Extracts from "And the Baboon Played Chess"

To whet your appetite, here are some extracts from "And the Baboon Played Chess"

If you think of marriage, do not fix your affections only upon beauty, it is transitory, and resembles the morning dew. Seek after virtue, it endures for ages, and is a greater ornament to the fair sex, than diamonds.

The farmers of the Upper Alps, though by no means wealthy, live like lords in their houses, while the heaviest portion of agricultural labour devolves on the wife. It is no uncommon thing to see a woman yoked to the plough along with an ass, while the husband guides it. A farmer of the Upper Alps accounts it an act of politeness to lend his wife to a neighbour who is too much oppressed with work; and the neighbour, in his turn, lends his wife for a few day's work, whenever the favour is requested.

ANAGRAM, a transposition of letters in any word forming another, first practised by the French in the reign of Charles IV, 1560.

The origin of this art (the rod and line) is involved in obscurity; allusion is made to it by the Greeks and Romans, and in the most ancient books of the Bible, as Amos. It came into general repute in England about the period of the Reformation. Wynkin de Worde's Treatyse of Fysshinge, the first book printed on angling, appeared in 1496. Izaak Walton's book was printed in 1653.

ANNUALS, Illustrated -
the second childhood of Literature, the patrons of which carefully look over the plates, and studiously overlook the letter-press. Its object is to substitute the visible for the imaginative, a sensual for an intellectual pleasure, and to teach us to read engravings instead of writings.

A great curse of English society is the folly, or, in many instances, rather the crime, of appearance-making. How many a ruined family might be well-doing and happily circumstanced but for this folly! How many a crime would never have been committed if it had not been for this social curse!

APPRENTICES of London obliged to wear blue cloaks in summer, and blue gowns in winter, in 1558. Apprentice-tax enacted, 1802.

The origin of the jokes played under this name is conjectured to rest with the French, who term the object of their mockery un poisson d'avril, a name they also give to mackerel, a silly fish easily caught in great quantity at this season. The French antiquaries have vainly endeavoured to trace this custom to its source. It is said that we have borrowed the practice from our neighbours, changing the appellation from fish to fool; but, in England, it is of no very great antiquity, as none of our old plays, nor any writer so old as the time of Queen Elizabeth, have any allusion to it. In Scotland it is termed hunting the gowk (cuckoo).

The Arabians recommended patience by the following proverb: "Be patient, and the mulberry-leaf will become satin."

"Drops added to drops make the ocean."

Archdeacon Paley, in one of his discourses, touching upon the expenses brought upon husbands and fathers in the way of cambrics and satins, says - "I never let my women (be it understood he spoke of Mrs. Archdeacon Paley and the Misses Paley), when they shop, take credit. I always make them pay ready money, sir; ready money is such a check upon the imagination."

ARITHMETIC brought from Arabia to Europe, 991; the invention of decimals, by Regiomontanus, 1042.

A country boy having been hired by a gentleman of some rank in town, endeavoured, to the utmost of his power, to make himself useful, and avoid the necessity of being so frequently told of so many trifling things, as country lads generally are. This officiousness, however, once operated rather to his disadvantage: his master had sent him downstairs for two bottles of wine; when he came into the parlour with them, he said to him, "Well, John, have you shook them?" The poor boy, ever anxious to please, replied, "No, sir; but I WILL;" and began shaking the bottles with all possible violence.

AURORA BOREALIS, or Northern Lights, first seen, March, 1716, when they extended from Ireland as far as Russia; many were terrified by them in 1765; electricity of, discovered at Jena in 1789.

AUTOMATON figures, called also ANDROIDES. The first was a flying dove, reported to be made by Archytas, B.C. 408. Friar Bacon made a brazen head that could speak, 1264. Vaucanson made an artificial duck, that ate, drank, and quacked, and also a flute-player, 1738.

