The Devil's Dictionary

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Joel Huck

ART, n. This word has no definition. Its origin is related as follows by the ingenious Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J.

One day a wag -- what would the wretch be at? -- Shifted a letter of the cipher RAT, And said it was a god's name! Straight arose Fantastic priests and postulants (with shows, And mysteries, and mummeries, and hymns, And disputations dire that lamed their limbs) To serve his temple and maintain the fires, Expound the law, manipulate the wires. Amazed, the populace that rites attend, Believe whate'er they cannot comprehend, And, inly edified to learn that two Half-hairs joined so and so (as Art can do) Have sweeter values and a grace more fit Than Nature's hairs that never have been split, Bring cates and wines for sacrificial feasts, And sell their garments to support the priests.

ARTLESSNESS, n. A certain engaging quality to which women attain by long study and severe practice upon the admiring male, who is pleased to fancy it resembles the candid simplicity of his young.

ASPERSE, v.t. Maliciously to ascribe to another vicious actions which one has not had the temptation and opportunity to commit.

ASS, n. A public singer with a good voice but no ear. In Virginia City, Nevada, he is called the Washoe Canary, in Dakota, the Senator, and everywhere the Donkey. The animal is widely and variously celebrated in the literature, art and religion of every age and country; no other so engages and fires the human imagination as this noble vertebrate. Indeed, it is doubted by some (Ramasilus, _lib. II., De Clem._, and C. Stantatus, _De Temperamente_) if it is not a god; and as such we know it was worshiped by the Etruscans, and, if we may believe Macrobious, by the Cupasians also. Of the only two animals admitted into the Mahometan Paradise along with the souls of men, the ass that carried Balaam is one, the dog of the Seven Sleepers the other. This is no small distinction. From what has been written about this beast might be compiled a library of great splendor and magnitude, rivalling that of the Shakespearean cult, and that which clusters about the Bible. It may be said, generally, that all literature is more or less Asinine.

"Hail, holy Ass!" the quiring angels sing; "Priest of Unreason, and of Discords King!" Great co-Creator, let Thy glory shine: God made all else, the Mule, the Mule is thine!"

G.J.

AUCTIONEER, n. The man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue.

AUSTRALIA, n. A country lying in the South Sea, whose industrial and commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island.

AVERNUS, n. The lake by which the ancients entered the infernal regions. The fact that access to the infernal regions was obtained by a lake is believed by the learned Marcus Ansello Scrutator to have suggested the Christian rite of baptism by immersion. This, however, has been shown by Lactantius to be an error.

_Facilis descensus Averni,_ The poet remarks; and the sense Of it is that when down-hill I turn I Will get more of punches than pence.

Jehal Dai Lupe

B

BAAL, n. An old deity formerly much worshiped under various names. As Baal he was popular with the Phoenicians; as Belus or Bel he had the honor to be served by the priest Berosus, who wrote the famous account of the Deluge; as Babel he had a tower partly erected to his glory on the Plain of Shinar. From Babel comes our English word "babble." Under whatever name worshiped, Baal is the Sun-god. As Beelzebub he is the god of flies, which are begotten of the sun's rays on the stagnant water. In Physicia Baal is still worshiped as Bolus, and as Belly he is adored and served with abundant sacrifice by the priests of Guttledom.

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