Oliver Wendell Holmes, Senior, was a doctor. As such he was very interested in the use of ether. In order to know how
his patients felt under its influence, he once had a dose administered to himself.
As he was going under, in a dreamy state, a profound thought came to him. He believed that he had suddenly grasped
the key to all the mysteries of the universe. When he regained consciousness, however, he was unable to remember what the
Because of the great importance this thought would be to mankind, Holmes arranged to have himself given either again.
This time he had a stenographer present to take down the great thought. The either was administered, and sure enough, just
before passing out the insight reappeared. He mumbled the words, the stenographer took them down, and he went to sleep confident
in the knowledge that he had succeeded.
Upon awakening, he turned eagerly to the stenographer and asked her to read what he had uttered. This is what she read:
"The entire universe is permeated with a strong odor of turpentine."
Bits & Pieces, November 12, 1992, pp. 20-22.
William Phelps taught English literature at Yale for forty-one years until his retirement in 1933. Marking an examination
paper shortly before Christmas one year, Phelps came across the note: "God only knows the answer to this question. Merry
Christmas." Phelps returned the paper with this note: "God gets an A. You get an F. Happy New Year."
Today in the Word, October, 1990, p. 10.