Fremont Alford.

The wit of Lincoln, the wisdom of Franklin, and other bits of wit online

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NctT i >J H iiiir

Tae Wit or Iir{c°i^i


Collected and arri

an Indiana Autiior

SEE NO. 65

Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

State of Indiana through the Indiana State Library

The Wit of Lincoln
The Wisdom of Franklin

And Other

Bits of Wit








Wisdom from Poor Richard 1 to 60

Lincoln's Choice 61

No Vices '. 62

Paid Compliments 63

Not Sure of the Abutments 64

Lincoln Wit 65

The Way Lincoln Removed Grant 66

What the South Would Have to Do 67

Could Not Think and Talk 68

Story of Webster 69

Second Comming of the Lord 70

Cumberland Gap 71

Pass to Richmond 72

A Griswold for an Alabama ^^^

No Time for Conundrums 74

Obeyed Orders 75

New Orleans Under Butler 7^

Not an Ad to His Liking "^7

How to Tell a Joke ^ 78

The Man to Shun .* 79

They Would Keep Him Poor 80

Rejoiced at the Fall of a Friend 81

Excuse Me 82

The Train Stopped 83

A Tardy Judge 84

6 The Wit of Lincoln

Lecture by Artemus Ward 85

To Many Tagging After Him 86

His Sweet Heart was Honest 87

Would Die for Her 88

He Liked Going to School 89

The Circus Parrot 90

Correcting Mistakes 91

Would Keep Up 92

Did Not Look in the Mirror 93

She Did Not Answer 94

A Family Secret 95

Long Hair 96

Damns to Check 97

His Standing in School 98

Nasby as a Socialist 99

Every One Wanted to be Postmaster 100

A Rediculous Thing 101

The Dutch Admiral 102

Married on First Sight 103

Died by Inches and Degrees 104

The Bargain Counter 105

An After-dinner Speaker 106

Don't Write 107

The Whipping Post 108

The Irishman's Damage Suit 109

For Wife or Sweet Heart 110

In Memory of His Wife Ill

I and Betsey Killed a Bar 112

Who Ate the Possum 113

A Put and a Drive 1 14

The Tramp and the Flies 116

The Wisdom of Franklin 7

Uncle Rube's First Train 115

Spit at the Wrong Time 117

How to Get a Fortune from Europe 118

The Farmer and Son 119

Attended the Fair 120

Not Binding 121

Casey Recruiting 122

Hard to Do 123

The Definition of a, Quaker 124

Good for Nothing 125

A Weak Stomache 126

A Big Loss 127

A Riddle 128

The Heathen 129

The Snake Charmer 130

Could Not See the Barn 131

Father to Son 132

How to Keep Hands Soft 133

The Boy Laughed 134

The Shipwrecked Jews 135

Milking Time 136

Prayed for the Thief 137

Grand Ma and the Gum Drop 138

Had a Plenty of Tongue 139

What He Liked About His Girl 140

A Bum Hotel 141

The Difference 142

Why He Would Not Fight 143

Flat Car Wheels 144

Rather Stay with Pa 145

Who Has the Best Show 146

8 The Wit of Lincoln

His Hands Were Clean 147

To Escape Payment 148

The Auto and the Horse 149

Finding Fault 150

A German on the Jury 151

How He Traveled 152

Men of But Few Words 153

Wishes to Exchange 154

Did Not Care for Expenses 155

Strong Winds 156

He Tried Glasses for His Eyes 157

The Irishman's Answer 158

The Chicken Not Guilty 159

Father Works 160

A Wrong Diagnosis 161

More Evidence 162

Foreign Subtance in His Eye 163

His Name May Vary 164

Not a Perfect Man 165

How Tom Sawyer Whitewashed the Fence . . . 166

Not What He Wanted 167

Do Not Appreciate 168

Did Not Know What to Do 169

Run Down by an Auto 170

Pearls From An Oyster 171

A Draw Back 172

A Remarkable Cure 173

Authority 174

Somewhat Mixed 175

Which Was It 176

The Grammar Class 177

The Wisdom of Franklin 9

No Money 178

The New Office Boy 179

The Land of Pretty Soon. . 180

Grounds for Divorce 181

No Change 182

An Excited Boy 183

Love is Blind 184

Married a Daughter of the Revolution 185

Curious to Know the Truth 186

A Tale 187

Was In the Ball Room 188

Beauty 189

Why Pat Voted the Democrat Ticket 190

His Epitaph 191

No Good Place 192

The Buyer Not In 193

Marks at School 194

Was Not New ! 195

Of No Use 196

An Honest Janitor 197

McCluskey on Labor 198

McCluskey on the Lawyer 199

The College Girl 200

Lovers 201

A Match 202

No Charge 203

Left It At Home 204

Small Potatoes 205

