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Title: The Scribbler 1822-02-21 Volume 1, Issue 35

Date of first publication: 1822

Author: Samuel Hull Wilcocke 1766-1833 (Editor)

Date first posted: Oct. 5, 2019

Date last updated: Oct. 5, 2019

Faded Page eBook #20191007

This eBook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, David T. Jones, Cindy Beyer & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net


Montreal. Thursday, 21st February, 1822. No. XXXV.

Ride si sapis.        Martial.

Laugh, if you’re wise.

Graced as thou art with all the power of words,

So known, so honour’d, in the House of Lords.——Pope.

Uná mortud, alterem instar turturum lugere, et vix a sepulchro discedere.


If the one dies, her mate mourns like the turtledove, and scarcely escapes the grave himself.


We can not avoid complying with the solicitations of our friends in publishing the following account of the proceedings at a meeting which was held on the 18th December last, at the Gossip-room,[A] for taking into consideration the means of suppressing laughter, although we are compelled to give only a short abstract of the argumentative and luminous speech of the honourable chairman, which was delivered with that chaste English accent for which he is so remarkable.

The Honourable Tory Loverule being called to the chair, (every situation of that kind belonging to him by prescriptive right,) thus explained the object of the meeting.

“Gentlemen, you have been called together to-day upon a subject not only of laughable moment, but affecting the morality of the country, that is to say, to consider the means of preventing laughter and ridicule, those sources of general demoralization. Civil society can not exist without government and laws; government and laws, can not exist without awe and respect being paid to those who are at the head of affairs; awe and respect are raised in two ways, viz. directly, by the personal qualifications of public functionaries; and indirectly, by the suppression of all attempts at holding them up to ridicule if they do not possess those requisite qualities; to the first mode the great majority of the inhabitants of this province seem to have insuperable objections, because there are so few that are, from their own merit, entitled to such awe and respect; and they ought therefore to be, one and all, zealous in supporting all measures of restriction upon satire and laughter, and equally hostile to those persons who join in the laugh; unhappily however a strange propensity prevails amongst you for laughing outright, or in your sleeves, at your superiors, when they happen to be made the butts of some unlucky wight. Laughing is the bane of society: it is in fact a robbery of the public, in depriving them of that gravity and solemnity, with which it ought to be their delight to contemplate the wiseheads who wish to lead them. But the disposition I have complained of, arises from the false notion entertained that it is a less crime to laugh at public men than at private individuals; but the fact really is, that public men are not in such bases alone laughed at, but every individual comes in for his share, inasmuch as all have their foibles as well as their betters. The laughter, by despising pomposity and solemnity, obtains an advantage over the devotees of grave inanity and dignified dullness; and can such a state of things be tolerated, which is in effect holding out a premium to condemners of gravity, and imposing a tax upon owls and turkey-cocks? This, if continued, must terminate in anarchy and in the dissolution of society. Laughers proceed from step to step, till they arrive at a degree of boldness, at the very thoughts of which they would once have shuddered. They carry on their attacks at first in disguise, till, bolder grown, they are not dismayed by wigs, nor coifs, nor bands, nor gold chains, nor any other substitutes for sound heads, and good hearts. The first step in opposition to this system, should be a firm determination to refrain from laughing, and the second, to discountenance it by informing against those who are dealers in, or retailers of, ridicule. Additional laws may be required to coerce the laugher, and protect the laughee, and such may be very properly applied for to the retail law-shop at the police-office, where they may be had cheap, that is to say, for small penalties, and tenfold costs; but what avail laws if not enforced, and how can they be enforced, if the breakers of them are not informed against? My advice therefore to you all is to turn informers, ’tis a thriving and an honourable trade, and you will deserve well of your country. Nothing is more clear than if laughter can be abolished, all will be placed upon a footing of solemn equality[B]; and it is also worthy of notice that if all were to become laughers, those who now pursue that traffic would lose their advantage, for it is only by there being abundant matter to ridicule that satirists find employment. Who can doubt the baneful increase of laughter in this province, after we are told that the Scribbler sells ten times more of his trash now than formerly; and when we find that he has so many abettors, and informants, even in our own holy circles. When wittypates conspire, it is time for thickheads to combine; and the combination I propose is an agreement, which I hope will obtain the signatures of all who wish to support the awe and respect due to me and other great men, and to oppose this demoralization which must result from seeing the jokes that are passed upon us relished and laughed at.”

