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The Devil’s Dictionary – “J”

Posted by eGZact on October 26, 2007

J is a consonant in English, but some nations use it as a vowel —

than which nothing could be more absurd. Its original form, which has

been but slightly modified, was that of the tail of a subdued dog, and

it was not a letter but a character, standing for a Latin verb,

_jacere_, “to throw,” because when a stone is thrown at a dog the

dog’s tail assumes that shape. This is the origin of the letter, as

expounded by the renowned Dr. Jocolpus Bumer, of the University of

Belgrade, who established his conclusions on the subject in a work of

three quarto volumes and committed suicide on being reminded that the

j in the Roman alphabet had originally no curl.

JEALOUS, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which

can be lost only if not worth keeping.

JESTER, n. An officer formerly attached to a king’s household, whose

business it was to amuse the court by ludicrous actions and

utterances, the absurdity being attested by his motley costume. The

king himself being attired with dignity, it took the world some

centuries to discover that his own conduct and decrees were

sufficiently ridiculous for the amusement not only of his court but of

all mankind. The jester was commonly called a fool, but the poets and

romancers have ever delighted to represent him as a singularly wise

and witty person. In the circus of to-day the melancholy ghost of the

court fool effects the dejection of humbler audiences with the same

jests wherewith in life he gloomed the marble hall, panged the

patrician sense of humor and tapped the tank of royal tears.

The widow-queen of Portugal

Had an audacious jester

Who entered the confessional

Disguised, and there confessed her.

“Father,” she said, “thine ear bend down —

My sins are more than scarlet:

I love my fool — blaspheming clown,

And common, base-born varlet.”

“Daughter,” the mimic priest replied,

“That sin, indeed, is awful:

The church’s pardon is denied

To love that is unlawful.

“But since thy stubborn heart will be

For him forever pleading,

Thou’dst better make him, by decree,

A man of birth and breeding.”

She made the fool a duke, in hope

With Heaven’s taboo to palter;

Then told a priest, who told the Pope,

Who damned her from the altar!

Barel Dort

JEWS-HARP, n. An unmusical instrument, played by holding it fast with

the teeth and trying to brush it away with the finger.

JOSS-STICKS, n. Small sticks burned by the Chinese in their pagan

tomfoolery, in imitation of certain sacred rites of our holy religion.

JUSTICE, n. A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition

the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes

and personal service.

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