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Etjecur, et cordis fibras, et pandit anhelas
Pulmonis latebras—

He's king of mirth, that slily cheats our sense
With pun ambiguous, pleasing in suspense;
The shoulders lax become, the bending back
Upheav'd with laughter, makes our ribs to crack :
E’en to the liver he can joys impart,
And play upon the fibres of the heart;
Open the chambers of the longues,” and there
Give longer life in laughing, than in air.

But to come nearer home, and our own times; we

know that France, in the late reign, was the seat of learning and policy; and what made it so, but the great encouragement the king gave punners above any other men: for it is too notorious, to quote any author for it, that Lewis le Grand gave a hundred pistoles for one single pun-motto, made upon an abbot, who died in a field, having a lily growing out of his a-;

Habe mortem prae oculis.
Abbé mort en prez au culis.

Nor was his bounty less to Monsieur de Ferry de Lageltre the painter (though the pun and the picture turned against himself) who drew his majesty shooting, and at some distance from him another man aiming at the same fowl, who was withheld by a third person pointing at the king, with these words from his mouth,

Ne voyezvous le roy tirant 2

Having now, from the best authorities, plainly proved the antiquity and excellence of the art of Punning,

"Potius lungs, as a Dutch commentator would observe. Original Note:

nothing remains but to give some general directious as to the manner how this science is to be taught. 1. Let the husband teach his wife to read it. 2. Let her be appointed to teach her children. 3. Let the head servant of the family instruct all the rest, and that every morning before the master and mistress are up. 4. The masters and misses are to repeat a rule every day, with the examples: and every visiting-day be brought up, to show the company what fine memories they have. 5. They must go ten times through the book before they be allowed to aim at a pun. 6. They must, every day of their lives, repeat six synonymous words, or words like in sound, before they be allowed to sit down to dinner. Such as,

Assent, Ascent. Alter, Altar.
A lass, Alas. A peer, Appear.
Bark, Barque. Barbery, Barberrie.

They are all to be found in metre, most laboriously compiled by the learned author of “The English School Master,” printed anno 1641, London edit. p. 52. 7. If any eldest son has not a capacity to attain to this science, let him be disinherited as non compos, and the estate given to the next hopeful child. — Si quid novisti rectios istis Candidus imperti; sinon, his utere mecum."

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THERE is a remarkable passage in Petropius Arbiter, which plainly proves, by a royal example, that punning was a necessary ingredient to make an entertainment agreeable. The words are these: “Ingerebat nihilominus Trimalchio lentissima voce, Carpe. Ego, suspicatus ad aliquam urbanitatem toties iteratam vocem pertinere, non erubui eum qui suprame accumbebat hoc ipsum interrogare. Atille, qui sãepius ejusmodi ludos spectaverat, Wides, inquit, illum qui obsonium carpit, Carpus vocatur. Itaque quotiescunque dicit Carpe, eodem verbo et vocatet imperat.” And it is farther remarkable, that every day of his life he made the same pun at dinner and supper.


Lest my modesty should be called in question, for venturing to appear in print, in an age so famous for politeness and ingenuity, I think I am bound to say this in my own defence, that these few sheets were not designed to be made public, as being written for my own private use; but what will not the importunity of friends conquer? They were no sooner discovered in my study, but my merry friend George Rochfort, my learned acquaintance Patrick Delany, and my much honoured patron Jonathan Swift, all unanimously agreed, that I should do my own reputation and the world that justice, as to send “such a Treasure of Knowledge” (as they were pleased to express themselves) to the press. As for the work itself, I may venture to say, it is a work of time and experience, and entirely unattempted before. For which reason, I hope, the candid reader will be favourable in his judgment upon it, and consider, that all sciences in their infancy have been weak and feeble. The next age may supply where I have been defective; and the next perhaps may produce a Sir Isaac in Punning. We know that logicians. first spun out reason in categories, predicaments, and enunciations; and at last they came to wind up their bottoms in syllogisms, which is the completing of that science.

The Chaldeans began the mathematics; in which the Egyptians flourished. Then these, crossing the sea by the means of Thales the Milesian, came into Greece, where they were improved very much by Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Oenopides of Chios. These were followed by Briso, Antipho, Hippocrates, &c. But the excellence of the algebraic art was begun by Geber, an Arabian astronomer (whence, as is conceived, the word algebra took its rise) and was much since improved by Cardannus, Tartaglia, Clavius, Stevinus, Ghetaldus, Herigenius, Fran. Van Schooten, Florida de Beaune, &c. But to return to the Art of Punning again; the progress and improvement of which, I hope, will be equal to the sciences I have mentioned; or to any superior to them, if there be such: reader, I must trespass a little longer on your patience, and tell you an old maxim, Bonum, quo communius, eo melius, “Good, the more common, the better it is.” You see, I have, in imitation of the industrious bee, gathered my honey from various flowers; but yet I cannot say, without some diminution and loss to the persons from whom I have taken the examples to my rules, who are likely never to use their puns again. And here, to avoid the imputation of ingratitude, I must declare to the world, that my worthy friend Dr. R. , who is singularly remarkable for his unparalleled skill in punning, and a most industrious promoter of it, has been a very great instrument in bringing this work to hight, as well by animating me to proceed in it, as by endeavouring to procure a good letter for the impression. The favourable acceptance that my puns have met with in some private companies, makes me flatter myself, that my labours therein will be candidly accepted, as they have been cordially intended to serve my native country.* TOM PUN-SIBI.

From my Study, up one Pair of
Stairs, ill-contrived Street-
wards, August 9th, 1719.

* Dr. Sheridan (who is mentioned as author of “The Art of Punning,” by Mrs. Pilkington, "..., I. p. 64) had a large collection o' or

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