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Squib

SQUIB, supposed to be derived from the German word schieben, to push or shove forward with a sliding movement, the name for a projected kind of firework that is flung out of a groove and breaks with a flash and a clatter. Hence, in the literary sense, a squib is a slight satirical composition put forth on an occasion; and it is intended that it should make a noise by its explosion, not by the possession of any permanent importance. Steele says, in the Taller, that " squibs are those who in the common phrase of the world are call'd libellers, lampooners and pamphleteers," showing that, at the beginning of the 18th century, the man who composed the satire, as well as the satire itself, was called a squib. Swift speaks of the rapidity with which these little literary fireworks flew about from place to place, and he himself was a proficient in the making of noisy squibs. Perhaps the best type of a squib in English literature is Gray's Candidate, which was written and circulated among the electors in 1764, when Lord Sandwich was canvassing for the office of high-steward of the university of Cambridge. The object of this poem was, by ridicule and defamation, to injure Lord Sandwich's prospects of success. When once the election was over the verses served no further purpose, and they have survived simply in consequence of their fluent wit and of the reputation of the great poet who composed them. (See also LAMPOON.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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