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Old 01-27-2016, 07:02 AM   #1
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Benchley, Robert: 20000 Leagues Under the Sea or David Copperfld .v1. 27 Jan 2016

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea OR David Copperfield by Robert Benchley (1889-1945)

First published 1928.
The text of this book is in the public domain in countries where copyright is “Life+70” or less. Due to copyright restrictions, illustrations by Gluyas Williams (1888–1982) have been omitted.

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Robert Charles Benchley was an American humorist, actor, and drama critic. His main persona, that of a slightly confused, ineffectual, socially awkward bumbler, served in his essays and short films to gain him the sobriquet “the humorist’s humorist.” The character allowed him to comment brilliantly on the world’s absurdities. (—Encyclopedia Britannica)

Benchley's humor influenced and inspired many humorists and filmmakers, among them E. B. White, James Thurber, S. J. Perelman, Horace Digby, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and Dave Barry.

Benchley is best remembered for his contributions to periodicals such as Life, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker. Collections of these essays and articles stand today as tribute to his brilliance.

EXCERPT: Political Parties and their Growth
Spoiler:
I. Introductory Essay
It was Taine (of “Taine Goin to Rain No More”) who said: “Democracies defeat themselves.” Perhaps I haven’t got that quotation right. It doesn’t seem to mean much.

However, my point – and I am sure Taine’s point, if he were here to make it – is that under the system of government known as a democracy, or, as it is sometimes known, the Laissez-Faire system (1745-1810), the ratio of increase in the population will eventually outstrip the ratio of increase in wheat production and then where will we be? Although this theory is generally credited to Malthus, I am not sure that I didn’t state it before him. I certainly remember saying it when I was very young.

In writing a history of the political parties of the United States (to which this is the introductory essay and possibly the last chapter as well) one must bear constantly in mind the fact that there are two separate and distinct parties, the Republicans (a clever combination of two Latin words, res and publicae, meaning “things of the public”) and the Democrats (from the Greek demos, meaning something which I will look up before this goes to the printer’s). The trick comes in telling which is which.

During the early years of our political history the Republican Party was the Democratic Party, or, if you chose, the Democratic Party was the Republican Party. This led naturally to a lot of confusion, especially in the Democratic Party’s getting the Republican Party’s mail; so it was decided to call the Republicans “Democrats” and be done with it. The Federalist Party (then located at what is now the corner of Broad and Walnut streets and known as “The Swedish Nightingale”) became, through the process of Natural Selection and a gradual dropping-off of its rudimentary tail, the Republican Party as we know it today. This makes, as prophesied earlier in this article, two parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. As a general rule, Republicans are more blonde than Democrats.

Now that we have cleared up the matter of the early confusion in names, it remains for us simply to trace the growth of the party platforms from their original sources to their present-day clearly defined and characteristic chaos. This will involve quite a bit of very dull statistical matter and talk about Inflation and Nullification, which will be enlivened by comical stories and snatches of current songs of the period. In fact, talk about Inflation and Nullification may be omitted entirely. It will also be necessary to note the rise and fall of the minor political parties, such as the Free Soil Party, the Mugwumps, the St. Louis Cardinals and Tom (“Rum-Romanism-and-Rebellion”) Heflin. This will not be much fun either. As a matter of fact, in outlining the subject matter of this history the thought has come to me that it shapes up as a pretty dry book and I am wondering if perhaps I haven’t made a mistake in undertaking it. . . . Oh, well, we’ll see.

In compiling these data and writing the book I have been aided immeasurably by the following colleagues, to whom I take this opportunity of expressing my warmest thanks (the warmest thanks on a February 9th since 1906, according to the Weather Bureau atop the Whitehall Building): B. S. Aal, Raymond Aalbue, Aalders Bros., A. C. Aalholm, Alex Aarons, the Aar-Jay Bed-Light Co., Henry W. Aarts, Theo. T. Aarup, Charles Aba, M. M. Abajian, B. Abadessa (Miss), Abbamonte & Frinchini (shoe reprng.) and Lewis Browne Zzyd.

I also wish to thank Dr. Hartmann Weydig for the loan of his interesting collection of shells, without which I would have had nothing to do when I was not writing the book.
—The Author.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
“Political Parties and Their Growth, with a Key to the Calories.” Robert Benchley. (Life Pub. Co.)
“Ivanhoe.” Sir Walter Scott. (Ginn & Co.)
“Fifty Cocktail Recipes, with Directions for Swallowing.” A. M. Herz. (Doubleday-Doran-Doubleday-Doran-Doubleday-Doran-Boom!)
“An Old-Fashioned Girl.” Louisa M. Alcott. (Vir Pub. Co.)
And countless back-numbers of Harper’s Round Table.
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Text was obtained from the Internet Archive. Punctuation, italics, and diacritics have been formatted. Chapter-end links provide access to table of contents and title index. Embedded font for titling.

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Some more quick chuckles to brighten your days.
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