23 FEBRUARY 1884, Page 23

Humour, Wit, and Satire of the Seventeenth Century. Collected and

illustrated by John Ashton. (Chatto and Windus.)—One is inclined to doubt whether it is quite worth while to resuscitate bygone jokes, when they are not connected with any literary excellence. The great hnmourists of the past hold their own, but it is because of their individual genius ; what belongs to the time becomes obscure and dull. We must honestly confess that we have had bat little laughter out of the "humour and wit" which Mr. Ashton has here so carefully collected. The most interesting feature of his book is that it shows us ,how old some of the jokes that are passed upon us as brand-new really are. In how many forms has this that follows appeared !—" One affirmed that he had seen a cabbage so big, that five hundred men on horseback might stand under the shade. And I, for my part,' says another, have seen a caldron so wide, that three hundred men wrought therein, each distant from the other twenty yards.' Then, 'the cabbage-liar ask'd him, 'For what use was this caldron P' Bays be, To boil your cabbage in.'"