Brevity=Wit Entry #17

March 29th, 2010 by Wordsman

July 4, 1776.  A messenger rushes into the chamber of the mighty King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, the Defender of the Faith, the Prince-Elector of Hanover, and the Duke of Brunswick, his Majesty King George III.  He has just received a communication of vital importance from the colonies, which he begins to read at a fevered pace:

“When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with anoth”

George promptly fell asleep.  Then, after a long, satisfying nap, he got up, went to his diary, and wrote, “Nothing important happened today.”

The messenger, on the other hand, panicked and retired to his own room.  He was certain that this document was of paramount importance, and that it was his duty as a servant of the Crown to communicate its contents to his sovereign.  But how to do it?  The message was not what you might call concise.  Who knew those backwater colonists could be so long-winded?  Presumably that was why they had been shipped en masse across the ocean in the first place.  And what was this business about “anoth?”  It was not any sort of English expression that he was familiar with.  It was some sort of obscure colonial slang, perhaps, and best left alone.

He worked late into the night, endeavoring to compose an abridged form of the document that would fit the attention span of a monarch, and a mad one to boot.  The next morning, exhausted almost beyond all use, he returned to the royal chamber and read:

“You done us wrong, for a long, long time.  We tried to be patient, but enough is enough.  We want to live and be free and happy.  Peace, yo.”

The good King nodded, thanked his loyal servant, congratulated him on his command of bizarre American dialects, and dismissed him.  Then he promptly fell asleep.  Later that day, he wrote, “A funny little fish came today and told me the colonies are revolting.  I quite agree.”

NOTE: Some historians will argue that George III never wrote “Nothing important happened today” in his diary, or that he didn’t keep a diary, or that he didn’t hear about the Declaration of Independence until long after July 4th.  This last argument is based on the claim that the people of 1776 lived not only without internet, but without television, radio, the telephone, or even the telegraph.  But we at the Wandering Wordsman believe that historians have long underestimated the ability and ingenuity of pre-modern peoples.  I mean, seriously, if it really took weeks to get a message back to England, you’ve got to wonder why they would even bother.  By the time England got back to them, the whole “independence” craze would be long over, and everybody would have moved on to the next fad.  Like Beanie Babies, or possibly the Macarena.

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