Show All

  • 2011
  • 2010
    • November
      • Doctors and teachers

        Athenaeus, in Wise Men at Dinner says: If there were no doctors, there would be nothing more stupid than teachers.

    • August
      • Demotivational quote from Epictetus
        You ought to possess your whole body as a poor mule loaded, as long as it is possible, as long as you are allowed. But if there be a press, and a soldier should lay hold of it, let it go, do not resist, nor murmur; if you do, you will receive blows, and nevertheless you will also lose the mule.
      • Make him laugh
        When Will Rogers was being taken to the White House to meet President Calvin Coolidge, he was cautioned not to try to be funny because the President had no sense of humor. The undaunted Rogers bet that he could have Coolidge laughing within 20 seconds. When the formal introduction was made, "Mr

    • April
      • Cossack Logic
        The empress Elizabeth of Russia during the war with Sweden commanded the old hetman of the Cossacks to come to court on his way to Finland. " If the emperor, your father," said the hetman, "had taken my advice, your majesty would not now have been annoyed by the Swedes." "Wh

      • Matters of religion
        Nell Gwynn, a new mistress of King Charles II, was presented with a coach which apparently used to belong to someone else. When Nelly was insulted in her coach at Oxford by the mob calling her "a Catholic whore", after mistaking her for the Duchess of Portsmouth, she looked out of the wind

    • March
  • 2009
    • May
      • Ted Williams - baseball player for the Boston Red Sox
        Ted Williams had a reputation for having a disagreeable personality. Once when he was checking into a hotel under the false name of "G.C. Luther" the clerk asked him if he was really Ted Williams. Williams denied it and they went on to have a pleasant conversation about fishing. The clerk

      • Mae West-American actress (1930's)
        One friend of Mae's was overwhelmed when she saw a string of pearls around her neck."Goodness, Mae," she responded, "where did you get those pearls?" "Nevermind," countered Mae, "but you can bet goodness had nothing to do with it."

        When asked

      • Xerxes--King of Persia
        While retreating from Greece aboard a Phonecian ship, a dangerous storm blew up. The ship was overloaded with Persians and it looked as though the ship would sink. Xerxes asked the pilot if there was anyway to survive and was told that the ship's load must be lighted substantially. On hearing t

      • Prince Felix Yusupov--conspirator in the murder of Rasputin in 1916
        MGM produced a film called Rasputin and the Empress. They sought to avoid legal action by Prince Yusupov, so they changed his name in the film to Prince Chegodieff. Surprisingly, Prince Yusupov sued the film company for neglecting to give him credit for his role in Rasputin's murder. He won th

      • Mark Twain's pious remark
        Once a notoriously tough businessman told Mark Twain, "Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top." Disgusted, Twain replied, "I have a better idea. You could stay at home in Boston and keep them.&

      • President Truman and his economists
        Tired of conflicting views from economists, Harry expressed his frustration and joked, "All my economists say, 'on one hand...on the other.' Give me a one-handed economist!"

      • Leon Trotsky--Russian Revolutionary
        Having emigrated to Austria during World War I, Leon Trotsky spent much of his time playing chess at the Cafe Central. Many viewed the Russian as docile, quiet man who kept to himself. In March of 1917, when told that revolution had broken out in Russia, the Austrian foreign minister could not belie

      • Prince Philip-Husband of Queen Elizabeth II

        Early on in their marriage, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were crossing the water to Vancouver Island in Canada. The weather was unsettled and the ship was rocking violent. Just as a young petty officer arrived in the royal suite, the ship lurched and the tray of tea cakes he was holdin

      • Leo Tolstoy - practical pacifism.
        Tolstoy was a great pacifist and was once lecturing on the need to be nonresistant and nonviolent towards all creatures. Someone in the audience responded by asking what should be done if one was attacked in the woods by a tiger. Tolstoy responded, "Do the best you can. It doesn't happen v

      • Franklin Delano Roosevelt and tedious small talk
        Roosevelt was often bored by the tedious small talk that was required of him at social functions. He often felt as if those with whom he conversed were seldom paying attention to what was said. To prove his point, sometimes Roosevelt would begin a conversation by saying, "I murdered my grandmot

      • Raphael (Italian Artist and Architect) responds to criticism.
        Once while working on a frescoe in the Vatican, Raphael became irritated by the constant criticism coming from a couple of observing cardinals. One complained that, "The face of the apostle Paul is far too red". Raphael answered back, "He blushes to see into whose hands the church has

      • Edgar Allan Poe: gross neglect of duty
        In 1831, Edgar Allan Poe was allegedly expelled from West Point for neglecting the dress code during public parade. It is said that he mocked the dress instructions by appearing naked, with a rifle over his shoulder, wearing a white belt and gloves. He was released from the academy for "gross n

    • April
      • College Bloopers
        Non Campus Mentis is an excellent collection of "bloopers, malapropisms, revisionist hypotheses, and creative interpretations of history" from actual student papers. This could be a great gift for a history teacher. Here are some excepts:

        History, a record of things left behind

      • Lincoln on the use of words in historic speeches
        Government Printer Defrees, when one of the President's messages was being printed, was a good deal disturbed by the use of the term "sugar- coated," and finally went to Mr. Lincoln about it.

