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Insult and Injury. In his fable of “The Bald Man and the Gnat,” Phædrus relates how a bald man seeking to crush a gnat that had settled upon his pate only succeeded in striking himself a heavy blow. The gnat jeeringly said, “ You wanted to revenge the sting of a tiny insect with death : what will you do to yourself, who have added insult to injury?”
(“Quid facies tibi,
Injuriæ qui addideris contumeliam "') International. This word is the invention of Jeremy Bentham. It seems now almost inconceivable how the world could get along without it. “The word international introduced by the immortal Bentham, and Mr. Carlyle's gigmanity,” says Hall (Modern English, p. 19), "are significantly characteristic of the utilitarian philanthropist and the futilitarian misanthropist respectively."
The following is the paragraph in which the word made its first appearance :
With regard to the political quality of the persons whose conduct is the object of law. These may, on any given occasion, be considered either as members of the same state, or as members of different states; in the first case the law may be referred to the head of internal, in the second case to that of international, jurisprudence. The word international, it must be acknowledged, is a new one, though, it is hoped, sufficiently analogous and intelli. gible. It is calculated to express, in a more significant way, the branch of law which goes under the name of the law of nations, -an appellation so uncharacteristic that, were it not for the force of custom, it would seem rather to refer to internal jurisprudence. The Chancellor d'Aguesseau has already made, I find, a similar remark: he says that what is commonly called droit des gens ought rather to be termed droit entre les gens.-BENTHAM: Introduction to Principles of Morals.
Interrupted sentences. “How you frighted me !" cried Lamb in a letter to Thomas Allsop in the summer of 1829. “Never write again Coleridge is dead' at the end of a line and tamely come in 'to his friends' at the beginning of another. Love is quicker, and fear from love, than the transi. tion ocular from line to line." Allsop's offence was doubtless unintentional. Yet many wags have of malice prepense adopted this method of raising the expectations, hopes, or fears of the party addressed, to dash them to earth again the next moment with a laugh. Lord Erskine, for example, was in the habit of making a very effective pause in all letters replying to solicitations for subscriptions. He wrote, “Sir,-I feel much honored by your application to me, and I beg to subscribe"-here the reader had to turn over the leaf“myself your very obedient servant," etc.
One of the best instances of this form of pause occurred in a letter received by a popular physician. This gentleman was pleased with a certain aerated water, and by his assiduous recommendations procured for it a celebrity it justly deserved. The doctor acted solely in the interests of humanity generally, and expected no return. To his surprise, there came one morning an effusive letter from the company, saying that his recommendations had done them so much good that they "ventured to send him a hundred- ” Here the page came to an end. “This will never do,” said the doctor ; “it is very kind, but I could not think of accepting anything." He turned the page, and found the sentence ran " of our circulars for distribution.”
Much more satisfactory to the recipient was Lord Eldon's note to his friend Dr. Fisher, of the Charterhouse : “Dear Fisher,- I cannot to-day give you the preferment for which you ask. Your sincere friend, Eldon. (Turn over.) I gave it to you yesterday.”
Dean Swift could not have concocted a more bitter joke than that of the testator who, after citing the obligations he was under to a particular friend, bequeathed to him, at the bottom of the first page of his will, ten thousand dollars, of course, thought the delighted legatee ; but on turning the leaf the bequest was discovered to be ten thousand thanks. What a wet blanket for “great expectations"!
An amusing story of a similar kind is told of a lady, a Roman Catholic, who in her last illness promised the priest to leave him a sum of money for charitable uses. When she was dying, she begged the priest to come nearer to the bedside, and gasped out, “Father-I've-given-you- ” “Stay,” said the priest, anxious to have as many witnesses as possible to the expected statement, “I will call in the family';" and, opening the door, he beckoned them all in. “I've given you,” repeated the old lady, with increasing difficulty, _"given-you-a great deal of trouble.”
This incident may remind the reader of a passage in one of Lord Boling. broke's letters, in which, writing to a friend, he says, “I am very sorry my Lord Marlborough gives you so much trouble. It is the only thing he will give you."
