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1850 / December | View All Issues |

December 1850

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The deserted village·

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Gunpowder and chalk·

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The escape of Queen Mary from Lochleven Castle·

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A German picture of the Scotch·

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A chapter on shawls·

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A night of terror in a Polish inn. Journey to Brczwezmcisl·

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England in 1850·

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Flowers in the sick room·

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Lively turtle. A sketch of a conservative·

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The unlawful gift; or, kindness rewarded·

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The gamblers of the Rhine·

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The conflict of love–a tale of real life·

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Street music in London·

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Mistakes in personal identity·

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The ghost that appeared to Mrs. Wharton·

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The fate of a German reformer·

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A life in three pictures

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The death of John Randolph·

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An agreeable surprise·

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A death-bed·

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Anecdote of a dog·

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The domestic life of Alexander, emperor of Russia·

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An empty house; or, struggles of the poor·

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Colds and cold water·

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Sinners and sufferers; or, the villainy of high life·

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The golden age·

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“Give wisely!” An anecdote·

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Monthly record of current events

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Monthly record of current events·

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Literary notices

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Literary notices·

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Fashions for December

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Fashions for December·

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I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:

The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

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The Prisoner of Sex·

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“It is disappointing that parts of Purity read as though Franzen urgently wanted to telegraph a message to anyone who would defend his fiction from charges of chauvinism: ‘No, you’ve got me wrong. I really am sexist.’”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Gangs of Karachi·

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“In Karachi, sometimes only the thinnest of polite fictions separates the politicians from the men who kill and extort on their behalf.”
Photograph © Asim Rafiqui/NOOR Images
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Weed Whackers·

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“Defining 'native' and 'invasive' in an ever-shifting natural world poses some problems. The camel, after all, is native to North America, though it went extinct here 8,000 years ago, while the sacrosanct redwood tree is invasive, having snuck in at some point in the past 65 million years.”
Photograph by Chad Ress
Article
The Neoliberal Arts·

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“College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.”
Artwork by Julie Cockburn

Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:

65

An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.

A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.

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