Why is this thus?
What is the reason for this thusness?
—American humorist Artemus Ward (1834-1867)
From the Publishers’ Preface to the 1898 edition of The Complete Works of Artemus Ward:
More than one hundred thousand copies of the work have been
printed. The plates had become so worn as to render it
unreadable, yet the sale kept on. . . .
It is universally conceded that no country in the world has ever
produced a genius like Artemus Ward. Writers of ACKNOWLEDGED
GENIUS are never very numerous. He attained a great and deserved
popularity, which will be lasting.
It has been observed that the wit of one generation is rarely
appreciated by the next, but this is not true of Artemus Ward.
There is a constant demand for his writings, for the reason that
his jokes require no appendix for their elucidation. No one who
speaks the English language can fail to appreciate his wonderful
humor. It will always be funny. There is a fascination about it
which can neither be questioned nor resisted. His particular
niche in the temple of Fame will not be claimed by another. His
intellect was sharp and electric. He saw the humor of anything
at a glance, and his manner of relating these laughter-provoking
absurdities is original and “fetching.”