A Fistful of Words by Some Dead White People

“All intelligent thoughts have already been thought; what is necessary is only to think them again.” — Goethe (1749-1834)

“THE MOST BRILLIANT THOUGHTS OF ALL TIME (in two lines or less)” by John M. Shanahan (Cliff Street Books) contains a lot of words that the Founders read. This week’s column was going to be about the Founders, but I ran across this one from ten years ago:

“WE DON’T KNOW BECAUSE WE DON’T WANT TO KNOW,” said Aldous Huxley (1894-1963). It’s nice to know that Huxley sometimes agreed with writers of the “out-moded” Bible.. 

I’M SO OLD that my dad saw Teddy Roosevelt when he was running for President, and Teddy’s been on Mt. Rushmore for almost 80 years! I’m so old that I was conceived before Pearl Harbor. Some contemporaries of Abraham Lincoln were still around when I was born (and Lincoln was born over 200 years ago), so I’m not too keen on “the wisdom of the young.” Here’s a fistful of words from the Shanahan book:

– “Clever liars give details, but the cleverest don’t.” — anonymous

– “A wise man will keep his suspicions muzzled, but he will keep them awake.” — George Savile, Marquess de Halifax (1633-95)

– “Never trust a man who speaks well of everybody.” — John Collins (1848-1908)

– “He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have.” — Don Juan Manuel (1282-1349) [class envy is self-defeating]

– “Unlike grownups, children have little need to deceive themselves.” — Goethe

– “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82)

– “Have a care, therefore, where there is more sail than ballast.” — Wm. Penn (1644-1718)

– “Beware the fury of a patient man.” — John Dryden (1631-1700)

– “Patience has its limits. Take it too far and it’s cowardice.” — George Jackson (1941-71)

– “So long as there is any subject which men may not freely discuss, they are intimidated upon all subjects.” — John Chapman (1862-1933)

-“A wise man hears one word and understands two.” -Jewish proverb [i.e., he reads between the lines]

– “Listen, or thy tongue will keep thee deaf.” — Native American proverb

– “There is no such thing as conversation . . There are intersecting monologues, that is all.” — Rebecca West (1892-1983)

– “Nothing has an uglier look to us than reason when it is not on our side.” — John Donne (1572-1631)

– “Those that merely talk and never think, . .  live in . . wild anarchy . . .” — Ben Jonson (1573-1637)

“Don’t trust everything you think.” -.Bumper sticker, 2020 

– “Every man becomes, to a certain degree, what the people he generally converses with are.” — Chesterfield (1694-1773)

– “People are governed by the head; a kind heart is of little value in chess.” — Sebastian Chamfort (1741-94)

– “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” — Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

– “A wise man’s questions contain half the answer.” — Gabirol (1022-1070)

– “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.” — Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

– “There are two ways of spreading the light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” — Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

-“knowledge can be communicated but not wisdom.” – Herman Hesse [I hope he was wrong]

– “Procrastination is the thief of time.” — Edward Young (1683-1765) [Time’s a-wastin’]

P.S. Sorry ma’am, but just one more thing::

‘Tis God gives skill,
But not without man’s hands;
He couldn’t make Antonio Stradivari’s violins
Without Antonio.
 George Eliot — Mary Ann Cross (1819-1880) [chalk up one for the ladies]

PPS: “This is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party” — oops, I mean country. And don’t let procrastination keep you from doing the thing you CAN DO! The world may be in God’s hands, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t want you to use YOURS!

“Use your freedom to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” — Peter, first century A.D.

Curtis Dahlgren

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