        Their relations to each other being of the most intimate character, he told the Pr

      • Death bed joke (Heinrich Heine)
        As Heinrich Heine, a famous German poet, laid on his death bed, an officious priest advised him to make his peace with God lest he die unforgiven. " I am not worried," Heine said, "Dieu me pardonnera; c'est son metier?" (God will forgive me. That's his job).

  • 2008
    • December
      • Puns and Conundrums
        Some Puns and Conundrums from "Wit and Humor of the Age" by Melville De Lancey Landon, Mark Twain

        Why is a lawyer like a restless sleeper?
        He lies first on one side and then on the other

        What is the difference between a cat and a comma?
        A cat has claws

      • A Scotch Anecdote of Gladstone
        Mr. Gladstone's fluency in argumentation, although i natural gift, was purposely fostered by his father: indeed, all the family were accustomed to argue about everything that turned up at table or elsewhere. On one occasion William Gladstone and his sister Mary disputed as to where a certain pi

      • Ben Wade's Wit
        Old Ben Wade was traveling over the Union Pacific railroad, through Cheyenne and Laramie. Sitting down by Juto Daniels, who ran a ranch at Laramie, old Ben remarked:

        "This is a very bad country—a God-forsaken country, Mr. Daniels."

        "You are mistaken, Senator,&quo

    • November
      • John Adams on being a Vice President
        John Adams, while serving as the Vice President:

        "... My country has in its wisdom contrived
        for me the most insignificant office
        that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination
        conceived. And as I can do neither good nor
        evil, I must be borne away by

      • Two rings: an anecdote with a moral
        This anecdote is actually taken straight from a Catholic Catechism by Joseph Baxter.

        A certain monarch caused the figure of an angel to be carved in white marble. From the left hand of this statue hung a silver ring attached to a thin silken cord, while the right hand held a golden ring s

    • October
      • Lord Byron's Childe Harold: a literary anecdote
        Mr Dallas, who so ably fulfilled the duties of accoucheur
        to the Childe, was also resolved that it
        should not come into the world without a sufficient
        enunciation ; and, accordingly, prepared a review of
        it for a literary journal to be published immediately
        on the appearance

    • August
      • Sir Arthur Evans: a saddened archaeologist
        Sir Arthur Evans (July 8, 1851 – July 11, 1941), a British archaeologist most famous for unearthing the palace of Knossos on the island of Crete, was entertaining a group of friends on his 90th birthday. One of his guests mentioned that the Germans had destroyed Knossos. Evans was so devastated by t

    • June
      • A Birthday Joke
        Franklin Adams (1881-1960), an American journalist and writer of light funny poems, once tested Beatrice Kaufman by asking here what birthday was today. "Yours?" Beatrice guessed, showing visible signs of hope. "No, but you are getting warm", said Adams. "It's Shakespea

    • May
      • Words from God
        The historicity of this anecdote is more than doubtful. It does, however, provide a beautiful insight into the ways human mind often operates:

        A middle-aged Londoner was faced with a difficult decision when choosing between two lovely ladies, Anna and Mary, both willing to join him in mat

      • Example for the entire army
        A prominent volunteer officer who, early in the War, was on duty in Washington and often carried reports to Secretary Stanton at the War Department, told a characteristic story on President Lincoln. Said he : "I was with several other young officers, also

      • It's tennis to me!
        Pop sensation Christina Aguilera was once introduced to the uncrowned king of golf, Tiger Woods. "Christina, I love your music," Woods declared. "I have all your CDs..." "Sorry, I don't follow tennis," Aguilera said, "so I don't know much about you."

      • USA vs. Canada -- a Frenchman's Joke
        The French ambassador to Washington, Jean Jusserand, was once discussing matters of European foreign politics with Theodore Roosevelt's wife. "Why don't you learn from the United States and Canada?" the First Lady responded. "We have a three-thousand-mile unfortified peacefu

      • Erigena and the King (the original Irish joke)
        One day tho king and Erigena sat on opposite sides of the
        table, with the courtiers ranged around. The scholar—through
        forgetfulness or ignorance—transgressed some of the rules of etiquette,
        so as to offend the fastidious taste of those who sat by, upon which,
        the king asked him

      • An Old Indian
        AGED INDIAN.
        The French, in the year 1696, attacked the Iroquois
        Indians in Canada, whom they surprised and dispersed.
        An illustrious warrior of that nation, who was more
        than a hundred years old, disdaining to fly, or unable
        to do it, was taken prisoner, and abandoned to th

      • Last wish: a newspaper
        In the memorable battle of Trafalgar, William
        Chambers, master of the Royal Sovereign, had part
        of his side carried away while steering the ship towards
        the close of the action. He just lived until
        the firing ceased, when, with a feeble voice, he exclaimed,
        "Oh, could

      • Love and Glory
        In the year 863, Harold destroyed the host of
        princes who had long divided Norway, and united
        the whole of the provinces under his own dominion.
        Being enamoured of Gida, the daughter of Prince
        Eric, of Hadaland, he sent some persons of his suit
        to conduct her to court. "

      • Suvorov in the Alps: how to talk to soldiers
        In crossing the Alps, the soldiers of Suvorov,
        overwhelmed with fatigues, and dispirited with hardships,
        no longer obeyed his voice, or observed their
        usual discipline. He ordered a ditch to be dug, and
        stretching himself in it, cried out to his mu

      • Golf - an interesting approach!
        Louis B. Mayer (American producer, co-founder of MGM) had an admiration for 'class' and wanted badly to possess it. After being told that golf was a classy American sport, he decided to take it up. He never was able, however, to get the hang of it, as he never quite understood that the ga

      • Irish Air
        Lady Carteret, wife of the Lord Lieutenant, said to Swift one day, "The air of Ireland is excellent and healthy." "For God's sake, madam," said Swift, falling down before her, "don't say so in England, for if you do they will tax it."

