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certain ultimata of belief not to be disturbed in or dinary conversation, and unless they have sense enough to trace the secondary questions depending upon
the ultimate beliefs to their source. In short, just as a written constitution is essential to the best social order, so a code of finalities is a necessary condition of profitable talk between two persons. Talking is like playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hand on the strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out their music.
Do you mean to say the pun-question is not clearly settled in your minds ? Let me lay down the law upon the subject. Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide-that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legiti. mate meaning, which is its life-are alike forbidden Manslaughter, which is the meaning of the one, is the same as man's laughter, which is the end of the other. A pun is prima facie an insult to the person you are talking with. It implies utter indifference to or sublime contempt for his remarks, no matter how serious. I speak of total depravity, and one says
all that is written on the subject is deep raving. I have committed my self-respect by talking with such a person. I should like to commit him, but cannot, because he is a nuisance. Or I speak of geological convulsions, and he asks 'ne what was the cosine of Noah's ark; also, whether the Deluge was not a deal buger than any modern inundation.
A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return. But if a blow were given for such cause, and death ensued, the jury would be judges both of the facts and of the pun, and might, if the latter were of an aggravated character, return a verdict of justifiable homicide. Thus, in a case lately decided before Miller, J., Doe presented Roe a subscription paper, and urged the claims of suffering humanity. Roe replied by asking, When charity was like a top? It was in evidence that Doe preserved a dignified silence. Roe then said, “ When it begins to hum.” Doe then—and not till then-struck Roe, and his head happening to hit a bound volume of the Monthly Rag-bag and Stolen Miscellany, intense inortification ensued, with a fatal result. The chief laid down his notions of the law to his brother justices, who unanimously replied, “ Jest so." The chief rejoined, that no man should jest so without being punished for it, and charged for the prisoner, who was acquitted, and the pun ordered to be burned by the sheriff. The bound volume was forfeited as a deodand, but not claimed.
People that make puns are like wanton boys that put coppers on the railroad tracks.
They amuse themselves and other children, but their little trick may upset a freight train of conversation for the sake of a battered witticism.
I will thank you, B. F., to bring down two books, of which I will mark the places on this slip of paper
(While he is gone, I may say that this boy, our land. lady's youngest, is called BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, after the celebrated philosopher of that name.
A highly merited compliment.)
I wished to refer to two eminent authorities, Now be so good as to listen. The great moralist says: “ To trifle with the vocabulary which is the vehicle of social intercourse is to tamper with the currency of human intelligence. He who would violate the sanctities of his mother tongue would invade the recesses of the paternal till without remorse, and repeat the banquet of Saturn without an indi. gestion.”
And, once more, listen to the historian. « The Puitans hated puns. The Bishops were notoriously addicted to them. The Lords Temporal carried them to the verge of license. Majesty itself must have its Royal quibble. "Ye be burly, my Lord of Burleigh,' said Queen Elizabeth, ' but ye shall make less stir in our realm than my Lord of Leicester.' The gravest wisdom and the highest breeding lent their sanction to the practice. Lord Bacon playfully declared himself a descendant of 'Oğ, the King of Bashan. Sir Philip Sidney, with his last breath, reproached the soldier who brought him water, for wasting a casque full upon a dying man. I courtier, who saw Othello performed at the Globe Theatre, . remarked, that the blackamoor was a brute, and not
Thou hast reason,' replied a great Lord.
according to Plato his saying; for this be a two"egged animal with feathers.' The fatal habit became universal. The language was corrupted. The infection spread to the national conscience. Political double-dealings naturally grew out of verbal double ineanings. The teeth of the new dragon were sown by the Cadmus who introduced the alphabet of equivocation. What was levity in the time of the Tudors grew to regicide and revolution in the age of the Stuarts."
Who was that boarder that just whispered something about the Macaulay-flowers of literature ?There was a dead silence.—I said calmly, I shall henceforth consider any interruption by a pun as a hint to change my boarding-house. Do not plead my example. If I have used any such, it has been only as a Ipartan father would show up a drunken helot. We have done with them.
-If a logical mind ever found out anything with its logic ?-I should say that its most frequent work was to build a pons asinorum over chasms which shrewd people can bestride without such a structure. You can hire logic, in the shape of a lawyer, to prove anything that you want to prove. You can buy treatises to show that Napoleon never lived, and that no battle of Bunker-hill was ever fought. The great minds are those with a wide span, which couple truths related to, but far removed from, each other. Logicians carry the surveyor's chain over the track
of which these are the true explorers. I value a man mainly for his primary relations with truth, as I understand truth,—not for any secondary artifice in handling his ideas. Some of the sharpest men in argument are notoriously unsound in judgment. I should not trust the counsel of a smart debater, any more than that of a good chess-player. Either may. of course advise wisely, but not necessarily because he wrangles or plays well.
The old gentleman who sits opposite got his hand up, as a pointer lifts his forefoot, at the expression, “his relations with truth, as I understand truth," and when I had done, sniffed audibly, and said I talked like a transcendentalist. For his part, common sense was good enough for him.
Precisely so, my dear sir, I replied; common sense, as you understand it. We all have to assume a standard of judgment in our own minds, either of things or persons. A man who is willing to take another's opinion has to exercise his judgment in the choice of whom to follow, which is often as nice a matter as to judge of things for one's self. On the whole, I had rather judge men's minds by comparing their thoughts with my own, than judge of thoughts by knowing who utter them. I must do one or the uther. It does not follow, of course, that I may not recognize another man's thoughts as broader and deeper than my own; but that does not necessarily change my opinion, otherwise this would be at the