Gleanings From The Past #47



Alfieri, often before he wrote, prepared his mind by listening to music: “Almost all my tragedies were sketched in my mind either in the act of hearing music or a few hours after” — a circumstance which has been recorded of many others. Lord Bacon had music often played in the room adjoining his study: Milton listened to his organ for his solemn inspiration, and music was even necessary to Warburton. The symphonies which awoke in the poet sublime emotions, might have composed the inventive mind of the great critic in the visions of his theoretical mysteries. A celebrated French preacher, Bourdalon or Masillon, was once found playing on a violin, to screw his mind up to the pitch, preparatory to his sermon, which, within a short interval, he was to preach before the court. Curran’s favourite mode of meditation was with his violin in his hand; for hours together would he forget himself, running voluntaries over the strings, while his imagination in collecting its tones was opening all his faculties for the coming emergency at the bar.

— Isaac Disraeli, The Literary Character, 1828

A Philosophical Inquiry

“What becomes of all the pins?” says a paper involving some singular point of manufacturing economy. It appears from Professor Parrington that twenty millions of pins are daily manufactured in this country. These get into general circulation, and, after a time, entirely disappear; but the remark able fact is, that, like the swallows, nobody knows where they go to. It is proved that, were it possible to recall these lost articles, a quantity might be collected sufficient to build the projected foot-bridge at Hunger ford Market, and the residue might be cast into one enormous pin — which should be erected as a column in any part of London best suited for its elevation — and to be called Victoria’s Pin, in opposition to Cleopatra’s Needle at Alexandria. There could be a winding staircase in the interior, with a saloon at its head; and it might serve as a landmark, in stormy weather, for the fourpenny steam-boats plying between Vauxhall and London Bridge.

Punch, Vol. 4, 1843

Triple Pun

I know of only one triple pun that is also an accurate touché. A visitor who came in upon the wife of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree while she was giving her daughter a geography lesson, asked the child: ‘What is the capital of the Rothschilds?’ Answered the mother: ‘Bering Straits.’ (The Baring family, it is perhaps permissible to add, were the great rival English bankers.)

— Louis Kronenberger, The Cutting Edge, 1970

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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

5 thoughts on “Gleanings From The Past #47

  1. Music has been found to enhance cognition and learning. My sister, an artist, created an “Artistic Inspirations” playlist for herself for the very purpose of kick-starting her creativity. Depending on the type, music can encourage productivity for me too. (I say “depending on the type”, because, while instrumental works well, listening to a song whose lyrics I like will not help me focus regression models any more. I’ll drop my work and sing along.)

    I suspect that the Borrowers swiped all the pins.

    Liked by 1 person

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