Never tell me the odds!
Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.
Alexander Pope (May 21, 1688 – May 30, 1744)
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.
Few misfortunes can befall a boy which bring worse consequences than to have a really affectionate mother.
William Somerset Maugham, (b) Jan. 25, 1874
We shall strive for perfection. We shall not achieve it immediately — but we still shall strive. We may make mistakes — but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle.
I remember that my old schoolmaster, Dr. Peabody, said, in days that seemed to us then to be secure and untroubled: “Things in life will not always run smoothly. Sometimes we will be rising toward the heights—then all will seem to reverse itself and start downward. The great fact to remember is that the trend of civilization itself is forever upward; that a line drawn through the middle of the peaks and the valleys of the centuries always has an upward trend.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fourth Inaugural Address
Saturday, January 20, 1945
A lottery is a taxation
upon all the fools in creation;
and heaven be praised,
it is easily raised,
for credulity’s always in fashion.
Henry Fielding, “The Lottery” – 1732
And if a beachhead of co-operation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure, and the peace preserved.
All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
Anti-war books are as likely to stop war as anti-glacier books are to stop glaciers.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings.
I don’t know a better preparation for life than a love of poetry and a good digestion.
Zona Gale, b. Aug 26, 1874
Great minds that are healthy are never considered geniuses, while this sublime qualification is lavished on brains that are often inferior but are slightly touched by madness.
Guy de Maupassant, (b) Aug. 5, 1850
There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.
from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird … So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.
Richard P. Feynman
We have a lot of books in our house. They are our primary decorative motif — books in piles on the coffee table, framed book covers, books sorted into stacks on every available surface, and of course books on shelves along most walls. Besides the visible books, there are the boxes waiting in the wings, the basement books, the garage books, the storage locker books. They are a sort of insulation, soundproofing some walls. They function as furniture, they prop up sagging fixtures and disguised by quilts function as tables. The quantities and types of books are fluid, arriving like hysterical cousins in overnight shipping envelopes only to languish near the overflowing mail bench. Advance Reading Copies collect at beside, to be dutifully examined — to ignore them and read Henry James or Barbara Pym instead becomes a guilty pleasure. I can’t imagine home without an overflow of books. The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough, or the right one at the right moment, but then sometimes to find you’d longed to fall asleep reading The Aspern Papers, and there it is.
If you look at a testimony of love from 2,000 years ago it can still exactly speak to you, whereas medical advice from only 100 years ago is ridiculous.
Jennifer Michael Hecht