From the category archives:


You remember the delight of throwing aside the boy’s clothes, and putting on the manly toga. Expect yet more joy from putting off a childish mind, and being enrolled by philosophy as a man.”

-Seneca, Epistles, XLV, Sec. 1


Just in case you were wondering.

From The Land of the Lion, 1874

By William Stephen Rainsford

Unless you want to waste money do not buy your shooting clothes till you reach Nairobi. There you can get an admirable choice of khaki stuffs and have them very well made for about a third of what you must pay your London tailor, one fifth of what your New York man will demand. Three good suits are sufficient for a year’s work. They will not weigh three pounds a suit, and will cost about one pound each.

Study the question of pockets. Have plenty and have them large. Each little contraption that you must carry with you daily should have its own pocket. Thus you can always find it quickly and, always keeping it there, you will not leave camp without it.

Have four wide, deep pockets in your khaki hunting jacket, good flaps buttoning over them, to keep out rain.

The best place by far to carry your field glasses, is in the left breast pocket of this jacket; the narrow leather strap of the glass passed round your neck. They can then be used instantaneously, which is most important. Carried in a leather case slung round the shoulder, they are practically useless for quick work, and in stalking the case is very much in the way. The right hand lower pocket of the shooting jacket is the best place for handy cartridges. The leather holders, London gun makers insist on pressing on you and charging you very highly for, are useless things. Unless your gun boy constantly takes out the cartridges in them, the dampness of your body produces verdigris on the cases, and they stick. If the leather cover over them is not buttoned, every drop of rain falls full on the one exposed part of the cartridge, the butt, and dampness once in there, a misfire is certain. You cannot afford misfires in Africa. In thirteen months constant shooting I had just one. Then I never carry my cartridges on a leather belt, and if the rain has got into my pocket, I promptly throw away the cartridges that had been in it. I think the right pocket of the jacket, and if you want to carry two sorts of cartridges, as sometimes you will, the right trousers pocket, are the best places in which to stow them. A big cotton handkerchief can be thrust into the left breast pocket over the glasses. There will then be little chance of their becoming thoroughly wetted. Save your Zeiss glasses from wet. Once the dampness gets in they must be cleaned or they may take weeks to dry off. Always take an extra pair; you can get your money back for them.

Tobacco, pipe, matches, notebook, will fill the other two jacket pockets. Compass, measuring tape, pocket knife, and a bit of string, always useful, will fill your capacious trousers pockets. If you are obliged, as I am, to wear glasses, then have an extra big pocket made down the front of your left leg. There carry your cases, and an extra pair of spectacles. It is the safest side. Wear a strong leather belt, with a short, light, tested, hunting knife on it: wide in the blade; thin in the back.

Always carry a whistle, and teach your men to come immediately to its call…I have a whistle pocket in all my jackets, high up on the left side.

Now, one thing more. Fill your pockets over night. Always fill them, and keep them filled. You cannot rush off without your clothes, you can rush off leaving many necessary things behind you. There is nothing more annoying than to have to wait on a man in the early raw morning, while he rushes round in the murk looking for the essentials which should have been carefully stowed in his pockets the night before. It is a bad way to begin the day.


In light of the recent discussion on who should be rescued first from danger, this humorous “rescue etiquette” guide from Mark Twain is apropos. Twain wryly lists the order in which 26 types of people should be rescued. 

“Rescue Etiquette”
By: Mark Twain

In assisting at a fire in a boarding house, the true gentleman will always save the young ladies first—making no distinction in favor of personal attractions, or social eminence, or pecuniary predominance—but taking them as they come, and firing them out with as much celerity as shall be consistent with decorum. There are exceptions, of course, to all rules; the exceptions to this one are:

Partiality, in the matter of rescue, to be shown to:

1. Fiancées.
2. Persons toward whom the operator feels a tender sentiment, but has not yet declared himself.
3. Sisters.
4. Stepsisters.
5. Nieces.
6. First cousins.
7. Cripples.
8. Second cousins.
9. Invalids.
10. Young-lady relations by marriage.
11. Third cousins, and young-lady friends of the family.
12. The Unclassified.

Other material in boarding house is to be rescued in the following order:

13. Babies.
14. Children under 10 years of age.
15. Young widows.
16. Young married females.
17. Elderly married ditto.
18. Elderly widows.
19. Clergymen.
20. Boarders in general.
21. Female domestics.
22. Male ditto.
23. Landlady.
24. Landlord.
25. Firemen.
26. Furniture.
27. Mothers-in-law.

From Lists of Note

Hat tip to Evan W. for this link.