A wife gave her husband a sealed letter, begging him not to open it till he got to his place of business. When he did so, he read,
“I am forced to tell you something that I know will trouble you, but it is my duty to do so. I am determined you shall know it, let the result be what it may. I have known for a week that it was coming, but kept it to myself until to-day, when it has reached a crisis, and I cannot keep it any longer. You must not censure me too harshly, for you must reap the results as well as myself. I do hope it won't crush you."
Here he turned the page, his hair slowly rising.
“The coal is all used up! Please call and ask for some to be sent this afternoon. I thought by this method you would not forget it." He didn't.
At the New York Chautauqua Assembly in the summer of 1889, when Dr. Henson, of Chicago, came to lecture on “Fools,” Bishop Vincent introduced him thus: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are now to have a lecture on · Fools,' by one of the most distinguished”—long pause and loud laughter-“men of Chicago." Dr. Henson, whose readiness of wit holds every emergency captive, began his lecture, when silence was at length restored, by saying, “ Ladies and gentlemen, I am not as great a fool as Bishop Vincent"-long pause and uproarious laughter—“would have you think.”
The value of an explanation is finely illustrated in the old story of a king who sent to another king, saying, “Send me a blue pig with a black tail, or else— ” The other, in high dudgeon at the presumed insult, replied, “I have not got one, and if I had " On this weighty cause they went to war for many years. After a satiety of glories and miseries, they finally bethought them that, as their armies and resources were exhausted and their kingdoms mutually laid waste, it might be well enough to consult about the preliminaries of peace. Before this could be concluded, a diplomatic explanation was first needed of the insulting language which formed the ground of the quarrel. “What could you mean," said the second king to the first," by saying, “Send me a blue pig with a black tail, or else ?” “Why,” said the other, “I meant a blue pig with a black tail, or else some other color. But,” he continued, "what did you mean by saying, “I have not got one, and if I had '? “Why, of course, if I had, I should have sent it." The explanation was entirely satisfactory, and peace was concluded accordingly.
In its obituary notice of the Rev. Charles Spurgeon a Washington paper repeated and attributed to that clergyman a very ancient gag. The story ran that one warm summer day he began his sermon with the words “It's a d- d hot day," and when he had electrified his audience out of all actual or potential somnolence he blandly added, “as I heard a somewhat irreverent young
man say at the door-step,” and then went on to preach against the sin of levity and blasphemy. The same story has also been fathered upon Beecher. Á correspondent of the paper forthwith wrote to show what an ancient and peripatetic rounder the story is :
In 1848, the year before Mr. Spurgeon entered the pulpit as a “boy preacher," I was the youngest apprentice in a printing-office, the foreman of which used to repeat a story exactly identical with the above, except that he laid it to the charge of a minister who had labored and died in Erie, Pennsylvania, years before, when the foreman was a boy. Twenty years later the story was revived, with Henry Ward Beecher's name in it. After it had gone the rounds several years in the face of explicit denials, I mentioned to Mr. Beecher my first acquaintance with the story, under circumstances which carried it back to a period before his birth. He smilingly replied that he was tired of denying the truth of the story as applied to himself, and felt compelled to let it run. And now that same old lie comes to the surface again, with Mr. Spurgeon as the principal actor; it will never die. In the dim future, when some dusky scholar from Central Africa sits upon the crumbling arches of the Congressional Library and views the ruins of the Capitol, it will still be in circulation, modified on inserting the name of the latest renowned preacher.
An equally ancient chestnut is attributed to Spurgeon by the Rev. Mr. Haweis, who says that once, in the middle of his sermon, the preacher shouted out,“ What's that thee says, Paul, 'I can do all things'? I'll bet thee half a crown o' that.” So the preacher took out half a crown and put it on the Bible. “However," he continued, "let's see what the apostle has to say for himself.” So he read on, “through Christ that strengtheneth me.' Oh," says he, “if that's the terms of the bet I'm off !” and he put the half.crown back into his pocket. The same story had already been told of Rev. Rowland Hill.
