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JONN PHENIX TO THE PIONEER.
SAN DIEGO, Cal., April 20th, 1854.
On receiving my long-promised file of The Pioneer, accompanied by your affecting entreaty to " Come over into Macedonia and help us," deeply impressed with the importance of the crisis, I rushed about this village as wildly as a fowl decapitated, but with purpose more intent.
Hastily collecting our Improvisatori, including “the Squire," "his Reverence," and the funny “Scheherazade," I besought them in the name of humanity, and by the memory of Miller, to tell me quickly their choicest anecdotes, their raciest puns, and newest conundrums, that I might collate them for your benefit, and San Diego assume its proper literary position at (not under) your editorial table. My success was encouraging, and I herewith present you a choice selection of the anecdotes accumulated, which have at least the merit claimed by the late Ben Jonson for an original piece of blank verse; for "Poetry or not poetry, they're true by Heavens.” In the course of my researches, I collected many quite new and particularly shocking sayings of blasphemous little children; but I shall not tell you these, for with all due deference to the taste of those who have rendered this style of literature fashionable of late, I cannot refrain from expressing the opinion that the subject has been rather "inserted in the earth;” and if that wicked old Clark, of the Knickerbocker, don't roast hereafter for starting it, we're going to have a much easier time in the next world than my knowledge of the Scriptures gives reason to believe. “De gustibus non est disputandum," as the old lady remarked with an affectionate simper, when she kissed her cow. Here are the stories-mira.
In 1849, “ Jacks & Woodruff” kept on Clay street, just above Kearney, one of the largest jewelry establishments in San Francisco.
Jacks (who, by the way, is one of the funniest men that ever lived), being well-known and universally popular, in order to let new arrivals among his home acquaintances know that he was round, had his name, Pulaski Jacks, painted in big capitals on a sheet of tin, and nailed up beside the door. One day a tall, yellow-haired, sun-burned Pike, in the butternut-colored hat, coat and so forths “ of the period,” entered and accosted Woodruff, who was behind the counter, with, “Say, stranger, I want to take a look of them new-fangled things of yourn.” “What things, sir?” “Why them Pulaski Jacks!” “Why that,” said Woodruft, laughing, " is my partner's name. Jacks & Woodruff; name's Pulaski-Pulaski Jacks--see?” “No!" said Pike, “is it!"
Well, looks like; darned if I knowed it though; I swar I didn't know as they was boot-jacks or jack-asses; ho! ho !” And taking another good long look at the object of his curiosity, he travelled. Jacks took that tin thing down.--Suggestive, this is, of a story told us not long since by Maj. E. of the army, which we are not aware ever appeared before in print; “least-ways,” we never saw it. A. solemn-looking fellow, with a certain air of dry humor about the corners of his rather sanctimonious mouth, stepped quietly one day, into the tailoring establishment of “Call & Tuttle,” Boston, Mass., and quietly remarked to the clerk in attendance, "I want to tuttle." “What do you mean, sir ?" inquired the astonished official. “Well," rejoined he, “I want to tuttle-noticed your invitation over the door, so I called, and now I should like to tuttle ! ” He was ordered to leave the establishment, which he did, with a look of angry wonder, grumbling, sotto voce, that it seemed devilish hard he couldn't be allowed to tuttle after an express invitation.—And this again reminds us of a facetious performance of the late J. P. Squibob, who, "once on a time,'' while walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, was sorely mystified by a modest little sign, standing in the window of a neat little shop on the left-hand side as you go down. The sign bore, in gayly painted letters, the legend,“ Washington Ladies' Depository.” Flattening his nose against the window, Squibob descried two ladies, whom he describes as of exceeding beauty, neatly dressed and busily engaged in sewing, behind a little counter. The fore-ground was filled with lace caps, babies' stockings, compresses for the waist, capes, collars and other articles of still life. Hat in hand, Squibob reverently entered, and with intense politeness, addressed one of the ladies as follows:“Madam, I perceive by your sign that this is the depository for Washington ladies ; I am going to the North for a few days, and should be pleased to leave my wife in your charge—But I don't know, if by your rules you could receive her, as she is a Baltimore woman!' " One of the ladies," says Squibob,“ a pretty little girl in a blue dress, sewing on a thing that looked like a pillow-case with armholes, turned very red, and holding down her head, made the remark' te he !' But the elder of the twain, after making as if she would laugh, but by a strong-minded effort holding in, replied, 'Sir, you have made a mistake; this is the place where the society of Washington ladies deposit their work, to be sold for the benefit of the distressed natives of the Island of Fernando de Noronha,' or words to that effect." Gravely did the wicked Squibob bow, all solemnly begged her pardon, and putting on his hat, walked off, followed by a sound from that depository, as of an autumnal brook, gurgling and babbling gayly over its pebbly bed in a New England forest.
My stock is my no means exhausted, but " Demasiado de una cosa buena es demasiado," as Don Juan remarked when he took twenty-four Brandreth’s pills and his wife earnestly solicited him to swallow the box. Next month, Deo volente, you shall hear from me again; till then adieu.
REVIEW OF NEW BOOKS.
PREPARED BY JOHN PHENIX.
Life and Times of Joseph Bowers the Elder. Collated
from Unpublished Papers of the Late John P. Squibob. By J. BOWERS, JR. Vallecitos: Hyde & Seekim, 1854.
Many of your readers will doubtless remember to have been occasionally mystified, when, struck by the remarkable beauty of some passing female stranger, or by the flashes of wit sparkling from the lips of some gentlemanly unknown, on making the inquiry,“Who is that?” the reply has been given, "Oh that is one of old Joe Bowers' girls," or boys, as the case may have been; and they will also remember that when about to propound the naturally succeeding question, “ Who is Old Joe Bowers ? " they have been deterred from so doing, by a peculiar smile, and an indefinable glance of the eye, approximating to what is vulgarly termed a wink, on the part of their informant.