- n. A stage for the performance of miracle plays, in which the leading
actor is translated to heaven. In this country the gallows is chiefly remarkable
for the number of persons who escape it.
Whether on the gallows high
Or where blood flows the reddest,
The noblest place for man to die --
Is where he died the deadest.
- n. A rain-spout projecting from the eaves of mediaeval buildings, commonly
fashioned into a grotesque caricature of some personal enemy of the architect
or owner of the building. This was especially the case in churches and
ecclesiastical structures generally, in which the gargoyles presented a
perfect rogues' gallery of local heretics and controversialists. Sometimes
when a new dean and chapter were installed the old gargoyles were removed
and others substituted having a closer relation to the private animosities
of the new incumbents.
- n. An elastic band intended to keep a woman from coming out of her
stockings and desolating the country.
- adj. Originally this word meant noble by birth and was rightly applied
to a great multitude of persons. It now means noble by nature and is taking
a bit of a rest.
- n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly
care to trace his own.
- adj. Refined, after the fashion of a gent.
Observe with care, my son, the distinction I reveal:
A gentleman is gentle and a gent genteel.
Heed not the definitions your "Unabridged" presents,
For dictionary makers are generally gents.
- n. A chap who can tell you offhand the difference between the outside
of the world and the inside.
Habeam, geographer of wide reknown,
Native of Abu-Keber's ancient town,
In passing thence along the river Zam
To the adjacent village of Xelam,
Bewildered by the multitude of roads,
Got lost, lived long on migratory toads,
Then from exposure miserably died,
And grateful travelers bewailed their guide.
- n. The science of the earth's crust -- to which, doubtless, will be
added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of
a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued
thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones or mired mules,
gas-pipes, miners' tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons
and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles.
The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes,
mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage,
anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.
- n. The outward and visible sign of an inward fear.
He saw a ghost.
It occupied -- that dismal thing! --
The path that he was following.
Before he'd time to stop and fly,
An earthquake trifled with the eye
That saw a ghost.
He fell as fall the early good;
Unmoved that awful vision stood.
The stars that danced before his ken
He wildly brushed away, and then
He saw a post.
Accounting for the uncommon behavior of ghosts, Heine mentions
somebody's ingenious theory to the effect that they are as much
afraid of us as we of them. Not quite, if I may judge from such
tables of comparative speed as I am able to compile from memories of
my own experience.
There is one insuperable obstacle to a belief in ghosts. A ghost
never comes naked: he appears either in a winding-sheet or "in his
habit as he lived." To believe in him, then, is to believe that not
only have the dead the power to make themselves visible after there is
nothing left of them, but that the same power inheres in textile
fabrics. Supposing the products of the loom to have this ability,
what object would they have in exercising it? And why does not the
apparition of a suit of clothes sometimes walk abroad without a ghost
in it? These be riddles of significance. They reach away down and
get a convulsive grip on the very tap-root of this flourishing faith.
- n. A demon addicted to the reprehensible habit of devouring the dead.
The existence of ghouls has been disputed by that class of controversialists
who are more concerned to deprive the world of comforting beliefs than
to give it anything good in their place. In 1640 Father Secchi saw one
in a cemetery near Florence and frightened it away with the sign of the
cross. He describes it as gifted with many heads an an uncommon allowance
of limbs, and he saw it in more than one place at a time. The good man
was coming away from dinner at the time and explains that if he had not
been "heavy with eating" he would have seized the demon at all
hazards. Atholston relates that a ghoul was caught by some sturdy peasants
in a churchyard at Sudbury and ducked in a horsepond. (He appears to think
that so distinguished a criminal should have been ducked in a tank of rosewater.)
The water turned at once to blood "and so contynues unto ys daye."
The pond has since been bled with a ditch. As late as the beginning of
the fourteenth century a ghoul was cornered in the crypt of the cathedral
at Amiens and the whole population surrounded the place. Twenty armed men
with a priest at their head, bearing a crucifix, entered and captured the
ghoul, which, thinking to escape by the stratagem, had transformed itself
to the semblance of a well known citizen, but was nevertheless hanged,
drawn and quartered in the midst of hideous popular orgies. The citizen
whose shape the demon had assumed was so affected by the sinister occurrence
that he never again showed himself in Amiens and his fate remains a mystery.
- n. A person who escapes the evils of moderation by committing dyspepsia.
- n. In North-European mythology, a dwarfish imp inhabiting the interior
parts of the earth and having special custody of mineral treasures. Bjorsen,
who died in 1765, says gnomes were common enough in the southern parts
of Sweden in his boyhood, and he frequently saw them scampering on the
hills in the evening twilight. Ludwig Binkerhoof saw three as recently
as 1792, in the Black Forest, and Sneddeker avers that in 1803 they drove
a party of miners out of a Silesian mine. Basing our computations upon
data supplied by these statements, we find that the gnomes were probably
extinct as early as 1764.
- n. A sect of philosophers who tried to engineer a fusion between the
early Christians and the Platonists. The former would not go into the caucus
and the combination failed, greatly to the chagrin of the fusion managers.
- n. An animal of South Africa, which in its domesticated state resembles
a horse, a buffalo and a stag. In its wild condition it is something like
a thunderbolt, an earthquake and a cyclone.
A hunter from Kew caught a distant view
Of a peacefully meditative gnu,
And he said: "I'll pursue, and my hands imbrue
In its blood at a closer interview."
But that beast did ensue and the hunter it threw
O'er the top of a palm that adjacent grew;
And he said as he flew: "It is well I withdrew
Ere, losing my temper, I wickedly slew
That really meritorious gnu."
- adj. Sensible, madam, to the worth of this present writer. Alive, sir,
to the advantages of letting him alone.
- n. A bird that supplies quills for writing. These, by some occult process
of nature, are penetrated and suffused with various degrees of the bird's
intellectual energies and emotional character, so that when inked and drawn
mechanically across paper by a person called an "author," there
results a very fair and accurate transcript of the fowl's thought and feeling.
The difference in geese, as discovered by this ingenious method, is considerable:
many are found to have only trivial and insignificant powers, but some
are seen to be very great geese indeed.
The Gorgon was a maiden bold
Who turned to stone the Greeks of old
That looked upon her awful brow.
