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The Devil’s Dictionary – “I”

Posted by eGZact on October 26, 2007

I is the first letter of the alphabet, the first word of the language,

the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection. In

grammar it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number. Its

plural is said to be _We_, but how there can be more than one myself

is doubtless clearer the grammarians than it is to the author of this

incomparable dictionary. Conception of two myselfs is difficult, but

fine. The frank yet graceful use of “I” distinguishes a good writer

from a bad; the latter carries it with the manner of a thief trying to

cloak his loot.

ICHOR, n. A fluid that serves the gods and goddesses in place of

blood.

Fair Venus, speared by Diomed,

Restrained the raging chief and said:

“Behold, rash mortal, whom you’ve bled —

Your soul’s stained white with ichorshed!”

Mary Doke

ICONOCLAST, n. A breaker of idols, the worshipers whereof are

imperfectly gratified by the performance, and most strenuously protest

that he unbuildeth but doth not reedify, that he pulleth down but

pileth not up. For the poor things would have other idols in place of

those he thwacketh upon the mazzard and dispelleth. But the

iconoclast saith: “Ye shall have none at all, for ye need them not;

and if the rebuilder fooleth round hereabout, behold I will depress

the head of him and sit thereon till he squawk it.”

IDIOT, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in

human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s

activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action,

but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in

everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and

opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes

conduct with a dead-line.

IDLENESS, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of

new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.

IGNORAMUS, n. A person unacquainted with certain kinds of knowledge

familiar to yourself, and having certain other kinds that you know

nothing about.

Dumble was an ignoramus,

Mumble was for learning famous.

Mumble said one day to Dumble:

“Ignorance should be more humble.

Not a spark have you of knowledge

That was got in any college.”

Dumble said to Mumble: “Truly

You’re self-satisfied unduly.

Of things in college I’m denied

A knowledge — you of all beside.”

Borelli

ILLUMINATI, n. A sect of Spanish heretics of the latter part of the

sixteenth century; so called because they were light weights —

_cunctationes illuminati_.

ILLUSTRIOUS, adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and

detraction.

IMAGINATION, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint

ownership.

IMBECILITY, n. A kind of divine inspiration, or sacred fire affecting

censorious critics of this dictionary.

IMMIGRANT, n. An unenlightened person who thinks one country better

than another.

IMMODEST, adj. Having a strong sense of one’s own merit, coupled with

a feeble conception of worth in others.

There was once a man in Ispahan

Ever and ever so long ago,

And he had a head, the phrenologists said,

That fitted him for a show.

For his modesty’s bump was so large a lump

(Nature, they said, had taken a freak)

That its summit stood far above the wood

Of his hair, like a mountain peak.

So modest a man in all Ispahan,

Over and over again they swore —

So humble and meek, you would vainly seek;

None ever was found before.

Meantime the hump of that awful bump

Into the heavens contrived to get

To so great a height that they called the wight

The man with the minaret.

There wasn’t a man in all Ispahan

Prouder, or louder in praise of his chump:

With a tireless tongue and a brazen lung

He bragged of that beautiful bump

Till the Shah in a rage sent a trusty page

Bearing a sack and a bow-string too,

And that gentle child explained as he smiled:

“A little present for you.”

The saddest man in all Ispahan,

Sniffed at the gift, yet accepted the same.

“If I’d lived,” said he, “my humility

Had given me deathless fame!”

Sukker Uffro

IMMORAL, adj. Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard

to the greater number of instances men find to be generally

inexpedient comes to be considered wrong, wicked, immoral. If man’s

notions of right and wrong have any other basis than this of

expediency; if they originated, or could have originated, in any other

way; if actions have in themselves a moral character apart from, and

nowise dependent on, their consequences — then all philosophy is a

lie and reason a disorder of the mind.

IMMORTALITY, n.

A toy which people cry for,

And on their knees apply for,

Dispute, contend and lie for,

And if allowed

Would be right proud

Eternally to die for.

G.J.

