on hospitality to strangers

“Mother said when they were coming here in a wagon, and she had ridden until she had to walk to rest her feet, and held a big baby until her arms became so tired she drove while father took it, and when at last they saw a house and stopped, she said if the woman hadn’t invited her in, and let her cook on the stove, given her milk and eggs, and furnished her a bed to sleep in once in a while, she couldn’t have reached here at all; and she never had been refused once. Then she always quoted: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye EVEN SO to them.””

– Gene Stratton-Porter, Laddie, 1913

cows, puns, and Latin

“Speaking of Latin reminds me that I once taught my cows Latin. I don’t mean that I taught them to read it, for it is very difficult to teach a cow to read Latin or any of the dead languages,—a cow cares more for her cud than she does for all the classics put together. But if you begin early you can teach a cow, or a calf (if you can teach a calf anything, which I doubt), Latin as well as English. There were ten cows, which I had to escort to and from pasture night and morning. To these cows I gave the names of the Roman numerals, beginning with Unus and Duo, and going up to Decem. Decem was of course the biggest cow of the party, or at least she was the ruler of the others, and had the place of honor in the stable and everywhere else. I admire cows, and especially the exactness with which they define their social position. In this case, Decem could “lick” Novem, and Novem could “lick” Octo, and so on down to Unus, who couldn’t lick anybody, except her own calf. I suppose I ought to have called the weakest cow Una instead of Unus, considering her sex; but I didn’t care much to teach the cows the declensions of adjectives, in which I was not very well up myself; and besides it would be of little use to a cow. People who devote themselves too severely to study of the classics are apt to become dried up; and you should never do anything to dry up a cow.”

– Charles Dudley Warner, “Being a Boy”, 1877

hidden treasures

“…old, musty books, that looked as if they knew something everybody else had forgotten, made his eyes gleam, and his white taper-fingered hand tremble with eagerness. With such a book in his grasp he saw something ever beckoning him on, a dimly precious discovery, a wonderful fact just the shape of some missing fragment in the mosaic of one of his pictures of the past.”

– George MacDonald, “Robert Falconer”