We dig them out of ruins now,
And swear that workmanship so bad
Proves all the ancient sculptors mad.
- n. A physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.
- n. Three beautiful goddesses, Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne, who attended
upon Venus, serving without salary. They were at no expense for board and
clothing, for they ate nothing to speak of and dressed according to the
weather, wearing whatever breeze happened to be blowing.
- n. A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet for the
self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction.
Hail noble fruit! -- by Homer sung,
Anacreon and Khayyam;
Thy praise is ever on the tongue
Of better men than I am.
The lyre in my hand has never swept,
The song I cannot offer:
My humbler service pray accept --
I'll help to kill the scoffer.
The water-drinkers and the cranks
Who load their skins with liquor --
I'll gladly bear their belly-tanks
And tap them with my sticker.
Fill up, fill up, for wisdom cools
When e'er we let the wine rest.
Here's death to Prohibition's fools,
And every kind of vine-pest!
- n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the demands
of American Socialism.
- n. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical
Beside a lonely grave I stood --
With brambles 'twas encumbered;
The winds were moaning in the wood,
Unheard by him who slumbered,
A rustic standing near, I said:
"He cannot hear it blowing!"
"'Course not," said he: "the feller's dead --
He can't hear nowt [sic] that's going."
"Too true," I said; "alas, too true --
No sound his sense can quicken!"
"Well, mister, wot is that to you? --
The deadster ain't a-kickin'."
I knelt and prayed: "O Father, smile
On him, and mercy show him!"
That countryman looked on the while,
And said: "Ye didn't know him."
- n. The tendency of all bodies to approach one another with a strength
proportion to the quantity of matter they contain -- the quantity of matter
they contain being ascertained by the strength of their tendency to approach
one another. This is a lovely and edifying illustration of how science,
having made A the proof of B, makes B the proof of A.
"I'm great," the Lion said -- "I reign
The monarch of the wood and plain!"
The Elephant replied: "I'm great --
No quadruped can match my weight!"
"I'm great -- no animal has half
So long a neck!" said the Giraffe.
"I'm great," the Kangaroo said -- "see
My femoral muscularity!"
The 'Possum said: "I'm great -- behold,
My tail is lithe and bald and cold!"
An Oyster fried was understood
To say: "I'm great because I'm good!"
Each reckons greatness to consist
In that in which he heads the list,
And Vierick thinks he tops his class
Because he is the greatest ass.
Arion Spurl Doke
- n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good
In his great work on Divergent Lines of Racial Evolution, the
learned Professor Brayfugle argues from the prevalence of this gesture
-- the shrug -- among Frenchmen, that they are descended from turtles
and it is simply a survival of the habit of retracing the head inside
the shell. It is with reluctance that I differ with so eminent an
authority, but in my judgment (as more elaborately set forth and
enforced in my work entitled Hereditary Emotions -- lib. II, c. XI)
the shrug is a poor foundation upon which to build so important a
theory, for previously to the Revolution the gesture was unknown. I
have not a doubt that it is directly referable to the terror inspired
by the guillotine during the period of that instrument's activity.
- n. An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes
which might become troublesome if left unadjusted. By most writers the
invention of gunpowder is ascribed to the Chinese, but not upon very convincing
evidence. Milton says it was invented by the devil to dispel angels with,
and this opinion seems to derive some support from the scarcity of angels.
Moreover, it has the hearty concurrence of the Hon. James Wilson, Secretary
Secretary Wilson became interested in gunpowder through an event
that occurred on the Government experimental farm in the District of
Columbia. One day, several years ago, a rogue imperfectly reverent of
the Secretary's profound attainments and personal character presented
him with a sack of gunpowder, representing it as the sed of the
Flashawful flabbergastor, a Patagonian cereal of great commercial
value, admirably adapted to this climate. The good Secretary was
instructed to spill it along in a furrow and afterward inhume it with
soil. This he at once proceeded to do, and had made a continuous line
of it all the way across a ten-acre field, when he was made to look
backward by a shout from the generous donor, who at once dropped a
lighted match into the furrow at the starting-point. Contact with the
earth had somewhat dampened the powder, but the startled functionary
saw himself pursued by a tall moving pillar of fire and smoke and
fierce evolution. He stood for a moment paralyzed and speechless,
then he recollected an engagement and, dropping all, absented himself
thence with such surprising celerity that to the eyes of spectators
along the route selected he appeared like a long, dim streak
prolonging itself with inconceivable rapidity through seven villages,
and audibly refusing to be comforted. "Great Scott! what is that?"
cried a surveyor's chainman, shading his eyes and gazing at the fading
line of agriculturist which bisected his visible horizon. "That,"
said the surveyor, carelessly glancing at the phenomenon and again
centering his attention upon his instrument, "is the Meridian of
- HABEAS CORPUS
- A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when confined for the
- n. A shackle for the free.
- n. The lower world; the residence of departed spirits; the place where
the dead live.
Among the ancients the idea of Hades was not synonymous with our
Hell, many of the most respectable men of antiquity residing there in
a very comfortable kind of way. Indeed, the Elysian Fields themselves
were a part of Hades, though they have since been removed to Paris.
When the Jacobean version of the New Testament was in process of
evolution the pious and learned men engaged in the work insisted by a
majority vote on translating the Greek word "Aides" as "Hell"; but a
conscientious minority member secretly possessed himself of the record
and struck out the objectional word wherever he could find it. At the
next meeting, the Bishop of Salisbury, looking over the work, suddenly
sprang to his feet and said with considerable excitement: "Gentlemen,
somebody has been razing 'Hell' here!" Years afterward the good
prelate's death was made sweet by the reflection that he had been the
means (under Providence) of making an important, serviceable and
immortal addition to the phraseology of the English tongue.
- n. An elderly lady whom you do not happen to like; sometimes called,
also, a hen, or cat. Old witches, sorceresses, etc., were called hags from
the belief that their heads were surrounded by a kind of baleful lumination
or nimbus -- hag being the popular name of that peculiar electrical light
sometimes observed in the hair. At one time hag was not a word of reproach:
Drayton speaks of a "beautiful hag, all smiles," much as Shakespeare
said, "sweet wench." It would not now be proper to call your
sweetheart a hag -- that compliment is reserved for the use of her grandchildren.
