TORTOISE, n. A creature thoughtfully created to supply occasion for the following lines by the illustrious Ambat Delaso: TO MY PET TORTOISE. My friend, you are not graceful --not at all Your gait's between a stagger and a sprawl. Nor are you beautiful your head's a snake's To look at, and I do not doubt it aches. As to your feet, they'd make an angel weep.'Tis true you take them in whene'er you sleep. No, you're not pretty, but you have, I own, A certain firmness --mostly you're sic backbone. Firmness and strength (you have a giant's thews) Are virtues that the great know how to use --I wish that they did not yet, on the whole, You lack --excuse my mentioning it --Soul. So, to be candid, unreserved and true, I'd rather you were I than I were you. Perhaps, however, in a time to be, When Man's extinct, a better world may see Your progeny in power and control, Due to the genesis and growth of Soul. So I salute you as a reptile grand Predestined to regenerate the land. Father of Possibilities, O deign To accept the homage of a dying reign; In the far region of the unforeknown I dream a tortoise upon every throne. I see an Emperor his head withdraw Into his carapace for fear of Law; A King who carries something else than fat, Howe'er acceptably he carries thatA President not strenuously bent On punishment of audible dissent --Who never shot (it were a vain attack) An armed or unarmed tortoise in the backSubject and citizens that feel no need To make the March of Mind a wild stampedeAll progress slow, contemplative, sedate, And Take your time the word, in Church and State. O Tortoise, 'tis a happy, happy dream, My glorious testudinous regimeI wish in Eden you'd brought this about By slouching in and chasing Adam out.
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.
ABRIDGE, v.t. To shorten.When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to abridge their king, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. --Oliver Cromwell
FRANKALMOIGNE, n. The tenure by which a religious corporation holds lands on condition of praying for the soul of the donor. In mediaeval times many of the wealthiest fraternities obtained their estates in this simple and cheap manner, and once when Henry VIII of England sent an officer to confiscate certain vast possessions which a fraternity of monks held by frankalmoigne, What said the Prior, would you master stay our benefactor's soul in Purgatory Ay, said the officer, coldly, an ye will not pray him thence for naught he must e'en roast. But look you, my son, persisted the good man, this act hath rank as robbery of God Nay, nay, good father, my master the king doth but deliver him from the manifold temptations of too great wealth.
ANOINT, v.t. To grease a king or other great functionary already sufficiently slippery.As sovereigns are anointed by the priesthood, So pigs to lead the populace are greased good. --Judibras
JESTER, n. An officer formerly attached to a king's household, whose business it was to amuse the court by ludicrous actions and utterances, the absurdity being attested by his motley costume. The king himself being attired with dignity, it took the world some centuries to discover that his own conduct and decrees were sufficiently ridiculous for the amusement not only of his court but of all mankind. The jester was commonly called a fool, but the poets and romancers have ever delighted to represent him as a singularly wise and witty person. In the circus of to-day the melancholy ghost of the court fool effects the dejection of humbler audiences with the same jests wherewith in life he gloomed the marble hall, panged the patrician sense of humor and tapped the tank of royal tears. The widow-queen of Portugal Had an audacious jester Who entered the confessional Disguised, and there confessed her. Father, she said, thine ear bend down -- My sins are more than scarlet I love my fool --blaspheming clown, And common, base-born varlet. Daughter, the mimic priest replied, That sin, indeed, is awful The church's pardon is denied To love that is unlawful. But since thy stubborn heart will be For him forever pleading, Thou'dst better make him, by decree, A man of birth and breeding. She made the fool a duke, in hope With Heaven's taboo to palter Then told a priest, who told the Pope, Who damned her from the altar --Barel Dort.
REDRESS, n. Reparation without satisfaction. Among the Anglo-Saxon a subject conceiving himself wronged by the king was permitted, on proving his injury, to beat a brazen image of the royal offender with a switch that was afterward applied to his own naked back. The latter rite was performed by the public hangman, and it assured moderation in the plaintiff's choice of a switch.
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.
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