During the Civil War, the U.S. Treasury received a check for $1,500 from a private citizen who said he had misappropriated government funds while serving as a quartermaster in the Army. He said he felt guilty.
“Suppose we call this a contribution to the conscience fund and get it announced in the newspapers,” suggested Treasury Secretary Francis Spinner. “Perhaps we will get some more.”
Ever since, then the Treasury has maintained a “conscience fund” to which guilt-ridden citizens can contribute. In its first 20 years, the fund received $250,000; by 1987 it had taken in more than $5.7 million. One Massachusetts man contributed 9 cents for using a damaged stamp on a letter, but in 1950 a single individual sent $139,000.
In order to encourage citizens to contribute, Treasury officials don’t try to identify or punish the donors. Most donations are anonymous, and many letters are from clergy, following up confessions taken at deathbeds.
Many contributions are sent by citizens who have resolved to start anew in life by righting past wrongs, but some are more grudging. In 2004, one donor wrote, “Dear Internal Revenue Service, I have not been able to sleep at night because I cheated on last year’s income tax. Enclosed find a cashier’s check for $1,000. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send you the balance.”
The founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, had no children of her own and decried the commercialization of the holiday.
Jarvis had proposed a national Mother’s Day in 1907, in part to honor her own mother. She promoted the idea with governors, congressmen, editors, and the White House, and in 1914 Woodrow Wilson set aside the second Sunday in May to honor the nation’s mothers. But the holiday was almost immediately co-opted by merchants, a turn that horrified Jarvis. “Confectioners put a white ribbon on a box of candy and advance the price just because it’s Mother’s Day,” she complained in 1924. “There is no connection between candy and this day. It is pure commercialization.”
She tried to stem the tide by legal means, incorporating herself as the Mother’s Day International Association and threatening copyright suits against what she felt were commercial celebrations. She had recommended the wearing of carnations to mark the holiday; when florists raised the price she distributed celluloid buttons instead at her own expense.
She reserved a special bitterness for sons who bought mass-produced cards for their mothers. “A maudlin, insincere printed card or ready-made telegram means nothing except that you’re too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone else in the world,” she said. “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card.”
“The sending of a wire is not sufficient. Write a letter to your mother. No person is too busy to do this.”
It was hopeless. Her spirit never flagged, but her finances began to give way, and in 1943, penniless and almost blind, she was admitted to a Philadelphia hospital. Her friends pledged funds for her support, and she died in a West Chester sanitarium in 1948.
In 1980, New York patent lawyer Eric Bram correctly predicted that the city’s transit fare would increase. He explained his reasoning to the New York Times: “Since the early ’60s, the price of a slice of pizza has matched, with uncanny precision, the cost of a New York subway ride. Right now, it is impossible for any discerning New Yorker to find a decent slice of pizza for less than 60 cents. The 50-cent fare was doomed.”
He was right. In 1960, the fare was 15 cents, and so was a slice of pizza (a regular slice, mozzarella and tomato sauce, no toppings). In the early 1970s, both rose to 35 cents, and the two continued to rise together. By 2002, pizza had risen to $2 in midtown, while the fare lagged at $1.50; sure enough, the fare rose to $2 the following spring, after eight years without a change.
In 2003 the subway system switched from tokens to MetroCards, finding them more efficient in a digital age. “Who knows if the fundamentals of economics will hold?” Bram asked.
They did. As the price of pizza rose, the fare followed it, rising to $2.25 in 2009 and to $2.50 in 2011. “Don’t ask why,” wrote Clyde Haberman, who tracks all this in the Times. “It simply is so, and has been for decades.”