- n. One of two equal parts into which a thing may be divided, or considered
as divided. In the fourteenth century a heated discussion arose among theologists
and philosophers as to whether Omniscience could part an object into three
halves; and the pious Father Aldrovinus publicly prayed in the cathedral
at Rouen that God would demonstrate the affirmative of the proposition
in some signal and unmistakable way, and particularly (if it should please
Him) upon the body of that hardy blasphemer, Manutius Procinus, who maintained
the negative. Procinus, however, was spared to die of the bite of a viper.
- n. Properly, a luminous ring encircling an astronomical body, but not
infrequently confounded with "aureola," or "nimbus,"
a somewhat similar phenomenon worn as a head-dress by divinities and saints.
The halo is a purely optical illusion, produced by moisture in the air,
in the manner of a rainbow; but the aureola is conferred as a sign of superior
sanctity, in the same way as a bishop's mitre, or the Pope's tiara. In
the painting of the Nativity, by Szedgkin, a pious artist of Pesth, not
only do the Virgin and the Child wear the nimbus, but an ass nibbling hay
from the sacred manger is similarly decorated and, to his lasting honor
be it said, appears to bear his unaccustomed dignity with a truly saintly
- n. A singular instrument worn at the end of the human arm and commonly
thrust into somebody's pocket.
- n. A small square of silk or linen, used in various ignoble offices
about the face and especially serviceable at funerals to conceal the lack
of tears. The handkerchief is of recent invention; our ancestors knew nothing
of it and intrusted its duties to the sleeve. Shakespeare's introducing
it into the play of "Othello" is an anachronism: Desdemona dried
her nose with her skirt, as Dr. Mary Walker and other reformers have done
with their coattails in our own day -- an evidence that revolutions sometimes
- n. An officer of the law charged with duties of the highest dignity
and utmost gravity, and held in hereditary disesteem by a populace having
a criminal ancestry. In some of the American States his functions are now
performed by an electrician, as in New Jersey, where executions by electricity
have recently been ordered -- the first instance known to this lexicographer
of anybody questioning the expediency of hanging Jerseymen.
- n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of
- n. A speech by an opponent, who is known as an harrangue- outang.
- n. A place where ships taking shelter from stores are exposed to the
fury of the customs.
- n. A sect of Protestants, now extinct, who came from Europe in the
beginning of the last century and were distinguished for the bitterness
of their internal controversies and dissensions.
- x. There is no definition for this word -- nobody knows what hash is.
- n. A young axe, known among Indians as a Thomashawk.
"O bury the hatchet, irascible Red,
For peace is a blessing," the White Man said.
The Savage concurred, and that weapon interred,
With imposing rites, in the White Man's head.
- n. A sentiment appropriate to the occasion of another's superiority.
- n. A capitation tax, or poll-tax.
In ancient times there lived a king
Whose tax-collectors could not wring
From all his subjects gold enough
To make the royal way less rough.
For pleasure's highway, like the dames
Whose premises adjoin it, claims
Perpetual repairing. So
The tax-collectors in a row
Appeared before the throne to pray
Their master to devise some way
To swell the revenue. "So great,"
Said they, "are the demands of state
A tithe of all that we collect
Will scarcely meet them. Pray reflect:
How, if one-tenth we must resign,
Can we exist on t'other nine?"
The monarch asked them in reply:
"Has it occurred to you to try
The advantage of economy?"
"It has," the spokesman said: "we sold
All of our gray garrotes of gold;
With plated-ware we now compress
The necks of those whom we assess.
Plain iron forceps we employ
To mitigate the miser's joy
Who hoards, with greed that never tires,
That which your Majesty requires."
Deep lines of thought were seen to plow
Their way across the royal brow.
"Your state is desperate, no question;
Pray favor me with a suggestion."
"O King of Men," the spokesman said,
"If you'll impose upon each head
A tax, the augmented revenue
We'll cheerfully divide with you."
As flashes of the sun illume
The parted storm-cloud's sullen gloom,
The king smiled grimly. "I decree
That it be so -- and, not to be
In generosity outdone,
Declare you, each and every one,
Exempted from the operation
Of this new law of capitation.
But lest the people censure me
Because they're bound and you are free,
'Twere well some clever scheme were laid
By you this poll-tax to evade.
I'll leave you now while you confer
With my most trusted minister."
The monarch from the throne-room walked
And straightway in among them stalked
A silent man, with brow concealed,
Bare-armed -- his gleaming axe revealed!
- n. Death's baby-carriage.
- n. An automatic, muscular blood-pump. Figuratively, this useful organ
is said to be the esat of emotions and sentiments -- a very pretty fancy
which, however, is nothing but a survival of a once universal belief. It
is now known that the sentiments and emotions reside in the stomach, being
evolved from food by chemical action of the gastric fluid. The exact process
by which a beefsteak becomes a feeling -- tender or not, according to the
age of the animal from which it was cut; the successive stages of elaboration
through which a caviar sandwich is transmuted to a quaint fancy and reappears
as a pungent epigram; the marvelous functional methods of converting a
hard-boiled egg into religious contrition, or a cream-puff into a sigh
of sensibility -- these things have been patiently ascertained by M. Pasteur,
and by him expounded with convincing lucidity. (See, also, my monograph,
The Essential Identity of the Spiritual Affections and Certain Intestinal
Gases Freed in Digestion -- 4to, 687 pp.) In a scientific work entitled,
I believe, Delectatio Demonorum (John Camden Hotton, London, 1873)
this view of the sentiments receives a striking illustration; and for further
light consult Professor Dam's famous treatise on Love as a Product of
Heat, says Professor Tyndall, is a mode
Of motion, but I know now how he's proving
His point; but this I know -- hot words bestowed
With skill will set the human fist a-moving,
And where it stops the stars burn free and wild.
Crede expertum -- I have seen them, child.
- n. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something that
he can see and feel. According to Professor Howison, of the California
State University, Hebrews are heathens.
"The Hebrews are heathens!" says Howison. He's
A Christian philosopher. I'm
A scurril agnostical chap, if you please,
Addicted too much to the crime
Of religious discussion in my rhyme.
Though Hebrew and Howison cannot agree
On a modus vivendi -- not they! --
Yet Heaven has had the designing of me,
And I haven't been reared in a way
To joy in the thick of the fray.
