Some Weird Index Cross-References

The Monthly Magazine for June 1801 talked about a weird and curious cross-references found in William Hawkins’ Treatise of the Pleas of the Crown (1795, 7th ed.). The magazine observed that “a plain, unlettered man is led to suspect that the writer of the volume and the writer of the index are playing at cross purposes.” Here are some […]

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Gleanings from the Past #90

The Persistence of Memory What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an […]

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Mark Twain’s Plan to Make a Bestseller

When Mark Twain published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876, a Canadian publisher pirated it which negatively affected its sales in the US and overseas. The bootlegged edition of the books proved to be more popular due to th8eir cheap price. Twain learned from this so he wanted to make sure that this wouldn’t […]

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Advice to Book Borrowers (Book Inscriptions)

The following are some book inscriptions found on old books warning book borrowers to return the books that they borrow: Neither blemish this book, or the leaves double down, Nor lend it to each idle friend in the town; Return it when read; or, if lost, please supply Another as good to the mind and […]

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Gleanings from the Past #84

Legally Speaking Dear Ned, Soon after I received my Acme pencil (11 cents), it rolled off the desk and on to the floor. Upon retrieving it, I hit my head on the desk. Can I hold Acme responsible? Boiling Mad Dear Boiling, This is what’s known as an open-and-shut case. If you don’t sue them, […]

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Short-Term Memory

Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)  once boasted about his amazing memory prowess to his friend Bennet Langton (1736 – 1801). As a demonstration, he said that he can recite an entire chapter of The Natural History of Iceland, a 1758 translation of Niels Horrebow’s work. When asked to prove his claim, he said: Chap. LXXII. Concerning […]

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Peculiar Index Cross-References

The index section of William Hawkins’ Treatise of Pleas of the Crown, a treatise on England’s criminal law published in 1716, contains some quaint and amusing cross-references: Assault, see Son. Chastity, see Homicide. Convicts, see Clergy. Death, see Appeal. King, see Treason. Shop, see Burglary. Sickness, see Bail.  

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The Ironic Tale of Censoring a Book About Censorship (Fahrenheit 451)

Daniel Radosh, a senior writer of Daily Show, related on his Twitter account in 2016 that his son’s school required parents to sign a permission slip before their children could be allowed to read Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451: tfw your kid's school makes you sign a permission slip so he can read Fahrenheit 451 📚 […]

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Benjamin Franklin’s Epitaph and Its Potential Inspiration

Benjamin Franklin The following is the epitaph of Benjamin Franklin. It was written by himself several years before his death on April 17, 1790: THE BODY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, PRINTER, (LIKE THE COVER OF AN OLD BOOK, ITS CONTENTS TORN OUT, AND STRIPT OF ITS LETTERING AND GILDING,) LIES HERE, FOOD FOR WORMS; YET THE […]

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Gleanings from the Past #74

A Broken Leg and Some Books (1874) H. G. Wells My leg was broken for me when I was between seven and eight. Probably I am alive to-day and writing this autobiography instead of being a worn-out, dismissed and already dead shop assistant, because my leg was broken. The agent of good fortune was “young […]

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