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answer to a soldier inquiring his fate in the war for which he was about to embark. “ Ibis, redibis. Nunquam in bello peribis.” The warrior set off in high spirits upon the faith of this prediction, and fell in the first engagement, when his widow had the satisfaction of being informed that he should have put the full stop after the word " nunquam,” which would probably have put a full stop to his enterprise and saved his life. More commonly, however, they betook themselves to a positive pun, the double construction of which enabled them to be always right: sometimes playing upon a single word, and sometimes upon the whole clause of a sentence. When Cræsus, about to make war upon Cyrus, consulted the Delphian priestess, he was told that in crossing the river Halys he would overturn a great empire—which could hardly fail to be true; for, if he succeeded, he would subvert the Assyrian kingdom; if he failed, his own would be overwhelmed. Pyrrhus received a similar response as to the fate of his expedition against the Romans. “Credo equidem Æacidas Romanos vincere posse," which might import either that the Æacides from whom Pyrrhus was descended, would conquer the Romans, or precisely the reverse : such are the advantages of a double accusative.
Christianity, by superseding these Oracles, did not, most fortunately, extinguish quibbling, for which we have the authority of one of the earliest Popes. Some Pagan English youths of extraordinary beauty being presented to him, he exclaimed, « Non Angli, sed Angeli forent si essent Christiani.”
Heraldic bearings are supposed to have been invented to distinguish the different nations, armies, and clans that were congregated together in the Crusades; and the mottos assumed upon this occasion, if we may judge by those of England, bore almost universally some punning allusion to the name or device of the chief. The similar epigraphs still retained by the Vernon, Fortescue, and Cavendish families, as well as by numerous others, may be viewed as so many venerable testimonies to the antiquity of punning in this our happy island.
There is not one of our sterling old English writers from whom we might not glean some specimen of this noble art; which seems to have attained its golden age in that Augustan æra of our literature—the reign of our renowned Queen Elizabeth, when clergymen punned in the pulpit, judges upon the bench, and criminals in their last dying speeches. Then was it that the deer-stealing attorney's clerk fled from Stratford, and introducing whole scenes of punning into his immortal plays, eliciting quibbles not less affluently from the mouths of fools and porters, than from the dread lips of the weird sisters, who palter with us in a double sense,” established upon an imperishable basis the glory of his favourite science of Paronomasia ;-a glory irradiating and reflected by the whole galaxy of dramatic talent with which he was surrounded.
Succeeding writers, though they have never equalled this splendour of quibble, have not failed to deposit occasional offerings upon the altar of Janus, the god of puns. Dryden pretended to be angry, when being in a coffee-house with his back towards Rowe, one of his friends said to him, “ You are like a waterman; you look one way, and Rowe another;" but, though unwilling to be the object of a pun, he had no compunction in being the author of many, for the support of which assertion the reader may consult his dramatic works. Addison's opinion of
this laugh-provoking practice may be collected from the 440th number of the Spectator, wherein he describes a society who had established among themselves an infirmary for the cure of all defects of temper and infractions of good manners. “ After dinner a very honest fellow chancing to let a pun fall from him, his neighbour cried out, .To the infirmary!' at the same time pretending to be sick at it, as having the same natural antipathy to a pun which some have to a cat. duced a long debate. Upon the whole, the punster was acquitted, and his neighbour sent off.”—Pope's authority we have already cited. Gay was probably the author of the play upon his own name, when he observed that the great success of his Beggar's Opera, whilst Rich was proprietor of the theatre, had made Gay rich, and Rich gay. But what shall we say of Swift, the punster's Vade-mecum, the Hierarch, the Pontifex, the Magnus Apollo of the tribe; the Alpha and Omega, the first and last of the professors of equivocation; whose mind was an ever-springing fountain of quiddets, and the thread of whose life was an unbroken string of puns from his first to his second childhood ? Impossible as it is to do justice to the memory of so great a man, I feel the eulogomania swelling within me; and that I may effectually check Its yearnings, I leap athwart a measureless hiatus, and revert to that lugubrious, somnolent, single-sensed, and no-witted Anti-punster, whom I apostrophised in the outset.