A good story is told of a cantankerous Kentucky Hard-Shell who read from Revelation, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a womanPausing here, he added, “Yes, John, it was a wonder if there was a woman there. It was the first one and the last one as'll ever get there."
And here is another good old chestnut that every now and then bobs up again from out of the waters of oblivion : An old preacher, after service on Sunday, announced his reading for the following Sabbath. During the week some mischievous boys managed to paste together two of the leaves of his Bible just where he was to read. So on Sunday the minister read as follows: “ And Noah took unto himself a wife who was” — and here he turned the leaf“forty cubits broad, one hundred and forty cubits long.” With a look of astonishment he wiped his glasses, re-read and verified the passage, and then said, “My friends, although I have read the Bible many times, this is the first time I have ever seen this passage, but I take it as another evidence of the fact that man is most fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Lord Palmerston once made use of some very effective pauses which he could not have prepared beforehand. While electioneering at Taunton he was greatly troubled by a butcher who wanted him to support a certain Radical policy. At the end of one of his lordship's speeches the butcher called out, –
“Lord Palmerston, will you give me a plain answer to a plain question ?” " I will." “Will you, or will you not support this measure,-a Radical bill ?”
Lord Palmerston hesitated, and then, with a twinkle in his eye, replied, “I will"- he stopped (tremendous Radical cheers)—"not"-continued his lordship (another stop and loud Conservative applause)—"tell you.” Whereat he immediately retired.
A certain Mr. Martin, member of the House of Commons, had a reputation for wit which survives in only a single example. He had delivered a furious invective against Sir Harry Vane, and when he had buried him under a load of sarcasm, he said, “ But as for young Sir Harry Vane- "and so sat down. The House was astounded. Several members exclaimed,
“What have you to say against young Sir Harry?"
Martin at once rose, and added, “Why, if young Sir Harry lives to be old he will be old Sir Harry.”
A memorable scene in the same house was that when Disraeli's maiden speech was cut short by his fellow-members. Here is the Morning Chronicle's report of the frasco : « Notwithstanding the noble lord, secure on the pedestal of power, may wield in one hand the keys of St. Peter, and Here the honorable member was interrupted with such loud and incessant bursts of laughter that it was impossible to know whether he really closed his sentence or not." Richard Monckton Milnes (afterwards Lord Houghton), who was sitting beside Disraeli, and, when the latter muttered, “The time will come when you will hear me," replied, “ Yes, old fellow, so it will,"-Milnes wrote in a letter that the Attorney-General had the impudence, not knowing Disraeli personally, to go up to him in the lobby and say, “A very pleasant speech of yours, Mr. Disraeli. Will you be kind enough to tell me what Lord John held besides the keys of St. Peter ?” “The red cap of liberty, sir.”
Interview, a feature of modern journalism of distinctly American invention, and still flourishing most vigorously in its native soil, but not unknown in England, while in France it has almost acclimated itself under the delightful name of interviewee. Mr. James Redpath, the historian, used to claim that he was the original interviewer. “I started the practice of interviewing many years ago,” he remarked to a reporter of the New York Evening Telegram, just before his death, " in the columns of the Boston Advertiser. My first interview was widely discussed, and my plan was immediately imitated by Editor Dana, of the Sun, who, the day after my interview appeared, sent out a corps of writers to interview the leading men of the day on various topics.” Mr. Hudson, however, in his “ History of American Journalism," says the practice was commenced by the New York Herald in 1859, at the time of the John Brown raid at Harper's Ferry. This authority does not mention the name of the original interviewer, but he says that the first interviewee (readers will please not confound this with the Franco-English word) was Gerrit Smith, the well-known Abolitionist, who was called upon at his home in Peterborough by a representative of the Herald. The interview was published in full in conversational style, and created a sensation. “ It was the origin of interviewing. Interviews were had on the eve of the rebel. lion, in 1860, with leading rebels at their homes,--one, in particular, between Alexander H. Stephens and Robert Toombs and a special correspondent of the Herald, with entertaining and instructive results.” After the war they were continued with leading statesmen, army and navy officers, and politicians.