        From The Book

      • A Mexican Anecdote
        The people of the Mexican capital had been told that the Americans eat children, and all these pledges of love had been removed, Lieutenant M., of the dragoons, having heard this story, accosted a man, and asked him if he knew where he could get "a nice fat boy for supper," adding that he

      • Navy Blunders: Admiral Benbow
        When Admiral Benbow was a common sailor, his messmate, who was stationed with him at the same gun, lost his leg by a cannon shot. The poor fellow instantly called out to his friend, who immediately took him up on his shoulder, and began with great care to descend with him into the cockpit; but it ha

      • You're no Mozart
        Mozart was once approached by a young man who was interested in Mozart's advice on how to compose a symphony. Since he was still very young, Mozart recommended that he start by composing ballads. Surprised, the young man responded, "But you wrote symphonies when you were only ten years old

      • Saved by the Empress
        Maria Fedorovna, Empress of Russia and wife of Tsar Alexander III, was known for her charitable works. In fact, she once saved a comdemned man from exile in Siberia by changing a single comma in the warrant signed by her husband. Instead of reading: "Pardon impossible, to be sent to Siberia,&qu

      • Louis XI: The Star King
        King Louis XI of France was a firm believer in astrology and yet he was somewhat uneasy when an astrologer accurately predicted the death of a lady at court. He felt the astrologer would be better off dead, so Louis called him to his apartments where his servants were ordered to throw him out the wi

    • April
      • C. S. Lewis-- a First Class Author
        Lewis, returning home from a walking tour, had just boarded the first class compartment of his train. An old lady, startled at seeing Lewis' unkempt appearance asked him, "Have you a first-class ticket?" "Yes, madam," he replied, "but I'm afraid I'll be needin

      • Queens of the Sea

        The great British Cunard ocean liner Queen Mary was originally to be called Queen Victoria. The head of the Cunard company explained to King George V (1865 – 1936) that he wanted to name the ship after "the greatest of all English queens." Upon hearing this explanation the king

      • A Stamp for King George
        George V, an avid stamp collector, was with his private secretary one afternoon when his secretary remarked,"I see in The Times today that some damn fool has given fourteen hundred pounds for a single stamp at a private sale." The king replied, "I am that damn fool."

      • Benjamin Franklin takes a King
        While in France, Benjamin Franklin often played chess with an elderly duchess. Once, after he put her king in check and taking it, she reprimanded him by saying, "We do not take kings so". "We do in America", Franklin responded matter-of-factly.

      • A Picture by Rubens: an Appraisal story
        Richardson, in his anecdotes of painting, says, a gentleman came to me to invite me to his house: "I have," says he, "a picture of Rubens, and it is a rare good one. There is little H. the other day came to see it, and says it is a copy. If any one says so again, I'll break his h

      • Henry Ford's Engineer
        A visitor at a Ford factory in Dearborn, Michigan had the good fortune of encountering Henry Ford himself, who, demonstrating a newly finished automobile, proudly stated that there were "exactly forty-seven hundred and nineteen parts in that model."

        Impressed by Ford's exha

      • Conan Doyle's practical joke

        Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, enjoyed practical jokes. He is said to have once sent a telegram to twelve of his friends, all people of great significance and power. The telegram said: 'Flee at once, the secret is discovered'. Within 24 hours all twelve

      • Compliment to King Charles II
        Charles II. was reputed a great connoisseur in naval architecture. Being once at Chatham, to view a ship just finished on the stocks, he asked the famous Killigrew, "If he did not think he should make an excellent shipwright?" He replied, "That he always thought his majesty would have

      • The Poor Animal: a Prisoner's Dog
        FATAL SYMPATHY. One of the prisoners in the Port Royal, or Port Libre, during the government of Robespierre, had brought a favorite dog with him to prison. The poor animal ate, drank, and slept, with its master, until it was deprived of him by a denunciation from one of the prison spies, and his con

      • Raffael: Generousity of an Artist
        RAFFAEL. Francis I. having received a picture of St. Michael from the hand of Raffael d'Urbino, which he much coveted, he remunerated Raffael far beyond what the painter's modesty conceived he ought to receive: the generous artist, however, made him a present of a Holy Family, painted by h

      • Shaving a Queen -- Let the Barber Do His Best!
        Shaving a Queen.—For some time after the restoration of Charles the Second, young smooth-faced men performed the women's parts on the stage. That monarch, coming before his usual time to hear Shakespeare's Hamlet, sent the Earl of Rochester to know the reason of the delay; who brought word

      • Captain Kidd -- Famous Last Words of a Pirate
        Captain William Kidd (1645-1701), a famous British pirate, started his career as a regular sea captain. But when he was dispatched to the coast of Madagascar with the purpose of quelling marauding pirates, he joined them instead, and soon became one of the most ferocious raiders on the open seas. A

      • Jonathan Swift and Thomas Sheridan at a Beggar's Wedding
        Dean Swift being in the country, on a visit to Dr. Sheridan, they were informed that a beggar's wedding was about to be celebrated. Sheridan played well upon the violin; Swift therefore proposed that he should go to the place where the ceremony was to be performed, disguised as a blind fiddler,

      • Death of a Hero
        Death of a Hero.—At the battle of Malplaquet, in 1709, Marshal Villars was dangerously wounded, and desired to receive the Holy Sacrament. Being advised to receive in private, he said, "No, if the army cannot see me die like a hero, they shall see me die as a Christian."

