Gleanings From The Past #35


Lines Worked on a Hearth Rug

Fair one, take heed how you advance,
Nor tempt your own undoing;
If you’re too forward, fearful Chance
A Spark may prove your Ruin.

The New-York Mirror, December 27, 1823

How to Correspond Secretly

Place two sheets of paper of exact size one upon the other; cut holes through them both with great nicety, of several sizes; sometimes the size of what you think sufficiently large for two or three words, sometimes more, sometimes less.
Prick holes with a pin at each corner through both sheets, and give one sheet to your friend to whom you wish to write. When you write lay your cut paper on a plain new sheet, and putting pins through the holes in each corner that it may not move, write your mind in the vacancies you have made ; then take off your cut paper, and fill up the intermissions with any nonsense you please. When your friend receives this letter, let him lay his cut paper over it, putting pins in the corner holes, that it may exactly fit, and then the nonsense is hidden, and he reads your letter.

— Andrew White Tuer, The Follies and Fashions of Our Grandfathers (1807), 1886

Where in the World?

A letter with the following curious superscription on it was put in the post office of Balbriggen.

To Mr. John Winters

Newtown Gore-County.

Leitrim, to be forwarded to Terence Sheanan, or to John Owen, or Mary Sheanan, all brothers, in Corrocopel, or elsewhere, near or about Newtown Gore, or somewhere else in that county!

— The Ladies’ Weekly Miscellany, Vol. 11, May 5, 1810

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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

One thought on “Gleanings From The Past #35

  1. I was surprised the first item, the poem was written in 1823. While reading I was thinking it was medieval with its theme of knowing your place and chance. All that was missing was a reference to the wheel of fortune. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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