Phoenixiana: Or Sketches and Burlesques
George Horatio Derby (1823-1861) of Massachusetts graduated from West Point in 1846 and served in the Army Topographical Engineers at Vera Cruz and Cerro Gordo before being sent to California in 1856. He remained there for seven years, leading three exploring expeditions and winning a place as one of the state's first humorists with pieces published in the San Diego Herald and republished around the nation. Phoenixiana (1903) reprints a book originally published in 1855. It contains Derby's pieces as "Professor John Phoenixiana" and "Squibob," poking fun at such topics as military surveyors and explorers; contemporary travel accounts of the Mission Dolores, Benecia, Sonoma, San Francisco, and San Diego; literary societies and women's clubs; astronomy; and Army life.
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Page 54 - Followed by that touching recitative: "Shet up, or I will spank you !" To which succeeds a grand crescendo movement, representing the flight of the child with the pancake, the pursuit of the mother, and the final arrest and summary punishment of the former, represented by the rapid and successive strokes of the castanet. The turning in for the night follows; and the deep and stertorous breathing of the encampment is well given by the bassoon, while the sufferings and trials of an unhappy father with...
Page 232 - O Woman ! in our hours of ease, Uncertain, coy, and hard to please, And variable as the shade By the light quivering aspen made, When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering angel thou ! — Scarce were the piteous accents said, When, with the Baron's casque, the maid To the nigh streamlet ran.
Page 143 - 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 91 - Ligeia! Ligeia! My beautiful one! Whose harshest idea Will to melody run, O! is it thy will On the breezes to toss? Or, capriciously still, Like the lone Albatross, Incumbent on night (As she on the air) To keep watch with delight On the harmony there?
Page 149 - John Donkey," etc. — which as a matter of course proved miserable failures, so did the success of this Illustrated affair inspire our moneyloving publishers with hopes of dollars; and soon appeared from Boston, New York, and other places Pictorial and Illustrated Newspapers, teeming with execrable and silly effusions, and filled with the most fearful wood-engravings, " got up regardless of expense...
Page 31 - ... thousand different shades or degrees of the same peculiarity. Thus, though there are three hundred and sixty-five days in a year, all of which must, from the nature of things, differ from each other in the matter of climate, we have but half a dozen expressions to convey to one another our ideas of this inequality. We say — "It is a fine day;" "It is a very fine day;" "It is the finest day we have seen;" or, "It is an unpleasant day ; " "A very unpleasant day ; " ' 'The most unpleasant day...
Page 79 - 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 40 - 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 78 - It was supposed by the ancient philosophers that the Moon was made of green cheese, an opinion still entertained by the credulous and ignorant. Kepler and Tyco Brahe, however, held to the opinion that it was composed of Charlotte Russe, the dark portions of its surface being sponge cake, the light blanc mange. Modern advances in science and the use of Lord Rosse's famous telescope, have demonstrated the absurdity of all these speculations by proving conclusively that the Moon is mainly composed of...