ROUNDHEAD, n. A member of the Parliamentarian party in the English civil war --so called from his habit of wearing his hair short, whereas his enemy, the Cavalier, wore his long. There were other points of difference between them, but the fashion in hair was the fundamental cause of quarrel. The Cavaliers were royalists because the king, an indolent fellow, found it more convenient to let his hair grow than to wash his neck. This the Roundheads, who were mostly barbers and soap-boilers, deemed an injury to trade, and the royal neck was therefore the object of their particular indignation. Descendants of the belligerents now wear their hair all alike, but the fires of animosity enkindled in that ancient strife smoulder to this day beneath the snows of British civility.
HEAD-MONEY, 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 --G. J.
OCCIDENT, n. The part of the world lying west (or east) of the Orient. It is largely inhabited by Christians, a powerful subtribe of the Hypocrites, whose principal industries are murder and cheating, which they are pleased to call war and commerce. These, also, are the principal industries of the Orient.
RAPACITY, n. Providence without industry. The thrift of power.
CAMEL, n. A quadruped (the Splaypes humpidorsus) of great value to the show business. There are two kinds of camels --the camel proper and the camel improper. It is the latter that is always exhibited.
LORE, n. Learning --particularly that sort which is not derived from a regular course of instruction but comes of the reading of occult books, or by nature. This latter is commonly designated as folk-lore and embraces popularly myths and superstitions. In Baring-Gould's Curious Myths of the Middle Ages the reader will find many of these traced backward, through various people son converging lines, toward a common origin in remote antiquity. Among these are the fables of Teddy the Giant Killer, The Sleeping John Sharp Williams, Little Red Riding Hood and the Sugar Trust, Beauty and the Brisbane, The Seven Aldermen of Ephesus, Rip Van Fairbanks, and so forth. The fable with Goethe so affectingly relates under the title of The Erl- King was known two thousand years ago in Greece as The Demos and the Infant Industry. One of the most general and ancient of these myths is that Arabian tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Rockefellers.
MEERSCHAUM, n. (Literally, seafoam, and by many erroneously supposed to be made of it.) A fine white clay, which for convenience in coloring it brown is made into tobacco pipes and smoked by the workmen engaged in that industry. The purpose of coloring it has not been disclosed by the manufacturers.There was a youth (you've heard before, This woeful tale, may be), Who bought a meerschaum pipe and swore That color it would heHe shut himself from the world away, Nor any soul he saw. He smoke by night, he smoked by day, As hard as he could draw.His dog died moaning in the wrath Of winds that blew aloof The weeds were in the gravel path, The owl was on the roof.He's gone afar, he'll come no more, The neighbors sadly say. And so they batter in the door To take his goods away.Dead, pipe in mouth, the youngster lay, Nut-brown in face and limb.That pipe's a lovely white, they say,But it has colored himThe moral there's small need to sing --'Tis plain as day to you Don't play your game on any thing That is a gamester too. --Martin Bulstrode
DEPUTY, n. A male relative of an office-holder, or of his bondsman. The deputy is commonly a beautiful young man, with a red necktie and an intricate system of cobwebs extending from his nose to his desk. When accidentally struck by the janitor's broom, he gives off a cloud of dust.Chief Deputy, the Master cried,To-day the books are to be tried By experts and accountants who Have been commissioned to go through Our office here, to see if we Have stolen injudiciously. Please have the proper entries made, The proper balances displayed, Conforming to the whole amount Of cash on hand --which they will count. I've long admired your punctual way -- Here at the break and close of day, Confronting in your chair the crowd Of business men, whose voices loud And gestures violent you quell By some mysterious, calm spell -- Some magic lurking in your look That brings the noisiest to book And spreads a holy and profound Tranquillity o'er all around. So orderly all's done that they Who came to draw remain to pay. But now the time demands, at last, That you employ your genius vast In energies more active. Rise And shake the lightnings from your eyes Inspire your underlings, and fling Your spirit into everything The Master's hand here dealt a whack Upon the Deputy's bent back, When straightway to the floor there fell A shrunken globe, a rattling shell A blackened, withered, eyeless head The man had been a twelvemonth dead. --Jamrach Holobom
More Ambrose Gwinett Bierce Quotations (Based on Topics)
Man - Christianity - Nature - Law & Regulation - God - World - Time - Mind - Death & Dying - Books - Name - Kings & Queens - Night - Woman - Life - Sons - Soul - Business & Commerce - Body - View All Ambrose Gwinett Bierce Quotations
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -