An English officer being promoted to the command of a Scots regiment, became desirious of insuring his life, and appeared at the board of an insurance office for that purpose. A question being put to him, whether he was temperate or free in his manner of living, he replied-- "Gentlemen, you may be perfectly easy on that score, now that I belong to a Scotch regiment: our officers never get drunk at their own expense."more...
Famous quote about the British Empire with a clever addendum
"The British empire, sir," exclaimed an orator, "is one on which the sun never sets."� "And one," replied an auditor, " in which the tax-collector never goes to bed."
From "The Jest Book" more...
Prince Philip-Husband of Queen Elizabeth II
Early on in their marriage, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were crossing the water to Vancouver Island in Canada. The weather was unsettled and the ship was rocking violent. Just as a young petty officer arrived in the royal suite, the ship lurched and the tray of tea cakes he was holding fell to the floor. Surprisingly, Philip jumped onto his hands and knees and helped to gather them up. After retrieving a handful of cakes he returned to his seat and turned to Elizabeth and playfully more...
A Scotch Anecdote of Gladstone
Mr. Gladstone's fluency in argumentation, although i natural gift, was purposely fostered by his father: indeed, all the family were accustomed to argue about everything that turned up at table or elsewhere. On one occasion William Gladstone and his sister Mary disputed as to where a certain picture was to be hung. An old Scotch sen-ant came in with a ladder and stood irresolute while the argument progressed ; but as Miss Mary would not yield, William gallantly ceased from speech, though unconvinced of course. The servant then hung up the picture where the young lady ordered; but when he had done this he crossed the room and hammered a nail into the opposite wall. lie was asked why he did this:
"Aweel, Miss, that'll do to hang the picture on when ye'll have come roond to Master Willie's opeenion. more...
Last wish: a newspaper
In the memorable battle of Trafalgar, William Chambers, master of the Royal Sovereign, had part of his side carried away while steering the ship towards the close of the action. He just lived until the firing ceased, when, with a feeble voice, he exclaimed, "Oh, could I but read the Gazette of this glorious day !" and, with the remaining breath still left him, gave three feeble cheers, in which he joined by another lying man, and both immediately expired. more...
Queens of the Sea
The great British Cunard ocean liner Queen Mary was originally to be called Queen Victoria. The head of the Cunard company explained to King George V (1865 � 1936) that he wanted to name the ship after "the greatest of all English queens." Upon hearing this explanation the king replied, "Oh, my wife will be pleased." As a result, the great ship was christened after Mary of Teck.
A Stamp for King George
George V, an avid stamp collector, was with his private secretary one afternoon when his secretary remarked,"I see in The Times today that some damn fool has given fourteen hundred pounds for a single stamp at a private sale." The king replied, "I am that damn fool." more...
Conan Doyle's practical joke
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, enjoyed practical jokes. He is said to have once sent a telegram to twelve of his friends, all people of great significance and power. The telegram said: 'Flee at once, the secret is discovered'. Within 24 hours all twelve had left the country. more...
Compliment to King Charles II
Charles II. was reputed a great connoisseur in naval architecture. Being once at Chatham, to view a ship just finished on the stocks, he asked the famous Killigrew, "If he did not think he should make an excellent shipwright?" He replied, "That he always thought his majesty would have done better at any trade than his own." No favourable compliment, but as true a one, perhaps, as ever was paid.
From The Book of Three Hundred Anecdotes: Historical, Literary, and Humorous more...
Shaving a Queen -- Let the Barber Do His Best!
Shaving a Queen. For some time after the restoration of Charles the Second, young smooth-faced men performed the women's parts on the stage. That monarch, coming before his usual time to hear Shakespeare's Hamlet, sent the Earl of Rochester to know the reason of the delay; who brought word back, that the queen was not quite shaved. "Ods fish" (the king employed his usual expression), "I beg her majesty's pardon! we will wait till her barber is done with her."
From The Book of Three Hundred Anecdotes: Historical, Literary, and Humorous more...
Jonathan Swift and Thomas Sheridan at a Beggar's Wedding
Dean Swift being in the country, on a visit to Dr. Sheridan, they were informed that a beggar's wedding was about to be celebrated. Sheridan played well upon the violin; Swift therefore proposed that he should go to the place where the ceremony was to be performed, disguised as a blind fiddler, while he attended him as his man. Thus accoutred they set out, and were received by the jovial crew with great acclamation. They had plenty of good cheer, and never was a more joyous wedding seen. more...
Captain Kidd -- Famous Last Words of a Pirate
Captain William Kidd (1645-1701), a famous British pirate, started his career as a regular sea captain. But when he was dispatched to the coast of Madagascar with the purpose of quelling marauding pirates, he joined them instead, and soon became one of the most ferocious raiders on the open seas. After several years of bloody raids on British ships he reached agreement with the English that he would surrender in return for a full pardon. Once he was in custody, the pardon was revoked and he was sent to the gallows. As the noose was put around his neck he said to the assembled crowds: "this is a very fickle and faithless generation." more...
