THE PURITAN MINISTERS in the colonies of the New World in the
17th century, joke-forwarding was anathema. In his famous sermon
"On the Ungodliness of Idle and Profane Correspondence,"
Cotton Mather declared:
is an unutterable Grief that the Ungodly Youths in the Town urge
one another on in the Wicked Practice of writing Letters which
do Mock and make Light of every Thing, as, for example, one Thoughtless
Youth had written a List, called, Everything Which You Have Always
Wished to Know of Bundling, but Were Afeared to Ask, which was
most Debauched, and an Abomination, and caused Unholy Laughter
among such Wretches as Cast an Eye upon it, for this same Sinner
had copy'd out his Vile Writings and shewn them to all the Town.
of the Houghton Library, Harvard)
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