THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
by Ambrose Bierce
The Devil's Dictionary was begun in a weekly paper in 1881, and was continued in a desultory way at long intervals until 1906. In that year a large part of it was published in covers with the title The Cynic's Word Book, a name which the author had not the power to reject or happiness to approve. To quote the publishers of the present work:
"This more reverent title had previously been forced upon him by the religious scruples of the last newspaper in which a part of the work had appeared, with the natural consequence that when it came out in covers the country already had been flooded by its imitators with a score of 'cynic' books—The Cynic's This, The Cynic's That, and The Cynic's t'Other. Most of these books were merely stupid, though some of them added the distinction of silliness. Among them, they brought the word 'cynic' into disfavor so deep that any book bearing it was discredited in advance of publication."
Meantime, too, some of the enterprising humorists of the country had helped themselves to such parts of the work as served their needs, and many of its definitions, anecdotes, phrases and so forth, had become more or less current in popular speech. This explanation is made, not with any pride of priority in trifles, but in simple denial of possible charges of plagiarism, which is no trifle. In merely resuming his own the author hopes to be held guiltless by those to whom the work is addressed—enlightened souls who prefer dry wines to sweet, sense to sentiment, wit to humor and clean English to slang.
A conspicuous, and it is hoped not unpleasant, feature of the book is its abundant illustrative quotations from eminent poets, chief of whom is that learned and ingenius cleric, Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J., whose lines bear his initials. To Father Jape's kindly encouragement and assistance the author of the prose text is greatly indebted.
ABASEMENT, n. A decent and customary mental attitude in the presence of wealth or power. Peculiarly appropriate in an employee when addressing an employer.
ABATIS, n. Rubbish in front of a fort, to prevent the rubbish outside from molesting the rubbish inside.
ABDICATION, n. An act whereby a sovereign attests his sense of the high temperature of the throne.
Poor Isabella's Dead, whose abdication Set all tongues wagging in the Spanish nation. For that performance 'twere unfair to scold her: She wisely left a throne too hot to hold her. To History she'll be no royal riddle— Merely a plain parched pea that jumped the griddle.
ABDOMEN, n. The temple of the god Stomach, in whose worship, with sacrificial rights, all true men engage. From women this ancient faith commands but a stammering assent. They sometimes minister at the altar in a half-hearted and ineffective way, but true reverence for the one deity that men really adore they know not. If woman had a free hand in the world's marketing the race would become graminivorous.
ABILITY, n. The natural equipment to accomplish some small part of the meaner ambitions distinguishing able men from dead ones. In the last analysis ability is commonly found to consist mainly in a high degree of solemnity. Perhaps, however, this impressive quality is rightly appraised; it is no easy task to be solemn.
ABNORMAL, adj. Not conforming to standard. In matters of thought and conduct, to be independent is to be abnormal, to be abnormal is to be detested. Wherefore the lexicographer adviseth a striving toward the straiter [sic] resemblance of the Average Man than he hath to himself. Whoso attaineth thereto shall have peace, the prospect of death and the hope of Hell.
ABORIGINIES, n. Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a newly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.
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 feet 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.
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.
ABRUPT, adj. Sudden, without ceremony, like the arrival of a cannon- shot and the departure of the soldier whose interests are most affected by it. Dr. Samuel Johnson beautifully said of another author's ideas that they were "concatenated without abruption."
ABSCOND, v.i. To "move in a mysterious way," commonly with the property of another.
Spring beckons! All things to the call respond; The trees are leaving and cashiers abscond.
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.
ABSENTEE, n. A person with an income who has had the forethought to remove himself from the sphere of exaction.
ABSOLUTE, adj. Independent, irresponsible. An absolute monarchy is one in which the sovereign does as he pleases so long as he pleases the assassins. Not many absolute monarchies are left, most of them having been replaced by limited monarchies, where the sovereign's power for evil (and for good) is greatly curtailed, and by republics, which are governed by chance.
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 scapegrace caught— "But not, sir, a bigoted one."
ABSURDITY, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.
ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
ACADEMY, n. [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.
ACCIDENT, n. An inevitable occurrence due to the action of immutable natural laws.
ACCOMPLICE, n. One associated with another in a crime, having guilty knowledge and complicity, as an attorney who defends a criminal, knowing him guilty. This view of the attorney's position in the matter has not hitherto commanded the assent of attorneys, no one having offered them a fee for assenting.
ACCORD, n. Harmony.
ACCORDION, n. An instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin.
ACCOUNTABILITY, n. The mother of caution.
"My accountability, bear in mind," Said the Grand Vizier: "Yes, yes," Said the Shah: "I do—'tis the only kind Of ability you possess."
ACCUSE, v.t. To affirm another's guilt or unworth; most commonly as a justification of ourselves for having wronged him.
ACEPHALOUS, adj. In the surprising condition of the Crusader who absently pulled at his forelock some hours after a Saracen scimitar had, unconsciously to him, passed through his neck, as related by de Joinville.
ACHIEVEMENT, n. The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.
ACKNOWLEDGE, v.t. To confess. Acknowledgement of one another's faults is the highest duty imposed by our love of truth.
ACQUAINTANCE, n. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to. A degree of friendship called slight when its object is poor or obscure, and intimate when he is rich or famous.
ACTUALLY, adv. Perhaps; possibly.
ADAGE, n. Boned wisdom for weak teeth.
ADAMANT, n. A mineral frequently found beneath a corset. Soluble in solicitate of gold.
ADDER, n. A species of snake. So called from its habit of adding funeral outlays to the other expenses of living.
ADHERENT, n. A follower who has not yet obtained all that he expects to get.
ADMINISTRATION, n. An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. A man of straw, proof against bad-egging and dead-catting.
ADMIRAL, n. That part of a war-ship which does the talking while the figure-head does the thinking.
ADMIRATION, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.
ADMONITION, n. Gentle reproof, as with a meat-axe. Friendly warning.
Consigned by way of admonition, His soul forever to perdition.
ADORE, v.t. To venerate expectantly.
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."
AFFIANCED, pp. Fitted with an ankle-ring for the ball-and-chain.
AFFLICTION, n. An acclimatizing process preparing the soul for another and bitter world.
AFRICAN, n. A nigger that votes our way.
AGE, n. That period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we have no longer the enterprise to commit.
AGITATOR, n. A statesman who shakes the fruit trees of his neighbors —to dislodge the worms.
AIM, n. The task we set our wishes to. "Cheer up! Have you no aim in life?" She tenderly inquired. "An aim? Well, no, I haven't, wife; The fact is—I have fired."
AIR, n. A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence for the fattening of the poor.
ALDERMAN, n. An ingenious criminal who covers his secret thieving with a pretence of open marauding.
ALIEN, n. An American sovereign in his probationary state.
ALLAH, n. The Mahometan Supreme Being, as distinguished from the Christian, Jewish, and so forth.
Allah's good laws I faithfully have kept, And ever for the sins of man have wept; And sometimes kneeling in the temple I Have reverently crossed my hands and slept.
This thing Allegiance, as I suppose, Is a ring fitted in the subject's nose, Whereby that organ is kept rightly pointed To smell the sweetness of the Lord's anointed.
ALLIANCE, n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.
ALLIGATOR, n. The crocodile of America, superior in every detail to the crocodile of the effete monarchies of the Old World. Herodotus says the Indus is, with one exception, the only river that produces crocodiles, but they appear to have gone West and grown up with the other rivers. From the notches on his back the alligator is called a sawrian.
ALONE, adj. In bad company.
In contact, lo! the flint and steel, By spark and flame, the thought reveal That he the metal, she the stone, Had cherished secretly alone.
ALTAR, n. The place whereupon the priest formerly raveled out the small intestine of the sacrificial victim for purposes of divination and cooked its flesh for the gods. The word is now seldom used, except with reference to the sacrifice of their liberty and peace by a male and a female tool.
They stood before the altar and supplied The fire themselves in which their fat was fried. In vain the sacrifice!—no god will claim An offering burnt with an unholy flame.