      • Fear of Death
        Fear of Death.—It is recorded of a person who had been sentenced to be bled to death, that, instead of the punishment being actually inflicted, he was made to believe that it was so, merely by causing water, when his eyes were blinded, to trickle down his arm. This mimicry, however, of an operation,

      • Sergeant and a philosopher
        Dr. Gregory, professor of the practice of physic at Edinburgh, was one of the first to enroll himself in the Royal Edinburgh Volunteers, when that corps was raised. So anxious was he to make himself master of military tactics, that he not only paid the most punctual attendance on all the regimental

      • Navy Chaplains
        When the Earl of Clancarty was captain of a man-of-war, and was cruising on the coast of Guinea, he happened to lose his chaplain by a fever, on which the lieutenant, who was a Scotchman, gave him notice of it, saying, at the same time, "that he was sorry to inform him that he died in the Roman

      • Understanding Einstein
        Albert Einstein's friend was once asked if it was true that only ten people in the entire world truly understood the man. After some pondering the man replied, "Oh, no. There at least twenty, but Einstein is not one of them."

        From From Newton to ESP by L. LeShain.

      • That rat
        George Cohan, an American playwright, actor, songwriter and producer, once auditioned an actor for a role. After the actor left, Cohan said to his staff, "I hate that rat. Remind me never to hire him again unless we need him."

      • P.T. Barnum's Elephant
        P. T. Barnum, the famed American circus entrepreneur and the reputed originator of the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute", at one point used an elephant to draw a plow at his private farm. A bewildered neighbor, although a friend of the circus man, got into an argument with B

      • A monkey and a parrot
        A young Madame de Choiseul longed for a parrot, that
        should be a miracle of eloquence ; and, as every shop in Paris
        then sold macaws, parrots, cockatoos, &c., a parrot was soon
        found for the nymph ; but -she had another passion, and was
        enamoured of General Jackoo, a celebrat

      • King Charles II on Writing History
        When Leti, the historian, was one day attending
        the levee of Charles the Second, he said
        to him, " Leti. I hear that you are writing the
        History of the Court of England." "Sir, I
        have been for some time preparing materials for
        such a history." " Take

      • A Strange Wedding
        In the year 1733, when Christian IV. King
        of Denmurk, and his consort, Sophia Magdalena,
        visited their Norwegian dominions, they took up
        their residence in the house of Colons! Colbiurnson
        in Frederickshald. The colonel, for the diversion
        of his illustrious guests, exhibite

      • Ultimate solution to the problem of naming a baby
        Louis Antoine Jullien, a French composer and conductor was born in a little town of Sisteron. It was understood that the child had to be immediately baptized. Antonio Jullien, the composer's father, decided that it would be suitable to find a godfather among the members of the local Philharmoni

      • Demosthenes' comeback
        An orator of Athens said to Demosthenes, "The Athenians will kill you if they are in a rage." Demosthenes replied, "And they will kill you if they are in the right mind."

      • Doctor Bell and the patient
        Doctor Bell, a renowned Scottish surgeon who is believed to be the prototype of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, once held a demonstration of his deductive method of diagnosis. He gathered a group of students around the bed of a new patient and proceeded with questioning. "Aren't

      • Queen Victoria Meets her Maker
        While Queen Victoria lay dying, a member of the royal household mused to Edward, Prince of Wales, "I wonder if she will be happy in heaven?"
        Edward matter-of-factly replied, "I don't know. She will have to walk behind the angels--and she won't like that!"

      • Children bug Princess Diana
        During a royal tour in 1983, Diana approached a crowd of young children in Southern Australia. She walked up to the nearest child and, while patting him on his head, asked him why he wasn't in school that day.

        "I was sent home," he explained, "because I've got he

      • Charles De Gaulle who?
        A speaker once told De Gaulle that he resembled Robespierre. De Gaulle responded, "I always thought I was Jeanne d'Arc and Bonaparte. How little one knows oneself!"

      • A Funny Poem for the King from his Earl
        In trying to be clever, the Earl of Rochester once left a message on King Charles II's bedchamber door. It read:
        "Here is our sovereign lord the king,
        Whose promise noone relies on;
        He never said a foolish thing,
        Nor ever did a wise one."

        Not to be outdo

      • Long live King Charles--not James
        While on his morning walk, King Charles proceeded to stroll through Hyde Park accompanied by just two lords. As he was walking, his brother James, Duke of York, drove up in his carriage under heavy guard.

        The duke was suprised to see his brother virtually alone and expressed to him that

      • A Small Step for Neil Armstrong
        Once, while having lunch with photographer Yousuf Karsh and his wife, Armstrong inquired about the many countries the couple had visited. Surprised, Mrs, Karsh replied, "But Mr. Armstrong, you've walked on the moon. We want to hear about your travels."
        "But that's the o

      • Alexander the Great as Parmenion
        After Alexander had conquered Egypt, King Darius of Persia offered Alexander generous terms for peace.

