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PRUUDOM OP SPEUCH AND OP THU PRESS
against another's character, " disturb the peace or subvert the
government," has become one of our inalienable rights.
But there is a growing tendency to encroach on others' private
rights, to stir up local and national strife, to ridicule and mock
those high in authority, to decry and destroy our institutions
rather than to improve them. The country-store, the street cor
ner, the club-room, the platform, and the stump have furnished
and are furnishing vast numbers of so-called "silver tongues"
which are ever speaking bombast and satire, not only against the
" crying evils," but also against institutions and officials that can
not at present be improved. At first we laugh good-naturedly at
an institution or an individual and feel satisfied in looking upon
either as a good joke; but soon the joke becomes antiquated and
we need stronger language to express ourselves. Thus from wit
and humor we pass to ridicule and sarcasm.
The American sense of humor has been wonderfully developed;—
an American can laugh almost anywhere, at any time and at any
thing. There is something funny about the street urchin ,—the un
skillful wheelman,—the portly judge,—the tramp who has just lost
his job,—the young husband's mother-in-law. Humor is sure to
be manifest when'least expected; when many are impressed with
awe and admiration, some few may be bubbling with mirth.
During the Washington Centennial parade, the Governor of
Delaware made an imposing appearance. The crowd seemed to be
awed by his stalwart bearing. How staunch and noble a man he
was ! What honor was due him! The noble governor! But
when by chance there was a lull in the music of the bands, a
ragged little fellow on a lamp post cried, " Say, Governor, how's
de peach crop dis year ?" The youngster of course meant no
offence to the Governor, while the crowd thought it was a good
joke and laughed.. The remark of the boy simply brought before
the public the fact that the Governor was only an American citi
zen after all, and probably interested in the staple crop of his
commonwealth. American humor at its best reveals the equality
of the people. The common people laugh at and with all classes.
—We all laugh together.
Our humorous writers and our comic papers, supplying the de
mand of the American public for caricatures, jokes and cartoons,
have divided all our people into two classes—those laughed at
and those who laugh. They have made a business of making us