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and the little. Things may be burlesqued not only by words, but by pictures, by gestures, by attitudes—by ludicrous imitations of all kinds.
The Mock-heroic is a kind of witty discourse used to raise things low or trivial to a plane of false dignity and importance; as,
“To arms, to arms!” the fierce virago cries,
A Parody, or Travesty, is a burlesque imitation of something serious. The words of a production are copied in part, but the spirit of the piece is changed and degraded; as,
Original: I stood on the bridge at midnight,
As the clocks were striking the hour,
Behind the dark church-tower.
As the Bell was striking the gong,
With quick steps passed along.
A Pun is an unexpected relation between words, or a play on words. It is an inferior species of wit, and one which is often carried to a tiresome excess; yet it can not be denied that puns are sometimes very effective. The following are examples:
Sydney Smith, hearing a boy read of patriarchs as partridges, declared, “It is too bad to make game of them.”
Observing on a board the warning, "Beware the dog," Hood wrote underneath, Ware be the dog ?”
Dean Ramsay tells of a soaked Scotch minister who was rubbed down at the kirk, and told he need not fear; he would be dry enough when he got into the pulpit.
The Romans were said to urn their dead, but we earn our living.
Humor.—The forms of thought thus far described are generally hostile, and are used to attack and destroy; but there is another form, which provokes not a “laugh at men and things,” but a “laugh with them.” This form of thought, which Thackeray has defined to be a compound of wit and love, is called humor. Humor is wit, with an infusion of good nature and tender sympathy. Wit is a brilliant flash; humor is a lingering sunbeam, cheering while it brightens. It is nobler than wit, for it mingles the tender emotions of the heart with the brilliant conceptions of the intellect. The following lines show a fine distinction between wit and humor:
Wit lashes external appearances, or cunningly exaggerates single foibles into character; humor glides into the heart of its object, looks lovingly on the infirmities it detects, and represents the whole man.
Wit is abrupt, darting, scornful, and tosses its analogies in your face; humor is slow and shy, insinuating its fun into your heart *
Old Dr. Fuller's remark that a negro is “the image of God in ebony," is humorous; Horace Smith's, that "the task-master is the image of the devil cut in ivory," is witty.—Whipple.
Sydney Smith remarked to the Chapter of St. Paul's, on the proposal to lay a wooden pavement around the building, “If we lay our heads together the thing is done." As he includes himself, this is humorous. Had he said, “If you lay your heads together," it would have been witty, but not humorous.
The following passage from Hawthorne's Rill from the Town Pump, is an example of humor:
“Welcome, most rubicund sir! You and I have been great strangers hitherto; nor, to confess the truth, will my nose be anxious for a closer intimacy, till the fumes of your breath be a little less potent. Mercy on you man! the water absolutely hisses down your red-hot throat! Fill again, and tell me, on the word of an honest toper, did you ever, in cellar, tavern, or any kind of dram-shop, spend the price of your children's food for a swig half so delicious ? Now, for the first time these ten years, you know the flavor of cold water. Good-by, and, whenever you are thirsty, remember that I keep a constant supply at the old stand."-Hawthorne.
Pathos.-This element of style is found in passages which express sorrow or grief. It is founded on sympathy, and seldom fails to engage the interest and touch the heart. It has some natural connection with humor. Laughter and tears lie close to each other, and the transition from the humorous to the pathetic is short and easy. The writings of some of our greatest humorists contain passages
exquisite pathos: those of Irving, Hood, Dickens, and Lamb, afford many such instances.
The following are illustrations of the pathetic:
O my friend! I think sometimes, could I recall the days that are past, which among them should I choose? Not those “merrier days,” not the "pleasant days of hope,” not “those wanderings with a fair-haired maid," which I have so often and so feelingly regretted, but the days, Coleridge, of a mother's fondness for her school-boy. What would I give to call her back to earth for one day, on my knees to ask her pardon for all those little asperities of temper, which, from time to time, have given her gentle spirit pain !- Charles Lamb.