IMPALE, v.t. In popular usage to pierce with any weapon which remains

fixed in the wound. This, however, is inaccurate; to impale is,

properly, to put to death by thrusting an upright sharp stake into the

body, the victim being left in a sitting position. This was a common

mode of punishment among many of the nations of antiquity, and is

still in high favor in China and other parts of Asia. Down to the

beginning of the fifteenth century it was widely employed in

“churching” heretics and schismatics. Wolecraft calls it the “stoole

of repentynge,” and among the common people it was jocularly known as

“riding the one legged horse.” Ludwig Salzmann informs us that in

Thibet impalement is considered the most appropriate punishment for

crimes against religion; and although in China it is sometimes awarded

for secular offences, it is most frequently adjudged in cases of

sacrilege. To the person in actual experience of impalement it must

be a matter of minor importance by what kind of civil or religious

dissent he was made acquainted with its discomforts; but doubtless he

would feel a certain satisfaction if able to contemplate himself in

the character of a weather-cock on the spire of the True Church.

IMPARTIAL, adj. Unable to perceive any promise of personal advantage

from espousing either side of a controversy or adopting either of two

conflicting opinions.

IMPENITENCE, n. A state of mind intermediate in point of time between

sin and punishment.

IMPIETY, n. Your irreverence toward my deity.

IMPOSITION, n. The act of blessing or consecrating by the laying on

of hands — a ceremony common to many ecclesiastical systems, but

performed with the frankest sincerity by the sect known as Thieves.

“Lo! by the laying on of hands,”

Say parson, priest and dervise,

“We consecrate your cash and lands

To ecclesiastical service.

No doubt you’ll swear till all is blue

At such an imposition. Do.”

Pollo Doncas

IMPOSTOR n. A rival aspirant to public honors.

IMPROBABILITY, n.

His tale he told with a solemn face

And a tender, melancholy grace.

Improbable ’twas, no doubt,

When you came to think it out,

But the fascinated crowd

Their deep surprise avowed

And all with a single voice averred

‘Twas the most amazing thing they’d heard —

All save one who spake never a word,

But sat as mum

As if deaf and dumb,

Serene, indifferent and unstirred.

Then all the others turned to him

And scrutinized him limb from limb —

Scanned him alive;

But he seemed to thrive

And tranquiler grow each minute,

As if there were nothing in it.

“What! what!” cried one, “are you not amazed

At what our friend has told?” He raised

Soberly then his eyes and gazed

In a natural way

And proceeded to say,

As he crossed his feet on the mantel-shelf:

“O no — not at all; I’m a liar myself.”

IMPROVIDENCE, n. Provision for the needs of to-day from the revenues

of to-morrow.

IMPUNITY, n. Wealth.

INADMISSIBLE, adj. Not competent to be considered. Said of certain

kinds of testimony which juries are supposed to be unfit to be

entrusted with, and which judges, therefore, rule out, even of

proceedings before themselves alone. Hearsay evidence is inadmissible

because the person quoted was unsworn and is not before the court for

examination; yet most momentous actions, military, political,

commercial and of every other kind, are daily undertaken on hearsay

evidence. There is no religion in the world that has any other basis

than hearsay evidence. Revelation is hearsay evidence; that the

Scriptures are the word of God we have only the testimony of men long

dead whose identity is not clearly established and who are not known

to have been sworn in any sense. Under the rules of evidence as they

now exist in this country, no single assertion in the Bible has in its

support any evidence admissible in a court of law. It cannot be

proved that the battle of Blenheim ever was fought, that there was

such as person as Julius Caesar, such an empire as Assyria.

But as records of courts of justice are admissible, it can easily

be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were

a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which

certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a

flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges’ decisions based on it

were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was

ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery

for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human

testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.

INAUSPICIOUSLY, adv. In an unpromising manner, the auspices being

unfavorable. Among the Romans it was customary before undertaking any

important action or enterprise to obtain from the augurs, or state

prophets, some hint of its probable outcome; and one of their favorite

and most trustworthy modes of divination consisted in observing the

flight of birds — the omens thence derived being called _auspices_.

Newspaper reporters and certain miscreant lexicographers have decided

that the word — always in the plural — shall mean “patronage” or

“management”; as, “The festivities were under the auspices of the

Ancient and Honorable Order of Body-Snatchers”; or, “The hilarities

were auspicated by the Knights of Hunger.”

A Roman slave appeared one day

Before the Augur. “Tell me, pray,

If –” here the Augur, smiling, made

A checking gesture and displayed

His open palm, which plainly itched,

For visibly its surface twitched.

A _denarius_ (the Latin nickel)

Successfully allayed the tickle,

And then the slave proceeded: “Please

Inform me whether Fate decrees

Success or failure in what I

To-night (if it be dark) shall try.

