Saturday, July 27, 2013


Selected Epitaphia from the 
Anecdota SCHOWAH Number One: 


Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs.
Richard II, Act II, Scene ii

The Body 
Benjamin Franklin, 
(Like the cover of an old book, 
Its contents torn out, 
And stript of its lettering and gilding,) 
Lies here, food for worms. 
Yet the work itself shall not be lost, 
For it will, as he believed, appear once more, 
In a new
And more beautiful edition, 
Corrected and amended
The Author. 

Let there be no inscription upon my tomb; 
let no man write my epitaph.
Robert Emmet

Here lies the body of Johnny Haskell, 
A lying, thieving, cheating rascal; 
He always lied, and how he lies, 
He has no soul and cannot rise. 

Here, reader, turn your weeping eyes, 
My fate a useful moral teaches; 
The hole in which my body lies
Would not contain one half my speeches. 

Here lies the body of Jonathan Stout. 
He fell in the water and never got out, 
And still is supposed to be floating about. 

Here lies the body of Mary Ann Bent, 
She kicked up her heels, and away she went.

Here lies a man that was Knott born, 
His father was Knott before him, 
He lived Knott, and did Knott die, 
Yet underneath this stone doth lie. 

It wasn’t a cough that carried him off, 
It was a coffin they carried him off in. 

Here lies my wife in earthly mould, 
Who, when she liv’d, did naught but scold; 
Peace, wake her not, for now she’s still, 
She had, but now I have my will. 

As I am now, so you must be, 
Therefore prepare to follow me. 
[Written under:]
To follow you I’m not content, 
How do I know which way you went? 

Here lies Sir John Guise: 
No one laughs, no one cries:
Where he’s gone, and how he fares
No one knows, and no one cares. 

On the twenty-second of June
Jonathan Fiddle went out of tune. 

Grim death took me without any warning, 
I was well at night, and dead at nine in the morning. 

Here lies a bailiff who oft arrested men, 
And for large bribes did let them go again,
Now seized by death, no gold can set him free, 
For death’s a catchpole proof against a fee.

Reader pass on, ne’ever waste your time
On bad biography and bitter rhyme;
For what I am this cumbrous clay insures, 
And what I was, is no affair of yours.

Here I lie, and no wonder I am dead, 
For the wheel of a wagon went over my head.

Here lies Jane Smith, 
Wife of Thomas Smith, Marble Cutter. 
This monument was erected by her husband
As a tribute to her memory
And a specimen of his work. 
Monuments of this same style are
Two hundred and fifty dollars. 

The manner of her death was thus: 
She was druv over by a Bus. 

Since I was so quickly done for, 
I wonder what I was begun for. 

A jolly landlord once was I, 
And kept the old King’s head, hard by; 
Sold mead and gin, cyder and beer, 
And eke all other kinds of cheer; 
Till death my license took away, 
And put me in this house of clay; 
A house at which you all must call, 
Sooner or later, great and small.

Copies Printed
Here lies the Grabhorn Press. 

Historically, jokes have been related to human frailties and their close relationship to our subjective lives, shifting abruptly from realism to metaphysical truth. Humor allows us to overcome the feelings of helplessness in the presence of death, reducing everything to the absurdity felt in self-awareness, which allows us to laugh and may indeed be the only antidote for living. 

“If I did not laugh I should die.” 
Abraham Lincoln

(Anecdota SCOWAH no. 1) San Francisco: 
Privately printed for members of the Roxburghe Club, April 1, 1962.
Courtesy The Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor, 
San Francisco Public Library

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