hold them to be so--but there seems to be a suggestion that we may be
wrong. Is it possible that the laugh is not the test of the joke? Here
is a question over which the philosophers may wrangle. Is there an
Absolute in the realm of humor, or must our jokes be judged solely by
the pragmatic test? Congreve once told Colly Gibber that there were many
witty speeches in one of Colly's plays, and many that looked witty, yet
were not really what they seemed at first sight! So a joke is not to be
recognized even by its appearance or by the company it keeps. Perhaps
there might be established a test of good usage. A joke would be that at
which the best people laugh.
Somebody--was it Mark Twain?--once said that there are eleven original
jokes in the world--that these were known in prehistoric times, and that
all jokes since have been but modifications and adaptations from the
originals. Miss Repplier, however, gives to modern times the credit for
some inventiveness. Christianity, she says, must be thanked for such
contributions as the missionary and cannibal joke, and for the
interminable variations of St. Peter at the gate. Max Beerbohm once
codified all the English comic papers and found that the following list
comprised all the subjects discussed: Mothers-in-law; Hen-pecked
husbands; Twins; Old maids; Jews; Frenchmen and Germans; Italians and
Niggers; Fatness; Thinness; Long hair (in men); Baldness; Sea sickness;
Stuttering; Bloomers; Bad cheese; Red noses. A like examination of
American newspapers would perhaps result in a slightly different list.
We have, of course, our purely local jokes. Boston will always be a joke
to Chicago, the east to the west. The city girl in the country offers a
perennial source of amusement, as does the country man in the city. And
the foreigner we have always with us, to mix his Y's and J's, distort
his H's, and play havoc with the Anglo-Saxon Th. Indeed our great
American sense of humor has been explained as an outgrowth from the vast
field of incongruities offered by a developing civilization.
It may be that this vaunted national sense has been
over-estimated--exaggeration is a characteristic of that humor,
anyway--but at least it has one of the Christian virtues--it suffereth
long and is kind. Miss Repplier says that it is because we are a
"humorous rather than a witty people that we laugh for the most part
with, and not at our fellow creatures." This, I think, is something that
our fellow creatures from other lands do not always comprehend. I
listened once to a distinguished Frenchman as he addressed the students
in a western university chapel. He was evidently astounded and
embarrassed by the outbursts of laughter that greeted his mildly
humorous remarks. He even stopped to apologize for the deficiencies of
his English, deeming them the cause, and was further mystified by the
little ripple of laughter that met his explanation--a ripple that came
from the hearts of the good-natured students, who meant only to be
appreciative and kind. Foreigners, too, unacquainted with American slang
often find themselves precipitating a laugh for which they are
unprepared. For a bit of current slang, however and whenever used, is
The American is not only a humorous person, he is a practical person. So
it is only natural that the American humor should be put to practical
uses. It was once said that the difference between a man with tact and a
man without was that the man with tact, in trying to put a bit in a
horse's mouth, would first tell him a funny story, while the man without
tact would get an axe. This use of the funny story is the American way
of adapting it to practical ends. A collection of funny stories used to
be an important part of a drummer's stock in trade. It is by means of
the "good story" that the politician makes his way into office; the
business man paves the way for a big deal; the after-dinner speaker gets
a hearing; the hostess saves her guests from boredom. Such a large place
does the "story" hold in our national life that we have invented a
social pastime that might be termed a "joke match." "Don't tell a funny
story, even if you know one," was the advice of the Atchison Globe man,
"its narration will only remind your hearers of a bad one." True as this
may be, we still persist in telling our funny story. Our hearers are
reminded of another, good or bad, which again reminds us--and so on.
A sense of humor, as was intimated before, is the chiefest of the
virtues. It is more than this--it is one of the essentials to success.
For, as has also been pointed out, we, being a practical people, put our
humor to practical uses. It is held up as one of the prerequisites for
entrance to any profession. "A lawyer," says a member of that order,
must have such and such mental and moral qualities; "but before all
else"--and this impressively--"he must possess a sense of humor." Samuel
McChord Crothers says that were he on the examining board for the
granting of certificates to prospective teachers, he would place a copy
of Lamb's essay on Schoolmasters in the hands of each, and if the light
of humorous appreciation failed to dawn as the reading progressed, the
certificate would be withheld. For, before all else, a teacher must
possess a sense of humor! If it be true, then, that the sense of humor
is so important in determining the choice of a profession, how wise are
those writers who hold it an essential for entrance into that most
exacting of professions--matrimony! "Incompatibility in humor," George
Eliot held to be the "most serious cause of diversion." And Stevenson,
always wise, insists that husband and wife must he able to laugh over
the same jokes--have between them many a "grouse in the gun-room" story.
But there must always be exceptions if the spice of life is to be
preserved, and I recall one couple of my acquaintance, devoted and loyal
in spite of this very incompatibility. A man with a highly whimsical
sense of humor had married a woman with none. Yet he told his best
stories with an eye to their effect on her, and when her response came,
peaceful and placid and non-comprehending, he would look about the table
with delight, as much as to say, "Isn't she a wonder? Do you know her
Humor may be the greatest of the virtues, yet it is the one of whose
possession we may boast with impunity. "Well, that was too much for my
sense of humor," we say. Or, "You know my sense of humor was always my
strong point." Imagine thus boasting of one's integrity, or sense of
honor! And so is its lack the one vice of which one may not permit
himself to be a trifle proud. "I admit that I have a hot temper," and "I
know I'm extravagant," are simple enough admissions. But did any one
ever openly make the confession, "I know I am lacking in a sense of
humor!" However, to recognize the lack one would first have to possess
the sense--which is manifestly impossible.
"To explain the nature of laughter and tears is to account for the
condition of human life," says Hazlitt, and no philosophy has as yet
succeeded in accounting for the condition of human life. "Man is a
laughing animal," wrote Meredith, "and at the end of infinite search the
philosopher finds himself clinging to laughter as the best of human
fruit, purely human, and sane, and comforting." So whether it be the
corrective laughter of Bergson, Jove laughing at lovers' vows, Love
laughing at locksmiths, or the cheerful laughter of the fool that was
like the crackling of thorns to Koheleth, the preacher, we recognize
that it is good; that without this saving grace of humor life would be
an empty vaunt. I like to recall that ancient usage: "The skie hangs
full of humour, and I think we shall haue raine." Blessed humor, no less
refreshing today than was the humour of old to a parched and thirsty
TOASTERS, TOASTMASTERS AND TOASTS
Before making any specific suggestions to the prospective toaster or
toastmaster, let us advise that he consider well the nature and spirit
of the occasion which calls for speeches. The toast, after-dinner talk,
or address is always given under conditions that require abounding good
humor, and the desire to make everybody pleased and comfortable as well
as to furnish entertainment should be uppermost.
