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From: msb#NoSpam.sq.com (Mark Brader)

Anecdotes on old institutions
-From: credmond#NoSpam.watmath.waterloo.edu (Chris Redmond)

In article <1882#NoSpam.disuns2.epfl.ch> riese#NoSpam.litsuns1.epfl.ch (Marc Riese)

     I agree that The Bay is a very special company for Canada for its
     long and "colourful" history, but I *think* it's a youngster in
     comparison to certain European companies (although I couldn't name
     one).  I remember hearing a story of an American company
     negotiating a business deal with a Swedish steel company.  In the
     proposition sent to Europe, the American company mentioned some
     reliability concerns and asked for proof that they could count on
     the Swedish company still being there in a year.  In a terse
     letter, the Swedish firm replied that since they had existed more
     than four times the age of the USA, they didn't see why they would
     not be there the next year...

Comparable anecdote #1:  At the 350th anniversary celebrations of
Harvard University, one speaker said, "Harvard is intimately bound up
with the history and culture of the United States -- an innovation in
which we have taken considerable interest."

Comparable anecdote #2:  Someone has calculated that there are in
Europe 26 (this number is my best recollection of what was said)
organizations that have been in continuous existence for at least five
hundred years:  the Parliament at Westminster, the Althing (parliament)
of Iceland, the Roman Catholic Church, and 23 universities.

-From: brad#NoSpam.looking.on.ca (Your Editor)

Anecdote #3, told by Greg Benford:  At an Oxford college, they were
debating what to do with all their money.  The consensus was to buy
land, since "for the past thousand years, land has proven to be a very
wise investment for the college."

The crusty old patriarch piped in, "True, but the past thousand years
have been atypical."

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From: dgil#NoSpam.ipsaint.ipsa.reuter.com (Gillett, David)


My two favourite anecdotes on this subject demonstrate the difference
between renewable and non-renewable resources.  First the non-renewable:

The congregation of a small stone church (in England?)  decided that
the stone which formed the step up to the front door had become two
worn by its years of use, and would have to be replaced.  Unfortunately,
there were hardly any funds available for the replacement.  Then
someone came up with the bright idea that the replacement could be
postponed for many years by simply turning the block of stone over.

They discovered that their great-grandparents had beaten them to it.


Now the renewable:

An entomologist at New College, Oxford ("New" because its only a few
centuries old), discovered beetles infesting the oak beams supporting
the roof of the Great Hall.  It was fairly urgent that these be
replaced before the roof collapsed -- but anyone who has looked at the
price of oak lately can tell you that this was not something the
college budget was prepared for.

Since oak from a commercial supplier was out of the question, someone
suggested that the college Forester be sent for.  His job was to
administer the various scattered tracts of land that had been deeded to
the college when it was founded.  The trustees hoped he might know of
suitable trees on college land.

It turned out that there was indeed a suitable stand of mighty oaks.
They had been planted when the college was founded, and down the
centuries each Forester had told his successor:  "You don't cut those
oaks; those are for when the beetles get into the beams in the Main

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From: "*G - P*" <G*P#NoSpam.G*P.Com>

                           NEW UNIVERSITY PROMOS

BROWN: Hey kids! Is half of your head shaved? Do you have a nose ring? Are
you terribly progressive and do you have a lot of empathy? Are you sick and
tired of silly things like grades and majors? COME TO BROWN!!!

COLUMBIA: Hey kids! Do you like Harlem? Do you like commuters? Are you
planning on transferring to another Ivy school after your freshman year?

HARVARD: Hey kids! Do you hate teachers? I mean really hate them? Do you
never want to have another teacher again? And what about a social life? Do
you hate that too? COME TO HARVARD!!!

PRINCETON: Hey kids! Do you have any idea what an eating club is? Are you
pompous? Can you learn to be? Are you the smartest person you know? How
many clubs were you in in high school? Have you always dreamed of living in
the great state of New Jersey? COME TO PRINCETON!!!

