Joe Miller's Jests



The famous Sir George Rook, when he was a Captain of Marines, quarter’d at a Village where he buried a pretty many of his Men: At length the Parson refus’d to perform the Ceremony of their Interrment any more, unless he was paid for it, which being told Captain Rook, he ordered Six Men of his Company to carry the Corpse of the Soldier, then dead, and lay him upon the Parson’s Hall-Table. This so embarrass’d the Parson, that he sent the Captain Word, If he’d fetch the Man away, hed bury him and his whole Company for nothing.


A reverend and charitable Divine, for the Benefit of the Country where he resided, caused a large Causeway to be begun: As he was one Day overlooking the Work, a certain Nobleman came by, Well, Doctor, says he, for all your great Pains and Charity, I don’t take this to be the Highway to Heaven: Very true, my Lord, replied the Doctor, for if it had, I shou’d have wondered to have met your Lordship here.


Two Jesuits having pack’d together an innumerable Parcel of miraculous Lies, a Person who heard them, without taking upon him to correct them, told ’em one of his own: That at St. Alban’s, there was a Stone Cistern, in which Water was always preserv’d for the Use of that Saint; and that ever since, if a Swine shou’d eat out of it, he wou’d instantly die: The Jesuits, hugging themselves at the Story, set out the next Day to St. Alban’s, where they found themselves miserably deceived: On their Return, they upbraded the Person with telling them so monstrous a Story; Look ye there now, said he, you told me a hundred Lies t’other Night, and I had more Breeding than to contradict you, I told you but one, and you have rid twenty Miles to confute me, which is very uncivil.


A Welchman and an Englishman vapouring one Day at the Fruitfulness of their Countries; the Englishman said, there was a Close near the Town where he was born, which was so fertile, that if a Kiboo was thrown in over Night, it would be so cover’d with Grass, that ‘twould be difficult to find it the next Day; Splut, says the Welchman, what’s that? There’s a Close where hur was born, where you may put your Horse in over Night, and not be able to find him next Morning.


A Country Fellow in King Charles the IId’s. Time, selling his Load of Hay in the Haymarket, two Gentlemen who came out of the Blue-Posts, were talking of Affairs; one said, that Things did not go right, the King had been at the House and prorogued the Parliament. The Countryman coming Home, was ask’d, what News in London? Odsheart, says he, there’s something to do there; the King, it seems, has berogued the Parliament sadly.


A wild young Gentleman having married a very discreet, virtuous young Lady; the better to reclaim him, she caused it to be given out at his Return, that she was dead, and had been buried: In the mean Time, she had so plac’d herself in Disguise, as to be able to observe how he took the News; and finding him still the same gay inconstant Man as he always had been, she appear’d to him as the Ghost of herself, at which he seemed not at all dismay’d: At length disclosing herself to him, he then appear’d pretty much surpriz’d; a Person by said, Why, Sir, you seem more afraid now than before; Ay, replied he, most Men are more afraid of a living Wife, than a dead one.


An under Officer of the Customs at the Port of Liverpool, running heedlessly along a Ship’s Gunnel, happened to tip over-board, and was drown’d; being soon after taken up, the Coroner’s Jury was summoned to sit upon the Body. One of the Jury-Men returning home, was call’d to by an Alderman of the Town, and ask’d what Verdict they brought in, and whether they found it Felo de se: Ay, ay, says the Jury-Man shaking his Noddle, he fell into the Sea, sure enough.


One losing a Bag of Money of about 50l. between Temple-Gate and Temple-Bar, fixed a Paper up, offering 10l. Reward to those who took it up, and should return it: Upon which the Person that had it came and writ underneath to the following Effect, Sir, I thank you, but you bid me to my loss.


Two Brothers coming to be executed once for some enormous Crime; the Eldest was first turn’d off, without saying one Word: The other mounting the Ladder, began to harangue the Crowd, whose Ears were attentively open to hear him, expecting some Confession from him, Good People, says he, my Brother hangs before my Face, and you see what a lamentable Spectacle he makes; in a few Moments I shall be turned off too, and then you’ll see a Pair of Spectacles.


It was an usual Saying of King Charles II. That Sailors got their Money like Horses, and spent it like Asses; the following Story is somewhat an Instance of it: One Sailor coming to see another on Pay-day, desired to borrow twenty Shillings of him; the money’d Man fell to telling out the Sum in Shillings, but a Half-Crown thrusting its Head in, put him out, and he began to tell again, but then an impertinent Crown-piece was as officious as it’s half Brother had been, and again interrupted the Tale; so that taking up a Handful of Silver, he cry’d, Here, Jack, give me a Handful when your Ship’s paid, what a Pox signifies counting it.

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