In which a sweep is as lucky as lucky can be
Features of an eighteenth-century joke:
1. The setup is absurdly long.
2. The punchline is mediocre at best.
3. The entire thing is one sentence.
4. Punctuation is grievously abused.
5. Someone experiences a comeuppance.
A poor Frenchman, who was very hungry, went into a cook's shop in St. Giles's, and there staid till his stomach was satisfied with the smell of the victuals; the cook falling into a passion, insisted on his paying him for a dinner, which the poor monsieur refused to do, and the dispute growing high, it was agreed to refer to the decision of it to the first man that passed that way, which happened to be a chimney sweep, but who, on hearing the case, very wisely determined that the Frenchman's money should be shook between two empty dishes, and the cook should be satisfied with the jingling of it, as the poor man had been satisfied with the smell of the cook's meat.
Terrible. Yet I still laugh.
Image: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Art & Architecture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Chimney sweepers." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1820.
Joke: Feast of Merriment. A New American Jester. Burlington, printed by I. Neal for Neal & Kammerer, 1795.