Sobriety Test

In the days when I used to take weddings regularly I threatened grooms with am ignition test on The Day: if I lit a cigarette lighter in front of thema nd their breath ignited, the wedding would wait. This was a more sophisticated test, for memory not sobriety, published in 1755 by Samuel Foote in The Grand Panjandrum  to test the memory of the actor Charles Macklin, who had claimed he could read any paragraph once through and then recite it verbatim.

So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage
leaf, to make an apple pie ; and at the same time a
great she-bear coming up the street, pops its head
into the shop. ‘What ! no soap ?’ So he died, and
she very imprudently married the barber ; and there
were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and
the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself,
with the little round button at top ; and they all
fell to playing the game of catch as catch can,
till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their

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