Friday, November 12, 2010

Miseries of Human Life in the Country

Friday, November 12, 2010
Loretta reports:

Here’s a bit more from James Bereford’s The Miseries of Human Life.  Originally published in 1806, it contains, along with deeply obscure puns & other bafflements for the 21st century reader, miseries not unfamiliar to us.

2. (T.)
After having assembled a dinner-party on Michaelmas-day,—finding that the fox has taken upon him to execute the orders you had given with regard to the goose.
6. (S.)
Residing at a country-town…—next door to a quiet neighbour, whose dwelling is suddenly converted into an ale-house of the most cheerful description.
15. (T.)
To be repeatedly called away from your knife and fork by the arrival of different persons (who will not wait) on petty business, which they always contrive should exactly tally with your meals, and which you cannot postpone without even more inconvenience to yourself than the loss of half your dinner.
17. (T.)
On an August evening—windows open, and candles lighted—the incessant visits of gnats, moths, earwigs, &c. &c. without invitation; so that one half of your time passes in killing some of your guests, and the other in helping the rest to kill themselves.
 22. (T.)
Just in that period of your walk when you are overtaken by a torrent of rain, and secretly applauding your own caution, in having provided yourself with an umbrella—said umbrella suddenly and furiously reversed by a puff of wind, and shred to ribbands in an instant.
23.  During the fall of the leaf—the vegetable litter which incessantly deforms your gardens, lawns, and walks, much faster than it can be removed by the broom—and which obliges you to look for all your comfort to the approaching nakedness of winter.
25. (T.)
Passing unawares through a paddock inhabited by an old Bull, by no means celebrated for urbanity to strangers.
27- (T.)
With the heel of one muddy shoe, treading the loosened string out of the other.

Above left, Dr. Syntax Pursued by a Bull, by Thomas Rowlandson, courtesy Ancestry

Below right illustration is from Beresford's book.


Unknown said...

"an old Bull, by no means celebrated for urbanity to strangers"

Nicely put.

LaDonna said...

This made me wonder when umbrellas were invented? Did the umbrella used by this man look like ours?

Heather said...

If Beresford were a 21c gentlemen, it's clear he would have a much-followed Tumblr account.

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