Truth is at the bottom of the well, and will remain there unless some one draws the bucket.

——Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Modern Chivalry.

“It Can’t Be Done”


Most things can be done, and when anyone told me that such and such a thing could not be done, I got someone who could do it. I still follow that same principle.

——Cecil B. De Mille, quoted in Photoplay, October, 1916.

Modern Dictionary

DISTANT RELATIONS—People who imagine they have a right to rob you if you are rich, and to insult you if you are poor.

HEART—A rare article, sometimes found in human beings. It is soon, however, destroyed by commerce with the world, or else becomes fatal to its possessor.

HOUSEWIFERY—An ancient art, said to have been fashionable among young girls and wives; now entirely out of use, or practised only by the lower orders.

WEALTH—The most respectable quality of man.

VIRTUE—An awkward habit of acting differently from other people. A vulgar word. It creates great mirth in fashionable circles.

HONOR—Shooting a friend through the head whom you love, in order to gain the praise of a few others whom you despise and hate.

MARRIAGE—The gate through which the happy lover leaves his enchanted regions and returns to earth.

FRIEND—A person who will not assist you because he knows your love will excuse him.

WEDDED BLISS—A term used by Milton.

DOCTOR—A man who kills you to-day, to save you from dying to-morrow.

LUNATIC ASYLUM—A kind of hospital where detected lunatics are sent by those who have the adroitness to conceal their own infirmity.

WATER—A clear fluid, once used as a drink.

TRAGEDIAN—A fellow with a tin pot on his head, who stalks about the stage, and gets into a violent passion for so much a night.

CRITIC—A large dog, that goes unchained, and barks at every thing he does not comprehend.

STATE’S EVIDENCE—A wretch who is pardoned for being baser than his comrades.

SENSIBILITY—A quality by which its possessor, in attempting to promote the happiness of other people, loses his own.

MY DEAR—An expression used by man and wife at the commencement of a quarrel.

——From Atkinson’s Casket, 1833.

The Distribution of Rewards

Some one has observed, that mankind respect most and reward best, first those who murder and destroy them; secondly those who blind their understandings and cheat them; thirdly those who amuse them; last and least, those who endeavour to instruct and benefit them. In this class must be included authors and projectors; appellations that associate in their common acceptation, a portion of pity mixed with contempt.

——The Analectic Magazine, in a review of a Life of Robert Fulton, September, 1817.

On Avoiding Wit and Humor


It is indeed acting but a poor part in life, to make a business of laughing at the follies of others. It is injurious to one’s self; for there is a great deal more to be gained by soothing and praising what men do, than by finding fault with them. It may be said of satire, what was said of anger by some philosopher, It never pays the service it requires. It is your scratching, rump-tickling people, that get into place and power. I never knew any good come of wit and humor yet. They are talents which keep the owner poor. For this reason, I have taken care to repress all propensity to this vice; and I believe I can say with truth, that since I have come to the years of a man’s understanding, I have carefully avoided every thing of this nature.

——Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Modern Chivalry.

[It is probably not necessary to remark that Judge Brackenridge writes ironically here.]