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Library Edition

THE WIT AND HUMOR OF AMERICA

In Ten Volumes

VOL. IV




[Illustration: JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS]




THE WIT AND HUMOR OF AMERICA

EDITED BY MARSHALL P. WILDER

_Volume IV_


Funk & Wagnalls Company
New York and London

Copyright MDCCCCVII, BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
Copyright MDCCCCXI, THE THWING COMPANY




CONTENTS


PAGE
April Aria, An R.K. Munkittrick 711
"As Good as a Play" Horace E. Scudder 749
Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, The Oliver Wendell Holmes 753
Briefless Barrister, The John G. Saxe 585
Cable-Car Preacher, A Sam Walter Foss 647
Cæsar's Quiet Lunch with Cicero James T. Fields 760
Cheer for the Consumer Nixon Waterman 740
Comin' Home Thanksgivin' James Ball Naylor 763
Complaint of Friends, A Gail Hamilton 604
Coupon Bonds, The J.T. Trowbridge 654
Crankidoxology Wallace Irwin 688
Desolation Tom Masson 686
Desperate Race, A J.F. Kelley 742
De Stove Pipe Hole William Henry Drummond 774
Economical Pair, The Carolyn Wells 602
Family Horse, The Frederick A. Cozzens 715
Girl from Mercury, The Herman Knickerbocker Vielé 779
Grand Opera, The Billy Baxter 693
Greco-Trojan Game, The Charles F. Johnson 595
How to Know the Wild Animals Carolyn Wells 650
How We Bought a Sewin' Machine
and Organ Josiah Allen's Wife 729
I Remember, I Remember Phoebe Cary 652
In a State of Sin Owen Wister 696
Loafer and the Squire, The Porte Crayon 767
Love Sonnets of a Husband, The Maurice Smiley 725
Meditations of a Mariner Wallace Irwin 713
Modern Advantage, A Charlotte Becker 642
Modern Eclogue, A Bliss Carman 645
My Honey, My Love Joel Chandler Harris 691
Ponchus Pilut James Whitcomb Riley 624
Praise-God Barebones Ellen Mackay Hutchinson
Cortissoz 765
Raggedy Man, The James Whitcomb Riley 643
Shooting-Match, The A.B. Longstreet 666
Sonnet of the Lovable Lass and the
Plethoric Dad J.W. Foley 723
Story of the Two Friars Eugene Field 588
Two Husbands, The Carolyn Wells 587
Two Pedestrians, The Carolyn Wells 603
Two Prisoners, The Carolyn Wells 641
Victory Tom Masson 714
Wolf at Susan's Door, The Anne Warner 626

COMPLETE INDEX AT THE END OF VOLUME X.




THE BRIEFLESS BARRISTER

_A Ballad_

BY JOHN G. SAXE


An attorney was taking a turn,
In shabby habiliments drest;
His coat it was shockingly worn,
And the rust had invested his vest.

His breeches had suffered a breach,
His linen and worsted were worse;
He had scarce a whole crown in his hat,
And not half a crown in his purse.

And thus as he wandered along,
A cheerless and comfortless elf,
He sought for relief in a song,
Or complainingly talked to himself: -

"Unfortunate man that I am!
I've never a client but grief:
The case is, I've no case at all,
And in brief, I've ne'er had a brief!

"I've waited and waited in vain,
Expecting an 'opening' to find,
Where an honest young lawyer might gain
Some reward for toil of his mind.

"'Tis not that I'm wanting in law,
Or lack an intelligent face,
That others have cases to plead,
While I have to plead for a case.

"O, how can a modest young man
E'er hope for the smallest progression, -
The profession's already so full
Of lawyers so full of profession!"

While thus he was strolling around,
His eye accidentally fell
On a very deep hole in the ground,
And he sighed to himself, "It is well!"

To curb his emotions, he sat
On the curbstone the space of a minute,
Then cried, "Here's an opening at last!"
And in less than a jiffy was in it!

Next morning twelve citizens came
('Twas the coroner bade them attend),
To the end that it might be determined
How the man had determined his end!

"The man was a lawyer, I hear,"
Quoth the foreman who sat on the corse.
"A lawyer? Alas!" said another,
"Undoubtedly died of remorse!"

