More Victorian humour

In these worrying times, we could all use a good laugh. So, having visited Victorian jokes in a previous post, here are a few more, from 1888.

(I did point out in the previous post that humour really does change down the centuries: consider yourself forewarned).


1. The evil that men to lives after them. Even when an amateur cornet player dies, he leaves the instrument behind.


2. The head waiter at a certain summer hotel was called Topp, and the guests noticed if they wished for a tip-top dinner, they had to tip Topp.


3. (a drunk falls asleep by the side of the road, moon above him, feet in a stream, and calls to his wife):

“Margret, bring anither pair o’blankets to pit on ma feet, and blaw out that cawnel.”


4. (A hedger giving directions to someone referred to signposts as ‘ministers’ and was asked why).

“Because some of them are always pointing the way to other people, but never go themselves.”


5. “….I worked harder to make the sale than anyone – in fact, I did all my own canvassing.”

“Well, you could hardly expect a SALE without CANVASS.” rejoined his friend.


6. A sentimental young lady asks: “Why is it that two souls, mated in the impenetrable mystery of their nativity, float by each other on the ocean currents of existence without being instinctively drawn together, blended and beautified in the assimilated alembric of eternal love?”

It is because butter is 18d a pound and a good sealskin costs as high as £25.

On a cold and frosty August night…

Rewind to August 1887, when the Penrith Observer was reporting that: ‘the Crystal Palace is recovering itself somewhat’, ‘the French propose a submarine tramway between France and England’, and; ‘the Thames and other rivers are becoming inurious to health’.

There was also dought in the Kendal district, and (surprising to read) ‘a severe frost’ on the night of August 13.

This 1887 joke does have the merit of illustrating the attitudes in society about social class: the distinction between landed wealth and that earned from trade:

7. Mr Smith: “Really, Miss De Lyle, speaking of trade people coming so rapidly into our most select circles, do you know the father of our present charming hostess was at one time a cobbler? And I can distinctly remember when he made my father’s boots and…”

Miss de Lyle: “Ah!, boots he wore while PLOUGHING, I presume.

And moving into the 20th century…

If your sides aren’t hurting too much from the above, prepare for tears to stream down your face as you read these corkers from 1914.

8. “He knows all the best people in town.”

“Why don’t they associate with him?”

“They know him.”

9. “Dad, are second thoughts best?”

“So we are told, my dear.”

“Then why don’t people have them first?”

10. New boarder: “I didn’t sleep well last night.”

Landlady: “Strange bed, I presume?”

“Yes, strangest bed I ever slept in.”

11. “I don’t think,”said an old lady, “that book-keeping is a very sedative employment: there must be so much exercise in running up the columns.”

12. Overheard in an Edinburgh restaurant in the Bridges:

Exasperated diner: “Look here, miss, this coffee is simply like mud.

Waitress: “Well sir, it was ground this morning.”