Joe Miller's Jests



A Person who had a chargeable Stomach, used often to asswage his Hunger at a Lady’s Table, having one Time or other promis’d to help her to a Husband. At length he came to her, Now Madam, says he, I have brought you a Knight, a man of Worship and Dignity, one that will furnish out a Table well. Phoo, says the Lady, your Mind’s ever running on your Belly; No, says he, ’tis sometimes running o’yours you see.


One, who had been a very termagant Wife, lying on her Death-bed, desired her Husband, That as she had brought him a Fortune, she might have Liberty to make her Will, for bestowing a few Legacies to her Relations: No, by G--d, Madam, says he, You had your Will all your Life-time, and now I’ll have mine.


When the Lord Jefferies, before he was a Judge, was pleading at the bar once, a Country Fellow giving Evidence against his Client, push’d the Matter very home on the Side he swore of; Jefferies, after his usual Way, call’d out to the Fellow, Hark you, you Fellow in the Leather Doublet, what have you for swearing? To which the Countryman smartly reply’d, Faith, Sir, if you have no more for Lying than I have for Swearing, you may go in a Leather Doublet too.


The same Jefferies afterwards on the Bench, told an old Fellow with a long Beard, that he supposed he had a Conscience as long as his Beard: Does your Lordship, replies the old Man, measure Consciences by Beards? if so, your Lordship has no Beard at all.


Apelles, the famous Painter, having drawn the Picture of Alexander the Great on Horseback, brought it and presented it to that Prince, but he not bestowing that Praise on it, which so excellent a Piece deserv’d, Apelles desired a living Horse might be brought; who mov’d by Nature fell a prancing and neighing, as though it had actually been his living Fellow-Creature; whereupon Apelles told Alexander, his Horse understood Painting better than himself.


An old Gentleman who had married a fine young Lady, and being terribly afraid of Cuckoldom, took her to Task one Day, and ask’d her, if she had considered what a crying Sin it was in a Woman to cuckold her Husband? Lord, my Dear, says she, what d’ye mean? I never had such a Thought in my Head, nor never will: No, no, replied he, I shall have it in my Head, you’ll have it some where else.


The late Lord Dorset, in a former Reign, was asking a certain Bishop, why he conferr’d Orders on so many Blockheads. Oh, my Lord, says he, ’tis better the Ground should be plowed by Asses, than lie quite untill’d.


A certain Lady, to excuse herself for a Frailty she had lately fallen into, said to an intimate Friend of her’s, Lord! how is it possible for a Woman to keep her Cabinet unpickt, when every Fellow has got a Key to it.


Mr. Dryden, once at Dinner, being offered by the Lady the Rump of a Fowl, and refusing it, the Lady said, Pray, Mr. Dryden, take it, the Rump is the best Part of the Fowl; Yes, Madam, says he, and so I think it is of the Fair.


A Company of Gamesters falling out at a Tavern, gave one another very scurvy Language: At length those dreadful Messengers of Anger, the Bottles and Glasses flew about like Hail-Shot; one of which mistaking it’s Errand, and hitting the Wainscot, instead of the Person’s Head it was thrown at, brought the Drawer rushing in, who cry’d, D’ye call Gentlemen? Call Gentlemen, says one of the Standers by; no, they don’t call Gentlemen, but they call one another Rogue and Rascal, as fast as they can.

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The End As I Know It: A Novel of Millennial Anxiety, by proprietor Kevin Shay, is now available in paperback.

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