Humor of a Country Lawyer

Humor of a Country Lawyer

Humor of a Country Lawyer

Humor of a Country Lawyer


Originally published in 1984, Senator Ervin's delightful collection of stories and anecdotes winds its way from his native Morganton through Chapel Hill and Harvard, the military, the North Carolina Supreme Court, the United States Senate, and Watergate. It represents a lifetime of wit and wisdom--told in the late Senator Ervin's inimitable style.


When I decided to write a book on humor, I made these resolves: to ignore everything everybody else had written on humor; to exclude stories I had found in books; to include stories that had been orally communicated to me by others, or that had been incident to events in which I had participated, or that had been incident to events observed by me as a bystander; and to excommunicate dirty jokes and stories begotten by an obsession with sex.

I have faithfully adhered to these resolves except the one relating to stories found in books. I violated it once. Despite the limitations they have imposed upon me, I hope that my readers, if I should be so fortunate as to have any, will find something in these pages to make their hearts merry.

To borrow a Shakespearean phrase, this is a consummation devoutly to be wished. As Proverbs 17:22 attests, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Unfortunately, humor has always been in low repute among people whose over-serious minds ban it from their hearts. This is true nowadays of misanthropes who multiply their miseries by decrying the therapeutic potency of humor and by refusing to take dosages of it for their pessimism. They equate humor with buffoonery and allege that its devotees are silly fools unconcerned with the problems that bedevil humanity. I defy the misanthropes, and deny their allegation.

Humor is one of God’s most marvelous gifts. Humor gives us smiles, laughter, and gaiety. Humor reveals the roses and hides the thorns. Humor makes our heavy burdens light and smooths the rough spots in our pathways. Humor endows us with the capacity to clarify the obscure, to simplify the complex, to deflate the pompous, to chastise the arrogant, to point a moral, and to adorn a tale.

Humor answers the ancient outcry, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” Humor binds up the wounds of those who . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.