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Cresci, and eventually at that of St. Just, in Florence. He died in 1483, having gained for himself a reputation for wit and humour which not only spread throughout the whole of Italy during his life-time, but which has endured even to our days. Crescembini, who, like Quadrio, enumerates him among the poets of Italy on the strength of the occasional verses introduced into his stories, tells us that he caused his monument to be erected during his life-time, and the following characteristic inscription to be engraved upon it: — ‘Questa sepoltura ha fatto fare el Piovano Arlotto per se, e per tutte quelle persone, le quali dentro vi volessero entrare.” “Piovano Arlotto caused this tomb to be made for himself, and for everybody else who should wish to enter it.” His facetiae, which are reckoned among the best and most agreeable to be found in the literature of Italy, having been formed in the best days of Florentine taste, were not, however, collected by himself, as some writers have supposed. The earliest edition is one in quarto, published at Florence without date; that in octavo, published at Venice in 1520, being the next. The following tale may serve as a specimen of Arlotto's shrewd and pleasant wit. It happened after a long drought that a plenteous rain occurred while Arlotto and a number of his boon companions were seated at table. All the party immediately began to vie one with another in praise of this well-timed shower, which they declared to be of such value as to be beyond all price. “That is all very true,” quoth Arlotto, “it is indeed a delightful rain; yet I do not see that any of you make the o use of it. You have praised the rain, but not a drop have you mixed with your wine.” The party laughed, and continued as before to drink their good wine without any intermixture of this invaluable rain. By-and-bye a supper of partridges and sausages was laid before the party: Arlotto tasted the sausages, and praised them most exceedingly, whereupon the whole party fell to eating them, with the exception of Arlotto, who contented himself with the choicest pickings of the partridges. Presently, the sausages being finished, the company would needs try the birds; but they found that all the best parts of them were already eaten. “Why, how is this, Arlotto ?” cried they, “you, who so praised the sausages, have eaten nothing but partridges.” “Why,”
said he, “I have but followed your example; ou praised the water, and drank wine. It is true, the sausages were excellent; but, then, the partridges were still better!" But it is time that we should say a word of the jesters and jest-books of merry Eng. land, and more especially of the world-renowned Joe Miller. But, as the rule initiamus ab initio, which is good in all cases, is especially so in the present one, we will first devote a few words to the predecessors of this well-known wit. For predecessors he had in abundance. “Vixerunt fortes ante Agamemnona multi.” “There were good jest-books before Joe Miller,” and some of them excessively rich and humorous. From one of the earliest of these, entitled “Jests to make you . Merrie,” supposed to have been collected by the well-known Thomas Dekker, the dramatist and author of that curious satire, “The Gull's Hornbook,” we extract the following definition of what a jest is : “A jest is the bubbling up of wit. It is a bavin, which being wel kindled, maintains for a short time the heate of laughter. It is a weapon wherewith a fool does oftentimes fight, and a wise man defends himself by. It is the food of good company if it be seasoned with judgment; but, if with too much tartness, it is hardly digested, but it turne to quarrel. A jest is tried as powder is, the most sudden is the best. It is a merrie gentleman, and hath a brother so like him that many take them for twinnes; for the one is a jest spoken, and the other is a jest done. Stay but the reading of this book some halfe an houre, and you shall be brought acquainted with both.” The latter remark applies to most of the jest-books, for they record almost as many practical jokes as witty replies. This is perhaps more particularly the case with such as are devoted to the merriments of one particular joker. The merry-conceited jests of George Peele being in fact but a series of shifts and contrivances, whereby Master George, who appears to have lived by his wits, employed the wit which nature had blest him with to provide for himself as well as he could at the expense of his neighbours. Take as a sample the following story, entitled, “How George Peele served half a score citizens.” “George once had invited half a score of his friends to a great supper, where they were passing merry, no cheer wanting, wine enough, music playing. The
