"Tell me what a man laughs at, and I will tell you what he is," was one of Goethe's pregnant apothegms.
Laughter, one of the chief lines of cleavage between man and beast, is one of the chief points of differentiation between man and man. From the good-natured banter which kins all the world to the envenomed sneer that sunders it, laughter runs the whole gamut of human emotions.
It is always sincere, even in its own despite. No subterfuge, when subterfuge underlies it, is more easily unmasked. A man may smile and smile and be a villain, but villainy by the seeing eye can be infallibly detected beneath the smile.
A counterfeit laugh may be uttered, as counterfeit coin is uttered, but it does not ring true. Its baseness reveals itself to more senses than one.
Now for more than sixty years the recognized organ of British laughter has been the London Punch. The contemporary mood of John Bull towards Brother Jonathan has always voiced itself through the grinning lips of this chartered jester.