A third said, "He knew the deceased,
An attorney well versed in the laws,
And as to the cause of his death,
'Twas no doubt for the want of a cause."

The jury decided at length,
After solemnly weighing the matter,
That the lawyer was drown_d_ed, because
He could not keep his head above water!




THE TWO HUSBANDS

BY CAROLYN WELLS


Once on a Time there were Two Men, each of whom married the Woman of his
Choice. One Man devoted all his Energies to Getting Rich.

He was so absorbed in Acquiring Wealth that he Worked Night and Day to
Accomplish his End.

By this Means he lost his Health, he became a Nervous Wreck, and was so
Irritable and Irascible that his Wife Ceased to live with him and
Returned to her Parents' House.

The Other Man made no Efforts to Earn Money, and after he had Spent his
own and his Wife's Fortunes, Poverty Stared them in the Face.

Although his Wife had loved him Fondly, she could not Continue her
affection toward One who could not Support her, so she left him and
Returned to her Childhood's Home.


MORALS:

This Fable teaches that the Love of Money is the Root of All Evil, and
that When Poverty Comes In At the Door, Loves Flies Out Of the Window.




THE STORY OF THE TWO FRIARS

BY EUGENE FIELD


It befell in the year 1662, in which same year were many witchcrafts and
sorceries, such as never before had been seen and the like of which will
never again, by grace of Heaven, afflict mankind - in this year it befell
that the devil came upon earth to tempt an holy friar, named Friar
Gonsol, being strictly minded to win that righteous vessel of piety unto
his evil pleasance.

* * * * *

Now wit you well that this friar had grievously offended the devil, for
of all men then on earth there was none more holier than he nor none
surer to speak and to do sweet charity unto all his fellows in every
place. Therefore it was that the devil was sore wroth at the Friar
Gonsol, being mightily plagued not only by his teachings and his
preachings, but also by the pious works which he continually did do.
Right truly the devil knew that by no common temptations was this friar
to be moved, for the which reason did the devil seek in dark and
troublous cogitations to bethink him of some new instrument wherewith he
might bedazzle the eyes and ensnare the understanding of the holy man.
On a sudden it came unto the fiend that by no corporeal allurement would
he be able to achieve his miserable end, for that by reason of an
abstemious life and a frugal diet the Friar Gonsol had weaned his body
from those frailties and lusts to which human flesh is by nature of the
old Adam within it disposed, and by long-continued vigils and by
earnest devotion and by godly contemplations and by divers proper
studies had fixed his mind and his soul with exceeding steadfastness
upon things unto his eternal spiritual welfare appertaining. Therefore
it beliked the devil to devise and to compound a certain little booke of
mighty curious craft, wherewith he might be like to please the Friar
Gonsol and, in the end, to ensnare him in his impious toils. Now this
was the way of the devil's thinking, to wit: This friar shall suspect no
evil in the booke, since never before hath the devil tempted mankind
with such an instrument, the common things wherewith the devil tempteth
man being (as all histories show and all theologies teach) fruit and
women and other like things pleasing to the gross and perishable senses.
Therefore, argueth the devil, when I shall tempt this friar with a booke
he shall be taken off his guard and shall not know it to be a
temptation. And thereat was the devil exceeding merry and he did laugh
full merrily.

* * * * *

Now presently came this thing of evil unto the friar in the guise of
another friar and made a proper low obeisance unto the same. But the
Friar Gonsol was not blinded to the craft of the devil, for from under
the cloak and hood that he wore there did issue the smell of sulphur and
of brimstone which alone the devil hath.

"Beshrew me," quoth the Friar Gonsol, "if the odour in my nostrils be
spikenard and not the fumes of the bottomless pit!"

"Nay, sweet friar," spake the devil full courteously, "the fragrance
thou perceivest is of frankincense and myrrh, for I am of holy orders
and I have brought thee a righteous booke, delectable to look upon and
profitable unto the reading."

Then were the eyes of that Friar Gonsol full of bright sparklings and
his heart rejoiced with exceeding joy, for he did set most store, next
to his spiritual welfare, by bookes wherein was food to his beneficial
devouring.

