Gleanings From The Past #52


I wish nine-tenths of the pictures that have been painted had never been preserved; it is such a nuisance having to go and see them.

Ellesmere, in Arthur Helps, Friends in Council, 1854


There is an association in men’s minds between dullness and wisdom, amusement and folly, which has a very powerful influence in decision upon character, and is not overcome without considerable difficulty. The reason is that the outwardsigns of a dull man and a wise man are the same, and so are the outward signs of a frivolous man and a witty man; and we are not to expect that the majority will be disposed to look to much more than the outward sign. I believe the fact to be that wit is very seldom the only eminent quality in the mind of any man; it is commonly accompanied by many other talents of every description, and ought to be considered as a strong evidence of a fertile and superior understanding.

— Sydney Smith, cited in The Ladies’ Repository, September 1858


One of the most famous cat-and-bird friendships on record was that between Caruso, a canary which belonged to President Coolidge, and Timmie, a black-and-white cat owned by Bascom Timmons, a Washington newspaperman. They became acquainted when Timmons took his cat to the White House, and Coolidge eventually sent the canary to Timmons’ home to live with the cat. After that they spent an hour or two every day together, the canary walking up and down the cat’s back or resting between his paws.

— Roger Butterfield, Life, April 22, 1946


A famous artist once painted an angel with six toes.

‘Who ever saw an angel with six toes?’ people inquired.

‘Who ever saw one with less?’ was the counter-question.

Life, June 12, 1890

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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

9 thoughts on “Gleanings From The Past #52

  1. I loved these little stories and quotes … I especially liked the canary story having had two canaries in my life. Though I loved those little birds, they were always wary of me … can’t imagine how they would deal with a cat, but you never know, maybe a cat is preferable to a human. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like the thought that “the outward signs of a dull man and a wise man are the same.” Outward signs only speak so much of a person. This goes back to the typical maxim “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

    As for the cat-bird relationship: I owned a cat once who liked to snag birds out of the air and present them to my parents as gifts. He didn’t kill any, but I still don’t imagine any bird would feel comfortable perching on his back or sitting between his paws.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s a mural depicting the angel’s visitation to Mary in the chapel at Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, Texas. The angel has six toes, even though the local man who was the model for the angel doesn’t. I’m less surprised by the six-toed angel than by the use of “less” rather than “fewer” in the quotation.

    Liked by 3 people

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