For this of my creed is the soul and the gist,
And the truth of it I aver:
Who differs from me in his faith is an 'ist,
And 'ite, an 'ie, or an 'er --
And I'm down upon him or her!
Let Howison urge with perfunctory chin
Toleration -- that's all very well,
But a roast is "nuts" to his nostril thin,
And he's running -- I know by the smell --
A secret and personal Hell!
- n. A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their
personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound
- n. A male Jew, as distinguished from the Shebrew, an altogether superior
- n. A wife, or bitter half.
"Now, why is yer wife called a helpmate, Pat?"
Says the priest. "Since the time 'o yer wooin'
She's niver [sic] assisted in what ye were at --
For it's naught ye are ever doin'."
"That's true of yer Riverence [sic]," Patrick replies,
And no sign of contrition envices;
"But, bedad, it's a fact which the word implies,
For she helps to mate the expinses [sic]!"
- n. A plant from whose fibrous bark is made an article of neckwear which
is frequently put on after public speaking in the open air and prevents
the wearer from taking cold.
- n. A person whose vices and follies are not sociable.
- pron. His.
- v.i. To pass the winter season in domestic seclusion. There have been
many singular popular notions about the hibernation of various animals.
Many believe that the bear hibernates during the whole winter and subsists
by mechanically sucking its paws. It is admitted that it comes out of its
retirement in the spring so lean that it had to try twice before it can
cast a shadow. Three or four centuries ago, in England, no fact was better
attested than that swallows passed the winter months in the mud at the
bottom of their brooks, clinging together in globular masses. They have
apparently been compelled to give up the custom and account of the foulness
of the brooks. Sotus Ecobius discovered in Central Asia a whole nation
of people who hibernate. By some investigators, the fasting of Lent is
supposed to have been originally a modified form of hibernation, to which
the Church gave a religious significance; but this view was strenuously
opposed by that eminent authority, Bishop Kip, who did not wish any honors
denied to the memory of the Founder of his family.
- n. An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half griffin. The
griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and half eagle. The hippogriff
was actually, therefore, a one-quarter eagle, which is two dollars and
fifty cents in gold. The study of zoology is full of surprises.
- n. A broad-gauge gossip.
- n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are
brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
Of Roman history, great Niebuhr's shown
'Tis nine-tenths lying. Faith, I wish 'twere known,
Ere we accept great Niebuhr as a guide,
Wherein he blundered and how much he lied.
- n. A bird remarkable for the catholicity of its appetite and serving
to illustrate that of ours. Among the Mahometans and Jews, the hog is not
in favor as an article of diet, but is respected for the delicacy and the
melody of its voice. It is chiefly as a songster that the fowl is esteemed;
the cage of him in full chorus has been known to draw tears from two persons
at once. The scientific name of this dicky-bird is Porcus Rockefelleri.
Mr. Rockefeller did not discover the hog, but it is considered his by right
- n. The humorist of the medical profession.
- n. A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and Christian Science.
To the last both the others are distinctly inferior, for Christian Science
will cure imaginary diseases, and they can not.
- n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds
of homocide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it
makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind
or another -- the classification is for advantage of the lawyers.
- n. The science of adapting sermons to the spiritual needs, capacities
and conditions of the congregation.
So skilled the parson was in homiletics
That all his normal purges and emetics
To medicine the spirit were compounded
With a most just discrimination founded
Upon a rigorous examination
Of tongue and pulse and heart and respiration.
Then, having diagnosed each one's condition,
His scriptural specifics this physician
Administered -- his pills so efficacious
And pukes of disposition so vivacious
That souls afflicted with ten kinds of Adam
Were convalescent ere they knew they had 'em.
But Slander's tongue -- itself all coated -- uttered
Her bilious mind and scandalously muttered
That in the case of patients having money
The pills were sugar and the pukes were honey.
Biography of Bishop Potter
- adj. Afflicted with an impediment in one's reach. In legislative bodies
it is customary to mention all members as honorable; as, "the honorable
gentleman is a scurvy cur."
- n. Desire and expectation rolled into one.
Delicious Hope! when naught to man it left --
Of fortune destitute, of friends bereft;
When even his dog deserts him, and his goat
With tranquil disaffection chews his coat
While yet it hangs upon his back; then thou,
The star far-flaming on thine angel brow,
Descendest, radiant, from the skies to hint
The promise of a clerkship in the Mint.
- n. The virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain persons who
are not in need of food and lodging.
- n. A peculiarly sharp and specially applied sense of the earth's overpopulation.
Hostility is classified as active and passive; as (respectively) the feeling
of a woman for her female friends, and that which she entertains for all
the rest of her sex.
- n. A comely female inhabiting the Mohammedan Paradise to make things
cheery for the good Mussulman, whose belief in her existence marks a noble
discontent with his earthly spouse, whom he denies a soul. By that good
lady the Houris are said to be held in deficient esteem.
- n. A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of man, rat, mouse,
beelte, cockroach, fly, mosquito, flea, bacillus and microbe. House
of Correction, a place of reward for political and personal service,
and for the detention of offenders and appropriations. House of God,
a building with a steeple and a mortgage on it. House-dog, a pestilent
beast kept on domestic premises to insult persons passing by and appal
the hardy visitor. House-maid, a youngerly person of the opposing
sex employed to be variously disagreeable and ingeniously unclean in the
station in which it has pleased God to place her.
- adj. Having paid all taxes on household goods.
- n. The fruit of a flower called the Palace.
Twaddle had a hovel,
Twiddle had a palace;
Twaddle said: "I'll grovel
Or he'll think I bear him malice" --
A sentiment as novel
As a castor on a chalice.
Down upon the middle
Of his legs fell Twaddle
And astonished Mr. Twiddle,
Who began to lift his noddle.
Feed upon the fiddle-
Faddle flummery, unswaddle
A new-born self-sufficiency and think himself a [mockery.]
- n. The human race, collectively, exclusive of the anthropoid poets.
- n. A plague that would have softened down the hoar austerity of Pharaoh's
heart and persuaded him to dismiss Israel with his best wishes, cat-quick.
Lo! the poor humorist, whose tortured mind
See jokes in crowds, though still to gloom inclined --
Whose simple appetite, untaught to stray,
His brains, renewed by night, consumes by day.