Intended to Move 206

An Honest Boy 207

Even With the Teacher 208

10 The Wit of Lincoln

The Doctor's Call .209

How to Raise Sweet Potatoes 210

A Thoughtful Boy ^ 211

Sympathy for Papa 212

The Boy's Prayer 213

A Hog's Son 214

Did Not Kiss Her Back 215

The Pilot on the River 216

The Editor's Bulletins 217

Addition .....'. 218

The Boy and the Meat Barrel 219

Girls With Big Hearts : 220

A Call For Help 221

Bed Time 222

Easy to Learn 223

Suicide 224

Why He Was Out of School 225

Wanted the Earth 226

How He Won Her Heart 227

A Kiss 228

An Artist ; 229

Which Is the Worst 230

Stand Together 231

Man 232

The Broken Umbrellas 233

The Lawyer 234

A Girl With a Conscience 235

A Bashful Beau 236

Much Puzzled 237

The Weighing Machine 238

Save the Pants 239

The Wisdom of Franklin 11

A Friend on the Jury 240

Pat As An Undertaker 241

Good Business 242

In Court 243

Hash 244

Musical 245.

Nan Tucket 246

A Diplomat 247

Don't Snore 248

The Landlord 249

Lost on the Races 250

Pills 251

How to Make Love 252

The Telephone 253

Plenty of Seats 254

On a Train 255

Did Not Understand 256

Limited Means ....;... .... 257

Kissing His Wife .258

A Cake of Yeast 259

A Tramp In a Coal Bin 260

Doctor Brown 261

The Kind of Wife He Wanted .262

A Bald Head 263

Dog Meat 264

What Did Yankee Dewey Do? 265

The Section Boss 266

Where the Wife Does Not Want the Earth 267

When Greek Meets Greek 268

We are Wonderfully Made 269

Pat and the Priest 270

12 The Wit of Lincoln

Joy and Sadness 271

A Better Way 272

Settled Down 273

Man and Woman 274

A Small Bequest 275

Not All So Stingy " 276

In Luck 277

The Testimonial 278

The Rules of the Hotel 279

The Same Distance Each Way 280

The Boys Generosity 281

The Bathing Suit 282

Does Europe Every Summer 283

Across the Sea 284

The Old Apple Tree .285

Orders Wanted 286

Parlor Toasts 286a

Conundrums , 286b


It has been said many times "Laugh and the
world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone."
The world cares but little for the troubles of
others, as all have troubles of their own. When
one reads or tells jokes of wit, the majority of the
people never say quit.

In this volume it has been my aim to spare no
effort to gather and collect a selection of the most
popular old and new jokes, poetry that has a moral,
or jingle, vaudeville wit and nonsense, all indexed
so that, they are in shape for use at any time.
People say they cannot remember jokes. This
volume will enable such persons to recall any joke
and saying if the same they regard worth reading
or repeating.

In telling a joke the point or moral should be at
the close of the story, and in this work it has been
my endeavor to so state the joke, that the point may
be seen in time, even by those traveling by mule
or freight.

THE wisdom and philosophy of POOR RICH-
ARD served a good purpose in the foundation of
our government, and a careful study of these say-
ings is needed now by the people. These are fast
times, graft and the desire for money are drifting
us away from honesty, economy and frugality.
Parts one, two and three contain a collection of the
wit, and stories of Abraham Lincoln.



"LEARN to be wise from others ill,
AND you'll learn to do full well."


"A wit's a feather, and a chiefs a rod,

AN honest man's the noblest work of GOD.

"VESSELS large may venture more,
YET little boats should keep near shore."


"WHAT conscience dictates to be done,
OR warns me not to do;

THIS teaches me more than HELL to shun,
THAT more than HEAVEN pursue."


"WORD to the wise is enough."


"WE are taxed twice as much by our idleness,
THREE times as much by our pride,
AND four times as much by our folly."

16 The Wit of Lincoln

"GOD helps them that help themselves."

"SLOTH, like rust, consumes faster than labor
wears; while the used key is always bright."

"BUT dost thou love life, then do not squander
time, for that is the stuff life is made of."

"THE sleeping fox catches no poultry, and there
will be sleeping enough in the grave."

