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

Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber (1814–1890)

Seeking a Comet

From “Life and Sayings of Mrs. Partington”

IT was with an anxious feeling that Mrs. Partington, having smoked her specs, directed her gaze toward the western sky, in quest of the tailless comet of 1850.

“I can’t see it,” said she; and a shade of vexation was perceptible in the tone of her voice. “I don’t think much of this explanatory system,” continued she, “that they praise so, where the stars are mixed up so that I can’t tell Jew Peter from Satan, nor the consternation of the Great Bear from the man in the moon. ’Tis all dark to me. I don’t believe there is any comet at all. Who ever heard of a comet without a tail, I should like to know? It isn’t natural; but the printers will make a tale for it fast enough, for they are always getting up comical stories.”

With a complaint about the falling dew, and a slight murmur of disappointment, the dame disappeared behind the deal door like the moon behind a cloud.