Perhaps a consideration of the ancient custom that gave rise to the
modern toast will help us to understand the spirit in which a toast
should be given. It originated with the pagan custom of drinking to gods
and the dead, which in Christian nations was modified, with the
accompanying idea of a wish for health and happiness added. In England
during the sixteenth century it was customary to put a "toast" in the
drink, which was usually served hot. This toast was the ordinary piece
of bread scorched on both sides. Shakespeare in "The Merry Wives of
Windsor" has Falstaff say, "Fetch me a quart of sack and put a toast
in't." Later the term came to be applied to the lady in whose honor the
company drank, her name serving to flavor the bumper as the toast
flavored the drink. It was in this way that the act of drinking or of
proposing a health, or the mere act of expressing good wishes or
fellowship at table came to be known as toasting.
Since an occasion, then, at which toasts are in order is one intended to
promote good feeling, it should afford no opportunity for the
exploitation of any personal or selfish interest or for anything
controversial, or antagonistic to any of the company present. The effort
of the toastmaster should be to promote the best of feeling among all
and especially between speakers. And speakers should cooperate with the
toastmaster and with each other to that end. The introductions of the
toastmaster may, of course, contain some good-natured bantering,
together with compliment, but always without sting. Those taking part
may "get back" at the toastmaster, but always in a manner to leave no
hard feeling anywhere. The toastmaster should strive to make his
speakers feel at ease, to give them good standing with their hearers
without overpraising them and making it hard to live up to what is
expected of them. In short, let everybody boost good naturedly for
The toastmaster, and for that matter everyone taking part, should be
carefully prepared. It may be safely said that those who are successful
after-dinner speakers have learned the need of careful forethought. A
practised speaker may appear to speak extemporaneously by putting
together on one occasion thoughts and expressions previously prepared
for other occasions, but the neophyte may well consider it necessary to
think out carefully the matter of what to say and how to say it. Cicero
said of Antonius, "All his speeches were, _in appearance_, the
unpremeditated effusion of an honest heart; and yet, in reality, they
were _preconceived with so much skill_ that the judges were not so well
prepared as they should have been to withstand the force of them!"
After considering the nature of the occasion and getting himself in
harmony with it, the speaker should next consider the relation of his
particular subject to the occasion and to the subjects of the other
speakers. He should be careful to hold closely to the subject allotted
to him so that he will not encroach upon the ground of other speakers.
He should be careful, too, not to appropriate to himself any of their
time. And he should consider, without vanity and without humility, his
own relative importance and govern himself accordingly. We have all had
the painful experience of waiting in impatience for the speech of the
evening to begin while some humble citizen made "a few introductory
In planning his speech and in getting it into finished form, the toaster
will do well to remember those three essentials to all good composition
with which he struggled in school and college days, Unity, Mass and
Coherence. The first means that his talk must have a central thought, on
which all his stories, anecdotes and jokes will have a bearing; the
second that there will be a proper balance between the parts, that it
will not be all introduction and conclusion; the third, that it will
hang together, without awkward transitions. A toast may consist, as
Lowell said, of "a platitude, a quotation and an anecdote," but the
toaster must exercise his ingenuity in putting these together.
In delivering the toast, the speaker must of course be natural. The
after-dinner speech calls for a conversational tone, not for oratory of
voice or manner. Something of an air of detachment on the part of the
speaker is advisable. The humorist who can tell a story with a straight
face adds to the humorous effect.
A word might be said to those who plan the program. In the number of
speakers it is better to err in having too few than too many. Especially
is this true if there is one distinguished person who is _the_ speaker
of the occasion. In such a case the number of lesser lights may well be
limited to two or three. The placing of the guest of honor on the
program is a matter of importance. Logically he would be expected to
come last, as the crowning feature. But if the occasion is a large
semi-public affair--a political gathering, for example--where strict
etiquet does not require that all remain thru the entire program, there
will always be those who will leave early, thus missing the best part of
the entertainment. In this case some shifting of speakers, even at the
risk of an anti-climax, would be advisable. On ordinary occasions, where
the speakers are of much the same rank, order will be determined mainly
by subject. And if the topics for discussion are directly related, if
they are all component parts of a general subject, so much the better.
Now we are going to add a special paragraph for the absolutely
inexperienced person--who has never given, or heard anyone else give, a
toast. It would seem hardly possible in this day of banquets to find an
individual who has missed these occasions entirely--but he is to be
found. Especially is this true in a world where toasting and
after-dinner speaking are coming to be more and more in demand at social
functions--the college world. Here the young man or woman, coming from a
country town where the formal banquet is unknown, who has never heard an
after-dinner speech, may be confronted with the necessity of responding
to a toast on, say "Needles and Pins." Such a one would like to be told
first of all what an after-dinner speech is. It is only a short,
informal talk, usually witty, at any rate kindly, with one central idea
and a certain amount of illustrative material in the way of anecdotes,
quotations and stories. The best advice to such a speaker is: Make your
first effort simple. Don't be over ambitious. If, as was suggested in
the example cited a moment ago, the subject is fanciful--as it is very
apt to be at a college banquet--any interpretation you choose to put
upon it is allowable. If the interpretation is ingenious, your case is
already half won. Such a subject is in effect a challenge. "Now, let's
see what you can make of this," is what it implies. First get an idea;
then find something in the way of illustrative material. Speak simply
and naturally and sit down and watch how the others do it. Of course the
subject on such occasions is often of a more serious nature--Our Class;
The Team; Our President--in which case a more serious treatment is
called for, with a touch of honest pride and sentiment.
To sum up what has been said, with borrowings from what others have said
on the subject, the following general rules have been formulated:
_Prepare carefully_. Self-confidence is a valuable possession, but
beware of being too sure of yourself. Pride goes before a fall, and
overconfidence in his ability to improvise has been the downfall of many
a would-be speaker. The speaker should strive to give the effect of
spontaneity, but this can be done only with practice. The toast calls
for the art that conceals art.
_Let your speech have unity_. As some one has pointed out, the
after-dinner speech is a distinct form of expression, just as is the
short story. As such it should give a unity of impression. It bears
something of the same relation to the oration that the short story does
to the novel.
