Gleanings From The Past #41

A Description of Melancholy

But o’er the twilight groves and dusky caves,
Long-sounding aisles, and intermingled graves,
Black Melancholy sits, and round her throws
A death-like silence, and a dread repose.
Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene;
Shades every flow’r, and darkens ev’ry green;
Deepens the murmur of the falling floods,
And breathes a browner horror on the woods.

— Alexander Pope, “Epistle from Eloisa to Abelard”, cited in Joseph Warton, An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope, Vol. 1, 1756

A Tale from the East

There is an Eastern story told of a person who taught his parrot to repeat only the words, “What doubt is there of that?” He carried it to the market for sale, fixing the price at one hundred rupees. A Mogul asked the parrot, “Are you worth one hundred rupees?” The parrot answered, “What doubt is there of that?” The Mogul was delighted, and bought the bird. He soon found out that this was all it could say. Ashamed now of his bargain, he said to himself, “I was a fool to buy this bird.” The parrot exclaimed as usual, “What doubt is there of that?”

The London Journal, Vol. 29, February 19, 1859

Beauty Tax

“Dean Swift proposed to tax beauty, and to leave every lady to rate her own charms; he said the tax would be cheerfully paid and very productive.”

— Frederick Saunders, Salad for the Social, 1856

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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

13 thoughts on “Gleanings From The Past #41

  1. Nice mix. I like to see that Pope isn’t forgotten. I mean, The Rape of the Lock (think genitals shaped like a key… horrifying) wasn’t what I expected, but after I got over that, it turned out to be pretty delightful…

    Liked by 1 person

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