University of Virginia Library




In good faith, I very sincerely hope that the title
which this little volume bears upon its face will take
nobody in. Now that it is written out, I am not sure
that there is anything comic in its pages. I am certain
that I have made no effort to make them so; and
if merriment should be the result, I shall certainly
congratulate myself upon the possession of an involuntary
endowment, which takes its owner quite as much
by surprise as anybody else. But no; even if there be
comedy in the narrative that follows, it will be none of
mine—I were a Pagan to lay claim to it. These, in
fact, are but jottings down from the lips of another;
and I don't know that I was greatly beguiled, when I
heard them, into that happy humor which makes one
cry out in defiance, “Sessa! let the world pass!” Were
I to confess honestly, I should rather admit myself of
that graver order of monkhood which never tells its
beads on the face of a tankard. I don't see a jest readily
at any time, and, knowing my infirmity, I very
frequently suffer it to escape me by keeping too closely
on the watch for it. It so happens, accordingly, that,
being very amiable and anxious to please, I blunder
after the fashion of Dr. Johnson's butcher, who was
procured to help bolster up Goldsmith's first comedy,


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and do all my laughing in the wrong place, and after
the mirth has fairly subsided from the muscles of my
neighbors. This makes me modest of judgment in all
matters that affect the humorous, and hardly a proper
person, therefore, to recount that which is so. But,
indeed, I propose nothing of the kind. The title chosen
for this volume is in some degree in compliance with
necessity: it can scarcely be said to have been a matter
of choice. This will be explained by our Introduction,
to which I shall hasten with due speed, promising to
make it as short as possible, since I have no hope to
make it funny.