Joe Miller's Jests



A certain Senator, who is not, it may be, esteemed the wisest Man in the House, has a frequent Custom of shaking his Head when another speaks, which giving Offence to a particular Person, he complained of the Affront; but one who had long been acquainted with him, assured the House, it was only an ill Habit he had got, for though he would oftentimes shake his Head, there was nothing in it.


A Gentleman having lent a Guinea, for two or three Days, to a Person whose Promises he had not much Faith in, was very much surpriz’d to find he very punctually kept his Word with him; the same Gentleman being sometime after desirous of borrowing the like Sum, No, said the other, you have deceived me once, and I am resolved you shan’t do it a second Time.


My Lord Chief Justice Holt had sent, by his Warrant, one of the French Prophets, a foolish Sect, that started up in his Time, to Prison; upon which Mr. Lacy, one of their Followers, came one Day to my Lord’s House, and desired to speak with him, the Servants told him, he was not well, and saw no Company that Day, but tell him, said Lacy, I must see him, for I come to him from the Lord God, which being told the Chief Justice, he order’d him to come in, and ask’d him his Business; I come, said he, from the Lord, who sent me to thee, and would have thee grant a Noli Prosequi for John Atkins, whom thou hast cast into Prison; Thou art a false Prophet, answered my Lord, and a lying Knave, for if the Lord had sent thee it wou’d have been to the Attorney-General, he knows it is not in my Power to grant a Noli Prosequi.


Tom B---rn---t happening to be at Dinner at my Lord Mayor’s, in the latter Part of the late Queen’s Reign, after two or three Healths, the Ministry was toasted, but when it came to Tom’s Turn to drink, he diverted it for some Time by telling a Story to the Person who sat next him; the chief Magistrate of the City not feeling his Toast go round, call’d out, Gentlemen, where sticks the Ministry? At nothing, by G--d, says Tom, and so drank off his Glass.


My lord Craven, in King James the First’s Reign, was very desirous to see Ben Johnson, which being told to Ben, he went to my Lord’s House, but being in a very tatter’d Condition, as Poets sometimes are, the Porter refused him Admittance, with some saucy Language, which the other did not fail to return: My Lord happening to come out while they were wrangling, asked the Occasion of it: Ben, who stood in need of no-body to speak for him, said, he understood his Lordship desired to see him; you, Friend, said my Lord, who are you? Ben Johnson, reply’d the other: No, no, quoth my lord, you cannot be Ben Johnson who wrote the Silent Woman, you look as if you could not say Bo to a Goose: Bo, cry’d Ben, very well, said my Lord, who was better pleas’d at the Joke, than offended at the Affront, I am now convinced, by your Wit, you are Ben Johnson.


A certain Fop was boasting in Company that he had every Sense in perfection; no, by G--d, said one, who was by, there is one you are entirely without, and that is Common Sense.


An Irish Lawyer of the Temple, having occasion to go to Dinner, left these Directions written, and put in the Key-Hole of his Chamber-Door, I am gone to the Elephant and Castle, where you shall find me; and if you can’t read this Note, carry it down to the Stationer’s, and he will read it for you.


Old Dennis who had been the Author of many Plays, going by a Brandy-Shop, in St. Paul’s Church-Yard; the Man who kept it, came out to him, and desired him to drink a Dram, for what Reason said he, because you are a Dramatick poet, answered the other; well, Sir, said the old Gentleman, you are an out-of-the-way Fellow, and I will drink a Dram with you; but when he had so done, he asked him to pay for it, S’death, Sir, said the Bard, did you not ask me to drink a Dram because I was a Dramatick Poet; yes Sir, reply’d the Fellow, but I did not think you had been a Dram o’Tick Poet.


Daniel Purcel, the famous Punster, and a Friend of his, having a Desire to drink a Glass of Wine together upon the 30th of January, they went to the Salutation Tavern upon Holbourn-Hill, and finding the Door shut, they knock’d at it, but it was not opened to ’em, only one of the Drawers look’d through a little Wicket, and asked what they would please to have, why open your Door, said Daniel, and draw us a Pint of Wine, the Drawer said, his Master would not allow of it that Day, it was a Fast; D--mn your Master, cry’d he, for a precise Coxcomb, is he not contented to fast himself but he must make his Doors fast too.


The same Gentleman calling for some Pipes in a Tavern, complained they were too short; the Drawer said, they had no other, and those were but just come in: Ay, said Daniel, I see you have not bought them very long.

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