Gleanings From The Past #11



The Hon. Henry Erskine is as distinguished for that species of wit called punning, as George Selwyn was formerly in England. — “Punning is the lowest sort of wit,” said a gentleman to him one day; “It is so,” said he, “and is, therefore, the foundation of all wit!”

Sporting Magazine, Vol. 31, 1808


As a consequence of foresight, some of the commonest emotions of human nature are unknown on Mars. They for whom the future has no mystery can, of course, know neither hope nor fear. Moreover, every one being assured what he shall attain to and what not, there can be no such thing as rivalship, or emulation, or any sort of competition in any respect; and therefore all the brood of heart-burnings and hatreds, engendered on Earth by the strife of man with man, is unknown to the people of Mars, save from the study of our planet.

— Edward Bellamy, “The Blindman’s World”, The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 58, November 1886

Old Bill

“Old Bill,” dead in London, was a carrier pigeon. He carried messages during the first year of the big war from British army and air forces in France and Belgium back to London and lost a leg. Brought back to England by an invalid soldier, he enjoyed life for many years, and now has laudatory “obituary notices” in English papers.

“Old Bill” flew back and forth in the big war and lost a leg without ever knowing why he was flying or why he had to lose that leg.

But “Old Bill” was no more ignorant than a majority of the soldiers over whose heads he flew on errands that he did not understand.

The Evening Review [East Liverpool, Ohio], June 21, 1934

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is

6 thoughts on “Gleanings From The Past #11

  1. My father was a fan of Samuel Johnson. There was a print with his face on it on our staircase and when I would be carried up to bed as a small child I would point to it and say: “No passion for clean linen.” I had no idea what that really meant but my father had told me it was one of Johnson’s sayings. Don’t know if you can attest to that and it has nothing whatsoever to do with punning. My Father and I loved punning and my Mother who was driven to distraction by this had a “pun box” and we would have to pay 10 cents into the box for every pun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Samuel Johnson has made great contributions to literature. He’s right up there with his comtemporaries Swift and Pope.

      That quotation was quoted in Jame Boswell’s (Johnson’s biographer) “Life of Samuel Johnson” in reference of Johnson’s disregard to personal hygiene.

      Oh that’s interesting :)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was Samuel Johnson who said that I believe. He was known as a critic of punning. For instance, in the preface of his annotated plays of Shakespeare, he criticized Shakespeare’s fondness of using puns in his works:

      “A quibble is to Shakespeare, what luminous vapours are to the traveller; he follows it at all adventures, it is sure to lead him out of his way, and sure to engulf him in the mire. It has some malignant power over his mind, and its fascinations are irresistible. Whatever be the dignity or profundity of his disquisition, whether he be enlarging knowledge or exalting affection, whether he be amusing attention with incidents, or enchaining it in suspense, let but a quibble spring up before him, and he leaves his work unfinished. A quibble is the golden apple for which he will always turn aside from his career, or stoop from his elevation. A quibble, poor and barren as it is, gave him such delight, that he was content to purchase it, by the sacrifice of reason, propriety and truth. A quibble was to him the fatal Cleopatra for which he lost the world, and was content to lose it.”

      Liked by 1 person

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