Gleanings From The Past #14



[Nicolas Boileau-]Despréaux, in composing poetry, made his second verse before the first; and considered it as a very great secret in the art of [rhyming], which gave energy and meaning to the verse. Boileau used to relate, that he communicated this mystery to [Jean] Racine, adding, “and so I have taught Racine to [rhyme] with difficulty.”

— Jacques D. Du Perron et al., The French Anas Vol. 2: Charpentier. Santeuil. Colomies. Scaliger. Menage. Boileau, 1805

Nature’s Compass

Arngrim Jonas [tells] us, that when Flock, a famous Norwegian navigator, was going to set out from Shetland for Iceland, then called Gardarsholm, he took on board some crows, because the mariner’s compass was not yet in use. When he thought that he had made a considerable part of his way, he threw up one of his crows, which, seeing land astern, flew to it; whence Flock, concluding that he was nearer to Shetland (perhaps rather Faroe) than any other land, kept on his course for some time, and then sent out another crow, which seeing no land at all, returned to the vessel. At last, having run the greatest part of his Way, a third Crow was sent out by him, which, seeing land [ahead], immediately flew for it; and Flock, following his guide, fell in with the east end of the Island. Such was the simple mode of steering their course, practiced by these bold navigators of the stormy Northern Ocean. The ancient natives of Taprobané (Ceylon) used the same expedient when skimming along the tranquil surface of the Indian Ocean.

The Naval Chronicle, Vol. 16, 1806


Echo is to the ear what recollection is to the mind; each brings back the past, restores lost enjoyment, augments our satisfactions, and enriches our mental store. The man of mind has memory’s echo ever at command; his tongue can, after a lapse of time, recover again sweet sounds; his declamation can revive eloquence of another age; the books which he has perused with attention, live fresh in his remembrance, and, like echo, speak to him invisibly, and present themselves again to his view.

Bow Bells: A Weekly Magazine of Original Literature, Vol. 18, February 12, 1873

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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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