LETTUCE, n. An herb of the genus Lactuca, Wherewith, says that pious gastronome, Hengist Pelly, God has been pleased to reward the good and punish the wicked. For by his inner light the righteous man has discerned a manner of compounding for it a dressing to the appetency whereof a multitude of gustible condiments conspire, being reconciled and ameliorated with profusion of oil, the entire comestible making glad the heart of the godly and causing his face to shine. But the person of spiritual unworth is successfully tempted to the Adversary to eat of lettuce with destitution of oil, mustard, egg, salt and garlic, and with a rascal bath of vinegar polluted with sugar. Wherefore the person of spiritual unworth suffers an intestinal pang of strange complexity and raises the song.
ASS, n. A public singer with a good voice but no ear. In Virginia City, Nevada, he is called the Washoe Canary, in Dakota, the Senator, and everywhere the Donkey. The animal is widely and variously celebrated in the literature, art and religion of every age and country no other so engages and fires the human imagination as this noble vertebrate. Indeed, it is doubted by some (Ramasilus, lib. II., De Clem., and C. Stantatus, De Temperamente) if it is not a god and as such we know it was worshiped by the Etruscans, and, if we may believe Macrobious, by the Cupasians also. Of the only two animals admitted into the Mahometan Paradise along with the souls of men, the ass that carried Balaam is one, the dog of the Seven Sleepers the other. This is no small distinction. From what has been written about this beast might be compiled a library of great splendor and magnitude, rivalling that of the Shakespearean cult, and that which clusters about the Bible. It may be said, generally, that all literature is more or less Asinine. Hail, holy Ass the quiring angels sing; Priest of Unreason, and of Discords King Great co-Creator, let Thy glory shine God made all else, the Mule, the Mule is thine --G. J.
REFUGE, n. Anything assuring protection to one in peril. Moses and Joshua provided six cities of refuge --Bezer, Golan, Ramoth, Kadesh, Schekem and Hebron --to which one who had taken life inadvertently could flee when hunted by relatives of the deceased. This admirable expedient supplied him with wholesome exercise and enabled them to enjoy the pleasures of the chase whereby the soul of the dead man was appropriately honored by observations akin to the funeral games of early Greece.
ETHNOLOGY, n. The science that treats of the various tribes of Man, as robbers, thieves, swindlers, dunces, lunatics, idiots and ethnologists.
REGALIA, n. Distinguishing insignia, jewels and costume of such ancient and honorable orders as Knights of Adam Visionaries of Detectable Bosh the Ancient Order of Modern Troglodytes the League of Holy Humbug the Golden Phalanx of Phalangers the Genteel Society of Expurgated Hoodlums the Mystic Alliances of Georgeous Regalians Knights and Ladies of the Yellow Dog the Oriental Order of Sons of the West the Blatherhood of Insufferable Stuff Warriors of the Long Bow Guardians of the Great Horn Spoon the Band of Brutes the Impenitent Order of Wife-Beaters the Sublime Legion of Flamboyant Conspicuants Worshipers at the Electroplated Shrine Shining Inaccessibles Fee-Faw-Fummers of the inimitable Grip Jannissaries of the Broad-Blown Peacock Plumed Increscencies of the Magic Temple the Grand Cabal of Able-Bodied Sedentarians Associated Deities of the Butter Trade the Garden of Galoots the Affectionate Fraternity of Men Similarly Warted the Flashing Astonishers Ladies of Horror Cooperative Association for Breaking into the Spotlight Dukes of Eden Disciples Militant of the Hidden Faith Knights-Champions of the Domestic Dog the Holy Gregarians the Resolute Optimists the Ancient Sodality of Inhospitable Hogs Associated Sovereigns of Mendacity Dukes-Guardian of the Mystic Cess-Pool the Society for Prevention of Prevalence Kings of Drink Polite Federation of Gents-Consequential the Mysterious Order of the Undecipherable Scroll Uniformed Rank of Lousy Cats Monarchs of Worth and Hunger Sons of the South Star Prelates of the Tub-and-Sword.
WEREWOLF, n. A wolf that was once, or is sometimes, a man. All werewolves are of evil disposition, having assumed a bestial form to gratify a beastial appetite, but some, transformed by sorcery, are as humane and is consistent with an acquired taste for human flesh. Some Bavarian peasants having caught a wolf one evening, tied it to a post by the tail and went to bed. The next morning nothing was there Greatly perplexed, they consulted the local priest, who told them that their captive was undoubtedly a werewolf and had resumed its human for during the night. The next time that you take a wolf, the good man said, see that you chain it by the leg, and in the morning you will find a Lutheran.
HADES, 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.
SATYR, n. One of the few characters of the Grecian mythology accorded recognition in the Hebrew. (Leviticus, xvii, 7.) The satyr was at first a member of the dissolute community acknowledging a loose allegiance with Dionysius, but underwent many transformations and improvements. Not infrequently he is confounded with the faun, a later and decenter creation of the Romans, who was less like a man and more like a goat.
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.
BLACKGUARD, n. A man whose qualities, prepared for display like a box of berries in a market --the fine ones on top --have been opened on the wrong side. An inverted gentleman.
SATAN, n. One of the Creator's lamentable mistakes, repented in sashcloth and axes. Being instated as an archangel, Satan made himself multifariously objectionable and was finally expelled from Heaven. Halfway in his descent he paused, bent his head in thought a moment and at last went back. There is one favor that I should like to ask, said he. Name it. Man, I understand, is about to be created. He will need laws. What, wretch you his appointed adversary, charged from the dawn of eternity with hatred of his soul --you ask for the right to make his lawsPardon what I have to ask is that he be permitted to make them himself. It was so ordered.
