Illustrated by F. Opper, of "Puck." New York and Chicago: Belford, Clarke & Co., 1884. Original light brown wrappers stamped in black.
First Edition of this volume of humor, by a 19th-Century master of that genre. Nye (1850-1896) was born in very rural Maine, he grew up and was educated in northern Wisconsin, and he settled in Laramie, Wyoming Territory -- where he was postmaster, superintendent of schools, and journalist at the Laramie Boomerang... where he became known nationally for his humor. He took the name "Bill Nye" from Bret Harte's poem "The Heathen Chinee," and a politically-incorrect quote on the title page is from Harte & Twain's "Ah Sin." Later in his (meningitis-shortened) life, he wrote with James Whitcomb Riley, and traveled with Luther Burbank. In his last decade he penned his credo:
There is a grim and ghastly humor -- the humor that is born of a pathetic philosophy -- which now and then strikes me in reading the bright and keen-witted work of our American paragraphers. It is a humor that may be crystallized by hunger and sorrow and tears. It is not found elsewhere as it is in America. It is out of the question in England, because an Englishman cannot poke fun at himself. He cannot joke about an empty flour-barrel. We can: especially if by doing it we may swap the joke for another barrel of flour. We can never be a nation of snobs so long as we are willing to poke fun at ourselves. [Century Magazine 1892]
This is a remarkably near-fine copy (minor wear at the spine ends) of this fragile paperback book, which Belford Clarke advertised as obtainable "on any Railroad Train or from any Bookseller or Newsdealer" (rear cover). A remarkable survival -- housed in a cloth slipcase with inner chemise. Item #14958