        Darius would pay Alexander 10,000 talents for releasing Perisan prisoners, give him the areas west of the Euphrates and he would hand over his daughter to Alexander in marriage.

    • March
      • Thomas Edison's cigars
        Edison himself has played many a practical joke
        upon his employees, and in the early phonograph days
        he enjoyed many a laugh on them with the aid of his
        "talking machine." Sometimes, however, the joke
        was on him, as was instanced by the "fake cigar"

      • Theological argument
        Charles V, King of Spain, at the suggestion of Hernado Cortez, entertained the idea of digging a canal to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. In 1567, Philip II, the successor of Charles V, sent a party of engineers to survey the Nicaraguan route, but the report was unfavorable to the succe

      • The legend of sir Isaac Newton and the Apple (Newton's law)

        One day in autumn Sir Isaac was lying on the grass under an apple tree and thinking, thinking, thinking. Suddenly an apple that had grown ripe on its branch fell to the ground by his side

        "What made that apple fall?" he asked himself.
      • Isaac Newton and his dog
        While Newton was attending divine service in a winter
        morning, he had left in his study a favourite little
        dog called Diamond. Upon returning from chapel
        he found that it had overturned a lighted taper on
        his desk, which set fire to several papers on which
        he had recorded th

      • Lord Byron's gift
        Byron once gave his publisher, John Murray, a splendidly bound Bible, and the recipient was proud of it until he happened to discover that his friend donor had altered the last verse of the 18th chapter of St. John (Now Barrabas was a robber) so as to read: "Now Barrabas was a publisher."<

      • Descartes refuted
        In 1649, René Descartes, a famous French philosopher and the author of the "Cogito ergo sum" principle, accepted the invitation of Queeen Christina of Sweden, who was deeply interested in philosophy, and traveled to Stockholm. As he explained to her majesty the basics of his mechanistic ph

      • Pyrrhic victory
        Pyrrhus, after his victory ofer the Romans, near the river Siris, said to those sent to congratulate him, "One more such victory and Pyrrhus is undone."

        From Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: Giving the Derivation, Source, Or Origin of Common Phrases, Allusions and Words that have

      • Chester Harding and Daniel Boone

      • Queen Alexandra and the dying King Edward VII
        King Edward VII of Great Britain was quite a playboy in his day, and his wife, Queen Alexandra had often ignored his infidelities and wild escapades. As he lay on his deathbed, his faithful wife was grief stricken until one reassuring thought occurred to her. She turned to Lord Esher and remarked, &

      • President Coolidge was a dictator?
        While on a private tour of the home of poet Emily Dickinson in Amherst, MA, President Coolidge made a keen observation. When shown a prized, handwritten collection of her most famous poems, he studied them and remarked, "Wrote with a pen, eh? I dictate."

      • President George Washington on the proposed size of the army
        An incident is related as having occurred while he
        was in the Convention for forming the Constitution,
        which was probably suggested by his experience during
        the war. A member proposed to introduce a clause
        into the constitution, limiting a standing army to five
        thousand men.

      • George Washington at the fireplace
        As he (George Washington) sat at table after dinner the fire
        behind him was too large and hot; he complained and said he must remove; a gentleman observed that it behooved a general to stand fire; Washington said, it did not look well for a general to receive fire from behind.

      • Napoleon's Secretary
        In order to encourage his secretaty, Bourrienne,
        under the arduous labour that he continually imposed upon
        him, Bonaparte would sometimes say, " Bourrienne! we shall
        go down to posterity together!" The vanity of this hope was
        shown in the answer — "Can you tell me

      • Cato and statues
        Cato, on observing that statues were being
        set up in honour of many, remarked, "I would
        rather people would ask, why is there not a statue
        to Cato, than why there is."

        From Greek Wit: A Collection of Smart Sayings and Anecdotes by Frederick Apthorp Paley

      • Caesar and the pilot
        Once he had taken ship in disguise to cross the Adriatic Sea, and the helmsman, terrified by the adverse wind, dared not pursue his course. But Caesar said to him, " Fear not, my friend! You carry Caesar and his fortunes!"

        From the Bible for Leaners

      • Caesar's wife must be above suspicion!
        Bona Dea (Lat. "the Good Goddess "), in Roman myth, a divinity also known as Fauna or Fatua and described as the sister, daughter or wife of Faunus. Her worship was exclusively confined to women in somuch that men were not even allowed to know her name. Being the goddess of fertility her r

      • Lincoln and a Soldier's Request for Furlough
        President Lincoln received the following pertinent letter
        from an indignant private, which speaks for itself: "Dear
        President I have been in the service eighteen months, and
        1 have never received a cent. I desire a furlough for
        fifteen days, in order to return home and remov

      • Death of Archimedes
        When Syracuse was taken, Archimedes was describing mathematical figures upon the earth, and when one of the enemy came upon him, sword in hand, and asked his name, he was so engrossed with the desire of preserving the figures entire, that he answered only by an earnest request to the soldier to keep

      • Roman Wit
        A Roman knight coming to Adrian to request a favour of him, received a denial: the knight was old, and had a very gray beard, but a few days after, having covered his beard black, like a young man, he came to the emperor again about the same business. The emperor, perceiving the fraud, said to him,

      • Amusing story of a ring
        A correspondent to 'Notes and Queries ' (vol. i. series 3,
        p. 36), relates the following curious anecdote : ' A gentleman,
        who was in the habit of frequenting a favourite spot for the
        sake of a view that interested him, used to lounge on a rail,
        and one day in a fi

