All Posts (649)
Nos 591 to 600
Francesco Geminiani
Discovery and Invention
Perfection is no Trifle
Michelangelo had a message for all serious entrepreneurs.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

MICHAEL Angelo was one day explaining to a visitor at his studio, what he had been doing at a statue since his previous visit.

“I have retouched this part, — polished that, — softened this feature, — brought out that muscle,— given some expression to this lip, and more energy to that limb.”

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No. 591
Muzio Clementi
Classical History
The Last Gladiator
The people of Rome suddenly turned their back on centuries of ‘sport’ - all because of one harmless old man.

THE Victory Games began harmlessly enough, but soon the gladiators leapt into the arena. Death was all around, while happy crowds punched the air and shouted themselves hoarse.

Suddenly, a frail old man in a tattered robe ran onto the sandy floor, pushing the giant gladiators apart, pleading with them to stop their madness.

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No. 592
Franz Joseph Haydn
Classical History
A Bird in the Hand is Worth...
The Roman Emperor Honorius, so the story goes, had more on his mind than the impending sack of one of Europe’s iconic cities.
From ‘History of the Wars’ by Procopius of Caesarea
(c.500—c.560)

THEY opened the gates, and let Alaric and his army come and go as they pleased; and after plundering the whole city and killing most of the people of Rome, the invaders moved on.

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No. 593
Francesco Geminiani
Thomas Babington Macaulay
The Siege of Arcot
A young Robert Clive’s extraordinary daring helped to prevent India falling into the hands of the French King.
By Thomas Babington Macaulay
(1800-1859)

WHEN the alarm came, he was instantly at his post. From here, Clive could see the enemy’s advance, driving before them elephants armed with iron plates on their foreheads, to break down the gates of the fort.

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No. 594
Sir William Walton
Stuart Era
An Agent of the Crown
Rascally republican Thomas Blood was usually to be found in any conspiracy against the King, but even when he stole the Crown Jewels the King never seemed to mind...

AFTER the restoration of King Charles II in 1660, one of Oliver Cromwell’s old lieutenants, Thomas Blood, was living in Dublin.

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No. 595
George Frideric Handel
Classical History
Hannibal’s Passage of the Alps
Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps with nearly 50,000 men and 38 elephants is the stuff of legend.

WHEN Hannibal, aged twenty-six, inherited command of the Carthaginian army in Spain, he at once began harassing the town of Saguntum, which was friendly to Rome. Carthage ordered Hannibal to hold off, but his hatred of Rome burned so hot that he disobeyed the order.

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No. 596
Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie
Discovery and Invention
The Ladder with Twenty-Four Rungs
The Duke of Argyll was pleasantly surprised to find one of his gardeners reading a learned book of mathematics - in Latin.

THE Duke of Argyll was puzzled one day to find a copy of Newton’s recently-published ‘Principia’ lying on the grass. He summoned a passing gardener, an eighteen-year-old named Edward Stone, and instructed him to return the wandering book to his library.

Edward, however, replied that it was his own personal copy.

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No. 597
2 two-part story
Francesco Geminiani
Lives of the Saints
King Alfred and the Beggar
An everyday act of charity triggered off a series of extraordinary events.
Based on the ‘Historia de Sancto Cuthberto’
(11th century)

EARLY in his reign, King Alfred was driven out of the Kingdom of Wessex by the invading Danes.

With a handful of loyal men, he took refuge in a house in Glastonbury, which at that time was a hill completely surrounded by water.

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No. 598
2 two-part story
Muzio Clementi
Stories in Short
The Story of ‘Oliver Twist’
Fate and a vicious professional thief named Fagin conspire to trap orphan Oliver Twist into a life of crime.
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

OLIVER TWIST was an orphan from birth, and left in the unsympathetic care of a government Workhouse.

As soon as he was old enough, he was sent to work for an undertaker, a miserable existence from which he escaped by running away to London.

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No. 599
2 two-part story
Charles Villiers Stanford
Stories in Short
The Man Who Would Be King
Two rascally former British soldiers in India set off to become kings of Kafiristan.
Based on the short story by Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)

TWO rascally former soldiers in the British Army, Danny Dravot and Peachey Carnehan, arrived one day in the cramped offices of a newspaper in Lahore. The sole correspondent remembered them as two fellow-freemasons, for whom he had recently done a small favour.

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No. 600
Polywords (182)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Path
Added on Monday December 11th, 2017
Doublets (34)
Turn one word into another, changing just one letter each time.
Latest: Stardust
Quickwords (46)
A mini-crossword of everyday vocabulary and general knowledge.
Triplets (23)
Find one common letter that will turn three words into three new ones.
Latest: Triplet No. 23
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
See how ingenious you can be in combining three randomly chosen words in one sentence.
Compose sentences showing the difference in meaning, grammar or usage between these words.
Practise your basic arithmetic, from multiplation tables to percentages.
Latest: Target Number
Take command of English grammar and composition with these traditional exercises.
Latest: Letters Game
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Today in History
1878 The death of Alfred Bird, Birmingham pharmacist and confectioner
From our Archive
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
Elfric, the tenth-century English abbot, suggests a practical way of thinking about the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
By John Buchan
(1875-1940)
Richard Hannay tracks a German spy down to a French château, but Hannay’s sense of fair play gives his enemy a chance.
John Heathcoat’s lace-making machine created thousands of jobs, and gave ordinary people clothes they could never have dreamt of.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
Abbot Elfric expounds a Palm Sunday text to explain how Christianity combines orderly behaviour with intelligent and genuine liberty.
By Plutarch
(AD 46-120)
The ancient Greek King knew victory had cost his army more than it could afford to lose.

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History (394)
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Georgian Era (107)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Triplets (23)
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Stuart Era (16)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Malt’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

More Word Games
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
Do you know ‘warm covering’ (7 letters), and ‘2,240 lb’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with BEEF and finish with STEW.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.