Some years ago, in Toronto, I was part of a conversation in which an ‘intellectual’ lady snapped at her meticulous husband with Emerson’s words *Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” I felt she was hard on the poor man so I pointed out that Emerson had said “Foolish consistency…”: which was rather different. Now I was not popular, and I haven’t spoken to the woman since.
I find that truths which turn out to be not so rather fascinating, so let me give you a few examples. Then perhaps you can add some others in your contributions. It will make a break from our serious debates.
The guillotine was not named after its inventor. It was used in Italy for years beforehand, and was introduced to France by a Dr Louis. It was at one stage called a louison. Dr Guillotin persuaded the National Assembly to use it to replace the existing cruel methods of execution.
A miniature, as we all know, is a very small painting. Or do we? In fact the Latin word refers to painting with red lead. Normally once used for illuminated manuscripts it can, etymologically, be of any size.
The minutes of a meeting are not a record related to time but to size. The record customarily used small handwriting.
When Hamlet wished Ophelia to a nunnery he was far from preserving her virtue. In the slang of those days a nunnery was a brothel.
Brides do not walk down the aisle but the nave. The aisles go down the sides.
The human body renews itself every seven years. While bodies are always changing, seven is a fiction. The number seven seems to be significant in our minds.
Galileo never dropped objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate gravity. Or at least he failed to mention it. The story only appeared years later.
Another questionable story concerns Lady Godiva, who happens to be an ancestor of mine. Her bareback ride is not recorded until over 100 years later.
Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb, as many Americans think. For example the British Sir Joseph Swan developed and demonstrated a carbon-filament bulb about a year before Edison’s success.
Now it’s your turn to contribute…