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A Visit To The Asylum For Aged And Decayed Punsters
by [?]

Having just returned from a visit to this admirable Institution in company with a friend who is one of the Directors, we propose giving a short account of what we saw and heard. The great success of the Asylum for Idiots and Feeble-minded Youth, several of the scholars from which have reached considerable distinction, one of them being connected with a leading Daily Paper in this city, and others having served in the State and National Legislatures, was the motive which led to the foundation of this excellent charity. Our late distinguished townsman, Noah Dow, Esquire, as is well known, bequeathed a large portion of his fortune to this establishment— “being thereto moved,” as his will expressed it, “by the desire of N. Dowing some public Institution for the benefit of Mankind.” Being consulted as to the Rules of the Institution and the selection of a Superintendent, he replied, that “all Boards must construct their own Platforms of operation. Let them select anyhow and he should be pleased.” N.E. Howe, Esq., was chosen in compliance with this delicate suggestion.

The Charter provides for the support of “One hundred aged and decayed Gentlemen-Punsters.” On inquiry if there way no provision for females, my friend called my attention to this remarkable psychological fact, namely:


This remark struck me forcibly, and on reflection I found that I never knew nor heard of one, though I have once or twice heard a woman make a single detached pun, as I have known a hen to crow.

On arriving at the south gate of the Asylum grounds, I was about to ring, but my friend held my arm and begged me to rap with my stick, which I did. An old man with a very comical face presently opened the gate and put out his head.

“So you prefer Cane to A bell, do you?” he said—and began chuckling and coughing at a great rate.

My friend winked at me.

“You’re here still, Old Joe, I see,” he said to the old man.

“Yes, yes—and it’s very odd, considering how often I’ve bolted, nights.”

He then threw open the double gates for us to ride through.

“Now,” said the old man, as he pulled the gates after us, “you’ve had a long journey.”

“Why, how is that, Old Joe?” said my friend.

“Don’t you see?” he answered; “there’s the East hinges on the one side of the gate, and there’s the West hinges on t’other side—haw! haw! haw!”

We had no sooner got into the yard than a feeble little gentleman, with a remarkably bright eye, came up to us, looking very serious, as if something had happened.

“The town has entered a complaint against the Asylum as a gambling establishment,” he said to my friend, the Director.

“What do you mean?” said my friend.

“Why, they complain that there’s a lot o’ rye on the premises,” he answered, pointing to a field of that grain—and hobbled away, his shoulders shaking with laughter, as he went.

On entering the main building, we saw the Rules and Regulations for the Asylum conspicuously posted up. I made a few extracts which may be interesting:


5. Each Inmate shall be permitted to make Puns freely from eight in the morning until ten at night, except during Service in the Chapel and Grace before Meals.

6. At ten o’clock the gas will be turned off, and no further Puns, Conundrums, or other play on words will be allowed to be uttered, or to be uttered aloud.

9. Inmates who have lost their faculties and cannot any longer make Puns shall be permitted to repeat such as may be selected for them by the Chaplain out of the work of Mr. Joseph Miller.

10. Violent and unmanageable Punsters, who interrupt others when engaged in conversation, with Puns or attempts at the same, shall be deprived of their Joseph Millers, and, if necessary, placed in solitary confinement.