King Charles II on Writing History
When Leti, the historian, was one day attending
the levee of Charles the Second, he said
to him, " Leti. I hear that you are writing the
History of the Court of England." "Sir, I
have been for some time preparing materials for
such a history." " Take care that your work
give no offence," said the prince. Leti replied,
"Sir, I will do what I can, but if a man were
as wise as Solomon, he would scarcely be able to
avoid giving offence." "Why, then," rejoined
the king, "be as wise as Solomon; write proverbs,
From Percy Anecdotes more...
Doctor Bell and the patient
Doctor Bell, a renowned Scottish surgeon who is believed to be the prototype of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, once held a demonstration of his deductive method of diagnosis. He gathered a group of students around the bed of a new patient and proceeded with questioning. "Aren't you a bandsman?" he asked the ill individual. He nodded. "You see, gentlemen, I am right," said Dr. Bell with some satisfaction. "It is quite elementary. This man has a paralysis of the cheek muscles, the result of too much blowing at wind instruments. We need only inquire to confirm. What instrument do you play, my man?" "The big drum, doctor", replied the patient. more...
Queen Victoria Meets her Maker
While Queen Victoria lay dying, a member of the royal household mused to Edward, Prince of Wales, "I wonder if she will be happy in heaven?"
Edward matter-of-factly replied, "I don't know. She will have to walk behind the angels--and she won't like that!" more...
Long live King Charles--not James
While on his morning walk, King Charles proceeded to stroll through Hyde Park accompanied by just two lords. As he was walking, his brother James, Duke of York, drove up in his carriage under heavy guard.
The duke was suprised to see his brother virtually alone and expressed to him that it might be dangerous and unwise. King Charles confidently replied,"No danger, for no man in England would take away my life to make you king." more...
Children bug Princess Diana
During a royal tour in 1983, Diana approached a crowd of young children in Southern Australia. She walked up to the nearest child and, while patting him on his head, asked him why he wasn't in school that day.
"I was sent home," he explained, "because I've got head lice." more...
A Funny Poem for the King from his Earl
In trying to be clever, the Earl of Rochester once left a message on King Charles II's bedchamber door. It read:
"Here is our sovereign lord the king,
Whose promise noone relies on;
He never said a foolish thing,
Nor ever did a wise one."
Not to be outdone, Charles replied with the following:
"This is very true, for my words are my own, and my actions are those of my ministers." more...
Lord Byron's gift
Byron once gave his publisher, John Murray, a splendidly bound Bible, and the recipient was proud of it until he happened to discover that his friend donor had altered the last verse of the 18th chapter of St. John (Now Barrabas was a robber) so as to read: "Now Barrabas was a publisher."
From The poetical works of lord Byron, with illustr. by K. Halswelle more...
Chester Harding and Daniel Boone
Chester Harding, while painting a portrait of Daniel Boone asked the great frontiersman if he had ever been lost.
"No," said Boone, "I can't say as ever I was
lost, but I was bewildered once for three days."
From Daniel Boone and the Wilderness Road by Henry Addington Bruce more...
Queen Alexandra and the dying King Edward VII
King Edward VII of Great Britain was quite a playboy in his day, and his wife, Queen Alexandra had often ignored his infidelities and wild escapades. As he lay on his deathbed, his faithful wife was grief stricken until one reassuring thought occurred to her. She turned to Lord Esher and remarked, "Now at least I know where he is." more...
Amusing story of a ring
A correspondent to 'Notes and Queries ' (vol. i. series 3, p. 36), relates the following curious anecdote : ' A gentleman, who was in the habit of frequenting a favourite spot for the sake of a view that interested him, used to lounge on a rail, and one day in a fit of absence of mind got fumbling about the post in which one end of the rail was inserted. On his way home he missed a valuable ring ; he went back again and looked diligently for it but without success. more...
Queen Elizabeth's ring
Queen Elizabeth ... drawing from her finger the coronation ring, showed it to the Commons, and told them that when she received that ring she had solemnly bound herself in marriage to the realm, and it would be quite sufficient for the memorial of her name, and for her glory, if, when she died, an inscription were engraved on her marble tomb : 'Here lyeth Elizabeth, which (sic) reigned a virgin, and died a woman.' more...
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, when a boy, gave very slight indications of genius, nor did he shine in his early career as a scholar. In Latin, he did not advance far until his tenth year, when Dr. Pater- son succeeded to the school at Musselburgh, where young Scott then was. Dr. Blair, on a visit to Musselburgh, soon after Dr. Paterson took charge of the school, accompanied by somn friends, examined several of the pupils, and paid particular attention to young Scott.more...