They are made to perform human actions, and are of early invention. Archytas' flying dove was formed about 400 B.C. Friar Bacon made a brazen head that could speak, A.D. 1264. Albertus Magnus spent thirty years in making another. A coach and two horses, with a footman, a page, a lady inside, were made by Camus, for Louis XIV when a child; the horses and figures moved naturally, variously and perfectly, 1649. Vaucanson made an artificial duck, which performed every function of a real one, even an imperfect digestion, eating, drinking, and quacking. Vaucanson also made a flute-player, 1738. The writing androides, exhibited in 1769, was a pentograph worked by a confederate out of sight; so were also the automaton chess-player, exhibited the same year, and "the invisible girl," exhibited in 1800.

in money of husbandry labour:-
1687…6s. bread cost 3d.
1776…8s. bread cost 6 ½d.
1785…8s. bread cost 6d.
1792…9s. bread cost 7d.
1803…10s. bread cost 10d.
1811…12s. bread cost 12d.
1812…15s. bread cost 15d.
1843…10s. bread cost 8d.

BACHELOR's Tax, 1695; increased, 1735, 1796; doubled on their servants, 1785.

The Roman censors frequently imposed fines on unmarried men; and men of full age were obliged to marry. The Spartan women at certain games laid hold of old bachelors, dragged them round their altars, and inflicted on them various marks of infamy and disgrace. After twenty-five years of age, a tax was laid upon bachelors in England, £12. 10s. for a duke, and for a common person, one shilling, 7 Will. III, 1695. Bachelors were subjected to a double tax on their male and female servants, in 1785.

Two comedians, belonging to Covent-Garden Theatre, having a wager about which of them sung the best, they agreed to refer it to Dr. Arne, who undertook to be arbitrator on this occasion. A day was accordingly agreed on, and both the parties executed to the best of their abilities before him. As soon as they had finished, the doctor proceeded to give judgment in the following manner: "As for you, sir (addressing himself to the first), you are by much the WORST singer I ever heard in my life." "Ah," said the other, exulting, "I knew I should win my wager." "Stop," says the doctor, "I have a word to say to you before you go, which is this, that as for you, sir, YOU CANNOT SING AT ALL."

BAGNOLET, near Paris, a fossil palm-tree was discovered deep in the earth, 1809.

BALL, Mr., received the gold medal of the Society of Arts, for cultivating rhubarb, 1790.

BALLETS arose from the effeminate taste of the Italians; exhibited before Henry VIII and Francis I, at the field of the cloth of gold, 1520; they reached their perfection in Tuscany, and in the court of France, under Louis XIV, who himself took a part in them, 1664.

Galien of Avignon wrote on aerostation, in 1755. Dr. Black gave the hint as to hydrogen, in 1767. A balloon was constructed in France by M. Montgolfier, in 1783, when Rozier and the marquis d'Arlandes ascended at Paris. Piltre Desrozier and M. Romain perished in an attempted voyage from Boulogne to England, the balloon having taken fire, June 14, 1785. At the battle of Fleurus, the French made use of a balloon to reconnoitre the enemy's army, and convey the observations by telegraph, June 17, 1794. Garnerin ascended in a balloon to the height of 4000 feet, and descended by a parachute, Sept. 21, 1802. Gay-Lussac ascended at Paris to the height of 23,000 feet, Sept. 6, 1804. Madame Blanchard ascended from Tivoli at night, and the balloon, being surrounded by fireworks, took fire, and she was precipitated to the ground and killed, July 6, 1819.

The first attempt to navigate the atmosphere in England in a balloon was by signor Lunardi, who ascended from Moorfields, Sept. 15, 1784. Blanchard and Jeffries passed from Dover to Calais, in 1785. Mr. Arnold went up from St. George's-fields, and fell into the Thames; and Major Money ascended from Norwich, and fell into the North Sea, but was saved by a revenue cutter. The first ascent from Ireland was from Ranelagh-gardens, Dublin, in 1785. Sadler, who made many previous expeditions in England, fell into the sea near Holyhead, but was taken up, Oct. 9, 1812. Sadler, jun., was killed, falling from a balloon, in 1825. Mr. Cocking ascended from Vauxhall; the parachute, in its descent from the balloon, collapsed, and he was thrown out and killed, July 24, 1837. Green and others have made repeated ascents, to the present time, 1850.

A merchant who had to sign the baptismal register of one of his children, wrote "Peter Cooke and Company," without perceiving his error till aroused to it by the laughter of his friends.