Letter from Petrarch to Zanobi da Strada, April 1, 1352:
Let them teach who can do nothing better, whose qualities are laborious application, sluggishness of mind, muddiness of intellect, prosiness of imagination, chill of the blood, patience to bear the body’s labors, contempt of glory, avidity for petty gains, indifference to boredom. You see how far these qualities are from your character. Let them watch boys’ fidgety hands, their wandering eyes, their sotto voce whisperings who delight in that task, who enjoy dust and noise and the clamor of mingled prayers and tears and whimperings under the rod’s correction. Let them teach who love to return to boyhood, who are shy of dealing with men and shamed by living with equals, who are happy to be set over their inferiors, who always want to have someone to terrify, to afflict, to torture, to rule, someone who will hate and fear them. That is a tyrannical pleasure, such as, according to the story, pervaded the fierce spirit of that old man of Syracuse, to be the evil solace of his deserved exile. But you, a man of parts, merit a better occupation. Those who instruct our youth should be like those ancient authors who informed us in our own early age; as those who first aroused our young minds with noble examples, so should we be to our successors. Since you can follow the Roman masters, Cicero and Virgil, would you choose Orbillius, Horace’s ‘flogging-master’? What is more, neither grammar nor any of the seven liberal arts is worth a noble spirit’s attention throughout life. They are means, not ends …
Zanobi, a poor Florentine schoolmaster, was so affected by his friend’s words that he gave up teaching and became a government official. Three years later he was crowned poet laureate of Pisa, annoying Petrarch, who in 1341 had been crowned the first laureate since antiquity in Rome.
On Nov. 8, 2005, Candace Dickinson was pulled over for driving in the carpool lane on Interstate 10 in Phoenix. When police sergeant Dave Norton asked how many people were in the car, “she said two as she pointed to her obvious pregnancy.”
Dickinson argued in court that since Arizona traffic laws don’t define when personhood begins, she and her unborn child constituted a carpool. Judge Dennis Freeman favored a “common-sense” interpretation of the statutes in which a person occupies a “separate and distinct … space in a vehicle.” He upheld Dickinson’s $367 fine.
California courts have encountered the same argument — it appears on the frequently asked questions page of the California Highway Patrol. The answer: “California law requires that in order to utilize the HOV lane, there must be two (or, if posted, three) separate individuals occupying seats in a vehicle. Until your ‘passenger’ is capable of riding in his or her own seat, you cannot count them.”
In 1927, Eleanor Roosevelt composed a seven-point “ethics of parents”:
- Furnish an example in living.
- Stop preaching ethics and morals.
- Have a knowledge of life’s problems and an imagination.
- Stop shielding your children and clipping their wings.
- Allow your children to develop along their own lines.
- Don’t prevent self-reliance and initiative.
- Have vision yourself and bigness of soul.
“The next generation,” she wrote, “will take care of itself.”
From Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons: World A contains a large group of people (say, 10 billion), all of whom have a high level of happiness. The width of the bar represents the size of the group, and its height represents their happiness.
World A+ contains twice as many people — the original group, plus a second group who are worse off. Assuming their lives are still happy, though, it appears that A+ is no worse than A. (Assume that the groups don’t know of one another, so there is no social injustice.)
In B-, the two groups are still distinct and of equal size, but all the inhabitants are somewhat happier than the average level in A+ — say, four-fifths the level in A.
Now combine the groups to produce B. This seems as good as B-, since we’ve only merged the two populations.
Intuitively, many people would feel that World B is worse than World A — all its inhabitants are less happy. But the logic seems to indicate that B is better — that “merely adding” people with tolerably happy lives makes the world a better place. Does it?
In October 2009, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attended a local Democratic Party fundraiser at the invitation of former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. His speech was heckled by San Francisco assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who took the stage afterward to criticize the governor.
Three weeks later, Schwarzenegger vetoed a measure sponsored by Ammiano. He attached this message:
To the Members of the California State Assembly:
I am returning Assembly Bill 1176 without my signature.
For some time now I have lamented the fact that major issues are overlooked while many
unnecessary bills come to me for consideration. Water reform, prison reform, and health
care are major issues my Administration has brought to the table, but the Legislature just
kicks the can down the alley.
Yet another legislative year has come and gone without the major reforms Californians
overwhelmingly deserve. In light of this, and after careful consideration, I believe it is
unnecessary to sign this measure at this time.
Read the first letter of each printed line. “My goodness, what a coincidence,” said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear when confronted with the acrostic. “I suppose when you do so many vetoes, something like this is bound to happen.”