AMBIDEXTROUS, adj. Able to pick with equal skill a right-hand pocket or a left.
AMBITION, n. An overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.
AMNESTY, n. The state's magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish.
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.
ANTIPATHY, n. The sentiment inspired by one's friend's friend.
APHORISM, n. Predigested wisdom.
The flabby wine-skin of his brain Yields to some pathologic strain, And voids from its unstored abysm The driblet of an aphorism.
"The Mad Philosopher," 1697
APOLOGIZE, v.i. To lay the foundation for a future offence.
APOSTATE, n. A leech who, having penetrated the shell of a turtle only to find that the creature has long been dead, deems it expedient to form a new attachment to a fresh turtle.
APOTHECARY, n. The physician's accomplice, undertaker's benefactor and grave worm's provider.
When Jove sent blessings to all men that are, And Mercury conveyed them in a jar, That friend of tricksters introduced by stealth Disease for the apothecary's health, Whose gratitude impelled him to proclaim: "My deadliest drug shall bear my patron's name!"
APPEAL, v.t. In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw.
APPETITE, n. An instinct thoughtfully implanted by Providence as a solution to the labor question.
APPLAUSE, n. The echo of a platitude.
APRIL FOOL, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly.
ARCHBISHOP, n. An ecclesiastical dignitary one point holier than a bishop.
If I were a jolly archbishop, On Fridays I'd eat all the fish up— Salmon and flounders and smelts; On other days everything else.
ARCHITECT, n. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.
ARDOR, n. The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.
ARENA, n. In politics, an imaginary rat-pit in which the statesman wrestles with his record.
ARISTOCRACY, n. Government by the best men. (In this sense the word is obsolete; so is that kind of government.) Fellows that wear downy hats and clean shirts—guilty of education and suspected of bank accounts.
ARMOR, n. The kind of clothing worn by a man whose tailor is a blacksmith.
ARRAYED, pp. Drawn up and given an orderly disposition, as a rioter hanged to a lamppost.
ARREST, v.t. Formally to detain one accused of unusualness.
God made the world in six days and was arrested on the seventh.
The Unauthorized Version
ARSENIC, n. A kind of cosmetic greatly affected by the ladies, whom it greatly affects in turn.
"Eat arsenic? Yes, all you get," Consenting, he did speak up; "'Tis better you should eat it, pet, Than put it in my teacup."
ART, n. This word has no definition. Its origin is related as follows by the ingenious Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J.
One day a wag—what would the wretch be at?— Shifted a letter of the cipher RAT, And said it was a god's name! Straight arose Fantastic priests and postulants (with shows, And mysteries, and mummeries, and hymns, And disputations dire that lamed their limbs) To serve his temple and maintain the fires, Expound the law, manipulate the wires. Amazed, the populace that rites attend, Believe whate'er they cannot comprehend, And, inly edified to learn that two Half-hairs joined so and so (as Art can do) Have sweeter values and a grace more fit Than Nature's hairs that never have been split, Bring cates and wines for sacrificial feasts, And sell their garments to support the priests.
ARTLESSNESS, n. A certain engaging quality to which women attain by long study and severe practice upon the admiring male, who is pleased to fancy it resembles the candid simplicity of his young.
ASPERSE, v.t. Maliciously to ascribe to another vicious actions which one has not had the temptation and opportunity to commit.
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!"
AUCTIONEER, n. The man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue.
AUSTRALIA, n. A country lying in the South Sea, whose industrial and commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island.
AVERNUS, n. The lake by which the ancients entered the infernal regions. The fact that access to the infernal regions was obtained by a lake is believed by the learned Marcus Ansello Scrutator to have suggested the Christian rite of baptism by immersion. This, however, has been shown by Lactantius to be an error.
Facilis descensus Averni, The poet remarks; and the sense Of it is that when down-hill I turn I Will get more of punches than pence.
Jehal Dai Lupe
BAAL, n. An old deity formerly much worshiped under various names. As Baal he was popular with the Phoenicians; as Belus or Bel he had the honor to be served by the priest Berosus, who wrote the famous account of the Deluge; as Babel he had a tower partly erected to his glory on the Plain of Shinar. From Babel comes our English word "babble." Under whatever name worshiped, Baal is the Sun-god. As Beelzebub he is the god of flies, which are begotten of the sun's rays on the stagnant water. In Physicia Baal is still worshiped as Bolus, and as Belly he is adored and served with abundant sacrifice by the priests of Guttledom.
BABE or BABY, n. A misshapen creature of no particular age, sex, or condition, chiefly remarkable for the violence of the sympathies and antipathies it excites in others, itself without sentiment or emotion. There have been famous babes; for example, little Moses, from whose adventure in the bulrushes the Egyptian hierophants of seven centuries before doubtless derived their idle tale of the child Osiris being preserved on a floating lotus leaf.
Ere babes were invented The girls were contended. Now man is tormented Until to buy babes he has squandered His money. And so I have pondered This thing, and thought may be 'T were better that Baby The First had been eagled or condored.
BACCHUS, n. A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk.
Is public worship, then, a sin, That for devotions paid to Bacchus The lictors dare to run us in, And resolutely thump and whack us?
BACK, n. That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity.
BACKBITE, v.t. To speak of a man as you find him when he can't find you.
BAIT, n. A preparation that renders the hook more palatable. The best kind is beauty.
BAPTISM, n. A sacred rite of such efficacy that he who finds himself in heaven without having undergone it will be unhappy forever. It is performed with water in two ways—by immersion, or plunging, and by aspersion, or sprinkling.
But whether the plan of immersion Is better than simple aspersion Let those immersed And those aspersed Decide by the Authorized Version, And by matching their agues tertian.
BAROMETER, n. An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having.
BARRACK, n. A house in which soldiers enjoy a portion of that of which it is their business to deprive others.
BASILISK, n. The cockatrice. A sort of serpent hatched form the egg of a cock. The basilisk had a bad eye, and its glance was fatal. Many infidels deny this creature's existence, but Semprello Aurator saw and handled one that had been blinded by lightning as a punishment for having fatally gazed on a lady of rank whom Jupiter loved. Juno afterward restored the reptile's sight and hid it in a cave. Nothing is so well attested by the ancients as the existence of the basilisk, but the cocks have stopped laying.
BASTINADO, n. The act of walking on wood without exertion.
BATH, n. A kind of mystic ceremony substituted for religious worship, with what spiritual efficacy has not been determined.
The man who taketh a steam bath He loseth all the skin he hath, And, for he's boiled a brilliant red, Thinketh to cleanliness he's wed, Forgetting that his lungs he's soiling With dirty vapors of the boiling.
BATTLE, n. A method of untying with the teeth of a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.
BEARD, n. The hair that is commonly cut off by those who justly execrate the absurd Chinese custom of shaving the head.
BEAUTY, n. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
BEFRIEND, v.t. To make an ingrate.
BEG, v. To ask for something with an earnestness proportioned to the belief that it will not be given.
Who is that, father? A mendicant, child, Haggard, morose, and unaffable—wild! See how he glares through the bars of his cell! With Citizen Mendicant all is not well.
Why did they put him there, father?
Because Obeying his belly he struck at the laws.
Oh, well, he was starving, my boy— A state in which, doubtless, there's little of joy. No bite had he eaten for days, and his cry Was "Bread!" ever "Bread!"
What's the matter with pie?
With little to wear, he had nothing to sell; To beg was unlawful—improper as well.
Why didn't he work?
He would even have done that, But men said: "Get out!" and the State remarked: "Scat!" I mention these incidents merely to show That the vengeance he took was uncommonly low. Revenge, at the best, is the act of a Siou, But for trifles—
Pray what did bad Mendicant do?
Stole two loaves of bread to replenish his lack And tuck out the belly that clung to his back.
Is that all father dear?
There's little to tell: They sent him to jail, and they'll send him to—well, The company's better than here we can boast, And there's—
Bread for the needy, dear father?
BEGGAR, n. One who has relied on the assistance of his friends.
