56. A FAST-DAY TOAST
On one of the fast-days–a cold, bleak one, too–Father Foley, a popular and genial priest, on his way from a distant visitation, dropped in to see Widow O’Brien, who was as jolly as himself, and equally as fond of the creature comforts, and, what is better, well able to provide them. As it was about dinner-time, his reverence thought he would stay and have a “morsel” with the old dame; but what was his horror to see served up in good style a pair of splendid roast ducks!
“Oh! musha, Mistress O’Brien, what have ye there?” he exclaimed, in well-feigned surprise.
“Ducks, yer riverence.”
“Ducks! roast ducks! and this a fast-day of the holy Church!”
“Wisha! I never thought of that; but why can’t we eat a bit of duck, yer riverence?”
“Why? Because the Council of Trint won’t lave us–that’s why.”
“Well, well, now, but I’m sorry fur that, fur I can only give ye a bite of bread and cheese and a glass of something hot. Would that be any harrum, sir?”
“Harrum! by no manes, woman. Sure we must live any way, and bread and cheese is not forbid!”
“Nayther whiskey punch?”
“Well, thin, yer riverence, would it be any harrum fur me to give a toast?”
“By no manes, Mrs. O’Brien. Toast away as much as ye like, bedad!”
“Well, thin, _here’s to the Council of Trint, fur if it keeps us from atin’, it doesn’t keep us from drinkin’_!”
57. THE SUN STANDING STILL
James Russell Lowell, when concluding an after-dinner speech in England, made a happy hit by introducing the story of a Methodist preacher at a camp-meeting, of whom he had heard when he was young. He was preaching on Joshua ordering the sun to stand still: “My hearers,” he said, “there are three motions of the sun; the first is the straightforward or direct motion of the sun, the second is the retrograde or backward motion of the sun, and the third is the motion mentioned in our text–‘the sun stood still.’ Now, gentlemen, I do not know whether you see the application of that story to after-dinner oratory. I hope you do. The after-dinner orator at first begins and goes straight forward–that is the straightforward motion of the sun; next he goes back and begins to repeat himself a little, and that is the retrograde or backward motion of the sun; and at last he has the good sense to bring himself to an end, and that is the motion mentioned in our text of the sun standing still.”
58. NEUTRALIZING POISON
Col. John H. George, a New Hampshire barrister, tells a good story on himself. Meeting an old farmer recently whom he had known in his youth, the old fellow congratulated the Colonel on his youthful appearance.
“How is it you’ve managed to keep so fresh and good-looking all these years?” quoth he.
“Well,” said George, “I’ll tell you. I’ve always drank new rum and voted the Democratic ticket.”
“Oh! yes,” said the old man, “_I see how it is; one pizen neutralizes the other!_”
59. GENERAL BUTLER AND THE SPOONS
While General Butler was delivering a speech in Boston during an exciting political campaign, one of his hearers cried out: “How about the spoons, Ben?” Benjamin’s good eye twinkled merrily as he looked bashfully at the audience, and said: “Now, don’t mention that, please. _I was a Republican when I stole those spoons._”
60. MAKING MOST OF ONE’S CAPITAL
[One should always make the most of his capital, as this orator did.]
“Fellow-citizens, my competitor has told you of the services he rendered in the late war. I will follow his example, and I shall tell you of mine. He basely insinuates that I was deaf to the voice of honor in that crisis. The truth is, I acted a humble part in that memorable contest. When the tocsin of war summoned the chivalry of the country to rally to the defense of the nation, I, fellow-citizens, animated by that patriotic spirit that glows in every American’s bosom, hired a substitute for that war, and the bones of that man, fellow-citizens, now lie bleaching in the valley of the Shenandoah!”
61. MEETING HALF-WAY
[But the following man could get even more out of an unpromising situation.]
“Now, I want to know,” said a man whose veracity had been questioned by an angry acquaintance, “just why you call me a liar. Be frank, sir; for frankness is a golden-trimmed virtue. Just as a friend, now, tell me why you called me a liar.”
“Called you a liar because you are a liar,” the acquaintance replied.
“That’s what I call frankness. Why, sir, if this rule were adopted over half of the difficulties would be settled without trouble, and in our case there would have been trouble but for our willingness to meet each other half-way.”
62. UNFORTUNATE MISTAKE
Judge —-, who is now a very able Judge of the Supreme Court of one of the great States of this Union, when he first “came to the bar,” was a very blundering speaker. On one occasion, when he was trying a case of replevin, involving the right of property to a lot of hogs, he addressed the jury as follows:
“Gentlemen of the jury, there were just twenty-four hogs in that drove–just twenty-four, gentlemen–_exactly twice as many as there are in that jury-box_!” The effect can be imagined.