PENN: Hey kids! Did you like high school a lot ? How about four more years
of the same? Are you dying to visit scenic West Philadelphia? Does the
concept of rigorous academics scare you? COME TO PENN!!!

CORNELL: Hey kids! Do you hate intimacy? Are you interested in jumping off
high places? Have you ever wanted to converse with future hotel managers?
Do you like bureaucracy? Do you like archaic forms and the chance to stand
in lines with the best and brightest? COME TO CORNELL -- The Big Red

DARTMOUTH: Hey kids! Do you hate civilization? Looking to get away from
stuff like culture and people? Do you like to drink? Do you like to drink
some more? Do you like to continue to drink? And what's your feeling on
drinking? COME TO DARTMOUTH!!!

M.I.T.: Hey kids! Are you a freakish nerd? Do you want to be? Do you hate
doing anything that doesn't involve math? That's right, math! Math math
math math and more math! COME TO M.I.T.!!! PLEASE !!!

BOSTON COLLEGE: If you haven't figured out how to invent the wheel (but
have discovered fire and fire-sticks), don't know your ass from your elbows
(but do know genetic plant structures and genetic recombination enough to
produce 24 variants of 'da weed' with a garden weasel and a piece of
Egyptian chewing gum preserved for 2000 years, enjoy the advantages of
indecision (hence being in Boston, but not really), and enjoyed Student
Council so much that you NEED TO LIVE IT AGAIN, COME TO BC!!!

SYRACUSE: Hey kids, do you like it when your Chancellor takes all your
money and gives it to a private firm to design a new logo and mascot
because yours isn't selling well? Are athletics the only thing that matters
to you? Do you believe in money first, students last? Is your idea of a
good time learning about the History of the salt trade and the Erie canal?

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From: brun#NoSpam.tybalt.caltech.edu (Todd A. Brun)

Last year I founded the Institute of Fuzzy Science here at Caltech, as a
public service for scientists everywhere.  This was my original
announcement.  I thought it might be of more general interest; there are
several other bulletins if this one is successful.

        -- Todd Brun

                        New IFS Option

A new interdisciplinary option for graduate students has been instituted,
in collaboration with the nearby Institute of Fuzzy Science.  IFS, for
those who are not aware, is an institution to promote research in "unusual,
spooky, or just plain off-the-wall" areas of modern science, generally not
accepted by the mainstream of the academic community.  "We don't believe in
discouraging a researcher," IFS president C.P. Diem commented in a recent
interview, "just because 99% of the anal-retentive scientists in this
country believe that conservation of energy holds, or that natural gas is a
fossil fuel, or that antigravity is impossible.  It really annoys me when
people invoke buzzwords like General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics," he
added.  "Accepting things just because there is experimental evidence for
them is poor science.  After all, tomorrow we might all fall off the
surface of the earth into space.  Isn't it better to study what would
happen if we did?  IFS is here," he declared, "to handle the 'if's."

Until quite recently, IFS was a pure research institution, staffed mainly
by scientists who are extremely reluctant to give their names to reporters.
"We like to keep a low profile," said one IFS scientist, Dr. Mindy
E. Mouse.  "We've got funding here, we do essentially anything we want to,
and nobody bothers us.  Why rock the boat?"  Due to this general
philosophy, the decision to accept students was a controversial one.  The
doubters were convinced, however, by a recent sociology study performed by
an Institute physicist.  A handful of students were admitted, and fears
that they would bring unwelcome publicity were quickly put to rest.
Indeed, most of the students refused to admit that they'd gone to IFS at
all, even when confronted with copies of their diplomas.

