Anecdotes from Around the World
"J. Gray--pack my box with five dozen quills." There is nothing
remarkable about this sentence, only that it is nearly as short as one can
be constructed, and yet contains the whole alphabet.
- Oregon City Enterprise, Aug 13, 1875
The following epitaph is upon a tombstone at Rheims: "Here lieth the
body of Etella. He transported his fortune to heaven, in charity, during
his life; he is gone there to enjoy it."
- Boston Daily Evening Transcript, June 25, 1836.
The following anagram is among the curiosities of the Tichborne case: The
letters forming the words "Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne, Baronet,"
may be transposed without addition or omission into the sentence, "You
horrid butcher, Orton, biggest rascel here."
- Amador Weekly Ledger, Jackson, Calif., May 16, 1874
Manners for Post-Office Clerks. - A tall, elderly, refined-looking gentleman
recently went into a small post-office in a rural region of England. He
asked some questions relative to the registering of a letter, and was very
sharply, rudely, and unnecessarily snubbed by a young woman in attendance.
He asked her if she thought that was a proper way to answer an inquiry in
a public office. She said she thought she had been quite civil enough for
him. He asked her, with an ominously increasing mildness of manner, if she
would favor him with her name. She emphatically declined to do so. He then
said he thought he would tell her his name, which, however, she declined
to hear, saying that his name was no concern of hers. He calmly replied
that he thought it was, for his name was John Manners, and he was the Postmaster
General. - Chicago Inter-Ocean.
- Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, Aug 27, 1877.
A correspondent of the Christian Union tells of a better way than striking:
"A gardener has worked on our place ever since 1866, eleven years.
During that time his wages have never been over $2 a day, and that only
in high price times; it ranged from $1.65 down; the most of the time it
was $1.25. His wife had no income, and did no work except to take care of
the children and the house, and he had no income but his wages. But during
that time he kept his wife and children comfortable, fed them well, so that
they were always healthy, and dressed them so they went to day and Sunday-school,
and always neatly dressed; kept a cow; and saved out of his earnings enough
to buy two lots, and build a house and stable. He saved the $1800 with which
he did this in the first eight years. I do not know that he has saved anything
during the last three years. But he never drank or used tobacco. He was
a protestant Irishman. During the same time we had a coachman who had from
$2 to $2.50 a day; he drank and smoked; owed everybody; never saved a cent;
and, finally, when he left, had to borrow money to get out of town."
- Pacific Christian Advocate, Portland, Oregon, September 6, 1877
It always pays to be polite. As the steamboat Magenta was descending the
Hudson river, being crowded with passengers, an old gentleman was unable
to find a seat. A young man noticed this, gave the old gentleman his chair
and went forward. Two minutes afterward the boiler blew up and the old gentleman
was killed, while the man who had given up his seat escaped unhurt. - Chicago
- The Union Democrat, Sonora, Calif., May 4, 1878.
Checkmate. - The writer in the Paris Temps says: "A last remark I dedicate
to chess-players. Do they know the origin of the word 'checkmate?' It is
a literal translation of the Arabic Es-cheik himaie: the sheik (king) is
- Willamette Farmer, Salem, Ore., Dec 6, 1873.
A PUNCTUATION PUZZLE.
An Illustration of the Importance of Commas and Periods.
The following article forcibly illustrates the importance and necessity
of punctuation. It can be read in two ways, making the subject a very good
or bad man, the result depending upon the manner in which it is punctuated.
It is worthy the study of parents and children, teachers and pupils:
"He is an old and experienced man in vice and wickedness he is never
found in opposing the works of iniquity he takes delight in the downfall
of his neighbors he never rejoices in the prosperity of any of his fellow
creatures he is always ready to assist in destroying the peace of society
he takes no pleasure in serving the Lord he is uncommonly diligent in sowing
discord among his friends and acquaintances he takes no pride in laboring
to promote the cause of Christianity he has not been negligent in endeavoring
to stigmatize all public teachers he makes no effort to subdue his evil
passions he strives hard to build up Satan's kingdom he lends no aid to
the support of the gospel among the heathen he contributes largely to the
evil adversary he pays great heed to the devil he will never go to heaven
he must go where he will receive the just recompense of reward."