BARCLAY, Captain, walked a thousand miles in a thousand successive hours, each mile within the hour; hundreds of thousands of pounds depended; took place July 10, 1809; forty-two days and nights, less eight hours. A lady was said to have ridden a thousand miles in a thousand hours, which she performed May 3, 1758.

BARROW, one opened near Stonehenge, November, 1808, containing Celtic ornaments in wood, amber, and gold.

The baths of Somersetshire are said to have been in use eight centuries before Christ. In London, St. Agnes Le Clere, in Old-street-road, is a spring of great antiquity, and was well known in the time of Henry VIII. St.Chad's-well, Gray's-inn-road, derived its name from St. Chad, the fifth bishop of Lichfield, in A.D. 667. Old Bath-house, Coldbath-square, was in use in 1697. A bath opened in Bagnio-court, London, is said to have been the first bath established in England for hot bathing.

Various have been the customs of most nations respecting them. The Tartars, out of a religious principle, waged a long and bloody war with the Persians, declaring them infidels, because they would not cut their beards after the rites of Tartary. The Greeks wore their beards till the time of Alexander, who ordered the Macedonians to be shaved, lest the beard should give a handle to their enemies, 330 B.C. Beards were worn by the Romans, 297 B.C. They have been worn for centuries by the Jews. In England, they were not fashionable after the Conquest, A.D. 1066, until the thirteenth century, and were discontinued at the Restoration. The Russians, even of rank, did not cut their beards until within these few years; and Peter the Great, notwithstanding his enjoining them to shave, was obliged to keep officers on foot to cut off the beard by force. [1851]

The practice universal in the first ages, for mankind to sleep upon the skins of beasts. This was the custom of the early Greeks and Romans, and of the Britons, before the Roman invasion. They were afterwards changed for loose rushes and heather. Straw followed, and was used in the royal chambers of England so late as the close of the 15th century. The Romans were the first who used feathers.

A beverage of this sort is made mention of by Xenophon, in his famous retreat, 401 B.C. Beer was drunk generally in England in the thirteenth century. By a law of James I, when there was a kind of duty paid on "ale called bere," one quart of the best thereof was to be sold for a penny. Subjected to excise in 1660. There have been various statutes passed from time to time regulating the sale of beer. In England the number of retailers under the late acts of 1 Will. IV, and 4 Will. IV, 1834, amount to about 60,000.

BEES, introduced into Boston, U.S., by the English, 1670; since then they have spread over the whole continent.

Dowton, in his evidence before the Dramatic Committee, when asked where he first acted publicly, replied, "In a barn at Ashburton, in Derbyshire, or a cow-house, I believe; it was not so good as a barn." Mr. Powell once played Young Norval in pattens, (because the stage was flooded from recent rains,) in a wretched shed in which the company held forth. And Kean acted Sir Giles Overreach on a billiard-table in a small room at Abergavenny.

BELLMAN, appointed first in London, to proclaim the hour of the night, ringing three bells, and crying, "Take care of your fire and candle, be charitable to the poor, and pray for the dead," 1530.

The best place in the world is the saddle of a rapid courser: the best friend in the world is a good book. [Arabian author]

BIDDLES, John, a noted miser, who died in 1833, and left a million sterling, having supported himself upon 6d. per day.

Invented by the French, by whom, and by the Germans, Dutch, and Italians, they were brought into general vogue throughout Europe. The French ascribe their invention to Henrique Devigne, an artist, in the reign of Charles IX, about 1571. Slate billiard-tables were introduced in England in 1827.

BITTER COLD An apothecary who used to value himself on his knowledge of drugs, asserted that all bitter things were hot. "No," said a gentleman present, "there is one of a very different quality; a bitter cold day.

BLACK Monday, or Easter Monday, 1351, when hailstones fell that killed both horses and men in the army of Edward III, from the extreme cold. The same name is given in Ireland to the day when a number of English were slaughtered at a village near Dublin, 1209.