The Institute of Fuzzy Science is not organized on a traditional basis.
"We don't like to divide things up by fields of study, here," Diem
explained.  "After all, half of us don't really know what field we're
working in, most of the time.  One of our best researchers recently thought
he'd developed a new cosmological model that had no need to invoke the
concept of gravity.  Unfortunately, the model did not actually work; but
with slight modifications, he was able to present it as a new Computer
Science algorithm.  Serendipitous finds like that are extremely common
here."  IFS is therefore divided into three departments based on degree of
fuzziness.  The largest department, holding around half of the Institute
scientists, is the Department of Slightly Fuzzy Science.  It is staffed
mainly by scientists attempting to prove unpopular or dated theories, or
trying to reproduce results observed once, late at night.  Another large
group in the department are known as the SWOTS, or Scientists Working
Outside Their Specialties.  "This is a time- honored tradition, precedented
by many famous scientists," laughed Diem.  "If a physical chemist wants to
perform medical testing, or a physicist to dabble in eugenics, who are we
to say no?"

The second department is the Department of Fairly Fuzzy Science.  Here,
Flat Earth proponents rub shoulders with conspiracy theorists and
parapsychologists, each working on their various research projects.  "It
gives us a real feeling of freedom," mentioned one worker in the
department.  "I mean, mainstream science is just a result of the axioms
that you choose.  If you choose different axioms, it's amazing what you can
prove."  Another researcher agreed: "Basically, we just chuck out modern
theory and start over."  However, both the Departments of Slightly and
Fairly Fuzzy Science tend to be cautious in assessing the results of the
third and smallest department, the Department of Extremely Fuzzy Science,
which is dominated by creation scientists and supply-side economists.
"Frankly, they're so fuzzy even we don't believe it," admitted President
Diem.  "We don't let our students come into contact with the extremely
fuzzy scientists.  At least, not at first.  Young students tend to be very
impressionable; early exposure to extremely fuzzy studies tends to make
them what we call FTF: Far Too Fuzzy."

Though IFS supplies consultants both for Hollywood moviemakers and the
Department of Defense, many scientists feel that their work does not
receive the recognition it deserves.  "Take all this controversy over the
existence of magnetic monopoles," complained one IFS biologist.  "Why,
we've had half-a-dozen detections here, but no one has taken any notice.  I
myself detected two last week."  A conspiracy theorist offered his
explanation: "I think it's essentially because the Communist party controls
the government.  Since they depend on federal grants, most universities
lack the courage to accept results not dictated by the party line."  His
colleagues agreed, though they differed on whether is was Communists,
Fascists, Jews, or Catholics, or possibly an alliance of all four.

The new graduate option includes both a Master's program and a Doctorate of
Advanced Fuzzy Studies.  All interested students should contact the
Institute of Fuzzy Science directly, at their main office on Hollywood and
Vine.  Further bulletins on progress in the Fuzzy Sciences may be
forthcoming as new results are obtained.

        -- A.E. Muss

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From: " G.P." <G_Popper#NoSpam.Hotmail.Com>

+Even the band cheers are equations.
+You talk in SI units.
+More people understand '42' than '69'.
+You remember people by their e-mail address.
+2 + 2 = (-4)*exp(i*pi)
+You know your computer better than your girlfriend or boyfriend.
+Lewd comments are often related to computer hardware.
+Physics is the high point of your day.
+Calculus is your blow off course.
+Free body diagrams excite you.
+You show up at the football games to laugh at your own team.
+You've slashed your way through the giant's eye.
+You hear a debate about the merits and drawbacks of reverse polish
+You ask someone what languages they know and expect them to answer Spanish,
 French, German, Latin, Pascal, C, BASIC, LISP, or Fortran.
+Your molecular model kit is a fun toy.
+The movie Real Genius is autobiographical.
+You understand that 'Bohr' is not a verb.
+Foundation or Time Enough for Love is a social handbook.
+You think of Gallium as a sex toy.
+S'n'M follows SNL.
+Trans-1,2-dibenzoylethylene is one of the words that you type rapidly.
+Everyone has a science/math t-shirt.
+Social status is determined by Computer Power and number of network
+A lobby full of dormmates will be able to come up with what each of the
 following acronyms stands for: RADAR, MODEM, RAM, DNA, ATP, NADP, CRT, CRC,
+You talk to your dormmates via e-mail due to:
    1) Not being seen by them for over a week.
    2) This being your normal mode of communication with people in the next
+Greek letters in everyday conversation refer to variables and constants as
 frequently as fraternities and sororities.
+You find yourself wishing the washer and dryer were networked and a message
 would pop up on your computer screen when your laundry is done.
+You find yourself anticipating your weekly trip to a microcenter more than
 your upcoming date on Saturday.
+Phasor has two meanings for you, one of which involves complex numbers.
+You make a rodent wheel for your mouse because it looks bored sitting there
 in dos...
+You regularly refer to an integration table at lunch.
+Everyone played with Capsela as a kid.
+You understand more than 20% of the above references.