night growing on, and, being upon departure, they call for a reckoning. George swears there is not a penny for them to pay. They being men of good fashion, by no means will yield unto it; but every man throws down his money, some ten shillings, some five, some more; protesting something they will pay. “Well, quoth George, taking up all the money, ‘seeing you will be so wilful, you shall see what follows.' . So he commands the music to play; and, while they were skipping and dancing, George got his cloak, sends up two pottles of hypocrase, and leaves them and the reckoning to pay. They, wondering at the stay of George, meant to be gone, but they were staid by the way, and, before they went, forced to pay the reckoning anew. him; he cared not whom he deceived, so he profited himself for the present.” The following story, taken from “Scoggin's Jests,” a very popular collection of the merry adventures of one, whom Bale calls “Alter Democritus,” and which collection is said to have been formed by the wellknown Dr. Andrew Borde, author of the “Merry Tales of the Mad Men of Gotham,” may serve as a sample of the wit which is said to have rendered Master Scoggin the favourite of the court of Edward the Fourth. It tells us—“How Scoggin made the country people offer their money to a dead man's i. “Upon a time when Scoggin lacked maintenance, and had gotten the displeasure of his former acquaintance by reason of his crafty dealing and unhappy tricks, he bethought himself in what manner he might get "...o. a little labour; so, traveling up into Normandy, he got him a priest's gown, and clothed himself, like a scholar, and after, went into a certain church-yard, where he found the skull of a dead man's head; the which he took up, and made very clean, and after bore it to a goldsmith, and hired him to set it in a stud of silver; which being done, he departed to a village thereby, and came to the parson of the church and saluted him, and then told him that he had a relic, and desired him that he would do so much for him as to shew it unto the parish that they may offer to it; and, withal, promised the parson that he should have one-half of the offerings. The parson, moved with covetousness, granted his re
quest; and so, upon the Sunday following, and which collection has gained such wi
This shewed a mind in
the town that had brought with him a precious relic ; and he that should offer thereunto should have a general pardon for all his forepassed sins, and that the scholar was there present himself to show it them. With that Scoggin went up into the pulpit, and showed them the relic that he had, and said to them that the head spake to him, and that it bade him that he should build a church over him, and that the money that the church should be builded withal should be well-gotten. But, when the people came to offer to it, Scoggin said unto them—‘All you women that have made your husbands cuckolds I pray you sit still, and come not to offer, for the head bade me that I should not receive your offerings; ” whereupon the poor men and their wives came thick and threefold to this offering, and there was not a woman but she offered liberally, because that he had said so, and gave them the blessing with the head. And there were some that had no money that offered their rings, and some of them that offered twice or thrice, because they would be seen. Thus received he the offerings both of the good and the bad, and by this practice got a great sum of money.” We must pass over Pasquil's Jests, and the Pleasant Conceits of Old Hobson, not, gentle reader, the celebrated Cambridge carrier, but William Hobson, the merry Londoner—over Democritus Junior, stooping by the way to pick up the following specimen : “One said he sung as well as most men in Europe, and thus he proved it: the most men in Europe do not sing well; therefore I sing as well as most men in Europe.” We can here say nothing of the Life and Death of the Merry Devil of Edmonton, of Tarlton's Jests, or Skelton's, but what has been said before by a rival collector:
“Pasquil's conceits are poor, and Scoggin's drie; Skelton's mere rime, once read, but now laid
by ; Peele's jests are old, and Tarlton's are grown stale,”
for we must devote the remainder of the article to those of the oft-quoted Joe Miller, collected by the well-known author of the “Life of Peter the Great,” John *. ;
told his parishioners, thereof, saying that spread celebrity—such an undying reputa. there was a certain religious scholar come to 'tion, as to establish Shakspeare's claims to
It has been said that Mottley entitled this well-known jest book, “Joe Miller's Jests,” upon the “lucus a non lucendo” principle; that is to say, because the worthy and humorous actor who stood godfather to the volume, was the very last man in the world to think of cracking a joke.
That this opinion is erroneous may readily be shown by one of the first anecdotes told in the book, and which we shall here quote because the book though much talked of, is very little known.
“Joe Miller sitting in the window at the Sun Tavern in Clare-street, while a fishwoman was passing by, crying, “Buy my soles l buy my maids !” “Ah, you wicked old creature,” said Joe, “are you not contented to sell your own soul, but you must sell your maid's too.”
The fact is, however, that Joseph Miller was not only a very clever actor, and a great favorite for the talents which he dis. Fo as a low comedian, but was admired and esteemed by his companions for his humour and social qualities. He was born in the year 1684, it is supposed, in London, or its immediate neighbourhood; and his clever personation of some of the characters in Congreve's plays is said to have contributed very materially to their popularity. In these he performed Sir Joseph Wittol, in the “Old Bachelor;” and Ben in “Love for Love." Teague in the “Committee," was another of his favourite characters.
Joseph Miller died in 1738, and was buried on the east side of the burial-ground of St. Clement Danes, in Portugal-street, Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, the spot where he lies being marked by a stone bearing the following honourable testimony to his virtues and his wit:
“Here lye the Remains OF Honest Joe MILLER; who was a Tender Husband, a Sincere Friend, a Facetious Companion, and an excellent Comedian. He Departed this Life the 15th Aug. 1738, Aged 54.
