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“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

I’ve been fortunate to acquire a number of issues of a 19th century British magazine called The Mirror, dating from 1824 and 1825. They make fascinating reading: what do you think of the illustration here for a proposed tunnel to be built under the Thames in the May 22, 1824 issue?

Then there’s this extract from an article about ballooning, entitled “On Aerial Travelling”, from the June 19, 1824 issue:

“We have yet to contrast this mode of travelling with that in ordinary rides, over which it maintains a vast ascendancy—you have not to tolerate those perpetually recurring delays occasioned by changing the cattle [horses]…no tiresome tax is levied by coachmen or guards…you are free…from the uncomfortable snatches of refreshment they may choose to provide which, however unpalatable, you are obliged to discuss amidst a heterogeneous assemblage as diverse in their tastes as in their appearance and manners…”

Hmm…flight delays? Extra charges for luggage? Bad airline food? Sounds like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

And last, there are lawyer jokes. No, I’m not kidding. How about this bit from the December 24, 1825 edition?

“Saint Evona, a lawyer of Britain, went to Rome to entreat the pope to give the lawyers a patron; the pope replied that he knew no saint not disposed of to some other profession. His holiness proposed, however, to saint Evona, that he should go round the church of San Giovanni di Laterano blindfold, and after saying a certain number of Ave Marias, the first saint he laid hold of should be his patron. This the good old lawyer undertook, and at the end of his Ave Marias, happened to stop at the altar of saint Michael, where he laid hold not of the saint, but unfortunately of the figure of the devil under the saint’s feet, crying out, “This is our saint, let him be our patron!”

Ah yes—the more things change…!


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