And now, thou word-measurer, thou line-and-rule mechanic, thou reasoning but not ruminating animal, now that I have produced these authorities, limited to a narrow list from the want of room, not of materials, wilt thou have the ridiculous arrogance to affect contempt for a pun? That genuine wit which thou pretendest to worship, (as the Athenians built an altar to the unknown Deity,) has been defined to be an assimilation of distant ideas; and what is a pun but an eliciter of remote meanings ? which, though they may not always amount to a definite idea, are at all events the materials of one, and therefore ingredients in the composition of real wit. These Protean combinations are the stimulants of fancy, the titillators of the imagination, the awakeners of the risible faculties; and to condemn them because the same happy results may be produced by a more rare and difficult process, is either an exemplification of the fox and the sour grapes, or the pride of mental luxury, which would quarrel with all gratifications that are cheap and accessible. The sterling commodity is scarce-let us prize it the more when we encounter it; but in the mean time let us not reject a good substitute when it is presented. Gooseberry wine is no very lofty succedaneum for sparkling Champagne, but it is better than fasting. Some may not like the flavour of the beverage, but none would think of abusing the caterer who puts upon the table the best liquor that his cellar affords. These sullen stupidities are reserved for an Anti-punster.
SPORTING WITHOUT A LICENCE.
THERE'S a charm when Spring is young,
And comes laughing on the breeze,
That is lisping in the trees,
With chime of beaks is ringing,
And listen to their singing, The sportsman finds a zest,
Which all others can outvie, With his lightning to arrest
Pheasants whirring through the sky;
Till purple evening hovers,
The happiest ofrovers.
Through the horn-resounding woods,
Into intercepting floods ;
The vaulting stag to follow,
To give the hoop and hollo !
With the reeds and rushes mix'd,
See the patient angler fix'd,
Without fatigue or sorrow,
He comes again to-morrow.
'Tis to me a glorious sight, Which no fire of mine shall change
Into grovelling blood and night;
Behind a stag that's flying,
On grass to watch its dying.
Can a sweeter pastime ply, Or enjoy the rural scene,
With more ecstasy than I;
In earth, or air, or ocean,
My bosom with emotion.
O fountains, fields, and groves ! Sights, sounds, and odours rare,
Which my yearning spirit loves,
From visions so enchanting,
What charm of life is wanting?
H. GRIMM'S GHOST.
Uncle and Nephew. Every one who is conversant with Richmond and its environs (and what man, since the Diana steam-vessel first started from Queenhithe to Eel-pie Island, can plead ignorance?) must know that passengers are conveyed across the Thames, from Ham to Twickenham, by a ferry-boat : that there is a footpath through a field which leads from the river to Ham :•and that, to attain that footpath, it is necessary to cross a stile. Upon this stilé, one fine afternoon in July last, sat, astride, Mr. Robert Robertson and his nephew Tom Osborne, awaiting the return of Platt the ferryman, that they might solace themselves with a view of the tombs in Twickenham church-yard. “ Tom,” said the uncle to the nephew, “ I have long wished to give you something." The eyes of the nephew brightened; he mechanically took off his kidskin glove, and protruded his right hand. “I mean, some little advice.” Tom replaced the glove upon his hand, with a look that seemed to say 66 The less the better." 56 I take," continued Mr. Robert Robertson,
an avuncular interest in all that concerns you; and I cannot but enter my protest against the grotesque garb in which you have enveloped your person. Dress, nephew, was originally intended to guard us against the inclemencies of the weather: but, in your case, I am sorry to say that it deviates into downright ornament. But, lest you should think that I am inclined to too sweeping a censure- spargere voces ambiguas'-(I hope you keep up your Latin) I will, with your permission, analyse your apparel from head to footab ovo usque ad mala.' The latter quotation is from Horace. To begin, then, with your hat: I am sorry to find it white: Sir Barnaby Botolph, the Blackwell-hall factor in Čateaton-street, has a very sage apophthegm upon that head,
