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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne) (1834–1867)

Artemus Ward in London

Personal Recollections

From “Complete Works of Artemus Ward”

YOU’LL be glad to learn that I’ve made a good impression onto the mind of the lan’lord of the Greenlion tavern. He made a speech about me last night. Risin’ in the bar he spoke as follers, there bein over 20 individooals present: “This North American has been a inmate of my ’ouse over two weeks, yit he hasn’t made no attempt to scalp any member of my fam’ly. He hasn’t broke no cups or sassers, or furnitur of any kind. (Hear, hear.) I find I can trust him with lited candles. He eats his wittles with a knife and a fork. Peple of this kind should be encurridged. I purpose ’is ’elth!” (Loud ’plaws.)

What could I do but modestly get up and express a fervint hope that the Atlantic Cable would bind the two countries still more closely together? The lan’lord said my speech was full of orig’nality, but his idee was the old stage coach was more safer, and he tho’t peple would indors that opinyin in doo time.

I’m gettin’ on exceedin’ well in London. I see now, however, that I made a mistake in orderin’ my close afore I left home. The trooth is the taler in our little villige owed me for a pig and I didn’t see any other way of gettin’ my pay. Ten years ago these close would no doubt have been fash’n’ble, and perhaps they would be ekally sim’lar ten years hens. But now they’re diff’rently. The taler said he know’d they was all right, because he had a brother in Wales who kept him informed about London fashins reg’lar. This was a infamus falsehood. But as the ballud says (which I heard a gen’l’man in a new soot of black close and white kid gloves sing t’other night), Never don’t let us Despise a Man because he wears a Raggid Coat! I don’t know as we do, by the way, tho’ we gen’rally get out of his way pretty rapid; prob’ly on account of the pity which tears our boosums for his onhappy condition.

This last remark is a sirkastic and witherin’ thrust at them blotid peple who live in gilded saloons. I tho’t I’d explain my meanin’ to you. I frekently have to explain the meanin’ of my remarks. I know one man—and he’s a man of varid ’complishments—who often reads my articles over 20 times afore he can make anything of ’em at all. Our skoolmaster to home says this is a pecoolerarity of geneyus. My wife says it is a pecoolerarity of infernal nonsens. She’s a exceedin’ practycal woman. I luv her muchly, however, and humer her little ways. It’s a recklis falshood that she henpecks me, and the young man in our neighborhood who said to me one evenin’, as I was mistenin’ my diafram with a gentle cocktail at the villige tavun—who said to me in these very langwidge, “Go home, old man, onless you desires to have another teapot throwd at you by B. J.,” probly regrets havin said so. I said, “Betsy Jane is my wife’s front name, gentle yooth, and I permits no person to alood to her as B. J. outside of the family circle, of which I am it principally myself. Your other observations I scorn and disgust, and I must pollish you off.” He was a able-bodied young man, and, remoovin his coat, he inquired if I wanted to be ground to powder? I said, Yes: if there was a Powder-grindist handy, nothin would ’ford me greater pleasure, when he struck me a painful blow into my right eye, causin’ me to make a rapid retreat into the fireplace. I hadn’t no idee that the enemy was so well organised. But I rallied and went for him, in a rayther vigris style for my time of life. His parunts lived near by, and I will simply state 15 minits had only elapst after the first act when he was carried home on a shutter. His mama met the sollum procession at the door, and after keerfully looking her orfspring over, she said, “My son, I see how it is distinctually. You’ve been foolin’ round a Trashin Masheen. You went in at the place where they put the grain in, cum out with the straw, and you got up into the thingamyjig, and let the horses tred on you, didn’t you, my son?” The pen of no liven Orthur could describe that disfortnit young man’s sittywation more clearer. But I was sorry for him, and I went and nussed him till he got well. His reg’lar original father being absent to the war, I told him I’d be a father to him myself. He smilt a sickly smile, and said I’d already been wus than two fathers to him.

I will here obsarve that fitin orter be allus avided, excep in extreem cases. My principle is, if a man smites me on the right cheek I’ll turn my left to him, prob’ly; but if he insinooates that my gran’mother wasn’t all right, I’ll punch his hed. But fitin is mis’ble bisniss, gen’rally speakin’, and whenever any enterprisin countryman of mine cums over here to scoop up a Briton in the prize ring I’m allus excessively tickled when he gets scooped hisself, which it is a sad fack has thus far been the case—my only sorrer bein’ that t’other feller wasn’t scooped likewise. It’s diff’rently with scullin boats, which is a manly sport, and I can only explain Mr. Hamil’s resunt defeat in this country on the grounds that he wasn’t used to British water. I hope this explanation will be entirely satisfact’ry to all.

As I remarked afore, I’m gettin’ on well. I’m aware that I’m in the great metrop’lis of the world, and it doesn’t make me onhappy to admit the fack. A man is a ass who dispoots it. That’s all that ails him. I know there is sum peple who cum over here and snap and snarl ’bout this and that: I know one man who says it is a shame and a disgraice that St. Paul’s Church isn’t a older edifiss; he says it should be years and even ages older than it is; but I decline to hold myself responsible for the conduck of this idyit simply because he’s my countryman. I spose every civ’lised land is endowed with its full share of gibberin’ idyits, and it can’t be helpt—leastways I can’t think of any effectooal plan of helpin’ it.

I’m a little sorry you’ve got politics over here, but I shall not diskuss ’em with nobody. Tear me to peaces with wild omnibus hosses, and I won’t diskuss ’em. I’ve had quite enuff of ’em at home, thank you. I was at Birmingham t’other night, and went to the great meetin’ for a few minits. I hadn’t been in the hall long when a stern-lookin’ artisan said to me:

“You ar from Wales?”

No, I told him I didn’t think I was. A hidgyis tho’t flasht over me. It was of that onprincipled taler, and I said, “Has my clothin’ a Welchy appearance?”

“Not by no means,” he answered, and then he said, “And what is your opinyin of the present crisis?”

I said, “I don’t zackly know. Have you got it very bad?”

He replied, “Sir, it is sweepin’ over England like the Cymoon of the Desert!”

“Wall,” I said, “let it sweep!”

He ceased me by the arm and said, “Let us glance at hist’ry. It is now some two thousand years——”

“Is it, indeed?” I replied.

“Listin!” he fiercely cried; “it is only a little over two thousand years since——”

“Oh, bother!” I remarkt, “let us go out and git some beer.”

“No, Sir. I want no gross and sensual beer. I’ll not move from this spot till I can vote. Who ar you?”

I handed him my card, which, in addition to my name, contains a elabrit description of my show. “Now, Sir,” I proudly said, “you know me?”

“I sollumly swear,” he sternly replied, “that I never heard of you, or your show, in my life!”

“And this man,” I cried bitterly, “calls hisself a intelligent man, and thinks he orter be allowed to vote! What a holler mockery!”

I’ve no objection to ev’ry intelligent man votin’ if he wants to. It’s a pleasant amoosement, no doubt; but there is those whose igrance is so dense and loathsum that they shouldn’t be trustid with a ballit any more’n one of my trained serpunts should be trusted with a child to play with.

I went to the station with a view of returnin’ to town on the cars. “This way, Sir,” said the guard; “here, you ar,” and he pinted to a first-class carrige, the sole ockepant of which was a rayther prepossessin’ female of about 30 summers.

“No, I thank you,” I ernestly replied, “I prefer to walk.”

I am, dear Sir,
Very respectivly yours,