But all this was in a staccato and amateurish sort of way. As a regular institution, as part of the reportorial profession, the interview seems to date from about 1868. This was probably the period Mr. Redpath had in mind when he claimed to be the original interviewer. At that time the two most interesting figures in American political life, from the point of view of the reporter, were Charles Sumner and General Butler. Both were willing to talk, the former on the Alabama question, the latter on his Greenback crusade. The public was eager to hear from both. And so day after day they were interviewed. The politicians all over the land were agog at this new pulpit opened for their occupancy. Quick to see the advantages of the system, they coyly requested to be interviewed also. Whenever a candidate came up for office, whenever a politician wished to call attention to himself, to explain some scandal that had attached to him, to boom a political project in which he was interested, he always managed to get himself interviewed. Abuses crept in. As the New York Nation observed, June 28, 1869, “The interview as at present managed is generally the joint production of some humbug of a hack politician and another humbug of a newspaper reporter. The one lives by being notorious, and the other by seeking out notorieties and being spicy,—by stringing together personalities about them. Sometimes, of course, it happens that the opinions given are those of an able and respectable man, but this is very rare, and it is still rarer that when this does happen they have been honestly learned by the person who gives them to the press. Usually he has made a rascally use of a chance opportunity, or in some indirect manner has learned what So-and-so has said among his friends, and this he puts down, mixed with other matters, as having been said to himself.” There was a good deal of truth in the Nation's charges. Yet the general tone of the article was too despondent. Abuses existed, as we have said, indeed, they still exist, yet the interview has, on the whole, vindicated its right to existence. One may per. haps assume a tacit recognition of this fact in the answer which the Nation itself, nearly fifteen years afterwards, made to the strictures of the London press on this very subject. “The attitude of the English newspapers towards
interviews' is a curiously contradictory one," says ihe Nation of November 29, 1883. “When interviewing began to be a regular enterprise a few years ago, the English leader-writers denounced it as ihe most dreadful form which American impertinence had yet assumed. They continue to denounce it in much the same terms now, but, strangely enough, they ignore the actual presence of the interview in their own columns. All the leading London papers employ American correspondents, who send daily despatches concerning all important American events, and their longest despatches are nearly always interviews with illustrious Englishmen who are visiting this country. It has frequently happened that a London journal has contained on the same day a leading article denouncing interviewing, and a column cable message, costing several hundred dollars, which was an interview pure and simple." And then it tells the story of how a London journal published a long cable despatch, reproducing the substance of an interview with Herbert Spencer in New York, and simultaneously a scathing leader condemning the irrepressible impertinence with which Mr. Spencer had been worried during his entire visit in America, until he had been forced to give his views in order to obtain peace. The plain truth is that, instead of being worried into an interview, Mr. Spencer prepared it himself and sent it through a friend to all the New York newspapers for simultaneous publication. Other foreign visitors have taken to the interviewing system with equal favor.
There is Max O’Rell, for example. One of the most genial and amusing chapters in “ Jonathan and his Continent" is that on the interview. He acknowledges that he found it something of an ordeal. But the humor of the situation and the cleverness of his interviewers prevented it from becoming annoying. Even before sailing he had received a cable from an enterprising journal asking him for his preconceived ideas of America. His ship had hardly entered the harbor of New York when it was boarded by a boat-load of reporters. They asked him questions, they took his portrait. Finally, he put them off till the afternoon.
“Oh, that first afternoon in New York, spent in the company of the interviewers !” he cries. “I shall never forget it !”
Bored at first, he soon began to be amused. “One wanted biographical details, another the origin of my pseudonyme. One wished to know if I worked in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening; another whether I worked sitting or standing up, and also whether I used ruled paper and quill pens. One reporter asked me if I thought in English or in French, another whether General Boulanger had any chance of soon being elected President of the French Republic. If I crossed my legs during the conversation, if I