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Title: The Wit of Women
Author: Kate Sanborn
Release Date: April 5, 2009 [eBook #28503]
Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)
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THE WIT OF WOMEN
“The Wit of Women,” by Miss Kate Sanborn, [Funk &
Wagnalls,] proves that the authoress is one of those
rare women who are gifted with a sense of humor.
Fortunately for her, the female sense of humor, when it
does exist, is not affected by such trifles as
“chestnuts.” Therefore, women will read with pleasure
Miss Sanborn’s choice collection of these dainties.
There are, however, many new anecdotes in Miss
Sanborn’s collection, and, taken as a whole, it may
fairly be said to establish the fact that there have
been feminine wits not inferior to the best of the
[Newspaper clipping pasted into front cover]
THE WIT OF WOMEN
New York Funk & Wagnalls Company London and Toronto
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1885, by Funk & Wagnalls, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D.C.
Miss Addie Boyd, of the Cincinnati “Commercial,” and
Miss Anna M.T. Rossiter, alias Lilla M. Cushman, of the
Meriden “Recorder,” will probably represent the gentler
sex in the convention of paragraphers which meets next
month. They are a pair o’ graphic writers and equal to
the best in the profession.—Waterloo Observer.
[Newspaper clipping pasted into book]
It is refreshing to find an unworked field all ready for harvesting.
While the wit of men, as a subject for admiration and discussion, is now threadbare, the wit of women has been almost utterly ignored and unrecognized.
With the joy and honest pride of a discoverer, I present the results of a summer’s gleaning.
And I feel a cheerful and Colonel Sellers-y confidence in the success of the book, for every woman will want to own it, as a matter of pride and interest, and many men will buy it just to see what women think they can do in this line. In fact, I expect a call for a second volume!
HANOVER, N.H., August, 1885.
My thanks are due to so many publishers, magazine editors, and personal friends for material for this book, that a formal note of acknowledgment seems meagre and unsatisfactory. Proper credit, however, has been given all through the volume, and with special indebtedness to Messrs. Harper & Brothers and Charles Scribner’s Sons of New York, and Houghton, Mifflin & Co. of Boston. I add sincere gratitude to all who have so generously contributed whatever was requested.
THE MELANCHOLY TONE OF WOMEN’S POETRY—PUNS, GOOD
AND BAD—EPIGRAMS AND LACONICS—CYNICISM OF FRENCH
WOMEN—SENTENCES CRISP AND SPARKLING 13
HUMOR OF LITERARY ENGLISHWOMEN 32
FROM ANNE BRADSTREET TO MRS. STOWE 47
“SAMPLES” HERE AND THERE 67
A BRACE OF WITTY WOMEN 85
PROSE, BUT NOT PROSY 122
HUMOROUS POEMS 150
GOOD-NATURED SATIRE 179
PARODIES—REVIEWS—CHILDREN’S POEMS—COMEDIES BY
WOMEN—A DRAMATIC TRIFLE—A STRING OF FIRECRACKERS 195
In Grateful Memory.
“There was in her soul a sense of delicacy mingled
with that rarest of qualities in woman—a sense of
humor,” writes Richard Grant White in “The Fate of
Mansfield Humphreys.” I have noticed that when a
novelist sets out to portray an uncommonly fine type of
heroine, he invariably adds to her other intellectual
and moral graces the above-mentioned “rarest of
qualities.” I may be over-sanguine, but I anticipate
that some sagacious genius will discover that woman as
well as man has been endowed with this excellent gift
from the gods, and that the gift pertains to the large,
generous, sympathetic nature, quite irrespective of the
individual’s sex. In any case, having heard so
repeatedly that woman has no sense of humor, it would
be refreshing to have a contrariety of opinion on that
We are coming to the rescue,
Just a hundred strong;
With fun and pun and epigram,
And laughter, wit, and song;
With badinage and repartee,
And humor quaint or bold,
And stories that are stories,
Not several aeons old;
With parody and nondescript,
Burlesque and satire keen,
And irony and playful jest,
So that it may be seen
That women are not quite so dulclass="underline"
We come—a merry throng;
Yes, we’re coming to the rescue,
And just a hundred strong.
KATE SANBORN. [Footnote A: Not Poem!]
THE WIT OF WOMEN.
THE MELANCHOLY TONE OF WOMEN’S POETRY—PUNS, GOOD AND BAD—EPIGRAMS AND LACONICS—CYNICISM OF FRENCH WOMEN—SENTENCES CRISP AND SPARKLING.
To begin a deliberate search for wit seems almost like trying to be witty: a task quite certain to brush the bloom from even the most fruitful results. But the statement of Richard Grant White, that humor is the “rarest of qualities in woman,” roused such a host of brilliant recollections that it was a temptation to try to materialize the ghosts that were haunting me; to lay forever the suspicion that they did not exist. Two articles by Alice Wellington Rollins in the Critic, on “Woman’s Sense of Humor” and “The Humor of Women,” convinced me that the deliberate task might not be impossible to carry out, although I felt, as she did, that the humor and wit of women are difficult to analyze, and select examples, precisely because they possess in the highest degree that almost essential quality of wit, the unpremeditated glow which exists only with the occasion that calls it forth. Even from the humor of women found in books it is hard to quote—not because there is so little, but because there is so much.
The encouragement to attempt this novel enterprise of proving (“by their fruits ye shall know them”) that women are not deficient in either wit or humor has not been great. Wise librarians have, with a smile, regretted the paucity of proper material; literary men have predicted rather a thin volume; in short, the general opinion of men is condensed in the sly question of a peddler who comes to our door, summer and winter, his stock varying with the season: sage-cheese and home-made socks, suspenders and cheap note-paper, early-rose potatoes and the solid pearmain. This shrewd old fellow remarked roguishly “You’re gittin’ up a book, I see, ‘baout women’s wit. ‘Twon’t be no great of an undertakin’, will it?” The outlook at first was certainly discouraging. In Parton’s “Collection of Humorous Poetry” there was not one woman’s name, nor in Dodd’s large volume of epigrams of all ages, nor in any of the humorous departments of volumes of selected poetry.