Here 146 British gentlemen, merchants, and others, in the service of the East India Company, were seized by order of the nabob, Surajah Dowlah, and thrust into a dungeon called the "Black-hole," in the fort, by his soldiers. These latter saw that the place was too small for such a number, but they were afraid to awaken the nabob, then asleep, for further orders. One hundred and twenty-three of the sufferers died before morning, having been suffocated by the heat, crushing, and stench of a dungeon only eighteen feet square, June 20, 1756. Calcutta was retaken next year, and the nabob was deposed and put to death by his successor.

BLACK-LEAD, or Plumbago, for pencils, first noticed at Zurich, 1565; mines of, in Cumberland, noticed by Merrett, 1667; an inferior kind imported from Mexico and Ceylon.

We could give no opinion on this work till we had consulted our solicitor. He tells us (6s.8d.!) that it is so excellent and so much-wanted a treatise on the subject, that we need have no limitations in our commendation of it.

BLANKETS, first made in England, 1340.

A paper on a system of nocturnal writing, for the use of persons deprived of sight, by M. Barbier, has been submitted by the French Academy to the consideration of a committee. The same system is applicable to persons whose sight is weakened by age.

This term is applied to literary ladies, and was originally conferred on a society of literary persons of both sexes. One of the most active promoters of the society was Benjamin Stillingfleet, the distinguished naturalist and miscellaneous writer, who always wore blue worsted stockings, and hence the name: the society existed in 1760, et seq. The beautiful and fascinating Mrs. Jerningham is said to have worn blue stockings at the conversaziones of lady Montague; and this peculiarity also fastened the name upon accomplished women.

Under the head of the Police Report of a daily Journal in 1794, was contained the following blunder:-
"On the prisoner becoming very refractory, and swearing he would not be taken, the officers were obliged, for their own personal safety, to handcuff his legs."

BOAT of iron first made and launched, May 20, 1777, holding fifteen persons, at Foss, in Yorkshire.

Their invention was so early, and their use so general, the art cannot be traced to any age or country. Flat-bottomed boats were made in England in the reign of the Conqueror: the flat-bottomed boat was again brought into use by Barker, a Dutchman, about 1690. The life-boat was first suggested at South Shields; and one was built by Mr. Greathead, the inventor, and was first put to sea, Jan. 30, 1790.

"Give him a bone to pick," took its rise from a custom at marriage feasts, among the poor in Sicily, when the bride's father, at supper, gave the bridegroom a bone, saying, "Lick this bone, for you have undertaken to pick one more difficult."

A barber, who was in the habit of stunning his customer's ears by the rapidity of his tongue, asked an individual, one day, how he wished his beard to be cut. "Without saying a single word," replied he.

a thing formerly put aside to be read, and now read to be put aside. The world is, at present, divided into two classes - those who forget to read, and those who read to forget. Bookmaking, which used to be a science, is now a manufacture, with which, as in everything else, the market is so completely overstocked, that our literary operatives if they wish to avoid starving, must eat up one another. They have, for some time, been employed in cutting up each other, as if to prepare for the meal. Alas! they may have reason for their feast, without finding it a feast of reason.

A commercial gentleman going into the Travellers' room at one of the inns at Barnsley, inquired for the boots. In a few minutes a shrimp of a lad presented himself. "Well," said the traveller, "are you the boots?" The youth, supposing, no doubt, that the gentleman was up to sport, replied, "No, I'm the stockings, Sur." The traveller, not exactly pleased with the answer, asked him what he meant by such a reply? "Wha," repeated the boy, in a sort of simple laugh, "I'm the stockings, Sur." "Stockings, what do you mean by stockings, you impertinent snapper, you?" "Wha, Sur," said the boy, with an unaltered countenance, "a'm under booits, so ha must be stockings, Sur." The gentleman turned round to the window, and laughed heartily, and the rogue of a lad walked gravely away.

The famous inquisition of this charlatan occurred at the old Haymarket theatre, Jan. 16, 1748; he had announced that he would jump into a quart bottle, and so imposed upon the credulous multitude, that the theatre was besieged by 10,000 persons, anxious to gain admittance and witness the feat. The object of filling the house was accomplished; but the duped crowd (who really expected to see the man enter the quart bottle), in the storm of their indignation, nearly pulled the whole edifice down.

