Lord Aberdeen (1847-1934) was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1886, and again from 1905 to 1915. He held the office of Governor General of Canada from 1893 to 1898. He also fancied himself something of a wit and allowed some of his jokes to be collected together in a volume titled Jokes Cracked by Lord Aberdeen
, published in 1929 by Valentine Press.
Over the years, the book became a cult classic, due to its reputation as the worst joke book ever published. On the strength of this reputation, it was republished in 2013 (available on Kindle for $1.99).
In reality, the jokes aren't all that bad. However, they are liberally sprinkled with Scottish dialect, which can make them hard to understand. Also, their subject matter is often quite dated.
But judge them for yourself. I've collected together some examples below.
A young man had occasion to move from where he had hitherto lived, to another district. He had been associated with Presbyterians in his former abode, but it occurred to the clergyman of the Episcopal Church in the neighbourhood that the young man might suitably be invited to become a member of that Church. This was accomplished; but not long afterwards it transpired that he was about to join the Roman Catholics. On hearing this a friend of the Rector, who, like himself, was a keen curler, remarked, "Man, you've souppit him through the Hoose."
You probably failed to get that joke. I certainly had no clue what the punchline meant. Here's an explanation by John Finnemore
(who wrote the intro to the 2013 edition):
in curling, you want to sweep the ice enough to get your team's stone to the target, or 'House', but not so much that it overshoots. Meanwhile, the Presbyterians are an extremely low church denomination of Christianity; Catholicism is of course a very high church; the Episcopalians are somewhere between the two. By encouraging the new arrival to join his church, only to lose him to the Catholics, the Rector has metaphorically swept him through the House … or souppit him through the Hoose!
More jokes (easier to understand):
A lady remarked to a former Bishop of London on one occasion 'Oh! Bishop, I want to tell you something very remarkable. An aunt of mine had arranged to make a voyage in a certain steamer, but at the last moment she had to give up the trip; and that steamer was wrecked; wasn't it a mercy she did not go in it?'
'Well, but,' replied the bishop, 'I don't know your aunt.'
A certain Scot was not very well, and the doctor was called in. On making enquiries the doctor found that the man was mainly depending on farinaceous food, living, as his wife admitted, on "porridge and milk and whiles brose and tatties," so he said: "I think your husband should take some animal food; it will brace him up."
The wife seemed rather dubious, but replied, "Well, I suppose he micht try."
"All right" said the doctor, "I had better call again in a few days to see how he does."
And sure enough, in due course, the doctor arrived and on asking the wife how the new diet was suiting her husband, received the following reply:
"Weel, he manages middlin' well wi' the neeps; and whiles the linseed cake, but oh! doctor, he canna thole the strae!"
('he canna thole the strae' = he cannot stand the straw)
In the Scottish Presbyterian Churches there is a plan whereby a minister who, through advancing years, finds the burden of his charge too heavy, can be partly relieved by the appointment of what is known as an "assistant and successor."
In this way an element of permanence is secured for the assistant or colleague, since, humanly speaking, it is only a matter of time when he will have full charge, and the full stipend, such as it may be.
I remember that the late Dr. Marshall Lang, who was a Moderator of the Church of Scotland, and latterly Principal of the University of Aberdeen, when speaking on a subject which included the above arrangement, said that he had heard of an elderly minister who once said to his "assistant and successor:" "I suppose, my young friend, you are 'thinking long' for my dying?"
"Ah, no, sir," replied the younger man, "you must not put it so; for it is your living that I desire."
Dauvid: "I didna see ye, Sandy, at the Kirk on Sabbath."
Sandy: "I noticed that, when I was takin' up the collection."
A young man arrived unexpectedly at the house of some friends in the country. Could they put him up for the night? Well, they were about full—but, yes, there was one room still vacant, so he could use that. In due course the visitor was conducted to his room, the hostess remarking — "After we had taken the lease of this house we found that one of the rooms was supposed to be haunted; but I daresay you are not superstitious about that sort of thing." "Oh, well, no," said the visitor, "I don't trouble about such tales." When alone, he surveyed the room. It seemed to him to be rather a gaunt sort of place and somewhat chilly. He began to ruminate as to why such a rumour as he heard should have existed, and he decided that in case there should be any humbug of any sort he would place a small pistol, which he always carried in his dressing-case, by the bedside. Soon he fell asleep; but in the dim, grey light of early morning he awoke, feeling far from comfortable, and soon espied at the foot of the bed the appearance of a hand, in upright position. This seemed uncanny, and after a few moments he reached for his pistol, and then said very deliberately, "Now, I am no coward; but if that hand is not removed when I have counted three, I shall fire-One, two, three—Bang!—Oh!!" And ever since that morning one of the toes of that man's right foot has been missing.
A young lady meeting Father Healy one morning greeted him thus: "Oh good morning, Father Healy. Now, won't you say something funny?"
—to which came the prompt reply, "Well, I'm glad to see you: isn't that funny?"
An old farmer had become a widower. A neighbor called to express condolence. The old man, in gratefully accepting the assurance, said that he would like to tell his visitor the circumstances of the loss he had sustained.
"A while ago I wasna feelin' verra weel, an' I sent word to the druggist, telling him what like the trouble was, an' he said he wid sen' me some pouthers, but by the time the pouthers cam' I wis feeling' a good piece better, so I just put them past, thinking they micht be o' some e'es anither time; an' then, soon after, the wife took ill, so I thocht she was be better for the pouthers, so I gied them to her, but she didna improve ony; and sune she jist slippit awa'."
"Dear me!" said the visitor, "how very sad."
"Ay," said the other. "It's terrible; but, man, isna it a maircy I didna tak' thae pouthers masel'?"
pouthers = powders, or medicine.
An Englishman who was saying farewell to a French acquaintance (though his knowledge of the French language was slender) said, 'Au reservoir', to which the Frenchman, whose knowledge of English was likewise imperfect, replied, 'Tanks'.