Page images

but whenever he met with it he always pronounced it partridges. A friend of the writer observed to her, that it could hardly be considered as a mere piece of negligence, for it appeared to him that the boy, in calling them partridges, was making game of the patriarchs. Now here are two distinct meanings contained in the same phrase : for to make game of the patriarchs is to laugh at them; or to make game of them is, by a very extravagant and laughable sort of ignorance of words, to rank them among pheasants, partridges, and other such delicacies, which the law takes under its protection and calls game; and the whole pleasure derived from this pun consists in the sudden discovery that two such different meanings are referable to one form of expression. Puns are in very bad repute, and so they ought to be. The wit of language is so miserably inferior to the wit of ideas that it is very deservedly driven out of good company. Sometimes, indeed, a pun makes its appearance which seems for a moment to redeem its species ; [see this work passim for such redeeming specimens;] but we must not be deceived by them: it is a radically bad race of wit. By unremitting persecution it has been at last got under, and driven into cloisters,—from whence it must never again be suffered to emerge into the light of the world. One invaluable blessing produced by the banishment of punning is, an immediate reduction of the number of wits. It is a wit of so low an order, and in which some sort of prog ress is so easily made, that the number of those endowed with the gift of wit would be nearly equal to those endowed with the gift of speech. The condition of putting together ideas in order to be witty operates much in the same salutary manner as the condition of finding rhymes in poetry ;-it reduces the number of performers to those who have vigor enough to overcome incipient difficulties, and makes a sort of provision that that which need not be done at all, should be done well whenever it is done.

A gentleman named Cary, expressing an uncertainty to what profession he should devote the younger Cary, Lamb said, “Make him an apotheCary.”

“Don't be yarning with that fellow,” said I to a friend who was talking to an old salt. “Do you think I should be worsted ? ” was the interrogative reply.

In my high opinion of Lord Brougham, I have sometimes been too prone to fatigue my friends with his praises ; a tendency which, upon one occasion, elicited a pun bad enough to be recorded. My assertion, that he was the greatest man in England, being warmly contested, I loudly exclaimed, “ Where is there a greater ?”—“Here!” said the punchmaking T. H., with a look of exquisite simplicity, at the same time holding up a nutmeg grater.

PUNISHMENTS—being meant for prevention, not revenge, should be so regulated—ut pana ad paucos, metus ad omnes perveniat.Wise is that maxim which says, “Non minus turpe principi multa supplicia, quam medico multa funera ;" and yet we have only lately made the discovery in England, that hanging is the very worst use that a man can be put to.

Some writers have thought that the state should be not less solicitous to recompense good deeds, than to punish evil ones; but, perhaps, it is better not to disturb the moralizing impression, that virtue is its own best reward. The noblest actions, too, would instantly become liable to a tainting suspicion of motives, if the virtues were to be scheduled, and remunerated according to a fixed tariff. Experience has shown us to what infamous purposes the rewards for the apprehension of malefactors have been perverted by trading informers, and other dealers in blood money.

Disproportionate punishments are attended with five evils: they deter prosecutors from coming forward-they draw attention to the crime—awaken pity for the criminal—excite hatred of the law—and occasion the magnitude of the temptation to offence to be measured by the magnitude of the punishment.

PURGATORY-One of the few inventions of priestcraft that almost deserves to be true; for a medium was wanting between the two extremes of perdition and salvation. Quevedo,' in his Visions, tells us, that an old Spanish nobleman once met his coachman in purgatory, when the latter exclaimed

“O master, master! what can ever have brought so good a Catholic as you into this miserable place ?”—“Ah, my worthy Pedro! I am justly punished for spoiling that reprobate son of mine. But you, who were ever such a sober, steady; wellconducted man, what can have brought you hither?”“Ah, master, master !” snivelled Pedro, “I am brought here for being the father of that reprobate son of yours !"

“QUARRELS—would never last long," says Rochefoucauld, “if the 'fault were only on one side.” The Spanish proverb, which tells us to beware of a reconciled friend, inculcates an ungenerous suspicion. In the case of lovers, we have the authority of Terence for affirming that-Amantium ira amoris redintegratio ėst; and many are the instances among friends, where a momentary rupture has only served to consolidate the subsequent attachment, as the broken bone, that is well set, usually becomes stronger than it was before.