BEHAVIOR, n. Conduct, as determined, not by principle, but by breeding. The word seems to be somewhat loosely used in Dr. Jamrach Holobom's translation of the following lines from the Dies Irae:
Recordare, Jesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae. Ne me perdas illa die.
Pray remember, sacred Savior, Whose the thoughtless hand that gave your Death-blow. Pardon such behavior.
BELLADONNA, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
BENEDICTINES, n. An order of monks otherwise known as black friars.
She thought it a crow, but it turn out to be A monk of St. Benedict croaking a text. "Here's one of an order of cooks," said she— "Black friars in this world, fried black in the next."
"The Devil on Earth" (London, 1712)
BENEFACTOR, n. One who makes heavy purchases of ingratitude, without, however, materially affecting the price, which is still within the means of all.
BERENICE'S HAIR, n. A constellation (Coma Berenices) named in honor of one who sacrificed her hair to save her husband.
Her locks an ancient lady gave Her loving husband's life to save; And men—they honored so the dame— Upon some stars bestowed her name.
But to our modern married fair, Who'd give their lords to save their hair, No stellar recognition's given. There are not stars enough in heaven.
BIGAMY, n. A mistake in taste for which the wisdom of the future will adjudge a punishment called trigamy.
BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.
BILLINGSGATE, n. The invective of an opponent.
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.
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.
BLANK-VERSE, n. Unrhymed iambic pentameters—the most difficult kind of English verse to write acceptably; a kind, therefore, much affected by those who cannot acceptably write any kind.
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
BONDSMAN, n. A fool who, having property of his own, undertakes to become responsible for that entrusted to another to a third.
Philippe of Orleans wishing to appoint one of his favorites, a dissolute nobleman, to a high office, asked him what security he would be able to give. "I need no bondsmen," he replied, "for I can give you my word of honor." "And pray what may be the value of that?" inquired the amused Regent. "Monsieur, it is worth its weight in gold."
BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
BOTANY, n. The science of vegetables—those that are not good to eat, as well as those that are. It deals largely with their flowers, which are commonly badly designed, inartistic in color, and ill-smelling.
BOTTLE-NOSED, adj. Having a nose created in the image of its maker.
BOUNDARY, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other.
BOUNTY, n. The liberality of one who has much, in permitting one who has nothing to get all that he can.
A single swallow, it is said, devours ten millions of insects every year. The supplying of these insects I take to be a signal instance of the Creator's bounty in providing for the lives of His creatures.
Henry Ward Beecher
BRAHMA, n. He who created the Hindoos, who are preserved by Vishnu and destroyed by Siva—a rather neater division of labor than is found among the deities of some other nations. The Abracadabranese, for example, are created by Sin, maintained by Theft and destroyed by Folly. The priests of Brahma, like those of Abracadabranese, are holy and learned men who are never naughty.
O Brahma, thou rare old Divinity, First Person of the Hindoo Trinity, You sit there so calm and securely, With feet folded up so demurely— You're the First Person Singular, surely.
BRAIN, n. An apparatus with which we think what we think. That which distinguishes the man who is content to be something from the man who wishes to do something. A man of great wealth, or one who has been pitchforked into high station, has commonly such a headful of brain that his neighbors cannot keep their hats on. In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, brain is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.
BRANDY, n. A cordial composed of one part thunder-and-lightning, one part remorse, two parts bloody murder, one part death-hell-and-the grave and four parts clarified Satan. Dose, a headful all the time. Brandy is said by Dr. Johnson to be the drink of heroes. Only a hero will venture to drink it.
BRIDE, n. A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
BRUTE, n. See HUSBAND.
CAABA, n. A large stone presented by the archangel Gabriel to the patriarch Abraham, and preserved at Mecca. The patriarch had perhaps asked the archangel for bread.
CABBAGE, n. A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.
The cabbage is so called from Cabagius, a prince who on ascending the throne issued a decree appointing a High Council of Empire consisting of the members of his predecessor's Ministry and the cabbages in the royal garden. When any of his Majesty's measures of state policy miscarried conspicuously it was gravely announced that several members of the High Council had been beheaded, and his murmuring subjects were appeased.
CALAMITY, n. A more than commonly plain and unmistakable reminder that the affairs of this life are not of our own ordering. Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.
CALLOUS, adj. Gifted with great fortitude to bear the evils afflicting another.
When Zeno was told that one of his enemies was no more he was observed to be deeply moved. "What!" said one of his disciples, "you weep at the death of an enemy?" "Ah, 'tis true," replied the great Stoic; "but you should see me smile at the death of a friend."
CALUMNUS, n. A graduate of the School for Scandal.
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.
CANNIBAL, n. A gastronome of the old school who preserves the simple tastes and adheres to the natural diet of the pre-pork period.
CANNON, n. An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries.
CANONICALS, n. The motley worm by Jesters of the Court of Heaven.
CAPITAL, n. The seat of misgovernment. That which provides the fire, the pot, the dinner, the table and the knife and fork for the anarchist; the part of the repast that himself supplies is the disgrace before meat. Capital Punishment, a penalty regarding the justice and expediency of which many worthy persons—including all the assassins—entertain grave misgivings.
CARMELITE, n. A mendicant friar of the order of Mount Carmel.
As Death was a-rising out one day, Across Mount Camel he took his way, Where he met a mendicant monk, Some three or four quarters drunk, With a holy leer and a pious grin, Ragged and fat and as saucy as sin, Who held out his hands and cried: "Give, give in Charity's name, I pray. Give in the name of the Church. O give, Give that her holy sons may live!" And Death replied, Smiling long and wide: "I'll give, holy father, I'll give thee—a ride."
With a rattle and bang Of his bones, he sprang From his famous Pale Horse, with his spear; By the neck and the foot Seized the fellow, and put Him astride with his face to the rear.
The Monarch laughed loud with a sound that fell Like clods on the coffin's sounding shell: "Ho, ho! A beggar on horseback, they say, Will ride to the devil!"—and thump Fell the flat of his dart on the rump Of the charger, which galloped away.
Faster and faster and faster it flew, Till the rocks and the flocks and the trees that grew By the road were dim and blended and blue To the wild, wild eyes Of the rider—in size Resembling a couple of blackberry pies. Death laughed again, as a tomb might laugh At a burial service spoiled, And the mourners' intentions foiled By the body erecting Its head and objecting To further proceedings in its behalf.
Many a year and many a day Have passed since these events away. The monk has long been a dusty corse, And Death has never recovered his horse. For the friar got hold of its tail, And steered it within the pale Of the monastery gray, Where the beast was stabled and fed With barley and oil and bread Till fatter it grew than the fattest friar, And so in due course was appointed Prior.
CARNIVOROUS, adj. Addicted to the cruelty of devouring the timorous vegetarian, his heirs and assigns.
CARTESIAN, adj. Relating to Descartes, a famous philosopher, author of the celebrated dictum, Cogito ergo sum—whereby he was pleased to suppose he demonstrated the reality of human existence. The dictum might be improved, however, thus: Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum— "I think that I think, therefore I think that I am;" as close an approach to certainty as any philosopher has yet made.
CAT, n. A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.
This is a dog, This is a cat. This is a frog, This is a rat. Run, dog, mew, cat. Jump, frog, gnaw, rat.
CAVILER, n. A critic of our own work.
CEMETERY, n. An isolated suburban spot where mourners match lies, poets write at a target and stone-cutters spell for a wager. The inscriptions following will serve to illustrate the success attained in these Olympian games:
His virtues were so conspicuous that his enemies, unable to overlook them, denied them, and his friends, to whose loose lives they were a rebuke, represented them as vices. They are here commemorated by his family, who shared them. In the earth we here prepare a Place to lay our little Clara.
Thomas M. and Mary Frazer
P.S.—Gabriel will raise her.
CENTAUR, n. One of a race of persons who lived before the division of labor had been carried to such a pitch of differentiation, and who followed the primitive economic maxim, "Every man his own horse." The best of the lot was Chiron, who to the wisdom and virtues of the horse added the fleetness of man. The scripture story of the head of John the Baptist on a charger shows that pagan myths have somewhat sophisticated sacred history.