Titles of “in rem” condemnation cases, in which the government sues to justify the seizure of an asset:
- United States v. 11 1/4 Dozen Packages of Article Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo Fly Powders for Drunkenness, 40 F. Supp. 208 (W.D.N.Y. 1941)
- United States v. 2,116 Boxes of Boned Beef, etc., 726 F.2d 1481
- United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins, 520 F.3d 976 (9th Cir. 2008)
- United States v. 2,507 Live Canary Winged Parakeets, 689 F. Supp. 1106 (S.D. Fla. 1988)
- United States v. One Lucite Ball Containing Lunar Material (One Moon Rock) and One Ten Inch by Fourteen Inch Wooden Plaque, 235 F. Supp. 2d 1367 (S.D. Fla. 2003)
- United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls, 413 F. Supp. 1281 (D. Wisconsin 1976)
In 1836 a flotilla of brandy casks washed ashore on the south coast of England, and an ownership dispute arose between a local property owner and the crown. Unfortunately for William IV, the case was recorded as The King v. Forty-Nine Casks of Brandy.
How should a tolerant person regard intolerance? If she tolerates it, then (it would seem) implicitly she accepts it. If she rejects it, then she is herself intolerant.
“The difficulty with toleration is that it seems to be at once necessary and impossible,” writes Bernard Williams. “Toleration, we may say, is required only for the intolerable. That is its basic problem.”
“England’s not a bad country — it’s just a mean, cold, ugly, divided, tired, clapped-out, post-imperial, post-industrial slag heap covered in polystyrene hamburger cartons.” — Margaret Drabble
“Belgium is a country invented by the British to annoy the French.” — Charles de Gaulle
“In India, ‘cold weather’ is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass doorknob and weather which only makes it mushy.” — Mark Twain
“The Americans … have invented so wide a range of pithy and hackneyed phrases that they can carry on an amusing and animated conversation without giving a moment’s reflection to what they are saying and so leave their minds free to consider the more important matters of big business and fornication.” — Somerset Maugham
“In any world menu, Canada must be considered the vichyssoise of nations — it’s cold, half-French, and difficult to stir.” — Stuart Keate
In 1958, acoustician William MacLean of the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn answered a perennial question: How many guests can attend a cocktail party before it becomes too noisy for conversation? He declared that the answer, for a given room, is
N0 = the critical number of guests above which each speaker will try overcome the background noise by raising his voice
K = the average number of guests in each conversational group
a = the average sound absorption coefficient of the room
V = the room’s volume
h = a properly weighted mean free path of a ray of sound
d0 = the conventional minimum distance between speakers
Sm = the minimum signal-to-noise ratio for the listeners
When the critical guest N0 arrives, each speaker is forced to increase his acoustic power in small increments (“I really don’t know what she sees in him.” — “Beg your pardon?” — “I say, I REALLY DON’T KNOW WHY SHE GOES OUT WITH HIM”) until each group is forced to huddle uncomfortably close in order to continue the conversation.
“We see therefore that, once the critical number of guests is exceeded, the party suddenly becomes a loud one,” MacLean concluded, somewhat sadly. “The power of each talker rises exponentially to a practical maximum, after which each reduces his or her talking distance below the conventional distance and then maintains, servo fashion, just the proximity, tête à tête, required to attain a workable signal-to-noise ratio. Thanks to this phenomenon the party, although a loud one, can still be confined within one apartment.”
(William R. MacLean, “On the Acoustics of Cocktail Parties,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, January 1959, 79-80.)
In 1891, while debating “the old, old question whether women’s dress is or is not sensible,” the members of a Brooklyn amateur dramatic company decided to try an experiment. First a woman tried on a man’s clothes:
My! how nice it feels to be able to run up and down stairs in these clothes. You don’t have to think about your clothes at all. Nor about your feet. It’s just splendid! I’d no idea — but my feet feel as if they had clogs on. Don’t you hear them thump? Don’t they look funny? Why, I couldn’t walk far with such weights as these dragging me down. And see my shirt. It won’t stay put. One thing is certain, you feel very free all about your body. … I did not know what to do with my hands or my legs while I was in the parlour. I was not sure of my legs one minute. I didn’t know whether they looked right when I walked; they seem exposed, you know. I wondered how I looked all the time, and when you get to wondering about any part of you, that part of you loses all its pluck. My legs got timid, and in the way. It was not any better when I sat down. Then my hands got big and stupid, and bothered me. The coat tails were in the way, and I couldn’t, for the life of me, think what I had ever seen a man do with his coat tails. The truth is, that I should not wonder if men’s clothes are better than ours, only you’ve got to get used to them. And I should want the coat to have skirts all around it, because you feel so very visible, don’t you know.
