[Ads-l] Joke: I hope your honor will have mercy on a poor orphan

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 26 23:38:25 UTC 2018

Very cool. Thanks, Garson.


On Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 4:50 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>

> Jonathan Lighter  wrote:
> > This is a more amusing variation of the classic ex. of "ad
> > misericordiam," viz. a man convicted of murdering his
> > parents pleads for mercy on the ground that he is a poor
> > orphan.
> >
> > I don't know the origin of the earlier version, but I read it in
> > a logic textbook, maybe 45 years ago.
> The Yale Book of Quotations has a version of the "poor orphan" joke
> from Artemus Ward in 1867. Here is a version in 1856:
> Date: June 1856
> Periodical: The Knickerbocker: Or, New-York Monthly Magazine
> Section: Editor's Table
> Start Page 632, Quote Page 653
> Publisher: Samuel Hueston, New York
> Database: Google Books Full View
> https://books.google.com/books?id=9Yc4AQAAMAAJ&q=%22poor+orphan%22#v=snippet&
> [Begin excerpt]
> A Frenchman was tried for murdering his father and mother under very
> revolting circumstances; was found guilty; and finally brought up for
> sentence. The judge put the usual question, preliminary to sentence:
> 'Have you any thing to say?' etc. 'No, your honor' was the reply; 'but
> I hope your honor will have mercy on a poor Orphan!' Isn't that
> slightly cool, considering what it was that made him a 'poor orphan?'
> [End excerpt]
> Garson O'Toole
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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