Precious Nonsense (1895) ("Hen Reward Beecher" poem)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Mon Apr 18 04:02:48 UTC 2005

On Sun, 17 Apr 2005 20:23:13 -0400, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>

>At 3:11 AM -0400 4/17/05, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>>There once was an eloquent preacher
>>Who said to a hen, "You dear creature!"
>>When she, just for that,
>>Laid three eggs in his hat.
>>And thus did the Henry Ward Beecher.
>>(This one is famous. I was searching for "hen" and "eggs" and "Henry Ward
>>Beecher" when the computer died--ed.)
>A more familiar (at least to me) version is along these lines:
>The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher
>Called his hen a most elegant creature.
>The hen, pleased with that,
>Laid an egg in his hat,
>And thus did the hen reward Beecher.
>(with some variation on whether he called her a most elegant or
>glorious creature, and whether she responded with one egg or two)
>I have no idea which version claims primacy, and whether 1895 can be

Here's a version from 1886:

Said a great Congregational preacher
To a hen, "You're a beautiful creature!"
And the hen, just for that,
Laid two eggs in his hat,
And thus did the Hen reward Beecher.
(Washington Post, May 27, 1886, p. 2)

--Ben Zimmer

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