Then a man tried on a woman’s:
The queer thing about this whole rig is that you cannot get your mind off the corset. It is so stiff and tight and hot and binding that you forget the rest. I can stand up and lean back against it as if I were leaning against a swing or hammock. When I sit down, if I should lean too far forward I would fall on my face. You cannot keep your balance in the thing. If I try to pick up something from the floor beside me while sitting down, the corset catches me under the arm like a crutch. Sitting or standing, it holds me up like a ramrod — don’t I look so? My arms hang at the sides of it as if they were made afterwards and tacked on, like a doll’s arms. I could not eat a mouthful or take a glass of water with this corset on. Either I or the corset would burst. Just for fun I laid down in the thing, and I had to get Tom to help me up again or I’d have laid there yet. As for the rest of the costume, do you know, I don’t mind it. These things don’t fit, of course; the skirt is too short and the dress won’t button around my stomach; but it seems a fellow could get along with all of it except the corset. It’s queer to feel your legs for the first time. They seem to be let loose inside a sort of box. When I walk I feel the skirt hit against my heels, and when I stand up I feel my legs hot against one another. Their covering is so thin that it amounts to nothing, and so you feel those appendages as you never do in male attire. You don’t know how absurd it is not to be able to see yourself. The bust of this corset and dress stick out under my eyes, and I cannot see anything beneath it except the bottom of this dress. I feel cold half way. I can feel the tops of my stocking plainly by the difference in the temperature where they end.
“I would not dare appear in company in this rig, even if it fitted me; at least not without taking a course of instructions first,” the man said. “You see, I know enough to put my hands in my lap; but they don’t go there. I keep hanging them down by my sides. Then I cannot cross my legs. Every time I try it I get the petticoats and dress all mixed up with my knees. When I sit down I feel as if I was sitting on a pair of long coat-tails all rumpled up. The dress and other things all get into creases and lumps under me. There are some good points about the costume. It is easy round the neck, and your legs are so free that you feel as if you were walking on air; but even in this warm room I would get pneumonia in four hours, for my legs are stone cold and my chest is not much warmer, though my waist is burning hot. Then there is a dragging weight on my hips, while as for the corset — Get out of the room, boys, and let Tom help me off with the blessed thing.”
(From “A Petticoat in Trousers,” Modern Society, Jan. 31, 1891.)
An exchange of letters in the Times, November 1941:
Among the minor reforms that are coming would not the suppression of ‘Esquire’ in general and business correspondence be welcomed? It is a relic of mid-Victorian snobbery, and has little or nothing to commend it. I believe the United Kingdom is the only part of the Empire that uses it.
How right Mr Loughlan Pendred is in denouncing the use of this word as ‘a relic of mid-Victorian snobbery’ and in demanding its ‘suppression’! But why does he not go further? Is not our all too frequent utterance or inscription of the word ‘Mr’ an equally gross survival from an era which men of good will can hardly mention without embarrassment and shame? I do hope Pendred will go further.
Your obedient servant,
Beerbohm’s suggestion that the prefix ‘Mr’ should be abolished does not go far enough. We are still left with our surnames, and this is undemocratic. I demand that we should all be called by the same name, as plain a one as possible. If this should render difficult the filling up of forms, a number could be attached to each — or rather the same — name.
Carlisle H. Dickson’s “interpersonal-introduction signalling system,” patented in 1979, takes some of the pain out of the singles scene. Each person at a gathering carries a transceiver encoded with his or her own characteristics and preferences. So, for example, a woman can program her receiver to ignore every message except “I am a male, I want to dance with you, my music preference is hard rock.” When that signal is received, her receiver signals that the man can approach “with confidence not only of mutual interest, but of receptive mood.”
At this point the man doesn’t know exactly who or where she is, only that there’s a (minimally) compatible woman somewhere in the crowd. He begins to home in her using something like a Geiger counter, and this gives her time to spot him and change her mind — “at any time she may switch off her receiver, transmitter or both.”
