Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant — ” by Emily Dickinson. Public Domain. (buy now)
It's the birthday of writer Arthur Conan Doyle (books by this author), born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1859). He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and there he met Joseph Bell, his favorite professor. Bell taught his students how to make a successful diagnosis through observation and deduction.
After graduating, Doyle opened his own practice and wrote fiction in his spare time. In 1887, he published A Study in Scarlet, a mystery featuring a character based on his old professor: the detective Sherlock Holmes. He ended up writing 56 short stories and four novels with the famous detective, including The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902).
Doyle said, "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
And Sherlock Holmes said to his sidekick, Dr. Watson, "You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion."
On this day in 1843, 1,000 pioneers headed west on the Oregon Trail in what is now known as the "Great Migration."
The Oregon Trail is a historic commercial and emigrant trail that stretches 2,000 miles from the Missouri River to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. When fur traders first discovered the trail in the early part of the 19th century, it was impassable by wagon and could only be traveled on foot or horse. But by the late 1830s, improvements made the trail accessible to wagons, and many people were intent on heading westward. They had heard glorious stories of Oregon's beauty and the many possibilities that awaited them in the West.
A lawyer in Missouri named Peter Burnett (who was later elected the first governor of California) felt the call of the West. As he later wrote, "I saw that a great American community would grow up, in the space of a few years, upon the distant Pacific and I felt an ardent desire to aid in this most important enterprise." So he helped organize a wagon train with 300 men, women, and children and 50 wagons that left Independence on this day in 1843. By the time the train reached Topeka, Kansas, the number of pioneers had more than doubled.
The travelers got in frequent fights over who would guard the cattle at night. They encountered herds of bison and villages of prairie dogs. They reached Fort Laramie, Wyoming, in 40 days, a distance of 670 miles. From there they passed through the Rocky Mountains, crossed the Colorado River, then headed west-southwest to Fort Bridger and then Fort Boise. They finally arrived in the Willamette Valley five months after setting off from Independence.
Four more wagon trains made the journey the following year, and by 1845, the number of travelers surpassed 3,000. The trail fell out of use as railroad lines began to crisscross the country, and it was abandoned entirely in the 1870s.