Shouldn’t This Rhyme?

“Husband,” says Joan, “’tis plain enough
That Roger loves our daughter;
And Betty loves him too, although
She treats his suit with laughter.”

For Roger always hems and coughs,
While on the field he’s ploughing;
Then strives to see between the boughs,
If Betty heeds his coughing.

— Charles Carroll Bombaugh, Gleanings for the Curious from the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1890


“An ugly baby is a very nasty object — and the prettiest is frightful when undressed — till about four months; in short, as long as they have their big body and little limbs and that terrible frog-like action.” — Queen Victoria to the Princess Royal, May 2, 1859

The Wizard of Mauritius

Jean-Paul Marat’s correspondence mentions one Bottineau, born in France around 1740, who founded a science he called nauscopie, “the art of discovering vessels and lands at a considerable distance.” Stationed on the Isle of France, reportedly he was soon winning wagers by predicting arrivals up to three days in advance.

The commissary-general of the navy swore that “he has announced to us within six months, one hundred and nine vessels, one, two, three, or four days before the signals were made from the mountains, and in this number he only was twice mistaken.” The island’s governor affirmed: “What we can certify is, that M. Bottineau was almost always right.”

Bottineau explained that he observed an effect in the atmosphere, but he refused to sell his method, claiming the offers were too low. Unfortunately, Europe was distracted by the political upheaval in France, and in 1802 he was reported to have “died lately in great misery at Pondicherry.” His secret, if he had one, went with him.

“A Cube Paradox”

dudeney cube puzzle

A puzzle from Henry Dudeney:

I had two solid cubes of lead, one very slightly larger than the other, just as shown in the illustration. Through one of them I cut a hole (without destroying the continuity of its four sides) so that the other cube could be passed right through it. On weighing them afterwards it was found that the larger cube was still the heavier of the two! How was this possible?

Click for Answer

“Riddles for the Post Office”

The following is an exact copy of the direction of a letter mailed a few years ago by a German living in Lancaster County, Pa.:—

Tis is fur old Mr. Willy wot brinds de Baber in Lang Kaster ware ti gal is gist rede him assume as it cums to ti Pushtufous.


This is for old Mr. Willy, what prints the paper in Lancaster, where the jail is. Just read him as soon as it comes to the Post Office.

Inclosed was an essay against public schools.

— Robert Conger Pell, Milledulcia, 1857