Gleanings from the Past #70


Plural of Égal

Gustav Masson, the late genial French Master of Harrow School, once told me that he asked one of his class one day the following question:

“What is the plural of égal?”

The boy addressed looked mischievously at his tutor — whose good nature every Harrow boy could depend on — and with eyes sparkling with merriment said:

“Two gals.”

— W. H. Howe, English Wit and Humour, 1898

John Magee

John Magee, formerly the printer of the Dublin Evening Post, was full of shrewdness and eccentricity. Several prosecutions were instituted against him by the Government, and many “keen encounters of the tongue” took place on these occasions between him and John Scott, Lord Clonmel, who was at the period Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. In addressing the Court in his own defence, Magee had occasion to allude to some public character, who was better known by a familiar designation. The official gravity of Clonmel was all disturbed; and he, with bilious asperity, reproved the printer, by saying, “Mr. Magee, we allow no nicknames in this Court.” “Very well, John Scott,” was the reply.

Leicester Chronicle or Commercial and Leicestershire [Leicester, England], November 10, 1827

The Toad and the Monkey

In Madrid, a newspaper is published under the title of “The Toad of the Monkey” and self-described to be “A Journal offensive, revolutionary, and disgusting, edited by a brutal society, and addressed to brutes.”

Sunbury American [Sunbury, Pennsylvania], March 11, 1843

The Cynic

The cynic is one who never sees a quality in a man, and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light, mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game. The cynic puts all human actions into two classes—openly bad and secretly bad.

All virtue and generosity and disinterestedness are merely the appearance of good; but selfish at the bottom. He holds that no man does a good thing except for profit. The effect of his conversation upon your feelings is to chill and sear them; to send you away sour and morose. His criticisms and hints fall indiscriminately upon every lovely thing, like frost upon flowers.

— Henry Ward Beecher, Lectures to Young Men: On Various Important Subjects, 1856

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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

12 thoughts on “Gleanings from the Past #70

  1. The line about the cynic — “The cynic puts all human actions into two classes—openly bad and secretly bad” — reminds me of a great line from the novelist Flannery O’Connor, who once said: “I suppose I divide people into two classes: the Irksome and the Non-Irksome without regard to sex. Yes, and there are the Medium Irksome and the Rare Irksome.”


  2. monkey think it much easier for anyone = cynical instead of = idealistic because behavior of general human critter make it so. but monkey know many decent individual human critter who = good at heart & so monkey not yet ready to give up on human species.

    Liked by 1 person

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