      • Richard Wagner and Dumas
        Of the score of greatest composers, perhaps none was
        more eccentric than that founder of the modern German
        operatic school, Richard Wagner. The caller who was
        unaware of one of his peculiarities might suffer a mild
        shock ; for on entering the room where his visitor was

      • Irish composer's marriage
        The Irish composer, Field, married from a somewhat
        peculiar reason, if we may believe his version of it.
        While yet this originator of the style of music called the "
        nocturne " was single, he numbered among his pupils
        one attractive young lady from whom he found it exce

      • Queen Elizabeth's ring
        Queen Elizabeth ... drawing from her finger the coronation ring, showed it to the Commons, and told them that when she received that ring she had solemnly bound herself in marriage to the realm, and it would be quite sufficient for the memorial of her name, and for her glory, if, when she died, an i

      • King Philip II and Titian's famous painting
        When Titian's famous painting of the Last
        Supper arrived at the Escurial, the king, Philip
        II., proposed to cut the canvas to the size of the
        pannel in the refectory, where it was designed
        to hang. El Mudo (Philip's "deaf and dumb" painter),
        who was pres

      • Hanging Judge
        Counsellor Grady, on a late trial in Ireland, said, he recollected to have heard of a relentless Judge; he was known by the name of the Hanging Judge, and was never seen to shed a tear but once, and that was during the representation of The Beggar's Opera, when Macheath got a reprieve! It was t

      • Plato's wit
        Plato, living in the Academy at Athens, which
        the physicians considered unhealthy, was advised
        to remove to the Lyceum. "I would not have
        removed even to the top of Mount Athos," he
        replied, "for the sake of a longer life."
        (Aelian, Var. Hist. ix. 10.)
      • Sir Walter Scott
        Sir Walter Scott, when a boy, gave very slight indications of genius, nor did he shine in his early career as a scholar. In Latin, he did not advance far until his tenth year, when Dr. Pater- son succeeded to the school at Musselburgh, where young Scott then was. Dr. Blair, on a visit to Musselburgh

      • Locke on the Understanding
        Mr. Locke having been introduced by Lord Shaftesbury to the Duke of Buckingham and Lord Halifax, these three noblemen, instead of conversing with that philosopher on literary subjects, as might naturally have been expected, in a very short time sat down to cards. Mr. Locke, after looking on for some

      • Generosity of King Edward III
        When Calais was besieged by Edward III. in 1347, John de Vienne, the governor, turned out of the town every individual who did not possess a sufficient supply of provisions for several months. Men, women, and children, to the amount of seventeen hundred persons, advanced in mournful procession to th

      • The Oxford Dragon
        Jacob Bobart the younger, and son of a German
        horticulturist of the same name, who superintended
        the Physic Garden in Oxford, in the
        seventeenth century, once played an ingenious
        hoax on the learned of that university. He
        found a large dead rat in the garden, and transformed

      • Henry VIII and a sundial maker
        It was in the year 1517 that Nicholas Kratzer, or Kratcher, a Bavarian, was admitted at the age of thirty to the new college of Corpus Christi at Oxford, founded by Bishop Fox. His name is on the list of lecturers appointed by Cardinal Wolsey, and he lectured on astronomy and mathematics. Tunstall,

      • Coronation of George I
        Nothing of special interest marks the Coronation of George I., except that, as he was unable to speak English, and scarcely anyone round him could speak German, recourse had to be had to Latin. As all the various ceremonies had to be laboriously explained to him in this language, the Coronation was

      • "King Arthur" Merry-making at sea
        This is another gameused at sea,
        when near the line, or in a hot latitude.
        It is performed as follows.

        A man, who is to represent King Arthur,
        ridiculously dressed, having a large wig
        made out of oakum, or of some old
        swabs, is seated on the side, or over a
    • February
      • Peter the Great's fool
        Often by Peter's side at table, and in his cups, was to
        be seen an individual addressed as the "Patriarch of
        Russia," and sometimes as the "King of Siberia." He
        was attired in sacerdotal robes, and covered with loosely-
        hung gold and silver medals, which

      • Prince of Wales and a German oboe player
        Another joke was played off upon poor Fischer
        by the Prince of Wales this merrymaking season,
        to this effect: after the concert, which Fischer
        attended twice a week at Richmond or at Kew,
        wherever the King and Queen were, he used eagerly
        to seize upon the supper before he we

      • Wolfgang Mozart at the opera
        Mozart once created quite a sensation in a theater he
        was visiting. It was at Marseilles. He had gone to
        the opera incognito to hear one of his own works performed.
        All went well till, in a certain passage, through
        some error in the copyist, the orchestra played "D"
      • Spartan Soldier's Wit
        Just before the battle of Thermopylae, a Spartan
        soldier came and reported, that the Persians were
        so numerous, that their clouds of arrows darkened the
        sun. 'So much the better,' said Leonidas,' for we
        shall fight in the shade.'

        From The Flowers o

      • General Grant and a rebel's knapsack
        The day before General Grant attacked Fort Donelson, the troops had had a march of twenty miles, part of it during a bitter cold night. Grant called a council of war to consider whether they should attack the fort at once, or should give the troops a day or two of rest. The officers were in favor of

      • Gonella, a jester of Borda, Duke of Ferrara
        "For the love of the saints, give a poor blind man alms!"