"LOST time is never found again; and what we
call time enough always proves little enough."

"SLOTH make all things difficult, but industry
all easy; and he that riseth late, must trot all day,
and shall scarce overtake his Business at night;
while laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon
overtakes him."


"DRIVE thy business, let not that drive thee;
and early to bed and early to rise, makes a man
healthy, wealthy, and wise."

The Wisdom of Franklin 17

INDUSTRY need not wish, and he that lives
upon hope will die fasting.

"THERE are no gains without pains."

"HE that hath a trade, hath an estate, and he that
hath a calling, hath an office of profit and honor/'

"THEN PLOUGH deep while sluggards sleep,
and you shall have corn to sell and to keep."

"WORK while it is called today, for you know
not how much you may be hindered tomorrow;
never leave that till tomorrow, which you can do to-
day;" one today is worth two tomorrows.


"IF we are industrious, we will never starve, for
at the workingman's house hunger looks in but
dares not enter. Nor will the bailiff or the con-
stable enter, for industry pays debts, while despair
increases them. Diligence is the mother of good
luck, and GOD gives all things to industry."

"HANDLE your tools without mittens. Remem-
ber that the cat in gloves catches no mice."

18 The Wit of Lincoln

"CONSTANT dropping wears away stones, and
by diligence and patience the mouse ate into the
cable; and little strokes fell great oaks."

"EMPLOY thy time well, if thou meanest to gain
leisure; and since thou art not sure of a minute,
throw not away an hour. Leisure is time for doing
something useful."

"MANY, without labor would live by their wits
only, but they break for want of stock."


"I never saw an oft removed tree.

Nor yet an oft removed family.

That throve so well as those that settled be."

"Three removes are as bad as a fire ; keep thy
shop, and thy shop will keep thee."


"He that by the plough would thrive.
Himself must either hold or drive."

"The want of care does us more damage than
the want of knowledge; not to oversee workmen is

The Wisdom of Franklin 19

to leave them your purse open. A little neglect may
breed great mischief; for want of a nail a shoe was
lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the
want of a horse the rider was lost."


"A Fat Kitchen makes a lean will.
"Many estates are spent in the getting,
Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting,
And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting."


"If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well

as of getting,
Women and wine, game and deceit,
Make the wealth small, and the want great."


"What maintains one vice will bring up two chil-

"Many a little makes a mickle, beware of little
expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship."

"Fools make feasts, and wise men eat them."

"Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long
thou shalt sell thy necessaries."

20 The Wit of Lincoln


"Silks and satins, scarlet and velvet, put out the
kitchen fire."


"A Ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentle-
man on his knees."


"Always taking out of the meal-tub, and never
putting in soon comes to the bottom."

"If you would know the value of money, go and
try to borrow some; for he that goes borrowing
goes a sorrowing."

"Pride is as loud a beggar as want, and a great
^deal more saucy. It is easier to suppress the first
desire than to satisfy all that follows. When you
have bought one fine thing, you must buy ten more
that your appearance may be all of a piece."

"Pride breakfasted with plenty, dined with pov-
erty, and supped with infamy."

"The second vice is lying, the first is running in

"It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright."

The Wisdom of Franklin 21

"Creditors have better memories than debtors,
creditors are a superstitious set, great observers of
set days and times."

"For age and want save while you may
No morning sun lasts the whole day."

^ 44

"It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep
one in fuel."

"Get what you can, and what you get hold,
Tis the stone that will turn your lead into gold."

"Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will
learn in no other."

"If you will not hear reason, she will surely rap
your knuckles."

"When poverty comes in at the door, love flies
out at the window."



"Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."

22 The Wit of Lincoln

"SPEAK not but what may benefit others or
yourself; avoid trifling conversations."

"LET all things have their places ; let each part of
your business have its time."

"RESOLVE to perform what you ought; per-
form without fail what you resolve."


"MAKE no expense but to do good to others or
yourself; that is, waste nothing."

"LOSE no time; be always employed in some-
thing useful ; cut off all unnecessary actions."

"USE no hurtful decit; think innocently and just-
ly: and, if you speak, speak accordingly."

The Wisdom of Franklin 23

"WRONG none by doing injuries, or omitting
the benefits that are your duty."

"AVOID extremes; forbear resenting injuries so
much as you think they deserve."

"TOLERATE no uncleanliness in body, or habi-


"BE not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents com-
mon or unavoidable."


