Ambrose Gwinett Bierce Quotes on Sadness (8 Quotes)



    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.

    REPROBATION, n. In theology, the state of a luckless mortal prenatally damned. The doctrine of reprobation was taught by Calvin, whose joy in it was somewhat marred by the sad sincerity of his conviction that although some are foredoomed to perdition, others are predestined to salvation.

    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.

    TROGLODYTE, n. Specifically, a cave-dweller of the paleolithic period, after the Tree and before the Flat. A famous community of troglodytes dwelt with David in the Cave of Adullam. The colony consisted of every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented --in brief, all the Socialists of Judah.


    SCARABEE, n. The same as scarabaeus.He fell by his own hand Beneath the great oak tree. He'd traveled in a foreign land. He tried to make her understand The dance that's called the Saraband, But he called it Scarabee. He had called it so through an afternoon, And she, the light of his harem if so might be, Had smiled and said naught. O the body was fair to see, All frosted there in the shine o' the moon -- Dead for a Scarabee And a recollection that came too late. O Fate They buried him where he lay, He sleeps awaiting the Day, In state, And two Possible Puns, moon-eyed and wan, Gloom over the grave and then move on. Dead for a Scarabee --Fernando Tapple

    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

    CORPORAL, n. A man who occupies the lowest rung of the military ladder.Fiercely the battle raged and, sad to tell, Our corporal heroically fell Fame from her height looked down upon the brawl And said He hadn't very far to fall. --Giacomo Smith


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