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PUNS, PROVERBS, EPIGRAMS.

179

Franklin to his associates upon signing the Declaration of Independence. He says, as literally translated from the French, "When they began to sign, one of those who were about to affix their names turned to Franklin and said: 'Well, with this the English Government can have us all hung together!' 'Why,' said Franklin, 'we can be hung separately.'".

There is neither wit nor sense in the above, show ing that Laboulaye did not understand the pun. What Franklin did actually say was characteristically witty. Hancock of Massachusetts remarked: "We must be unanimous; there must be no pulling different ways; we must all hang together." "Yes," replied Franklin, "we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." The two meanings of hang are now very clear, and both the wit and the logic of the philosopher's remark are very evident.

96. Connected with Proverbs and Epigrams.-Many proverbs owe their force principally to this kind of wit. The following familiar versification of a common proverb by Dr. Doddridge illustrates this fact:

"Live while you live,' the epicure would say,
And seize the pleasures of the present day:
'Live while you live,' the sacred preacher cries,
And give to God each moment as it flies:
Lord, in my view let both united be:
I live to pleasure when I live to thee."

CHAPTER XIV.

WIT-Continued.

97. Wit in Thought.-WIT of the highest kind is exhibited without any play upon words, but by presenting incongruous and yet fantastically arranged thoughts.

98. Travesty.-Travesty, one species of witty productions, consists in representing something as much more valuable than it really is, and thus ironically ridiculing it.

"As Berecynthia, while her offspring vie
In homage to the mother of the sky,

Surveys around her in the blest abode

A hundred sons, and every son a god;

Not with less glory mighty Dullness crowned,

Shall take through Grub Street her accustomed round,
And her Parnassus, glancing o'er at once,

Behold her hundred sons, and each a dunce."

Travesty is generally secured by debasing comparisons, though they may not be formally made.

99. Parody.—It is also presented sometimes in Parody, which is a composition similar in sound to another, and yet conveying an entirely different meaning. Parodies are not necessarily witty, though they generally are ludicrous on account of the associations connected with the production parodied.

PARODIES, BURLESQUES.

181

Thus a writer, enumerating "the miseries of life," describes one as follows: "To climb into a berth in a river steam-boat knowing that, sleepy as you are, you may look forward to listening to the tramping of that crazy race on deck over your head, who look at views, within an inch or two of your nose, for the rest of the moonlight night.

"He thought, as he hollowed his narrow bed,

And punched up his meagre pillow,

How the foe and the stranger should tread o'er his head,
As he sped on his way o'er the billow.""

This verse is a parody on a stanza in that beautiful poem written on the burial of Sir John Moore:

"We thought, as we hallowed his narrow bed,

And smoothed down his lowly pillow,

That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
And we, far away o'er the billow."

100. Burlesque.-Burlesque consists in using highsounding epithets and an apparently dignified style to describe unworthy objects. Burlesque translations of the Iliad of Homer, and other celebrated compositions, have been written often with a purpose to ridicule some men or measures.

Burke, speaking of the revolutionists of his time, who made a great noise and effected but little, said:

"Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, while thousands of great cattle repose in the shade and are silent, pray do not suppose that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; or that, after all, they are other than the little meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the hour."

The writings of Pope present many instances of the burlesque, as the following:

"Then flashed the lurid lightning from her eyes,
And screams of horror rend the affrighted skies;
Not louder shrieks to pitying Heaven are cast

When husbands and when lapdogs breathe their last." 101. Resources of Wit.-Wit uses irony, caricature, hyperbole, and extravagance of every kind.

As a specimen of extravagance, take the following description of a Yankee written by an American poet:

"He would kiss a queen till he'd raise a blister,

With his arm round her neck and his old felt hat on;

Salute a king with the title of mister,

And ask him the price of the throne he sat on."

The wit of the following is very evident: Voltaire once praised a celebrated author to a third person. "It is very strange," was the reply, "that you think so well of him, for he says you are a charlatan." "Ah!" replied Voltaire; "perhaps we are both mistaken !"

102. Humor.-Humor is a mild and quiet kind of wit, associated with good-temper, and designed to convey thought in an agreeable way. A humorous writer often enlivens his descriptions with a joke, or a strange association of ideas. Sometimes the whole subject is presented in a ludicrous manner. Its nature can only be appreciated by reading the productions of such writers as Addison, Sydney Smith, Lamb, Hood, Irving and Holmes.

103. Sarcasm.-Sarcasm is wit that also expresses contempt and scorn.

104. Satires.-Satires are productions in which follies and vices are ridiculed, sometimes humorously and with good-nature, sometimes severely and indig

WIT THAT DOES NOT TEND TO LAUGHTER. 183

nantly, often employing the bitterest sarcasm. Since the days of Horace, Juvenal, and Persius, this has been a common form of writing. Satires may be written in poetry or prose, and satirical passages are met in orations, sermons, essays, reviews, and even historical writings.

105. Wit that does not tend to awaken Laughter.Wit is often properly used to increase an interest in the subject treated, and to ridicule error, by showing its absurd consequences, and by ludicrous analogies and comparisons, and there is much wit that does not tend to produce laughter. The following illustrates this kind of wit.

The eloquent preacher Summerfield, in an address, said:

"A boasting infidel once wrote, in closing an assault upon the Bible: 'I have gone through the Bible as a man would go through the woods felling trees; here they lie, and the priests, if they can, may replant them. They may stick them in the ground, but they will never grow.' 'Sir'[said Summerfield], 'the priests are not such fools as to suppose that sticking the dissevered limbs of a tree into the ground will make them grow, although we have inspired authority for saying, There is hope of a tree, even if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branches thereof shall not cease. But, sir, did he cut down all the trees? No, sir. There was one tree that he never touched; and I would to God that he had touched it, for it would have given a new and nobler impulse to all his efforts. I mean the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the garden.'"

None can fail to feel the power of the wit in the above, but few would feel moved to laughter by it. A grateful and happy surprise is the emotion awakened by such wit.

In the use of this kind of wit Lord Bacon excelled.

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