The Book of Anecdotes and Budget of Fun Part 14
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SIR Fletcher Norton was noted for his want of courtesy. When pleading before Lord Mansfield, on some question of manorial right, he chanced unfortunately to say, "My Lord, I can ill.u.s.trate the point in an instant in my own person: I myself have two little manors." The judge immediately interposed, with one of his blandest smiles, "We all know it, Sir Fletcher."
A YANKEE STORY.
AN Englishman was bragging of the speed on English railroads to a Yankee traveler seated at his side in one of the cars of a "fast train," in England. The engine bell was rung as the train neared a station. It suggested to the Yankee an opportunity of "taking down his companion a peg or two." "What's that noise?" innocently inquired the Yankee. "We are approaching a town," said the Englishman; "they have to commence ringing about ten miles before they get to a station, or else the train would run by it before the bell could be heard! Wonderful, isn't it? I suppose they haven't invented bells in America yet?" "Why, yes," replied the Yankee, "we've got bells, but can't use them on our railroads. We run so 'tarnal fast that the train always keeps ahead of the sound. No use whatever; the sound never reaches the village till after the train gets by." "Indeed!" exclaimed the Englishman. "Fact," said the Yankee; "had to give up bells. Then we tried steam whistles--but they wouldn't answer either. I was on a locomotive when the whistle was tried. We were going at a tremendous rate--hurricanes were nowhere, and I had to hold my hair on. We saw a two-horse wagon crossing the track about five miles ahead, and the engineer let the whistle on, screeching like a trooper.
It screamed awfully, but it wasn't no use. The next thing I knew, I was picking myself out of a pond by the roadside, amid the fragments of the locomotive, dead horses, broken wagon, and dead engineer lying beside me. Just then the whistle came along, mixed up with some frightful oaths that I had heard the engineer use when he first saw the horses. Poor fellow! he was dead before his voice got to him. After that we tried lights, supposing these would travel faster than the sound. We got some so powerful that the chickens woke up all along the road when we came by, supposing it to be morning. But the locomotive kept ahead of it still, and was in the darkness, with the lights close on behind it. The inhabitants pet.i.tioned against it; they couldn't sleep with so much light in the night time. Finally, we had to station electric telegraphs along the road, with signal men to telegraph when the train was in sight; and I have heard that some of the fast trains beat the lightning fifteen minutes every forty miles. But I can't say as that is true; the rest I know to be so."--_New York Tribune._
NOT long since a certain n.o.ble peer in Yorks.h.i.+re, who is fond of boasting of his Norman descent, thus addressed one of his tenants, who, he thought, was not speaking to him with proper respect: "Do you not know that my ancestors came over with William the Conqueror?" "And, mayhap," retorted the st.u.r.dy Saxon, nothing daunted, "they found mine here when they comed." The n.o.ble lord felt that he had the worst of it.
BAD'S THE BEST.
MR. CANNING was once asked by an English clergyman how he had liked the sermon he had preached before him.
"Why, it was a short sermon," quoth Canning. "Oh, yes," said the preacher; "you know I avoid being tedious." "Ah, but," replied Canning, "you _were_ tedious."
A CERTAIN man of pleasure, about London, received a challenge from a young gentleman of his acquaintance; and they met at the appointed place. Just before the signal for firing was given, the man of pleasure rushed up to his antagonist, embraced him, and vehemently protested that he could not lift his arm "_against his own flesh and blood_!" The young gentleman, though he had never heard any imputation cast upon his mother's character, was so much staggered, that (as the ingenious man of pleasure had foreseen) no duel took place.
HUMPHREY HOWARTH, the surgeon, was called out, and made his appearance in the field, stark naked, to the astonishment of the challenger, who asked him what he meant. "I know," said H., "that if any part of the clothing is carried into the body, by a gunshot wound, festering ensues; and therefore I have met you thus." His antagonist declared, that fighting with a man _in puris naturalibus_, would be quite ridiculous; and accordingly they parted, without further discussion.
LORD ALVANLEY, on returning home, after his duel with young O'Connell, gave a guinea to the hackney-coachman, who had driven him out, and brought him back. The man, surprised at the largeness of the sum, said, "My lord, I only took you to ----." Alvanley interrupted him, "My friend, the guinea is _for bringing me back_, not for taking me out."
TO kneel before your G.o.ddess, and burst both pantaloon straps.
TEACHING A FOREIGNER TO SPEAK ENGLISH.
MY friend, the foreigner, called on me to bid me farewell, before he quitted town, and on his departure, he said, "I am going at the country." I ventured to correct his phraseology, by saying that we were accustomed to say "going into the country." He thanked me for this correction and said he had profited by my lesson, and added, "I will knock _into your_ door, on my return."--_Memorials._
_Experimental_ philosophy--asking a man to lend you money. _Moral_ philosophy--refusing to do it.
SYDNEY SMITH, once upon a time, despatched a pretentious octavo, in the _Edinburgh_, with a critique, one paragraph in length; that achievement is matched by the disposal of a work in the _Courier and Enquirer_, as follows, by ingeniously employing the opening sentence of the book itself:--
"_The History of Ra.s.selas, Prince of Abyssinia._ A Tale by SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL. D. A new edition, with ill.u.s.trations. 12mo., pp. 206.
New York: C. S. FRANCIS & CO.
"Ye who listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy, and pursue with eagerness the phantoms of hope; who expect that age will perform the promises of youth, and that deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow; attend to the history of _Ra.s.selas_, Prince of Abyssinia."
SUTTON was part of the demesne of John of Gaunt, the celebrated Duke of Lancaster, who gifted it to an ancestor of the proprietor, Sir J. M.
Burgoyne, as appears from the following quaint lines:--
"I, John of Gaunt, Do give and do grant, Unto Roger Burgoyne, And the heirs of his loin, Both Sutton and Potton, Until the world's rotten."
The Book of Anecdotes and Budget of Fun Part 14
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