CERBERUS, n. The watch-dog of Hades, whose duty it was to guard the entrance—against whom or what does not clearly appear; everybody, sooner or later, had to go there, and nobody wanted to carry off the entrance. Cerberus is known to have had three heads, and some of the poets have credited him with as many as a hundred. Professor Graybill, whose clerky erudition and profound knowledge of Greek give his opinion great weight, has averaged all the estimates, and makes the number twenty-seven—a judgment that would be entirely conclusive is Professor Graybill had known (a) something about dogs, and (b) something about arithmetic.
CHILDHOOD, n. The period of human life intermediate between the idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth—two removes from the sin of manhood and three from the remorse of age.
CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
I dreamed I stood upon a hill, and, lo! The godly multitudes walked to and fro Beneath, in Sabbath garments fitly clad, With pious mien, appropriately sad, While all the church bells made a solemn din— A fire-alarm to those who lived in sin. Then saw I gazing thoughtfully below, With tranquil face, upon that holy show A tall, spare figure in a robe of white, Whose eyes diffused a melancholy light. "God keep you, strange," I exclaimed. "You are No doubt (your habit shows it) from afar; And yet I entertain the hope that you, Like these good people, are a Christian too." He raised his eyes and with a look so stern It made me with a thousand blushes burn Replied—his manner with disdain was spiced: "What! I a Christian? No, indeed! I'm Christ."
CIRCUS, n. A place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool.
CLAIRVOYANT, n. A person, commonly a woman, who has the power of seeing that which is invisible to her patron, namely, that he is a blockhead.
CLARIONET, n. An instrument of torture operated by a person with cotton in his ears. There are two instruments that are worse than a clarionet—two clarionets.
CLERGYMAN, n. A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of better his temporal ones.
CLIO, n. One of the nine Muses. Clio's function was to preside over history—which she did with great dignity, many of the prominent citizens of Athens occupying seats on the platform, the meetings being addressed by Messrs. Xenophon, Herodotus and other popular speakers.
CLOCK, n. A machine of great moral value to man, allaying his concern for the future by reminding him what a lot of time remains to him.
A busy man complained one day: "I get no time!" "What's that you say?" Cried out his friend, a lazy quiz; "You have, sir, all the time there is. There's plenty, too, and don't you doubt it— We're never for an hour without it."
CLOSE-FISTED, adj. Unduly desirous of keeping that which many meritorious persons wish to obtain.
"Close-fisted Scotchman!" Johnson cried To thrifty J. Macpherson; "See me—I'm ready to divide With any worthy person." Sad Jamie: "That is very true— The boast requires no backing; And all are worthy, sir, to you, Who have what you are lacking."
Anita M. Bobe
COENOBITE, n. A man who piously shuts himself up to meditate upon the sin of wickedness; and to keep it fresh in his mind joins a brotherhood of awful examples.
O Coenobite, O coenobite, Monastical gregarian, You differ from the anchorite, That solitudinarian: With vollied prayers you wound Old Nick; With dropping shots he makes him sick.
COMFORT, n. A state of mind produced by contemplation of a neighbor's uneasiness.
COMMENDATION, n. The tribute that we pay to achievements that resembles, but do not equal, our own.
COMMERCE, n. A kind of transaction in which A plunders from B the goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money belonging to E.
COMMONWEALTH, n. An administrative entity operated by an incalculable multitude of political parasites, logically active but fortuitously efficient.
This commonwealth's capitol's corridors view, So thronged with a hungry and indolent crew Of clerks, pages, porters and all attaches Whom rascals appoint and the populace pays That a cat cannot slip through the thicket of shins Nor hear its own shriek for the noise of their chins. On clerks and on pages, and porters, and all, Misfortune attend and disaster befall! May life be to them a succession of hurts; May fleas by the bushel inhabit their shirts; May aches and diseases encamp in their bones, Their lungs full of tubercles, bladders of stones; May microbes, bacilli, their tissues infest, And tapeworms securely their bowels digest; May corn-cobs be snared without hope in their hair, And frequent impalement their pleasure impair. Disturbed be their dreams by the awful discourse Of audible sofas sepulchrally hoarse, By chairs acrobatic and wavering floors— The mattress that kicks and the pillow that snores! Sons of cupidity, cradled in sin! Your criminal ranks may the death angel thin, Avenging the friend whom I couldn't work in.
COMPROMISE, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.
COMPULSION, n. The eloquence of power.
CONDOLE, v.i. To show that bereavement is a smaller evil than sympathy.
CONFIDANT, CONFIDANTE, n. One entrusted by A with the secrets of B, confided by him to C.
CONGRATULATION, n. The civility of envy.
CONGRESS, n. A body of men who meet to repeal laws.
CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
An old wine-bibber having been smashed in a railway collision, some wine was pouted on his lips to revive him. "Pauillac, 1873," he murmured and died.
CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
CONSOLATION, n. The knowledge that a better man is more unfortunate than yourself.
CONSUL, n. In American politics, a person who having failed to secure an office from the people is given one by the Administration on condition that he leave the country.
CONSULT, v.i. To seek another's disapproval of a course already decided on.
CONTEMPT, n. The feeling of a prudent man for an enemy who is too formidable safely to be opposed.
CONTROVERSY, n. A battle in which spittle or ink replaces the injurious cannon-ball and the inconsiderate bayonet.
In controversy with the facile tongue— That bloodless warfare of the old and young— So seek your adversary to engage That on himself he shall exhaust his rage, And, like a snake that's fastened to the ground, With his own fangs inflict the fatal wound. You ask me how this miracle is done? Adopt his own opinions, one by one, And taunt him to refute them; in his wrath He'll sweep them pitilessly from his path. Advance then gently all you wish to prove, Each proposition prefaced with, "As you've So well remarked," or, "As you wisely say, And I cannot dispute," or, "By the way, This view of it which, better far expressed, Runs through your argument." Then leave the rest To him, secure that he'll perform his trust And prove your views intelligent and just.
Conmore Apel Brune
CONVENT, n. A place of retirement for woman who wish for leisure to meditate upon the vice of idleness.
CONVERSATION, n. A fair to the display of the minor mental commodities, each exhibitor being too intent upon the arrangement of his own wares to observe those of his neighbor.
CORONATION, n. The ceremony of investing a sovereign with the outward and visible signs of his divine right to be blown skyhigh with a dynamite bomb.
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."
CORPORATION, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
CORSAIR, n. A politician of the seas.
COURT FOOL, n. The plaintiff.
COWARD, n. One who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.
CRAYFISH, n. A small crustacean very much resembling the lobster, but less indigestible.
In this small fish I take it that human wisdom is admirably figured and symbolized; for whereas the crayfish doth move only backward, and can have only retrospection, seeing naught but the perils already passed, so the wisdom of man doth not enable him to avoid the follies that beset his course, but only to apprehend their nature afterward.
Sir James Merivale
CREDITOR, n. One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions.
CREMONA, n. A high-priced violin made in Connecticut.
CRITIC, n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.
There is a land of pure delight, Beyond the Jordan's flood, Where saints, apparelled all in white, Fling back the critic's mud.
And as he legs it through the skies, His pelt a sable hue, He sorrows sore to recognize The missiles that he threw.
CROSS, n. An ancient religious symbol erroneously supposed to owe its significance to the most solemn event in the history of Christianity, but really antedating it by thousands of years. By many it has been believed to be identical with the crux ansata of the ancient phallic worship, but it has been traced even beyond all that we know of that, to the rites of primitive peoples. We have to-day the White Cross as a symbol of chastity, and the Red Cross as a badge of benevolent neutrality in war. Having in mind the former, the reverend Father Gassalasca Jape smites the lyre to the effect following:
"Be good, be good!" the sisterhood Cry out in holy chorus, And, to dissuade from sin, parade Their various charms before us.
But why, O why, has ne'er an eye Seen her of winsome manner And youthful grace and pretty face Flaunting the White Cross banner?
