In a Word

adj. clockwise

“A Bullock Felled by a Man’s Fist”

October 9, 1792. One M’Gregor, a painter, in Kelso, undertook for a trifling wager to fell a bullock with his fist at three blows, which he performed in a second. What makes it more extraordinary, he is a very slender man, and not above five feet seven inches high.

Rivington’s Annual Register, 1792

Jeffrey Hudson

Jeffrey Hudson was only 18 inches tall, but his life was enormous. Born in 1619, the “rarity of nature” was served in a pie to a delighted Queen Henrietta, who adopted him. Thereafter he played in court masques for Inigo Jones, undertook a mission to France, observed the Spanish siege of Breda, won a duel (on horseback!) against the queen’s master of horse, was captured by Barbary pirates and enslaved in North Africa, returned to London, and was imprisoned for his Catholicism. He died in 1682, both small and great.

A for Effort,_1887).jpg

Okay, let’s keep an open mind here. Reportedly native to central Asia, the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary was rumored to put forth lambs as fruit in order to graze the surrounding ground. It’s thought to be a medieval myth to explain the existence of cotton.

When it ran out of grass, it died. Still, kudos.

Well Rounded

There’s something odd about Illinois’ Bull Valley Police Department — it has no square corners.

The house was built by George Stickney, a spiritualist who believed spirits could be caught in 90-degree angles. Stickney used to hold seances on the second floor; he had lost nine of his 12 children and possibly was trying to reach them.

Whatever the truth, the house seems a poor place for a police department. There are numerous rumors of paranormal activity, and so far two officers have quit.


Last week, while the sexton of Tynemouth Church was digging a grave in North Shields Church Yard, he imagined he heard a feeble voice under his feet, pronounce the word ‘murder!’ but looking down, and perceiving nothing, he plucked up his spirits and resumed his work. No sooner, however, did he begin to make use of his spade, than the same awful sound vibrated three times in his ears: the courage of the astonished Moses forsook him — the spade dropped from his grasp, and, with the agility of an harlequin, he skipped out of the grave, and fled from the church yard, to the no small amusement of those who were in the secret. A soldier practising ventriloquism, who was placed at a convenient distance, conveyed the sound.

Times, Oct. 29, 1808


“Ours has been the first [expedition], and doubtless to be the last, to visit this profitless locality.” — Lt. Joseph Ives, after visiting the Grand Canyon, 1861

In a Word

n. one hiding from the police


In 1976, off Bombay, the oil tanker Cretan Star sent out a distress call:


It was never seen again.

“Port Coon Cave”

Port Coon Cave

The above is a sketch of a cave which well deserves a place among our collection of Wonders. It is called Port Coon Cave, and is in the line of rocks near the Giants’ Causeway. It may be visited either by sea or by land. Boats may row into it to the distance of a hundred yards or more, but the swell is sometimes dangerous; and although the land entrance to the cave is slippery, and a fair proportion of climbing is necessary to achieve the object, still the magnificence of the excavation, its length, and the formation of the interior, would repay greater exertion; the stones of which the roof and sides are composed, and which are of a rounded form, and embedded, as it were, in a basaltic paste, are formed of concentric spheres resembling the coats of an onion; the innermost recess has been compared to the side aisle of a Gothic cathedral; the walls are most painfully slimy to the touch; the discharge of a loaded gun reverberates amid the rolling of the billows, so as to thunder a most awful effect; and the notes of a bugle, we are told, produced delicious echoes.

— Edmund Fillingham King, Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, 1860