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please tell us what you think of puns, now we are upon the subject of entertaining discourse."
“Puns, my dear boys, are generally regarded as indicative of weak minds."
"Indeed!" exclaimed both lads at once, “but really one needs some sharpness to make a clever pun.”
“Just a sharpness about words, but not about thoughts or ideas, they are at best but child's play, as far from true wit as school boy doggrel is from real poetry.”
“But seriously, papa, it is often much more entertaining to use words a little out of the common meaning. I was half dead with laughing just now as I came from the office, in overhearing a dialogue between two boys in the street, and that was what amused us so much just before dinner.”
“I grant," said Mr. Waylett, “that amidst the lower orders there is often much poetic feeling, and this sometimes evinces itself in the figurative style of language they adopt; but, my dear boys, much that, as a novelty, strikes you as droll or interesting, would lose that aspect when more familiar to you, while your minds might become degraded by the limited sphere of comparison which you would find the invariable consequence of ignorance. Pray do not indulge in the repetition of what is commonly called slang, however innocent, because it tends to lower your moral as well as mental taste. Refinement of language is one of the out-works to guard purity of heart. Our natural depravity renders us so prone to pick up that which is evil, that we cannot be too jealous of anything which could aid so melancholy a result. The young person who turns with disgust from coarseness of speech, will seldom be approached by those of rude manners, or debased principle.”
“That is very true, for at school there were some boys whom we should never dream of asking to join in any prank, and so at our office now: I heard Bellson say the other day, that he should as soon ask our minister to a masquerade, as invite our staid senior cashier to a ball."
“I am glad you have noticed such instances of the good effects of their consistent deportment.”
“Heigho!" sighed Harold, “I had plumed myself on being such a good bee, returning to the hive laden with sweets, and now I feel half convicted of gathering honey from poisonous weeds, instead of from precious flowers."
“ With a mind so reasonable as yours, my dear boy," remarked Mrs. Waylett, “and a disposition so open to conviction, to see an evil, is, I hope, to avoid it; and though satire and vulgarity may be banished from your tales, I do not doubt you will offer more agreeable sallies, and the weapon of wit, when used, will be unsullied by malevolence or ribaldry."
“But, papa, the other day you were praising those writers who had met the attacks of some witty infidels in their own way, and foiled all their remarks."
“True Harold! for the Scriptures say 'Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit;' and also
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be like him.' A wise controversialist never has recourse to wit, till either he has exhausted his arguments, or his opponents have proved themselves unwilling or unable to appreciate logical reasoning, and then it is but fair to meet him in his own fashion, with this subtile and oftentimes unmanageable sword.
“My arguments are soon exhausted with you for an antagonist, papa, so I am forced to summon all my ingenuity (I dare not be so arrogant as to say my wit,) to elicit all the wisdom you are so well qualified to impart.”
“Wit always tells best when it is well timed,” replied papa:“and so does flattery,” he added with an arch smile, "and old as I am, I am not sure that I am proof against my son's flattery of wisdom.”
“Well I think I must study all the best specimens of wit I can find.”
“Take care you do not become a copyist, Harold. Strengthen and enlarge your faculties by a judicious variety of solid and elegant literature, and if you have any wit, never fear, but it will sparkle out often enough; but remember that a Christian's wit never wounds the feelings of others; never trifles with things sacred; being chastened by the admonition, for every idle word a man shall speak, he shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment.'”
E. W. P.
SCRIPTURE ILLUSTRATIONS. We are glad to meet Dr. Kitto again, in the second volume of his “ Daily Bible Illustrations," just issued. We could name a host of commentators who are content to explain only what needs no explanation—but this is not the case with Dr. Kitto. He, moreover, illustrates facts by facts, and throws often new and unexpected light on texts which an ordinary reader would pass by without a thought as to whether he had caught their true sense or not, and with a very unworthy appreciation of their beauty and spirit. He has every necessary appliance for a genuine and faithful critic and expositor. He thoroughly understands both words and things—the niceties of language involved in the narrative before him, and the details of every circumstance touched upon-his illustrations are illustrations, his facts, facts. We much admire, too, the thorough honesty of his explanations. By honesty we do not mean the hardihood that cuts a knot instead of loosening it, or melts down a gigantic and notorious fact to the level of its small capacity, and then boldly tells us that it means exactly what the words do not state; but a straightforward earnest arxiety to give the true import of a passage without fear or favor. Dr. Kitto is no patcher up of Scripture: he takes it as he finds it-lays hold of its general sense and spirit, and without any undue deference to popular interpretation, or ancestral prejudices, holds to it with a tenacity that brings its own “exceeding great reward,” by eliciting its integrity, purity, and stability. But he is a literalist only so far as his scholarship keeps him company. Misconceptions or mistranslations find no advocate in Dr. Kitto, who maintains throughout the happy mean between word-worship, and reckless innovation.
