Ambrose Gwinett Bierce Quotes on Night (9 Quotes)


    SMITHAREEN, n. A fragment, a decomponent part, a remain. The word is used variously, but in the following verse on a noted female reformer who opposed bicycle-riding by women because it led them to the devil it is seen at its best; The wheels go round without a sound -- The maidens hold high revel In sinful mood, insanely gay, True spinsters spin adown the way From duty to the devil They laugh, they sing, and --ting-a-ling Their bells go all the morning Their lanterns bright bestar the night Pedestrians a-warning. With lifted hands Miss Charlotte stands, Good-Lording and O-mying, Her rheumatism forgotten quite, Her fat with anger frying. She blocks the path that leads to wrath, Jack Satan's power defying. The wheels go round without a sound The lights burn red and blue and green. What's this that's found upon the ground Poor Charlotte Smith's a smithareen --John William Yope.

    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.

    BODY-SNATCHER, n. A robber of grave-worms. One who supplies the young physicians with that with which the old physicians have supplied the undertaker. The hyena. One night, a doctor said, last fall, I and my comrades, four in all, When visiting a graveyard stood Within the shadow of a wall. While waiting for the moon to sink We saw a wild hyena slink About a new-made grave, and then Begin to excavate its brink; Shocked by the horrid act, we made A sally from our ambuscade, And, falling on the unholy beast, Dispatched him with a pick and spade. --Bettel K. Jhones.

    INCUBUS, n. One of a race of highly improper demons who, though probably not wholly extinct, may be said to have seen their best nights. For a complete account of incubi and succubi, including incubae and succubae, see the Liber Demonorum of Protassus (Paris, 1328), which contains much curious information that would be out of place in a dictionary intended as a text-book for the public schools. Victor Hugo relates that in the Channel Islands Satan himself --tempted more than elsewhere by the beauty of the women, doubtless --sometimes plays at incubus, greatly to the inconvenience and alarm of the good dames who wish to be loyal to their marriage vows, generally speaking. A certain lady applied to the parish priest to learn how they might, in the dark, distinguish the hardy intruder from their husbands. The holy man said they must feel his brown for horns but Hugo is ungallant enough to hint a doubt of the efficacy of the test.

    ABRACADABRA. By Abracadabra we signify An infinite number of things.'Tis the answer to What and How and Why And Whence and Whither --a word whereby The Truth (with the comfort it brings) Is open to all who grope in night, Crying for Wisdom's holy light. Whether the word is a verb or a noun Is knowledge beyond my reach. I only know that 'tis handed down. From sage to sage, From age to age -- An immortal part of speech; Of an ancient man the tale is told That he lived to be ten centuries old, In a cave on a mountain side.(True, he finally died.) The fame of his wisdom filled the land, For his head was bald, and you'll understand His beard was long and white And his eyes uncommonly bright. Philosophers gathered from far and near To sit at his feat and hear and hear, Though he never was heard To utter a word But Abracadabra, abracadab, Abracada, abracad, Abraca, abrac, abra, ab'Twas all he had,'Twas all they wanted to hear, and each Made copious notes of the mystical speech, Which they published next -- A trickle of text In the meadow of commentary. Mighty big books were these, In a number, as leaves of trees In learning, remarkably --very; He's dead, As I said, And the books of the sages have perished, But his wisdom is sacredly cherished. In Abracadabra it solemnly rings, Like an ancient bell that forever swings. O, I love to hear That word make clear Humanity's General Sense of Things. --Jamrach Holobom.


    PERSEVERANCE, n. A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success. Persevere, persevere cry the homilists all, Themselves, day and night, persevering to bawl. Remember the fable of tortoise and hare -- The one at the goal while the other is --where Why, back there in Dreamland, renewing his lease Of life, all his muscles preserving the peace, The goal and the rival forgotten alike, And the long fatigue of the needless hike. His spirit a-squat in the grass and the dew Of the dogless Land beyond the Stew, He sleeps, like a saint in a holy place, A winner of all that is good in a race. --Sukker Uffro.

    SHERIFF, n. In America the chief executive office of a country, whose most characteristic duties, in some of the Western and Southern States, are the catching and hanging of rogues.John Elmer Pettibone Cajee(I write of him with little glee) Was just as bad as he could be.'Twas frequently remarked I swon The sun has never looked upon So bad a man as Neighbor John.A sinner through and through, he had This added fault it made him mad To know another man was bad.In such a case he thought it right To rise at any hour of night And quench that wicked person's light.Despite the town's entreaties, he Would hale him to the nearest tree And leave him swinging wide and free.Or sometimes, if the humor came, A luckless wight's reluctant frame Was given to the cheerful flame.While it was turning nice and brown, All unconcerned John met the frown Of that austere and righteous town.How sad, his neighbors said, that he So scornful of the law should be -- An anar c, h, i, s, t.(That is the way that they preferred To utter the abhorrent word, So strong the aversion that it stirred.)Resolved, they said, continuing,That Badman John must cease this thing Of having his unlawful fling.Now, by these sacred relics --here Each man had out a souvenir Got at a lynching yesteryear --By these we swear he shall forsake His ways, nor cause our hearts to ache By sins of rope and torch and stake.We'll tie his red right hand until He'll have small freedom to fulfil The mandates of his lawless will.So, in convention then and there, They named him Sheriff. The affair Was opened, it is said, with prayer. --J. Milton Sloluck

    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

    FOOL, n. A person who pervades the domain of intellectual speculation and diffuses himself through the channels of moral activity. He is omnific, omniform, omnipercipient, omniscience, omnipotent. He it was who invented letters, printing, the railroad, the steamboat, the telegraph, the platitude and the circle of the sciences. He created patriotism and taught the nations war --founded theology, philosophy, law, medicine and Chicago. He established monarchical and republican government. He is from everlasting to everlasting --such as creation's dawn beheld he fooleth now. In the morning of time he sang upon primitive hills, and in the noonday of existence headed the procession of being. His grandmotherly hand was warmly tucked-in the set sun of civilization, and in the twilight he prepares Man's evening meal of milk-and-morality and turns down the covers of the universal grave. And after the rest of us shall have retired for the night of eternal oblivion he will sit up to write a history of human civilization.


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