Mr Dooley on ‘Keeping Lent’


A post by Mike Peterson at The Daily Cartoonist made me aware of this piece by Finley Peter Dunne, part of his Mister Dooley series. So here’s a bit from the 1899 collection Mr Dooley in the Hearts of his Countrymen.


Mr Dooley: Keeping Lent.

Finley Peter Dunne

Mr McKenna had observed Mr Dooley in the act of spinning a long, thin spoon in a compound which reeked pleasantly and smelt of the humming water of commerce; and he laughed and mocked at the philosopher.

“Ah-ha,” he said, “that’s th’ way you keep Lent, is it? Two weeks from Ash Wednesday, and you tanking up.”

Mr Dooley went on deliberately to finish the experiment, leisurely dusting the surface with nutmeg and tasting the product before setting down the glass daintily. Then he folded his apron, and lay back in ample luxury while he began: “Jawn, th’ holy season iv Lent was sent to us f’r to teach us th’ weakness iv th’ human flesh. Man proposes, an’ th’ Lord disposes, as Hinnissy says.

“I mind as well as though it was yesterday th’ struggle iv me father f’r to keep Lent. He began to talk it a month befure th’ time. ‘On Ash Winsdah,’ he’d say, ‘I’ll go in f’r a rale season iv fast an’ abstinince,’ he’d say. An’ sure enough, whin Ash Winsdah come round at midnight, he’d take a long dhraw at his pipe an’ knock th’ ashes out slowly again his heel, an’ thin put th’ dhudeen up behind th’ clock. ‘There,’ says he, ‘there ye stay till Easter morn,’ he says. Ash Winsdah he talked iv nawthin but th’ pipe. ”Tis exthraordinney how easy it is f’r to lave off,’ he says. ‘All ye need is will power,’ he says. ‘I dinnaw that I’ll iver put a pipe in me mouth again. ‘Tis a bad habit, smokin’ is,’ he says; ‘an’ it costs money. A man’s betther off without it. I find I dig twict as well,’ he says; ‘an’, as f’r cuttin’ turf, they’se not me like in th’ parish since I left off th’ pipe,’ he says.

“Well, th’ nex’ day an’ th’ nex’ day he talked th’ same way; but Fridah he was sour, an’ looked up at th’ clock where th’ pipe was. Saturdah me mother, thinkin’ to be plazin to him, says: ‘Terrence,’ she says, ‘ye’re iver so much betther without th’ tobacco,’ she says. ‘I’m glad to find you don’t need it. Ye’ll save money,’ she says. ‘Be quite, woman,’ says he. ‘Dear, oh dear,’ he says, ‘I’d like a pull at th’ clay,’ he says. ‘Whin Easter comes, plaze Gawd, I’ll smoke mesilf black an’ blue in th’ face,’ he says.

“That was th’ beginnin’ iv th’ downfall. Choosdah he was settin’ in front iv th’ fire with a pipe in his mouth. ‘Why, Terrence,’ says me mother, ‘ye’re smokin’ again.’ ‘I’m not,’ says he: ”tis a dhry smoke,’ he says; ”tisn’t lighted,’ he says. Wan week afther th’ swear-off he came fr’m th’ field with th’ pipe in his face, an’ him puffin’ away like a chimney. ‘Terrence,’ says me mother, ‘it isn’t Easter morn.’ ‘Ah-ho,’ says he, ‘I know it,’ he says; ‘but,’ he says, ‘what th’ divvle do I care?’ he says. ‘I wanted f’r to find out whether it had th’ masthery over me; an’,’ he says, ‘I’ve proved that it hasn’t,’ he says. ‘But what’s th’ good iv swearin’ off, if ye don’t break it?’ he says. ‘An’ annyhow,’ he says, ‘I glory in me shame.’

“Now, Jawn,” Mr Dooley went on, “I’ve got what Hogan calls a theery, an’ it’s this: that what’s thrue iv wan man’s thrue iv all men. I’m me father’s son a’most to th’ hour an’ day. Put me in th’ County Roscommon forty year ago, an’ I’d done what he’d done. Put him on th’ Ar-rchey Road, an’ he’d be deliverin’ ye a lecture on th’ sin iv thinkin’ ye’re able to overcome th’ pride iv th’ flesh, as Father Kelly says. Two weeks ago I looked with contimpt on Hinnissy f’r an’ because he’d not even promise to fast an’ obstain fr’m croquet durin’ Lent. To-night you see me mixin’ me toddy without th’ shadow iv remorse about me. I’m proud iv it. An’ why not? I was histin’ in me first wan whin th’ soggarth come down fr’m a sick call, an’ looked in at me. ‘In Lent?’ he says, half-laughin’ out in thim quare eyes iv his. ‘Yes,’ said I. ‘Well,’ he says, ‘I’m not authorized to say this be th’ propaganda,’ he says, ‘an’ ’tis no part iv th’ directions f’r Lent,’ he says; ‘but,’ he says, ‘I’ll tell ye this, Martin,’ he says, ‘that they’se more ways than wan iv keepin’ th’ season,’ he says. ‘I’ve knowed thim that starved th’ stomach to feast th’ evil temper,’ he says. ‘They’se a little priest down be th’ Ninth Ward that niver was known to keep a fast day; but Lent or Christmas tide, day in an’ day out, he goes to th’ hospital where they put th’ people that has th’ small-pox. Starvation don’t always mean salvation. If it did,’ he says, ‘they’d have to insure th’ pavemint in wan place, an’ they’d be money to burn in another. Not,’ he says, ‘that I want ye to undherstand that I look kindly on th’ sin iv’—

“”Tis a cold night out,’ says I.

“‘Well,’ he says, th’ dear man, ‘ye may. On’y,’ he says, ”tis Lent.’

“‘Yes,’ says I.

“‘Well, thin,’ he says, ‘by ye’er lave I’ll take but half a lump iv sugar in mine,’ he says.”

Finley Peter Dunne explains High Finance


While I imagine many people are interested in How To Understand International Finance these days, I thought I’d step back to the turn of the 20th century and Finley Peter Dunne’s Mister Dooley, who in Mr Dooley’s Philosophy explains high finance. And yes, I understand, the dialect writing makes it harder to read. It’s worth it.

Mister Dooley on: HIGH FINANCE

“I THINK,” said Mr. Dooley, “I’ll go down to th’ stock yards an’ buy a dhrove iv Steel an’ Wire stock.”

“Where wud ye keep it?” asked the unsuspecting Hennessy.

“I’ll put it out on th’ vacant lot,” said Mr. Dooley, “an’ lave it grow fat by atin’ ol’ bur-rd cages an’ tin cans. I’ll milk it hard, an’ whin ’tis dhry I’ll dispose iv it to th’ widdies an’ orphans iv th’ Sixth Ward that need household pets. Be hivins, if they give me half a chanst, I’ll be as gr-reat a fi-nanceer as anny man in Wall sthreet.

“Th’ reason I’m so confident iv th’ value iv Steel an’ Wire stock, Hinnissy, is they’re goin’ to hur-rl th’ chairman iv th’ comity into jail. That’s what th’ pa-apers calls a ray iv hope in th’ clouds iv dipression that’ve covered th’ market so long. `Tis always a bull argymint. `Snowplows common was up two pints this mornin’ on th’ rumor that th’ prisidint was undher ar-rest.’ `They was a gr-reat bulge in Lobster preferred caused be th’ report that instead iv declarin’ a dividend iv three hundhred per cint. th’ comp’ny was preparin’ to imprison th’ boord iv directors.’ `We sthrongly ricommind th’ purchase iv Con and Founder. This comp’ny is in ixcillint condition since th’ hangin’ iv th’ comity on reorganization.’

“What’s th’ la-ad been doin’, Hinnissy? He’s been lettin’ his frinds in on th’ groun’ flure — an’ dhroppin’ thim into th’ cellar. Ye know Cassidy, over in th’ Fifth, him that was in th’ ligislachure? Well, sir, he was a gr-reat frind iv this man. They met down in Springfield whin th’ la-ad had some thing he wanted to get through that wud protect th’ widdies an’ orphans iv th’ counthry again their own avarice, an’ he must’ve handed Cassidy a good argymint, f’r Cassidy voted f’r th’ bill, though threatened with lynchin’ be stockholders iv th’ rival comp’ny. He come back here so covered with dimons that wan night whin he was standin’ on th’ rollin’ mill dock, th’ captain iv th’ Eliza Brown mistook his shirt front f’r th’ bridge lights an’ steered into a soap facthry on th’ lee or gas-house shore.

“Th’ man made a sthrong impression on Cassidy. ‘Twas : `As me frind Jawn says,’ or `I’ll ask Jawn about that,’ or `I’m goin’ downtown to-day to find out what Jawn advises.’ He used to play a dollar on th’ horses or sivin-up f’r th’ dhrinks, but afther he met Jawn he wanted me to put in a tick er, an’ he wud set in here figurin’ with a piece iv chalk on how high Wire’d go if hoopskirts come into fashion again. `Give me a dhrop iv whisky,’ he says, ` f’r I’m inthrested in Distillers,’ he says, `an’ I’d like to give it a shove,’ he says. `How’s Gas?’ he says. `A little weak, to-day,’ says I. `’Twill be sthronger,’ he says. `If it ain’t,’ says I, `I’ll take out th’ meter an’ connect th’ pipe with th’ ventilator. I might as well bur-rn th’ wind free as buy it,’ I says.

“A couple iv weeks ago he see Jawn an’ they had a long talk about it. `Cassidy,’ says Jawn, `ye’ve been a good frind iv mine,’ he says, an’ I’d do annything in the wurruld t’r ye, no matther what it cost ye,’ he says. `If ye need a little money to tide over th’ har-rd times till th’ ligislachure meets again buy’ — an’ he whispered in Cassidy’s ear. `But,’ he says, `don’t tell annywan. ‘Tis a good thing, but I want to keep it bottled up,’ he says.

“Thin Jawn took th’ thrain an’ begun confidin’ his secret to a few select frinds. He give it to th’ conductor on th’ thrain, an’ th’ porther, an’ th’ can dy butcher; he handed it to a switchman that got on th’ platform at South Bend, an’ he stopped off at Detroit long enough to tell about it to the deepo’ policeman. He had a sign painted with th’ tip on it an’ hung it out th’ window, an’ he found a man that carrid a thrombone in a band goin’ over to Buffalo, an’ he had him set th’ good thing to music an’ play it through th’ thrain. Whin he got to New York he stopped at the Waldorf Asthoria, an’ while th’ barber was powdhrin’ his face with groun’ dimons Jawn tol’ him to take th’ money he was goin’ to buy a policy ticket with an’ get in on th’ good thing. He tol’ th’ bootblack, th’ waiter, th’ man at th’ news-stand, th’ clerk behind th’ desk, an’ th’ bartinder in his humble abode. He got up a stereopticon show with pitchers iv a widow-an-orphan befure an’ afther wirin’, an’ he put an advertisement in all th’ pa-apers tellin’ how his stock wud make weak men sthrong. He had th’ tip sarved hot in all th’ resthrants in Wall sthreet, an’ told it confidintially to an open-air meetin’ in Madison Square. `They’se nawthin,’ he says, `that does a tip so much good as to give it circulation,’ he says.’ I think, be this time,’ he says, `all me frinds knows how to proceed, but — Great Hivins!’ he says. `What have I done? Whin all the poor people go to get th’ stock they won’t be anny f’r thim. I can not lave thim thus in th’ lurch. Me reputation as a gintleman an’ a fi-nanceer is at stake,’ he says. `Rather than see these brave people starvin’ at th’ dure f’r a morsel iv common or preferred, I’ll — I’ll sell thim me own stock,’ he says. An’ he done it. He done it, Hinnissy, with unfalthrin’ courage an’ a clear eye. He sold thim his stock, an’ so’s they might get what was left at a raysonable price, he wrote a confidintial note to th’ pa-apers tellin’ thim th’ stock wasn’t worth thirty cints a cord, an’ now, be hivins, they’re talkin’ iv puttin’ him in a common jail or pinitinchry pre ferred. Th’ ingratichood iv man.”

“But what about Cassidy?” Mr. Hennessy asked.

“Oh,” said Mr. Dooley, “he was in here las’ night. `How’s our old frind Jawn?’ says I. He said nawthin’. `Have ye seen ye’er collidge chum iv late?’ says I. `Don’t mintion that ma-an’s name,’ says he. `To think iv what I’ve done f’r him,’ he says, `an’ him to throw me down,’ he says. `Did ye play th’ tip?’ says I. `I did,’ says he. `How did ye come out?’ says I. `I haven’t a cint lift but me renommynation f’r th’ ligislachure,’ says he. `Well,’ says I, `Cassidy,’ I says, `ye’ve been up again what th’ pa-apers call hawt finance,’ I says. `What th’ divvle’s that?’ says he. `Well,’ says I, `it ain’t burglary, an’ it ain’t obtainin’ money be false pretinses, an’ it ain’t manslaughter,’ I says. `It’s what ye might call a judicious seliction fr’m th’ best features iv thim ar-rts,’ I says. `T’was too sthrong f’r me,’ he says. `It was,’ says I. `Ye’re about up to simple thransom climbin’, Cassidy,’ I says.”

Finley Peter Dunne: Machinery


I want to offer another bit from Observations By Mr. Dooley, this one a bit about the astounding progress in machinery that the late 19th century had brought, and the basic attitude feels to me pretty evergreen.

Mr. Dooley was reading from a paper.

“‘We live,’ he says, ‘in an age iv wondhers. Niver befure in th’ histhry iv th’ wurruld has such progress been made.’

Continue reading “Finley Peter Dunne: Machinery”

Finley Peter Dunne: “Sherlock Holmes”


Here’s a bit from Finley Peter Dunne — Mister Dooley — in Observations By Mr. Dooley. It amuses me, besides its basic funniness, for spoofing the Sherlock Holmes stories right about when they were still being written. I can’t find just when this particular essay was composed, but the book was published in 1902 or possibly 1903.

Dorsey an’ Dugan are havin’ throuble,” said Mr. Hennessy.

“What about?” asked Mr. Dooley.

“Dorsey,” said Mr. Hennessy, “says Dugan stole his dog. They had a party at Dorsey’s an’ Dorsey heerd a noise in th’ back yard an’ wint out an’ see Dugan makin’ off with his bull tarryer.”

“Ye say he see him do it?”

“Yis, he see him do it.”

“Well,” said Mr. Dooley, “‘twud baffle th’ injinooty iv a Sherlock Holmes.”

“Who’s Sherlock Holmes?”

Continue reading “Finley Peter Dunne: “Sherlock Holmes””

Peter Finley Dunne: Avarice and Generosity


[ I’d like to offer another piece from Peter Finley Dunne’s Observations by Mr Dooley today, this one, about exactly what the title says. ]

Avarice and Generosity

“I niver blame a man f’r bein’ avaricyous in his ol’ age. Whin a fellow gits so he has nawthin’ else to injye, whin ivrybody calls him ‘sir’ or ‘mister,’ an’ young people dodge him an’ he sleeps afther dinner, an’ folks say he’s an ol’ fool if he wears a buttonhole bokay an’ his teeth is only tinants at will an’ not permanent fixtures, ’tis no more thin nach’ral that he shud begin to look around him f’r a way iv keepin’ a grip on human s’ciety. It don’t take him long to see that th’ on’y thing that’s vin’rable in age is money an’ he pro-ceeds to acquire anything that happens to be in sight, takin’ it where he can find it, not where he wants it, which is th’ way to accumylate a fortune. Money won’t prolong life, but a few millyons judicyously placed in good banks an’ occas’nally worn on th’ person will rayjooce age. Poor ol’ men are always older thin poor rich men. In th’ almshouse a man is decrepit an’ mournful-lookin’ at sixty, but a millyonaire at sixty is jus’ in th’ prime iv life to a frindly eye, an’ there are no others.

Continue reading “Peter Finley Dunne: Avarice and Generosity”

Finley Peter Dunne: (More) Casual Observations


I was having fun with bits of Mr Dooley’s Philosophy so here’s another round of quips from him.


To most people a savage nation is wan that doesn’t wear oncomf’rtable
clothes.


Manny people’d rather be kilt at Newport thin at Bunker Hill.


I care not who makes th’ laws iv a nation if I can get out an injunction.


All men are br-rave in comp’ny an’ cow’rds alone, but some shows it
clearer thin others.


If Rooshia wud shave we’d not be afraid iv her.

Finley Peter Dunne: Casual Observations


I had enough fun flipping through Finley Peter Dunne’s Mr Dooley’s Philosophy, including a section of “Casual Observations” at the end, that I’ll bring a couple of them up as today’s entry.


Th’ nearest anny man comes to a con-ciption iv his own death is lyin’ back in a comfortable coffin with his ears cocked f’r th’ flatthrin’ remarks iv th’ mourners.


A fanatic is a man that does what he thinks th’ Lord wud do if He knew th’ facts iv th’ case.


It takes a sthrong man to be mean. A mean man is wan that has th’ courage not to be gin’rous. Whin I give a tip ’tis not because I want to but because I’m afraid iv what th’ waiter’ll think. Russell Sage is wan iv Nature’s noblemen.


The last particularly delights me since I attended graduate school in Troy, New York, just up the hill from Russell Sage College. According to campus lore passed around Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the things Russell Sage hated most in a life spent hating people and things were education, women, and educating women; and his widow, Margaret Olivia Sage, donated much of his fortune to schools, particularly schools for women. This is a good enough story I’ve never looked closely enough into Russell Sage’s biography to tell whether it’s true.