Locke on the Understanding
Mr. Locke having been introduced by Lord Shaftesbury to the Duke of Buckingham and Lord Halifax, these three noblemen, instead of conversing with that philosopher on literary subjects, as might naturally have been expected, in a very short time sat down to cards. Mr. Locke, after looking on for some time, took out his pocket-book, and began to write with great attention. One of the company observing this, took the liberty of asking him what he was writing1 "My lord," says Locke, " I am endeavoring, as far us possible, to profit by my present situation; for having waited with impatience for the honor of being in company with the greatest geniuses of the age, I thought more...
Henry VIII and a sundial maker
It was in the year 1517 that Nicholas Kratzer, or Kratcher, a Bavarian, was admitted at the age of thirty to the new college of Corpus Christi at Oxford, founded by Bishop Fox. His name is on the list of lecturers appointed by Cardinal Wolsey, and he lectured on astronomy and mathematics. Tunstall, writing in 1520, calls Kratzer the "deviser of the King's horologies." He became a fellow of Corpus, and while at Oxford he constructed two sun-dials, one for St. Mary's Church, which stood on the churchyard wall till 1744, and another for the college garden. more...
Coronation of George I
Nothing of special interest marks the Coronation of George I., except that, as he was unable to speak English, and scarcely anyone round him could speak German, recourse had to be had to Latin. As all the various ceremonies had to be laboriously explained to him in this language, the Coronation was consequently a long and tedious affair with many interruptions. In connection with this a common joke among the people at the time was that much bad language had passed between the King and his ministers on the day of the Coronation. The wife of George I., like the wife of his descendant, George IV., was not permitted to take any part in the great celebration, but was left a prisoner in Germany, where she remained in captivity for thirty years.
From The Windsor Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly for Men and Women more...
Prince of Wales and a German oboe player
Another joke was played off upon poor Fischer >by the Prince of Wales this merrymaking season, >to this effect: after the concert, which Fischer >attended twice a week at Richmond or at Kew, >wherever the King and Queen were, he used eagerly >to seize upon the supper before he went to London. >Upon one occasion the Prince came in and said, ' I >have ordered something that I know you like;' a >dish was brought in, and when the cover was lifted, >out jumped a rabbit. Germans have a particular >dislike to that animal in every shape and form ; >therefore it is easy to conjecture poor Fischer's >state of mind. This joke cost him only the loss of his >supper, but many nights succeeded before he could >be prevailed upon to again enter the eating-room.
>From Court and Private Life in the Time of Queen Charlotte by Charlotte Louise Henrietta Papendiek more...
A Quarter of an Hour
When Lord Nelson was leaving London, on his last, but glorious, expedition against the enemy, a quantity of cabin furniture was ordered to be sent on board his ship. He had a farewell dinner party at his house; and the upholsterer having waited upon his lordship, with an account of the completion of the goods, was brought into the dining-room, in a corner of which his lordship spoke with him. The upholsterer stated to his employer, that everything was finished, and packed, and would go in the wagon, from a certain inn, at six o'clock. "And you go to the inn, Mr. A., and see them off?" "I shall, my lord; I shall be there punctually at six." "A quarter before six, Mr. A.," returned Lord Nelson, "be there a quarter before six. To that quarter of an hour I owe everything in life." more...
Duncan Broadfoot was a studious shoemaker, and
much addicted to reading works on astronomy. Ae day
he got into a heated argument wi' Saunders Veitch
regarding the merits and demerits o' the French revolution.
Duncan stood erect. His eyes flashed, and he
placed the fore-finger of his right hand in -the palm of
his left, and thus spoke: "Noo, Saunders, if I was an
inhabitant o' ane o' the maist important planets, and if
ony o' the folk thereon started a revolution, and cam'
to me and advised me to tak' up the sword, gun or
Lochaber ax as the case might be, I wad just eye them
wi' scorn, and most dignified and unmistakable disdain,
and tell them to gang to the deevil wi' baith them and
their revolutions." more...
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Coleridge, the Poet, once dined in company with a person who listened to the conversation and said nothing for a long time; but occasionally nodded his head, and Coleridge concluded him a thoughtful and intelligent man. At length, towards the end of the dinner, some apple dumplings were placed on the table, and the listener had no sooner seen them than he burst forth, "Them's the fellows for me!" Coleridge adds: "I wish Spurzheim could have examined the fellow's head."
(Johann Gaspar Spurzheim (1776-1832) was a German physician who became one of the chief proponents of phrenology, a branch of the neurosciences created approximately in 1800 by Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828).) more...
At the time when Queen Elizabeth was making one of her progresses through the kingdom, a mayor of Coventry, attended by a large cavalcade, went out to meet her Majesty, and usher her into the city with due formality. On their return they passed through a wide brook, when Mr. Mayor's horse several times attempted to drink, and each time his worship checked him; which the Queen observing, called out to him, "Mr. Mayor, let your horse drink, Mr. Mayor;" but the magistrate, bowing very low, modestly answered, "Nay, nay, may it please your Majesty's horse to drink first." more...