History Lesson

Uncle: Excuse me, madam, perhaps you could give us a little information.

Lady: I have no doubt I could, but who are you?

Uncle: (presenting Sam) My nephew.

Sam: (presenting Uncle) My Uncle. (both bow again).

Lady: Excuse me, but I never saw any thing possessing human speech of the like before. (aside) I believe they are preserved mermaids.

Uncle: As far as we know, madam, we are mummies; at least Samuel is; imperfectly pickled, however, and therefore have effervesced.

Lady: But where have you come from? I mean before you found yourselves here?

Uncle: Surely it was Rome, Sammy?

Sam: To be sure it was, Rome, Italy.

Lady: Rome, Italy. (reflecting and taking book out of pocket). Ah! yes, I see (reading) Rome, Italy, a town on the Adriatic, surrounded by the Campagna, inhabitants Campagnuoli, legs of goats and devoted to knitting.

Uncle: Oh Samuel!

Sam: Oh Uncle!

Lady: (continues reading) Totally destroyed by Bismak XV.

Uncle: What! what’s that? totally destroyed! and by whom?

Lady: By the Emperor Bismark XV.

Sam: The Emperor Bismark XV!

Lady: What! you never heard of that dynasty?

Sam: Heard of it! no, how should we?

Lady: Ah! I forgot. Of course you remembered nothing connected with the present century. But it is related by Harris

Uncle: Harris! who is Harris?

Lady: The historian of the past century. Surely you have heard of him!

Uncle: Well. I remember to have heard of Mrs Gamp’s Harris.

Lady: Precisely. That is his genealogy. His biographer states that Gamp was his family name. Well, as I said before, I remember to have read in Harris that the founder of the dynasty was one Bismark in the service of Emperor William.

Both: (laughing between themselves) Pray go on.

Lady: And this same Bismark, who, it appears, was never wanting in audacity, came to high words one day with his imperial master. The Emperor William, in great indignation, replied that he thought it high time for himself or for his Grand Chancellor to retire. Bismark replied that there could be no doubt as to which of the two it must be, and, ringing the bell, ordered the Emperor’s carriage. From that moment the Bismarkian dynasty was established.

Sam: Oh Uncle!

Lady: That was the fourteenth Emperor before the destroyer of Rome.

Uncle: But how—but why, did he destroy it?

Lady: He was a man of great epistolary susceptibilities. It was said to be an hereditary peculiarity, and it having come to his knowledge that the Commander of the Roman forces had an unopened letter in his coat tail pocket which letter he fancied contained unflattering allusions to himself, he declared war upon the whole Latin race. The unfortunate Commander was the first to perish, and before night fall every inhabitant of the city, men, women and children were transfixed with quills and appended to the walls like placards. So perished the descendants of the Cæsars and the unfortunate city was given over to desolation and tarantulas.

Uncle: Merciful powers! tell me a little more about Rome itself. I loved the old place well, and lived there for many years. I remember they were suggesting many improvements a century since, among other things diverting the course of the Tiber; was that ever done?

Lady: Oh yes. I remember to have read in Harris that eventually the Tiber was turned from the inside to the outside of the city.

Uncle: Inside out in fact.

Sam: And what did they find?

Lady: Found it most difficult.

Uncle: But any thing of value, the seven branched candlestick, for instance?

Lady: To be sure they did, and six candles in it; two of them burning.

Uncle: Oh Samuel!

Sam: Oh Uncle!

Uncle: But you intimated that the fine monuments which the city contained had been dispersed.

Lady: Yes, let me see; the Colosseum, for instance, went to Hullybullytullyhymnia.

Both: Where upon the surface of the earth is that?

Lady: You amaze me! you have never heard of Hullybullytullyhymnia? it is that vast continent lying north of the north pole, latitude uncertain and longitude indefinite.

Uncle: North of the north pole! and can human beings exist in that frigid altitude?

Lady: Oh we understand the art of remedying natural defects of temperature. The universal Hydraulic Company is equal to any emergency.

Sam: The universal Hydraulic Company!

Lady: To be sure; the Company which enjoys the monopoly of the Gulf Stream.

Uncle: (with a groan) Merciful powers! I am getting beyond my depth in that Gulf Stream.

Lady: Nothing is more simple. The universal Hydraulic Company causes the Gulf Stream to percolate those Arctic ports semi-annually and the effect of its atmospheric currents leaves nothing to be desired.

Uncle: Oh Samuel!

Sam: Oh Uncle!

Sam: And what becomes of America meanwhile?

Lady: Oh! In America the arrangement in [is] most popular, and when the tide turns towards Paris it is regarded as a national holiday.

Uncle: And apropos of the Great Republic, has it continued to prosper?

Lady: Since it is acknowledged the supremacy of Cuba it has prospered greatly; it lagged a little before.

Both: The supremacy of Cuba!

Lady: Yes. You remember the great Cuban question? It was eventually solved by America becoming a Cuban dependency.

Uncle: Checkmated?

Sam: Spanish castled, you mean.

Uncle: Oh shade of Washington!

Lady: Hume and Guppy declare that the shade of Washington approves.

Climate Change