Gleanings From The Past #40



Two lawyers, when a knotty case was o’er,
Shook hands, and were as good friends as before.
“Zounds!” says the losing client, “how came you
To be such good friends, who were such foes just now?”
“Thou fool,” says one, ” we lawyers, though so keen.
Like shears, ne’er cut ourselves, but—what’s between.”

— The Lancaster Law Review, Vol. 16, 1899


The productions of a great genius, with many lapses and inadvertencies, are infinitely preferable to the works of an inferior kind of author which are scrupulously exact, and conformable to all the rules of correct writing.

— Joseph Addison, “A Critique Upon Milton’s Paradise Lost”, A Familiar Explanation of the Poetical Works of Milton, 1762

Milton’s Blindness

In the numerous imitations, and still more numerous traces of older poetry which we perceive in Paradise Lost, it is always to be kept in mind that he had only his recollection to rely upon. His blindness seems to have been complete before 1654; and I scarcely think that he had begun his poem, before the anxiety and trouble into which the public strife of the commonwealth and the restoration had thrown him gave leisure for immortal occupations. Then the remembrance of early reading came over his dark and lonely path like the moon emerging from the clouds.

Then it was that the muse was truly his; not only as she poured her creative inspiration into his mind, but as the daughter of Memory, coming with fragments of ancient melodies, the voice of Euripides, and Homer, and Tasso; sounds that he had loved in youth, and treasured up for the solace of his age.

They who, though not enduring the calamity of Milton, have known what it is, when afar from books, in solitude or in travelling, or in the intervals of worldly care, to feed on poetical recollections, to murmur over the beautiful lines whose cadence has long delighted their ear, to recall the sentiments and images which retain by association the charm that early years once gave them — they will feel the inestimable value of committing to the memory.

— Henry Hallam, Introduction to the Literature of Europe, 1839

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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

8 thoughts on “Gleanings From The Past #40

  1. Addison’s quote reminds me of the saying, “Rules are meant to be broken!” I love writing stories but sometimes I think I fall into “scrupulously exact, and conformable to all the rules of correct writing”, exchanging grammatical accuracy for whimsical creativity. (Alas, the dual blessings and woes of a grammar police.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that this also has some parallels with what Beethoven said, “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” It doesn’t matter if your writing is not perfect if you have the passion as it will show. Otherwise, your writings will be a perfect definition of a dull and “black and white” writing which is suitable for writing complex contracts and bureaucratic policies.


      1. All good points. I’ve heard/read that Beethoven quote before, but forgot its exact wording. I shall tuck it away in my vault of inspirational, conversation-friendly quotes. If anyone knew about passion in art, it was Beethoven.


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