- The Silver State, Winnemucca, Nev., Apr 10, 1877.
A short time since, it was not fashionable for a lady to wear a rose on
her head; now it is quite the contrary; a rose must absolutely be worn:-
but what rose? At first a simple rose, presenting only a rose bud; shortly
after the ball is commenced, the dancer, whilst in the height of a dance,
touches a secret spring, and the simple rose bud produces a full crown of
flowers, which form themselves around the head; on the touching of another
spring, the crown divides itself into three or four bunches of flowers,
the disposal of which is extremely interesting; but when the lady's turn
is to be along in the dance, which is her most favorite part, the secret
spring is again put into movement, the leaves of the rose fall off at the
feet of the petit maitresse, and the crown, bunches of flowers, all disappear,
except the single rose bud which was seen at the debut; not withstanding
all which, the dancer's head-dress does not experience the least confusion-This
Ovid gives a very poetical description of Daphne's being changed into a
laurel, whilst flying from Apollo; the God seizes her hands and catches
hold of a leaf; he enfolds her in his arms, he embraces a senseless trunk.
It is while with a French elegante - whilst her lover gazes on her, her
head dress changes from a boquet of pinks and tulips to a wreath of roses,
and, in turn, puts forth all the varieties and charms of the garden parterre.
- National Intelligencer, Washington, D. C., July 26, 1805
A HUNDRED YEARS TO DECIDE A BET.
By private letter from Germany, the following facts regarding a singular
and novel wager are communicated: Two wealthy and influenctial Berlin bankers,
desiring to provided for their children's heirs, and fearing that through
disastrous reverses they might become poor, and therefore be unable to do
so, have made a wager concerning the United States. The one bet 3,000 marks
(a mark is equal to about 25 cents in our money) that the United States
will not remain a Republic, but advance to higher knowledge of the arts
and sciences, while the other, just as confident of winning as the other,
of course, bets 4,000 marks that our country will remain a Republic all
the time intervening between this and the second Centennial, but will retain
the high position in the arts and sciences which she now occupies. this
sum of 7,000 marks, (About $1,750 American money) has been placed on interest
for a period of 100 years, at the expiration of which period the royal court
of Germany will decide which party is winner and entitled to the money,
the total sum of which will then be $13,328 American currency. Explicit
agreements and stipulations have been entered into in due form of law, one
of which provides that under no circumstances shall the money or any part
thereof be withdrawn before the expiration of the allotted period of 100
- The New North-West, Deer Lodge, Montana Terr., Oct 27, 1876.
THE LAST POMPEIAN DISCOVERIES.
M. Mare Monnier supplies the Revue des Deux Mondes with a highly interesting
account of the last great discovery made at Pompeii, during the excavations
undertaken by the Cavalier Fiorelli - the corpses of the unfortunate Pompeians
whom the lava stream surprised in their flight, and whose forms and features
are preserved in the attitude in which death overtook them. The bodies,
or rather the lava mould which covers them, are now to be seen at the Museum,
and striking photographs of them have been transmitted to Paris; they give,
however, by no means so effective a description as the account of M. Marc
He says: "One day, in a little street, under a heap of stones and rubbish,
a vacant place was discovered, at the bottom of which appeared something
looking like bones. M. Florelli was summoned in haste, and he conceived
a luminous idea. He poured in some liquid plaster, and the same operation
was performed at other points where bones had been likewise discovered;
and as soon as the plaster was hardened, the mould was lifted with the greatest
precaution, and on the hardened ashes and lava being removed four corpses
appeared. They are now at the Museum, and no more striking sight is it possible
to behold. They are not statues, but human bodies moulded by Vesuvius, and
preserved from decay by that envelope of lava which reproduces the clothes,
the flesh, nay almost the appearance of life. The bones protrude here and
there where the molten liquid did not completely cover the limbs. Nowhere
does anything like this exist. The Egyptian mummies are naked, black, hideous.