IN 1864 some friends were discussing the ap-
proaching convention and election with Mr. Lin-
coln. One of them remarked to him : "Nothing can

24 The Wit of Lincoln

defeat you but Grant's capture of Richmond, to be
followed by his nomination at Chicago and accept-
ance." "Well," said the President, "I feel very
much like the man who said, I'm not particularly
anxious to die, but if I must die, that is precisely the
disease I would like to die of/ "



A friend who was smoking in the presence of
President Lincoln offered him a cigar. He refused
with thanks, and the friend said: "Mr. President
I want to compliment you on the fact that you have
no vices." "That is a doubtful compliment," said
Lincoln, "I recollect once being on the top of a stage
coach in Illinois, and a man sitting by me offered
me a cigar, I told him I had no vices. He said
nothing but smoked for some time and then said,
'It's my experience that folks who have no vices,
have blamed few virtues.' "


One of the many paymasters of the Army was
in Washington and asked for an introduction to the
President. He arrived at the White House and
was introduced to the President by the United
States Marshal with his best smile. While shaking
hands with the President the Paymaster remarked:
"I have no official business with you, Mr. President,

The Wisdom of Franklin 25

I only called to pay my compliments." "I under-
stand," replied Lincoln, "from the complaints I re-
ceive from the soldiers, I would say that is all you
ever pay."



The politicians soon after Lincoln's election told
him they could harmonize the Northern and South-
ern wings of the Democracy if he would leave it to
them. "But," says Mr. Lincoln, "it reminded me of
a good sound churchman we'll call Brown, who
was on a committee to erect a bridge over a very
dangerous and rapid river. Architect after architect
failed and at last Brown said he had a friend named
Jones, who had built several bridges, and could
build this. "Send for him," said the committee. In
came Jones, "Can you build this bridge?" says
Brown. "Yes," replied Jones, "1 could build a bridge
to the infernal regions if necessary." The sober
committee were horrified. When Jones left. Brown
thought it but proper to defend his friend. "I know
Jones so well," said he, "and he is so honest a man,
and so good an architect, that if he states soberly
and positively that he can build a bridge to Hades,
I believe him ; but I have some doubts about the
abutment on the infernal side." "So," replied Lin-
coln, "I believed them, but had my doubts about the
abutment on the Southern side."

26 The Wit of Lincoln



ERICSSON had drawn the plans for the building
of the LITTLE MONITOR, the iron-clad that was
to check the MERRIMAC. The plans and specifi-
cations were submitted to the President, he called
his cabinet together to examine the same, they all
examined them carefully and expressed the opinion
that it was not practical, and would be a waste of
money to build it. Lincoln had not said a word,
so a member of the Cabinet, said: "Mr. Presi-
dent we would like to hear from you." Lincoln
looked up and said, "I am just like the fat girl when
she put her leg in her stocking; there is something
in it."



After Grant had taken command of the Army and
fought and won the battle of Shiloh, many of the
jealous friends of the other generals hastened to
Washington and to President Lincoln and demand-
ed the removal of Grant. They said he was incom-
petent; was away from the field during the fight
and that during all the fight was drinking and drunk
most of the time. The President listened patiently
and when all the complaints had been made, he
said to the committee: "Gentlemen, do you know
the brand of liquor Grant used and where he got

The Wisdom of Franklin 27

it?" "No," says the committee, "we do not,
but what has that to do with the removal of Grant?"
"Nothing," said the President, "I want to know
so I can order the same brand sent to my other
generals so they can win battles also."



When the South learned that Lincoln was going
to emancipate the slaves, a delegation of loyal union
men of the South waited on the President and beg
ged him to refrain from issuing the Emancipation
Proclamation. They told him the whites of the
South had never been accustomed to work or care
for themselves, that everything would go to ruin,
and that soon distress and starvation would be
upon the South. "Have you considered this, Mr.
President?" said the speaker. When they had
pointed out and painted the picture of distress Pres-
ident Lincoln said: "Over in Illinois, years ago,
a farmer had a great many hogs ; he planted a twen-
ty-acre field in potatoes, and when asked why he
planted so many acres of potatoes, as they could
not be sold for any price, he said: "When they
have matured I intend to turn all my hogs in the
field and let them feed themselves and save a vast
amount of labor and time." "But," says a neigh-
bor, "you know over here it freezes very deep in
early winter, then how are your hogs going to feed
and care for themselves with the potatoes all frozen

28 The Wit of Lincoln

in the ground?" "Well," says the farmer, "I had
not considered that matter, but they must root hog
or die."