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Special Category: How many scientists does it take to screw in a lightbulb
September 4

From: "*G - P*" <G*P#NoSpam.G*P.Com>

How many college students does it take to change a lightbulb in the South?

At Vanderbilt it takes two. One to change the bulb and one more to explain
how they did it every bit as well as any ivy leaguer.

At Georgia it takes three. One to change the bulb, and two to phone a
friend at Georgia Tech and get instructions.

At Florida it takes four. One to screw in the bulb and three to figure out
how to get high off the old one.

At Alabama it takes five. One to change it, two to talk about how Bear
would have done it, and two to throw the old bulb at Auburn students.

At Ole Miss it takes six. One to change it, two to mix the drinks, and
three to find the perfect J. Crew outfit to wear for the occasion.

At LSU it takes seven. And each one gets credit for four semester hours for

At Kentucky it takes eight. One to screw it in, and seven to discuss how
much brighter it shines during basketball season.

At Tennessee it takes ten. Two to figure out how to screw it in, two to buy
an orange lampshade, and six to phone a radio call-in show and talk about
how Phillip Fulmer is too stupid to do it.

At Mississippi State it takes fifteen. One to screw in the bulb, two to buy
the Skoal, and twelve to shout, "GO TO HELL OLE MISS, GO TO HELL!!!"

At Auburn it takes 100. One to change it, 49 to talk about how they do it
better than Bama, and 50 who realize it's all a lie.

At South Carolina it takes 80,000. One to screw it in, and 79,999 to
discuss how this will finally be the year they have a good football team.

At Arkansas it takes none. There is no electricity in Arkansas.

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Special Category: How many scientists does it take to screw in a lightbulb
September 4
From: Pamela Smith <pammy_vt#NoSpam.yahoo.com>
Q: How many engineering students does it take to screw in a lightbulb:

A: At Virginia Tech it takes one, dressed in orange and maroon.  One to
change the bulb with a heat transfer book in one hand, and the hand
changing the bulb also holding a drink.  Then spitting the old bulb at UVA

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Here follows a real e-mail I received.  I am afraid it was not intended as a
joke, but I will treat is as one anyway ;-)

From: petuer.aubrey#NoSpam.rsc.co.uk
Received: from mail.filnet.fr (mail.filnet.fr [])
	by smtp3.xs4all.nl (8.8.8/8.8.8) with SMTP id QAA25384;
	Mon, 16 Nov 1998 16:17:45 +0100 (CET)
Received: from sprynet.net ( by mail.filnet.fr
(EMWAC SMTPRS 0.81) with SMTP id <B0001029753#NoSpam.mail.filnet.fr>;
 Mon, 16 Nov 1998 14:09:11 +0100
Message-ID: <B0001029753#NoSpam.mail.filnet.fr>
Subject: your request
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 04:46:20

Increase your personal prestige and money
earning power through an advanced
university degree.

Eminent, non-accredited universities will
award you a degree for only $200.

Degree granted based on your present
knowledge and experience.  No further
effort necessary on your part.

Just a short phone call is all that is required for a
BA, MA, MBA, or PhD diploma in the field of your

For details, call 770-492-2925

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This is from a quiz in Illuster, the magazine for alumni of Utrecht
University.  (Translation by Joachim)

Q: What did the city council do in the 17th century to attract students?