They appear to have nothing in common with humanity; they are dressed out
by the Egyptian undertaker for their eternal repose - the exhumed Pompeians
are human beings in the act of dying. One of the bodies is that of a woman,
near whom were found 91 silver coins, two silver vases, some keys, and a
few jewels. She was flying, carrying her most valuable commodities with
her, when she fell in the little narrow street. She may be seen lying on
her left side. Her head-dress, the tissue of her clothes, and two silver
rings on her finger, can be easily detected. One of the hands is broken,
and the cellular structure of the bones exposed to view; the left arm is
raised; and writhing, the delicate hand convulsively shut; the nails appear
to have entered the flesh. The whole body appears swollen and contracted;
the legs alone - the rounded and delicate outline of which had not suffered
- are stretched out. You can feel that she struggled long in fearful pain.
Her attitude is that of agony, not death. Behind her a woman and a young
girl had fallen. The former, the mother possibly, was of humble extraction,
to judge from the size of her ears. On her finger is a single iron ring.
Her left leg, raised and bent, denotes that she also struggled and suffered.
Near her reclines a young girl - almost a child. The tissue of her dress
is seen with wondrous distinctness - the sleeves coming down to the wrist,
and the embroidery of her shoes. She had, through fear probably, lifted
her dress over her head. She fell with her face to the ground. One of her
hands is half open, as though she had used it to keep her veil over her
face. The bones of her fingers protrude through the lava. She appears to
have died easily. The fourth body is that of a man - a Colossus - he is
stretched on his back, as though he meant to meet his fate bravely; his
arms and legs show no sign of struggling; his clothes are very distinctly
marked: the braccoe (trousers) close fitting; laced sandals, the soles studded
with thick nails; on one finger an iron ring; a few teeth are broken; his
eyes and hair are obliterated, but his thick mustache is clearly apparent,
and it is impossible not to be struck with the martial and resolute appearance
of his features. After the women convulsively clinging to life, we see here
the man calmly meeting his fate in the midst of the great convulsion - impavidum
"Nothing yet discovered at Pompeii offers us anything to be compared
with this palpitating drama. It is violent death with its extreme tortures,
its convulsions and agonies, brought clearly before us, and, as it were,
taken in the act, after the lapse of eighteen centuries."
- The Deseret News, Great Salt Lake City, Utah Terr., December 9, 1863
MYSTERY OF DREAMS.
It is related that a man fell asleep as the clock tolled the first stroke
of twelve. He awakened ere the echo of the twelfth stroke had died away,
having in the interval dreamed that he had committed a crime, was detected
after five years, tried and condemned; the shock of finding the halter about
his neck aroused him to consciousness, when he discovered that all these
events had happened in an infinitestimal fragment of time. Mohammed, wishing
to illustrate the wonders of sleep, told how a certain man, being a shiek,
found himself, for his pride, made a poor fisherman; that he lived as one
for sixty years bringing up a family and working hard; and how upon waking
up from this long dream, so short a time had he been asleep that the narrow-necked
gourd bottle, filled water, which he knew he overturned as he fell asleep,
had not time in which to empty itself. How fast the soul travels when the
body is asleep! Often when we awake we shrink from going back into the dull
routine of a sordid existance, regetting the pleasanter life of dreamland.
How is it that sometimes when we go to a strange place we fancy we have
seen it before? Is it possible that when one has been asleep the soul has
floated away, seen the place, and has that memory of it which so surprises
us? In a word, how far dual is the life of man, and far not?
- New North-West, Deer Lodge, Montana Terr., Sept 15, 1876.
A Virginia City (Nev.) paper tells this affecting story: "Charles Kaiser,
who has the only hive of bees in town, says that when he first got the swarm
his old cat's curiosity was much excited in regard to the doings of the
little insects, the like of which she had never before seen. At first she
watched their comings and goings from a distance. She then flattened herself
upon the ground and crept along toward the hive, with tail horizontal and
quivering. It was clearly evident that she thought the bees some new kind
of game. Finally she took up a position at the entrance to the hive, and
when a bee came in or started out, made a dab at it with her paws. This
went on for a time without attracting the special attention of the inhabitants
of the hive. Presently, however, old Tabby struck and crushed a bee on the
edge of the opening to the hive. The smell of the crushed bee alarmed and
enraged the whole swarm. Bees by the score poured forth, and darted into
the fur of the astonished cat. Tabby rolled herself in the grass, spitting,
sputtering, biting, clawing, and squalling as a cat never squalled before.
She appeared a mere ball of fur and bees as she rolled and tumbled about.
She was at length hauled away from the hive with a garden rake at the cost
of several severe stings to her rescuer. Even after she had been taken to
a distant part of the grounds the bees stuck to Tabby's fur, and about once
in two minutes she would utter an unearthly yell and bounce a full yard
in the air. She never disturbed the bees again. Her curiosity was satisfied.
- Pacific Christian Advocate, Portland, Oregon, September 6, 1877
SHE MEANS TO BE LOVED FOR HERSELF ALONE.
There is a young lady in Corktown who has been engaged five times since
New Years, but who is now free once more. She is an heiress in a small way,
her father having a snug sum and owning considerably in the Eighth ward.
Her suiters have always been prosperous young men, as she would not have
any other wooers save those who can show signs of capability and worldly
wealth. But she has an ambition to be loved for herself alone, and puts
all her intended husbands to the test in this wise: She takes an opportunity
of confiding to them, with injunctions of perfect secrecy, that her father
has lost a great deal of money, had has been obliged to mortage his dwelling
house. The latter, however, she represents, is not mortgaged for more than
one-half its worth, so she asks, as a favor, that her intended advance a
sum of money on a second chattel mortgage. The effect of this ruse, so far,
has been that each young man has promised to advance the money, and afterwards
has broken his promise and acted in such a manner that the engagement is
broken also. - Detroit News.
- New North-West, Deer Lodge, Montana Terr., Sept 15, 1876.
DIVING FOR DRINK.
One of the hottest regions of the earth is along the Persian Gulf, where
little or no rain falls. At Barhin the arid shore has no fresh water, yet
a comparatively numerous population contrives to exist there, thanks to
copious springs which burst forth from the bottom of the sea. The fresh
water is got by diving. The diver, sitting in his boat, winds a great goatskin
bag around his left arm, the hand grasping its mouth; then he takes in his
right hand a heavy stone, to which is attached a strong line, and thus equipped
he plunges in and quickly reaches the bottom. Instantly opening the bag
over the strong jet of fresh water, he springs up in the ascending current,
at the same time closing the bag, and is helped aboard. The stone is then
hauled up, and the diver, after taking breath, plunges again. The source
of these copious submarine springs is thought to be in the green hills of
Omar, some 500 or 600 miles distant. - New Haven Register.
- New North-West, Deer Lodge, Montana Terr., Oct 27, 1876.
A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS.
Yesterday mourning a careless man out on Walnut Hills threw a mug of hot
shaving water out of a second story window. Instantly the air was filled
with horrid shrieks, and looking out he saw that he had emptied the water
on the head of his wife, who was digging up a geranium bed with a pine stick.
He leaned out of the window to get a better view of the wreck, when the
sash fell down on his neck, shutting off his wind. His wife, dismayed at
the unexpected shower bath and appalled at her husband's situation, started
at once on the run to his release. In her haste she fell over the baby's
cot, upsetting it and hurling the wailing cherub upon a cactus plant. The
hired girl up stairs, hearing the shrieks in the front yard and doubting
not that the baby had been stolen by some philoprogentive tramp, sprang
to the rescue with such alacrity that she only touched two steps of the
whole flight of stairs, the top one with her feet and the bottom one with
her head, etc., etc., etc.
- The People's Cause, Red Bluff, Calif., Dec. 27, 1878.
