Thoughts & Quotes of

the letter and you will be brought to the beginning of the thoughts beginning with that letter.


§ See Prerogative Writs.
¶ To take reverses with ease, to understand that a good number of things are not under our control.
¶ "... happiness is the test of all rules of conduct, and the end of life. But I now think that this end is only to be attained by not making it the direct end. Those only are happy (I thought) who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way." JSM continues that the enjoyments of life come en passant, viz. come in the passing, by the way, and never if they are made a principal object in life. "Once make them so, and they are immediately felt to be insufficient. ... Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life." Once JSM came to this theory of life, this philosophy, he "ceased to attach almost exclusive importance to the ordering of outward circumstances." (John Stuart Mill, Autobiography.)
¶ "Philosophical happiness is to want little. Civil or vulgar happiness is to want much, and to enjoy much." (Edmund Burke)
§ See blupete's commentary of -- December, 1997.
§ "There is a wisdom in this beyond the rules of physic. A man's own observation, what he finds good of and what he finds hurt of, is the best physic to preserve health." (Francis Bacon)
§ "How far the humours and affects of the body do alter or work upon the mind." (Francis Bacon)
¶ "[Health will be secured] by early-rising, exercise, sobriety, and abstemiousness as to food." (See Spater, vol.1, p.94.) Cobbett, it should be noted, "never used sugar, coffee, or rum because they were the produce of slavery." (William Cobbett)
§ "When you come to a fork in the road, take it" (Yogi Berra)
¶ "The middle sort of historians (of which the most part are) spoil all; they will chew our meat for us." (Montaigne)
¶ "I should think you historians -- my talk so easily slips into an attack on historiography and journalism, the chief miseducators of people -- but I should think you historians fail, as much as you fail in anything, in recapturing that impalpable thing, what was in the air. That's the most important thing in understanding events -- the things that aren't written down because everybody takes them for granted." [Felix Frankfurter Reminisces (New York: Reynal & Co., 1960) p. 57.]
¶ "History is little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind. (Gibbon)
¶ "History does not lightly yield up her secrets, nor even when revealed do they cease to bewilder." [Hanbury, English Courts of Law (1944) (Oxford University Press, 1957).]
¶ "History, in truth, is but a mirror showing different people doing the same things in cycles of time." [Chatterton, A Life of William Pitt, (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1930).]
¶ "History is a preceptor of prudence, not of principles." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "History by apprizing them [students] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will enable them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume, and, knowing it, to defeat its views." (Thomas Jefferson)
¶ "Aloof with hermit-eye I scan
The present works of present man
A wild and dreamlike trade of blood and guile,
Too foolish for a tear, too wicked for a smile!" (Coleridge)
¶ THE WRITTEN RECORD MAY MISS THE FORCE AND ITS DIRECTION OF HISTORY: "Who would expect officials to understand or to register new ideas? And, again, the study of a small town's churchyard might lead us to over-estimate the virtue of the inhabitants as much as the study of its police court records might lead to a gloomier view of them; neither would be quite right; and neither source would tell us much of the factors working for national development. The newspapers may be every bit as useless. The real life of a nation may be felt by contemporaries, as it shapes them, but it is their way to miss its force and its direction." (T. R. Glover of the University of Cambridge, "Ancient History," The Dalhousie Review, Vol. 11 (1931).)
¶ CUSTOM & TRADITION: '... the women of Miletus would not eat with their husbands nor call them by their first names -- all because long ago the Ionian conquerors killed off" their men folk. (T. R. Glover of the University of Cambridge, "Ancient History," The Dalhousie Review, Vol. 11 (1931).) Professor Glover observes further "that the ultimate reason [does not] necessarily appear at once."
¶ THE IMPORTANCE OF GEOGRAPHY: "Ranges and rivers dispose human settlements and fix the location and direction of roads, and with them determine where the great cities shall be. The fortress will be, like Newcastle, on the ford, where the road crosses the river; the great port will be, like New York, at, or, like Marseilles and Alexandria, more safely near the mouth of the river, the great water-way into the heart of the land; and Rome will be both port and fortress on the Tiber." (T. R. Glover of the University of Cambridge, "Ancient History," The Dalhousie Review, Vol. 11 (1931).) Professor Glover observes that the great ancient ports along the Mediterranean became busy and rich, e.g., Venice, as merchants stored and packaged the Eastern Goods ready to be traded and transported inland; Germany, he made the example, in these ancient days, had no hinterland "calling for the wares of the Mediterranean and the Orient."
