Gleanings From The Past #60


Lord Wentworth gave some very cavalier advice to one going upon a diplomatic mission : he was up to the system of courts, or he would not have committed himself by such a satire. ” To secure yourself, and serve your country, you must at all times, and upon all occasions, speak the truth; for (said be) you will never be believed; and by this means your truth will both secure yourself if you can be questioned, and put those you deal with, who question your veracity, to a loss in all their disquisitions and undertakings.”

Lloyd’s State Worthies, 1670, quoted in The Recreative Review, or Eccentricities of Literature and Life, Vol. 2, 1822


Your last letter was a beauty as far as its length but it was vilely spelt. I don’t think I have ever seen quite so many mistakes in so few lines. Howe wood you lick it if I rote you a leter al ful of mispeld wurds? I no yu know kwite well howe to spel onli yu wonte taik the trubble to thinck!

— Rudyard Kipling, letter to his son, October 8, 1908

Donkey Court

An extraordinary scene took place on Saturday last at a small village within three miles of Middleton. A half-witted fellow named James Driscott had cruelly ill-used his donkey. He was told by several of the villagers that he would be brought up before the magistrates and severely punished; but his informants said that if he consented to do penance for his inhuman conduct, no information should be laid against him. Discott gladly agreed to the proposed terms. The donkey was placed in the cart, and its owner, with the collar round his neck, was constrained to drag his four-footed servant through the village. The scene is described by a local reporter as being the most laughter-moving one he had ever witnessed.

Illustrated Police News, January 22, 1876

Impromptu Tongue Twister

Bill Nucker once told me that the sober response to a young wife’s obvious query about the small tear in his trousers acquired from a see-saw whilst scooping up the small son who had just fallen, giggling, from it in startlement at a response to his ocarina playing from a passing bird was: No, ma’am, this is a teetotaler’s teeter-totter ‘tater-tooter tweeter twitter titter tottered tot toter tatter.

— Charles W. Bostick, Word Ways, February 1977


About Edmark M. Law

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. I blog at You can find me on Twitter @EdmarkLaw and Facebook. My email is
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9 Responses to Gleanings From The Past #60

  1. Whatever you post, each is a gem within itself. All something to attempt to remember at the appropriate time. Loved reading each one.


  2. KD says:

    Rudyard Kipling’s letter is one I may have to write to a few adult students of mine! 😉


  3. I like Lord Wentworth’s advice. 🙂


  4. anne leueen says:

    I love the donkey court! And also Kipling’s use of “vilely”. The word “vile” has such a snap to much stronger than just “bad” or ” not good” VILE! love it.


  5. masercot says:

    There’s an old folk tale about a slow-witted teenager who tries to take the advice of the people he meets but out of context. By the end of the story, he is carrying a jack-ass on his shoulders and a princess sees this and laughs for the first time in years. They marry of course because women like a man who can make them laugh and, when necessary, move their ass…

    Liked by 1 person

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