Friday, July 24, 2015

Authors Hip

"There was an old man with a beard":

Not Ogden Nash'd but Edward Lear'd.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"T-R-R-B-D-A" (1892)

She hunts his little primer up,

And helps him every day,

But all the letters he has learned

Are T-R-R-B-D-A.

Troy Daily Times. October 17, 1892: 2 col 4.

Buffalo Courier-Record. November 14, 1897: 2.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"A Fragment" (1793)

                A FRAGMENT.

BEFORE Coquettes the Fop may strut;

But I--not I--I'll never do't:

'Tis but to stand before a glass,

To show one's self the silliest ASS!

American Spy [Lansingburgh, NY]. October 29, 1793

More colorful language in print for the 1790s than one might have expected?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"On Liberty" (1793)


On Liberty.

CURST be the wretch that's bought and sold,

And barters liberty for gold!

For when elections are not free,

In vain we boast our liberty.

And he who sells his single right,

Would sell his country, if he might.

When liberty is put to sale,

For wine, for money, or for ale,

The sellers must be abject slaves,

The buyers vile, designing knaves.

This maxim, in the statesman's school,

Is always taught, "divide and rule"--

All parties are to him a joke;

While zealots foam, he fits the yoke:

When men their reason once resume,

He in his turn begins to fume,

Hence, learn, Columbians, to unite:

Leave off the old, exploded bite.

Henceforth let feuds and discords cease,

And turn all party rage to peace.

American Spy [Lansingburgh, NY]. March 22, 1793

Though about the buying of individual votes en masse, it might as well be about today's billionaires, left and right, buying elections left and right.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"A Sermon on Cranks" from The Fool-Killer (1921)


        Well, honey, it seems to be about time for a “Sermon on Cranks.” So I will crank up my mouth and utter a few timely remarks.

        The world is full of cranks.

        You are one.

        I am another.

        You can hardly find a man or woman living who isn’t a crank about something. If it ain’t one thing it’s sure to be something else.

        Maybe I have some particular hobby that I ride to such an extent that others call me “cranky” about it.

        And the people that call me cranky about one thing seem to me just as cranky about something else.

        And so it goes.

        But what is a crank, after all?

        There ought to be some way of describing the critter so he could be identified.

        Here is how I describe him:

        A crank is anybody that rides a different hobby from the one I ride. Also anybody that opposes my hobby or talks slighty about it.

        For instance, if I am a medical doctor, my hobby is pouring various kinds of dope into peoples bellies to cure what don’t ail them. Or it may be squirting maggot-juice under their skins to make them “immune” from maggot-bites. And anybody that comes along preaching against drug-doping and vaccination is a “crank.” See?

        Again, if I happen to be an army officer, with a life-time’s training in the art of killing people, anybody who opposes war and militarism is a crank.

        Or if I happen to be a reactionary politician, getting a fat salary from a reactionary government, of course any man who dares to criticise me and my kind is a crank. No matter how bad we need criticising, it mustn’t be done. Simply because the majority of people are reactionaries, and we happen to be in the majority, we take refuge behind the collective will of that majority and think ourselves immune from criticism. Hence all people who see things different from us are cranks.

        But it never occurs to us other people have rights, and that our conduct looks just as cranky and foolish to them as theirs looks to us.

        Jesus Christ was a crank.

        All his followers were cranks.

        Every man who has blazed a new trail for civilization has been a crank, and has been cussed and abused by fifty-seven varieties of other cranks.

        A crank is only a crank so long as he is in the minority—so long as his cause is weak and unpopular. Just let his cause accumulate adherents enough to give it some show of strength and popularity, and then watch how quick he ceases to be a crank in the eyes of the world.

        Yes, honey, I am a crank.

        And you are, too.

        So what’s the use to fuss about it?


The Fool-Killer [Boomer, NC]. December 1, 1921: 4 cols 1-2.

The masthead is a version from 1910, cropped from