AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-1913)
Public Domain Copyright
- 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
- 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
Habeam, geographer of wide renown,
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
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 and 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 rose-water.) 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 student.
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 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 reason.
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 inspiredby the guillotine during the period of that
- 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 of Agriculture. 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 seed 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
- A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when
confined for the wrong crime.
- 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 Aidhe
as "Hell"; but a conscientious minority member secretly possessed
himself of the record and struck out the objectionable 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
- 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 grace.
- 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 go
- 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
- n. An agreeable sensation arising from
contemplating the misery of another.
- n. A speech by an opponent, who is known as an
- 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
"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
- 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 seat 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 Alimentary Maceration.
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 'ic, 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 your own.
- n. A male Jew, as distinguished from the Shebrew,
an altogether superior creation.
- 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 assisted in what ye were at
For it's naught ye are ever doin'."
"That's true of yer Riverence," Patrick replies,
And no sign of contrition evinces;
"But, bedad, it's a fact which the word implies,
For she helps to mate the expinses!"
- 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
- 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 of resemblance.
- 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 homicide: 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
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
- n. A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of
man, rat, mouse, beetle, 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 model.
- n. The human race, collectively, exclusive of the
- 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
- 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
- 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
myselves 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
reëdify, 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
- 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
- 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
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 impale 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
- 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 as Assyria.
- 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
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
- 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
- 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 incubæ and succubæ,
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 test.
- n. A person of the liveliest interest to the
- 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 copper."
- "Do you mean to say that's what you did this
- "Yes, General; but for Heaven's sake don't reprimand
me: I disobeyed the coin."
- adj. Imperfectly sensible to distinctions among
"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 mediæval flavor to this story, and as it has
not been traced back further than Père 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
- n. In New York, one who does not believe in the
Christian religion; in Constantinople, one who does. (See
kind of scoundrel imperfectly reverent of, and niggardly
contributory to, divines, ecclesiastics, popes, parsons,
canons, monks, mollahs, voodoos, presbyters, hierophants,
prelates, obeah-men, abbés, 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 and
- n. In politics, a visionary quo given in
exchange for a substantial quid.
- 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 foreordinational 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 of charity.
"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
- 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 tanno-gallate 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
- 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
- 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 the table.
INSURANCE AGENT: My dear sir, that is a fine house pray let
me insure it.
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 insured?
INSURANCE AGENT: O, we should make ourselves whole from our
luckier ventures with other clients. Virtually, they pay
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 destruction.
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
- n. The patriotism of a Scotchman.
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