A: In 1643 the students in Utrecht were exempted from the duties on beer and wine. In 1657 this was abolished, because there was too much fraude. Interesting in this connection is a bill from 1657 that showed that students in 1656 drank 45850 cans of wine and 2312 barrels of beer. That year 202 students were enrolled. A can of wine contained 1.7 litres, a barrel of beer contained 163 litre. Therefore one student drank 1 litre of wine and 5 litres of beer a day. A student probably did not drink it all alone, as the rule was abolished for fraude. But still, compared to that time, the current students are wimps.

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From: Stan Kegel <kegel#NoSpam.fea.net>, Puns of the Weak
"While the official motto of Brigham Young University is, 'The World is our
Campus,' some act as if the reverse is true." (Scott Fullmer)

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November 30
October 19
                           The Academy of Lagodo

An excerpt from :
        Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World
                             by Jonathan Swift

Copied from the Gutenberg project edition http://www.promo.net/pg/


                                CHAPTER V.

[The author permitted to see the grand academy of Lagado.  The
academy largely described.  The arts wherein the professors employ

This academy is not an entire single building, but a continuation
of several houses on both sides of a street, which growing waste,
was purchased and applied to that use.

I was received very kindly by the warden, and went for many days to
the academy.  Every room has in it one or more projectors; and I
believe I could not be in fewer than five hundred rooms.

The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and
face, his hair and beard long, ragged, and singed in several
places.  His clothes, shirt, and skin, were all of the same colour.
He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out
of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed,
and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers.  He told me,
he did not doubt, that, in eight years more, he should be able to
supply the governor's gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate:
but he complained that his stock was low, and entreated me "to give
him something as an encouragement to ingenuity, especially since
this had been a very dear season for cucumbers."  I made him a
small present, for my lord had furnished me with money on purpose,
because he knew their practice of begging from all who go to see

I went into another chamber, but was ready to hasten back, being
almost overcome with a horrible stink.  My conductor pressed me
forward, conjuring me in a whisper "to give no offence, which would
be highly resented;" and therefore I durst not so much as stop my
nose.  The projector of this cell was the most ancient student of
the academy; his face and beard were of a pale yellow; his hands
and clothes daubed over with filth.  When I was presented to him,
he gave me a close embrace, a compliment I could well have excused.
His employment, from his first coming into the academy, was an
operation to reduce human excrement to its original food, by
separating the several parts, removing the tincture which it
receives from the gall, making the odour exhale, and scumming off
the saliva.  He had a weekly allowance, from the society, of a
vessel filled with human ordure, about the bigness of a Bristol

I saw another at work to calcine ice into gunpowder; who likewise
showed me a treatise he had written concerning the malleability of
fire, which he intended to publish.

There was a most ingenious architect, who had contrived a new
method for building houses, by beginning at the roof, and working
downward to the foundation; which he justified to me, by the like
practice of those two prudent insects, the bee and the spider.

There was a man born blind, who had several apprentices in his own
condition:  their employment was to mix colours for painters, which
their master taught them to distinguish by feeling and smelling.
It was indeed my misfortune to find them at that time not very
perfect in their lessons, and the professor himself happened to be
generally mistaken.  This artist is much encouraged and esteemed by
the whole fraternity.

In another apartment I was highly pleased with a projector who had
found a device of ploughing the ground with hogs, to save the
charges of ploughs, cattle, and labour.  The method is this:  in an
acre of ground you bury, at six inches distance and eight deep, a
quantity of acorns, dates, chestnuts, and other mast or vegetables,
whereof these animals are fondest; then you drive six hundred or
more of them into the field, where, in a few days, they will root
up the whole ground in search of their food, and make it fit for
sowing, at the same time manuring it with their dung:  it is true,
upon experiment, they found the charge and trouble very great, and
they had little or no crop.  However it is not doubted, that this
invention may be capable of great improvement.