Its nature? Never mind — I think

‘Tis writ on this” — and with a wink

Which darkened half the earth, he drew

Another denarius to view,

Its shining face attentive scanned,

Then slipped it into the good man’s hand,

Who with great gravity said: “Wait

While I retire to question Fate.”

That holy person then withdrew

His scared clay and, passing through

The temple’s rearward gate, cried “Shoo!”

Waving his robe of office. Straight

Each sacred peacock and its mate

(Maintained for Juno’s favor) fled

With clamor from the trees o’erhead,

Where they were perching for the night.

The temple’s roof received their flight,

For thither they would always go,

When danger threatened them below.

Back to the slave the Augur went:

“My son, forecasting the event

By flight of birds, I must confess

The auspices deny success.”

That slave retired, a sadder man,

Abandoning his secret plan —

Which was (as well the craft seer

Had from the first divined) to clear

The wall and fraudulently seize

On Juno’s poultry in the trees.

G.J.

INCOME, n. The natural and rational gauge and measure of

respectability, the commonly accepted standards being artificial,

arbitrary and fallacious; for, as “Sir Sycophas Chrysolater” in the

play has justly remarked, “the true use and function of property (in

whatsoever it consisteth — coins, or land, or houses, or merchant-

stuff, or anything which may be named as holden of right to one’s own

subservience) as also of honors, titles, preferments and place, and

all favor and acquaintance of persons of quality or ableness, are but

to get money. Hence it followeth that all things are truly to be

rated as of worth in measure of their serviceableness to that end; and

their possessors should take rank in agreement thereto, neither the

lord of an unproducing manor, howsoever broad and ancient, nor he who

bears an unremunerate dignity, nor yet the pauper favorite of a king,

being esteemed of level excellency with him whose riches are of daily

accretion; and hardly should they whose wealth is barren claim and

rightly take more honor than the poor and unworthy.”

INCOMPATIBILITY, n. In matrimony a similarity of tastes, particularly

the taste for domination. Incompatibility may, however, consist of a

meek-eyed matron living just around the corner. It has even been

known to wear a moustache.

INCOMPOSSIBLE, adj. Unable to exist if something else exists. Two

things are incompossible when the world of being has scope enough for

one of them, but not enough for both — as Walt Whitman’s poetry and

God’s mercy to man. Incompossibility, it will be seen, is only

incompatibility let loose. Instead of such low language as “Go heel

yourself — I mean to kill you on sight,” the words, “Sir, we are

incompossible,” would convey and equally significant intimation and in

stately courtesy are altogether superior.

INCUBUS, n. One of a race of highly improper demons who, though

probably not wholly extinct, may be said to have seen their best

nights. For a complete account of _incubi_ and _succubi_, including

_incubae_ and _succubae_, see the _Liber Demonorum_ of Protassus

(Paris, 1328), which contains much curious information that would be

out of place in a dictionary intended as a text-book for the public

schools.

Victor Hugo relates that in the Channel Islands Satan himself —

tempted more than elsewhere by the beauty of the women, doubtless —

sometimes plays at _incubus_, greatly to the inconvenience and alarm

of the good dames who wish to be loyal to their marriage vows,

generally speaking. A certain lady applied to the parish priest to

learn how they might, in the dark, distinguish the hardy intruder from

their husbands. The holy man said they must feel his brown for horns;

but Hugo is ungallant enough to hint a doubt of the efficacy of the

test.

INCUMBENT, n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.

INDECISION, n. The chief element of success; “for whereas,” saith Sir

Thomas Brewbold, “there is but one way to do nothing and divers way to

do something, whereof, to a surety, only one is the right way, it

followeth that he who from indecision standeth still hath not so many

chances of going astray as he who pusheth forwards” — a most clear

and satisfactory exposition on the matter.

“Your prompt decision to attack,” said Genera Grant on a certain

occasion to General Gordon Granger, “was admirable; you had but five

minutes to make up your mind in.”

“Yes, sir,” answered the victorious subordinate, “it is a great

thing to be know exactly what to do in an emergency. When in doubt

whether to attack or retreat I never hesitate a moment — I toss us a

copper.”

“Do you mean to say that’s what you did this time?”

“Yes, General; but for Heaven’s sake don’t reprimand me: I

disobeyed the coin.”

INDIFFERENT, adj. Imperfectly sensible to distinctions among things.

“You tiresome man!” cried Indolentio’s wife,

“You’ve grown indifferent to all in life.”