ORIGIN OF "TEE-TOTAL."
The London correspondent of the Boston Traveller, in a late letter, says:
"It is stated that the well known and universally adopted word, 'Tee-total,'
had its origin in England. Richard Turner, recently deceased, had been upwards
of fourteen years a member of a Temperance Society. He signed the pledge
while in a state of intoxication. He afterwards became temperate in his
habits and delivered temperance lectures. His speeches were characterized
by a mixture of wit and blunders. On one occasion he was at a loss for a
word which would convey to the audience that he was a total abstinence man,
and he said, 'I have signed the tee-tee-total pledge .' The word
being short and expressive, was immediately adopted in Lancashire, and ultimately
throughout Europe and America."
- The Dollar Newspaper, Philadelphia, Feb 3, 1847.
Our friend and confrere, Joseph T. Adams, the editor and publisher of the
Daily Centinel and Gazette, and its appendages, the semi-weekly Commercial
Gazette, semi-weekly Columbian Centinel, and semi-weekly New England Palladium,
announces in the last number of the the Centinel and Gazette, that all those
papers have been united with the Daily Advertiser and the Chronicle and
This announcement makes us feel like a very old fellow. We have actually
been obliged to think of our age, for we remember well, when the Centinel,
Gazette, Palladium, Chronicle and Patriot, were independent papers, published
each from its own separate establishment. But the times change-and oh, how
rapidly they do change! Where are we of the newspaper world now? Instead
of those old familiar names, we have - but gentle reader, you know what
we have - new,new,new newspapers, and new times. So it will be through the
whole of the world's progress - one constant system of crowding in and crowding
Another newspaper change has occurred, at New York, the venerable time-honored
Gazette, of that city-the oldest paper in the city or State-has been merged
in the Journal of Commerce.
- Boston Transcript, May 1, 1840.
[Of course the word should be "insured" rather than "assured",
but I copy it the way it appeared in the paper. - JL]
Assurance Company of Female Beauty. A foreign journal states, (seriously)
that a new Assurance Company has just been established at Santa Fe, in S.
America; the object of which is to assure female beauty! The plan is stated
to be as follows: - Any woman may estimate her personal beauty at whatever
value she pleases, and assure it at that value, paying a proportionate sum,
according to the period assured for, &c. The Company assures female
beauty from the age of fifteen to that of thirty, paying to the assurer
a specific sum, if her beauty goes off, or is by accident injured, during
a given period.
- National Philanthropist, Boston, Dec 30, 1829.
LOVE AND SLEIGHING. - I wouldn't give a sous for a sleigh-ride unless I
went like a whirlwind. Give me a frosty sky, blood horses and plenty of
new laid snow, and I'll whistle off my fifteen miles an hour, making the
old woods spin by me as if they were running off a reel. Sleighing! it is
a blessing rarely vouchsafed us in these degenerate times, and when it does
come, I've enough of the old chip in me to make the most of it, kick care
to the kennel, and whizzing helter-skelter over hill and dale, like the
wizard horseman, or a will-o'-the-whisp gone wild!
Wasn't those jolly times when you and I were young, when the winters were
like winters, and pretty girls, such as in these days would set a continent
on fire? Ah! the world's growing worse and worse daily, the horses don't
trot as they used to; and as for getting up your tearing sleigh-rides by
moonlight, with a dozen or more vehicles in company, all the pretty girls
of two counties, and jokes, songs, soft words and merry laughter by the
bushels; why I verily believe, sir, you could as well raise the dead, or
go to bed at night without smoking. Then, too, the young fellows! they're
not worth a maravedi. Instead of the bold, manly, open air exercise of their
fathers, whirling along their sweethearts in the frosty moonlight, making
the dear creatures' eyes dance and their cheeks tingle with the delicious
sport; they mope, and flirt, and play the fop in some hot, crowded ball-room,
dressed out like dancing-masters, egod! skipping about more daintily than
butterflies, and shivering at a breath of cold air, as if they had an ague
fit. Pshaw, on such puny atomies! I'd cut off my heir with a shilling if
he dared to ape the scoundrels.
