October 19th, 2007

Party Guy

Happy Birthday, gamera_spinning!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk):

A name given to the hippo.
--Rev. John Boag's Imperial Lexicon, c. 1850

Birthday of Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682),
English antiquary, doctor, and philosopher. In a biographical sketch, Samuel Johnson mentioned that after Browne's first book, Religio Medici, was published in 1643, Browne "experienced the delights of praise and molestations of censure, probably found his dread of the publick eye diminished, and therefore [it] was not long before he trusted his name to the criticks a second time, for in 1646 he printed Enquiries into ... Vulgar Errors." As the title clearly indicated, this work contained a series of exposés of everyday "endeavours of Satan," or devilish misconceptions, among them that gold has medicinal value, that beavers gnaw off their own scent glands to escape detection by hunters, and that elephants have no joints. The God-fearing philosopher also posed thought-provoking biological and theological questions regarding the story of Noah's ark, such as what the carnivorous animals ate during the long voyage and why all terrestrial plant life was not destroyed in the mighty inundation.

And the smell! What did they do about the smell???

-The Gneech
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