I am still deeply embedded in the world of hedgehogs as I research my latest book, for the Reaktion Animal Series. This gives such license to spend all day searching through obscure references to the wonderful animal. And what a treat I received today when I tracked down a fairly obscure book from 1767 by Stephen Fovargue. Called, ‘New Catalogue of Vulgar Errors‘ it is available online. And on page 174 there is this:

I almost spat out my coffee as I read that for the first time, before realising the complications of archaic spelling …

The rest of the book is fascinating and well worth a read. The Preface is something that I think we could all benefit from considering: “To explain the use of education, no method can be more effectual, than to show what dull mistakes and silly notions men are apt to be led into for want of it.” To avoid further confusion, I have modernised the spelling.

Other delightful errors in need of Fovargue’s correction include, “That the heron makes a hole in the bottom of her nest, through which her feet hand, when she sits upon her eggs” and “That there is now, or ever was, such a science as astrology.” And remembering that this was 1767 it is interesting to note that the following was considered a great fallacy, “That the way to make boys learn their books, is to keep them in school all day, and whip them.”

That has helped give me a perfect morning of industry and self-amusement.