Now where's the need of speech and screed To better our behaving? A simpler plan for saving man (But, first, is he worth saving?)
Is, dears, when he declines to flee From bad thoughts that beset him, Ignores the Law as 't were a straw, And wants to sin—don't let him.
CUI BONO? [Latin] What good would that do me?
CUNNING, n. The faculty that distinguishes a weak animal or person from a strong one. It brings its possessor much mental satisfaction and great material adversity. An Italian proverb says: "The furrier gets the skins of more foxes than asses."
CUPID, n. The so-called god of love. This bastard creation of a barbarous fancy was no doubt inflicted upon mythology for the sins of its deities. Of all unbeautiful and inappropriate conceptions this is the most reasonless and offensive. The notion of symbolizing sexual love by a semisexless babe, and comparing the pains of passion to the wounds of an arrow—of introducing this pudgy homunculus into art grossly to materialize the subtle spirit and suggestion of the work— this is eminently worthy of the age that, giving it birth, laid it on the doorstep of prosperity.
CURIOSITY, n. An objectionable quality of the female mind. The desire to know whether or not a woman is cursed with curiosity is one of the most active and insatiable passions of the masculine soul.
CURSE, v.t. Energetically to belabor with a verbal slap-stick. This is an operation which in literature, particularly in the drama, is commonly fatal to the victim. Nevertheless, the liability to a cursing is a risk that cuts but a small figure in fixing the rates of life insurance.
CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.
DAMN, v. A word formerly much used by the Paphlagonians, the meaning of which is lost. By the learned Dr. Dolabelly Gak it is believed to have been a term of satisfaction, implying the highest possible degree of mental tranquillity. Professor Groke, on the contrary, thinks it expressed an emotion of tumultuous delight, because it so frequently occurs in combination with the word jod or god, meaning "joy." It would be with great diffidence that I should advance an opinion conflicting with that of either of these formidable authorities.
DANCE, v.i. To leap about to the sound of tittering music, preferably with arms about your neighbor's wife or daughter. There are many kinds of dances, but all those requiring the participation of the two sexes have two characteristics in common: they are conspicuously innocent, and warmly loved by the vicious.
A savage beast which, when it sleeps, Man girds at and despises, But takes himself away by leaps And bounds when it arises.
DARING, n. One of the most conspicuous qualities of a man in security.
DATARY, n. A high ecclesiastic official of the Roman Catholic Church, whose important function is to brand the Pope's bulls with the words Datum Romae. He enjoys a princely revenue and the friendship of God.
DAWN, n. The time when men of reason go to bed. Certain old men prefer to rise at about that time, taking a cold bath and a long walk with an empty stomach, and otherwise mortifying the flesh. They then point with pride to these practices as the cause of their sturdy health and ripe years; the truth being that they are hearty and old, not because of their habits, but in spite of them. The reason we find only robust persons doing this thing is that it has killed all the others who have tried it.
DAY, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent. This period is divided into two parts, the day proper and the night, or day improper—the former devoted to sins of business, the latter consecrated to the other sort. These two kinds of social activity overlap.
Done with the work of breathing; done With all the world; the mad race run Though to the end; the golden goal Attained and found to be a hole!
DEBAUCHEE, n. One who has so earnestly pursued pleasure that he has had the misfortune to overtake it.
DEBT, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.
As, pent in an aquarium, the troutlet Swims round and round his tank to find an outlet, Pressing his nose against the glass that holds him, Nor ever sees the prison that enfolds him; So the poor debtor, seeing naught around him, Yet feels the narrow limits that impound him, Grieves at his debt and studies to evade it, And finds at last he might as well have paid it.
Barlow S. Vode
DECALOGUE, n. A series of commandments, ten in number—just enough to permit an intelligent selection for observance, but not enough to embarrass the choice. Following is the revised edition of the Decalogue, calculated for this meridian.
Thou shalt no God but me adore: 'Twere too expensive to have more.
No images nor idols make For Robert Ingersoll to break.
Take not God's name in vain; select A time when it will have effect.
Work not on Sabbath days at all, But go to see the teams play ball.
Honor thy parents. That creates For life insurance lower rates.
Kill not, abet not those who kill; Thou shalt not pay thy butcher's bill.
Kiss not thy neighbor's wife, unless Thine own thy neighbor doth caress
Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete Successfully in business. Cheat.
Bear not false witness—that is low— But "hear 'tis rumored so and so."
Cover thou naught that thou hast not By hook or crook, or somehow, got.
DECIDE, v.i. To succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences over another set.
A leaf was riven from a tree, "I mean to fall to earth," said he.
The west wind, rising, made him veer. "Eastward," said he, "I now shall steer."
The east wind rose with greater force. Said he: "'Twere wise to change my course."
With equal power they contend. He said: "My judgment I suspend."
Down died the winds; the leaf, elate, Cried: "I've decided to fall straight."
"First thoughts are best?" That's not the moral; Just choose your own and we'll not quarrel.
Howe'er your choice may chance to fall, You'll have no hand in it at all.
DEFAME, v.t. To lie about another. To tell the truth about another.
DEFENCELESS, adj. Unable to attack.
DEGENERATE, adj. Less conspicuously admirable than one's ancestors. The contemporaries of Homer were striking examples of degeneracy; it required ten of them to raise a rock or a riot that one of the heroes of the Trojan war could have raised with ease. Homer never tires of sneering at "men who live in these degenerate days," which is perhaps why they suffered him to beg his bread—a marked instance of returning good for evil, by the way, for if they had forbidden him he would certainly have starved.
DEGRADATION, n. One of the stages of moral and social progress from private station to political preferment.
DEINOTHERIUM, n. An extinct pachyderm that flourished when the Pterodactyl was in fashion. The latter was a native of Ireland, its name being pronounced Terry Dactyl or Peter O'Dactyl, as the man pronouncing it may chance to have heard it spoken or seen it printed.
DEJEUNER, n. The breakfast of an American who has been in Paris. Variously pronounced.
DELEGATION, n. In American politics, an article of merchandise that comes in sets.
DELIBERATION, n. The act of examining one's bread to determine which side it is buttered on.
DELUGE, n. A notable first experiment in baptism which washed away the sins (and sinners) of the world.
DELUSION, n. The father of a most respectable family, comprising Enthusiasm, Affection, Self-denial, Faith, Hope, Charity and many other goodly sons and daughters.
All hail, Delusion! Were it not for thee The world turned topsy-turvy we should see; For Vice, respectable with cleanly fancies, Would fly abandoned Virtue's gross advances.
DENTIST, n. A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket.
DEPENDENT, adj. Reliant upon another's generosity for the support which you are not in a position to exact from his fears.
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.
DESTINY, n. A tyrant's authority for crime and fool's excuse for failure.
DIAGNOSIS, n. A physician's forecast of the disease by the patient's pulse and purse.
DIAPHRAGM, n. A muscular partition separating disorders of the chest from disorders of the bowels.
DIARY, n. A daily record of that part of one's life, which he can relate to himself without blushing.
Hearst kept a diary wherein were writ All that he had of wisdom and of wit. So the Recording Angel, when Hearst died, Erased all entries of his own and cried: "I'll judge you by your diary." Said Hearst: "Thank you; 'twill show you I am Saint the First"— Straightway producing, jubilant and proud, That record from a pocket in his shroud. The Angel slowly turned the pages o'er, Each stupid line of which he knew before, Glooming and gleaming as by turns he hit On Shallow sentiment and stolen wit; Then gravely closed the book and gave it back. "My friend, you've wandered from your proper track: You'd never be content this side the tomb— For big ideas Heaven has little room, And Hell's no latitude for making mirth," He said, and kicked the fellow back to earth.
"The Mad Philosopher"
DICTATOR, n. The chief of a nation that prefers the pestilence of despotism to the plague of anarchy.
DICTIONARY, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.