He thinks, admitted to an equal sty,
A graceful hog would bear his company.
- n. An atmospheric demonstration once very common but now generally
abandoned for the tornado and cyclone. The hurricane is still in popular
use in the West Indies and is preferred by certain old-fashioned sea-captains.
It is also used in the construction of the upper decks of steamboats, but
generally speaking, the hurricane's usefulness has outlasted it.
- n. The dispatch of bunglers.
- n. One who, having dined, is charged with the care of the plate.
- n. A pooled issue.
- n. A kind of animal that the ancients catalogued under many heads.
- n. A beast held in reverence by some oriental nations from its habit
of frequenting at night the burial-places of the dead. But the medical
student does that.
- n. Depression of one's own spirits.
Some heaps of trash upon a vacant lot
Where long the village rubbish had been shot
Displayed a sign among the stuff and stumps --
"Hypochondriasis." It meant The Dumps.
Bogul S. Purvy
- n. One who, profession virtues that he does not respect secures the
advantage of seeming to be what he depises.
- is the first letter of the alphabet, the first word of the language,
the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection. In grammar
it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number. Its plural is
said to be We, but how there can be more than one myself is doubtless
clearer the grammarians than it is to the author of this incomparable dictionary.
Conception of two myselfs is difficult, but fine. The frank yet graceful
use of "I" distinguishes a good writer from a bad; the latter
carries it with the manner of a thief trying to cloak his loot.
- n. A fluid that serves the gods and goddesses in place of blood.
Fair Venus, speared by Diomed,
Restrained the raging chief and said:
"Behold, rash mortal, whom you've bled --
Your soul's stained white with ichorshed!"
- n. A breaker of idols, the worshipers whereof are imperfectly gratified
by the performance, and most strenuously protest that he unbuildeth but
doth not reedify, that he pulleth down but pileth not up. For the poor
things would have other idols in place of those he thwacketh upon the mazzard
and dispelleth. But the iconoclast saith: "Ye shall have none at all,
for ye need them not; and if the rebuilder fooleth round hereabout, behold
I will depress the head of him and sit thereon till he squawk it."
- n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human
affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's activity
is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but "pervades
and regulates the whole." He has the last word in everything; his
decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates
the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.
- n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins
and promotes the growth of staple vices.
- n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge familiar to
yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know nothing about.
Dumble was an ignoramus,
Mumble was for learning famous.
Mumble said one day to Dumble:
"Ignorance should be more humble.
Not a spark have you of knowledge
That was got in any college."
Dumble said to Mumble: "Truly
You're self-satisfied unduly.
Of things in college I'm denied
A knowledge -- you of all beside."
- n. A sect of Spanish heretics of the latter part of the sixteenth century;
so called because they were light weights -- cunctationes illuminati.
- adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and detraction.
- n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership.
- n. A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting censorious
critics of this dictionary.
- n. An unenlightened person who thinks one country better than another.
- adj. Having a strong sense of one's own merit, coupled with a feeble
conception of worth in others.
There was once a man in Ispahan
Ever and ever so long ago,
And he had a head, the phrenologists said,
That fitted him for a show.
For his modesty's bump was so large a lump
(Nature, they said, had taken a freak)
That its summit stood far above the wood
Of his hair, like a mountain peak.
So modest a man in all Ispahan,
Over and over again they swore --
So humble and meek, you would vainly seek;
None ever was found before.
Meantime the hump of that awful bump
Into the heavens contrived to get
To so great a height that they called the wight
The man with the minaret.
There wasn't a man in all Ispahan
Prouder, or louder in praise of his chump:
With a tireless tongue and a brazen lung
He bragged of that beautiful bump
Till the Shah in a rage sent a trusty page
Bearing a sack and a bow-string too,
And that gentle child explained as he smiled:
"A little present for you."
The saddest man in all Ispahan,
Sniffed at the gift, yet accepted the same.
"If I'd lived," said he, "my humility
Had given me deathless fame!"
- adj. Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard to the greater
number of instances men find to be generally inexpedient comes to be considered
wrong, wicked, immoral. If man's notions of right and wrong have any other
basis than this of expediency; if they originated, or could have originated,
in any other way; if actions have in themselves a moral character apart
from, and nowise dependent on, their consequences -- then all philosophy
is a lie and reason a disorder of the mind.
A toy which people cry for,
And on their knees apply for,
Dispute, contend and lie for,
And if allowed
Would be right proud
Eternally to die for.
- v.t. In popular usage to pierce with any weapon which remains fixed
in the wound. This, however, is inaccurate; to imaple is, properly, to
put to death by thrusting an upright sharp stake into the body, the victim
being left in a sitting position. This was a common mode of punishment
among many of the nations of antiquity, and is still in high favor in China
and other parts of Asia. Down to the beginning of the fifteenth century
it was widely employed in "churching" heretics and schismatics.
Wolecraft calls it the "stoole of repentynge," and among the
common people it was jocularly known as "riding the one legged horse."
Ludwig Salzmann informs us that in Thibet impalement is considered the
most appropriate punishment for crimes against religion; and although in
China it is sometimes awarded for secular offences, it is most frequently
adjudged in cases of sacrilege. To the person in actual experience of impalement
it must be a matter of minor importance by what kind of civil or religious
dissent he was made acquainted with its discomforts; but doubtless he would
feel a certain satisfaction if able to contemplate himself in the character
of a weather-cock on the spire of the True Church.
- adj. Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage from espousing
either side of a controversy or adopting either of two conflicting opinions.
- n. A state of mind intermediate in point of time between sin and punishment.
- n. Your irreverence toward my deity.
- n. The act of blessing or consecrating by the laying on of hands --
a ceremony common to many ecclesiastical systems, but performed with the
frankest sincerity by the sect known as Thieves.
"Lo! by the laying on of hands,"
Say parson, priest and dervise,
"We consecrate your cash and lands
To ecclesiastical service.
No doubt you'll swear till all is blue
At such an imposition. Do."
- n. A rival aspirant to public honors.
His tale he told with a solemn face
And a tender, melancholy grace.
Improbable 'twas, no doubt,
When you came to think it out,
But the fascinated crowd
Their deep surprise avowed
And all with a single voice averred
'Twas the most amazing thing they'd heard --
All save one who spake never a word,
But sat as mum
As if deaf and dumb,
Serene, indifferent and unstirred.