The volume before us is the second of a series of four, comprising the period of Moses and the Judges, and illustrating many curious points connected with the Bondage in Egypt, the Exodus, the wanderings in the Wilderness, and the settlement of the Tribes.
As a specimen of the ready intelligence of our author, and his felicitous mode of improving a mere suggestion, we give his comment on the word Kirjath-sepher. (Joshua xv. 15.)
“ One of the towns taken by the Israelites in the course of their war for the conquest of Canaan, was KIRJATH-ŞEPHER. It is historically famous as the strong city, for the capture of which Caleb, in whose lot it lay, held forth the hand of his daughter Achsah as the prize—which prize was won by his gallant nephew Othniel, afterwards a judge in Israel. But a still higher interest-not very obvious to the general readerlurks in this city, and that merely in its name. Kirjath-sepher means the Book-City.'
“To those who like to look back into ancient things, this name-found at a date so remote-excites the most intense curiosity, and suggests a thousand questions. While scholars are disputing whether any literature—or any but the scantiestexisted at a date so ancient, we come quietly upon a great fact lurking in a name. We read here, in this name, not only of a book, but of a book-city-a city distinguished in some way or other for its connection with literature. It is difficult to conceive that it was so called for any other reason than because it was either eminent for books or archives, or for its being the resort of men who were conversant with literature—such, whatever it was, as existed in that age. In some sort, then, it was a place of literature. Was it a place of libraries, of archives, of academies? Either alternative implies the presence of such literature as the age afforded among the Canaanites-and at least proves that they were not an illiterate people. The Targum calls the place Kirjath-arche-or the city of the archives, in which were laid up the public records of thc Canaanites. This is not unlikely. We know that there were in a later age special cities in which the archives of kingdoms were deposited, and it might be particularly desirable in a dominion of small states like those of Canaan, that the public records, in which all had an interest, should be deposited in one ploce.
“This Kirjath-sepher is again, undoubtedly, the same which is further on called Kirjath-sannah (verse 49.) This Sannah means, in Arabic, and in the old Phænician or Canaanitish dialect, law, doctrine, manner of life, and is applied by the Moslems to the secondary law of the Koran, answering to the Jewish Mishnah. The Greek translators render it by the
city of letters.” It seems, therefore, that the one name denotes the general character of the town as a city of books, and the other the nature of these books, or the objects to which they tended, which were indeed the objects of all ancient literature.
“ Think as we will reason as we will it remains clear that if there was a city called the Book-city, there must have been books of some kind or other. By the dear love we bear to books, which place within our grasp the thoughts and knowledge of all ages and of all climes, we exult in this inevitable conclusion. Let us not, however, form any large ideas of the collections of books which the Book-city contained. The mere fact that a city was distinguished by its very name for the possession of books, implies that books were rare and uncommon. It is not for qualities or possessions common, but rare, that cities or persons acquire a name. There was no Bodleian or Advocates' Library—no British Museum ; a small closet or a box might perhaps contain all the manuscripts which the Book-city possessed. But whatever their quality or number, they were precious in the eyes of the Canaanites; and in ours, this bundle of books, and their appreciation of its value, do them far more honor than all their chariots of iron. What a treasure they would have been to us now! What stores of ancient knowledge they would have opened! What light would hare been thrown upon many dark matters, all the more important from their connection with the early history of our sacred books! We should have been able to read them, had they been preserved, and their value to us would have been beyond all price. We can feel this—we see this at a glance. How much more, then, would this have been the case had the books which comprise our Bible been lost, though known to have existed. How we should have grieved over that loss. How sensible we should be of their unutterable value :-how highly we should estimate the privilege of being acquainted with the high knowledge they comprise. But we have these books in our hands; all the treasures of human and spiritual knowledge which they contain, lie as an open page in the hands of our very children-here are books as old, and books far more precious, than any the Book-city of the Canaanites contained. Some are sensible of its valuesome devote all their days to the study of it—and to many every word of the Sacred Volume is more precious than gold. But these are few in number compared with the thousands by