QUIBBLE — QUIRK – QUIDDET — See Law PROCEEDINGS. “True !' çried a lady, when reproached with the inconsistent marriage she had made; “I have often said I never would marry a parson, or a Scotchman, or a Presbyterian; but I never said I would not marry a Scotch Presbyterian parson.”

Roger Kemble's wife had been forbidden to marry an actor, and her father was inexorable at her disobedience ; but, after having seen her husband on the stage, he relented, and forgave her, with the observation of, “ Well, well, I see you have not disobeyed me after all; for the man is not an actor, and never will be an actor."

QUID PRO QUO—Every one has heard the reply of Montague Matthew, when he was spoken to for Matthew Montague,—that there is a great difference between a chestnut horse and a horse chestnut; but this seems to have been forgotten, nevertheless, by an unlucky wight, who, being engaged to dino

at the Green Man at Dulwich, desired to be driven to the Dull Man, at Greenwich, and lost his dinner by a quid pro quo.

T. H. observed of the mate of a Whitby merchant ship, who could do nothing without his quid, that he had classical authority for “ Nil actum reputans dum quid superesset agendum."

QUILLS—are things that are sometimes taken from the pinions of one goose to spread the opinions of another!

RAILLERY—has been compared to a light which dazzles, but does not burn: this, however, depends on the skill with which it is managed; for many a man, without extracting its brilliance, may burn his fingers in playing with this dangerous pyrotechnic. Pleasant enough to make game of your friends, by shooting your wit at them, but if your merry bantering degenerates into coarse and offensive personality, nobody will pity you, should you chance to be knocked down by the recoil of your own weapon. He who gives pain, however little, must not complain should it be retorted with a disproportionate severity; for retaliation always adds interest in paying off old scores, and sometimes a very usurious one. Wags should recollect, that the amusement of fencing with one's friends is very different from the anatomical process of cutting them up.

A coxcomb, not very remarkable for the acuteness of his feelings or his wit, wishing to banter a testy old gentleman, who had lately garnished his mouth with a complete set of

often heard you complain of your masticators—pray, when do you expect to be again troubled with the tooth-ache ?”— “When you have an affection of the heart, or a brain fever," was the reply. Not less ready and biting was the retort of the long-eared Irishman, who, being banteringly asked, “Paddy, my jewel! why don't you get your ears cropped? They are too large for a man!” replied—“And yours are too small for an ass."

A well-known scapegrace, wishing to rally a friend who had a morbid horror of death, asked him, as they were passing a country church during the performance of a funeral, whether the tolling bell did not put him in mind of his latter end. “No; but the rope does of yours," was the caustic rely.

REASON—The proud prerogative which confers on man the exclusive privilege of acting and conversing irrationally. No man is opposed to reason, unless reason is opposed to him ; to protest against it, is to confess that you fear it, and they who interdict its use, on account of the danger of its abuse, may as well build a house without windows, for fear the lightning should enter it, or put out their eyes, lest they should go astray. To give reasons against the employment of reason, is to refute yourself, and to close up your mind till it resembles the bower described by Shakspeare,

“Where honeysuckles, ripened by the sun,

Forbid the sun to enter.”

Prohibiting the exercise of this faculty, in matters of opinion, is but an imitation of the Papists, who will not allow the senses to be judges in the case of transubstantiation. Strange! that instinct, which is the reason of animals, is to be allowed to the feathered, and not to the featherless biped. These irrationalists seem to think, that the intellectual faculties of man are like hemlock and henbane, poisonous to the human, but not to the feathered raceHyosciamus et cicula homines perimunt, avibus alimentum præbent. Reason, however, does us all yeoman's service in the defence of any thing unreasonable. When Paley was asked why he always kept his horse three miles off, he replied, “For exercise.” “But you never ride." " That is the reason why I keep him at such a distance, for I get all the exercise of the walk."

Still more ingenious was the logic of the schoolboy, whose companion thought it absurd that Homer should describe Vulcan as being a whole day in falling from the clouds to the earth. “Nay,” argued the acute youth, “this shows his close adherence to nature; for you can hardly expect Vulcan to fall as fast as another man, when you recollect that he was lame.” His lameness being the consequence of his fall, it must

« PreviousContinue »