Faith, sir, there's nothing like your sleighing to get up a love scrape,
an I'd like to know if any one can resist it, when he sits so closely by
the side of his partner that he can feel her breath upon his cheek and hear
the lowest whisper of her trembling voice. Then, too, you must both be under
the same buffalo, and your feet will get together, and your hands stray
naturally into each other's, and by the bye, even your lips get somewhat
closer to hers, and you catch yourself kissing before you are aware of it.
Ah! my boy, there's many a sweet beauty loses her little heart at such times,
and finds herself engaged - she scarcely knows how - at the end of some
moonlight sleigh-ride. If you don't wish your daughters to get married yet,
and any gay gallant asks them to a sleighing party, take the impudent scoundrel
by the collar, and battery or no battery, cane him within an inch of his
- The New World, N. Y., Jan 21, 1843
THE KENTUCKY VELOCIPEDE. - In Kentucky a great improvement has been made
in the Velocipede-machine which, by the mere impulse of the body, enables
a person, with all possible ease, to travel at the rate of nine miles an
hour. The improvement consists in having changed the body of the machine
into the form of a fish, with the head of a horse, and made completely water
proof; so that it not only floats, but enables the traveller to cross the
rivers and lakes with which this continent abounds: at the same time, he
has the advantage of carrying along with him, in the body of the animal,
his provisions and baggage. This wonderful creature has been named the ALLIGATOR-HORSE.
- National Intelligencer, Washington, December 25, 1819
Some years ago a ship sailing in the South Atlantic saw another making signals
of distress. They bore down toward the sufferers, and hailed them.
"What is the matter?" cried the captain, through his trumpet.
"We are dying for water," was the feeble response.
"Dip it up then!" shouted back the astonished captain, "you
are in the mouth of the Amazon river."
And sure enough, there these sailors were, with parched lips and swollen
tongues, supposing that there was nothing but the ocean's brine around them,
when they were in the mouth of the mightiest river on the globe, with three
hundred miles of fresh water all around them.
Thus are we, poor thirsty souls, sailing on the boundless ocean of God's
love, heedless of the Divine voice which saith, "If thou knewest the
gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, 'Give to me drink,' thou
wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."
- Pacific Christian Advocate, Portland, Oregon, September 6, 1877
Mrs. Deshang of Bethany in New-Jersey was the mother of three amiable daughters
highly accomplished and beautiful: the young ladies have long been in the
habit of lacing as tight as any of their neighbours. One has become quite
infirm and the other two evidently droop. The alarmed parent stated the
situation of her children to her old friend the venerable Dr. Galen of Philadelphia,
who soon after the receipt of her note, forwarded the following reply:
MADAM, - The case of your charming daughters affects me and my whole experience
may be put in requisition to assist them: that they were healthy robust
and fine children, I perfectly recollect, and that their healths are now
impared may perhaps be solely ascribed to themselves. Fashion destroys more
females than fevers. From a mistaken notion of bettering the best work of
Heaven, the infatuated fair, risk health and even life itself. I deem the
corset of the present day to be a perfect engine of torture and worthy the
Inquisitions of Goa, of Rome, and infinitely worse than the stays of times
gone by. - These last besure were injurious, but they left the resemblance,
of a female shape: the corset on the contrary presents the waist as regularly
round and untapering as a white lead keg. - The olden stays I remember were
laced with a silken string, of the size of the finest twine, but the corset
requires a cord equalling the bow string of a Kickapoo Chief. The antiquated
hoop was of formidable expansion, and when first thrown upon the public
eye created no trivial sensation - but in itself it was perfectly harmless,
there was no compression about it; and the lady abode as safely within its
ample circumference as the sentinel in his box. Every dog will have and
every fashion must have its day; the reign of the corset has endured about
as long as the reign of Bonaparte, and like the latter fatal enough in all
conscience. I anticipate the happy period when the fairest portion of the
fair creation will step forth unincumbered with slabs of walnut and tiers
of whalebone. The constitution of our females must be excellent, to withstand
in any tolerable degree the terrible inflictions of the corset eight long
hours of every day, or the horrible total of 175,200 minutes in one year.