BOTTLES, of glass, made first in England, 1558; one to hold two hogsheads blown at Leith, Scotland, Jan., 1748.

BOWMAN, a coachman to a Turkey merchant, opened the first coffee-house at Cornhill, 1652.

BRANDY first extracted from the dried fruit of the caroba tree, 1805.

BRAY, vicar of, a notorious turncoat, the Rev. Symon Symonds; twice a papist and twice a protestant in two successive reigns, Henry VIII to Elizabeth inclusive, between 1533 and 1588; he boasted that his principle was to live and die vicar of Bray, whence the well-known song.

Why is a dear loaf like a race horse? Because it is high bread!

BREAKFAST IN 1480; a tavern bill of this date ran as follows: Breakfast provisions "Syr Goefry Walton, the gude Ladie Walton, and their fair daughter Gabrielle - 3 pounds of saved salmon, 2 pounds of boiled mutton and onions, 3 slices of porke, 6 red herrings, 6 pounds of leavened bread, 1 choppin of mead, 5 choppins of strong beer."

Among the Greeks, this garment indicated slavery. It was worn by the Dacians, Parthians, and other northern nations; and in Italy, it is said, it was worn in the time of Augustus Caesar. In the reign of Honorius, about A.D. 394, the braccari, or breeches-makers, were expelled from Rome; but soon afterwards the use of breeches was adopted in other countries, and at length it became general.

Mr. Gossling, an old gentleman who lived in Wych Street, about the year 1737, was called the British Timon, or woman-hater, on account of his never employing a woman to do anything about him. He occupied two rooms, lighted his own fire, cooked his own victuals, made his own bed, and washed his own stockings and handkerchiefs, the only washable articles of his dress, for he wore no shirt, nor had he any sheets on his bed. His dress, which was remarkable and antiquated, was preserved with the utmost care; and he used to strew over such of his clothes as he did not wear constantly, cedar saw-dust and shavings: he used the same process with his bedding.

A facetious artist, of some celebrity, strolling along the other day, saw a fellow painting a door-post. "You dash away famously, brother Brush," said he. "What, are you a chimney-sweep?" instantly retorted brother Brush.

It was a pretty saying of a little boy who, seeing two nestling birds pecking at each other, inquired of his elder brother what they were doing. "They are quarrelling," was the answer. "No," replied the child, "that cannot be; they are brothers."

The wearing of buckles commenced in the reign of Charles II; but people of inferior rank, and such as affected plainness in their garb, wore strings in their shoes some years after that period: these last were, however, ridiculed for their singularity in using them. Buckles continue to be used in court dress and by persons of rank in most countries of Europe.

These were originally mountebanks in the Roman theatres. The shows of the buffoons were discouraged by Domitian, and were finally abolished by Trajan, A.D. 98. Our ancient kings had jesters, who are described as being, at first, practitioners of indecent raillery and antic postures; they were employed under the Tudors. Some writers state that James I converted the jesters into poet-laureates; but poet-laureates existed long before; Selden traces the latter to 1251.

BURNT cork found to be efficacious in Cholera morbus, 1819.

BUSHES of evergreens hung out where wine was sold in Italy in the fifteenth century, whence the proverb: "Good wine needs no bush," 1460.

BUTTER, reported shower of a substance resembling, 1675.

of early manufacture in England: those covered with cloth were prohibited by a statute, thereby to encourage the manufacture of metal buttons, 8 Geo. I, 1721. The manufacture owes nothing to encouragement from any quarter of late years, although it has, notwithstanding, much improved.

A jockey, wishing to make an advantageous display of a horse that he was desirous of selling to a bystander, placed his boy upon the back of the beast, ordering him to "ride around a short distance." The boy, though well instructed, unfortunately knew not whether the horse was already his father's, or yet to be bargained for; being anxious, to know the will of his father, he stopped, after riding a short distance, and inquired, with a loud voice, "Father, shall I ride this horse to buy or sell?"

Mrs. Opie said, talking of Byron, "His voice was such a voice as the Devil tempted Eve with: you feared its fascinations the moment you heard it."