        "Pray pity the poor blind; and Heaven preserve your
        precious eyesight!"

        "Born blind, gracious signer; bestow your charity on
        one who never saw light!"

        Thus prayed thre

      • Scogan - a Jester to Edward VI (Edward Tudor)
        Among the practical jokes of this court fool I recognize
        many that really belong to a much earlier period, and
        which must have been current as " stories" at the time
        they are narrated as having been performed by Scogan
        himself. The following, however, is said to be prop

      • Mozart's memory
        Part of the service used in the Pope's chapel at Rome
        is sacredly guarded and kept with great care in the
        archives of the chapel. Any singer found tampering
        with this "Miserere" of Allegri, or giving a note of it to an
        outsider, would be visited by excommunication.

      • Queen Elizabeth's Court Jester
        In 1583 Sir Francis Walsingham introduced the celebrated Dick Tarleton to the Queen, and he soon became one of the most popular comedians in London and was appointed to the "high and honourable" office of Court jester to her Highness. Several robes were purchased for him in Paris, to appe

      • Spartan army on the march - friend or foe
        Agesilaus, intending to march through Macedonia,
        sent to ask the king of that country whether
        he intended to receive him as a friend or an
        enemy. " I will consider," he replied. "Then,"
        said the Spartan, "do you think about it, and
        we meanwhile will

      • Mozart Anecdotes: the composition of Requiem, and how Mozart died
        The bodily frame of Mozart was tender and exquisitely sensible ; ill health soon overtook him, and brought with it a melancholy approaching to despondency. A very short time before his death, which took place when he was only thirty-six, he composed that celebrated requiem, which, by an extraordinar

      • Mozart Anecdotes: the composition of Don Giovanni
        The most celebrated of Mozart's Italian operas is
        Don Juan, which has recently been performed with so
        much applause in London. The overture was composed
        under very remarkable circumstances. Mozart was much
        addicted to trifling amusement, and was accustomed to

      • Genealogy hunter: A court jester's wizdom.
        Frederick of Saxony, surnamed the Sage, rendered his claim to this title doubtful, by his attention to the descent of his family. A celebrated genealogist had told him, that a copy of his pedigree was preserved in Noah's ark. To substantiate this account, the prince neglected all affairs of sta

      • Queen Elizabeth: Tudor humor
        Queen Elizabeth seeing a disappointed courtier walking with a melancholy face in one of her gardens, asked him, "What does a man think of when he thinks of nothing? " — " Of a woman's promises!" was the reply ; to which the Queen returned,''I must notconfute you, S

    • January
      • Spartans and the arts
        * * *

        A Spartan ephor cut two of the strings of a
        harp, saying to the performer, " Don't murder

        * * *

        Some one seeing a picture of Laconians being
        killed by Athenians, observed, "Brave fellows,
        these Athenians." &q

  • 2007
    • November
      • Colonel Owen's Squad Drill
        Great difficulty was experienced in furnishing the Pennsylvania troops with shoes at the commencement of the three months service. Those that were furnished were generally much too large for the wearers - a fault which occasioned much merriment and some inconvenience. A raw recruit in Colonel Owen&#

    • October
      • King's clemency

      • A Quarter of an Hour

        When Lord Nelson was leaving London, on his last, but glorious, expedition against the enemy, a quantity of cabin furniture was ordered to be sent on board his ship. He had a farewell dinner party at his house; and the upholsterer having waited upon his lordship, with an account of the complet

      • Louis XIV and backgammon
        Louis XIV, playing at backgammon, had a doubtful throw; a dispute arose, and all the courtiers remained silent. The Count de Grammont came in at that instant. "Decide the matter," said the king to him. "Sire," said the count, "your Majesty is in the wrong."—"How so

      • Mozart's cash
        Mozart, walking in the suburbs of Vienna, was accosted by a mendicant of a very prepossessing appearance and manner, who told his tale of woe with such effect, as to interest the musician strongly in his favour; but the state of his purse not corresponding with the impulse of his humanity, he desire

      • Quakers in the ranks
        An amusing incident occurred at the Provost Marshal's office at Gen. Lee's head-quarters at Orange Court House, Va. Four Quakers were brought in as conscripts from London. They were ordered to fall in the ranks, in order to be marched to the command to which they were to be assigned. They

      • King's Jester

        King James was complaining one time of the leannesse of his Hunting Horse, and swore by his sole he could see no reason but his should be as fat as any of his subjects; for he bestow'd upon him as good feeding,keeping, and as easy riding as any one did, and yet the jade was leane. Archee,

      • Maximilian I and a beggar
        A beggar once asked alms of the Emperor Maximilian I., who bestowed upon him a small coin. The beggar appeared dissatisfied with the smallness of the gift, and on being asked why, he replied that it was a very little sum for an emperor, and that his highness should remember that we were all descende

      • Spartan meal

        Xerxes, when he fled from Greece, left
        Mardonius all his costly dinner-service of plate.
        Pausanias, aware of this, ordered the cooks, after the
        death of Mardonius at Plataea, to prepare a dinner
        precisely as they would have done for Mardonius.
        When this was ready, an

      • Reading Hesiod
        A Spartan was praising a saying of Hesiod's,
        "Not even an ox would be lost if one had not
        a bad neighbour," in the hearing of Diogenes, who
        cynically replied, "But the Messenians are lost,
        and their oxen too; and you are their neighbours."

