Irish jokes weren’t the only quips about foreigners and immigrants. The Scots got their share. The Italians got theirs. Many nationalities participated in the hodge-podge of good-natured humor that became unique to America.
JOKES WITH FOREIGNERS & IMMIGRANTS
HE COULDN'T HAVE MISSED IT
The average foreigner can rarely comprehend the geographical area of the United States, as was quite fully illustrated by the Englishman and his valet who had been traveling due west from Boston for five days. At the end of the fifth day master and servant were seated in the smoking-car, and it was observed that the man was gazing steadily and thoughtfully out of the window. Finally his companion became curious. "William," said he, "of what are you thinking?"
"I was just thinking, sir, about the discovery of Hamerica," replied the valet. "Columbus didn't do such a wonderful thing, after all, when he found this country, did he, now, sir? Hafter hall's said an' done, 'ow could 'e 'elp it?"
ECCLESIASTICAL DUES ENFORCED
"I canna get ower it," a Scotch farmer remarked to his wife. "I put a two shillin' piece in the plate at the church this mornin’ instead o' ma usual penny."
The beadle had noticed the mistake, and in silence he allowed the farmer to miss the plate for twenty-three consecutive Sundays.
On the twenty-fourth Sunday the farmer again ignored the plate, but the old beadle stretched the ladle in front of him and, in a loud, tragic whisper, hoarsely said:
"Your time's up noo, Sandy."
THE REAL CULPRIT
The Crown Prince had been so busy that he hadn't had time to get together with his father and have a confidential chat. But one evening when there was a lull in the 808-centimeter guns, they managed to get a few moments off. The Crown Prince turned to his father and said:
"Dad, there is something I have been wanting to ask you for a long time. Is Uncle George really responsible for this conflict?"
"No, my son."
"Well, did Cousin Nick have anything to do with it?"
"Not at all"
"Possibly you did?"
"Then would you mind telling me who it was?"
The anointed one was silent for a moment. Then he turned to his son and said:
"I'll tell you how it happened. About two or three years ago there was a wild man came over here from the United States, one of those rip-roaring rough riders that you read about in dime novels, but he certainly did have about him a plausible air. I took him out and showed him our fleet. Then I showed him the army, and after he had looked them over he said to me, 'Bill, you could lick the world,' And I was damn fool enough to believe him."
A DUAL REPUTATION
As Grantland Rice tells the story, a certain distinguished English actor, whom we may safely call Jones-Brown, plays golf frequently, but horribly. During a recent visit to this country the actor in question occasionally visited the links of a well-known country club in Westchester County, near New York.
After an especially miserable showing of inaptness one morning, he flung down his driver in disgust.
"Caddy," he said, addressing the silent youth who stood alongside, "that was awful, wasn't it?"
"Purty bad, sir," stated the boy.
"I freely confess that I am the worst golfer in the world," continued the actor.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that, sir," said the caddy soothingly.
"Did you ever see a worse player than I am?"
"No, sir, I never did," confessed the boy truthfully; "but some of the other boys was tellin' me yistiddy about a gentleman that must be a worse player than you are. They said his name was Jones-Brown."
An Italian, having applied for citizenship, was being examined in the naturalization court.
"Who is the President of the United States?"
"Who is the Vice-President?"
"Could you be President?"
"Mister, you 'scuse, please. I vera busy worka da mine."
The worried countenance of the bridegroom disturbed the best man.Tiptoeing up the aisle, he whispered:
"What's the matter, Jock? Hae ye lost the ring?"
"No," blurted out the unhappy Jock, "the ring's safe eno'. But, mon,I've lost ma enthusiasm."
WHAT HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN
Being well equipped physically, Michael Murphy had no difficulty in holding his job as village sexton, until he was asked to sign an official document. "Oi can't write," said Mike, and was discharged.
Out of a job, Mike turned to contracting and in time became wealthy and a figure in his community. When he applied to the leading bank for a loan of fifty thousand dollars, he was assured that he could get it—and was asked to sign the necessary notes. Again he was obliged to reply:"Oi can't write."
The banker was astounded. "And you have accumulated all this wealth and position without knowing how to write!" he exclaimed. "What would you have been to-day if you could write?"
Mike paused a moment, and answered:
"Oi would have been a sexton."
