LAUGHTER, n. An interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable. Liability to attacks of laughter is one of the characteristics distinguishing man from the animals— these being not only inaccessible to the provocation of his example, but impregnable to the microbes having original jurisdiction in bestowal of the disease. Whether laughter could be imparted to animals by inoculation from the human patient is a question that has not been answered by experimentation. Dr. Meir Witchell holds that the infectious character of laughter is due to the instantaneous fermentation of sputa diffused in a spray. From this peculiarity he names the disorder Convulsio spargens.
LAUREATE, adj. Crowned with leaves of the laurel. In England the Poet Laureate is an officer of the sovereign’s court, acting as dancing skeleton at every royal feast and singing-mute at every royal funeral. Of all incumbents of that high office, Robert Southey had the most notable knack at drugging the Samson of public joy and cutting his hair to the quick; and he had an artistic color-sense which enabled him so to blacken a public grief as to give it the aspect of a national crime.
LAUREL, n. The laurus, a vegetable dedicated to Apollo, and formerly defoliated to wreathe the brows of victors and such poets as had influence at court.
Once Law was sitting on the bench,
And Mercy knelt a-weeping.
«Clear out!» he cried, «disordered wench!
Nor come before me creeping.
Upon your knees if you appear,
‘Tis plain your have no standing here.»
Then Justice came. His Honor cried:
«Your status? —devil seize you!»
«Amica curiae,» she replied—
«Friend of the court, so please you.»
«Begone!» he shouted—»there’s the door—
I never saw your face before!»
LAWFUL, adj. Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction.