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Curiosities of Olden Times

Sabine Baring-Gould

Book Overview: 

This book is a collection of 17 gems of random knowledge, such as what women are made of and the philosopher's stone, written in Baring-Gould's own style.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .His private arbours, and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber: he hath left them you,
And to your heirs for ever;——

then the mob changes note, and with one voice shouts, “To Brutus, to Cassius;—burn all!”

Testamenta hominum speculum esse morum vulgo creditur.—Plin. jun., 8 Ess. 18.

So they are! They are the last touch of the brush in the great picture of civilisation, manners, and customs, lightening it up.

Would that space permitted me to enter into the history of wills: a few curious particulars alone can we admit.

To die without having made a will was formerly regarded with horror. A very common custom in the Middle Ages was that of leaving considerable benefactions to the Church. This was well enough, but the clergy were not satisfied until it was made compulsory.

Ducange says that neglect of leaving to the Church indicated a profanity which deserved puni. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This book is a great read for people who love learning weird fun facts. Sabine Baring-Gould also does a great job in deep-diving into topics, finding rare history facts, and making some great insights on the past. This book was also funny since some of the chapters were focused on weird crime punish

A very detailed collection of interesting information. I found the part about Wills to be particularly interesting.

A splendid compendium of 19th Century erudition, remarkably liberal and modern in some of its viewpoints. Baring-Gould writes a series of essays here on pretty much whatever seems to have caught his interest, ciphers, divination by scripture, the search for a lost vale mentioned in an Icelandic saga

Like the curate's egg - some parts were very good indeed.

Paranormal, Sociological, and more--Research/Reference Material

Even if you want a simple read of anecdotal accounts about how weird humans are, you're not going to be disappointed. For others looking for historiography, you'll find some familiar and even new material for research. One excerpt even s