Gleanings From The Past #66


We Regret the Error

An Irish editor, apologizing for a rather serious blunder in his paper, said: “I never saw the manuscript till it was in print.”

The St Louis Republic [St. Louis, Missouri], April 28, 19011

 The Will of a Virtuoso

I, NICHOLAS GIMCRACK, being in sound health of mind, but in great weakness of body, do, by this my last will and testament, bestow my worldly goods and chattels in manner following:

Imprimis. — To my dear wife,
One box of butterflies,
One drawer of shells,
A female skeleton,
A dried cockatrice.

Item.—To my daughter Elizabeth,
My receipt for preserving dead caterpillars,
As also my preparations of winter Maydew and embryo-pickle.

Item. — To my little daughter Fanny,
Three crocodile’s eggs,
And upon the birth of her first child, if she marries with her mother’s consent, 12
The nest of a humming-bird.

Item. — To my eldest brother, as an acknowledgment for the lands he has vested in my son Charles, I bequeath
My last year’s collection of grasshoppers.

Item. — To his daughter Susanna, being his only child, I bequeath my
English weeds pasted on royal paper,
With my large folio of Indian cabbage.

Having fully provided for my nephew Isaac, by making over to him some years since,
A horned scarabæus,
The skin of a rattlesnake, and
The mummy of an Egyptian king,

I make no further provision for him in this my will.

My eldest son, John, having spoke disrespectfully of his little sister, whom I keep by me in spirits of wine, and in many other instances behaved himself undutifully toward me, I do disinherit, and wholly cut off from any part of this my personal estate, by giving him a single cockle-shell.

To my second son, Charles, I give and bequeath all my flowers, plants, minerals, mosses, shells, pebbles, fossils, beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and vermin, not above specified; as also all my monsters, both wet and dry; making the said Charles whole and sole executor of this my last will and testament: he paying, or causing to be paid, the aforesaid legacies within the space of six months after my decease. And I do hereby revoke all other wills whatsoever by me formerly made.

— James Addison, The Tatler, Vol. 4, August 26, 1710

A Punned Epigraph

On Mr. Alex Speid.

Time flies with speed With speed Speid’s fled,
To the Dark Regions of the dead;
With Speed Consumptions Sorrows flew,
And stopt Speids speed for Speid it slew.
Miss Speid beheld with Frantic woe,
Poor Speid with Speed turn pale as Snow,
And beat her breast, and tore her hair,
For Speid, Poor Speid was all her care,
Lets learn of Speid with Speid to flee,
From Sin since we like Speid must die.

— A. Colville, Dundee Delineated; Or, A History and Description of that Town, its Institutions, Manufactures and Commerce, 1922

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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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