Short Work

Samuel Johnson used to boast that his memory was so prodigious that he could recite an entire chapter of Niels Horrebow’s 1758 Natural History of Iceland. When challenged he would declaim:

Chap. LXXII. Concerning Snakes

There are no snakes to be met with throughout the whole island.

That’s it. Editor George Birkbeck Hill adds, “Chapter XLII is still shorter:–

Concerning Owls.

There are no owls of any kind in the whole island.