We published a week or two since under this head, a most amusing story of one Judge Douglass, of Illinois, in which that gentleman having accepted the hospitality of a large family, occupying a single room, was obliged to undress and “hop into bed,” in the presence of a young lady. This young lady the Judge describes as a “Venus in linsey-woolsey—plump as a pigeon, and smooth as a persimmon.” The Judge himself was “a small man physically speaking,” and the idea of going to bed before the young lady—a modest, sensible girl, who from habit, thought nothing of the circumstance—turned his head topsey-turvy. The idea of pulling off his boots before her was death, and as to doffing his other fixins, he says he would sooner have taken off his legs with a handsaw! At length the tremendous crisis approached. The Judge had partially undressed, entrenched behind a chair, which offered no more protection from “the enemy,” than the rungs of a ladder. Then he had a dead open space of ten feet between the chair and the bed—a sort of Bridge of Lodi passage, as he describes it, which he was forced to make, exposed to a cruel raking fire, fore and aft! The Judge proceeds:

“Body, limbs and head, setting up business on one hundred and seven and a half pounds, all told, of flesh, blood and bones, cannot, individually or collectively, set up any very ostentatious pretensions. I believe the young lady must have been settling in her mind some philosophical point on that head. Perhaps her sense of justice wished to assure itself of a perfectly fair distribution of the respective motives. Perhaps she did not feel easy until she knew that a kind of Providence had not added to general poverty individual wrong. Certain it was, she seemed rather pleased with her speculations ; for when I arose from a stooping posture finally, wholly disencumbered of cloth, I noticed mischievous shadows playing about the corners of her mouth. It was the moment I had determined to direct her eye to some astonishing circumstance out of the window. But the young lady spoke at the critical moment. “Mr. Douglass,” she observed, “you have got a mighty small chance of legs there!”

Men seldom have any notion of their own powers. I never made any pretensions to skill in “ground and lofty tumbling;” but it is strictly true, I cleared, at one bound, the open space, planted myself on the centre of the bed, and was buried in the blankets in a twinkling.” [2]


Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.2 (8 March 1845), 9.

University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] The second part of this column was written by humorist Joseph Field and has been anthologized separately by Cohen and Dillingham under the title "Honey Run." See Humor of the Old Southwest. Hennig Cohen and William B. Dillingham. 3rd ed. Athen, Georgia: U of Georgia P, 1994.

[2] Here begins the story "Honey Run" by Field.

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