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introduced some verses—" The poem published this week was composed by an esteemed friend who has lain in his grave
for many years for his own amusement". Odd blunders have sometimes been made in composition by the misarrangement of clauses, as when boys' dragons or kites were described as “light frames covered with paper, and sent into the air by boys with tails on them”. The tombstone at La Point, which bears the brief inscription, "John Philips, accidently shot as a mark of affection by his brother," must be another slip of the same kind, unless brotherly affection at La Point has an unusual way of expressing itself. A Cleveland paper, describing a Republican demonstration in that city, said—“The procession was a very fine one, and nearly two miles long, as was also the prayer of Dr. Perry, the chaplain”. The same journal, in its notice of a forthcoming meeting, said, with probably more truth than it designed—“A great variety of speeches may be expected, too tedious to mention”. A Wisconsin paper announced, about the same time, that the Board of Education had “resolved to erect a building large enough to accommodate 500 students three storeys high”. The building would have to be large, indeed, to accommodate students of such unusual height. Similar to this was an advertisment which appeared in an English paper, under the heading of "To Let":-A house for a family in good repair”. Punch, in quoting this advertisement, conjectured that a family in good repair must mean one in which none of the members were cracked.
The brief and touching advertisement, "Two sisters want washing,” which appeared in the Manchester Guardian, is not open to the objection of being ungrammatical, but it is certainly ambiguous, and is apt to excite the thought how many people want washing besides the two sisters.
Blunders of this sort are apt to be made even by good writers when writing carelessly. We find Swift, in describing a piece of plate, saying, “I could perceive that it was scoured with half an eye' Scoured with half an eye! One feels inclined to ask, “Whose ? as Sydney Smith did when recommended to take a walk on an empty stomach.
In reading an interesting article on old newspapers in Fraser's Magazine, I could not help smiling over the following sentence, which though saved to some extent by the “who," reads very comically. “Opposite me," says the writer, “ there was seated at a table a thick-set man, eating a lobster who was a parliamentary reporter.”
“ THE INNOCENTS IN THE VATICAN. (By the kind permission of Messrs. Chatto & Windus, London, from
the “ COMPLETE WORKS OF MARK TWAIN, REVISED BY THE AUTHOR.)
The guides in Genoa are delighted to secure an American party, because Americans so much wonder, and deal so much in sentiment and emotion, before any relic of Columbus. Our guide there fidgetted about as if he had swallowed a spring mattress. He was full of animationfull of impatience. He said, “Come wis me, genteelmen ! -come! I show you ze letter writing by Christopher Colombo ! write it himself !-write it wis his own hand !Come!”
He took us to the Municipal Palace. After much impressive fumbling of keys and opening of locks, the stained and aged document was spread before us. The guide's eyes sparkled.
He danced about us, and tapped the parchment with his finger. “What I tell you, genteelmen! Is it not so? See! handwriting Christopher Colombo !write it himself !”
We looked indifferent-unconcerned. The doctor examined the document very deliberately during a painful pause. Then he said, without any show of interest -- Ah !
- Ferguson-what-what did you say was the name of the party who wrote this ?”
“Christopher Colombo! ze great Christopher Colombo !" Another deliberate examination. “Ah !—did he write it himself, or—or how ?”
“ He write it himself !-- Christopher Colombo ! he's own handwriting, write by himself !”
Then the Doctor laid the document down, and said
“Why, I have seen boys in America, only fourteen years old, that could write better than that.”
“But zis is ze great Christo—" “I don't care who it is ! It's the worst writing I ever
Now, you mustn't think you can impose on us because we are strangers. We are not fools, by a good deal. If you have got any specimens of penmanship of real merit, trot them out !-and if you haven't, drive on!”
We drove on. The guide was considerably shaken up, but he made one more venture. He had something which he thought would overcome us. He said
Ah, genteelmen, you come wis me! I show you beautiful, O, magnificent bust, Christopher Colombo ! splendid, grand, magnificent !”
He brought us before the beautiful bust--for it was beautiful and sprang back, and struck an attitude.
“Ah, look, genteelmen ! beautiful, grand, bust, Christopher Colombo !-beautiful bust! beautiful pedestal !”
The Doctor put up his eyeglass, procured for such occasions. “Ah, what did you say this gentleman's name was !”
Christopher Colombo ! ze great Christopher Colombo !"
Christopher Colombo ! the great Christopher Colombo ! Well, what did he do ?”
“ Discover America !-discover America.”
“ Discover America ? No, that statement will hardly wash. We are just from America ourselves. We heard nothing about it. Christopher Colombo--pleasant name -is-is he dead ?”
“Oh, corpo di Baccho !—three hundred year !”
“I do not know, genteelmen !—I do not know what he die of!" “ Measles, likely ?”
Maybe--maybe—I do not know. I think he die of somethings.”
“ Parents living ?” “Im-posseeble!” “Ah !—which is the bust, and which is the pedestal ?" “Santa Maria !-Zis ze bust !-Zis ze pedestal !”
“Ah! I see, I see—happy combination- very happy combination, indeed. Is—is this the first time this gentleman was ever on a bust?”
That joke was lost on the foreigner-guides cannot master the subtleties of the American joke.
We have made it interesting to this Roman guide. Yesterday we spent three or four hours in the Vatican again, that wonderful world of curiosities. We came very near expressing interest sometimes—even admiration—it was hard to keep from it. We succeeded though. Nobody else ever did in the Vatican Museums. The guide was bewilderednonplussed. He walked his legs off nearly, hunting up extraordinary things, and exhausted all his ingenuity on us; but it was a failure ; we never showed any interest in anything. He had reserved what he considered to be his greatest wonder till the last—a royal Egyptian mummy, the best-preserved in the world perhaps. He took us there. He felt so sure this time, that some of his old enthusiasm came back to him.
“See, genteelmen !-Mummy !-mummy!” The eyeglass came up as calmly, as deliberately, as ever.
“Ah Ferguson--what did I understand you to say the gentleman's name was ?”
“Name :- he got no name ! - Mummy !- 'Gyptian mummy!”
Born here?” “No!'Gyptian mummy!" “Ah ! just so.
Frenchman, I presume ?" “No! not Frenchman, not Roman !-born in Egypta ?” Born in Egypta.
Never heard of Egypta before. Foreign locality, likely. Mummy, mummy! How calm he is—how self-possessed ! Is—ah !-is he dead ?”
Oh, sacre bleu ! been dead three thousan' year !” The doctor turned on him savagely—“Here, now, what do you mean by such conduct as this ! Playing us for Chinamen because we are strangers and trying to learn ! Trying to impose your vile second-hand carcasses on us ! Thunder and lightning, I've a notion to-to-if you've got a nice fresh corpse, fetch him out !or by George we'll brain you !"
A Dream ....
Areopagitica,” From the ...