I went into another room, where the walls and ceiling were all hung
round with cobwebs, except a narrow passage for the artist to go in
and out.  At my entrance, he called aloud to me, "not to disturb
his webs."  He lamented "the fatal mistake the world had been so
long in, of using silkworms, while we had such plenty of domestic
insects who infinitely excelled the former, because they understood
how to weave, as well as spin."  And he proposed further, "that by
employing spiders, the charge of dyeing silks should be wholly
saved;" whereof I was fully convinced, when he showed me a vast
number of flies most beautifully coloured, wherewith he fed his
spiders, assuring us "that the webs would take a tincture from
them; and as he had them of all hues, he hoped to fit everybody's
fancy, as soon as he could find proper food for the flies, of
certain gums, oils, and other glutinous matter, to give a strength
and consistence to the threads."

There was an astronomer, who had undertaken to place a sun-dial
upon the great weathercock on the town-house, by adjusting the
annual and diurnal motions of the earth and sun, so as to answer
and coincide with all accidental turnings of the wind.

I was complaining of a small fit of the colic, upon which my
conductor led me into a room where a great physician resided, who
was famous for curing that disease, by contrary operations from the
same instrument.  He had a large pair of bellows, with a long
slender muzzle of ivory:  this he conveyed eight inches up the
anus, and drawing in the wind, he affirmed he could make the guts
as lank as a dried bladder.  But when the disease was more stubborn
and violent, he let in the muzzle while the bellows were full of
wind, which he discharged into the body of the patient; then
withdrew the instrument to replenish it, clapping his thumb
strongly against the orifice of then fundament; and this being
repeated three or four times, the adventitious wind would rush out,
bringing the noxious along with it, (like water put into a pump),
and the patient recovered.  I saw him try both experiments upon a
dog, but could not discern any effect from the former.  After the
latter the animal was ready to burst, and made so violent a
discharge as was very offensive to me and my companion.  The dog
died on the spot, and we left the doctor endeavouring to recover
him, by the same operation.

I visited many other apartments, but shall not trouble my reader
with all the curiosities I observed, being studious of brevity.

I had hitherto seen only one side of the academy, the other being
appropriated to the advancers of speculative learning, of whom I
shall say something, when I have mentioned one illustrious person
more, who is called among them "the universal artist."  He told us
"he had been thirty years employing his thoughts for the
improvement of human life."  He had two large rooms full of
wonderful curiosities, and fifty men at work.  Some were condensing
air into a dry tangible substance, by extracting the nitre, and
letting the aqueous or fluid particles percolate; others softening
marble, for pillows and pin-cushions; others petrifying the hoofs
of a living horse, to preserve them from foundering.  The artist
himself was at that time busy upon two great designs; the first, to
sow land with chaff, wherein he affirmed the true seminal virtue to
be contained, as he demonstrated by several experiments, which I
was not skilful enough to comprehend.  The other was, by a certain
composition of gums, minerals, and vegetables, outwardly applied,
to prevent the growth of wool upon two young lambs; and he hoped,
in a reasonable time to propagate the breed of naked sheep, all
over the kingdom.

We crossed a walk to the other part of the academy, where, as I
have already said, the projectors in speculative learning resided.

The first professor I saw, was in a very large room, with forty
pupils about him.  After salutation, observing me to look earnestly
upon a frame, which took up the greatest part of both the length
and breadth of the room, he said, "Perhaps I might wonder to see
him employed in a project for improving speculative knowledge, by
practical and mechanical operations.  But the world would soon be
sensible of its usefulness; and he flattered himself, that a more
noble, exalted thought never sprang in any other man's head.  Every
one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and
sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at
a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write
books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and
theology, without the least assistance from genius or study."  He
then led me to the frame, about the sides, whereof all his pupils
stood in ranks.  It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of
the room.  The superfices was composed of several bits of wood,
about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others.  They were
all linked together by slender wires.  These bits of wood were
covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these
papers were written all the words of their language, in their
several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order.  The
professor then desired me "to observe; for he was going to set his
engine at work."  The pupils, at his command, took each of them
hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the
edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole
disposition of the words was entirely changed.  He then commanded
six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as
they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four
words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to
the four remaining boys, who were scribes.  This work was repeated
three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so
contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square
bits of wood moved upside down.

