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The Percy Anecdotes

Here are a few samples from The Percy Anecdotes, supposedly compiled by Reuben and Sholto Percy. This was a collection of thousands of anecdotes originally published in 1821-3. The Chandos Library published a two-volume edition in the 1860s. The anecdotes were written by journalist Thomas Byerley and patent agent, writer and periodical editor Joseph Clinton Robertson, who would meet in the Percy coffee-house in Fitzrovia, Central London. The anecdotes cover a wide variety of topics, including justice, crime and punishment, the stage and humor. They are, of course, old fashioned, but many of them are very good. 

Gone Out.

A person calling one day on a gentleman at the west end of town, where his visits were more frequent than welcome, was told by the servant that her master had gone out. “Oh, well, never mind. I’ll speak to your mistress.” “She’s also gone out, sir.” The gentleman, not willing to be denied admission, said as it was a cold day, he would step in, and sit down by the fire a few minutes. “Ah! Sir. But it is gone out, too,” replied the girl.

Mr Oldys.

The historian Oldys having been for several years in the Fleet Prison, had contracted such habits and connexions, that when he was at length enlarged [i.e. released], he made it a frequent practice to spend his evenings there, and lodge with some friends all night. Knocking at the gate of the Fleet Prison one night rather late, the keeper reprimanded him for giving him such constant trouble, adding that though he had a great regard for him, yet if he kept such hours in future, he must be under the necessity of locking him out.

A Bad Bargain.

A Persian who kept a parrot, taught it his own language. The parrot, in answer to every question, would say, …”What doubt is there of that?”One day the man carried the parrot to market for sale, and fixed the price at one hundred rupees. A Mogul asked the parrot, “Are you worth a hundred rupees?”It answered, “What doubt is there of that?” The Mogul was delighted, bought the parrot, and carried it home. Whatever he said, he received for answer, “What doubt is there of that?” He then began to repent of his bargain, and said, “What a fool I was to buy this bird!” The parrot said, “What doubt is there of that?”The Mogul smiled, and gave the bird its liberty.

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