Gleanings From The Past #61

Reasons for the Delay

The editor of the American Mechanic has encountered trials unknown to ordinary men. Hearken unto his wailings. “Owing to the facts, that our papermaker disappointed us, the mails failed, and deprived us of our exchanges, a Dutch pedlar stole our scissors, the rats ran off with our paste, and the devils went to the circus, while the editor was at home tending babies, our paper is unavoidedly delayed beyond the proper period of publication.”

The Lancaster Gazette, January 31, 1852

Art and Nature

A lecturer addressing a Hampshire audience, contended, with tiresome prolixity, that Art could not improve Nature; until one of his hearers, losing all patience, set the room in a roar, by exclaiming, “how would you look without your wig?”

The New Joe Miller Jest Book, 1865

Character Creation

I never deliberately sat down and ‘created’ a character in my life. I begin to write incidents out of real life. One of the persons I write about begins to talk this way and one another, and pretty soon I find that these creatures of the imagination have developed into characters, and have for me a distinct personality. These are not ‘made,’ they just grow naturally out of the subject. That was the way Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and other characters came to exist. I couldn’t to save my life deliberately sit down and plan out a character according to diagram. In fact, every book I ever wrote just wrote itself. I am really too lazy to sit down and plan and fret to ‘create’ a ‘character.’ If anybody wants any character ‘creating,’ he will have to go somewhere else for it. I’m not in the market for that. It’s too much like industry.

— Mark Twain, New York American, May 26, 1907


A psychologist at a girl’s college asked the members of his class to compliment any girl wearing red. Within a week the cafeteria was a blaze of red. None of the girls were aware of being influenced, although they did notice that the atmosphere was more friendly. A class at the University of Minnesota is reported to have conditioned their psychology professor a week after he told them about learning without awareness. Every time he moved toward the right side of the room, they paid more attention and laughed more uproariously at his jokes, until apparently they were able to condition him right out the door.

— W. Lambert Gardiner, Psychology: A Story of a Search, 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

11 thoughts on “Gleanings From The Past #61

  1. i like that word gleanings.
    i saw it first on the christian post website.
    but reading articles on there is no longer free, it seems.
    interesting post!


  2. I agree with Mark Twain. Whenever I try to buckle down and create a character, the character comes out trite, lacking personality and purpose. Then, when I’m not expecting a character to appear, it presents itself. This often happens when I’m just writing nonsense out of boredom or fooling around with an old toy. In my sister’s case, she’s best at “creating” characters when she is most tired and when she doesn’t feel an obligation to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From The Blues Brothers movie: “I ran out of gas! I got a flat tire! I didn’t have change for cab fare! I lost my tux at the cleaners! I locked my keys in the car! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!”

    Liked by 3 people

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