DIE, n. The singular of "dice." We seldom hear the word, because there is a prohibitory proverb, "Never say die." At long intervals, however, some one says: "The die is cast," which is not true, for it is cut. The word is found in an immortal couplet by that eminent poet and domestic economist, Senator Depew:
A cube of cheese no larger than a die May bait the trap to catch a nibbling mie.
DIGESTION, n. The conversion of victuals into virtues. When the process is imperfect, vices are evolved instead—a circumstance from which that wicked writer, Dr. Jeremiah Blenn, infers that the ladies are the greater sufferers from dyspepsia.
DIPLOMACY, n. The patriotic art of lying for one's country.
DISABUSE, v.t. The present your neighbor with another and better error than the one which he has deemed it advantageous to embrace.
DISCRIMINATE, v.i. To note the particulars in which one person or thing is, if possible, more objectionable than another.
DISCUSSION, n. A method of confirming others in their errors.
DISOBEDIENCE, n. The silver lining to the cloud of servitude.
DISOBEY, v.t. To celebrate with an appropriate ceremony the maturity of a command.
His right to govern me is clear as day, My duty manifest to disobey; And if that fit observance e'er I shut May I and duty be alike undone.
DISSEMBLE, v.i. To put a clean shirt upon the character. Let us dissemble.
DISTANCE, n. The only thing that the rich are willing for the poor to call theirs, and keep.
DISTRESS, n. A disease incurred by exposure to the prosperity of a friend.
DIVINATION, n. The art of nosing out the occult. Divination is of as many kinds as there are fruit-bearing varieties of the flowering dunce and the early fool.
DOG, n. A kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship. This Divine Being in some of his smaller and silkier incarnations takes, in the affection of Woman, the place to which there is no human male aspirant. The Dog is a survival—an anachronism. He toils not, neither does he spin, yet Solomon in all his glory never lay upon a door-mat all day long, sun-soaked and fly-fed and fat, while his master worked for the means wherewith to purchase the idle wag of the Solomonic tail, seasoned with a look of tolerant recognition.
DRAGOON, n. A soldier who combines dash and steadiness in so equal measure that he makes his advances on foot and his retreats on horseback.
DRAMATIST, n. One who adapts plays from the French.
DRUIDS, n. Priests and ministers of an ancient Celtic religion which did not disdain to employ the humble allurement of human sacrifice. Very little is now known about the Druids and their faith. Pliny says their religion, originating in Britain, spread eastward as far as Persia. Caesar says those who desired to study its mysteries went to Britain. Caesar himself went to Britain, but does not appear to have obtained any high preferment in the Druidical Church, although his talent for human sacrifice was considerable.
Druids performed their religious rites in groves, and knew nothing of church mortgages and the season-ticket system of pew rents. They were, in short, heathens and—as they were once complacently catalogued by a distinguished prelate of the Church of England— Dissenters.
DUCK-BILL, n. Your account at your restaurant during the canvas-back season.
DUEL, n. A formal ceremony preliminary to the reconciliation of two enemies. Great skill is necessary to its satisfactory observance; if awkwardly performed the most unexpected and deplorable consequences sometimes ensue. A long time ago a man lost his life in a duel.
That dueling's a gentlemanly vice I hold; and wish that it had been my lot To live my life out in some favored spot— Some country where it is considered nice To split a rival like a fish, or slice A husband like a spud, or with a shot Bring down a debtor doubled in a knot And ready to be put upon the ice. Some miscreants there are, whom I do long To shoot, to stab, or some such way reclaim The scurvy rogues to better lives and manners, I seem to see them now—a mighty throng. It looks as if to challenge me they came, Jauntily marching with brass bands and banners!
Xamba Q. Dar
DULLARD, n. A member of the reigning dynasty in letters and life. The Dullards came in with Adam, and being both numerous and sturdy have overrun the habitable world. The secret of their power is their insensibility to blows; tickle them with a bludgeon and they laugh with a platitude. The Dullards came originally from Boeotia, whence they were driven by stress of starvation, their dullness having blighted the crops. For some centuries they infested Philistia, and many of them are called Philistines to this day. In the turbulent times of the Crusades they withdrew thence and gradually overspread all Europe, occupying most of the high places in politics, art, literature, science and theology. Since a detachment of Dullards came over with the Pilgrims in the Mayflower and made a favorable report of the country, their increase by birth, immigration, and conversion has been rapid and steady. According to the most trustworthy statistics the number of adult Dullards in the United States is but little short of thirty millions, including the statisticians. The intellectual centre of the race is somewhere about Peoria, Illinois, but the New England Dullard is the most shockingly moral.
DUTY, n. That which sternly impels us in the direction of profit, along the line of desire.
Sir Lavender Portwine, in favor at court, Was wroth at his master, who'd kissed Lady Port. His anger provoked him to take the king's head, But duty prevailed, and he took the king's bread, Instead.
EAT, v.i. To perform successively (and successfully) the functions of mastication, humectation, and deglutition.
"I was in the drawing-room, enjoying my dinner," said Brillat-Savarin, beginning an anecdote. "What!" interrupted Rochebriant; "eating dinner in a drawing-room?" "I must beg you to observe, monsieur," explained the great gastronome, "that I did not say I was eating my dinner, but enjoying it. I had dined an hour before."
EAVESDROP, v.i. Secretly to overhear a catalogue of the crimes and vices of another or yourself.
A lady with one of her ears applied To an open keyhole heard, inside, Two female gossips in converse free— The subject engaging them was she. "I think," said one, "and my husband thinks That she's a prying, inquisitive minx!" As soon as no more of it she could hear The lady, indignant, removed her ear. "I will not stay," she said, with a pout, "To hear my character lied about!"
ECCENTRICITY, n. A method of distinction so cheap that fools employ it to accentuate their incapacity.
ECONOMY, n. Purchasing the barrel of whiskey that you do not need for the price of the cow that you cannot afford.
EDIBLE, adj. Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm.
EDITOR, n. A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, but is placable with an obolus; a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering his mind at the tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star. Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to suit. And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack up some pathos.
O, the Lord of Law on the Throne of Thought, A gilded impostor is he. Of shreds and patches his robes are wrought, His crown is brass, Himself an ass, And his power is fiddle-dee-dee. Prankily, crankily prating of naught, Silly old quilly old Monarch of Thought. Public opinion's camp-follower he, Thundering, blundering, plundering free. Affected, Ungracious, Suspected, Mendacious, Respected contemporaree! J.H. Bumbleshook
EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
EFFECT, n. The second of two phenomena which always occur together in the same order. The first, called a Cause, is said to generate the other—which is no more sensible than it would be for one who has never seen a dog except in the pursuit of a rabbit to declare the rabbit the cause of a dog.
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'."
EJECTION, n. An approved remedy for the disease of garrulity. It is also much used in cases of extreme poverty.
ELECTOR, n. One who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man of another man's choice.
ELECTRICITY, n. The power that causes all natural phenomena not known to be caused by something else. It is the same thing as lightning, and its famous attempt to strike Dr. Franklin is one of the most picturesque incidents in that great and good man's career. The memory of Dr. Franklin is justly held in great reverence, particularly in France, where a waxen effigy of him was recently on exhibition, bearing the following touching account of his life and services to science:
"Monsieur Franqulin, inventor of electricity. This illustrious savant, after having made several voyages around the world, died on the Sandwich Islands and was devoured by savages, of whom not a single fragment was ever recovered."
Electricity seems destined to play a most important part in the arts and industries. The question of its economical application to some purposes is still unsettled, but experiment has already proved that it will propel a street car better than a gas jet and give more light than a horse.
ELEGY, n. A composition in verse, in which, without employing any of the methods of humor, the writer aims to produce in the reader's mind the dampest kind of dejection. The most famous English example begins somewhat like this:
The cur foretells the knell of parting day; The loafing herd winds slowly o'er the lea; The wise man homeward plods; I only stay To fiddle-faddle in a minor key.
ELOQUENCE, n. The art of orally persuading fools that white is the color that it appears to be. It includes the gift of making any color appear white.