Six hours a day the young students were employed in this labour;
and the professor showed me several volumes in large folio, already
collected, of broken sentences, which he intended to piece
together, and out of those rich materials, to give the world a
complete body of all arts and sciences; which, however, might be
still improved, and much expedited, if the public would raise a
fund for making and employing five hundred such frames in Lagado,
and oblige the managers to contribute in common their several

He assured me "that this invention had employed all his thoughts
from his youth; that he had emptied the whole vocabulary into his
frame, and made the strictest computation of the general proportion
there is in books between the numbers of particles, nouns, and
verbs, and other parts of speech."

I made my humblest acknowledgment to this illustrious person, for
his great communicativeness; and promised, "if ever I had the good
fortune to return to my native country, that I would do him
justice, as the sole inventor of this wonderful machine;" the form
and contrivance of which I desired leave to delineate on paper, as
in the figure here annexed.  I told him, "although it were the
custom of our learned in Europe to steal inventions from each
other, who had thereby at least this advantage, that it became a
controversy which was the right owner; yet I would take such
caution, that he should have the honour entire, without a rival."

We next went to the school of languages, where three professors sat
in consultation upon improving that of their own country.

The first project was, to shorten discourse, by cutting
polysyllables into one, and leaving out verbs and participles,
because, in reality, all things imaginable are but norms.

The other project was, a scheme for entirely abolishing all words
whatsoever; and this was urged as a great advantage in point of
health, as well as brevity.  For it is plain, that every word we
speak is, in some degree, a diminution of our lunge by corrosion,
and, consequently, contributes to the shortening of our lives.  An
expedient was therefore offered, "that since words are only names
for things, it would be more convenient for all men to carry about
them such things as were necessary to express a particular business
they are to discourse on."  And this invention would certainly have
taken place, to the great ease as well as health of the subject, if
the women, in conjunction with the vulgar and illiterate, had not
threatened to raise a rebellion unless they might be allowed the
liberty to speak with their tongues, after the manner of their
forefathers; such constant irreconcilable enemies to science are
the common people.  However, many of the most learned and wise
adhere to the new scheme of expressing themselves by things; which
has only this inconvenience attending it, that if a man's business
be very great, and of various kinds, he must be obliged, in
proportion, to carry a greater bundle of things upon his back,
unless he can afford one or two strong servants to attend him.  I
have often beheld two of those sages almost sinking under the
weight of their packs, like pedlars among us, who, when they met in
the street, would lay down their loads, open their sacks, and hold
conversation for an hour together; then put up their implements,
help each other to resume their burdens, and take their leave.

But for short conversations, a man may carry implements in his
pockets, and under his arms, enough to supply him; and in his
house, he cannot be at a loss.  Therefore the room where company
meet who practise this art, is full of all things, ready at hand,
requisite to furnish matter for this kind of artificial converse.

Another great advantage proposed by this invention was, that it
would serve as a universal language, to be understood in all
civilised nations, whose goods and utensils are generally of the
same kind, or nearly resembling, so that their uses might easily be
comprehended.  And thus ambassadors would be qualified to treat
with foreign princes, or ministers of state, to whose tongues they
were utter strangers.

I was at the mathematical school, where the master taught his
pupils after a method scarce imaginable to us in Europe.  The
proposition, and demonstration, were fairly written on a thin
wafer, with ink composed of a cephalic tincture.  This, the student
was to swallow upon a fasting stomach, and for three days
following, eat nothing but bread and water.  As the wafer digested,
the tincture mounted to his brain, bearing the proposition along
with it.  But the success has not hitherto been answerable, partly
by some error in the quantum or composition, and partly by the
perverseness of lads, to whom this bolus is so nauseous, that they
generally steal aside, and discharge it upwards, before it can
operate; neither have they been yet persuaded to use so long an
abstinence, as the prescription requires.

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