Before Lincoln became President, he practiced
law in Illinois. In one case he had opposing him a
young lawyer from the East, and when arguing and
quoting the evidence, this young lawyer misquoted
evidence and stated facts not proven.

When Lincoln followed him he said : "The young
man makes a great noise but has misquoted the
evidence in this case and stated as facts many
things not proven, for what reason I cannot say,
but there must be a cause for this.

It may be that the young man is in the same con-
dition as a little steamer that I saw running up and
down the Sangamon river years ago. It carried a
four foot boiler and a six foot whistle and every
time the whistle blew it stopped all the machinery
in the boat."



Mr. Lincoln was delighted when an opportunity
offered, to tell a story of the school days of Daniel
Webster. When quite young at school, Daniel was
one day guilty of a gross violation of the rules. He
was caught in the act, and called up by the teacher

The Wisdom of Franklin 29

for punishment. This was the old fashioned ferul-
ing of the hand. Dan's hands happened to be very
dirty, and knowing this, on his way to the teacher
he spit in the palm of his right hand and began
wiping it on his trousers, to clean it. "Give me
your hand," said the teacher. Out went the right
hand, partly cleaned in the palm. The teacher
looked at it a moment and said, "Dan, if you will
find another hand in the schoolroom as filthy as
that, I will let you off this time." Instantly from
behind his back came the left hand, very dirty.
"Here it is, Sir," said Dan. "Excused," said the



President Lincoln told a story about a lean, lank,
meek, cadaverous looking man, with a white neck-
tie, who came to the statehouse and went to the
Secretary of State and introduced himself, stating
he had been informed that the Secretary of State
had the letting of the Hall of Representatives. He
wished to secure it if possible, for a course of lect-
ures he desired to deliver in Springfield. "May I
ask," said the Secretary, "what is the subject of
your lecture?" "Certainly," was the reply with a
solemn expression. "The course I wish to deliver
is on the Second Coming of Our Lord." "It is of
no use," said the Secretary, "if you will take my
advice, you will not waste your time in this city.

30 The Wit of Lincoln

It is my private opinion that, if the Lord has been
in Springfield once, He will never come the second



A telegram from Cumberland Gap was handed
to Mr. Lincoln. He read: "Firing is heard in the
direction of Knoxville." He said, "I am glad of
that." An officer present who knew the perils of
Burnside's position, said: "I cannot see why you
are glad of it, Mr. President." "Why you see,"
replied the President, "it is for the same reason that
Mistress Sallie Ward, a neighbor of mine, who had
a very large family, would say, when her children
were scattered and she would hear their screams in
some out of the way place,'Thank God there's one
of my children that is not dead yet,' "



During the Civil War a gentleman called upon
President Lincoln and requested the President to
issue him a pass to Richmond. "Well," said the
President, "I would be very glad to oblige you, if
my passes were respected; but the fact is, sir, I
have within the last twO: years, given passes to two
hundred and seventy-five thousand men to go to
Richmond, and not one has got there yet."

The Wisdom of Franklin 31


During the Civil War the United States sent to
England the ship George Griswold, loaded with
provisions for her starving poor. This was after the
Alabama had started on its mission of piracy upon
our commerce. Mrs. Stowes had presented the
cargo and the ladies of England replied, "You have
sent us the 'Griswold' for the 'Alabama/ not a
'Roland' for an 'Oliver,' not tit for tat, but good
for evil. Let it pass into a saying in our mother
tongue, 'A Griswold for an Alabama,' when good
is returned for evil."


During the Civil War, a teamster with the Army
of the Cumberland, got stuck in the mud. He be-
gan to pour forth a stream of oaths and curses that
made the air blue. A chaplain passing at the time
was struck almost dumb. When he caught his
breath he said, "My friend, do you know who died
to save sinners?" The teamster looked up and
said : "This is not time for your damn conundrums.

Don't you see I'm stuck in the mud?"


Word came to Benjamin Butler that his favorite
horse, Almond Eye, had been killed by falling into

32 The Wit of Lincoln

a ravine. Butler called his Irish servant and said,
*Tat, go and skin Almond Eye and bring the hide to
me." "What," says Pat, "is Almond Eye dead?"
"None of your business," says Butler, "do as I tell
you." Pat left at once and was gone near three
hours and came back wjth the hide, and threw it

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Online LibraryFremont AlfordThe wit of Lincoln, the wisdom of Franklin, and other bits of wit → online text (page 1 of 6)