So There

The autobiography of the American eccentric “Lord” Timothy Dexter (1748-1806) contains 8,847 words and no punctuation:

IME the first Lord in the younited States of Americary Now of Newburyport it is the voise of the peopel and I cant Help it and so Let it goue Now as I must be Lord there will foller many more Lords pretty soune for it dont hurt A Cat Nor the mouse Nor the son Nor the water Nor the Eare then goue on all is Easey Now …

When readers complained, he added a page of punctuation marks to the second edition, inviting them to “peper and solt it as thay plese.”

Pedal Pusher

At 8 a.m. on April 22, 1884, Thomas Stevens pedaled out of San Francisco on a 50-inch penny-farthing bicycle. Four months and 3,700 miles later, he arrived in Boston.

That was just the start. The following April he boarded a steamer for Liverpool, cycled across Europe and through Turkey to Calcutta, sailed to Hong Kong, and cycled across Japan, arriving at Yokohama on Dec. 17, 1886.

Even allowing for the steamship passages, he estimates that he actually pedaled about 13,500 miles — and became the first person to “circumbicycle” the globe.

“A Note for Little Boys”

In order that all good little boys may know how much more lucky it is for them to be little boys now, than it was in the ancient times, be informed of the cruel manner in which even good little boys were liable to be treated by the law of the Ripuarians. When a sale of land took place, it was required that there should be twelve witnesses, and with these as many boys, in whose presence the price of the land should be paid, and its formal surrender take place; and then the boys were beaten, and their ears pulled, so that the pain thus inflicted upon them should make an impression upon their memory, and that they might, if necessary, be afterwards witnesses as to the sale and delivery of the land.

— Robert Conger Pell, Milledulcia, 1857


These are the remains of Mary Jane Kelly, the fifth canonical victim of Jack the Ripper. Her mutilations were far more extensive than the others’, perhaps because she was the only victim killed in a private room. From the notes of police surgeon Thomas Bond:

“The whole of the surface of the abdomen and thighs was removed and the abdominal cavity emptied of its viscera. The breasts were cut off, the arms mutilated by several jagged wounds and the face hacked beyond recognition of the features. The tissues of the neck were severed all round down to the bone.

“The viscera were found in various parts viz: the uterus and kidneys with one breast under the head, the other breast by the right foot, the liver between the feet, the intestines by the right side and the spleen by the left side of the body. The flaps removed from the abdomen and thighs were on a table.”

She was last seen alive at 2 a.m. on Nov. 9, 1888, in the company of a “Jewish-looking man” as they walked to her room. Her fellow prostitute Mary Ann Cox, unable to sleep, heard someone leave the house at 5:45. In between, at about 4 a.m., two neighbors heard a faint woman’s voice cry “Murder!”

“Indian Corn”

Another candidate for worst poem of all time. This one is by the Rev. William Cook of Salem, Mass., from his 1873 booklet Talk About Indians:

Corn, corn, sweet Indian corn,
Greenly you grew long ago.
Indian fields well to adorn,
And to parch or grind hah-ho!
Where shines the summer sun,
And plied his hoe or plough
Blessings to men have you not gone
Making food of your dough?

In England, in France and Germany
At morn, at eve, at noon
Johnnie-cake and harmony
Increase the family boon.

Money Talks

When, at the General Peace of 1814, Prussia absorbed a portion of Saxony, the king issued a new coinage of rix dollars, with their German name, EIN REICHSTAHLER, impressed on them. The Saxons, by dividing the word, EIN REICH STAHL ER, made a sentence of which the meaning is, ‘He stole a kingdom!’

— William T. Dobson, Poetical Ingenuities and Eccentricities, 1882