Thoughts & Quotes of

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


¶ "War's a brain-spattering art." (Lord Byron)
¶ "We have heard of an old German officer, who was a great admirer of correctness in military operations. He use to revile Bonaparte for spoiling the science of war, which had been carried to such exquisite perfection by Marshall Daun. 'In my youth we use to march and countermarch all the summer without gaining or losing a square league, and then we went into winter quarters. And now comes an ignorant, hot-headed young man, who flies about from Boulogne to Ulm, and from Ulm to the middle of Moravia, and fights battles in December. The whole system of his tactics is monstrously incorrect.' The world is of opinion in spite of critics like these, that the end of fencing is to hit, that the end of medicine is to cure, that the end of war is to conquer, and that those means are the most correct which best accomplish the ends." (Macaulay's essay, "Moore's Life on Lord Byron," June, 1831.)
¶ According to Prussian theorist von Clausewitz, "war is nothing but the continuation of state policy with other means ... Force is the means; to impose our will upon the enemy is the object." [As quoted by Francis Hackett, On Judging Books (New York: Day, 1947) at p. 46.]
¶ Karl von Clausewitz wrote in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars that war was a trinity composed: of the policy of the government, the activities of the military, and the passions of the peoples. This is known as the "Clausewitzian trinity." [See Michael Howard's work, The First World War (Oxford university Press, 2002) at p. 1.]
¶ "What astonished the Allies most of all was the number and the velocity of the Republicans. These improvised armies had in fact nothing to delay them. Tents were unprocurable for want of money, untransportable for want of the enormous number of wagons that would have been required, and also unnecessary, for the discomfort that would have caused wholesale desertion in professional armies was cheerfully borne by the men of 1793-94. Supplies for armies of then unheard-of size could not be carried in convoys, and the French soon became familiar with 'living on the country.' Thus 1793 saw the birth of the modern system of war-rapidity of movement, full development of national strength, bivouacs, requisitions and force as against cautious manoeuvering, small professional armies, tents and full rations, and chicane. The first represented the decision-compelling spirit, the second the spirit of risking little to gain a little." [C. F. Atkinson, as quoted by H. G. Wells, in A Short History of the World (1922) (Collins, 1953) p. 218.]
¶ "Wars and revolutions make nothing; their utmost service to mankind, is that, in a very rough and painful way, they destroy superannuated and obstructive things." [H. G. Wells.)
¶ "War is a business of positions." [Napoleon, as quoted by Mahan, Sea Power in its Relations to The War of 1812 (London: Sampson, Low, Marston, 1905), Vol. 1, pp. 74-5.]
§ See blupete's essay -- "On War."
¶ "I doubt whether the most surprising success is to be accounted for from any such unusual attainments, or whether a man's making half a million of money is a proof of his capacity for thought in general. It is much oftener owing to views and wishes bounded but constantly directed to one particular object. To succeed, a man should aim only at success. ... The rule of business is to take what you can get, and keep what you have got; or an eagerness in seizing every opportunity that offers for promoting your own interest, and a plodding, persevering industry in making the most of the advantages you have already obtained, are the most effectual as well as the safest ingredients in the composition of the mercantile character." (William Hazlitt, "On Thought and Action.")
¶ "It is the interest of the commercial world that wealth should be found everywhere." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "Riches are gotten with industry, and kept by frugality." (Thomas Hobbes)
¶ "Riches joyned with liberality, is Power; because it procureth friends, and servants." (Thomas Hobbes)
§ See blupete's commentary of -- October 1st, 2000.
¶ "There is a certain Delicacy of Passion, to which some People are subject, that makes them extremely sensible to all the Accidents of Life. And when a Person, that has this Sensibility of Temper, meets with any Misfortune, his Sorrow or Resentment takes entire Possession of him." (David Hume)
§ See blupete's commentary of -- May 31st, 1998.
§ See blupete's commentary of -- May 27th, 2001.
§ See blupete's commentary of -- June 20th, 1999.
¶ "Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter,
Sermons and soda water the day after." (Lord Byron)
¶ O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Keats: From "Ode To A Nightingale."