“Indifferent?” he drawled with a slow smile;

“I would be, dear, but it is not worth while.”

Apuleius M. Gokul

INDIGESTION, n. A disease which the patient and his friends

frequently mistake for deep religious conviction and concern for the

salvation of mankind. As the simple Red Man of the western wild put

it, with, it must be confessed, a certain force: “Plenty well, no

pray; big bellyache, heap God.”

INDISCRETION, n. The guilt of woman.

INEXPEDIENT, adj. Not calculated to advance one’s interests.

INFANCY, n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth,

“Heaven lies about us.” The world begins lying about us pretty soon

afterward.

INFERIAE,n. [Latin] Among the Greeks and Romans, sacrifices for

propitiation of the _Dii Manes_, or souls of the dead heroes; for the

pious ancients could not invent enough gods to satisfy their spiritual

needs, and had to have a number of makeshift deities, or, as a sailor

might say, jury-gods, which they made out of the most unpromising

materials. It was while sacrificing a bullock to the spirit of

Agamemnon that Laiaides, a priest of Aulis, was favored with an

audience of that illustrious warrior’s shade, who prophetically

recounted to him the birth of Christ and the triumph of Christianity,

giving him also a rapid but tolerably complete review of events down

to the reign of Saint Louis. The narrative ended abruptly at the

point, owing to the inconsiderate crowing of a cock, which compelled

the ghosted King of Men to scamper back to Hades. There is a fine

mediaeval flavor to this story, and as it has not been traced back

further than Pere Brateille, a pious but obscure writer at the court

of Saint Louis, we shall probably not err on the side of presumption

in considering it apocryphal, though Monsignor Capel’s judgment of the

matter might be different; and to that I bow — wow.

INFIDEL, n. In New York, one who does not believe in the Christian

religion; in Constantinople, one who does. (See GIAOUR.) A kind of

scoundrel imperfectly reverent of, and niggardly contributory to,

divines, ecclesiastics, popes, parsons, canons, monks, mollahs,

voodoos, presbyters, hierophants, prelates, obeah-men, abbes, nuns,

missionaries, exhorters, deacons, friars, hadjis, high-priests,

muezzins, brahmins, medicine-men, confessors, eminences, elders,

primates, prebendaries, pilgrims, prophets, imaums, beneficiaries,

clerks, vicars-choral, archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors,

preachers, padres, abbotesses, caloyers, palmers, curates, patriarchs,

bonezs, santons, beadsmen, canonesses, residentiaries, diocesans,

deans, subdeans, rural deans, abdals, charm-sellers, archdeacons,

hierarchs, class-leaders, incumbents, capitulars, sheiks, talapoins,

postulants, scribes, gooroos, precentors, beadles, fakeers, sextons,

reverences, revivalists, cenobites, perpetual curates, chaplains,

mudjoes, readers, novices, vicars, pastors, rabbis, ulemas, lamas,

sacristans, vergers, dervises, lectors, church wardens, cardinals,

prioresses, suffragans, acolytes, rectors, cures, sophis, mutifs and

pumpums.

INFLUENCE, n. In politics, a visionary _quo_ given in exchange for a

substantial _quid_.

INFALAPSARIAN, n. One who ventures to believe that Adam need not have

sinned unless he had a mind to — in opposition to the

Supralapsarians, who hold that that luckless person’s fall was decreed

from the beginning. Infralapsarians are sometimes called

Sublapsarians without material effect upon the importance and lucidity

of their views about Adam.

Two theologues once, as they wended their way

To chapel, engaged in colloquial fray —

An earnest logomachy, bitter as gall,

Concerning poor Adam and what made him fall.

“‘Twas Predestination,” cried one — “for the Lord

Decreed he should fall of his own accord.”

“Not so — ’twas Free will,” the other maintained,

“Which led him to choose what the Lord had ordained.”

So fierce and so fiery grew the debate

That nothing but bloodshed their dudgeon could sate;

So off flew their cassocks and caps to the ground

And, moved by the spirit, their hands went round.

Ere either had proved his theology right

By winning, or even beginning, the fight,

A gray old professor of Latin came by,

A staff in his hand and a scowl in his eye,

And learning the cause of their quarrel (for still

As they clumsily sparred they disputed with skill

Of foreordination freedom of will)

Cried: “Sirrahs! this reasonless warfare compose:

Atwixt ye’s no difference worthy of blows.

The sects ye belong to — I’m ready to swear

Ye wrongly interpret the names that they bear.