From Heretics, 1905
By GK Chesterton

This new frivolity is inadequate because there is in it no strong sense of an unuttered joy. The men and women who exchange the repartees may not only be hating each other, but hating even themselves. Any one of them might be bankrupt that day, or sentenced to be shot the next. They are joking, not because they are merry, but because they are not; out of the emptiness of the heart the mouth speaketh. Even when they talk pure nonsense it is a careful nonsense — a nonsense of which they are economical, or, to use the perfect expression of Mr. W. S. Gilbert in “Patience,” it is such “precious nonsense.” Even when they become light-headed they do not become light-hearted. All those who have read anything of the rationalism of the moderns know that their Reason is a sad thing. But even their unreason is sad. The causes of this incapacity are also not very difficult to indicate. The chief of all, of course, is that miserable fear of being sentimental, which is the meanest of all the modern terrors — meaner even than the terror which produces hygiene. Everywhere the robust and uproarious humour has come from the men who were capable not merely of sentimentalism, but a very silly sentimentalism. There has been no humour so robust or uproarious as that of the sentimentalist Steele or the sentimentalist Sterne or the sentimentalist Dickens. These creatures who wept like women were the creatures who laughed like men. It is true that the humour of Micawber is good literature and that the pathos of little Nell is bad. But the kind of man who had the courage to write so badly in the one case is the kind of man who would have the courage to write so well in the other. The same unconsciousness, the same violent innocence, the same gigantesque scale of action which brought the Napoleon of Comedy his Jena brought him also his Moscow. And herein is especially shown the frigid and feeble limitations of our modern wits. They make violent efforts, they make heroic and almost pathetic efforts, but they cannot really write badly…

For a hearty laugh it is necessary to have touched the heart. I do not know why touching the heart should always be connected only with the idea of touching it to compassion or a sense of distress. The heart can be touched to joy and triumph; the heart can be touched to amusement. But all our comedians are tragic comedians. These later fashionable writers are so pessimistic in bone and marrow that they never seem able to imagine the heart having any concern with mirth. When they speak of the heart, they always mean the pangs and disappointments of the emotional life. When they say that a man’s heart is in the right place, they mean, apparently, that it is in his boots. Our ethical societies understand fellowship, but they do not understand good fellowship. Similarly, our wits understand talk, but not what Dr. Johnson called a good talk. In order to have, like Dr. Johnson, a good talk, it is emphatically necessary to be, like Dr. Johnson, a good man — to have friendship and honour and an abysmal tenderness. Above all, it is necessary to be openly and indecently humane, to confess with fullness all the primary pities and fears of Adam. Johnson was a clear-headed humorous man, and therefore he did not mind talking seriously about religion. Johnson was a brave man, one of the bravest that ever walked, and therefore he did not mind avowing to any one his consuming fear of death.

The idea that there is something English in the repression of one’s feelings is one of those ideas which no Englishman ever heard of until England began to be governed exclusively by Scotchmen, Americans, and Jews. At the best, the idea is a generalization from the Duke of Wellington — who was an Irishman. At the worst, it is a part of that silly Teutonism which knows as little about England as it does about anthropology, but which is always talking about Vikings. As a matter of fact, the Vikings did not repress their feelings in the least. They cried like babies and kissed each other like girls; in short, they acted in that respect like Achilles and all strong heroes the children of the gods. And though the English nationality has probably not much more to do with the Vikings than the French nationality or the Irish nationality, the English have certainly been the children of the Vikings in the matter of tears and kisses. It is not merely true that all the most typically English men of letters, like Shakespeare and Dickens, Richardson and Thackeray, were sentimentalists. It is also true that all the most typically English men of action were sentimentalists, if possible, more sentimental. In the great Elizabethan age, when the English nation was finally hammered out, in the great eighteenth century when the British Empire was being built up everywhere, where in all these times, where was this symbolic stoical Englishman who dresses in drab and black and represses his feelings? Were all the Elizabethan palladins and pirates like that? Were any of them like that? Was Grenville concealing his emotions when he broke wineglasses to pieces with his teeth and bit them till the blood poured down? Was Essex restraining his excitement when he threw his hat into the sea?…

The tales of all the admirals and adventurers of that England are full of braggadocio, of sentimentality, of splendid affectation. But it is scarcely necessary to multiply examples of the essentially romantic Englishman when one example towers above them all. Mr. Rudyard Kipling has said complacently of the English, “We do not fall on the neck and kiss when we come together.” It is true that this ancient and universal custom has vanished with the modern weakening of England. Sydney would have thought nothing of kissing Spenser. But I willingly concede that Mr. Broderick would not be likely to kiss Mr. Arnold-Foster, if that be any proof of the increased manliness and military greatness of England. But the Englishman who does not show his feelings has not altogether given up the power of seeing something English in the great sea-hero of the Napoleonic war. You cannot break the legend of Nelson. And across the sunset of that glory is written in flaming letters for ever the great English sentiment, “Kiss me, Hardy.”