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The Carlysles

Franklin P. Adams 1881 (Chicago, Illinois) – 1960 (New York City, New York)

[I was talking with a newspaper man the other day who seemed to think that the fact that Mrs. Carlyle threw a teacup at Mr. Carlyle should be given to the public merely as a fact. But a fact presented to the people without the proper--or even, if necessary, without the improper--human being to go with it does not mean anything and does not really become alive or caper about in people's minds. But what I want and what I believe most people want when a fact is being presented is one or two touches that will make natural and human questions rise in and play about like this: 'Did a servant see Mrs. Carlyle throw the teacup? Was the servant an English servant with an English imagination or an Irish servant with an Irish imagination? What would the fact have been like if Mr. Browning had been listening at the keyhole? Or Oscar Wilde, or Punch, or the Missionary Herald, or The New York Sun, or the Christian Science Monitor?"--GERALD STANLEY LEE in the Saturday Evening Post]


As a poet heart- and fancy-free--whole,
I listened at the Carlyle's keyhole;
And I saw, I, Robert Browning, saw,
Tom hurl a teacup at Jane's jaw.
She silent sat, nor tried to speak up
When came the wallop with the teacup--
A Cup not filled with Beaune or Clicquot,
But one that brimmed with Orange Pekoe.
"Jane Welsh Carlyle," said Thomas, bold,
"The tea you brewed for m' breakfast's cold!
I'm feeling low i' my mind; a thing
You know b' this time. Have at you!" . . . Bing!
And hurled, threw he at her the teacup;
And I wrote it, deeming it unique, up.

* * * *

LADY LEFFINGWELL (coldly).--A full tea-cup! What a waste! So many good women and so little good tea.
[Exit Lady Leffingwell]

* * * *

A MANCHESTER autograph collector, we are informed, has just offered £50 for the signature of Tea Carlyle.

* * * *

From what clouds cannot sunshine be distilled! When, in a fit of godless rage, Mr. Carlyle threw a teacup at the good woman he had vowed at the altar to love, honour, and obey, she smiled and the thought of China entered her head.
Yesterday Mrs. Carlyle enrolled as a missionary, and will sail for the benighted land of the heathen tomorrow.

* * * *

Fortunate is MRS JANE WELSH CARLYLE to have escaped with her life, though if she had not, no American worthy of the traditions of Washington could simulate acute sorrow. MR. CARLYLE, wearied of the dilatory demands of the BAKERIAN War Department, properly took the law into his own strong hands.
The argument that resulted in the teacup's leaving MR. CARLYLE'S hands was common in most households. It transpires that MRS. CARLYLE, with a Bolshevistic tendency that makes patriots wonder what the Department of Justice--to borrow a phrase from a newspaper cartoonist--thinks about, had begun championing the British-Wilson League of Nations, that league which will make ironically true our "E PLURIBUS UNUM"--one of many. Repeated efforts by MR. CARLYLE, in appeals to the Department of Justice, the Military Intelligence Division, and the City Government, were of no avail. And so MR. CARLYLE, like the red-blooded American he is, did what the authorities should have saved him from the embarrasing trouble of doing.

* * * *

It is reported that Mr. Thomas Carlyle has thrown a teacup at Mrs. Carlyle, and much exaggerated and acrid comment has been made on this incident.
If it had been a whiskey glass, or a cocktail glass, the results might have been fatal. In Oregon, which went dry in 1916, the number of women hit by crockery has decreased 4.3 per cent in three years. Of 1,844 women in Oregon hit by crockery in 1915, 1,802 were hit by glasses containing, or destined to contain, alcoholic stimulants. More than 94 per cent of these accidents resulted fatally. The remaining 22 women, hit by tea or coffee cups, are now happy, useful members of society.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:36 min read

Franklin P. Adams

Franklin Pierce Adams was an American columnist known as Franklin P. Adams and by his initials F. P. A.. Famed for his wit, he is best known for his newspaper column, "The Conning Tower", and his appearances as a regular panelist on radio's Information Please. A prolific writer of light verse, he was a member of the Algonquin Round Table of the 1920s and 1930s. more…

All Franklin P. Adams poems | Franklin P. Adams Books

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