ELYSIUM, n. An imaginary delightful country which the ancients foolishly believed to be inhabited by the spirits of the good. This ridiculous and mischievous fable was swept off the face of the earth by the early Christians—may their souls be happy in Heaven!
EMANCIPATION, n. A bondman's change from the tyranny of another to the despotism of himself.
He was a slave: at word he went and came; His iron collar cut him to the bone. Then Liberty erased his owner's name, Tightened the rivets and inscribed his own.
EMBALM, v.i. To cheat vegetation by locking up the gases upon which it feeds. By embalming their dead and thereby deranging the natural balance between animal and vegetable life, the Egyptians made their once fertile and populous country barren and incapable of supporting more than a meagre crew. The modern metallic burial casket is a step in the same direction, and many a dead man who ought now to be ornamenting his neighbor's lawn as a tree, or enriching his table as a bunch of radishes, is doomed to a long inutility. We shall get him after awhile if we are spared, but in the meantime the violet and rose are languishing for a nibble at his glutoeus maximus.
EMOTION, n. A prostrating disease caused by a determination of the heart to the head. It is sometimes accompanied by a copious discharge of hydrated chloride of sodium from the eyes.
ENCOMIAST, n. A special (but not particular) kind of liar.
END, n. The position farthest removed on either hand from the Interlocutor.
The man was perishing apace Who played the tambourine; The seal of death was on his face— 'Twas pallid, for 'twas clean.
"This is the end," the sick man said In faint and failing tones. A moment later he was dead, And Tambourine was Bones.
ENOUGH, pro. All there is in the world if you like it.
Enough is as good as a feast—for that matter Enougher's as good as a feast for the platter.
Arbely C. Strunk
ENTERTAINMENT, n. Any kind of amusement whose inroads stop short of death by injection.
ENTHUSIASM, n. A distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience. Byron, who recovered long enough to call it "entuzy-muzy," had a relapse, which carried him off—to Missolonghi.
ENVELOPE, n. The coffin of a document; the scabbard of a bill; the husk of a remittance; the bed-gown of a love-letter.
ENVY, n. Emulation adapted to the meanest capacity.
EPAULET, n. An ornamented badge, serving to distinguish a military officer from the enemy—that is to say, from the officer of lower rank to whom his death would give promotion.
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.
EPIGRAM, n. A short, sharp saying in prose or verse, frequently characterize by acidity or acerbity and sometimes by wisdom. Following are some of the more notable epigrams of the learned and ingenious Dr. Jamrach Holobom:
We know better the needs of ourselves than of others. To serve oneself is economy of administration.
In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass and a nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity.
There are three sexes; males, females and girls.
Beauty in women and distinction in men are alike in this: they seem to be the unthinking a kind of credibility. Women in love are less ashamed than men. They have less to be ashamed of.
While your friend holds you affectionately by both your hands you are safe, for you can watch both his.
EPITAPH, n. An inscription on a tomb, showing that virtues acquired by death have a retroactive effect. Following is a touching example:
Here lie the bones of Parson Platt, Wise, pious, humble and all that, Who showed us life as all should live it; Let that be said—and God forgive it!
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.
ESOTERIC, adj. Very particularly abstruse and consummately occult. The ancient philosophies were of two kinds,—exoteric, those that the philosophers themselves could partly understand, and esoteric, those that nobody could understand. It is the latter that have most profoundly affected modern thought and found greatest acceptance in our time.
ETHNOLOGY, n. The science that treats of the various tribes of Man, as robbers, thieves, swindlers, dunces, lunatics, idiots and ethnologists.
EUCHARIST, n. A sacred feast of the religious sect of Theophagi. A dispute once unhappily arose among the members of this sect as to what it was that they ate. In this controversy some five hundred thousand have already been slain, and the question is still unsettled.
EULOGY, n. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.
EVANGELIST, n. A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.
EVERLASTING, adj. Lasting forever. It is with no small diffidence that I venture to offer this brief and elementary definition, for I am not unaware of the existence of a bulky volume by a sometime Bishop of Worcester, entitled, A Partial Definition of the Word "Everlasting," as Used in the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures. His book was once esteemed of great authority in the Anglican Church, and is still, I understand, studied with pleasure to the mind and profit of the soul.
EXCEPTION, n. A thing which takes the liberty to differ from other things of its class, as an honest man, a truthful woman, etc. "The exception proves the rule" is an expression constantly upon the lips of the ignorant, who parrot it from one another with never a thought of its absurdity. In the Latin, "Exceptio probat regulam" means that the exception tests the rule, puts it to the proof, not confirms it. The malefactor who drew the meaning from this excellent dictum and substituted a contrary one of his own exerted an evil power which appears to be immortal.
EXCESS, n. In morals, an indulgence that enforces by appropriate penalties the law of moderation.
Hail, high Excess—especially in wine, To thee in worship do I bend the knee Who preach abstemiousness unto me— My skull thy pulpit, as my paunch thy shrine. Precept on precept, aye, and line on line, Could ne'er persuade so sweetly to agree With reason as thy touch, exact and free, Upon my forehead and along my spine. At thy command eschewing pleasure's cup, With the hot grape I warm no more my wit; When on thy stool of penitence I sit I'm quite converted, for I can't get up. Ungrateful he who afterward would falter To make new sacrifices at thine altar!
This "excommunication" is a word In speech ecclesiastical oft heard, And means the damning, with bell, book and candle, Some sinner whose opinions are a scandal— A rite permitting Satan to enslave him Forever, and forbidding Christ to save him.
EXECUTIVE, n. An officer of the Government, whose duty it is to enforce the wishes of the legislative power until such time as the judicial department shall be pleased to pronounce them invalid and of no effect. Following is an extract from an old book entitled, The Lunarian Astonished—Pfeiffer & Co., Boston, 1803:
LUNARIAN: Then when your Congress has passed a law it goes directly to the Supreme Court in order that it may at once be known whether it is constitutional? TERRESTRIAN: O no; it does not require the approval of the Supreme Court until having perhaps been enforced for many years somebody objects to its operation against himself—I mean his client. The President, if he approves it, begins to execute it at once. LUNARIAN: Ah, the executive power is a part of the legislative. Do your policemen also have to approve the local ordinances that they enforce? TERRESTRIAN: Not yet—at least not in their character of constables. Generally speaking, though, all laws require the approval of those whom they are intended to restrain. LUNARIAN: I see. The death warrant is not valid until signed by the murderer. TERRESTRIAN: My friend, you put it too strongly; we are not so consistent. LUNARIAN: But this system of maintaining an expensive judicial machinery to pass upon the validity of laws only after they have long been executed, and then only when brought before the court by some private person—does it not cause great confusion? TERRESTRIAN: It does. LUNARIAN: Why then should not your laws, previously to being executed, be validated, not by the signature of your President, but by that of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? TERRESTRIAN: There is no precedent for any such course. LUNARIAN: Precedent. What is that? TERRESTRIAN: It has been defined by five hundred lawyers in three volumes each. So how can any one know?
EXHORT, v.t. In religious affairs, to put the conscience of another upon the spit and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort.
EXILE, n. One who serves his country by residing abroad, yet is not an ambassador.
An English sea-captain being asked if he had read "The Exile of Erin," replied: "No, sir, but I should like to anchor on it." Years afterwards, when he had been hanged as a pirate after a career of unparalleled atrocities, the following memorandum was found in the ship's log that he had kept at the time of his reply:
Aug. 3d, 1842. Made a joke on the ex-Isle of Erin. Coldly received. War with the whole world!
A transient, horrible, fantastic dream, Wherein is nothing yet all things do seem: From which we're wakened by a friendly nudge Of our bedfellow Death, and cry: "O fudge!"
EXPERIENCE, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
To one who, journeying through night and fog, Is mired neck-deep in an unwholesome bog, Experience, like the rising of the dawn, Reveals the path that he should not have gone.
Joel Frad Bink
EXPOSTULATION, n. One of the many methods by which fools prefer to lose their friends.
EXTINCTION, n. The raw material out of which theology created the future state.