After having thus ably and forcibly displayed the evils of laughter, and the most likely means of preventing it in future, the honourable chairman presented to the meeting the draft of an act of voluntary association, by which the subscribers engaged neither to joke themselves nor to laugh at any joke whatsoever, and pledged themselves to inform against all those who did laugh, or were said, or suspected to laugh; and further, that they would not purchase or encourage any satiric writings, nor procure or retail any jests or satires, or such as they suspected to be such, nor thereafter hold any communion with those who did read, retail, or laugh at such productions or sayings: which act of association was adopted, as is usual in such meetings, à la mode des brebis, one sheep following another, and signed by ninety-nine of the gentlemen present; though it is strongly suspected that they are not the ninety-nine just men mentioned in scripture who never went astray, but that some of them were, and continue to be, incorrigible laughers, notwithstanding this their solemn league and covenant.

[A] The Gossip-room was first intended as a room for reading and study, but having become a mart for noise and nonsense, has lost its original character and appellation

[B] Some of the auditors considered this as rather a dangerous word to be used by the honourable chairman.


News, News, News. Extract of a letter from Quebec. By the arrival H. M. Ship Hoax (upon sliders over the ice) commanded by captain Quiz, the interesting intelligence has been received that His Majesty being about to change his ministry, and finding himself much at a loss to select persons adequate to fill the different stations required, has dispatched the Hoax to fetch from these, his loyal and faithful provinces, a number of eminent personages to compose his cabinet. The following list is handed about of some of those who are thus invited to form part of the new administration.

Lord Chancellor,Peter Mogul le Grand Esq.
Lord Pricy Seal,Harry M’Hairy Esq, with an appointment as sub-thieftaker to the high constable.
Secretary of State for the Home Department,Baron Grunt.
Secretary at War,Major Henpeck.
Chancellor of the Exchequer,Count Oldjoseph Starewell (to be created Earl Stalker.)
Master-General of the Ordnance,Captain Hornblow.
Chief Justice of the King’s Bench,Auld Grannie McRope.
Premier Duke, Marquis and Earl, Earl Marshal, President of the Board of Controul, and all other Boards, and Public Accuser,the Hon. Tory Loverule,[C]
President of the Board of Trade,Tom Allspice of Castle Folly.
Lord High Bumbailiff,Mr. Sheriff Sir Frederick Brute.
Commander in Chief,Tom Tan (to be called to the House of Peers, by the name and style of Hurlothrumbo, Lord Goddamnhim.)
Commissary-General,Isaac Maisonville, of Masonfeel, Esq.

[C] It is said that a new office is in contemplation to be created for this gentleman, under the title of Dictator to the House of Commons.

Several other names have been mentioned, but none but the above have as yet been appointed by authority.


The action of the 14th ult. at Social harbour mentioned in our last, turns out to be only a slight skirmish in the Champ de boisson; the Colonel Commandant was absent, and there was no sharp shooting: the Major in command was quiet, cool, and collected; a bystander exclaimed with Burns

“In gathering votes, you were nae slack,

Now stand as tightly to your pack,

Ne’er claw your lug, nor look like quack,

                          And hum and haw;

But raise your arm, and tell your crack

                          Before them a’.”

The review of the volunteers was enlivened by the solar Rays. Temptation Eve was absent; but two beautiful Roses were presented to the Major; and with a mountain Dai-sy and the Miller’s maid attracted the gaze of all. The troops were in considerable confusion when they came to perform the echellon movement in quadrillions, but Adjutant general Drillman being at hand soon restored order, and the evolutions did great credit to the corps. The following field-order was issued.

No former member shall be allowed to join the corps unless he submits to the ballot, particular patients excepted.