“In a particularly novel construction, the apparatus may be further provided with a decoy means such that if the receiving party decides not to meet, the apparatus can be switched to create a false signal, such as the reversing of the characteristic created to assist the parties approaching each other.”
In December 1941, after eight months in the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, 19-year-old Nina Masel observed that “the main consequence of a lot of women living together seems to be that … conventional barriers and restraints are torn down and conversation gets down to bedrock.” The women all shared the same circumstances and had the same goal, so there was no point in pretending otherwise.
“And what is this thing we’re all after?” she asked. “Obviously, a man.” She estimated that 85 percent of the women’s conversation was about men, 15 percent about domestic and shop matters, and “a negligible proportion” about other things. So frank was the women’s talk that Masel was able to write out the rules of “The Great Man-Chase”:
1. Quality: The desirable qualities are rank, wings, looks, money, youth in that order. Rank is unbelievably important. There’s a Wing-Commander here whose only redeeming feature is that he’s young. He isn’t good-looking, he’s owned to be a great bore and he’s extremely ‘fast’ (which is not a recommendation) yet he could go out with any woman on the station he cared to ask. No one would refuse. … The height of sex-rank is commission and wings. Higher commission, the better. Sergeant pilots and ground commissions tie for second place. This includes army officers. Ground stripes come a poor third. For the rest as far as most Ops girls are concerned, there is little hunting-value. In the term ‘looks’ I include charm, personality, etc. This counts only as a narrow comparison viz P/O [Pilot Officer] A is better than P/O B because he is more charming, but we’d rather go out with P/O B who is not charming, than with Sergeant C who is (and he’s good-looking too). Members of the Army without commissions don’t get a look in at all …
2. Quantity: Naturally the more men one can fasten to one’s train the more prestige one gains in the Chase.
3. Intensity — a deliberately vague term embodying length of affair, extent of ardour and its manifestations.
The longer a woman could keep a man, the higher she ranked in the competition, particularly if he was passionately attached to her. “It seems to me that practically the entire object of the Chase is a matter of vanity and prestige,” Masel concluded. After participating in the Chase for a few months she had found:
a. “That I am happiest when I am conducting two or three successful affairs with eligibles as above.”
b. “That I am second happiest when I am pretending to other girls that they are successful affairs as above.”
“A girl in our Control had been trying very hard to get a date with a new officer,” she wrote. “She was sitting next to him in the Ops room one day full of concentration in her conversation when suddenly she smiled, looked across at me, and mouthed the words ‘Got him!’”
(From Angus Calder and Dorothy Sheridan, Speak for Yourself: A Mass-Observation Anthology, 1937-49, 1984.)
- A pound of dimes has the same value as a pound of quarters.
- The French word hétérogénéité has five accents.
- 32768 = (3 – 2 + 7)6 / 8
- Can you deceive yourself deliberately?
- “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” — Thomas Paine
In 2000, Guatemalan police asked Christmas revelers not to fire pistols into the air. “Lots of people die when bullets fall on their heads,” National Civilian Police spokesman Faustino Sanchez told Reuters. He said that five to ten Guatemalans are killed or injured each Christmas by falling bullets.
In 1905 Mark Twain wrote a story in which a pastor leads a prayer asking God’s support for recruits about to march away to war. A white-robed stranger enters, takes the pastor’s place, and explains that he has come from heaven. God has heard the prayer, but wants them to understand its full import. Their wish, cast in other words, is this:
Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it –
For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
Twain’s daughter Jean urged him not to publish the story, fearing that it would be seen as sacrilege.
“Still, you are going to publish it, are you not?” asked a friend.
“No,” Twain said after some reflection. “I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead.”
From Henry Sampson’s History of Advertising From the Earliest Times (1875):
In 1821 Lord Camden decided to postpone the start of the fall hunting season. He directed a servant to notify the people, and the servant posted this handbill all over Kent:
Notice is hereby given that the Marquis of Camden (on account of the backwardness of the harvest) will not shoot himself, nor any of his tenants, till the 14th of September.
The Earl of Jersey had similar troubles — his servants once posted this notice at Osterly Park:
Ten shillings reward. Any person found trespassing on these lands or damaging these fences on conviction will receive the above reward.