"I do require thee," quoth the friar, "to shew me that booke that I may
know the name thereof and discover whereof it treateth."

Then shewed the devil the booke unto the friar, and the friar saw it was
an uncut unique of incalculable value; the height of it was half a cubit
and the breadth of it the fourth part of a cubit and the thickness of it
five barleycorns lacking the space of three horsehairs. This booke
contained, within its divers picturings, symbols and similitudes wrought
with incomparable craft, the same being such as in human vanity are
called proof before letters, and imprinted upon India paper; also the
booke contained written upon its pages, divers names of them that had
possessed it, all these having in their time been mighty and illustrious
personages; but what seemed most delectable unto the friar was an
autographic writing wherein 'twas shewn that the booke sometime had been
given by Venus di Medici to Apollos at Rhodes.

When therefore the Friar Gonsol saw the booke how that it was intituled
and imprinted and adorned and bounden, he knew it to be of vast worth
and he was mightily moved to possess it; therefore he required of the
other (that was the devil) that he give unto him an option upon the same
for the space of seven days hence or until such a time as he could
inquire concerning the booke in Lowndes and other such like authorities.
But the devil, smiling, quoth: "The booke shall be yours without price
provided only you shall bind yourself to do me a service as I shall
hereafter specify and direct."

Now when the Friar Gonsol heard this compact, he knew for a verity that
the devil was indeed the devil, and but that he sorely wanted the booke
he would have driven that impious fiend straightway from his presence.
Howbeit, the devil, promising to visit him again that night, departed,
leaving the friar exceeding heavy in spirit, for he was both assotted
upon the booke to comprehend it and assotted upon the devil to do
violence unto him.

It befell that in his doubtings he came unto the Friar Francis, another
holy man that by continual fastings and devotions had made himself an
ensample of piety unto all men, and to this sanctified brother did the
Friar Gonsol straightway unfold the story of his temptation and speak
fully of the wondrous booke and of its divers many richnesses.

When that he had heard this narration the Friar Francis made answer in
this wise: "Of great subtility surely is the devil that he hath set this
snare for thy feet. Have a care, my brother, that thou fallest not into
the pit which he hath digged for thee! Happy art thou to have come to me
with this thing, elsewise a great mischief might have befallen thee. Now
listen to my words and do as I counsel thee. Have no more to do with
this devil; send him to me, or appoint with him another meeting and I
will go in thy stead."

"Nay, nay," cried the Friar Gonsol, "the saints forefend from thee the
evil temptation provided for my especial proving! I should have been
reckoned a weak and coward vessel were I to send thee in my stead to
bear the mortifications designed for the trying of my virtues."

"But thou art a younger brother than I," reasoned the Friar Francis
softly; "and, firm though thy resolution may be now, thou art more like
than I to be wheedled and bedazzled by these diabolical wiles and
artifices. So let me know where this devil abideth with the booke; I
burn to meet him and to wrest his treasure from his impious possession."

But the Friar Gonsol shook his head and would not hear unto this
vicarious sacrifice whereon the good Friar Francis had set his heart.

"Ah, I see that thou hast little faith in my strength to combat the
fiend," quoth the Friar Francis reproachfully. "Thy trust in me should
be greater, for I have done thee full many a kindly office; or, now I do
bethink me, thou art assorted on the booke! Unhappy brother, can it be
that thou dost covet this vain toy, this frivolous bauble, that thou
wouldst seek the devil's companionship anon to compound with Beelzelub?
I charge thee, Brother Gonsol, open thine eyes and see in what a
slippery place thou standest."

Now by these argumentations was the Friar Gonsol mightily confounded,
and he knew not what to do.

"Come, now, hesitate no longer," quoth the Friar Francis, "but tell me
where that devil may be found - I burn to see and to comprehend the
booke - not that I care for the booke, but that I am grievously tormented
to do that devil a sore despight!"

"Odds boddikins," quoth the other friar, "me-seemeth that the booke
inciteth thee more than the devil."

"Thou speakest wrongly," cried the Friar Francis. "Thou mistakest pious
zeal for sinful selfishness. Full wroth am I to hear how that this devil
walketh to and fro, using a sweet and precious booke for the temptation
of holy men. Shall so righteous an instrument be employed by the prince
of heretics to so unrighteous an end?"