_Let it have continuity_. James Bryce says: "There is a tendency today
to make after-dinner speaking a mere string of anecdotes, most of which
may have little to do with the subject or with one another. Even the
best stories lose their charm when they are dragged in by the head and
shoulders, having no connection with the allotted theme. Relevance as
well as brevity is the soul of wit."
_Do not grow emotional or sentimental_. American traditions are largely
borrowed from England. We have the Anglo-Saxon reticence. A parade of
emotion in public embarrasses us. A simple and sincere expression of
feeling is often desirable in a toast--but don't overdo it.
_Avoid trite sayings_. Don't use quotations that are shopworn, and avoid
the set forms for toasts--"Our sweethearts and wives--may they never
_Don't apologise_. Don't say that you are not prepared; that you speak
on very short notice; that you are "no orator as Brutus is." Resolve to
do your best and let your effort speak for itself.
_Avoid irony and satire_. It has already been said that occasions on
which toasts are given call for friendliness and good humor. Yet the
temptation to use irony and satire may be strong. Especially may this be
true at political gatherings where there is a chance to grow witty at
the expense of rivals. Irony and satire are keen-edged tools; they have
their uses; but they are dangerous. Pope, who knew how to use them,
Satire's my weapon, but I'm too discreet
To run amuck and tilt at all I meet.
_Use personal references sparingly_. A certain amount of good-natured
chaffing may be indulged in. Yet there may be danger in even the most
kindly of fun. One never knows how a jest will be taken. Once in the
early part of his career, Mark Twain, at a New England banquet, grew
funny at the expense of Longfellow and Emerson, then in their old age
and looked upon almost as divinities. His joke fell dead, and to the end
of his life he suffered humiliation at the recollection.
_Be clear_. While you must not draw an obvious moral or explain the
point to your jokes, be sure that the point is there and that it is put
in such a way that your hearers cannot miss it. Avoid flights of
rhetoric and do not lose your anecdotes in a sea of words.
_Avoid didacticism_. Do not try to instruct. Do not give statistics and
figures. They will not be remembered. A historical resume of your
subject from the beginning of time is not called for; neither are
well-known facts about the greatness of your city or state or the
prominent person in whose honor you may be speaking. Do not tell your
hearers things they already know.
_Be brief_. An after-dinner audience is in a particularly defenceless
position. It is so out in the open. There is no opportunity for a quiet
nod or two behind a newspaper or the hat of the lady in front. If you
bore your hearers by overstepping your time politeness requires that
they sit still and look pleased. Spare them. Remember Bacon's advice to
the speaker: "Let him be sure to leave other men their turns to speak."
But suppose you come late on the program! Suppose the other speakers
have not heeded Bacon? What are you going to do about it? Here is a
story that James Bryce tells of the most successful after-dinner speech
he remembers to have heard. The speaker was a famous engineer, the
occasion a dinner of the British Association for the Advancement of
Science. "He came last; and midnight had arrived. His toast was Applied
Science, and his speech was as follows: 'Ladies and gentlemen, at this
late hour I advise you to illustrate the Applications of Science by
applying a lucifer match to the wick of your bedroom candle. Let us all
go to bed'."
If you are capable of making a similar sacrifice by cutting short your
own carefully-prepared, wise, witty and sparkling remarks, your audience
will thank you--and they may ask you to speak again.
"Pa," said little Joe, "I bet I can do something you can't."
"Well, what is it?" demanded his pa.
"Grow," replied the youngster triumphantly.--_H.E. Zimmerman_.
He was a New Yorker visiting in a South Carolina village and he
sauntered up to a native sitting in front of the general store, and
began a conversation.
"Have you heard about the new manner in which the planters are going to
pick their cotton this season?" he inquired.
"Don't believe I have," answered the other.
"Well, they have decided to import a lot of monkeys to do the picking,"
rejoined the New Yorker. "Monkeys learn readily. They are thorough
workers, and obviously they will save their employers a small fortune
otherwise expended in wages."
"Yes," ejaculated the native, "and about the time this monkey brigade is
beginning to work smoothly, a lot of you fool northerners will come
tearing down here and set 'em free."
SHE--"I consider, John, that sheep are the stupidest creatures living."
HE--(_absent-mindedly_)--"Yes, my lamb."
The late Dr. Henry Thayer, founder of Thayer's Laboratory in Cambridge,
was walking along a street one winter morning. The sidewalk was sheeted
with ice and the doctor was making his way carefully, as was also a
woman going in the opposite direction. In seeking to avoid each other,
both slipped and they came down in a heap. The polite doctor was
overwhelmed and his embarrassment paralyzed his speech, but the woman
was equal to the occasion.
"Doctor, if you will be kind enough to rise and pick out your legs, I
will take what remains," she said cheerfully.
"Help! Help!" cried an Italian laborer near the mud flats of the Harlem
"What's the matter there?" came a voice from the construction shanty.
"Queek! Bringa da shov'! Bringa da peek! Giovanni's stuck in da mud."
"How far in?"
"Up to hees knees."
"Oh, let him walk out."
"No, no! He no canna walk! He wronga end up!"
There once was a lady from Guam,
Who said, "Now the sea is so calm
I will swim, for a lark";
But she met with a shark.
Let us now sing the ninetieth psalm.
BRICKLAYER (to mate, who had just had a hodful of bricks fall on his
feet)--"Dropt 'em on yer toe! That's nothin'. Why, I seen a bloke get
killed stone dead, an' 'e never made such a bloomin' fuss as you're
A preacher had ordered a load of hay from one of his parishioners. About
noon, the parishioner's little son came to the house crying lustily. On
being asked what the matter was, he said that the load of hay had tipped
over in the street. The preacher, a kindly man, assured the little
fellow that it was nothing serious, and asked him in to dinner.
"Pa wouldn't like it," said the boy.
But the preacher assured him that he would fix it all right with his
father, and urged him to take dinner before going for the hay. After
dinner the boy was asked if he were not glad that he had stayed.
"Pa won't like it," he persisted.
The preacher, unable to understand, asked the boy what made him think
his father would object.
"Why, you see, pa's under the hay," explained the boy.
There was an old Miss from Antrim,
Who looked for the leak with a glim.
Alack and alas!
The cause was the gas.
We will now sing the fifty-fourth hymn.
--_Gilbert K. Chesterton_.
There was a young lady named Hannah,
Who slipped on a peel of banana.