Then all the others turned to him
And scrutinized him limb from limb --
Scanned him alive;
But he seemed to thrive
And tranquiler grow each minute,
As if there were nothing in it.
"What! what!" cried one, "are you not amazed
At what our friend has told?" He raised
Soberly then his eyes and gazed
In a natural way
And proceeded to say,
As he crossed his feet on the mantel-shelf:
"O no -- not at all; I'm a liar myself."
- n. Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues of to-morrow.
- n. Wealth.
- adj. Not competent to be considered. Said of certain kinds of testimony
which juries are supposed to be unfit to be entrusted with, and which judges,
therefore, rule out, even of proceedings before themselves alone. Hearsay
evidence is inadmissible because the person quoted was unsworn and is not
before the court for examination; yet most momentous actions, military,
political, commercial and of every other kind, are daily undertaken on
hearsay evidence. There is no religion in the world that has any other
basis than hearsay evidence. Revelation is hearsay evidence; that the Scriptures
are the word of God we have only the testimony of men long dead whose identity
is not clearly established and who are not known to have been sworn in
any sense. Under the rules of evidence as they now exist in this country,
no single assertion in the Bible has in its support any evidence admissible
in a court of law. It cannot be proved that the battle of Blenheim ever
was fought, that there was such as person as Julius Caesar, such an empire
But as records of courts of justice are admissible, it can easily
be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were
a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which
certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a
flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges' decisions based on it
were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was
ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery
for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human
testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.
- adv. In an unpromising manner, the auspices being unfavorable. Among
the Romans it was customary before undertaking any important action or
enterprise to obtain from the augurs, or state prophets, some hint of its
probable outcome; and one of their favorite and most trustworthy modes
of divination consisted in observing the flight of birds -- the omens thence
derived being called auspices. Newspaper reporters and certain miscreant
lexicographers have decided that the word -- always in the plural -- shall
mean "patronage" or "management"; as, "The festivities
were under the auspices of the Ancient and Honorable Order of Body-Snatchers";
or, "The hilarities were auspicated by the Knights of Hunger."
A Roman slave appeared one day
Before the Augur. "Tell me, pray,
If --" here the Augur, smiling, made
A checking gesture and displayed
His open palm, which plainly itched,
For visibly its surface twitched.
A denarius (the Latin nickel)
Successfully allayed the tickle,
And then the slave proceeded: "Please
Inform me whether Fate decrees
Success or failure in what I
To-night (if it be dark) shall try.
Its nature? Never mind -- I think
'Tis writ on this" -- and with a wink
Which darkened half the earth, he drew
Another denarius to view,
Its shining face attentive scanned,
Then slipped it into the good man's hand,
Who with great gravity said: "Wait
While I retire to question Fate."
That holy person then withdrew
His scared clay and, passing through
The temple's rearward gate, cried "Shoo!"
Waving his robe of office. Straight
Each sacred peacock and its mate
(Maintained for Juno's favor) fled
With clamor from the trees o'erhead,
Where they were perching for the night.
The temple's roof received their flight,
For thither they would always go,
When danger threatened them below.
Back to the slave the Augur went:
"My son, forecasting the event
By flight of birds, I must confess
The auspices deny success."
That slave retired, a sadder man,
Abandoning his secret plan --
Which was (as well the craft seer
Had from the first divined) to clear
The wall and fraudulently seize
On Juno's poultry in the trees.
- n. The natural and rational gauge and measure of respectability, the
commonly accepted standards being artificial, arbitrary and fallacious;
for, as "Sir Sycophas Chrysolater" in the play has justly remarked,
"the true use and function of property (in whatsoever it consisteth
-- coins, or land, or houses, or merchant- stuff, or anything which may
be named as holden of right to one's own subservience) as also of honors,
titles, preferments and place, and all favor and acquaintance of persons
of quality or ableness, are but to get money. Hence it followeth that all
things are truly to be rated as of worth in measure of their serviceableness
to that end; and their possessors should take rank in agreement thereto,
neither the lord of an unproducing manor, howsoever broad and ancient,
nor he who bears an unremunerate dignity, nor yet the pauper favorite of
a king, being esteemed of level excellency with him whose riches are of
daily accretion; and hardly should they whose wealth is barren claim and
rightly take more honor than the poor and unworthy."
- n. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly the taste for
domination. Incompatibility may, however, consist of a meek-eyed matron
living just around the corner. It has even been known to wear a moustache.
- adj. Unable to exist if something else exists. Two things are incompossible
when the world of being has scope enough for one of them, but not enough
for both -- as Walt Whitman's poetry and God's mercy to man. Incompossibility,
it will be seen, is only incompatibility let loose. Instead of such low
language as "Go heel yourself -- I mean to kill you on sight,"
the words, "Sir, we are incompossible," would convey and equally
significant intimation and in stately courtesy are altogether superior.
- n. One of a race of highly improper demons who, though probably not
wholly extinct, may be said to have seen their best nights. For a complete
account of incubi and succubi, including incubae and
succubae, see the Liber Demonorum of Protassus (Paris, 1328),
which contains much curious information that would be out of place in a
dictionary intended as a text-book for the public schools.
Victor Hugo relates that in the Channel Islands Satan himself --
tempted more than elsewhere by the beauty of the women, doubtless --
sometimes plays at incubus, greatly to the inconvenience and alarm
of the good dames who wish to be loyal to their marriage vows,
generally speaking. A certain lady applied to the parish priest to
learn how they might, in the dark, distinguish the hardy intruder from
their husbands. The holy man said they must feel his brown for horns;
but Hugo is ungallant enough to hint a doubt of the efficacy of the
- n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.
- n. The chief element of success; "for whereas," saith Sir
Thomas Brewbold, "there is but one way to do nothing and divers way
to do something, whereof, to a surety, only one is the right way, it followeth
that he who from indecision standeth still hath not so many chances of
going astray as he who pusheth forwards" -- a most clear and satisfactory
exposition on the matter.
"Your prompt decision to attack," said Genera Grant on a certain
occasion to General Gordon Granger, "was admirable; you had but five
minutes to make up your mind in."