"Thou sayest wisely," quoth the Friar Gonsol, "and thy words convince me
that a battaile must be made with this devil for that booke. So now I
shall go to encounter the fiend!"

"Then by the saints I shall go with thee!" cried the Friar Francis, and
he gathered his gown about his loins right briskly.

But when the Friar Gonsol saw this he made great haste to go alone, and
he ran out of the door full swiftly and fared him where the devil had
appointed an appointment with him. Now wit you well that the Friar
Francis did follow close upon his heels, for though his legs were not so
long he was a mighty runner and he was right sound of wind. Therefore
was it a pleasant sight to see these holy men vying with one another to
do battle with the devil, and much it repenteth me that there be some
ribald heretics that maintain full enviously that these two saintly
friars did so run not for the devil that they might belabor him, but for
the booke that they might possess it.

It fortuned that the devil was already come to the place where he had
appointed the appointment, and in his hand he had the booke aforesaid.
Much marveled he when that he beheld the two friars faring thence.

"I adjure thee, thou devil," said the Friar Gonsol from afar off, "I
adjure thee give me that booke else I will take thee by thy horns and
hoofs and drub thy ribs together!"

"Heed him not, thou devil," said the Friar Francis, "for it is I that am
coming to wrestle with thee and to overcome thee for that booke!"

With such words and many more the two holy friars bore down upon the
devil; but the devil thinking verily that he was about to be beset by
the whole church militant stayed not for their coming, but presently
departed out of sight and bore the book with him.

Now many people at that time saw the devil fleeing before the two
friars, so that, esteeming it to be a sign of special grace, these
people did ever thereafter acknowledge the friars to be saints, and unto
this day you shall hear of St. Gonsol and St. Francis. Unto this day,
too, doth the devil, with that same booke wherewith he tempted the friar
of old, beset and ensnare men of every age and in all places. Against
which devil may Heaven fortify us to do battle speedily and with
successful issuance.




THE GRECO-TROJAN GAME

BY CHARLES F. JOHNSON


First on the ground appeared the god-like Trojan Eleven,
Shining in purple and black, with tight and well-fitting sweaters,
Woven by Andromache in the well-ordered palace of Priam.
After them came, in goodly array, the players of Hellas,
Skilled in kicking and blocking and tackling and fooling the umpire.
All advanced on the field, marked off with white alabaster,
Level and square and true, at the ends two goal posts erected,
Richly adorned with silver and gold and carved at the corners,
Bearing a legend which read, "Don't talk back at the umpire" -
Rule first given by Zeus, for the guidance of voluble mortals.
All the rules of the game were deeply cut in the crossbars,
So that the players might know exactly how to evade them.

On one side of the field were ranged the Trojan spectators,
Yelling in composite language their ancient Phrygian war-cry;
"_Ho-hay-toe, Tou-tais-ton, Ton-tain-to; Boomerah Boomerah, Trojans!_"
And on the other, the Greeks, fair-haired, and ready to halloo,
If occasion should offer and Zeus should grant them a touch-down,
"_Breck-ek kek-kek-koax, Anax andron, Agamemnon!_"

First they agreed on an umpire, the silver-tongued Nestor.
Long years ago he played end-rush on the Argive eleven;
He was admitted by all to be an excellent umpire
Save for the habit he had of making public addresses,
Tedious, long-winded and dull, and full of minute explanations,
How they used to play in the days when Cadmus was half-back,
Or how Hermes could dodge, and Ares and Phoebus could tackle;
Couched in rhythmical language but not one whit to the purpose.
On his white hair they carefully placed the sacred tiara,
Worn by the foot-ball umpires of old as a badge of their office,
Also to save their heads, in case the players should slug them.
Then they gave him a spear wherewith to enforce his decisions,
And to stick in the ground to mark the place to line up to.
He advanced to the thirty-yard line and began an oration:

"Listen, Trojans and Greeks! For thirty-five seasons,
I played foot-ball in Greece with Peleus for half-back and captain.
Those were the days of old when men played the game as they'd orter.
Once, I remember, Æacus, the god-like son of Poseidon,
Kicked the ball from a drop, clean over the city of Argos.
That was the game when Peleus, our captain, lost all his front teeth;
Little we cared for teeth or eyes when once we were warmed up.
Why, I remember that Æacus ran so that no one could see him,
There was just a long hole in the air and a man at the end on't.
Hercules umpired that game, and I noticed there wasn't much back-talk."