If more burnt coffee beans are produced than there are members present, the ballot may go round a second, or even a third time; it is requested gentlemen will not make this order necessary in future.


By the return of a party from an excursion to Campbelltown, on the La Prairie side of the river, on the 7th instant, we learn that the best quarters to be had in that place was the lumber-room, dancing however was kept up in good style till 3 o’clock, when, after the band, consisting of one old blind fiddler, had played several favourite airs, the Company retired, and it is said got all safe home about 4 o’clock. A gentleman is said to have been pinched by the Frost on the occasion.


From the Printing Office. On the evening of the 8th we had a merry-making here, which was pleasant enough. Though there were some dabblers in the black art, disciples of Dr. Faustus, it was observed that there were more angels than devils present. After tea the married ladies seated themselves at the whist-tables, and the younger part of the company retired to the ball-room, which was about ten feet square. About one o’clock the impressions were struck off and at two mostly all were in sheets.

Question for the next meeting of the Philological Society.

“Does the man in the moon wear a beard, a bib or a band?” That celebrated astronomer Mr. Drybrains, who is in the habit of gazing at the stars whilst walking the streets, and making discoveries in Saturn and the Moon, is expected to open the debate. The influence of the moon has of late been supposed a good deal to predominate with this learned Theban; the flash of a pistol, and the simile of a baboon, having caused various peripatetic soliloquies over giant Grumbo’s ballad of “Fee-Faw-Fum,” &c.


Married, after an interrupted courtship of several years, (during which the lady was disappointed by another suitor, for although the day was fixed she waited in vain for “the bridegroom was not there, because he was away”) Mr. Gudelad M’Humhaw, to miss Piscator. Immediately after the ceremony, the bride’s sister, Mrs. Null, appeared in a complete suit of the admiral, her husband’s, uniform, (the admiral and his lady having made a very advantageous arrangement by which he always wears the petticoats,) and manœuvred most skilfully to windward, to leeward, ahead and astern, to the great edification of the company.


Printed and Published by Dicky Gossip, sole Proprietor and Editor, at the sign of the Teatable.


Lines on the death of an amiable young Lady.


Ah! hark! what doleful sounds are those

  That tolling come from yonder bell?——

Alas! my soul, they tell the loss

  Of one whom thou hast loved so well.


Ah! me! sweet maid, and art thou gone,

  Full in thy bloom of early day?

And must thy lovely form so soon

  Lose all its beauty in the clay?


And have those eyes of softest blue,

  Where smiling love was seen disclosed,

Those guileless lips of ruby hue,

  For aye in livid silence closed?


And must that voice, whose tender tone

  Could soothe my soul in saddest hour,

Now mute,—with all its sweetness gone,—

  Yield me entrancing joy no more?


O, my much loved regretted maid!

  And could nor youth, nor beauty save—

Nor all the tears affection shed,

  Rescue thee from the gloomy grave?


Yet O! bless’d spirit of the dead!

  Witness the sorrows that I feel;

These genuine tears which now I shed

  Bespeak a grief words can’t reveal.


But thou shalt bloom a saint on high,

  Shalt smile angelic as before;

Thither at last my soul shall fly,

  And join with thine for ever more;


January 1822.


Jeremy Tickler will oblige me by giving me an address to which I may direct some remarks on his last favour. Mack-Beth is under consideration: intelligence of the kind he gives should be accompanied by a key (always under the seal of secrecy and honour,) that I may use my discretion in the publication. Senex is requested to take this hint, some of his allusions not being understood. Chronicus rejected. Winter, by G. C. will, with some corrections, appear in a future No. I confess the lively Harriet’s rebuke for not celebrating St. Valentine’s day last Thursday is well deserved: her favour came too late for me to atone for the neglect this week: I will look thro’ my old Valentines, and hope to find one worthy of her acceptance for my next.

L. L. M.


Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected. Where multiple spellings occur, majority use has been employed.

Punctuation has been maintained except where obvious printer errors occur.


[The end of The Scribbler 1822-02-21 Volume 1, Issue 35 edited by Samuel Hull Wilcocke]