Toasts and Forms of Public Address

92. TOO PREMATURE

[Anything rather premature may be illustrated by the following:]

A spring bird that had taken time by the forelock flew across the lawn near this city one day last week. His probable fate is best described in this pathetic verse, author unknown:

“The first bird of spring Essayed for to sing; But ere he had uttered a note He fell from the limb, A dead bird was him, The music had friz in his throat.”

93. A BEWILDERED IRISHMAN

The poet Shelley tells an amusing story of the influence that language “hard to be understood” exercises on the vulgar mind. Walking near Covent Garden, London, he accidentally jostled against an Irish navvy, who, being in a quarrelsome mood, seemed inclined to attack the poet. A crowd of ragged sympathizers began to gather, when Shelley, calmly facing them, deliberately pronounced:

“I have put my hand into the hamper, I have looked on the sacred barley, I have eaten out of the drum. I have drunk and am well pleased. I have said, ‘Knox Ompax,’ and it is finished.”

The effect was magical, the astonished Irishman fell back; his friends began to question him. “What barley?” “Where’s the hamper?” “What have you been drinking?” and Shelley walked away unmolested.

94. OBEYING ORDERS

When General Sickles, after the second battle of Bull Run, assumed command of a division of the Army of the Potomac, he gave an elaborate farewell dinner to the officers of his old Excelsior Brigade.

“Now, boys, we will have a family gathering,” he said to them, as they assembled in his quarters. Pointing to the table, he continued: “Treat it as you would the enemy.”

As the feast ended, an Irish officer was discovered by Sickles in the act of stowing away three bottles of champagne in his saddle-bags.

“What are you doing, sir,” gasped the astonished General.

“Obeying orders, sir,” replied the captain, in a firm voice: “You told us to treat the dinner as we would the enemy, and you know, General, what we can’t kill we capture.”

95. A SPEECH FROM THE REAR PLATFORM

An Irish street-car conductor called out shrilly to the passengers standing in the aisle:

“Will thim in front plaze to move up, so that thim behind can take the places of thim in front, an’ lave room for thim who are nayther in front nor behind?”

96. A WAY OUT OF IT

“What’s the matter with you,” asked a gentleman of a friend whom he met. “You looked puzzled and worried.”

“I am,” said the friend. “Maybe you can help me out”

“Well, what is it?”

“I am subject at intervals,” said the friend, “to the wildest craving for beefsteak and onions. It has all the characteristics of a confirmed drunkard’s craving for rum. This desire came upon me a few minutes ago, and I determined to gratify it. Then suddenly I remembered that I had promised to call this evening on some ladies, and I must keep that promise. Yet my stomach is shouting for beefsteak and onions, and I am wavering between duty and appetite.”

“Can’t you wait until after the call?” asked the gentleman, solicitously.

“Never,” said the friend, earnestly.

“Can’t you postpone the call?”

“Impossible,” declared the friend.

“Well,” said the gentleman, “I’ll tell you what to do: go to John Chamberlin’s café; order your beefsteak and onions, and eat them. When you get your bill it will be so big that it will _quite take your breath away_.”

97. THE EXTENT OF SCIENCE

“And now,” said the learned lecturer on geology who had addressed a small but deeply attentive audience at the village hall, “I have tried to make these problems, abstruse as they may appear, and involving in their solution the best thoughts, the closest analysis, and the most profound investigations of our noblest scientific men for many years; I have tried, I say, to make them seem comparatively simple and easily understood, in the light of modern knowledge. Before I close this lecture I shall be glad to answer any questions that may occur to you as to points that appear to need clearing up or that may have been overlooked.”

There was a silence of a few moments, and then an anxious-looking man in the rear of the hall rose up.

“I would take it as a favor,” he said, “if you could tell me whether science has produced as yet any reliable and certain cure for warts.”

98. WHAT’S IN A NAME?

One of the managers of a home for destitute colored children tells a funny story about the institution. She went out there to see how things were getting along, and found a youngster as black as the inside of a coal mine tied to a bed-post, with his hands behind him.

“What is that boy tied up there for?” she demanded of the attendant.

“For lying, ma’am. He is the worstist, lyingest nigger I ever seen.”

“What’s his name?

“George Washington, ma’am,” was the paralyzing reply.