¶ HISTORIAN: "...the most valuable qualities of a historian, [are] great diligence in examining authorities, great judgment in weighing testimony, and great impartiality in estimating characters." [Macaulay, "War of the Succession of Spain" (1833).]
¶ The job of the historian is not only to ferret out the facts, but, once out, to weed them, to sort the important from the unimportant; and, then, to weave them into an interesting story.
¶ "The artist [read historian] takes up two or more views of the subject in hand; combines, implicates, and contrasts them." [Robert Louis Stevenson, in Contemp. Rev. Apr. 551.]
¶ FACTS: What distinguishes the historian from the fiction writer, is that, the historian digs out the facts with "stern accuracy" and then having discovered the facts makes reasonable inferences in interpreting them; whereas the fiction writer starts and ends with imagination.
¶ Professor Glover: "The mass of knowledge is so great, the detail can be so full and so overwhelming, that a man cannot cope with it over any extended period. Every teacher of history knows how set 'periods' are shortened to make it possible for students to master them, with the same result for the student as for the writer of history; the period is known, but not the history. If we may borrow a simile from a necklace, is history the bead or the string? The tenancy is to emphasize the bead, the chapter over the story. Conscience that makes cowards of us all, especially of scholars, bullies us with the value of detail; the fragments must all be gathered, nothing must be lost. But to save the ship, some part of the cargo must be jettisoned. The story is the thing, and the chapter must be sacrificed to it. But we are very reluctant to do it; it means ceasing to be 'scientific', and becoming philosophic.
... It may have that 'shallow stream of thought' which Johnson attributed to history; for thought is susceptible of various meanings, and work that is done with the most meticulous care may yet lack thought. 'Sir, I like the muddling work,' said Johnson himself of dictionary making, where surely concentration on accurate detail can be most securely independent of broad constructive thought and intelligence." (T. R. Glover of the University of Cambridge, "Ancient History," The Dalhousie Review, Vol. 11 (1931).)
¶ "History is a glass through which the past may be seen, but too often this is coloured by the bias of the historian, and the reader sees through the glass darkly." (Reginald W. Jeffrey, Dyott's Diary.).)
§ See blupete's essay -- "On History."
¶ "Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live." (Coleridge.)
§ "Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)
§ See blupete's commentary of -- December 1, 1997.
¶ "Some exalt our species to the skies, and represent man as a kind of human demigod, who derives his origin from heaven, and retains evident marks of his lineage and descent. Others insist upon the blind sides of human nature, and can discover nothing, except vanity, in which man surpasses the other animals, whom he affects so much to despise. If an author posses the talent of rhetoric and declamation, he commonly takes part with the former: if his turn lie towards irony and ridicule, he naturally throws himself into the other extreme." (David Hume)
¶ A pragmatic system of thought introduced by F. C. S. Schiller and William James which emphasizes that man can only comprehend and investigate what is within the resources of the human mind, and discounts abstract theorizing; so, more generally, implying that technological advance must be guided by awareness of widely understood human needs.
¶ The alternative to superstition is Humanism.
¶ The objects of humanism, seems to me, would include those listed by Francis Hackett: "[To] free the earth from class struggle, from the dwarfing vicissitudes of poverty, from the warping of individuality by mass manipulation, the false and fabulous enmities of politics that mostly have no more basis in them than totem wars or the savageries of swine." [On Judging Books (New York: Day, 1947).]
§ See blupete's commentary of -- January 4, 1998.
¶ "Humanity is only I writ large, and love for Humanity generally means zeal for MY notions as to what men should be and how they should live. It frequently means distaste for the present. He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen is peculiarly apt to suppose that he loves his distant cousin whom he hath not seen and never will see." [Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873)]



Custom Search

2012 (2017)

Peter Landry