¶ "The surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness; her state is like that of things above the moon, ever serene." (Montaigne)
¶ "Wisdom, ever on the watch to rob Joy of its alchemy." (Lord Byron)
¶ "He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that." (John Stuart Mill)
¶ "The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing when it is no longer doubtful is the cause of half their errors." (Mill)
§ "In general, nobody wants to be a witness. For one thing , it takes time. There is the time spent in preparation, and the time spent in court. Courts do not make appointments to hear witnesses. In ordinary litigation ... the lawyers hope to begin a trial on a particular date [but delays do occur and the parties and the witnesses just have to wait.] And even when a trial is set for a certain day, it is not possible to forecast the hour when the turn of a particular witness will come, and so he usually has to be in court all day." [Charles Rembar, The End of Obscenity (London: Deutsch, 1969), p. 237.]
§ The initial interview of a witness may sound pretty good, "but courtrooms are special, and the fine forthright statements in the lawyer's office often become difficult quavers on the witness stand." [Ibid., p. 240.]
§ "In our daily lives, we learn empirically that a direct, unhesitating, easy response usually marks the honest man, while hesitation, averted eyes, a tremulous voice and a groping for words identify a liar. Testifying in court is different from everyday conversation. The honest witness may hesitate, look away, speak with a tremor and mislay his vocabulary (while the well-coached perjurer reels off his tale). Jurymen, however, are not often in court and cannot make the appropriate discount." [Ibid., p. 241.]
§ "Lawyers prepare their witnesses for trials. This is sometimes confused with 'coaching the witness' -- making up a story for him to tell, or advising him to lie. There is nothing reprehensible in directing the attention of the witness to the critical issues, or in helping him articulate what might otherwise be poorly expressed. He may also be prepared by anticipating probable cross-examination, so as to avoid upset and confusion." [Ibid., p. 371.]
¶ "I find in England, that most women of 50 and upwards have gone through the experience of many years' voluntary endurance of torture, which has given a depth and a richness to their natures that your easy-going pleasure-loving women cannot imagine." [Bertrand Russell, Autobiography (Boston: Little, Brown; 1967) at p. 251.]
¶ "The Devil hath not, in all his quiver's choice,
An arrow for the heart like a sweet voice." (Lord Byron)
¶ "Her stature tall I hate a dumpy woman." (Lord Byron)
¶ "Stockings, slippers, brushes, combs With other articles of ladies fair." (Lord Byron)
¶ "Light classic articles of female want, French stuffs, lace, tweezers, toothpicks, teapot, tray." (Lord Byron)
¶ "There are three classes of elderly women; first, that dear old soul; second, that old woman; third, that old witch." (Coleridge)
§ See blupete's commentary of -- March 29th, 1998.
¶ "... the seed of knowledge." (Francis Bacon)
¶ "Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live." (Coleridge)
¶ "I have made this letter longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it short." (Blaise Pascal)
¶ "I have never had much patience with the writers who claim from the reader an effort to understand their meaning." (Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up.)
¶ "... aim at lucidity, simplicity and euphony [in order of importance] ..." (Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up.)
¶ "Yet you will find in their works sentence after sentence that you must read twice to discover the sense. Often you can only guess at it, for the writers have evidently not said what they intended." (Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up.)
¶ (The System Of Double Redaction): "They [my books] were always written at least twice over; a first draft of the entire work was completed to the very end of the subject, then the whole begun again de novo; but incorporating, in the second writing, all sentences and parts of sentences of the old draft, which appeared as suitable to my purpose as anything which I could write in lieu of them. ... I am careful, in the first draft, to make, as perfect as I am able, the arrangement. If that is bad, the whole thread on which the ideas string themselves becomes twisted ..." (John Stuart Mill, Autobiography.)
¶ "For not only a man's actions are effaced and vanish with him; his virtues and generous qualities die with him also: his intellect only is immortal and bequeathed unimpaired to posterity. Words are the only things that last for ever." (William Hazlitt, "On Thought and Action.")
