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Highlights from the Handy-Book #7

Maine Law. Maine was the first State which by an act of its Legislature (1851) placed a stringent prohibition on the sale of intoxicating drinks. Hence the term is often used colloquially as a designation of prohibitory laws in general, as one would say, ‘Kansas, or Iowa, has adopted a 'Maine’ law.’”

Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities (1892)

Highlights from the Handy-Book #2

Alexandra limp. One of the absurdest fads of toadying imitation. Princess Alexandra walks with a slight limp. Immediately after her marriage with the Prince of Wales (in 1860), an epidemic of lameness broke out among the petticoated hangers-on of royalty, which soon spread through all the female world of England, until it was happily laughed out of existence.”

Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities (1892)

Highlights from the Handy-Book #4

Ducks and drakes is, in the words of an old author quoted by Brand, ‘a kind of sport or play with an oister-shell or stone thrown into the water, and making circles yer it sinke.’ If the stone emerges once it is a duck, and increases in the following order:

'1, 2, A duck and a drake,

3 And a halfpenny cake,

4 And a penny to pay the old baker;

5 A hop and a scotch

is another notch,

6 Slitherum, slatherum, take her.’

From this game probably originated the phrase 'making ducks and drakes with one’s money,’ - i.e., throwing it away heedlessly. An early instance of the use of the phrase may be found in Strode’s 'Floating Island.’”

Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities (1892)

Highlights from the Handy-Book #1

Absolute Wisdom. A sobriquet given to Sir Matthew Wood, a stanch supporter of Queen Caroline in 1821, who, having been reproached for giving foolish advice to that unhappy queen, diffidently admitted that his conduct might not be ‘absolute wisdom,’ and was unmercifully chaffed in consequence by the wags of the period. He was made a baronet by Queen Victoria shortly after her accession, in acknowledgment, it was said, for pecuniary aid given to her father, the Duke of Kent, when greatly embarrassed.”

Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities (1892)