Joe Miller's Jests



It being proved in a Trial at Guildhall, that a Man’s Name was really Inch, who pretended that it was Linch, I see, said the Judge, the old Proverb is verified in this Man, who being allowed an Inch took an L.


A Mayor of Yarmouth, in ancient Times, being by his Office a Justice of the Peace, and one who was willing to dispense the Laws wisely, tho’ he could hardly read, got him the Statute-Book, where finding a Law against firing a Beacon, or causing any Beacon to be fired, after nine of the Clock at Night, the poor Man read it frying of Bacon, or causing any Bacon to be fryed; and accordingly went out the next Night upon the Scent, and being directed by his Nose, to the Carrier’s House, he found the Man and his Wife both frying of Bacon, the Husband holding the Pan while the Wife turned it: Being thus caught in the Fact, and having nothing to say for themselves, his Worship committed them both to Jail, without Bail or Mainprize.


The late facetious Mr. Spiller, being at the Rehearsal, on a Saturday Morning, the time when the Actors are usually paid, was asking another, whether Mr. Wood, the Treasurer of the House, had any Thing to say to them that Morning; no, faith, Jemmy, reply’d the other, I’m afraid there’s no Cole, which is a cant Word for Money; by G---d, said Spiller, if there is no Cole we must burn Wood.


A witty Knave coming to a Lace-Shop upin Ludgate-Hill, said, he had Occasion for a small Quantity of very fine Lace, and having pitched upon that he liked, asked the Woman of the Shop, how much she would have, for as much as would reach from one of his Ears to the other, and measure which Way she pleased, either over his Head or under his Chin; after some Words, they agreed, and he paid the Money down, and began to measure, saying, One of my Ears is here, and the other is nailed to the Pillory in Bristol, therefore, I fear you have not enough to make good your Bargain; however, I will take this Piece in part, and desire you will provide the rest with all Expedition.


When Sir Cloudsly Shovel set out on his last Expedition, there was a Form of Prayer, composed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, for the Success of the Fleet, in which his Grace made Use of this unlucky Expression, that he begged God would be a Rock of Defence to the Fleet, which occasioned the following Lines to be made upon the Monument, set up for him, in Westminster-Abbey, he being cast away in that Expedition, on the Rocks call’d, the Bishop and his Clerks.

    As Lambeth pray’d, such was the dire event.
    Else had we wanted now this Monument;
    That God unto our Fleet would be a Rock,
    Nor did kind Heav’n, the wise Petition mock;
    To what the
Metropolitan said then,
Bishop and his Clerks reply’d, Amen.


A French marquis being once at Dinner at Roger Williams’s, the famous Punster and Publican, and boasting of the happy Genius of his Nation, in projecting all the fine Modes and Fashions, particularly the Ruffle, which he said, was de fine Ornament to de Hand, and had been followed by all de oder Nations: Roger, allowed what he said, but observed, at the same Time, that the English, according to Custom, had made a great Improvement upon their Invention, by adding the Shirt to it.


A poor dirty Shoe-Boy going into a Church, one Sunday Evening, and seeing the Parish-Boys standing in a Row, upon a Bench to be catechized, he gets up himself, and stands in the very first Place, so the Parson of Course beginning with him, asked him, What is your name? Rugged and Tough, answered he, who gave you that name? says Domine: Why the Boys in our Alley, reply’d poor Rugged and Tough, Lord d---mn them.


A Prince laughing at one of his Courtiers whom he had employed in several Embassies, told him, he looked like an Owl. I know not, answered the Courtier, what I look like; but this I know, that I have had the Honour several Times to represent your Majesty’s Person.


A Venetian Ambassador going to the court of Rome, passed through Florence, where he went to pay his Respects to the late Duke of Tuscany. The Duke complaining to him of the Ambassador the State of Venice had sent him, as a Man unworthy of his Publick Character; Your Highness, said he, must not wonder at it, for we have many Idle Pates, at Venice. So have we, reply’d the Duke, in Florence; but we don’t send them to treat of Publick Affairs.


A Lady’s Age happening to be questioned, she affirmed, she was but Forty, and call’d upon a Gentleman that was in Company for his Opinion; Cousin, said she, do you believe I am in the Right, when I say I am but Forty? I ought not to dispute it, Madam, reply’d he, for I have heard you say so these ten Years.

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