Gleanings From The Past #65

Yankee Doodle

A writer in Harper’s Magazine for the current month, seems to find his Dutch blood dancing to a new tune in the delight he experiences at a discovery, in recent researches into American literature, concerning the much-disputed origin of Yankee Doodle. Of course we cannot find it in our hearts to criticise the song in use among the Dutch laborers, “which trolls out thus”:

Yanker didel, doodel down,
Didel, dudel, lanter,
Tanke viver voover vown
Botermilk und Tanther.

Dwight’s Journal of Music, Vol. 10, October 4, 1868

A Warm House

“Is your house a warm one, landlord,” asked a man in search of a tenement.

“It ought to be; the painter gave it two coats recently!” was the reply.

The Australian Journal: A Weekly Record of Literature, Science, and the Arts, Vol. 3, September 28, 1867

First Impression

I must tell you a nice little story which is quite true and will amuse you. The King has taken lately to writing verse. Messieurs de Saint-Aignan and Dangeau are teaching him how to set about it. The other day he wrote a little madrigal, which he himself did not think much of. One morning he said to Maréchale de Gramont, ‘Monsieur le Maréchale, will you kindly read this little madrigal and see whether you have ever seen anything so pointless? Just because it is known that I have recently taken to liking verses, people bring me all kinds.’ Having read it the Marshal said, ‘Sire, your Majesty is an inspired judge of everything, and it is true that this is the silliest and most ridiculous madrigal I have ever read.’ The King burst out laughing and said, ‘Isn’t it true that whoever wrote this is a conceited puppy?’ ‘Sire, he cannot be called anything else.’ ‘That’s excellent,’ said the King. ‘I am delighted that you have spoken so candidly; I wrote it myself.’ ‘Oh, Sire, what treachery! Will your Majesty please give it back to me, I only glanced through it rapidly.’ ‘No, Monsieur le Maréchale, first impressions are always the most natural.’ The King laughed very much at this trick, but everyone thinks it is the most cruel thing one can do to an old courtier. Personally I always like reflecting about things, and I wish the King would think about this example and conclude how far he is from ever learning the truth.

— Madame de Sévigné, letter to Simon Arnauld, Dec. 1, 1664, quoted in Madame de Sévigné’s Selected Letters, 2007

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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

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