“If Humour, Wit, and Honesty could save
The Hum’rous, Witty, Honest from the Grave, The Grave had not so soon this Tenant found, Whom Honesty,and Wit,and Humour crowned.
“Or could Esteem and Love preserve our
“Joe Miller's Jests" were compiled by Mottley when almost bedridden, in the intervals between violent paroxysms of the gout, and were first published in 1739. Three editions of the work appeared during that year; a copy of the first was recently valued at ten guineas; and one of the second edition, with manuscript additions, sold in Bindley's sale for 111.5s. In the year 1800 James Bannatine published a new and more complete edition of the work, under the title of “Old Joe Miller; being a complete and correct copy from the best edition of his celebrated jests, and also including all the good things in above fifty jest-books published from the year 1551 to the present time.” We believe another edition has lately been published.
WILLIAM J. Thoms, b. 1803.
JOE MILLER'S JEST.S.
1. THE Duke of A–ll, who says more good Things than any Body, being behind the Scenes the First Night of the Beggar's Opera, and meeting Cibber, there, well Colley, said he, how d'you like the Beggar's Opera f Why it makes one laugh, my Lord, answer'd he, on the Stage; but how will it do in print. O! very well, I'll answer for it, said the Duke, if you don't write a Preface to it. 2. There being a very great Disturbance one Evening at Drury-Lane Play-House, Mr. Wilks, coming upon the Stage to say something to pacify the Audience, had an Orange thrown full at him, which he having took up, making a low Bow, this is no Civil Orange, I think, said he. + + * + + + + 4. Joe Miller sitting one Day in the Window at the Sun-Tavern in Clare Street a Fish Woman and her Maid passing by, the Woman cry’d, Buy my Soals; buy my Maids: Ah, you wicked old Creature, cry’d honest Joe, What are you not content to sell your own Soul, but you must sell your Maid's too 7 5. When the Duke of Ormond was young, and came first to Court, he happen'd to stand next my Lady Dorchester, one Evening in the Drawing-Room, who being but little upon the Reserve on most Occasions, in moving her chair made an uncouth noise, upon which he look'd her full in the Face and laugh'd. What's the Matter, my Lord, said she Oh! I heard it Madam, reply'd the Duke; you'll make a fine Courtier indeed, said she, if you mind every Thing you hear in this Place. 6. A poor Man, who had a termagant Wife, after a long Dispute, in which she was resolved to have the last Word, told her, if she spoke one more crooked Word he'd beat her Brains out: Why then Ram's Horns, you Rogue, said she, if I die for’t. + + + + + + +
8. An Hackney-Coachman, who was just set up, had heard that the Lawyers used to club their Three-Pence, a-piece, four of them, to go to Westminster, and being call'd by a Lawyer at Temple-Bar, who, with two others in their Gowns, got into his Coach, he was bid to drive to Westminster-Hall; but the Coachman still holding his Door epon, as if he waited for more Company;
one of the Gentlemen asked him, why he did not shut the Door and go on, the Fellow, scratching his Head, cry’d, you know, Master, my Fare's a Shilling, I can't go for Nine-Pence. 9. Two Free-thinking Authors, proposed to a Bookseller, that was a little decayed in the World, that if he would print their Works they would set him up, and indeed they were as good as their Word, for in six Weeks' Time he was in the Pillory. 10. A Gentleman was saying one Day at the Tilt-Yard Coffee-House, when it rained exceeding hard, that it put him in Mind of the General Deluge; Zoons, Sir, said an old Campaigner, who stood by, who's that? I have heard of all the Generals in Europe but him. 11. A certain Poet and Player, remarkable for his Impudence and Cowardice, happening many Years ago to have a Quarrel with Mr. Powel, another player, received from him a smart Box of the Ear; a few Days after the Poetical Player having lost his Snuff-Box, and making strict Enquiry if any Body had seen his Box; what, said another of the Buskin'd Wits, that which George Powel gave you, t'other Night? 12. Gun Jones, who had made his Fortune himself from a mean Beginning, happening to have some Words with a Person, who had known him some Time was asked by the other, how he could have the Impudence to give himself so many Airs to him, when he knew very well, that he remember'd him seven Years before, with hardly a Rag to his Back. You lie, Sirrah, reply'd Jones, seven Years ago. I had nothing but Rags to my Back. 13. Lord R——having lost about fifty Pistoles, one Night, at the Gaming-Table in Dublin, some Friends condoling with him upon his ill Luck, Faith, said he, I am very well pleas'd at what I have done, for I have bit them, by G–there is no one Pistole that don't want Six-Pence of Weight. + + + + + + + 15. A Lady being asked how she liked a Gentleman's Singing, who had a very bad Breath, the Words are good, said she, but the Air is intolerable. 16. The late Mrs. Oldfield being asked if she thought Sir W. Y. and Mrs. H-n, who had both bad Breaths, were marry’d; I don't know, said she, whether they are marry'd; but I am sure there is a Wedding between them.