"Yes, sir," answered the victorious subordinate, "it is a great
thing to be know exactly what to do in an emergency. When in doubt
whether to attack or retreat I never hesitate a moment -- I toss us a
"Do you mean to say that's what you did this time?"
"Yes, General; but for Heaven's sake don't reprimand me: I
disobeyed the coin."
- adj. Imperfectly sensible to distinctions among things.
"You tiresome man!" cried Indolentio's wife,
"You've grown indifferent to all in life."
"Indifferent?" he drawled with a slow smile;
"I would be, dear, but it is not worth while."
Apuleius M. Gokul
- n. A disease which the patient and his friends frequently mistake for
deep religious conviction and concern for the salvation of mankind. As
the simple Red Man of the western wild put it, with, it must be confessed,
a certain force: "Plenty well, no pray; big bellyache, heap God."
- n. The guilt of woman.
- adj. Not calculated to advance one's interests.
- n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth, "Heaven
lies about us." The world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.
- n. [Latin] Among the Greeks and Romans, sacrifices for propitation
of the Dii Manes, or souls of the dead heroes; for the pious ancients
could not invent enough gods to satisfy their spiritual needs, and had
to have a number of makeshift deities, or, as a sailor might say, jury-gods,
which they made out of the most unpromising materials. It was while sacrificing
a bullock to the spirit of Agamemnon that Laiaides, a priest of Aulis,
was favored with an audience of that illustrious warrior's shade, who prophetically
recounted to him the birth of Christ and the triumph of Christianity, giving
him also a rapid but tolerably complete review of events down to the reign
of Saint Louis. The narrative ended abruptly at the point, owing to the
inconsiderate crowing of a cock, which compelled the ghosted King of Men
to scamper back to Hades. There is a fine mediaeval flavor to this story,
and as it has not been traced back further than Pere Brateille, a pious
but obscure writer at the court of Saint Louis, we shall probably not err
on the side of presumption in considering it apocryphal, though Monsignor
Capel's judgment of the matter might be different; and to that I bow --
- n. In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian religion;
in Constantinople, one who does. (See GIAOUR.) A kind of scoundrel imperfectly
reverent of, and niggardly contributory to, divines, ecclesiastics, popes,
parsons, canons, monks, mollahs, voodoos, presbyters, hierophants, prelates,
obeah-men, abbes, nuns, missionaries, exhorters, deacons, friars, hadjis,
high-priests, muezzins, brahmins, medicine-men, confessors, eminences,
elders, primates, prebendaries, pilgrims, prophets, imaums, beneficiaries,
clerks, vicars-choral, archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, preachers,
padres, abbotesses, caloyers, palmers, curates, patriarchs, bonezs, santons,
beadsmen, canonesses, residentiaries, diocesans, deans, subdeans, rural
deans, abdals, charm-sellers, archdeacons, hierarchs, class-leaders, incumbents,
capitulars, sheiks, talapoins, postulants, scribes, gooroos, precentors,
beadles, fakeers, sextons, reverences, revivalists, cenobites, perpetual
curates, chaplains, mudjoes, readers, novices, vicars, pastors, rabbis,
ulemas, lamas, sacristans, vergers, dervises, lectors, church wardens,
cardinals, prioresses, suffragans, acolytes, rectors, cures, sophis, mutifs
- n. In politics, a visionary quo given in exchange for a substantial
- n. One who ventures to believe that Adam need not have sinned unless
he had a mind to -- in opposition to the Supralapsarians, who hold that
that luckless person's fall was decreed from the beginning. Infralapsarians
are sometimes called Sublapsarians without material effect upon the importance
and lucidity of their views about Adam.
Two theologues once, as they wended their way
To chapel, engaged in colloquial fray --
An earnest logomachy, bitter as gall,
Concerning poor Adam and what made him fall.
"'Twas Predestination," cried one -- "for the Lord
Decreed he should fall of his own accord."
"Not so -- 'twas Free will," the other maintained,
"Which led him to choose what the Lord had ordained."
So fierce and so fiery grew the debate
That nothing but bloodshed their dudgeon could sate;
So off flew their cassocks and caps to the ground
And, moved by the spirit, their hands went round.
Ere either had proved his theology right
By winning, or even beginning, the fight,
A gray old professor of Latin came by,
A staff in his hand and a scowl in his eye,
And learning the cause of their quarrel (for still
As they clumsily sparred they disputed with skill
Of foreordination freedom of will)
Cried: "Sirrahs! this reasonless warfare compose:
Atwixt ye's no difference worthy of blows.
The sects ye belong to -- I'm ready to swear
Ye wrongly interpret the names that they bear.
You -- Infralapsarian son of a clown! --
Should only contend that Adam slipped down;
While you -- you Supralapsarian pup! --
Should nothing aver but that Adam slipped up.
It's all the same whether up or down
You slip on a peel of banana brown.
Even Adam analyzed not his blunder,
But thought he had slipped on a peal of thunder!
- n. One who receives a benefit from another, or is otherwise an object
"All men are ingrates," sneered the cynic. "Nay,"
The good philanthropist replied;
"I did great service to a man one day
Who never since has cursed me to repay,
"Ho!" cried the cynic, "lead me to him straight --
With veneration I am overcome,
And fain would have his blessing." "Sad your fate --
He cannot bless you, for AI grieve to state
This man is dumb."
- n. An offense next in degree of enormity to a slight.
- n. A burden which of all those that we load upon others and carry ourselves
is lightest in the hands and heaviest upon the back.
- n. A villainous compound of tannogallate of iron, gum-arabic and water,
chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote intellectual
crime. The properties of ink are peculiar and contradictory: it may be
used to make reputations and unmake them; to blacken them and to make them
white; but it is most generally and acceptably employed as a mortar to
bind together the stones of an edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal
afterward the rascal quality of the material. There are men called journalists
who have established ink baths which some persons pay money to get into,
others to get out of. Not infrequently it occurs that a person who has
paid to get in pays twice as much to get out.
- adj. Natural, inherent -- as innate ideas, that is to say, ideas that
we are born with, having had them previously imparted to us. The doctrine
of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths of philosophy, being
itself an innate idea and therefore inaccessible to disproof, though Locke
foolishly supposed himself to have given it "a black eye." Among
innate ideas may be mentioned the belief in one's ability to conduct a
newspaper, in the greatness of one's country, in the superiority of one's
civilization, in the importance of one's personal affairs and in the interesting
nature of one's diseases.