TRY IT AND SEE
A few years ago, while watching a parade in Boston in which the Stars and Stripes were conspicuous, a fair foreigner with strong anti-American proclivities turned to a companion, and commenting on the display, pettishly remarked:
"That American flag makes me sick. It looks just like a piece of checkerberry candy."
Senator Lodge, who was standing near by, overheard the remark, and turning to the young lady, said:
"Yes, Miss, it does. And it makes everyone sick who tries to lick it."
GIVE US THE CHANCE
When Booth Tarkington was visiting Naples he was present at an eruption of Vesuvius.
"You haven't anything like that in America, have you?" said an Italian friend with pride.
"No, we haven't," replied Tarkington; "but we've got Niagara Falls that would put the d----d thing out in five minutes."
A FLATTERING EXPLANATION
A sturdy Scot, 6 feet 5 inches in height, is a gamekeeper nearStrafford. One hot day last summer he was accompanying a bumptious sportsman, of very small stature, when he (the sturdy Scot) was greatly troubled by gnats. The diminutive sportsman said to him:
"My good man, why is it that the gnats do not trouble me?"
"I daresay," replied the gamekeeper, with a comprehensive glance at the other's small proportions, "it will be because they havna' seen ye yet!"
AN EASY ADJUSTMENT
Andy Donaldson, a well-known character of Glasgow, lay on his deathbed.
"I canna' leave ye thus, Nancy," the old Scotsman wailed. "Ye're too auld to work, an' ye couldna' live in the workhoose. I beg ye to marry anither man, wha'll keep ye in comfort in yer auld age."
"Nay, nay, Andy," answered the good spouse; "I couldna' marry anither man, fer whit wull I do wi' two husbands in heaven?"
Andy pondered over this, but suddenly his face brightened.
"I ha'e it, Nancy!" he cried. "Ye remember auld John Clemmens? He's a kind man, but he's no' a member o' the church. He likes ye, Nancy, an' if ye'll marry him, 'twill be a' the same in heaven. John's no' a Christian, and he's no' likely to get there."
MORE SCOTCH THRIFT
Harry Lauder tells the following story about a funeral in Glasgow and a well-dressed stranger who took a seat in one of the mourning coaches. The other three occupants of the carriage were rather curious to know who he was, and at last one of them began to question him. The dialogue went like this:
"Ye'll be a brither o' the corp?"
"No, I'm no' a brither o' the corp."
"Weel, ye'll be his cousin?"
"No, I'm no' a cousin."
"At ony rate ye'll be a frien' o' the corp?"
"No, I'm no' that either. Ye see, I've no' been very weel masel," the stranger explained complacently, "an' my doctor has ordered me carriage exercise, so I thocht this would be the cheapest way to tak' it."
WARNED IN TWENTY YEARS
Several Scotchmen were discussing the domestic unhappiness of a mutual friend.
"Aye," said one, "Jock McDonald has a sair time wi' that wife o' his.They do say they're aye quarrelin'."
"It serve' him richt," said another feelingly. "The puir feckless creature marrit after coortin' only eight year. Man, indeed, he had nae chance to ken the wumman in sic a short time. When I was coortin' I was coortin' twenty year."
"And how did it turn out?" inquired a stranger in the party.
"I tell ye, I was coortin' twenty year, an' in that time I kenned what wumman was, an' so I didna marry."
BEYOND THE SENSE OF HUMOR
A Scottish soldier, badly wounded, requested an army chaplain to write a letter for him to his wife. The chaplain, anxious to oblige, started off with "My dear Wife--"
"Na, na," said the Scotsman, "dinna pit that doon. Ma wife canna see a joke."
Pat came to the dentist's with his jaw very much swollen from a tooth he desired to have pulled. But when the suffering son of Erin got into the dentist's chair and saw the gleaming pair of forceps approaching his face, he positively refused to open his mouth. The dentist quietly told his page boy to prick his patient with a pin, and when Pat opened his mouth to yell the dentist seized the tooth, and out it came. "It didn't hurt as much as you expected it would, did it?" the dentist asked, smilingly.
"Well, no," replied Pat, hesitatingly, as if doubting the truthfulness of his admission. "But," he added, placing his hand on the spot where the little boy pricked him with the pin, "begorra, little did I think the roots would reach down like that."