17. A Gentleman saying something in Praise of Mrs. C–ve, who is, without Dispute, a good Player, tho' exceedin saucy and exceeding ugly; another said, her Face always put him in Mind of MaryBone Park, being desired to explain himself, he said, it was vastly rude and had not one Bit of Pale about it. 18. A pragmatical young Fellow sitting at Table over-against the learned John Scot, asked him what Difference there was between Scot and Sot: Just the Breadth of the Table, answered the other. 19. Another Poet asked Nat Lee if it was not easy to write like a Madman, as he did : No, answered Nat, but it is easy to write like a Fool as you do. 20. Colley, who, notwithstanding his Odes, has now and then said a good Thing,
being told one Night by the late Duke of
Wharton, that he expected to see him hang'd or beggar'd very soon, by G–d, said the Laureat, if I had your Grace's Politicks and Morals you might expect both. 21. Sir Thomas More, for a long Time had only Daughters, his Wife earnestly raying that they might have a Boy, at ast they had a Boy, who, when he came to Man's Estate, proved but simple; thou prayedst so long for a Boy, said Sir Thomas to his Wife, that at last thou hast got one who will be a Boy as long as he lives. 22. The same Gentleman, when Lord Chancellor, being pressed by the Counsel of the Party, for a longer Day to perform a Decree, said, Take St. Barnaby's Day, the longest in the Year; which happened to be the next Week. 23. This famous Chancellor, who preserved his Humour and his Wit to the last Moment, when he came to be executed on Tower-Hill, the Heads-man demanded his upper-Garment as his Fee; ay, Friend, said he, taking off his Cap, That I think is my Upper-Garment. + + + + + + + 26. When Rablais, the greatest Drole in France, lay on his Death-Bed, he could not help jesting at the very last Moment, for having received the extreme Unction a Friend coming to see him, said, he hope he was prepared for the next World; Yes, es, reply'd Rablais, I am ready for my }. now, they have just greased my Boots. 27. Henry the IVth, of France, reading an ostentatious Inscription on the Monument of a Spanish Officer, Here lies the Body
of Don, &c., &c., who never knew what Fear was. Then said the King, he never snuffed a Candle with his Fingers. 28. A certain Member of the French Academy, who was no great Friend to the Abbot Furetiere, one Day took the Seat that was commonly used by the Abbot, and soon after having Occasion to speak, and Furetiere being by that Time come in ; Here is a Place, said he, Gentlemen, from whence I am likely to utter a thousand Impertinences: Go on, answered Furetiere, there's one already. 29. When Sir Richard Steele was fitting up his great Room, in York-Buildings, for publick Orations, that very Room, which is now so worthily occupied by the learned and eximious Mr. Professor Lacy. He happened at one Time to be pretty much É. Hand with his Workmen, and coming one Day among them to see how they went forward, he ordered one of them to get into the Rostrum, and make a .# at he might observe how it could be heard; the Fellow mounting, and scratching his Pate, told him he knew not what to say, for in Truth he was no Orator. Oh! said the Knight, no Matter for that, speak any thing that comes uppermost. Why here, Sir Richard, said the Fellow, we have been working for you these six Weeks, and cannot get one Penny of Money, ray, Sir, when do you design to pay us? ery well, very well, said Sir }. pray come down, I have heard enough, I cannot but own you speak very distinctly, tho' I don't admire your subject. 30. A Country Clergyman meeting a Neighbour who never came to Church, altho' an old Fellow of above Sixty, he gave him some Reproof on that Account, and asked him if he never read at Home. No, replyed the Clown, I can't read; I dare say, said the Parson, you don't know who made you; not I, in troth, said the Countryman. A little Boy coming by at the same Time, who made you, Child, cry’d the Parson, God, Sir, answered the Boy. Why look you there, quoth the honest Clergyman, are you not ashamed to hear a Child of five or six Years old tell me who made him, when you that are so old a Man can not: Ah, said the Countryman, it is no Wonder that he should remember, he was made but t'other Day, it is a great while, Master, sin I were made. 31. A certain reverend Drone in the Country was complaining to another, that