More stars she espied
As she lay on her side
Than are found in the Star Spangled Banner.
A gentleman sprang to assist her;
He picked up her glove and her wrister;
"Did you fall, Ma'am?" he cried;
"Did you think," she replied,
"I sat down for the fun of it, Mister?"
At first laying down, as a fact fundamental,
That nothing with God can be accidental.
Hopkinson Smith tells a characteristic story of a southern friend of
his, an actor, who, by the way, was in the dramatization of _Colonel
Carter_. On one occasion the actor was appearing in his native town, and
remembered an old negro and his wife, who had been body servants in his
father's household, with a couple of seats in the theatre. As it
happened, he was playing the part of the villain, and was largely
concerned with treasons, stratagems and spoils. From time to time he
caught a glimpse of the ancient couple in the gallery, and judged from
their fearsome countenance and popping eyes that they were being duly
After the play he asked them to come and see him behind the scenes. They
sat together for a while in solemn silence, and then the mammy
resolutely nudged her husband. The old man gathered himself together
with an effort, and said: "Marse Cha'les, mebbe it ain' for us po'
niggers to teach ouh young masser 'portment. But we jes' got to tell yo'
dat, in all de time we b'long to de fambly, none o' ouh folks ain' neveh
befo' mix up in sechlike dealin's, an' we hope, Marse Cha'les, dat yo'
see de erroh of yo' ways befo' yo' done sho' nuff disgrace us."
In a North of England town recently a company of local amateurs produced
Hamlet, and the following account of the proceedings appeared in the
local paper next morning:
"Last night all the fashionables and elite of our town gathered to
witness a performance of _Hamlet_ at the Town Hall. There has been
considerable discussion in the press as to whether the play was written
by Shakespeare or Bacon. All doubt can be now set at rest. Let their
graves be opened; the one who turned over last night is the author."
Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special
observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature.--_Shakespeare_.
To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart;
To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold,
Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold--
For this the tragic muse first trod the stage.
ACTORS AND ACTRESSES
An "Uncle Tom's Cabin" company was starting to parade in a small New
England town when a big gander, from a farmyard near at hand waddled to
the middle of the street and began to hiss.
One of the double-in-brass actors turned toward the fowl and angrily
"Don't be so dern quick to jump at conclusions. Wait till you see the
When William H. Crane was younger and less discreet he had a vaunting
ambition to play _Hamlet_. So with his first profits he organized his
own company and he went to an inland western town to give vent to his
ambition and "try it on."
When he came back to New York a group of friends noticed that the actor
appeared to be much downcast.
"What's the matter, Crane? Didn't they appreciate it?" asked one of his
"They didn't seem to," laconically answered the actor.
"Well, didn't they give any encouragement? Didn't they ask you to come
before the curtain?" persisted the friend.
"Ask me?" answered Crane. "Man, they dared me!"
LEADING MAN IN TRAVELING COMPANY--"We play _Hamlet_ to-night, laddie, do
SUB-MANAGER--"Yes, Mr. Montgomery."
LEADING MAN--"Then I must borrow the sum of two-pence!"
LEADING MAN--"I have four days' growth upon my chin. One cannot play
_Hamlet_ in a beard!"
SUB-MANAGER--"Um--well--we'll put on Macbeth!"
HE--"But what reason have you for refusing to marry me?"
SHE--"Papa objects. He says you are an actor."
HE-"Give my regards to the old boy and tell him I'm sorry he isn't a
The hero of the play, after putting up a stiff fight with the villain,
had died to slow music.
The audience insisted on his coming before the curtain.
He refused to appear.
But the audience still insisted.
Then the manager, a gentleman with a strong accent, came to the front.
"Ladies an' gintlemen," he said, "the carpse thanks ye kindly, but he
says he's dead, an' he's goin to stay dead."
Mrs. Minnie Maddern Fiske, the actress, was having her hair dressed by a
young woman at her home. The actress was very tired and quiet, but a
chance remark from the dresser made her open her eyes and sit up.
"I should have went on the stage," said the young woman complacently.
"But," returned Mrs. Fiske, "look at me--think how I have had to work
and study to gain what success I have, and win such fame as is now
"Oh, yes," replied the young woman calmly; "but then I have talent."
Orlando Day, a fourth-rate actor in London, was once called, in a sudden
emergency, to supply the place of Allen Ainsworth at the Criterion
Theatre for a single night.
The call filled him with joy. Here was a chance to show the public how
great a histrionic genius had remained unknown for lack of an
opportunity. But his joy was suddenly dampened by the dreadful thought
that, as the play was already in the midst of its run, none of the
dramatic critics might be there to watch his triumph.
A bright thought struck him. He would announce the event. Rushing to a
telegraph office, he sent to one of the leading critics the following
telegram: "Orlando Day presents Allen Ainsworth's part to-night at the
Then it occurred to him, "Why not tell them all?" So he repeated the
message to a dozen or more important persons.
At a late hour of the same day, in the Garrick Club, a lounging
gentleman produced one of the telegrams, and read it to a group of
friends. A chorus of exclamations followed the reading: "Why, I got
precisely the same message!" "And so did I." "And I, too." "Who is
Orlando Day?" "What beastly cheek!" "Did the ass fancy that one would
pay any attention to his wire?"
J. M. Barrie, the famous author and playwright, who was present, was the
only one who said nothing.
"Didn't he wire you too?" asked one of the group.
"But of course you didn't answer."
"Oh, but it was only polite to send an answer after he had taken the
trouble to wire me. So, of course, I answered him."
"You did! What did you say?"
"Oh, I just telegraphed him: 'Thanks for timely warning.'"
Twinkle, twinkle, lovely star!
How I wonder if you are
When at home the tender age
You appear when on the stage.
--_Mary A. Fairchild_.
Recipe for an actor:
To one slice of ham add assortment of roles.
Steep the head in mash notes till it swells,
Garnish with onions, tomatoes and beets,
Or with eggs--from afar--in the shells.
Recipe for an ingenue:
A pound and three-quarters of kitten,
Three ounces of flounces and sighs;
Add wiggles and giggles and gurgles,
And ringlets and dimples and eyes.
"I know a nature-faker," said Mr. Bache, the author, "who claims that a
hen of his last month hatched, from a setting of seventeen eggs,
seventeen chicks that had, in lieu of feathers, fur.
"He claimed that these fur-coated chicks were a proof of nature's
adaptation of all animals to their environment, the seventeen eggs
having been of the cold-storage variety."
