C is for Columbus, Confucius, Carlyle, Cleopatra and Cain

 

C is Columbus, who tries to explain
How to balance an egg—to the utter disdain
Of Confucius, Carlyle, Cleopatra, and Cain.

herford-c-columbus-1200

The Letter ‘C’

Historical and biblical figures are gathered around a table where Christopher Columbus tried to make an egg stand on its tip—and failed, as the egg can be seen lying broken. Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish essayist, philosopher, and historian is holding hands with a noticeably younger Cleopatra. While the Chinese sage Confucius looks unimpressed and disdainful, Cain looks uninterested and dejected.

From An Alphabet of Celebrities by Oliver Herford (1899).