Gleanings From The Past #12



The ones who seek their happiness
By buying cars and clothes and rings,
Don’t seem to know that empty lives
Are just as empty filled with things.

— Bullet [Fredericksburg, Virginia], May 1, 1936

Mind Your Punctuation

‘Mind your stops’ is a good rule in writing as well as in riding. So in public speaking, it is a great thing to know when to stop and where to stop. The third edition of a treatise on English Punctuation has been recently published, with all needful rules for writers, but none for speakers. The author furnishes the following example of the unintelligible, produced by the want of pauses in the right places:

Every lady in this land
Hath twenty nails upon each hand;
Five and twenty on hands and feet.
And this is true, without deceit.

If the present points be removed, and others inserted, the true meaning of the passage will at once appear:

Every lady in this land
Hath twenty nails: upon each hand
Five; and twenty on hands and feet.
And this is true without deceit.

— Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, June 1855

The Merchant and the Beggar

An English merchant in this [Madrid, Spain] neighborhood, having no money in his pocket, generously gave a handful of choice cigars to a beggar who approached him: the poorest Spaniard will be more gratified with a cigar than with money, so far as his personal feelings are concerned, as it is a compliment. Three years afterward, this merchant was seized near his country house by a band of robbers. While they were settling his ransom they were joined by an absent comrade, who instantly dismounted, and, approaching the Englishman, whom he had at once recognized, saluted him, and asked if he did not remember having given, at such a place and time, a handful of cigars to a beggar; then, turning to his comrades, he said, ” This is my benefactor—whoever lays a hand on him lays it on me.”

— David Urquhart, The Pillars of Hercules; or A Narrative of Travels in Spain and Morocco in 1848, 1850

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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

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