In a large store a child, pointing to a shopper exclaimed, "Oh, mother,
that lady lives the same place we do. I just heard her say, 'Send it up
C.O.D.' Isn't that where we live?"
An Englishman went into his local library and asked for Frederic
Harrison's _George Washington and other American Addresses_. In a little
while he brought back the book to the librarian and said:
"This book does not give me what I require; I want to find out the
addresses of several American magnates; I know where George Washington
has gone to, for he never told a lie."
Not long ago a patron of a cafe in Chicago summoned his waiter and
delivered himself as follows:
"I want to know the meaning of this. Look at this piece of beef. See its
size. Last evening I was served with a portion more than twice the size
"Where did you sit?" asked the waiter.
"What has that to do with it? I believe I sat by the window."
"In that case," smiled the waiter, "the explanation is simple. We always
serve customers by the window large portions. It's a good advertisement
for the place."
"Advertising costs me a lot of money."
"Why I never saw your goods advertised."
"They aren't. But my wife reads other people's ads."
When Mark Twain, in his early days, was editor of a Missouri paper, a
superstitious subscriber wrote to him saying that he had found a spider
in his paper, and asking him whether that was a sign of good luck or
bad. The humorist wrote him this answer and printed it:
"Old subscriber: Finding a spider in your paper was neither good luck
nor bad luck for you. The spider was merely looking over our paper to
see which merchant is not advertising, so that he can go to that store,
spin his web across the door and lead a life of undisturbed peace ever
"Good Heavens, man! I saw your obituary in this morning's paper!"
"Yes, I know. I put it in myself. My opera is to be produced to-night,
and I want good notices from the critics."--_C. Hilton Turvey_.
Paderewski arrived in a small western town about noon one day and
decided to take a walk in the afternoon. While strolling ling along he
heard a piano, and, following the sound, came to a house on which was a
"Miss Jones. Piano lessons 25 cents an hour."
Pausing to listen he heard the young woman trying to play one of
Chopin's nocturnes, and not succeeding very well.
Paderewski walked up to the house and knocked. Miss Jones came to the
door and recognized him at once. Delighted, she invited him in and he
sat down and played the nocturne as only Paderewski can, afterward
spending an hour in correcting her mistakes. Miss Jones thanked him and
Some months afterward he returned to the town, and again took the same
He soon came to the home of Miss Jones, and, looking at the sign, he
"Miss Jones. Piano lessons $1.00 an hour. (Pupil of Paderewski.)"
Shortly after Raymond Hitchcock made his first big hit in New York,
Eddie Foy, who was also playing in town, happened to be passing Daly's
Theatre, and paused to look at the pictures of Hitchcock and his company
that adorned the entrance. Near the pictures was a billboard covered
with laudatory extracts from newspaper criticisms of the show.
When Foy had moodily read to the bottom of the list, he turned to an
unobtrusive young man who had been watching him out of the corner of his
"Say, have you seen this show?" he asked.
"Sure," replied the young man.
"Any good? How's this guy Hitchcock, anyhow?"
"Any good?" repeated the young man pityingly. "Why, say, he's the best
in the business. He's got all these other would-be side-ticklers lashed
to the mast. He's a scream. Never laughed so much at any one in all my
"Is he as good as Foy?" ventured Foy hopefully.
"As good as Foy!" The young man's scorn was superb. "Why, this Hitchcock
has got that Foy person looking like a gloom. They're not in the same
class. Hitchcock's funny. A man with feelings can't compare them. I'm
sorry you asked me, I feel so strongly about it."
Eddie looked at him very sternly and then, in the hollow tones of a
tragedian, he said:
"I am Foy."
"I know you are," said the young man cheerfully. "I'm Hitchcock!"
Advertisements are of great use to the vulgar. First of all, as they are
instruments of ambition. A man that is by no means big enough for the
Gazette, may easily creep into the advertisements; by which means we
often see an apothecary in the same paper of news with a
plenipotentiary, or a running footman with an ambassador.--_Addison_.
_See also_ Salesmen and Salesmanship.
Her exalted rank did not give Queen Victoria immunity from the trials of
a grandmother. One of her grandsons, whose recklessness in spending
money provoked her strong disapproval, wrote to the Queen reminding her
of his approaching birthday and delicately suggesting that money would
be the most acceptable gift. In her own hand she answered, sternly
reproving the youth for the sin of extravagance and urging upon him the
practise of economy. His reply staggered her:
"Dear Grandma," it ran, "thank you for your kind letter of advice. I
have sold the same for five pounds."
Many receive advice, only the wise profit by it.--_Publius Syrus_.
A flea and a fly in a flue,
Were imprisoned; now what could they do?
Said the fly, "let us flee."
"Let us fly," said the flea,
And they flew through a flaw in the flue.
The impression that men will never fly like birds seems to be
aeroneous.--_La Touche Hancock_.
"Mother, may I go aeroplane?"
"Yes, my darling Mary.
Tie yourself to an anchor chain
And don't go near the airy."
Harry N. Atwood, the noted aviator, was the guest of honor at a dinner
in New York, and on the occasion his eloquent reply to a toast on
aviation terminated neatly with these words:
"The aeroplane has come at last, but it was a long time coming. We can
imagine Necessity, the mother of invention, looking up at a sky all
criss-crossed with flying machines, and then saying, with a shake of her
old head and with a contented smile:
"'Of all my family, the aeroplane has been the hardest to raise.'"
A genius who once did aspire
To invent an aerial flyer,
When asked, "Does it go?"
Replied, "I don't know;
I'm awaiting some damphule to try 'er."
AFTER DINNER SPEECHES
A Frenchman once remarked:
"The table is the only place where one is not bored for the first hour."
Every rose has its thorn
There's fuzz on all the peaches.
There never was a dinner yet
Without some lengthy speeches.
Joseph Chamberlain was the guest of honor at a dinner in an important
city. The Mayor presided, and when coffee was being served the Mayor
leaned over and touched Mr. Chamberlain, saying, "Shall we let the
people enjoy themselves a little longer, or had we better have your
"Friend," said one immigrant to another, "this is a grand country to
settle in. They don't hang you here for murder."
"What do they do to you?" the other immigrant asked.
"They kill you," was the reply, "with elocution."