Shew me a man with a white hat, and I'll shew you a fool.' Now, 1 should be sorry, nephew, to stultify you without a hearing, (stultify is a legal verb much in favour with the late Lord Ellenborough): so, prithee tax that bulbous excrescence, (the expression occurs in George Alexander Stevens, that fills up the hollow of the article that I am criticising, and tell me whether you mean to suffer judgment to go by default, or to plead the general issue with a justification.” “I plead a justification,” said Tom, briskly. “Good, answered the professional Mr. Robertson ; “ bold, too, but hazardous. In what does your justification consist ?” “Your example.” “Mine !” “ Yes, uncle, yours. My aunt Sally has a picture of you painted by Hoppner thirty years ago. It exhibits you patiing a favourite filly. The scene is a stable: you wear your hat, and that hat has a crown like Mother Shipton's, surrounded by three silk bands with a rosette to each. Just like the smooth-complexioned clergyman's that one so often meets in Saint Paul's Church-yard.” “I wonder your aunt Sally keeps that absurd picture,” said Mr. Robertson; “but, at all events, the hat is a black one ; you have therefore failed in your justification. And, now, nephew, to continue my analysis. The next article to which I am anxious to draw your attention is your cravat. In the good old times a cambric stock, with a Bristol-stone buckle behind, was universally worn. The full-length engraved portrait of General Washington will Your coat,
shew you what I mean. I would not captiously confine you to that : no, a white muslin cravat, like that which I now wear, may well be worn by you. But Waterloo-blue silk appears to me to be altogether inadmissible. An eye of heavenly blue is a pretty adjunct to a pretty woman; but a cravat of that hue is no necessary appendage to a lordling of the creation. I call you lordling, nephew, because you have barely attained sixteen : you cannot take up your patent of peerage to dub yourself a lord of that orbit, until you have attained twenty-one. I suspect you will hardly be bold enough to plead a justification to my second count." 6 Indeed, uncle, but I shall," retorted Mr. Thomas Osborne. “My uncle Charles's dressing-room, you know, is hung round with caricatures.” “Well.” “Well, uncle, one of them is a portrait of you, drawn by Rawlinson just thirty years ago. It shews you with a thing round your neck more like a poultice than a cravat, with two ends hanging down to your middle like Mr. Endless, the lawyer, in No Song Do Supper,' and underneath it is printed
“ My name 's Tippy Bob,
With a watch in each 'fob.” * Tippy Devil!" petulantly exclaimed Mr. Robert Robertson ; “ Raw. linson was a libeller: an etcher of extremes : a painter of pasquinades : your uncle Charles might be better employed than in gibbeting his relations after that fashion.-But to resume the subject of our discourse. We will now, Tom, diverge a little downward. Master Osborne, is absolutely bobtailed. Were you spurred for a setto at the Royal Cockpit, you would be docked in character. Then its collar: what a preposterous length! It hangs down from either shoulder, like Doctor Longsermon's black-silk scarf.” “Nay, now, upon your third count,-my coat, uncle, I justify most valiantly,” retorted the stripling : “ I don't stand up for its positive propriety ; but I do for its comparative." “ Comparative with what ?' 66 With one of yours, uncle, which you wore about thirty years ago. Last night I overheard Mrs. Thislewood tell Captain Paterson that she accompanied you, in the year 1792, to Ranelagh; she said that you made your previous appearance in her drawing-room (I quote her very words), in a salmon-coloured coat with a light-blue velvet collar and cuffs : that she was sitting behind the screen, which made you think that you were alone in the room; and that under that impression, and, as she states it, dreaming of future glories in the Chelsea Rotunda, you walked up to the looking-glass, and, after surveying yourself for a half a minute, exclaimed Well, Bob, if they stand this, they 'll stand any thing !'" 6 Mrs. Thislewood is a lying old coquette,” exclaimed Mr. Robert Robertson; “ I make it a rule never to insinuate any thing to the prejudice of any body's character; otherwise I could tell something that happened to her about thirty yeas ago, which the public would not hold to be barred by the statute of limitations.—But to proceed. The mention of coat, nephew, naturally leads the mind to waistcoat-yours, I see, is striped. Mr. Polito might doubt whether you were an ass or a zebra; but we will pass that by: it is wondrous short: and de minimis non curat lex. Pray keep up your Latin. I never should have prospered if I had lost mine. -Proceed we, therefore, to your trowsers. They too, I see, are striped. To stripes in that part your inattention to your Latin may authorize you to lay some claim. But,