Friday, 8 February 2008

The Devil's Dictionary

(From Ambrose Bierce's - The Devil's Dictionary)

EUCHARIST, n. A sacred feast of the religious sect of Theophagi.
A dispute once unhappily arose among the members of this sect as
to what it was that they ate. In this controversy some five hundred
thousand have already been slain, and the question is still unsettled.

EVANGELIST, n. A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious
sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of
our neighbors.

FREEMASONS, n. An order with secret rites, grotesque ceremonies and
fantastic costumes, which, originating in the reign of Charles II,
among working artisans of London, has been joined successively by the
dead of past centuries in unbroken retrogression until now it embraces
all the generations of man on the hither side of Adam and is drumming
up distinguished recruits among the pre-Creational inhabitants of
Chaos and Formless Void. The order was founded at different times by
Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Cyrus, Solomon, Zoroaster, Confucious,
Thothmes, and Buddha. Its emblems and symbols have been found in the
Catacombs of Paris and Rome, on the stones of the Parthenon and the
Chinese Great Wall, among the temples of Karnak and Palmyra and in the
Egyptian Pyramids - always by a Freemason.

FRIENDSHIP, n. A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but
only one in foul.

MARRIAGE, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a
master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.

NEIGHBOR, n. One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and who
does all he knows how to make us disobedient.

SATAN, n. One of the Creator's lamentable mistakes, repented in
sashcloth and axes. Being instated as an archangel, Satan made
himself multifariously objectionable and was finally expelled from
Heaven. Halfway in his descent he paused, bent his head in thought a
moment and at last went back. "There is one favor that I should like
to ask," said he.
"Name it."
"Man, I understand, is about to be created. He will need laws."
"What, wretch! you his appointed adversary, charged from the dawn
of eternity with hatred of his soul - you ask for the right to make
his laws?"
"Pardon; what I have to ask is that he be permitted to make them
It was so ordered.

SCRIPTURES, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as
distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other
faiths are based.

SELF-EVIDENT, adj. Evident to one's self and to nobody else.

SORCERY, n. The ancient prototype and forerunner of political
influence. It was, however, deemed less respectable and sometimes was
punished by torture and death. Augustine Nicholas relates that a poor
peasant who had been accused of sorcery was put to the torture to
compel a confession. After enduring a few gentle agonies the
suffering simpleton admitted his guilt, but naively asked his
tormentors if it were not possible to be a sorcerer without knowing

TEDIUM, n. Ennui, the state or condition of one that is bored. Many
fanciful derivations of the word have been affirmed, but so high an
authority as Father Jape says that it comes from a very obvious
source - the first words of the ancient Latin hymn Te Deum
Laudamus. In this apparently natural derivation there is something
that saddens.

UNCTION, n. An oiling, or greasing. The rite of extreme unction
consists in touching with oil consecrated by a bishop several parts of
the body of one engaged in dying. Marbury relates that after the rite
had been administered to a certain wicked English nobleman it was
discovered that the oil had not been properly consecrated and no other
could be obtained. When informed of this the sick man said in anger:
"Then I'll be damned if I die!"
"My son," said the priest, "this is what we fear."

UNIVERSALIST, n. One who forgoes the advantage of a Hell for persons
of another faith.

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