Judge Haliburton, Thomas Chandler Haliburton, has about vanished from the memories of most Americans as one of the earliest of our humorists; yet he was the “Mark Twain” of the early nineteenth century.
Born in Nova Scotia in 1796, trained for the bar, and raised to the bench at the age of 32, he began sending a series of literary sketches to a Nova Scotian paper under the pen name, “Sam Slick.”
Sam, according to these sketches, was a Yankee clockmaker and peddler, with an aptitude for quaint drollery, subtle flattery (which he called “soft sawder”), and a keen insight into human nature.
It is in one of these yarns that Sam Slick, finding the need to describe someone as even poorer than Job, who, you may recall, had been stripped of all his possessions by Satan, hit upon the expression, “as poor as Job’s turkey.”
He explained this by saying that Job’s turkey was so poor that he had but one feather to his tail and had to lean against the fence to gobble.