_You_ — Infralapsarian son of a clown! —

Should only contend that Adam slipped down;

While _you_ — you Supralapsarian pup! —

Should nothing aver but that Adam slipped up.

It’s all the same whether up or down

You slip on a peel of banana brown.

Even Adam analyzed not his blunder,

But thought he had slipped on a peal of thunder!

G.J.

INGRATE, n. One who receives a benefit from another, or is otherwise

an object of charity.

“All men are ingrates,” sneered the cynic. “Nay,”

The good philanthropist replied;

“I did great service to a man one day

Who never since has cursed me to repay,

Nor vilified.”

“Ho!” cried the cynic, “lead me to him straight —

With veneration I am overcome,

And fain would have his blessing.” “Sad your fate —

He cannot bless you, for AI grieve to state

This man is dumb.”

Ariel Selp

INJURY, n. An offense next in degree of enormity to a slight.

INJUSTICE, n. A burden which of all those that we load upon others

and carry ourselves is lightest in the hands and heaviest upon the

back.

INK, n. A villainous compound of tannogallate of iron, gum-arabic and

water, chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote

intellectual crime. The properties of ink are peculiar and

contradictory: it may be used to make reputations and unmake them; to

blacken them and to make them white; but it is most generally and

acceptably employed as a mortar to bind together the stones of an

edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal afterward the rascal

quality of the material. There are men called journalists who have

established ink baths which some persons pay money to get into, others

to get out of. Not infrequently it occurs that a person who has paid

to get in pays twice as much to get out.

INNATE, adj. Natural, inherent — as innate ideas, that is to say,

ideas that we are born with, having had them previously imparted to

us. The doctrine of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths

of philosophy, being itself an innate idea and therefore inaccessible

to disproof, though Locke foolishly supposed himself to have given it

“a black eye.” Among innate ideas may be mentioned the belief in

one’s ability to conduct a newspaper, in the greatness of one’s

country, in the superiority of one’s civilization, in the importance

of one’s personal affairs and in the interesting nature of one’s

diseases.

IN’ARDS, n. The stomach, heart, soul and other bowels. Many eminent

investigators do not class the soul as an in’ard, but that acute

observer and renowned authority, Dr. Gunsaulus, is persuaded that the

mysterious organ known as the spleen is nothing less than our

important part. To the contrary, Professor Garrett P. Servis holds

that man’s soul is that prolongation of his spinal marrow which forms

the pith of his no tail; and for demonstration of his faith points

confidently to the fact that no tailed animals have no souls.

Concerning these two theories, it is best to suspend judgment by

believing both.

INSCRIPTION, n. Something written on another thing. Inscriptions are

of many kinds, but mostly memorial, intended to commemorate the fame

of some illustrious person and hand down to distant ages the record of

his services and virtues. To this class of inscriptions belongs the

name of John Smith, penciled on the Washington monument. Following

are examples of memorial inscriptions on tombstones: (See EPITAPH.)

“In the sky my soul is found,

And my body in the ground.

By and by my body’ll rise

To my spirit in the skies,

Soaring up to Heaven’s gate.

1878.”

“Sacred to the memory of Jeremiah Tree. Cut down May 9th, 1862,

aged 27 yrs. 4 mos. and 12 ds. Indigenous.”

“Affliction sore long time she boar,

Phisicians was in vain,

Till Deth released the dear deceased

And left her a remain.

Gone to join Ananias in the regions of bliss.”

“The clay that rests beneath this stone

As Silas Wood was widely known.

Now, lying here, I ask what good

It was to let me be S. Wood.

O Man, let not ambition trouble you,

Is the advice of Silas W.”

“Richard Haymon, of Heaven. Fell to Earth Jan. 20, 1807, and had

the dust brushed off him Oct. 3, 1874.”

INSECTIVORA, n.

“See,” cries the chorus of admiring preachers,

“How Providence provides for all His creatures!”

“His care,” the gnat said, “even the insects follows:

For us He has provided wrens and swallows.”

Sempen Railey

INSURANCE, n. An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player

is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating

the man who keeps the table.

INSURANCE AGENT: My dear sir, that is a fine house — pray let me

insure it.

HOUSE OWNER: With pleasure. Please make the annual premium so

low that by the time when, according to the tables of your

actuary, it will probably be destroyed by fire I will have

paid you considerably less than the face of the policy.

