A sense of humour?

One of the Pitt-Rivers' notebooks recently gifted to the Pitt Rivers Museum by Anthony Pitt-Rivers, seems to represent a more light-hearted side of Pitt-Rivers than we are used to seeing. It is agreen backed notebook, no title but appears to be another Miscellaneous notebook. I think this one is quite early on ie perhaps early 1850s at beginning, the handwriting is less like his later handwriting but I could be wrong as later ones are definitely 1860s. The notebook comprises extracts and jokes copied out. It starts with extract from Pickwick Papers. Here are some transcriptions of some of the contents of this notebook:

‘Job Trotter bowed low; and in spite of Mr. Weller's previous remonstrance, the tears again rose to his eyes. “I never se such a feller,” saidSam “Blessed if I don’t think he’s got a main in his head as is always turned on.” [Chapter 16]

‘Louise XV once heard that an English noble man (Lord Stair) at his court was remarkably like himself. Upon his Lordship’s going to court, the King who was very guilty of saying rude things, observed upon seeing him, “A remarkable likeness upon my word! – My Lord was your mother ever in France?” To which his Lordship replied, with great politeness “No, please your Majesty, but my Father was.”

Speaking of one of the Calumuns against Queen Elizabeth Mr Kingsley says in his review of Sir Walter Raleigh & his times “there is no more to be discovered in the matter except by the vulturine nose which smells a carrion in every rose bed.

Sir Walter Raleigh was in he [sic, the] habit of asking favours of Queen Elizabeth for his friends. When Sir Walter she asked will you cease to be a beggar? When your Majesty ceases to be a benefactor.’

‘If we must lash one another let it be with the manly strokes of wit and satire; for I am of the old Philosphers opinion that if I must suffer from one or the other, I would rather it should be from the paw of a lion than the hoof of an ass. Spectator No 61 Addison’ [Essays and Tales, Joseph Addison Part 2]

‘”When like a lobster boiled the morn from black to red to turn.” Hudibras [Samuel Butler, Hudibras]

‘” To speak loud in public assemblies, and to let every one hear you talk of things that should only be mentioned in private, or in a whisper, are looked upon as part of a reformed education … Some years ago I was at the tragedy of Macbeth, and unfortunately placed myself behind a woman of quality that is since dead; who as I found by the noise she made, was newly returned from France. A little before the rising of the curtain she broke into a loud soliloquy ‘When will the dear witches enter’? and immediately upon the first appearance asked a lady that sat three boxes from her on her right hand, if those witches were not charming creatures. A little after, as Betterton was in one of the finest speeches of the play, she shook her fan at another lady, who sat as far on her left hand, and told her with a whisper, that might be heard all over the pit, ‘We must not expect to see Balloon to night’ Not long after, calling out to a young Baronet by his name who sat three seats before me, she asked him whether Macbeth’s wife was still alive, and before he could give an answer, fell a talking of the ghost of Banquo. She had by this time formed a little audience herself and fixed the attention of all about her. [But] As I had a mind to hear the play, I got out of the sphere of her impertinence, and planted myself in one of the remotest corners of the pit.

This pretty childishness of behaviour is one of the most refined parts of coquetry, and is not to be attained in perfection by ladies who do not travel for their improvement. A natural and unconstrained behaviour has something so agreeable in it [actually in it so agreeable], that it is no wonder to see people endeavouring after it. But at the same time it is so very hard to hit, when it is not born with us, that people often make themselves ridiculous in attempting it. Spectator no 45 Addison’ [The Spectator vol 31 no 45 page 205]

‘By the side of a murmuring stream
An elderly gentleman sat
On the top of his head was his wig
On the top of his wig was his hat.’ [Apparently the first verse of a poem by George Canning]

‘A witty Frenchman attempted to reconcile his taste for the society of married women with his disinclination to enter the married state by the following remark. ‘J’ai les memes idées.’ He said ‘sur le marriage par sur le tabac. Je l’aime beaucoup, je m’en sers frequement, mais je ne porte pas de tabatiereEdinburgh Review April 1860 p 402

‘Mr Ruskin’s wife claimed the right of divorce on the grounds of impotency the following lines were written for her
See stones medieval & Gothic erections
You’ve been very clever we all do agree
But through years of lost hopes & long blighted affections
You’ve had neither nor erections for me.’

If I met you riding a donkey, what fruit wold you be like
A. A pair

Why are you not like a donkey’s tail
A. Because you are no end of an ass

If Neptune were deprived of his Kingdom what would he say
A. I have not a notion / an ocean [he actually writes this down!]

What is the difference between a man & a woman [insert] does a man differ from a woman [end insert]
A. Cannot concieve

“Madame de Sévegné gives a good reason for the love ladies have of frequent confession. They like she tells us to talk of themselves, and would rather talk ill of themselves than not at all” Laws of society vol 1 page 275’

‘Why were the New York brokers like Pharoe’s daughter
Because they found a little profit in the rushes on the Bank’

‘How many wives does the English church allow a man
Ans 16 vir. For / 4 better for / 4 worse for / 4 richer for / 4 poorer’

‘How many weeks are there in [insert] belong to [end insert] the year
Ans 46 because 6 are lent’

‘Count of Toulouse
Oh dear, what will become of us?
Oh dear, what shall we do?
We shall die of the blue devils if some of us
Can’t find out something that’s new’

‘The Bugbear approached has more affinity to the Bug than the bear’

Loose letter at end of volume:
‘The scene is in Miss Gascoigne’s boudoir. It is 6 a.m.! The table is strewed with love letters, Valentine small scraps of poetry, composed by the said Miss Gascoigne, lockets, tokens, pieces of hair of all shades & colours from the purest white to the deepest black & every shade of russet in short, every sort of thing that a young lady ought not to possess.
The sun is peeping above the horizon and
“Like a lobster boil’d the morn
From black to red begins to turn” [as quoted earlier!]
Miss G, fearful lest her dear Mother should discover her manner of passing the night, is retiring stealthily to a pretended rest, when, a voice is heard from above the chimney. She starts, seizes the poker, and rushing madly to the farthest end of the apartment, the following dialogue ensues.
Ist monkey
Hold, Gentle hellen, why so funkey
It is I, your faithful monkey
Here, upon this mantle-shelf
I daily do inform myself
Of all that passeth.
When at night, though lock’st thy door
And fancieth the world no more,
Little, simple, dost thou think
I am the connecting link
That does betray the
[it ends there]

AP May 2012

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