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HERE IN PART 2, we continue satirist extraordinaire Will Cuppy’s assessments of the world’s Greats, at least those so identified by posterity. 

Peter the Great. Cuppy explains, “Peter the Great was the son of Tsar Alexis Mikhaylovich Romanoff and Natalia Kirilovna Naryshkin, his second wife. They were very proud of him for a while. During his early childhood Peter gave promise of future intelligence.1

“1. So do most people.”

This and following illustrations by William Steig in The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody.

Cuppy continues, “His teacher, Nikita Moiseivich Zotoff, permitted him to develop his own individuality, and if you have ever met any such children I don’t have to tell you. Later on Zotoff was appointed court fool.2

“2. He had found himself.”

Catherine the Great. Cuppy says, “Her early years were very unhappy, and she decided she would have a good time if she ever got the chance. Later on, she overdid it a little.” 

About her marriage to Grand Duke Peter, heir to the throne and grandson of Peter the Great, Cuppy notes, “Russia makes strange bedfellows. Peter got into bed with his boots on, played with his collection of dolls for an hour or so, and told the Grand Duchess about his new mistresses.6

“6. He had no mistresses, really, but he thought he had.”

“In 1754,” Cuppy says, “Catherine had a baby boy who looked a lot like Sergei Saltykov, a young man with whom Catherine often discussed current events.”

“Then Saltykov moved away and Catherine got interested in Poland, or rather in Count Stanislaus Poniatowski. Her next baby was named Anna.10

“10. ‘God knows where she gets them!’ exclaimed Peter at a State banquet.”

“Her others,” Cuppy observes, “were a son called Bobrinsky and a couple of girls born after she had met Gregory Orlov, a handsome giant of the Guards. I don’t know whether she had any others or not, and I consider it none of my business.” 

Besides, as Cuppy writes in another footnote, “It never occurs to some people that there were millions of men in Russia that Catherine never even met.” 

Frederick the Great. Cuppy says of Frederick William I, father to our Frederick (there were scads of others): “He had fourteen children and he expected them to behave. He was the original go-and-see-what-they-are-doing-and-tell-them-to-stop parent.”

Cuppy says, “The future Frederick the Great wasn’t much like his father. In spite of all that could be done, he turned out to be cultured…. Then he took up the flute, and the next step was—guess what? He became a poet. His poems were silly, even for poems.”

On this, Cuppy relates, “Monsieur Voltaire, who had been asked for a testimonial, once wrote to Frederick the Great, ‘The whole poem is worthy of you.’ Improve upon that, will you?”

Nor can anyone improve on Will Cuppy. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022

One comment on “WILL CUPPY GREATS    PART 2

  1. Bill
    August 14, 2022

    Thank you for reminding me of Will Cuppy!
    Somehow, he sort of fell off my brainscape an embarrassingly long time ago. This has been rectified.
    Although Cuppy is inimitable, satire is fortunately alive and well.An example:
    ” If you got a dollar for every time Trump claimed something as fake news, you might just have as much money as Trump has not paid in taxes.” (O.Hutcinson & I. Newhouse).

    Many thanks

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