I am nearly driven wild with the Dorcas accounts, and by Mrs. Wakefield’s orders they are to be done now. I do hate sums. There is no greater mistake than to call arithmetic an exact science. There are Permutations and Aberrations discernible to minds entirely noble like mine; subtle variations which ordinary accountants fail to discover; hidden laws of Number which it requires a mind like mine to perceive. For instance, if you add a sum from the bottom up, and then again from the top down, the result is always different. Again if you multiply a number by another number before you have had your tea, and then again after, the product will be different. It is also remarkable that the Post-tea product is more likely to agree with other people’s calculations than the Pre-tea result.

Try the experiment, and if you do not find it as I say, you are a mere sciolist, a poor mechanical thinker, and not gifted as I am, with subtle perceptions.

— Maria Price La Touche, The Letters of a Noble Woman, 1908