FAIRY, n. A creature, variously fashioned and endowed, that formerly inhabited the meadows and forests. It was nocturnal in its habits, and somewhat addicted to dancing and the theft of children. The fairies are now believed by naturalist to be extinct, though a clergyman of the Church of England saw three near Colchester as lately as 1855, while passing through a park after dining with the lord of the manor. The sight greatly staggered him, and he was so affected that his account of it was incoherent. In the year 1807 a troop of fairies visited a wood near Aix and carried off the daughter of a peasant, who had been seen to enter it with a bundle of clothing. The son of a wealthy bourgeois disappeared about the same time, but afterward returned. He had seen the abduction been in pursuit of the fairies. Justinian Gaux, a writer of the fourteenth century, avers that so great is the fairies' power of transformation that he saw one change itself into two opposing armies and fight a battle with great slaughter, and that the next day, after it had resumed its original shape and gone away, there were seven hundred bodies of the slain which the villagers had to bury. He does not say if any of the wounded recovered. In the time of Henry III, of England, a law was made which prescribed the death penalty for "Kyllynge, wowndynge, or mamynge" a fairy, and it was universally respected.
FAITH, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
FAMOUS, adj. Conspicuously miserable.
Done to a turn on the iron, behold Him who to be famous aspired. Content? Well, his grill has a plating of gold, And his twistings are greatly admired.
FASHION, n. A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.
A king there was who lost an eye In some excess of passion; And straight his courtiers all did try To follow the new fashion.
Each dropped one eyelid when before The throne he ventured, thinking 'Twould please the king. That monarch swore He'd slay them all for winking.
What should they do? They were not hot To hazard such disaster; They dared not close an eye—dared not See better than their master.
Seeing them lacrymose and glum, A leech consoled the weepers: He spread small rags with liquid gum And covered half their peepers.
The court all wore the stuff, the flame Of royal anger dying. That's how court-plaster got its name Unless I'm greatly lying.
FEAST, n. A festival. A religious celebration usually signalized by gluttony and drunkenness, frequently in honor of some holy person distinguished for abstemiousness. In the Roman Catholic Church feasts are "movable" and "immovable," but the celebrants are uniformly immovable until they are full. In their earliest development these entertainments took the form of feasts for the dead; such were held by the Greeks, under the name Nemeseia, by the Aztecs and Peruvians, as in modern times they are popular with the Chinese; though it is believed that the ancient dead, like the modern, were light eaters. Among the many feasts of the Romans was the Novemdiale, which was held, according to Livy, whenever stones fell from heaven.
FELON, n. A person of greater enterprise than discretion, who in embracing an opportunity has formed an unfortunate attachment.
FEMALE, n. One of the opposing, or unfair, sex.
The Maker, at Creation's birth, With living things had stocked the earth. From elephants to bats and snails, They all were good, for all were males. But when the Devil came and saw He said: "By Thine eternal law Of growth, maturity, decay, These all must quickly pass away And leave untenanted the earth Unless Thou dost establish birth"— Then tucked his head beneath his wing To laugh—he had no sleeve—the thing With deviltry did so accord, That he'd suggested to the Lord. The Master pondered this advice, Then shook and threw the fateful dice Wherewith all matters here below Are ordered, and observed the throw; Then bent His head in awful state, Confirming the decree of Fate. From every part of earth anew The conscious dust consenting flew, While rivers from their courses rolled To make it plastic for the mould. Enough collected (but no more, For niggard Nature hoards her store) He kneaded it to flexible clay, While Nick unseen threw some away. And then the various forms He cast, Gross organs first and finer last; No one at once evolved, but all By even touches grew and small Degrees advanced, till, shade by shade, To match all living things He'd made Females, complete in all their parts Except (His clay gave out) the hearts. "No matter," Satan cried; "with speed I'll fetch the very hearts they need"— So flew away and soon brought back The number needed, in a sack. That night earth range with sounds of strife— Ten million males each had a wife; That night sweet Peace her pinions spread O'er Hell—ten million devils dead!
FIB, n. A lie that has not cut its teeth. An habitual liar's nearest approach to truth: the perigee of his eccentric orbit.
When David said: "All men are liars," Dave, Himself a liar, fibbed like any thief. Perhaps he thought to weaken disbelief By proof that even himself was not a slave To Truth; though I suspect the aged knave Had been of all her servitors the chief Had he but known a fig's reluctant leaf Is more than e'er she wore on land or wave. No, David served not Naked Truth when he Struck that sledge-hammer blow at all his race; Nor did he hit the nail upon the head: For reason shows that it could never be, And the facts contradict him to his face. Men are not liars all, for some are dead.
FICKLENESS, n. The iterated satiety of an enterprising affection.
FIDDLE, n. An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat.
To Rome said Nero: "If to smoke you turn I shall not cease to fiddle while you burn." To Nero Rome replied: "Pray do your worst, 'Tis my excuse that you were fiddling first."
FIDELITY, n. A virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed.
FINANCE, n. The art or science of managing revenues and resources for the best advantage of the manager. The pronunciation of this word with the i long and the accent on the first syllable is one of America's most precious discoveries and possessions.
FLAG, n. A colored rag borne above troops and hoisted on forts and ships. It appears to serve the same purpose as certain signs that one sees and vacant lots in London—"Rubbish may be shot here."
FLESH, n. The Second Person of the secular Trinity.
FLOP, v. Suddenly to change one's opinions and go over to another party. The most notable flop on record was that of Saul of Tarsus, who has been severely criticised as a turn-coat by some of our partisan journals.
FLY-SPECK, n. The prototype of punctuation. It is observed by Garvinus that the systems of punctuation in use by the various literary nations depended originally upon the social habits and general diet of the flies infesting the several countries. These creatures, which have always been distinguished for a neighborly and companionable familiarity with authors, liberally or niggardly embellish the manuscripts in process of growth under the pen, according to their bodily habit, bringing out the sense of the work by a species of interpretation superior to, and independent of, the writer's powers. The "old masters" of literature—that is to say, the early writers whose work is so esteemed by later scribes and critics in the same language—never punctuated at all, but worked right along free-handed, without that abruption of the thought which comes from the use of points. (We observe the same thing in children to-day, whose usage in this particular is a striking and beautiful instance of the law that the infancy of individuals reproduces the methods and stages of development characterizing the infancy of races.) In the work of these primitive scribes all the punctuation is found, by the modern investigator with his optical instruments and chemical tests, to have been inserted by the writers' ingenious and serviceable collaborator, the common house-fly—Musca maledicta. In transcribing these ancient MSS, for the purpose of either making the work their own or preserving what they naturally regard as divine revelations, later writers reverently and accurately copy whatever marks they find upon the papyrus or parchment, to the unspeakable enhancement of the lucidity of the thought and value of the work. Writers contemporary with the copyists naturally avail themselves of the obvious advantages of these marks in their own work, and with such assistance as the flies of their own household may be willing to grant, frequently rival and sometimes surpass the older compositions, in respect at least of punctuation, which is no small glory. Fully to understand the important services that flies perform to literature it is only necessary to lay a page of some popular novelist alongside a saucer of cream-and-molasses in a sunny room and observe "how the wit brightens and the style refines" in accurate proportion to the duration of exposure.
FOLLY, n. That "gift and faculty divine" whose creative and controlling energy inspires Man's mind, guides his actions and adorns his life.
Folly! although Erasmus praised thee once In a thick volume, and all authors known, If not thy glory yet thy power have shown, Deign to take homage from thy son who hunts Through all thy maze his brothers, fool and dunce, To mend their lives and to sustain his own, However feebly be his arrows thrown,
Howe'er each hide the flying weapons blunts. All-Father Folly! be it mine to raise, With lusty lung, here on his western strand With all thine offspring thronged from every land, Thyself inspiring me, the song of praise. And if too weak, I'll hire, to help me bawl, Dick Watson Gilder, gravest of us all.
Aramis Loto Frope
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.
"Force is but might," the teacher said— "That definition's just." The boy said naught but thought instead, Remembering his pounded head: "Force is not might but must!"