No other animal could survive it - Take the honest ox, and enclose his sides
with hoop poles, put an oaken plank beneath him, and gird the whole with
a bedcord and then demand of him labor. - He would labor indeed, but it
would be for breath. Splinter and belay a pig in the same way, and a whine
might be aspirated, but it would be a whine of expiration.
But I fear I am trespassing too violently on your patience, and in pity
to you conclude with the old Caledonian motto, "Spero meliora."
- American Statesman, Boston, Mass., April 3, 1823
The late king of Prussia once sent to an aid-de-camp, Colonel Malachowki,
who was brave but poor, a small portfolio, bound like a book, in which were
deposited five hundred crowns; some time afterwards he met the officer,
and said to him, "Ah, well, did you like the new book which I sent
you?" "Excessively, sire," replied the colonel, "I read
it with such interest, that I expect the second volume with impatience."
The king smiled, and when the officer's birthday arrived, presented him
with another portfolio, similar in every respect to the first, but with
these words engrave upon it: This book is complete in two volumes!"
- Bedrock Democrat, Baker City, Ore., Mar 11, 1874.
Houdin, The Magican
Ever since the capture of the strange Empire of India by the English, or
for more than 100 years, the civilized people have been hearing of the marvelous
feats performed by the native jugglers. Naturally, Houdin's announcement
of the Indian basket trick made a great sensation. The curtain arose and
disclosed a wicker basket of oblong shape standing upon what appeared to
be a light table without any cloth cover upon it. The juggler entered, dragging
a beautiful youth, dressed as an Indian Prince, wearing a robe of white
cashmere embroidered with gold, while upon his head waved a peacock's plume
held by a diamond star.
HIS GREAT BASKET TRICK
"Mercy! mercy!" cried the child.
"No--no mercy. You are an Indian, and a Prince, and must die,"
was the savage response.
"I am only a child," cried the innocent boy.
"That will not prevent my killing you."
With piercing shrieks the child broke away and rushed to the side wing,
only to be seized there by his executioner, who, lifting him in his arms,
plunged him into the basket, which he closed, straping down the cover. Then
he drew his sword, and, having tested its sharpness by striking it into
the floor, he thrust it in the basket again and again, while the victim
in the inside gave the most heart rending cries of pain and agony. Each
time the sword was pulled out it was seen to be covered with blood, while
the sobs and groans from the inside of the basket grew fainter and fainter,
till at length they ceased, and a ghostly silence ensued. During the scene
the excitement among the audience was intense. Ladies hid their faces behind
their fans, some wept aloud; men shouted hoarsely, "Enough!" The
smiling juggler bowed, and proceded to unstrap the basket, which he turned,
mouth upwards, to the audience showing it to be entirely empty. In the midst
of the applause which followed from the amused and relieved audience, the
little Indian Prince was seen to be seated in the box in the center of the
auditorium, kissing his tiny hand to those about him, as well as to his
friend, the executioner, on the stage.
The trick was performed with the aid of looking-glasses inserted between
the table-legs--a contrivance now commonly used in pantomimes and other
show pieces upon our stage. But it was a new thing then, and the scene was
remarkably well played by Houdin and child. As soon as the boy got in the
basket he opened a trap-door at the bottom of it, which was placed over
a corresponding opening in the table. Hidden by the looking-glass, he crouched
below between the table-legs, and shrieked and sobbed until the proper moment
came for him to descend through a trap in the stage, and so pass around
to the box in front of the theatre. A sponge full of red liquid was placed
at a certain spot inside the basket, and the sword, passing through this,
seemed to be dripping with blood. It was imperative that the juggler should
not pass in front of the table, else his legs would have been reflected
there and that would have disclosed the entire secret. Houdin became dissatisfied
with this trick, and made many improvements in it, which the jugglers of
our day have still further perfected. It is palpable that this cannot be
the way in which Indian jugglers perform the trick in the market-place or
other public squares in broad daylight. They have no look-glass tables,
no traps through the earth.
