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You might people a colony with her, or give an assembly with her, or perhaps take your morning's walk round her, always providing there were frequent resting-places and you were in rude health. I was once rash enough to try walking round her before breakfast, but only got halfway, and gave up exhausted.”
Smith's humour was nearly always of this continuous kind, “changing its shape and colour to many forms and hues.” He wished to continue the merriment to the last, but such repetition weakened its force. His humour is better when he has some definite aim in view, as in his letters about America, where he lost his money. But we have not many specimens of it in his writings, the following is from “The Dun Cow:”
“ The immense importance of a pint of ale to a common man should never be overlooked, nor should a goodnatured Justice forget that he is acting for Lilliputians, whose pains and pleasnres lie in very narrow compass, and are but too apt to be treated with neglect and contempt by their superiors. About ten or eleven o'clock in the morn. ing, perhaps, the first faint shadowy vision of a future pint of beer dawns on the fancy of the ploughman, Far, very far is it from being fully developed. Sometimes the idea is rejected; sometimes it is fostered. At one time he is almost fixed on the 'Red Horse,' but the blazing fire and sedulous kindness of the landlady of the Dun Cow' shake him, and his soul labours ! Heavy is the ploughed land, dark, dreary, and wet the day. His purpose is at last fixed for beer! Threepence is put down for the vigour of the ale, and one penny for the stupefaction of tobacco, and these are the joys and holidays of millions, the greatest pleasure and relaxation which it is in the power of fortune to bestow.”:
Such kindly feelings as animated Sydney Smith, were found more fully developed in Thomas Hood. He made his humour minister
to philanthropy. The man who wrote the “ Song of the Shirt” felt keenly for all the sufferings of the poor-he even favoured some of their unreasonable complaints. Thus he writes the “ Address of the Laundresses to the Steam Washing Company,” to show how much they are injured by such an institution. In a “Drop of Gin,” he inveighs against this destructive stimulant.
“Gin! gin! a drop of gin!
Some plague-spotted, and some with blood.”
"Hail! king of shreds and patches, hail!
To wretches, the last friend;
With a bare bodkin end."
Striding ten thousand turnpikes on the land P
In a sporting dialogue in “Tylney Hall,” we have
" • A clever little nag, that,' said the Squire, after a long one-eyed look at the brown mare, 'knows how to go, capital action.'
“ A picture, isn't she p' said the Baronet. I bought her last week by way of a surprise to Ringwood. She was
bred by old Toby Sparks at Hollington, by Tiggumbob out of Tolderol, by Diddledumkins, Cockalorum, and so forth.
"An odd fish, old Toby ;' said the Squire, 'always give 'em queer names : can jump a bit, no doubt ?
"She jumps like a flea,' said Dick, and as for galloping, she can go from anywhere to everywhere in forty minutes-and back again.””
We may also mention his description of an old-fashioned doctor.
“At first sight we were in doubt whether to set him down as a doctor or a pedagogue, for his dress presented one very characteristic appendage of the latter, namely a square cut black coat, which never was, never would be, and probably never had been, in fashion. A profusion of cambric frills, buge silver shoe-buckles, a snuff-box of the same metal, and a gold-headed cane belonging rather to the costume of the physician of the period. He wore a very precise wig of a very decided brown, regularly crisped at the top like a bunch of endive, and in front, following the exact curves of the arches of two bushy eyebrows. He had dark eyes, a prominent nose, and a wide mouth-the corners of which in smiling were drawn towards his double chin. A florid colour on his face binted a plethoric habit, while a portly body and a very short thick neck bespoke an apoplectic tendency. Warned by these indications, prudence had made him a strict water-drinker, and abstemious in his diet-a mode of treatment which he applied to all his patients short or tall, stout or thin, with whom whatever their disease, he invariably began by reducing them, as an arithmetician would say, to their lowest terms. This mode of treatment raised him much in the estimation of the parish authorities."
The humour in the following is of a lighter and more tricksy kind
WRITTEN IN A YOUNG LADY's ALBUM.
On hearing that Grimaldi had left the stage, he enumerates his funny performances
“Oh, who like thee could ever drink,
“There's no fool like the old fool still.'” His felicity in playing with words is well exhibited in the stanzas on “ John Trot.”
“John Trot he was as tall a lad
As York did ever rear,
He'd make a Grenadier.
With ribbons and a frill;
And come away to drill.
In war he saw no fun,
Gets often over-done.
And go to war's alarms,
Imposed upon my arms.
To wait on Lady Wye,
Her family was high.
Her lord took very ill,
Of course, more dumpy still.
And very tall to see,
She may look up to me ?
Such fortune would turn up,
But studied in a cup.'
“So he walked up to Lady Wye,
And took her quite amazed,
He wanted to be raised.
Of such a dwarfish sort-
Her mourning very short.
You only cry in vain,
Could call him back again.
To dry your noble tears, But just consider this that I
Have followed you for years. “And tho you are above me far,
What matters high degree, When you are only four foot nine,
And I am six foot three ?
And I'm a low-born elf,
You matched beneath yourself.' “ Said she, such insolence as this
Can be no common case ;
Your love is out of place.'
Consider what you do;
I am not so with you !
They show'd him to the door;
Why didn't you before ??
For all his wages due,
He went in black and blue. “No family would take him in
Because of this discharge,
The country all at large.