When Daniel got into the lions' den and looked around he thought to
himself, "Whoever's got to do the after-dinner speaking, it won't be
Joseph H. Choate and Chauncey Depew were invited to a dinner. Mr. Choate
was to speak, and it fell to the lot of Mr. Depew to introduce him,
which he did thus: "Gentlemen, permit me to introduce Ambassador Choate,
America's most inveterate after-dinner speaker. All you need to do to
get a speech out of Mr. Choate is to open his mouth, drop in a dinner
and up comes your speech."
Mr. Choate thanked the Senator for his compliment, and then said: "Mr.
Depew says if you open my mouth and drop in a dinner up will come a
speech, but I warn you that if you open your mouths and drop in one of
Senator Depew's speeches up will come your dinners."
Mr. John C. Hackett recently told the following story:
"I was up in Rockland County last summer, and there was a banquet given
at a country hotel. All the farmers were there and all the village
characters. I was asked to make a speech.
"'Now,' said I, with the usual apologetic manner, 'it is not fair to you
that the toastmaster should ask me to speak. I am notorious as the worst
public speaker in the State of New York. My reputation extends from one
end of the state to the other. I have no rival whatever, when it
comes--' I was interrupted by a lanky, ill-clad individual, who had
stuck too close to the beer pitcher.
"'Gentlemen,' said he, 'I take 'ception to what this here man says. He
ain't the worst public speaker in the state. I am. You all know it, an'
I want it made a matter of record that I took 'ception.'
"'Well, my friend,' said I, 'suppose we leave it to the guests. You sit
down while I say my piece, and then I'll sit down and let you give a
demonstration.' The fellow agreed and I went on. I hadn't gone far when
he got up again.
"''S all right,' said he, 'you win; needn't go no farther!'"
Mark Twain and Chauncey M. Depew once went abroad on the same ship. When
the ship was a few days out they were both invited to a dinner.
Speech-making time came. Mark Twain had the first chance. He spoke
twenty minutes and made a great hit. Then it was Mr. Depew's turn.
"Mr. Toastmaster and Ladies and Gentlemen," said the famous raconteur as
he arose, "Before this dinner Mark Twain and myself made an agreement to
trade speeches. He has just delivered my speech, and I thank you for the
pleasant manner in which you received it. I regret to say that I have
lost the notes of his speech and cannot remember anything he was to
Then he sat down. There was much laughter. Next day an Englishman who
had been in the party came across Mark Twain in the smoking-room. "Mr
Clemens," he said, "I consider you were much imposed upon last night. I
have always heard that Mr. Depew is a clever man, but, really, that
speech of his you made last night struck me as being the most infernal
_See also_ Orators; Politicians; Public Speakers.
The good die young. Here's hoping that you may live to a ripe old age.
"How old are you, Tommy?" asked a caller.
"Well, when I'm home I'm five, when I'm in school I'm six, and when I'm
on the cars I'm four."
"How effusively sweet that Mrs. Blondey is to you, Jonesy," said
Witherell. "What's up? Any tender little romance there?"
"No, indeed--why, that woman hates me," said Jonesy.
"She doesn't show it," said Witherell.
"No; but she knows I know how old she is--we were both born on the same
day," said Jonesy, "and she's afraid I'll tell somebody."
As every southerner knows, elderly colored people rarely know how old
they are, and almost invariably assume an age much greater than belongs
to them. In an Atlanta family there is employed an old chap named Joshua
Bolton, who has been with that family and the previous generation for
more years than they can remember. In view, therefore, of his advanced
age, it was with surprise that his employer received one day an
application for a few days off, in order that the old fellow might, as
he put it, "go up to de ole State of Virginny" to see his aunt.
"Your aunt must be pretty old," was the employer's comment.
"Yassir," said Joshua. "She's pretty ole now. I reckon she's 'bout a
hundred an' ten years ole."
"One hundred and ten! But what on earth is she doing up in Virginia?"
"I don't jest know," explained Joshua, "but I understand she's up dere
livin' wif her grandmother."
When "Bob" Burdette was addressing the graduating class of a large
eastern college for women, he began his remarks with the usual
salutation, "Young ladies of '97." Then in a horrified aside he added,
"That's an awful age for a girl!"
THE PARSON (about to improve the golden hour)--"When a man reaches your
age, Mr. Dodd, he cannot, in the nature of things, expect to live very
much longer, and I--"
THE NONAGENARIAN--"I dunno, parson. I be stronger on my legs than I were
when I started!"
A well-meaning Washington florist was the cause of much embarrassment to
a young man who was in love with a rich and beautiful girl.
It appears that one afternoon she informed the young man that the next
day would be her birthday, whereupon the suitor remarked that he would
the next morning send her some roses, one rose for each year.
That night he wrote a note to his florist, ordering the delivery of
twenty roses for the young woman. The florist himself filled the order,
and, thinking to improve on it, said to his clerk:
"Here's an order from young Jones for twenty roses. He's one of my best
customers, so I'll throw in ten more for good measure."--_Edwin Tarrisse_.
A small boy who had recently passed his fifth birthday was riding in a
suburban car with his mother, when they were asked the customary
question, "How old is the boy?" After being told the correct age, which
did not require a fare, the conductor passed on to the next person.
The boy sat quite still as if pondering over some question, and then,
concluding that full information had not been given, called loudly to
the conductor, then at the other end of the car: "And mother's
The late John Bigelow, the patriarch of diplomats and authors, and the
no less distinguished physician and author, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, were
together, several years ago, at West Point. Dr. Bigelow was then
ninety-two, and Dr. Mitchell eighty.
The conversation turned to the subject of age. "I attribute my many
years," said Dr. Bigelow, "to the fact that I have been most abstemious.
I have eaten sparingly, and have not used tobacco, and have taken little
"It is just the reverse in my case," explained Dr. Mitchell. "I have
eaten just as much as I wished, if I could get it; I have always used
tobacco, immoderately at times; and I have always taken a great deal of
With that, Ninety-Two-Years shook his head at Eighty-Years and said,
"Well, you will never live to be an old man!"--_Sarah Bache Hodge_.
A wise man never puts away childish things.--_Sidney Dark_.
To the old, long life and treasure;
To the young, all health and pleasure.
Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old Age a regret.--_Disraeli_.
We do not count a man's years, until he has nothing else to
To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful
than to be forty years old.--_O.W. Holmes_.
"John, whatever induced you to buy a house in this forsaken region?"
"One of the best men in the business."--_Life_.
A farmer, according to this definition, is a man who makes his money on
the farm and spends it in town. An agriculturist is a man who makes his
money in town and spends it on the farm.
