The Middle Years, indeed, is precious in every page for its wit as well as for its confessional raptures. It may be objected that Henry James's wit is only a new form of the old-fashioned periphrasis. He might be described as the last of the periphrastic humorists.
When he began to write stories these three nationalities were combined in them: the peculiar kind of inventiveness of the French; the point of view, and the humor that we find in the old English humorists; and the capacity of the Irish for comical situations.
"Not exactly," Clement answered, smiling, and quite delighted to find such an unexpected vein of grave pleasantry about the demure-looking church-dignitary; for the Deacon asked his question without moving a muscle, and took no cognizance whatever of the young man's tone and smile. First-class humorists are, as is well known, remarkable for the immovable solemnity of their features.
Shadwell, whose best plays were produced in the reign of Charles II., was a professed imitator of the style of Jonson; and so closely described the manners of his day that he was frequently accused of direct personalities, and obliged to alter one of his plays, The Humorists, to avoid an outcry raised against him.
It is noteworthy that whilst America has produced humorists like 'Sam Slick, Artemus Ward, Mark Twain, and others, no American rival to Punch has yet appeared in Boston or New York.
His procedure was to bring together a number of these fantastic humorists, and "squeeze out the humor of such spongy souls," by playing them off upon each other, involving them in all manner of comical misadventures, and rendering them utterly ridiculous and contemptible.
There was a fine billiard-room on the ground floor with three comfortable sofas and a rotating bookcase containing an excellent collection of the English and American humorists from THREE MEN IN A BOAT to the penultimate Mark Twain. There was also a conservatory opening out of the dining-room, to which the gardener brought potted flowers in their season....
I'm burning the candle at both ends." "Hope you'll have good luck." "I shall deserve to have it," he concedes. "I sometimes stand at the side of the platform, and I see other parties trying in the same line, and I have to admit to myself that I do put something into my renditions of our poets and humorists that they fail to convey. Furthermore " "I don't want to miss the Henry the Eighth dances."
His rivals were such humorists as Orpheus C. Kerr, Nasby, Asa Hartz, The Fat Contributor, John Happy, Mrs. Partington, Bill Arp and the like, who are now mostly forgotten. Artemus Ward wrote little, but he made good and left his mark. Along with the queer John Phoenix his writings survived the deluge that followed them. He poured out the wine of life in a limpid stream.
"People go to the theatres more than they do the churches," she says, "and I want to go where there are plenty of people to hear me, and where they need me." From the regular theatre she passed, and for the same reasons, to the vaudeville, and did her regular "stunts" along with the singers, the dancers, the harlequin's, acrobats, and the burnt cork humorists.