INSURANCE AGENT: O dear, no — we could not afford to do that.

We must fix the premium so that you will have paid more.

HOUSE OWNER: How, then, can _I_ afford _that_?

INSURANCE AGENT: Why, your house may burn down at any time.

There was Smith’s house, for example, which —

HOUSE OWNER: Spare me — there were Brown’s house, on the

contrary, and Jones’s house, and Robinson’s house, which —

INSURANCE AGENT: Spare _me_!

HOUSE OWNER: Let us understand each other. You want me to pay

you money on the supposition that something will occur

previously to the time set by yourself for its occurrence. In

other words, you expect me to bet that my house will not last

so long as you say that it will probably last.

INSURANCE AGENT: But if your house burns without insurance it

will be a total loss.

HOUSE OWNER: Beg your pardon — by your own actuary’s tables I

shall probably have saved, when it burns, all the premiums I

would otherwise have paid to you — amounting to more than the

face of the policy they would have bought. But suppose it to

burn, uninsured, before the time upon which your figures are

based. If I could not afford that, how could you if it were

insured?

INSURANCE AGENT: O, we should make ourselves whole from our

luckier ventures with other clients. Virtually, they pay your

loss.

HOUSE OWNER: And virtually, then, don’t I help to pay their

losses? Are not their houses as likely as mine to burn before

they have paid you as much as you must pay them? The case

stands this way: you expect to take more money from your

clients than you pay to them, do you not?

INSURANCE AGENT: Certainly; if we did not —

HOUSE OWNER: I would not trust you with my money. Very well

then. If it is _certain_, with reference to the whole body of

your clients, that they lose money on you it is _probable_,

with reference to any one of them, that _he_ will. It is

these individual probabilities that make the aggregate

certainty.

INSURANCE AGENT: I will not deny it — but look at the figures in

this pamph —

HOUSE OWNER: Heaven forbid!

INSURANCE AGENT: You spoke of saving the premiums which you would

otherwise pay to me. Will you not be more likely to squander

them? We offer you an incentive to thrift.

HOUSE OWNER: The willingness of A to take care of B’s money is

not peculiar to insurance, but as a charitable institution you

command esteem. Deign to accept its expression from a

Deserving Object.

INSURRECTION, n. An unsuccessful revolution. Disaffection’s failure

to substitute misrule for bad government.

INTENTION, n. The mind’s sense of the prevalence of one set of

influences over another set; an effect whose cause is the imminence,

immediate or remote, of the performance of an involuntary act.

INTERPRETER, n. One who enables two persons of different languages to

understand each other by repeating to each what it would have been to

the interpreter’s advantage for the other to have said.

INTERREGNUM, n. The period during which a monarchical country is

governed by a warm spot on the cushion of the throne. The experiment

of letting the spot grow cold has commonly been attended by most

unhappy results from the zeal of many worthy persons to make it warm

again.

INTIMACY, n. A relation into which fools are providentially drawn for

their mutual destruction.

Two Seidlitz powders, one in blue

And one in white, together drew

And having each a pleasant sense

Of t’other powder’s excellence,

Forsook their jackets for the snug

Enjoyment of a common mug.

So close their intimacy grew

One paper would have held the two.

To confidences straight they fell,

Less anxious each to hear than tell;

Then each remorsefully confessed

To all the virtues he possessed,

Acknowledging he had them in

So high degree it was a sin.

The more they said, the more they felt

Their spirits with emotion melt,

Till tears of sentiment expressed

Their feelings. Then they effervesced!

So Nature executes her feats

Of wrath on friends and sympathetes

The good old rule who don’t apply,

That you are you and I am I.

INTRODUCTION, n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the

gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies. The

introduction attains its most malevolent development in this century,

being, indeed, closely related to our political system. Every

American being the equal of every other American, it follows that

everybody has the right to know everybody else, which implies the

right to introduce without request or permission. The Declaration of

Independence should have read thus:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are

created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain

inalienable rights; that among these are life, and the right to

make that of another miserable by thrusting upon him an

incalculable quantity of acquaintances; liberty, particularly the

liberty to introduce persons to one another without first

ascertaining if they are not already acquainted as enemies; and

the pursuit of another’s happiness with a running pack of

strangers.”

INVENTOR, n. A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels,

levers and springs, and believes it civilization.

IRRELIGION, n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.

ITCH, n. The patriotism of a Scotchman.

One Response to “The Devil’s Dictionary – “I””

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