On Wit and Humor

’Twixt wit and humor, pretty Miss
The difference, I opine, is this,
 Bright as the sun, and light as air
Is wit, a sprightly meteor fair
The daughter of the gay-skirted Iris,
Phoebus, that flashy god, her sire is:
Humor, an arch young wag, all glee,
First born of Miss Euphrosyne
By Phoebus eke; In masquerade
He so bewitch’d the tempting maid
That she resigned her virgin charms
All blushing to his amorous arms

 Half-sister she, and he half-brother,
They’re oft mista’en for one another;
And yet — however near ally’d,
In many things they differ wide.

 Wit, like a sweet meat at repast
Give a delicious pungent taste;
Humor, a standing dish more plain,
Invites with — gut and come again;
The one a British roast beef treat,
The other cayenne to the meat;
Depriv’d of their enliv’ning aid
In vain Thalia’s feast’s display’d
Zestless each dish, the bev’rage queer,
And spiritless as dead small beer
While all the guests are yawning seen,
Infected with November spleen

 Wit — like Jove’s lightning from the skies,
Strikes with delightful wild surpise;
Humor — a cheerful lasting blaze
O’er laughing fields and meads displays;
With Phiz Cervantic holds a glass,
Where nature’s flitting objects pass;
Wit’s flash — to the congenial mind
Alone presents her scenes refin’d.

 On humor laughter joyous waits,
And health and cheerfulness creates,
But wit, tho’ smiles her visage beam,
Of coarser joy knows no extreme.

 Humor on character depends,
Depriv’d of that his being ends;
Whereas from peer, priest, clown or cit,
What wit in one, in all is wit.

Humor, in fine, like stays must fit
The body which he aims to hit;
Whilst pliant wit, like outside cloak,
Fits you a thousand diff’rent folk: —

 Humor and wit’s chief recreation
Their fav’rite hunt is affectation;
Tho’ vice obliquely to the heart,
They sometimes pierce with stinging dart;
Both tickle when they give the wound,
Both cordial bitter sweets are found;
A Janus mask they sometimes wear
And stiff lac’d prudes and blockheads scare,
Who fribble like, oh fly! exclaim,
And think all double things a shame;
With such, trite sentiment is taste,
And want of wit and humor — chaste.

 Sometimes like Swiss they fight for pay,
And vice’s dark commands obey;
When thus their talents they misplace,
Their sire condemns ’em to disgrace
Their arrows blunts, or backward wings
To their own hearts the barbed sting.

 Thalia oftentimes invokes
Wit’s flash, and Master Humor’s jokes;
But coy, they seldom succour lend,
And but by fits and starts attend.

 In Congreve, Butler, Wicherley,
Than humor, far more wit we see;
In Fielding, Addison, Moliere,
Than wit more humor does appear;
Sometimes so lovingly they join,
They seem like man and wife — but one;
Thus Shakespear, Swift, and Sterne are found
With equal portions to abound.

 This certain rule we may admit,
Where humor is, oft flashes wit;
And where wit strikes us, not far distant
Humor attends as wit’s assistant;
For sister-like and loving brother,
They’re vastly fond of one another.

 Living example wou’d you find,
Where wit and humor are combin’d,
Search not our modern bards among,
You’ll find the pair in Mary’s song.