The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘On this day’

How to Win Friends and Influence People

July 31, 2014 | by

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Daniel Defoe, beloved in the pillory. Line engraving by James Charles Armytage, 1862.

Before he wrote Robinson Crusoe or Moll Flanders—before he wrote any novels at all, actually—Daniel Defoe was a pamphleteer, fomenting controversy in the London of the early eighteenth century. On July 31, 1703, he landed himself in the pillory for seditious libel; he’d written an anonymous satire mocking the hostility toward Dissenters, suggesting that the whole lot of them should be killed. It didn’t take long for authorities to pin him as the author. Then they did what authorities do: fined him to the point of bankruptcy, threw him in prison, and subjected him to ritualized public humiliation.

Before his stint in the stocks began, Defoe managed to write and disseminate a poem, “Hymn to the Pillory.” Legend has it, however dubiously, that the public was so enamored of his verse that they came to greet him at the pillory with flowers, toasting his health instead of hurling stones at him.

Lesson learned: in the court of public opinion, nothing carries more weight than a well-timed poem. Bear this in mind next time you’re stoking the flames of religious unrest in your community.

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Good Things

September 9, 2013 | by

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Leo Tolstoy by Leonid Pasternak.

“The best stories don’t come from ‘good vs. bad’ but ‘good vs. good.’” —Leo Tolstoy

 

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Childish Things

August 28, 2013 | by

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“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.” —John Betjeman

 

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Happy Birthday, Ballpoint!

October 29, 2012 | by

On this day in 1945, the first commercially-made ballpoint pens went on sale at New York’s late Gimbels Department Store for $12.50. The model, an unlicensed copy of an Argentine design, was produced by one Milton Reynolds. He called it the Reynolds Rocket, and we’ve been avoiding ink stains ever since. In its honor, watch how it’s made!

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