“Somebody once said that nobody expects to find education or ability in a lord,” wrote Sampson, “but that is because his household are expected to fulfill his duties properly.”
Letter from the Bishop of Chelmsford to the Times, Feb. 3, 1923:
Sir, I wonder how many of us, born and brought up in the Victorian era, would like to think that in the year, say, 5923, the tomb of Queen Victoria would be invaded by a party of foreigners who rifled it of its contents, took the body of the great Queen from the mausoleum in which it had been placed amid the grief of the whole people, and exhibited it to all and sundry who might wish to see it?
The question arises whether such treatment as we should count unseemly in the case of the great English Queen is not equally unseemly in the case of King Tutankhamen. I am not unmindful of the great historical value which may accrue from the examination of the collection of jewelry, furniture, and, above all, of papyri discovered within the tomb, and I realize that wide interests may justify their thorough investigation and even, in special cases, their temporary removal. But, in any case, I protest strongly against the removal of the body of the King from the place where it has rested for thousands of years. Such a removal borders on indecency, and traverses all Christian sentiment concerning the sacredness of the burial places of the dead.
In 1969, Sufi scholar Idries Shah published a volume called The Book of the Book. Its opening pages told of a king whose people would not listen to his teachings, as he lacked an instrument with which to teach them.
The king meets a stranger who tells him of a revered wise man who attributed his knowledge to a tome kept in a place of honor in his room. When the wise man died, his followers eagerly opened the book and found writing on only one page. “When you realise the difference between the container and the content,” it said, “you will have knowledge.”
The rest of Shah’s 200-page book was blank.
Letter to the Times, May 19, 1932:
I wonder if any of your male readers suffer as I do from what I can only describe as ‘Shop-shyness’? When I go into a shop I never seem to be able to get what I want, and I certainly never want what I eventually get. Take hats. When I want a grey soft hat which I have seen in the window priced at 17s. 6d. I come out with a brown hat (which doesn’t suit me) costing 35s. All because I have not the pluck to insist upon having what I want. I have got into the habit of saying weakly, ‘Yes, I’ll have that one,’ just because the shop assistant assures me that it suits me, fits me, and is a far, far better article than the one I originally asked for.
It is the same with shoes. In a shoe shop I am like clay in the hands of a potter. ‘I want a pair of black shoes,’ I say, ‘about twenty-five shillings — like those in the window.’ The man kneels down, measures my foot, produces a cardboard box, shoves on a shoe, and assures me it is ‘a nice fit.’ I get up and walk about. ‘How much are these?’ I ask. ‘These are fifty-two and six, Sir,’ he says, ‘a very superior shoe, Sir.’ After that I simply dare not ask to see the inferior shoes at 25s., which is all I had meant to pay. ‘Very well,’ I say in my weak way, ‘I’ll take these.’ And I do. I also take a bottle of cream polish, a pair of ‘gent’s half-hose,’ and some aluminium shoe-trees which the fellow persuades me to let him pack up with the shoes. I have made a mess of my shopping as usual.
Is there any cure for ‘shop-shyness’? Is there any ‘Course of Shopping Lessons’ during which I could as it were ‘Buy while I Learned’? If so I should like to hear of it. For I have just received a price list of ‘Very Attractive Gent’s Spring Suitings,’ and I am afraid — yes I am afraid … !
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
W. Hodgson Burnet
A tombstone from “a well-known town in the north, Gateshead,” from Henry Sampson’s History of Advertising From the Earliest Times, 1875:
“Do tripe and trotters after all produce a prosaic condition of the human mind suggested by this tombstone, or would the relict of Jeremy have done as she did had her wares been of a different kind?” asks Sampson. “In the interests of the edibles referred to, for which we must confess a weakness, we trust she would.”
A lady wishes to borrow One Hundred Pounds. The Security, though personal, may probably be very agreeable to a single Gentleman of spirit. Every particular will be communicated with Candour and Sincerity, where confidence is so far reposed as to give the real Name and Address of the party willing to oblige the Advertiser. Gentlemen of real Fortune and liberal Sentiments, and those only, are requested to address a line to Y. N. at Mr Dyke’s, Cross Street, Long-Acre.
– Morning Post, Dec. 15, 1775