Him interrupting, sternly addressed the King Agamemnon:
"Cease, old man; come off your antediluvian boasting;
Doubtless our grandpas could all play the game as well as they knew
how.
They are all dead, and have long lined up in the fields of elysium;
If they were here we would wipe up the ground with the rusty old
duffers.
You call the game, and keep your eye fixed on the helmeted Hector.
He'll play off-side all the while, if he thinks the umpire don't see
him!"
Then the old man threw the lots, but sore was his heart in his bosom.
"Troy has the kick-off," he said, "the ball is yours, noble Hector."
Then he gave him the ball, a prolate spheroid of leather,
Much like the world in its shape, if the world were lengthened, not
flattened,
Covered with well-sewed leather, the well-seasoned hide of a bison,
Killed by Lakon, the hunter, ere bisons were exterminated.
On it was painted a battle, a market, a piece of the ocean,
Horses and cows and nymphs and things too many to mention.

Then the heroes peeled off their sweaters and put on their nose-guards,
Also the fiendish expressions the great occasion demanded.
Ajax stood on the right; in the center the great Agamemnon;
Diomed crouched on the left, the god-like rusher and tackler,
Crouched as a panther crouches, if sculptors do justice to panthers.
Crafty Ulysses played back, for none of the Trojans could pass him,
All the best Greeks were in line, but Podas Okus Achilleus,
Who though an excellent kicker stayed all day in his section.

Hector dribbled the ball, then seized it and putting his head down,
And, as a lion carries a lamb and jumps over fences -
Dodging this way and that the shepherds who wish to remonstrate -
So did the son of Priam carry the ball through the rush line,
Till he was tackled fair by the full-back, the crafty Ulysses.
Even then he carried the ball and the son of Laertes
Full five yards till they fell to the ground with a deep indentation
Where one might hide three men so that no man could see them -
Men of the present day, degenerate sons of the heroes -

Now, when Pallas Athene discovered the Greeks would be beaten,
She slid down from the steep of Olympus upon a toboggan.
Sudden she came before crafty Ulysses in guise like a maiden;
Not that she thought to fool him, but since Olympian fashion
Made the form of a woman good form for a goddess' assumption.
She then spoke to him quickly, and said, "O son of Laertes,
Seize thou the ball; I will pass it to thee and trip up the Trojan."
Her replying, slowly re-worded the son of Laertes -
"That will I do, O goddess divine, for he can outrun me."
Then when the ball was in play, she cast thick darkness around it.
Also around Ulysses she poured invisible darkness.
Under this cover, taking the ball he passed down the middle,
Silent and swift, unseen, unnoticed, unblocked, and untackled.
Meanwhile she piled the Greeks and the Trojans in conglomeration,
Much like a tangle of pine-trees where lightning has frequently fallen,
Or like a basket of lobsters and crabs which the provident housewife
Dumps on the kitchen floor and vainly endeavors to count them,
So seemed the legs and the arms and the heads of the twenty-one
players.
Sudden a shout arose, for under the crossbar, Ulysses,
Visible, sat on the ball, quietly making a touch-down;
On the tip of his nose were his thumb and fingers extended,
Curved and vibrating slow in the sign of the blameless Egyptians.
Violent language came to the lips of the helmeted Hector,
Under his breath he murmured a few familiar quotations,
Scraps of Phrygian folk-lore about the kingdom of Hades;
Then he called loud as a trumpet, "I claim foul, Mr. Umpire!"
"Touch-down for Greece," said Hector; "'twixt you and me and the
goal-post
I lost sight of the ball in a very singular manner."

Then they carried the sphere back to the twenty-five yard line,
Prone on the ground lay a Greek, the leather was poised in his
fingers -
Thrice Agamemnon adjusted the sphere with deliberation;
Then he drew back as a ram draws back for deadly encounter.


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