DANGER, n.A savage beast which, when it sleeps, Man girds at and despises, But takes himself away by leaps And bounds when it arises. --Ambat Delaso
EGOTIST, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.Megaceph, chosen to serve the State In the halls of legislative debate, One day with all his credentials came To the capitol's door and announced his name. The doorkeeper looked, with a comical twist Of the face, at the eminent egotist, And said Go away, for we settle here All manner of questions, knotty and queer, And we cannot have, when the speaker demands To be told how every member stands, A man who to all things under the sky Assents by eternally voting 'I'.
BIRTH, n. The first and direst of all disasters. As to the nature of it there appears to be no uniformity. Castor and Pollux were born from the egg. Pallas came out of a skull. Galatea was once a block of stone. Peresilis, who wrote in the tenth century, avers that he grew up out of the ground where a priest had spilled holy water. It is known that Arimaxus was derived from a hole in the earth, made by a stroke of lightning. Leucomedon was the son of a cavern in Mount Aetna, and I have myself seen a man come out of a wine cellar.
WINE, n. Fermented grape-juice known to the Women's Christian Union as liquor, sometimes as rum. Wine, madam, is God's next best gift to man.
NEGRO, n. The piece de resistance in the American political problem. Representing him by the letter n, the Republicans begin to build their equation thus Let n the white man. This, however, appears to give an unsatisfactory solution.
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.
ABSENT, adj. Peculiarly exposed to the tooth of detraction vilifed hopelessly in the wrong superseded in the consideration and affection of another. To men a man is but a mind. Who cares What face he carries or what form he wears But woman's body is the woman. O, Stay thou, my sweetheart, and do never go, But heed the warning words the sage hath said A woman absent is a woman dead. --Jogo Tyree.
LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion --thusMajor Premise Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.Minor Premise One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds therefore --Conclusion Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second. This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.
ERUDITION, n. Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.So wide his erudition's mighty span, He knew Creation's origin and plan And only came by accident to grief -- He thought, poor man, 'twas right to be a thief. --Romach Pute
GHOUL, 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.
EPICURE, n. An opponent of Epicurus, an abstemious philosopher who, holding that pleasure should be the chief aim of man, wasted no time in gratification from the senses.
FREEMASONS, n. An order with secret rites, grotesque ceremonies and fantastic costumes, which, originating in the reign of Charles II, among working artisans of London, has been joined successively by the dead of past centuries in unbroken retrogression until now it embraces all the generations of man on the hither side of Adam and is drumming up distinguished recruits among the pre-Creational inhabitants of Chaos and Formless Void. The order was founded at different times by Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Cyrus, Solomon, Zoroaster, Confucious, Thothmes, and Buddha. Its emblems and symbols have been found in the Catacombs of Paris and Rome, on the stones of the Parthenon and the Chinese Great Wall, among the temples of Karnak and Palmyra and in the Egyptian Pyramids --always by a Freemason.
ADVICE, n. The smallest current coin. The man was in such deep distress, Said Tom, that I could do no less Than give him good advice. Said Jim: If less could have been done for him I know you well enough, my son, To know that's what you would have done. --Jebel Jocordy.
ABSTAINER, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.Said a man to a crapulent youth I thought You a total abstainer, my son.So I am, so I am, said the scrapgrace caught --But not, sir, a bigoted one. --G.J.
INFERIAE, 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 --wow.
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.
TECHNICALITY, n. In an English court a man named Home was tried for slander in having accused his neighbor of murder. His exact words were Sir Thomas Holt hath taken a cleaver and stricken his cook upon the head, so that one side of the head fell upon one shoulder and the other side upon the other shoulder. The defendant was acquitted by instruction of the court, the learned judges holding that the words did not charge murder, for they did not affirm the death of the cook, that being only an inference.
SEAL, n. A mark impressed upon certain kinds of documents to attest their authenticity and authority. Sometimes it is stamped upon wax, and attached to the paper, sometimes into the paper itself. Sealing, in this sense, is a survival of an ancient custom of inscribing important papers with cabalistic words or signs to give them a magical efficacy independent of the authority that they represent. In the British museum are preserved many ancient papers, mostly of a sacerdotal character, validated by necromantic pentagrams and other devices, frequently initial letters of words to conjure with and in many instances these are attached in the same way that seals are appended now. As nearly every reasonless and apparently meaningless custom, rite or observance of modern times had origin in some remote utility, it is pleasing to note an example of ancient nonsense evolving in the process of ages into something really useful. Our word sincere is derived from sine cero, without wax, but the learned are not in agreement as to whether this refers to the absence of the cabalistic signs, or to that of the wax with which letters were formerly closed from public scrutiny. Either view of the matter will serve one in immediate need of an hypothesis. The initials L. S., commonly appended to signatures of legal documents, mean locum sigillis, the place of the seal, although the seal is no longer used --an admirable example of conservatism distinguishing Man from the beasts that perish. The words locum sigillis are humbly suggested as a suitable motto for the Pribyloff Islands whenever they shall take their place as a sovereign State of the American Union.
NOSE, n. The extreme outpost of the face. From the circumstance that great conquerors have great noses, Getius, whose writings antedate the age of humor, calls the nose the organ of quell. It has been observed that one's nose is never so happy as when thrust into the affairs of others, from which some physiologists have drawn the inference that the nose is devoid of the sense of smell.There's a man with a Nose, And wherever he goes The people run from him and shoutNo cotton have we For our ears if so be He blow that interminous snoutSo the lawyers applied For injunction. Denied, Said the Judge the defendant prefixion, Whate'er it portend, Appears to transcend The bounds of this court's jurisdiction. --Arpad Singiny
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