Phoenixiana: Or, Sketches and Burlesques

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The first collection of sketches by the legendary California journalist and humorist George Horatio Derby (1823-1861), who came to California during the Gold Rush and quickly became a regular and popular contributor to the local newspapers. Derby wrote under several pseudonyms, including John Phoenix, John P. Squibob and Amos Butterfield, and his writings influenced both Twain and Harte, among humorists.

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Page 22 - OLD Mother Hubbard Went to the cupboard, To get her poor dog a bone: But when she got there The cupboard was bare, And so the poor dog had none.
Page 80 - Benicia a port of entry ; in view of all these circumstances I had, indeed, expected some trifling compliment — a public dinner, possibly, or peradventure a delicate present of a lot or two — the deeds inclosed in a neat and appropriate letter from the Town Council. But no! — the name of Squibob remains unhonored and unsung, and, what is far worse, unrecorded and untaxed in magnificent Benicia. " How sharper than a serpent's thanks it is to have a toothless child," as Pope beautifully remarks...
Page 107 - Archangel: but his face Deep scars of thunder had intrenched, and care Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows Of dauntless courage, and considerate* pride Waiting revenge.
Page 43 - The immense expense attending the production of this magnificent work; the length of time required to prepare the chorus; the incredible number of instruments destroyed at each rehearsal, have hitherto prevented M. Tarbox from placing it before the American public, and it has remained for San Diego to show herself superior to her sister cities of the Union, in musical taste and appreciation, and in high-souled...
Page 108 - We rose, and with an unfaltering voice said: "Well, Judge, how do you do ? " He made no reply, but commenced taking off his coat. We removed ours, also our cravat. * * # # * # * # # # # # * # * # The sixth and last round, is described by the pressman and compositors, as having been fearfully scientific. We held " the Judge " down over the Press by our nose (which we had inserted between his teeth for that purpose), and while our hair was employed in holding one of his hands, we held the other in...
Page 32 - Do you see how very close in this way you may approximate to the truth ; and how clearly your questioner will understand what he so anxiously wishes to arrive at — your exact state of health ? Let this system be adopted into our elements of grammar, our conversation, our literature, and we become at once an exact, precise, mathematical, truth-telling people. It will apply to everything but politics ; there, truth being of no account, the system is useless.
Page 60 - has been frequently questioned by modern philosophers. The whole subject is involved in doubt and obscurity. The only authority we have for believing that such an individual exists, and has been seen and spoken with, is a fragment of an old poem composed by an ancient Astronomer of the name of Goose, which has been handed down to us as follows : " The man in the Moon came down too soon To inquire the way to Norwich; The man in the South, he burned his mouth, Eating cold, hot porridge.
Page 107 - Judge" would whip us the moment he arrived; but though we thought a conflict probable, we had never been very sanguine as to its terminating in this manner. Coolly we gazed from the window of the Office upon the New Town road ; we descried a cloud of dust in the distance; high above it waved a whip lash, and we said, " the Judge" cometh, and " his driving is like Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he driveth furiously.
Page 9 - Feb. 15, 1855. It having been definitely determined that the great railroad, connecting the City of San Francisco with the head of navigation on Mission creek, should be constructed without unnecessary delay, a large appropriation ($120,000) was granted, for the purpose of causing thorough military examination to be made of the proposed routes. The routes which had principally attracted the attention of the public, were "the Northern...
Page 225 - Go away from here," said Tushmaker to Byles, "and return in a week, and I'll draw that tooth for you or know the reason why.". Byles got up, clapped a handkerchief to his jaw, and put forth. Then the dentist went to work, and in three days he invented an instrument which he was confident would pull anything. It was a combination of the lever, pulley, wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge and screw. The castings were made, and the machine put up in the office, over an iron chair rendered perfectly...

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