In certain parts of the west, where without irrigation the cultivators
of the land would be in a bad way indeed, the light rains that during
the growing season fall from time to time, are appreciated to a degree
that is unknown in the east.
Last summer a fruit grower who owns fifty acres of orchards was
rejoicing in one of these precipitations of moisture, when his hired man
came into the house.
"Why don't you stay in out of the rain?" asked the fruit-man.
"I don't mind a little dew like this," said the man. "I can work along
just the same."
"Oh, I'm not talking about that," exclaimed the fruit-man. "The next
time it rains, you can come into the house. I want that water on the
They used to have a farming rule
Of forty acres and a mule.
Results were won by later men
With forty square feet and a hen.
And nowadays success we see
With forty inches and a bee.
Blessed be agriculture! if one does not have too much of it.--_Charles
When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the
founders of human civilization.--_Daniel Webster_.
MIKE (in bed, to alarm-clock as it goes off)--"I fooled yez that time. I
was not aslape at all."
"Alert?" repeated a congressman, when questioned concerning one of his
political opponents. "Why, he's alert as a Providence bridegroom I heard
of the other day. You know how bridegrooms starting off on their
honeymoons sometimes forget all about their brides, and buy tickets only
for themselves? That is what happened to the Providence young man. And
when his wife said to him, 'Why, Tom, you bought only one ticket,' he
answered without a moment's hesitation, 'By Jove, you're right, dear!
I'd forgotten myself entirely!'"
A party of Manila army women were returning in an auto from a suburban
excursion when the driver unfortunately collided with another vehicle.
While a policeman was taking down the names of those concerned an
"English-speaking" Filipino law-student politely asked one of the ladies
how the accident had happened.
"I'm sure I don't know," she replied; "I was asleep when it occurred."
Proud of his knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon tongue, the youth replied:
"Ah, madam, then you will be able to prove a lullaby."
"What is alimony, ma?"
"It is a man's cash surrender value."--_Town Topics_
The proof of the wedding is in the alimony.
"Why don't you give your wife an allowance?"
"I did once, and she spent it before I could borrow it back."
WILLIE--"Teacher says we're here to help others."
PA--"Of course we are."
WILLIE--"Well, what are the others here for?"
There was once a remarkably kind boy who was a great angler. There was a
trout stream in his neighborhood that ran through a rich man's estate.
Permits to fish the stream could now and then be obtained, and the boy
was lucky enough to have a permit.
One day he was fishing with another boy when a gamekeeper suddenly
darted forth from a thicket. The lad with the permit uttered a cry of
fright, dropped his rod, and ran off at top speed. The gamekeeper
For about half a mile the gamekeeper was led a swift and difficult
chase. Then, worn out, the boy halted. The man seized him by the arm and
said between pants:
"Have you a permit to fish on this estate?
"Yes to be sure," said the boy, quietly.
"You have? Then show it to me."
The boy drew the permit from his pocket. The man examined it and frowned
in perplexity and anger.
"Why did you run when you had this permit?" he asked.
"To let the other boy get away," was the reply. "He didn't have none!"
Oliver Herford sat next to a soulful poetess at dinner one night, and
that dreamy one turned her sad eyes upon him. "Have you no other
ambition, Mr. Herford," she demanded, "than to force people to degrade
themselves by laughter?"
Yes, Herford had an ambition. A whale of an ambition. Some day he hoped
to gratify it.
The woman rested her elbows on the table and propped her face in her
long, sad hands, and glowed into Mr. Herford's eyes. "Oh, Mr. Herford,"
she said, "Oliver! Tell me about it."
"I want to throw an egg into an electric fan," said Herford, simply.
"Hubby," said the observant wife, "the janitor of these flats is a
"What of it?"
"I really think he is becoming interested in our oldest daughter."
"There you go again with your pipe dreams! Last week it was a duke."
The chief end of a man in New York is dissipation; in Boston,
When you are aspiring to the highest place, it is honorable to reach the
second or even the third rank.--_Cicero_.
The man who seeks one thing in life, and but one,
May hope to achieve it before life be done;
But he who seeks all things, wherever he goes,
Only reaps from the hopes which around him he sows
A harvest of barren regrets.
Here's to the dearest
Of all things on earth.
And yet of full worth.)
One who lays siege to
That's one of her arts!)
Drink to her, toast her,
Your banner unfurl--
Here's to the _priceless_
Eugene Field was at a dinner in London when the conversation turned to
the subject of lynching in the United States.
It was the general opinion that a large percentage of Americans met
death at the end of a rope. Finally the hostess turned to Field and
"You, sir, must have often seen these affairs?"
"Yes," replied Field, "hundreds of them."
"Oh, do tell us about a lynching you have seen yourself," broke in half
a dozen voices at once.
"Well, the night before I sailed for England," said Field, "I was giving
a dinner at a hotel to a party of intimate friends when a colored waiter
spilled a plate of soup over the gown of a lady at an adjoining table.
The gown was utterly ruined, and the gentlemen of her party at once
seized the waiter, tied a rope around his neck, and at a signal from the
injured lady swung him into the air."
"Horrible!" said the hostess with a shudder. "And did you actually see
"Well, no," admitted Field apologetically. "Just at that moment I
happened to be downstairs killing the chef for putting mustard in the
You can always tell the English,
You can always tell the Dutch,
You can always tell the Yankees--
But you can't tell them _much!_
A newspaper thus defined amusements:
The Friends' picnic this year was not as well attended as it has been
for some years. This can be laid to three causes, viz.: the change of
place in holding it, deaths in families, and other amusements.
I wish that my room had a floor;
I don't so much care for a door;
But this crawling around
Without touching the ground
Is getting to be quite a bore.
I am a great friend to public amusements; for they keep people from
TOMMY--"My gran'pa wuz in th' civil war, an' he lost a leg or a arm in
every battle he fit in!"
JOHNNY--"Gee! How many battles was he in?"
They thought more of the Legion of Honor in the time of the first
Napoleon than they do now. The emperor one day met an old one-armed
"How did you lose your arm?" he asked.
"Sire, at Austerlitz."
"And were you not decorated?"
"Then here is my own cross for you; I make you chevalier."
"Your Majesty names me chevalier because I have lost one arm. What would
your Majesty have done had I lost both arms?"
"Oh, in that case I should have made you Officer of the Legion."
Whereupon the old soldier immediately drew his sword and cut off his
There is no particular reason to doubt this story. The only question is,
how did he do it?