- n. The stomach, heart, soul and other bowels. Many eminent investigators
do not class the soul as an in'ard, but that acute observer and renowned
authority, Dr. Gunsaulus, is persuaded that the mysterious organ known
as the spleen is nothing less than our important part. To the contrary,
Professor Garrett P. Servis holds that man's soul is that prolongation
of his spinal marrow which forms the pith of his no tail; and for demonstration
of his faith points confidently to the fact that no tailed animals have
no souls. Concerning these two theories, it is best to suspend judgment
by believing both.
- n. Something written on another thing. Inscriptions are of many kinds,
but mostly memorial, intended to commemorate the fame of some illustrious
person and hand down to distant ages the record of his services and virtues.
To this class of inscriptions belongs the name of John Smith, penciled
on the Washington monument. Following are examples of memorial inscriptions
on tombstones: (See EPITAPH.)
"In the sky my soul is found,
And my body in the ground.
By and by my body'll rise
To my spirit in the skies,
Soaring up to Heaven's gate.
"Sacred to the memory of Jeremiah Tree. Cut down May 9th, 1862,
aged 27 yrs. 4 mos. and 12 ds. Indigenous."
"Affliction sore long time she boar,
Phisicians was in vain,
Till Deth released the dear deceased
And left her a remain.
Gone to join Ananias in the regions of bliss."
"The clay that rests beneath this stone
As Silas Wood was widely known.
Now, lying here, I ask what good
It was to let me be S. Wood.
O Man, let not ambition trouble you,
Is the advice of Silas W."
"Richard Haymon, of Heaven. Fell to Earth Jan. 20, 1807, and had
the dust brushed off him Oct. 3, 1874."
"See," cries the chorus of admiring preachers,
"How Providence provides for all His creatures!"
"His care," the gnat said, "even the insects follows:
For us He has provided wrens and swallows."
- n. An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is permitted
to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps
INSURANCE AGENT: My dear sir, that is a fine house -- pray let me
HOUSE OWNER: With pleasure. Please make the annual premium so
low that by the time when, according to the tables of your
actuary, it will probably be destroyed by fire I will have
paid you considerably less than the face of the policy.
INSURANCE AGENT: O dear, no -- we could not afford to do that.
We must fix the premium so that you will have paid more.
HOUSE OWNER: How, then, can I afford that?
INSURANCE AGENT: Why, your house may burn down at any time.
There was Smith's house, for example, which --
HOUSE OWNER: Spare me -- there were Brown's house, on the
contrary, and Jones's house, and Robinson's house, which --
INSURANCE AGENT: Spare me!
HOUSE OWNER: Let us understand each other. You want me to pay
you money on the supposition that something will occur
previously to the time set by yourself for its occurrence. In
other words, you expect me to bet that my house will not last
so long as you say that it will probably last.
INSURANCE AGENT: But if your house burns without insurance it
will be a total loss.
HOUSE OWNER: Beg your pardon -- by your own actuary's tables I
shall probably have saved, when it burns, all the premiums I
would otherwise have paid to you -- amounting to more than the
face of the policy they would have bought. But suppose it to
burn, uninsured, before the time upon which your figures are
based. If I could not afford that, how could you if it were
INSURANCE AGENT: O, we should make ourselves whole from our
luckier ventures with other clients. Virtually, they pay your
HOUSE OWNER: And virtually, then, don't I help to pay their
losses? Are not their houses as likely as mine to burn before
they have paid you as much as you must pay them? The case
stands this way: you expect to take more money from your
clients than you pay to them, do you not?
INSURANCE AGENT: Certainly; if we did not --
HOUSE OWNER: I would not trust you with my money. Very well
then. If it is certain, with reference to the whole body of
your clients, that they lose money on you it is probable,
with reference to any one of them, that he will. It is
these individual probabilities that make the aggregate
INSURANCE AGENT: I will not deny it -- but look at the figures in
this pamph --
HOUSE OWNER: Heaven forbid!
INSURANCE AGENT: You spoke of saving the premiums which you would
otherwise pay to me. Will you not be more likely to squander
them? We offer you an incentive to thrift.
HOUSE OWNER: The willingness of A to take care of B's money is
not peculiar to insurance, but as a charitable institution you
command esteem. Deign to accept its expression from a
- n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection's failure to substitute
misrule for bad government.
- n. The mind's sense of the prevalence of one set of influences over
another set; an effect whose cause is the imminence, immediate or remote,
of the performance of an involuntary act.
- n. One who enables two persons of different languages to understand
each other by repeating to each what it would have been to the interpreter's
advantage for the other to have said.
- n. The period during which a monarchical country is governed by a warm
spot on the cushion of the throne. The experiment of letting the spot grow
cold has commonly been attended by most unhappy results from the zeal of
many worthy persons to make it warm again.
- n. A relation into which fools are providentially drawn for their mutual
Two Seidlitz powders, one in blue
And one in white, together drew
And having each a pleasant sense
Of t'other powder's excellence,
Forsook their jackets for the snug
Enjoyment of a common mug.
So close their intimacy grew
One paper would have held the two.
To confidences straight they fell,
Less anxious each to hear than tell;
Then each remorsefully confessed
To all the virtues he possessed,
Acknowledging he had them in
So high degree it was a sin.
The more they said, the more they felt
Their spirits with emotion melt,
Till tears of sentiment expressed
Their feelings. Then they effervesced!
So Nature executes her feats
Of wrath on friends and sympathetes
The good old rule who don't apply,
That you are you and I am I.
- n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the gratification of
his servants and the plaguing of his enemies. The introduction attains
its most malevolent development in this century, being, indeed, closely
related to our political system. Every American being the equal of every
other American, it follows that everybody has the right to know everybody
else, which implies the right to introduce without request or permission.
The Declaration of Independence should have read thus:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights; that among these are life, and the right to
make that of another miserable by thrusting upon him an
incalculable quantity of acquaintances; liberty, particularly the
liberty to introduce persons to one another without first
ascertaining if they are not already acquainted as enemies; and
the pursuit of another's happiness with a running pack of
- n. A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and
springs, and believes it civilization.
- n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.
- n. The patriotism of a Scotchman.