Curtis Dahlgren
A few more gems from some old dead guys (and gals); part IV
By Curtis Dahlgren
July 31, 2010

"The thing that was done shall be done again; there's nothing new under the sun." Solomon (977 BC)

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

"MOST IGNORANCE IS VINCIBLE. 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 Bible (and some other dead white guys).

I'M SO OLD that my dad saw Teddy Roosevelt when he was running for President, and Teddy's been on Mt. Rushmore now for almost 70 years! I'm so old that I was conceived before Pearl Harbor. To put it another way, some contemporaries of Abraham Lincoln were still around when I was born (and Lincoln was born over 200 years ago). I'm quoting some of those people in this column.

It's been 40 years since I quit college for the second time. I'm thinking about going back to college, because maybe this time they'll listen to me!

Seriously though, "folks," here's a fistful of words from "The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time (In Two Lines or Less)" by John M. Shanahan (Cliff Street Books):

- "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)

- "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, therefor, 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 proberb [i.e., 'read 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, that live in the wild anarchy of drink." Ben Jonson (1573-1637)

- "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)

- "To think is to say No." Emile Auguste Chartier (1868-1951)

- "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)

- "The woman who thinks she is intelligent demands equal rights with men. A woman who is intelligent does not." Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954)

BUT THAT RAISES A WHOLE 'NOTHER CAN OF WORMS. Herman Hesse said that "knowledge can be communicated but not wisdom." That may be part of our problem, but I'm still hoping that wisdom CAN be communicated. Here's the final word:

- "Procrastination is the thief of time." Edward Young (1683-1765)

P.S. The book "The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time" does not contain much material by our Founding Fathers, but certainly does contain a lot of words that the Founders read! It is surprising too, how many French writers were quoted along with the Anglo-Saxons.

PPS: Just one more thing (from Oxford Dictionary of Quotations):

'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)

This is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party oops, I mean country. Don't let procrastination keep you from doing what 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." I Peter 2:15-16

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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