Dining with a Miser
[Jonathan] Swift having dined with a rich miser, pronounced the following grace after dinner:
“Thanks for this miracle, it is no less,
Than finding manna in the wilderness,
In midst of famine we have found relief,
And seen the wonders of a chine of beef;
Chimneys have smok’d that never smok’d before ;
And we have din’d where we shall dine no more.”
— The Ladies’ Garland, Vo. 3, April 1, 1826
A Different Kind of Bug
Upon a traveler telling General Doyle, an Irishman, that he had been where the bugs were so large and powerful that two of them would drain a man’s blood in one night, the General replied: “My good sir, we have the same animals in Ireland, but they are called humbugs.”
— Harper’s Weekly, Vol. 7, May 15, 1868
[The fifth century historian] Socrates [of Constantinople] tells us that the Emperor Tiberius, who was much given to astrology, used to put the masters of that art, whom he thought of consulting, to a severe test. He took them to the top of his house, and if he saw any reason to suspect their skill, threw them down the steep. Thither he took Thrasyllus, and after a long consultation with him, the emperor suddenly asked whether the astrologer had examined his own fate, and what was portended for him in the immediate future. Now the difficulty is this: If Thrasyllus says that nothing important is about to befall him, he will prove his lack of skill and lose his life besides. If, on the other hand, he says that he is soon to die, either the emperor will set him free, in which case the prophecy was false and he ought to have destroyed him; or Tiberius will destroy him, while he ought to have spared him as a true revealer of the future. Of course the solution is easy. Thrasyllus, after some observations and calculations, began to quake and tremble greatly, and said some great calamity seemed to be impending over him, whereupon the emperor embraced him and made him his chief astrologer.
— The Ladies’ Repository, Vol. 33, July 1873
Travelling is one Way of lengthening Life, at least in Appearance. It is but a Fortnight since we left London; but the Variety of Scenes we have gone through makes it seem equal to Six Months living in one Place.
— Benjamin Franklin, letter to Mary Stevenson, from Paris, Sept. 14, 1767