Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  8 (1884), 644–48.

Editor's Drawer



Regular Feature—Anecdote, Drollery


Induction, Theory, Human Species, Cosmogony, Heredity, Amusement

    Asserts that 'Ours is the inductive method, and in accordance with the prevailing fashion we have only to collect a sufficient number of facts in order to be able to set up and patent a theory which will enable us to understand human nature as perfectly as we now comprehend the development of a complete American universe, with all its various activities and departments, out of certain inanimate and unintelligent ingredients or atoms, stirred together by a sort of indescribable cosmic spoon without a handle' (644–45). In a discussion about the provenance of jokes, concedes that 'it must be admitted that the doctrine of heredity comes in here, so that a joke made without intent to deceive turns out to have been made by an Aryan ancestor two or three thousand years before. Jokes are no doubt perpetuated, skipping entire generations, as physical traits are, and we recognise them by what we call "ear-marks"' (645).

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