Houdin's theory concerning them was that their basket had an opening in
it either at its front or its back, and that, while buckling and strapping
down the cover, with knee lifted up and pressed on the basket as if to tighten
the leather strap more securely, the child crept out under the bent knee
and hid beneath the voluminous robes of the juggler. Then, while the sword
is piercing the basket and the child's sobs are most heart-rending, the
crowd gathers into a compact mass about it, and into the crowd the child
easily escapes without being seen, and runs away. At the proper mement he
comes running back as if from a distance, and of course the astonishment
of the crowd is unparalleled, for the basket has in the meantime been opened
and shown to be empty.--Harper's Magazine.
- The North San Juan (Cal.) Times, February 2, 1878
A Trying Situation
Mr. Bilderback, says the Burlington Hawkeye humorist, will not attend divine
service this morning. The old gentleman is, we are pained to learn, laboring
under a very distressing frame of mind, being greatly incensed against churches
on general principles. He does not like to talk about the matter, but we
learned all about it, despite his reticence. It seems that last Sunday morning
he was dozing comfortable in his pew, in the church of which he is one of
the main sleepers, when he became aware of an apparition gliding solemnly
down the aisle with a collection basket in its hand. Mr. Bilderback braced
up into an erect posture, cleared his throat in a ponderous tone of Roman
firmness, as one who would say, "Who's been asleep?" And as the
basket was extended toward him he felt in his trousers' pocket for his wallet.
It was not there, and as he withdrew his hand and felt in his other pocket;
felt that the eyes of the congregation were upon him, and that was all he
felt, for he certainly didn't feel any pocket book. He nodded the man to
wait a second, and leaned over to the left while he felt in the right inside
pocket of his coat, from which, in his increasing nervousness, he drew half
a dozen chestnuts, which rolled over the floor with a rattle that sounded
in his hot ears like the thunders of the Apoclypse, and made them hotter
still. Then he leaned over the end of the pew and felt in his other inside
coat pocket and drew out a bundle of letters, a lot of postal cards, a circus
ticket, a photograph of an actress, a funny story printed on a card, a pocket
comb, a long string, and his face grew so hot his breath felt like a hot
air blast. Then he squared his elbows and went for his vest pockets, and
strewed the pew cushions with quill toothpicks, newspaper scraps, street
car checks, a shoe buttoner, some lead pencil stubs, and crumbling indications
of chewing tobacco, a bit of sealing wax, a bit of licorice root about an
inch long, a few troches. Then he leaned forward, and stung to madness by
the smiles which were breaking out all around the church worse than the
measles in a primary school room dived into his coat tail pockets, and drew
forth a red silk handkerchief, two apples, a spectacle case, a pair of dogskin
gloves, and overcoat button, and a fine assortment of bits of dried orange
peal and lint. Then he stood up devoutly praying that an earthquake might
come along and swallow up either him or the rest of the congregation, he
didn't care much which, and went down into his hip pocket, from which he
evolved a revolver, a corkscrew, a cigar case, a piece of string, a memorandum
book, and a pocket knife. By this time Mr. Bilderback's face was scarlet
clear down to his waist, and he was so nervous and worked up that he nearly
shook his clothes off, while the man with the basket couldn't have moved
away if he died for staying. And when Mr. Bilderback, in forlorn despair,
once more rammed his hand into his trousers pocket where he began the search,
the congregation held its breath, and when Mr. Bilderback, drew forth the
very pocketbook which he missed in his first careless search, and had since
all but stripped to find, there was a sigh of relief went forth from every
devout heart in the house. But Mr. Bilderback only dropped into his seat
with an abruptness that made the windows rattle, and registered a mental
vow that he wasn't going to come out to church again to be made a fool of
by a man with a longhandled darning basket.
- The Montanian, Virginia City, Montana Territory, March 2, 1876