see: "DOUBTS"
see: "FACTS"
see: "KNOW-IT-ALL'S"
see: "OPINION"
see: "BELIEF" for other related links
see: "EMOTIONS & FEELINGS" for other related links

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end
in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with
doubts he shall end in certainties.
--Francis Bacon (1561—1626)
English philosopher and essayist.
_The Advancement of Learning_ [1605]

Positive in proportion to their ignorance.
--Maturin M. Ballou (1820—1895)
American writer and publisher.
_Aztec Land_ [1890]

Positive, adj. Mistaken at the top of one's voice.
--Ambrose Bierce (1842—1914)
American newspaperman, wit, and satirist.
_The Devil's Dictionary_ [1911]


'Tis impossible to be sure of any thing
but Death and Taxes.
--Christopher Bullock
_The Cobler of Preston_ [1716]

& see:

Our new Constitution is now established, and
has an appearance that promises permanency,
but in this world nothing can be said to be
certain, except death and taxes.
--Benjamin Franklin (1706—1790)
American politician, inventor, and scientist.
Letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy [13 November 1789].


Materialists and madmen never have doubts.
--G.K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton (1874—1936)
English essayist, novelist, and poet.
_Orthodoxy_, ch. 2 "The Maniac" [1908]

The world is made up for the most part of morons
and natural tyrants, sure of themselves, strong in
their own opinions, never doubting anything.
--Clarence Darrow (1857—1938)
American lawyer.
_Personal Liberty_ [1928]

Inquiry is fatal to certainty.
--Will [William James] Durant (1885—1981) & Ariel Durant (1898—1981)
American husband and wife writing collaborators whose _Story of Civilization_
11 vol. [1935-75], established them among the best known writers of popular
philosophy and history.
Vol 4 _The Age of Faith_ [1950]

We know accurately only when we know
little; with knowledge doubt increases.
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749—1832)
German poet, novelist, and playwright.
_Maxims and Reflections_ [1819]

[In the 1948 presidential election] the Republicans were prohibitive
favorites. Truman was a 'gone goose' said Claire Booth Luce, the
wife of the country's most powerful publisher. [...] One major pollster,
Elmo Roper, announced in early September that he would stop polling
because the election was a foregone conclusion: 'Thomas E. Dewey
is almost as good as elected'.
--David Halberstam (1934—2007)
American journalist and author.
_The Coldest Winter_ [2007], pt. 4 "The Politics of Two Continents"
(Format adapted)

We can be absolutely certain only
about things we do not understand.
--Eric Hoffer (1902—1983)
American longshoreman, philosopher, and author who
received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1982.
_Between the Devil and the Dragon: The Best
Essays and Aphorisms of Eric Hoffer_ [1982].

Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.
--Thomas Howell
_New Sonnets_ [c. 1570]

When men are the most sure and arrogant,
they are commonly the most mistaken.
--David Hume (1711—1776)
Scottish philosopher.
Quoted in _Cooper's Journal_, p. 295 [1850].

It is the dull man who is always sure,
and the sure man who is always dull.
--H.L. (Henry Louis) Mencken (1880—1956)
American journalist and literary critic.
"The National Letters" in _Prejudices: Second Series_ [1920].

To refuse a hearing to an opinion because they are sure
that it is false, is to assume that *their* certainty is the
same thing as *absolute* certainty. All silencing of
discussion is an assumption of infallibility.
--John Stuart Mill (1806—1873)
English philosopher and social reformer.
_On Liberty_, ch. 2 [1859]

The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.
--Sir William Osler (1849—1919)
Canadian-born physician.
In the "Montreal Medical Journal" [1902].

So as this only point among the rest remaineth
sure and certain, namely, that nothing is certain.
--Pliny the Elder [Gaius Plinius Secundus] (23—79)
Roman statesman and scholar.
_Natural History_, bk. II, ch. 7 [77—79]

In all affairs — love, religion, politics, or business —it's
a healthy idea, now and then, to hang a question mark
on the things you have long taken for granted.
--Bertrand Russell (1872—1970)
British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel laureate.
Quoted in "Reader's Digest" [1940].

Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties.
--Gail Sheehy (b. 1937)
American writer and lecturer.
_Speed is of the Essence_ [1971]

Human beings are perhaps never more frightening
than when they are convinced beyond doubt that
they are right.
--Laurens van der Post (1906—1996)
South African explorer and writer.
_The Lost World of the Kalahari_, ch. 3 [1958]

Doubt is not a very agreeable state,
but certainty is a ridiculous one.
--Voltaire (Franηois Marie Arouet) (1694—1778)
French writer and philosopher.
Attributed in Will Durant _The Story of Philosophy_ [1938 ed.].

A dogmatical spirit inclines a man to be censorious of
his neighbors. Every one of his opinions appears to him
written, as it were, with sunbeams, and he grows angry
that his neighbors do not see it in the same light. He is
tempted to disdain his correspondents as men of low
and dark understanding because they do not believe
what he does.
--Isaac Watts (1674—1748)
English hymn writer.
_The Improvement of the Mind_, ch. I "General Rules" [1741]

When I was young I was sure of everything; in a few
years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was
not half so sure of most things as I was before; at
present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God
has revealed to me.
--John Wesley (1703—1791)
English preacher and founder, with his brother Charles,
of the Methodist movement in the Church of England.
"A Letter to the Editor of the 'London Magazine'" [1765]

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
--William Butler Yeats (1865—1939)
Irish poet and dramatist who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.
"The Second Coming" [1921]


asseverate [uh-SEV-uh-rayt], transitive verb:
To affirm or declare positively or earnestly.

indubitable [in-'du-bi-tκ-bκl], adjective:
Doubtless, without doubt, unquestioned; unquestionable.

ineluctable [in-i-'luhk-tuh-buh l], adjective:
Inescapable, inevitable, or certain.



see: "COURAGE"
see: "DUELS"
see: "RISK"
see: "SUCCESS" for other related links

If you are reading in order to become a better reader,
you cannot read just any book or article. You will not
improve as a reader if all you read are books that are
well within your capacity. You must tackle books that
are beyond you, or, as we have said, books that are
over your head. Only books of that sort will make
you stretch your mind.
--Mortimer J. Adler (1902—2001)
American philosopher, educator, and editor.
_How to Read a Book_ [1940], "Reading and the Growth of the Mind"

When I hear my friends say they hope their children
don't have to experience the hardships they went
through—I don't agree. Those hardships made us
what we are. You can be disadvantaged in many
ways, and one way may be not having had to
--William M. Batten (1909—1999)
American businessman; CEO of JCPenney
and Chairman of the NY Stock Exchange.
Quoted in "Reader's Digest" [1990].

Iacta alea est. (The die is cast.)
--Gaius Julius Caesar (100 B.C.—44 B.C.)
Roman military and political leader.
In M.J. Cohan and John Major (eds.) _History in Quotations_ [2004].
Cohan & Major note that:
In 49 B.C., by crossing with an army the River Rubicon, a stream
in northern Italy that marked the frontier between Gaul and Italy
proper, Caesar was effectively declaring war on Rome, because
his legal military power was restricted to Gaul.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands
in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times
of challenge and controversy.
--Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929—1968)
American civil rights leader.
_Strength to Love_, ch. 2 "On Being a Good Neighbor" [1963]

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
--Frank Leahy (1908—1973)
Coached Notre Dame football team to 4 national championships.
Quoted in _Daily Mail_ (Charleston, WV) [4 May 1954].

[On being asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest:]
Because it's there.
--George Leigh Mallory (1886—1924)
British mountaineer.
In "New York Times" [18 March 1923].

If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you;
but if you really make them think, they'll hate you.
--Don Marquis (1878—1937)
American poet and journalist.
"The Sun Dial", [column] in the _New York Sun_.

[Upon being challenged to use the word 'horticulture' in a sentence:]
You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think.
--Dorothy Parker (1893—1967)
American critic and humorist.
Quoted in _The Algonquin Wits_ (ed.) Robert E. Drennan [1968].

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs,
even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor
spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they
live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
--Theodore Roosevelt (1858—1919)
American Republican statesman and President [1901-09].
Speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago, Illinois [10 April 1899].



Cerberus (noun)
In Greek and Roman mythology, the three-headed
dog that guards the entrance to Hades.

crucible [KROO-suh-buhl], noun:
1. A severe, searching test or trial.
2. A container of metal or refractory material employed
for heating substances to high temperatures.

gauntlet ['gant-let], noun:
1. The glove of a suit of armor.
2. Two lines of tormentors with flailing sticks between
which someone must run as punishment or initiation.