John Keats: "Whenever I find myself growing vapourish, I rouse myself, wash and put on a clean shirt brush my hair and clothes, tie my shoe-strings neatly and in fact adonize as I were going out -- then all clean and comfortable I sit down to write." [In a letter to his brother George, dated September 27th, 1819; Letters of John Keats (Nelson, 1938).]
¶ John Keats: "Writing has this disadvantage of speaking -- one cannot write a wink, or a nod, or a grin, or purse of the lips, or a smile ... One cannot put ones finger to one's nose, or yerk ye in the ribs, or lay hold of your button in writing ..." [In a letter to his brother George, dated September 27th, 1819; Letters of John Keats (Nelson, 1938).]
¶ Large Projects: "If you have a great work in your head, nothing else thrives near it, all other thoughts are repelled, and the pleasantness of life itself is for the time lost. What exertion and expenditure of mental force are required to arrange and round off a great whole; and then what powers, and what a tranquil undisturbed situation in life, to express it with the proper fluency! If you have erred as to the whole, all your toil is lost; and further, if, in treating so extensive a subject, you are not perfectly master of your material in the details, the whole will be defective, and censure will be incurred." [Goethe, as quoted by Bagehot in his essay on Shelley, as reproduced in Hughes' Shelley: Poetry & Prose (1931) (Oxford University Press, 1973) at pp. 15-20.]
¶ Bertrand Russell, in a letter to Lucy Martin Donnelly, dated May 23rd, 1902, wrote how he finished his magnum opus on the principles of Mathematics. (It was a work he had worked on for about five years.) To Russell, it seemed that few, even close family members, appreciate the trials and tribulations that a dedicated writer goes through while working his craft. "I wonder whether you realize the degree of self-sacrifice (and too often sacrifice of others), of sheer effort of will, of stern austerity in repressing even what is intrinsically best, that goes into writing a book of any magnitude." Getting the work right and finished, especially finished is the biggest problem. The only thing that will keep the writer going, is to note, that, with each successive sweep the mistakes usually come to be fewer. For Russell, in the writing of his magnum opus on Mathematics, the problem was that upon discovering a mistake, each line in the subsequent writing had to be carefully reviewed to clear out any repeats of the earlier mathematical error; or worse, the error was compounded by its introduction into further complex calculations, and when this happened, then, often, whole chapters had to be thrown out.
¶ Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer: "Abstract work, if one wishes to do it well, must be allowed to destroy one's humanity; one raises a monument which at the same time is a tomb, in which, voluntarily, one slowly interns one self." (Bertrand Russell.)
¶ Control of Feeling and An Application of Will Power: Anyone who thinks that "writing comes from technique, is quite mistaken; writing is the outlet to feelings which are all but overmastering, and are yet mastered. Two things are to be cultivated: loftiness of feeling, and control of feeling and everything else by the will. ... loftiness of feeling seems to depend essentially upon a brooding consciousness of the past and its terrible power, a deep sense of the difference between the great eternal facts and the transient dross of merely personal feeling. If you tell these things to your fine-writing class, they will know less than if you hold your tongue." (Bertrand Russell.)
¶ "My advice to anyone who wishes to write is to know all the very best literature by heart, and ignore the rest as completely as possible." (Bertrand Russell.)
¶ "The style of an author should be the image of his mind, but the choice and command of language is the fruit of exercise." (Gibbon, 1796)
¶ "I defy the Attorney General, and even the Devil himself, to produce from my writings any one essay, which is not written in the spirit of peace." (Cobbett)
¶ "I set myself no goal but a domestic and private one." (Montaigne)
¶ "... in my own writings [on a rereading] I do not always find again the sense of my first thought; I do not know what I meant to say, and often I get burned by correcting and putting in a new meaning, because I have lost the first one, which was better." (Montaigne)
¶ "It is more of a job to interpret the interpretations than to interpret the things, and there are more books about books than about any other subject: we do nothing but write glosses about each other. The world is swarming with commentaries; of authors there is a great scarity." (Montaigne)
¶ "Until you understand a writer's ignorance, presume yourself ignorant of his understanding." (Coleridge)
¶ "The faults of great writers are generally excellencies carried to excess." (Coleridge)
§ See blupete's essay -- "On Writing."



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Peter Landry