      • Against Revolutions
        Duncan Broadfoot was a studious shoemaker, and
        much addicted to reading works on astronomy. Ae day
        he got into a heated argument wi' Saunders Veitch
        regarding the merits and demerits o' the French revolution.
        Duncan stood erect. His eyes flashed, and he
        placed the

      • Stonewall Jackson

        At a council of generals early in the war, one remarked able to perform a duty that it was proposed to assign him. " Wounded !" said Jackson. "If it really is so, I think it must have been by an accidental discharge of his duty."

      • Librarian to Francis I

        The famous Duval, librarian to the Emperor Francis the First, often used to reply to questions that were put to him, "I do not know." An ignoramus one day said to him, "But the emperor pays you for knowing." "The emperor," he replied, "pays me for what I know

    • September
      • Family Sacrifice
        During the French revolution, Madame Saintmaraule, with her daughter, and a youth, her son, not yet of age, were confined in prison and brought to trial. The mother and daughter behaved with resolution, and were sentenced to die; but of the youth no notice was taken, and he was remanded to prison. &

      • Samuel Taylor Coleridge

        Coleridge, the Poet, once dined in company with a person who listened to the conversation and said nothing for a long time; but occasionally nodded his head, and Coleridge concluded him a thoughtful and intelligent man. At length, towards the end of the dinner, some apple dumplings were placed

      • Polite Mayor
        At the time when Queen Elizabeth was making one of her progresses through the kingdom, a mayor of Coventry, attended by a large cavalcade, went out to meet her Majesty, and usher her into the city with due formality. On their return they passed through a wide brook, when Mr. Mayor's horse sever

      • Peter the Great and the lawyers

        Peter the Great, being at Westminster Hall in term time, and seeing multitudes of people swarming about the courts of law, is reported to have asked some about him, what all those busy people were, and what they were about? and being answered, "They are lawyers." "Lawyers!"

      • Napoleon and His Engineer
        Bonaparte was passing along the dreadful road across the Echelles de Savoie, with his engineer, when he stopped, and pointing to the mountain, said, "Is it not possible to cut a tunnel through yonder rock, and to form a more safe and commodious route beneath it?" "It is possible, cert

      • Louis XII
        This father of his people was told that the players
        of Paris had the insolence to take him off upon
        the Theatre, as an avaricious man who drank
        out of a vessel full of pieces of gold, without
        being able to quench his thirst. "Buffoons,"
        said he coolly, " think

      • Bungtown Riflemen
        Sparrowgrass' proposition, that the Home Guard should not leave home except in case of invasion, is equal to the old story of the Bungtown Riflemen, an Ohio military company, whose by-laws consisted of two sections, namely :
        - Article First. — This company shall be known as the Bungtown R

      • Sentimental poem
        A Sentimental Young Lady in Northern Georgia indited the following to some of her admirers in the — "Ridgeament":

        "'Tis hard for youens to sleep in camp;
        'Tis hard for youens to fight;
        'Tis hard for youens through snow to tramp

      • Grave Inscription
        A rebel soldier, after burying a Federal who had been killed during one of those sanguinary engagements which terminated in the retreat of the Union army from before Richmond, fixed a shingle over the grave, bearing this inscription:

        “The Yankee hosts with blood-stained hands
        Came so

      • General Kelley and a Secession Girl
        When the General was in quest of guerrillas in Western Virginia, he captured a young woman named Sallie Dusky, two brothers of whom were Captains in the rebel army. The General, feeling confident that the girl knew the hiding-places of the guerrillas, had a private conversation with her, and during

      • Thomas Aquinas and the Pope
        St. Thomas was one day with Pope Innocent
        the Fourth in his closet, when an officer of his
        chancery came in with a bag of gold, procured by
        Absolutions and Indulgences. The Pope profanely
        said: "See, young man, the Church is not what
        it was in the times when it used t

      • Thomas Aquinas

        St. Thomas possessing an ardent mind, devoted it to the studies then in vogue, scholastic philosophy and theology. In the latter, indeed, he was so eminently successful, that Bucer said of him: Tolle Thomam, et Ecciesiam Romam subverterem: "Take away St. Thomas, and I will effect the down

      • Thomas Aquinas - bos mutus
        THIS extraordinary person, like many men
        of great talents, showed in his early youth none of
        that liveliness and vivacity of disposition which is
        but too often mistaken for quick parts. He was
        called by his companions “bos mutus” (silent ox),
        but his master, Albert the Grea

      • Louis IX and "a lady of quality"
        A Lady of quality once appearing before Louis,
        to solicit some favour of him, in a dress too
        juvenile for her years, the good Monarch said to her:
        "Madam, I will take care of your suit,
        if you will take care of your situation. Your beauty
        once made a great noise in t

      • Crusade of St. Louis — Teaching by the signs
        Joinville, in his Memoirs of St. Louis, tells us of a
        woman who, in the crusade headed by that king, was
        seen carrying in her right hand a porringer of fire,
        and in her left a bottle of water. With the fire,
        Joinville says, she wished to burn paradise, with the
        water to drow

      • The Greek Prize of Vicory
        WHEN some Arcadian deserters asked to be admitted into the service of the Persian king,
        Xerxes asked them what the Greeks were doing. The
        answer was that they were keeping the great feast of
        Olympia, and beholding the contests of wrestlers and
        horsemen. On hearing this, a Persian