A western buyer is inordinately proud of the fact that one of his
ancestors affixed his name to the Declaration of Independence. At the
time the salesman called, the buyer was signing a number of checks and
affixed his signature with many a curve and flourish. The salesman's
patience becoming exhausted in waiting for the buyer to recognize him,
he finally observed:
"You have a fine signature, Mr. So-and-So."
"Yes," admitted the buyer, "I should have. One of my forefathers signed
the Declaration of Independence."
"So?" said the caller, with rising inflection. And then he added:
"Vell, you aind't got nottings on me. One of my forefathers signed the
In a speech in the Senate on Hawaiian affairs, Senator Depew of New York
told this story:
When Queen Liliuokalani was in England during the English queen's
jubilee, she was received at Buckingham Palace. In the course of the
remarks that passed between the two queens, the one from the Sandwich
Islands said that she had English blood in her veins.
"How so?" inquired Victoria.
"My ancestors ate Captain Cook."
Signor Marconi, in an interview in Washington, praised American
"Over here," he said, "you respect a man for what he is himself--not for
what his family is--and thus you remind me of the gardener in Bologna
who helped me with my first wireless apparatus.
"As my mother's gardener and I were working on my apparatus together a
young count joined us one day, and while he watched us work the count
boasted of his lineage.
"The gardener, after listening a long while, smiled and said:
"'If you come from an ancient family, it's so much the worse for you
sir; for, as we gardeners say, the older the seed the worse the crop.'"
"Gerald," said the young wife, noticing how heartily he was eating, "do
I cook as well as your mother did?"
Gerald put up his monocle, and stared at her through it.
"Once and for all, Agatha," he said, "I beg you will remember that
although I may seem to be in reduced circumstances now, I come of an old
and distinguished family. My mother was not a cook."
"My ancestors came over in the 'Mayflower.'"
"That's nothing; my father descended from an aeroplane."--_Life_.
When in England, Governor Foss, of Massachusetts, had luncheon with a
prominent Englishman noted for boasting of his ancestry. Taking a coin
from his pocket, the Englishman said: "My great-great-grandfather was
made a lord by the king whose picture you see on this shilling."
"Indeed!" replied the governor, smiling, as he produced another coin.
"What a coincidence! My great-great-grandfather was made an angel by the
Indian whose picture you see on this cent."
People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to
From yon blue heavens above us bent,
The gardener Adam and his wife
Smile at the claims of long descent.
Charlie and Nancy had quarreled. After their supper Mother tried to
re-establish friendly relations. She told them of the Bible verse, "Let
not the sun go down upon your wrath."
"Now, Charlie," she pleaded, "are you going to let the sun go down on
Charlie squirmed a little. Then:
"Well, how can _I_ stop it?"
When a husband loses his temper he usually finds his wife's.
It is easy enough to restrain our wrath when the other fellow is the
MRS. JONES--"Does your husband remember your wedding anniversary?"
MRS. SMITH--"No; so I remind him of it in January and June, and get two
"Suppose," asked the professor in chemistry, "that you were summoned to
the side of a patient who had accidentally swallowed a heavy dose of
oxalic acid, what would you administer?"
The student who, studying for the ministry, took chemistry because it
was obligatory in the course, replied, "I would administer the
"How fat and well your little boy looks."
"Ah, you should never judge from appearances. He's got a gumboil on one
side of his face and he has been stung by a wasp on the other."
A certain theatrical troupe, after a dreary and unsuccessful tour,
finally arrived in a small New Jersey town. That night, though there was
no furore or general uprising of the audience, there was enough
hand-clapping to arouse the troupe's dejected spirits. The leading man
stepped to the foot-lights after the first act and bowed profoundly.
Still the clapping continued.
When he went behind the scenes he saw an Irish stagehand laughing
heartily. "Well, what do you think of that?" asked the actor, throwing
out his chest.
"What d'ye mane?" replied the Irishman.
"Why, the hand-clapping out there," was the reply.
"Yes," said the Thespian, "they are giving me enough applause to show
they appreciate me."
"D'ye call thot applause?" inquired the old fellow. "Whoi, thot's not
applause. Thot's the audience killin' mosquitoes."
Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak
O Popular Applause! what heart of man is proof against thy sweet,
A war was going on, and one day, the papers being full of the grim
details of a bloody battle, a woman said to her husband:
"This slaughter is shocking. It's fiendish. Can nothing he done to stop
"I'm afraid not," her husband answered.
"Why don't both sides come together and arbitrate?" she cried.
"They did," said he. "They did, 'way back in June. That's how the
gol-durned thing started."
"He seems to be very clever."
"Yes, indeed, he can even do the problems that his children have to work
out at school."
SONNY--"Aw, pop, I don't wanter study arithmetic."
POP--"What! a son of mine grow up and not he able to figure up baseball
scores and batting averages? Never!"
TEACHER--"Now, Johnny, suppose I should borrow $100 from your father and
should pay him $10 a month for ten months, how much would I then owe
JOHNNY--"About $3 interest."
"See how I can count, mama," said Kitty. "There's my right foot. That's
one. There's my left foot. That's two. Two and one make three. Three
feet make a yard, and I want to go out and play in it!"
"Two old salts who had spent most of their lives on fishing smacks had
an argument one day as to which was the better mathematician," said
George C. Wiedenmayer the other day. "Finally the captain of their ship
proposed the following problem which each would try to work out: 'If a
fishing crew caught 500 pounds of cod and brought their catch to port
and sold it at 6 cents a pound, how much would they receive for the
"Well, the two old fellows got to work, but neither seemed able to
master the intricacies of the deal in fish, and they were unable to get
"At last old Bill turned to the captain and asked him to repeat the
problem. The captain started off: 'If a fishing crew caught 500 pounds
of cod and--.'
"'Wait a moment,' said Bill, 'is it codfish they caught?'
"'Yep,' said the captain.
"'Darn it all,' said Bill. 'No wonder I couldn't get an answer. Here
I've been figuring on salmon all the time.'"
A new volunteer at a national guard encampment who had not quite learned
his business, was on sentry duty, one night, when a friend brought a pie
from the canteen.
As he sat on the grass eating pie, the major sauntered up in undress
uniform. The sentry, not recognizing him, did not salute, and the major
stopped and said:
"What's that you have there?"
"Pie," said the sentry, good-naturedly. "Apple pie. Have a bite?"
The major frowned.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked.
"No," said the sentry, "unless you're the major's groom."
The major shook his head.
"Guess again," he growled.