Joe Miller's Jests



Mr. Serjeant G---d---r, being lame of one Leg; and pleading before Judge For---e, who has little or no Nose, the Judge told him he was afraid he had but a lame Cause of it: Oh! my Lord, said the Serjeant, have but a little Patience, and I’ll warrant I prove every Thing as plain as the Nose on your Face.


A Gentleman eating some Mutton that was very tough, said, it put him in Mind of an old English Poet: Being asked who that was; Chau---cer, replied he.


A certain Roman-Catholick Lord, having renounced the Popish Religion, was asked not long after, by a Protestant Peer, Whether the Ministers of the State, or Ministers of the Gospel had the greatest Share in his Conversion: To whom he reply’d, that when he renounced Popery he had also renounced Auricular Confession.


Michael Angelo, in his Picture of the last Judgment, in the Pope’s Chappel, painted among the Figures in Hell, that of a certain Cardinal, who was his Enemy, so like, that every-body knew it at first Sight: Whereupon the Cardinal complaining to Pope Clement the Seventh, of the Affront, and desiring it might be defaced: You know very well, said the Pope, I have Power to deliver a Soul out of Purgatory but not out of Hell.


A Gentleman being at Dinner at a Friend’s House, the first Thing that came upon the Table was a Dish of Whitings, and one being put upon his Plate, he found it stink so much that he could not eat a Bit of it, but he laid his Mouth down to the Fish, as if he was whispering with it, and then took up the Plate and put it to his own Ear; the Gentleman, at whose Table he was, enquiring into the meaning, he told him he had a Brother lost at Sea, about a Fortnight ago, and he was asking that Fish if he knew any thing of him; and what Answer made he, said the Gentleman, he told me, said he, he could give no Account of him, for he had not been at Sea these three Weeks.
    I would not have any of my Readers apply this Story, as an unfortunate Gentleman did, who had heard it, and was the next Day whispering a Rump of Beef at a Friend’s House.


An English Gentleman happening to be in Brecknockshire, he used sometimes to divert himself with shooting, but being suspected not to be qualified by one of the little Welch Justices, his Worship told him, that unless he could produce his Qualification, he should not allow him to shoot there, and he had two little Manors; yes, Sir, said the Englishman, every Body may perceive that, perceive what, cry’d the Welchman? That you have too little Manners, said the other.


The Chaplain’s Boy of a Man of War, being sent out of hs own Ship of an Errand to another; the two Boys were conferring Notes about their Manner of living; how often, said one, do you go to Prayers now, why, answered the other, in Case of a Storm, or any Danger; ay, said the first, there’s some Sense in that, but my Master makes us pray when there is no more Occasion for it, than for my leaping over-board.


Not much unlike this Story, is one a Midshipman told one Night, in Company with Joe Miller and myself, who said, that being once in great Danger at Sea, every body was observed to be upon their Knees, but one Man, who being called upon to come with the rest of the Hands to Prayers, not I, said he, it is your Business to take Care of the Ship, I am but a Passenger.


Three or four roguish Scholars walking out one Day from the University of Oxford, spied a poor Fellow near Abingdon, asleep in a Ditch, with an Ass by him, loaded with Earthen-Ware, holding the Bridle in his Hand, says one of the Scholars to the rest, if you’ll assist me, I’ll help you to a little Money, for you know we are bare at present; no doubt of it they were not long consenting; why then, said he, we’ll go and sell this old Fellow’s Ass at Abingdon, for you know the Fair is To-morrow, and we shall meet with Chapmen enough; therefore do you take the Panniers off, and put them upon my Back, and the Bridle over my Head, and then lead you the Ass to Market, and let me alone with the Old Man. This being done accordingly, in a little Time after the poor Man awaking, was strangely surprized to see his Ass thus metamorphosed; Oh! for God’s-sake, said the Scholar, take this Bridle out of my Mouth, and this Load from my Back. Zoons, how came you here, reply’d the old Man, why, said he, my Father, who is a great Necromancer, upon a idle Thing I did to disoblige him, transformed me into an Ass, but now his Heart has relented, and I am come to my own Shape again, I beg you will let me go Home and thank him; by all Means, said the Crockrey Merchant, I don’t desire to have any Thing to do with Conjuration, and so let the Scholar at Liberty, who went directly to his Comrades, that by this Time were making merry with the Money they had sold the Ass for: But the old Fellow was forced to go the next Day, to seek for a new one in the Fair, and after having look’d on several, his own was shewn him for a very good one, O, Ho! said he, what have he and his Father quarrelled again already? No, no, I’ll have nothing to say to him.


Mr. Congreve going up the Water, in a Boat, one of the Watermen told him, as they passed by Peterborough House, that this House had sunk a Story; no, Friend, said he, I rather believe it is a Story raised.

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