“Fear Is the Bane of the Happy”

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Maxims of the French woman of letters Diane de Beausacq (1829-1899):

  • To say of a man: he never grows angry when he is scolded, never scolds when he is angry, is to give him a good character.
  • There are two ways of diminishing the tedium of a tedious task — to do it with all your might, or in the company of one you love.
  • Those who die a lingering death are never so bitterly lamented; they have been mourned in advance.
  • Honor exists but for the honorable.
  • There are people who spend their lives in searching in the conduct of others for some cause for anger.
  • Light folk take light things seriously and serious things lightly.
  • Trust not your mistrust; you will be more often deceived by it than by mankind.
  • Doubt poisons everything but destroys nothing.
  • To the noble, ability is a merit — to the mean, a defect.
  • Of the lives of others, we see only the pretexts.
  • Of two duties, it would seem that the more irksome is ever the more imperious.
  • If God knows all, I do not fear him.
  • To spoil children is to deceive them concerning life; life herself does not spoil us.
  • To be loved and yet unhappy savors of ingratitude.
  • Men resemble one another most in the heart and differ most in character; we can speak of the human heart, but not of the human character.
  • We are inclined to imagine that, in making a sacrifice, we are bound to do good. Self-denial, like selfishness, has its moments of blindness.
  • Following a long and difficult path, we penetrate to the root of things; then, when we utter the truth we have arrived at, we are astonished to find that we are not always understood: it is the recollection of the path that leads to it that renders a truth obvious.
  • The less a man thinks of himself, the less unhappy will he be.

“Strong reasons determine our resolves, slight reasons arrest us, on the eve of executing them. Most of us have looked forward eagerly to going a journey, and yet, when the hour of departure has come, many a one has been stopped by the fear of the bad cooking and comfortless beds of the inn.”

“Fine Words Butter No Parsnips”

English proverbs:

Experience keeps a dear school. (1743)
Everybody stretches his legs according to the length of his coverlet. (1550)
He that would the daughter win, must with the mother first begin. (1578)
A still tongue makes a wise head. (1562)
Speak not of my debts unless you mean to pay them. (1640)
One of these days is none of these days. (1658)
One hand for yourself and one for the ship. (1799)
It’s never too late to mend. (1590)
The highest branch is not the safest roost. (1563)
He who is absent is always in the wrong. (1640)
The golden age was never the present age. (1732)
Example is better than precept. (1400)
Sweep your own doorstep clean. (1624)
Idle people have the least leisure. (1678)
He that would have eggs must endure the cackling of hens. (1659)



“To try to be happy is to try to build a machine with no other specification than that it shall run noiselessly.” — J. Robert Oppenheimer, Letters and Recollections, 1980

“Dare to Be Yourself”

Quotations from André Gide:

Nothing prevents happiness like the memory of happiness.

Understanding is the beginning of approving.

The color of truth is gray.

At times it seems that I am living my life backward, and that at the approach of old age my real youth will begin.

Only fools don’t contradict themselves.

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.

It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labor of peace.

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.

To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.

Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.

Fish die belly-upward and rise to the surface; it is their way of falling.

Our judgments about things vary according to the time left us to live — that we think is left us to live.

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.

The most decisive actions of our life — I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future — are, more often than not, unconsidered.


  • “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” — Swedish proverb
  • Uranus was discovered before Antarctica.
  • PROTECTORATE is a palindrome in Morse code.
  • If you copy this sentence, be sure to omit “”.

(The fourth is due to Mick Tully, the fifth to David Armstrong.)


“Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. The heated mind resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic.” — William Gladstone

“The knowledge of the theory of logic has no tendency whatever to make men good reasoners.” — Thomas Macaulay

“Stray Sayings”

From George Bernard Shaw’s “Maxims for Revolutionists,” 1903:

We are told that when Jehovah created the world he saw that it was good. What would he say now?

Youth, which is forgiven everything, forgives itself nothing: age, which forgives itself everything, is forgiven nothing.

Mens sana in corpore sano is a foolish saying. The sound body is a product of the sound mind.

The reformer for whom the world is not good enough finds himself shoulder to shoulder with him that is not good enough for the world.

Beware of the man who does not return your blow: he neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself.

In moments of progress the noble succeed, because things are going their way: in moments of decadence the base succeed for the same reason: hence the world is never without the exhilaration of contemporary success.

If you injure your neighbor, better not do it by halves.

Two starving men cannot be twice as hungry as one; but two rascals can be ten times as vicious as one.

Decadence can find agents only when it wears the mask of progress.

Do not mistake your objection to defeat for an objection to fighting, your objection to being a slave for an objection to slavery, your objection to not being as rich as your neighbor for an objection to poverty. The cowardly, the insubordinate, and the envious share your objections.

It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience!