From Jests New and Old collected by W. Carew Hazlitt etc., ( Jarvis, London 1886). These are some of the better jokes from a list of 600 or so. Not exactly rolling in the aisles material but probably pretty rib-tickling in their day. Possibly in the hands of a comedian like Eddie Izzard, or Russell / Jo Brand or Chris Rock a few laughs could be extracted from them. They are no worse than some of the jokes to be found at the email gossip sheet Popbitch's Old Jokes Home every week.
Some years ago, says Richardson in his "Anecdotes of Painting," a gentleman came to me to invite me to his house: "I have," said he, "a picture of Rubens, and it is a rare good one. There is little H– the other day came to see it, and says it is a copy. If any one says so again, I'll break his head. Pray, Mr. Richardson, will you do me the favour to come, and give me your real opinion of it?"
Reynolds, the dramatist, observing to Martin the thinnes of the house at one of his own plays, added–"He supposed it was owing to the war." "No," replied the latter, "it is owing to the piece."
A foolish fellow went to the parish priest, and told him with a very long face, that he had seen a ghost. "When and where?" said the pastor. "Last night," replied the timid man, "I was passing by the church, and up against the wall of it I beheld the spectre." "In what shape did it appear?" said the priest. "It appeared to be in the shape of a great ass." "Go home, and hold your tongue about it," rejoined the pastor, "you are a very timid man, and have been frightened by your own shadow."
Sir John Millicent, the judge, was a man of superior abilities and a good lawyer, but addicted to his cups. He used to say that there was nothing for it, but to drink himself down to the capacity of his colleagues.
George III. in one of his morning rides, noticed Mr. Blanchard's pretty house on Richmond Hill ; and being told it belonged to a card-maker, he observed, "What ! what ! what ! a card-maker ! all his cards must have turned up trumps."
Dean Jackson, passing one morning through Christ Church qaudrangle, met some undergraduates, who walked along without capping. The Dean called one of them, and asked, "Do you know who I am?" "No, sir." "How long have you been in college?" "Eight days, sir." "Oh, very well," said the Dean, walking away, "puppies don't open their eyes till the ninth day."
Leigh Hunt was asked by a lady at dessert, if he would not venture upon an orange: said he, "Madam, I should be happy to do so, but I'm afraid I should tumble off."