K is a consonant that we get from the Greeks, but it can be traced
away back beyond them to the Cerathians, a small commercial nation
inhabiting the peninsula of Smero. In their tongue it was called
Klatch, which means "destroyed." The form of the letter was
originally precisely that of our H, but the erudite Dr. Snedeker
explains that it was altered to its present shape to commemorate the
destruction of the great temple of Jarute by an earthquake, circa
730 B.C. This building was famous for the two lofty columns of its
portico, one of which was broken in half by the catastrophe, the other
remaining intact. As the earlier form of the letter is supposed to
have been suggested by these pillars, so, it is thought by the great
antiquary, its later was adopted as a simple and natural – not to say
touching – means of keeping the calamity ever in the national memory.
It is not known if the name of the letter was altered as an additional
mnemonic, or if the name was always Klatch and the destruction one
of nature’s pums. As each theory seems probable enough, I see no
objection to believing both – and Dr. Snedeker arrayed himself on
that side of the question.
He willed away his whole estate,
And then in death he fell asleep,
Murmuring: "Well, at any rate,
My name unblemished I shall keep."
But when upon the tomb ’twas wrought
Whose was it? – for the dead keep naught.
Durang Gophel Arn
KILL, v.t. To create a vacancy without nominating a successor.
KILT, n. A costume sometimes worn by Scotchmen in America and
Americans in Scotland.
KINDNESS, n. A brief preface to ten volumes of exaction.
KING, n. A male person commonly known in America as a "crowned head,"
although he never wears a crown and has usually no head to speak of.
A king, in times long, long gone by,
Said to his lazy jester:
"If I were you and you were I
My moments merrily would fly –
Nor care nor grief to pester."
"The reason, Sire, that you would thrive,"
The fool said – "if you’ll hear it –
Is that of all the fools alive
Who own you for their sovereign, I’ve
The most forgiving spirit."
KING’S EVIL, n. A malady that was formerly cured by the touch of the
sovereign, but has now to be treated by the physicians. Thus ‘the
most pious Edward" of England used to lay his royal hand upon the
ailing subjects and make them whole –
a crowd of wretched souls
That stay his cure: their malady convinces
The great essay of art; but at his touch,
Such sanctity hath Heaven given his hand,
They presently amend,
as the "Doctor" in Macbeth hath it. This useful property of the
royal hand could, it appears, be transmitted along with other crown
properties; for according to "Malcolm,"
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction.
But the gift somewhere dropped out of the line of succession: the
later sovereigns of England have not been tactual healers, and the
disease once honored with the name "king’s evil" now bears the humbler
one of "scrofula," from scrofa, a sow. The date and author of the
following epigram are known only to the author of this dictionary, but
it is old enough to show that the jest about Scotland’s national
disorder is not a thing of yesterday.
Ye Kynge his evill in me laye,
Wh. he of Scottlande charmed awaye.
He layde his hand on mine and sayd:
"Be gone!" Ye ill no longer stayd.
But O ye wofull plyght in wh.
I’m now y-pight: I have ye itche!
The superstition that maladies can be cured by royal taction is
dead, but like many a departed conviction it has left a monument of
custom to keep its memory green. The practice of forming a line and
shaking the President’s hand had no other origin, and when that great
dignitary bestows his healing salutation on
strangely visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery,
he and his patients are handing along an extinguished torch which once
was kindled at the altar-fire of a faith long held by all classes of
men. It is a beautiful and edifying "survival" – one which brings
the sainted past close home in our "business and bosoms."
KISS, n. A word invented by the poets as a rhyme for "bliss." It is
supposed to signify, in a general way, some kind of rite or ceremony
appertaining to a good understanding; but the manner of its
performance is unknown to this lexicographer.
KLEPTOMANIAC, n. A rich thief.
Once a warrior gentle of birth,
Then a person of civic worth,
Now a fellow to move our mirth.
Warrior, person, and fellow – no more:
We must knight our dogs to get any lower.
Brave Knights Kennelers then shall be,
Noble Knights of the Golden Flea,
Knights of the Order of St. Steboy,
Knights of St. Gorge and Sir Knights Jawy.
God speed the day when this knighting fad
Shall go to the dogs and the dogs go mad.
KORAN, n. A book which the Mohammedans foolishly believe to have been
written by divine inspiration, but which Christians know to be a
wicked imposture, contradictory to the Holy Scriptures.