“Why, bless you, my dear," said Toby, “how often have I heard them bells say, 'Toby Veck, Toby Veck, keep a good heart, Toby! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, keep a good heart, Toby!'
“When things is very bad, very bad indeed, I mean; almost at the worst; then it's, ‘Toby Veck, Toby Veck, job coming soon, Toby! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, job coming soon, Toby!' That way.”
“And it comes—at last, father," said Meg, with a touch of sadness in her pleasant voice.
“Always," answered Toby. “Never fails." -Charles Dickens.
The service being ended, preparations were made to deposit the coffin in the earth. There was that bustling stir that breaks so harshly on the feelings of grief and affection; directions were given in the cold tones of business; the striking of spades into sand and gravel, which, at the grave of those we love, is of all sounds the most withering. The bustle around seemed to awaken the mother from a wretched reverie. She raised her glazed eyes, and looked about with a faint wildness. As the men approached with cords to lower the coffin into the grave, she wrung her hands and broke into an agony of grief. The poor woman who attended her, took her by the arm, endeavored to raise her from the earth, and whispered something like consolation. *
* As they lowered the body into the earth, the crackling of the cords seemed to agonize her; but when, on some accidental obstruction, there was a jostling of the coffin, all the tenderness of the mother burst forth; as if any, any harm could come to him who was far beyond the reach of worldly suffering.- Irving.
DIRECTION.—In the following sentences classify those that are witty according to the species of wit which enters into them; point out those containing pathos:
1. What a comfort a dull but kindly person is, to be sure, at times! A ground-glass shade over a gas-lamp does not bring more solace to our dazzled eyes than such a one to our minds. There are men of esprit who are excessively exhausting to some people. They are the talkers that have what may be called the jerky minds. They say bright things on all possible subjects, but their zigzags rack you to death. After a jolting half hour with these jerky companions, talking with a dull friend affords great relief. It is like taking a cat in your lap after holding a squirrel.
2. O comrades! enemies no more, let us take a mournful hand together as we stand by this royal corpse, and call a truce to battle! Low he lies to whom the proudest used to kneel once, and who was cast lower than the poorest; dead, whom millions prayed for in vain. Driven off his throne; buffeted by rude hands; with his children in revolt; the darling of his old age killed before him untimely; our Lear hangs over her breathless lips and cries, “Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little!"
3. The Frenchman having swallowed the first spoonful, made a full pause; his throat swelled as if an egg had stuck in his gullet, his eyes rolled, and his mouth underwent a series of involuntary contractions and dilatations. Pallet, who looked steadfastly at this connoisseur, with a view of consulting his taste before he himself would venture upon the soup, began to be disturbed at these emotions, and observed with some concern, that the poor gentleman seemed to be going into a fit; when Peregrine assured him that these were symptoms of ecstasy, and, for further confirmation, asked the marquis how he found the soup. It was with infinite difficulty that his complaisance could so far master his disgust as to enable him to answer, “Altogether excellent, upon my honor !” And the painter being certified of his approbation, lifted the spoon to his mouth without scruple; but far from justifying the eulogium of his taster, when this precious composition diffused itself upon his palate, he seemed to be deprived of all sense and motion, and sat like the leaden stat ue of some river-god, with the liquor flowing out at both sides of the mouth.
4. I fear I wrong the honorable men whose daggers have stabbed Cæsar.
5. There is one secret a woman can keep—her age.
6. What a beautiful subject for a speech! Water-lilies and aquatic plants gemming the translucent crystal, shells of rainbow brightness, a constant supply of gold and silver fish, with the right of angling secured to share-holders. The extent of the river being necessarily limited, will render lying there so select, so very respectable.
7. “Call that a kind man, a man who is away from his family, and never sends them a farthing! Call that kindness!” “Yes, unremitting kindness," Jerrold replied.
8. O the anguish of that thought, that we can never atone to our dead for the stinted affection we gave them, for the light answers we returned to their plaints or their pleadings, for the little reverence we showed to that sacred human soul that lived so close to us, and was the divinest thing God has given us to know.
9. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !
10. Complaint is the largest tribute heaven receives, and the sincerest part of our devotion.