Click picture to ZOOM


see: "DESTINY"
see: "FATE"
see: "LUCK"

Do not suppose opportunity will knock twice at your door.
--Sιbastien-Roch Nicolas Chamfort (1741—1794)
French playwright and conversationalist.
Attributed in _Wilson's Photographic Magazine_, vol. XXVII [1890].

It is a mortifying truth, and ought to teach the wisest of us
humility, that many of the most valuable discoveries have
been the result of chance, rather than of contemplation,
and of accident rather than of design.
--C.C. Colton (1780—1832)
English clergyman and writer.
_Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words_, CXLII [1820]

A fool must now and then be right, by chance.
--William Cowper (1731—1800)
English poet and hymnodist.
"Conversation", l. 96 [1782]

[Cousin Zeb (Fuzzy Knight):]
Uh, is this a game of chance?
[Cuthbert J. Twillie (W.C. Fields):]
Not the way *I* play it, no.
"My Little Chickadee" [1940 film]
Screenplay by Mae West & W.C. Fields.

Better hazard once than be always in fear.
--Thomas Fuller (1654—1734)
English writer and physician.
Comp., _Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs_ [1732]

Surely no man can reflect, without wonder upon the vicissitudes
of human life arising from causes in the highest degree accidental
and trifling. If you trace the necessary concatenation of human
events a very little way back, you may perhaps discover that a
person's very going in or out of a door has been the means of
coloring with misery or happiness the remaining current of his
--Fulke Greville (1554—1628)
English philosophical poet.
_Maxims, Characters, and Reflections_, CXXI [2nd ed., 1757]

My inclination to go by Air Express
is confirmed by the crash they had
yesterday, which will make them
careful in the immediate future.
--A.E. [Alfred Edward] Houseman (1859—1936)
English classical scholar and poet.
Letter [17 August 1920].

Many shining actions owe their success to chance, though
the general or statesman runs away with the applause.
--Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696—1782)
Scottish lawyer, agriculturalist, and philosopher.
_Introduction to the Art of Thinking_ [1761]

Chance generally favors the prudent.
--Joseph Joubert (1754—1824)
French philosopher.
Attributed in Maturin M. Ballou _Pearls of Thought_, p. 35 [1882].

Although men flatter themselves with their great actions,
they are not so often the result of a great design as of
--Franηois de La Rochefoucauld (1613—1680)
French classical author.
_Reflections; or, Sentences and Moral Maxims_ [1678]

No victor believes in chance.
--Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844—1900)
German classical scholar, philosopher, and critic of culture.
_The Gay Science_ (Die frφhliche Wissenschaft), bk. 3 [1882]

Chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast.
In a pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.
--Ovid [Publius Ovidius Naso] (43 B.C.—18 A.D.)
Roman poet.
_Ars amatoria_ "The Art of Love", iii, l. 425

In the field of observation, chance favors
only the prepared mind. (Dans les champs
de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que
les esprits prιparιs.)
--Louis Pasteur (1822—1895)
French chemist and bacteriologist.
Address in Lille, France [7 December 1854].

I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new
day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of
magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.
--J.B. [John Boynton] Priestley (1894—1984)
English novelist, playwright and critic.
_Delight_, p. 170 [1949]

Discouragement seizes us only when
we can no longer count on chance.
--George Sand [pseudonym of Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin] (1804—1876)
French author.
_Consuelo_ [1842]

There's no such thing as chance;
And what to us seems merest accident
Springs from the deepest source of destiny.
--Friedrich von Schiller (1759—1805)
German poet, historian, and dramatist.
_The Death of Wallenstein_ [1798]; II, iii

What can be more foolish than to think that all this
rare fabric of heaven and earth could come by chance,
when all the skill of art is not able to make an oyster!
--Jeremy Taylor (1613—1667)
English Anglican clergyman and writer.
Quoted in Rev. B.H. Draper (ed.) _The Amaranth; A Selection
of Religious and Perceptive Pieces in Prose_ [1840].


When Vera Czermak learned that her husband had
betrayed her, she decided she would end it all by
jumping out of her third-story window. Some time
later she awoke in the hospital to discover that she
was still alive, having landed upon her husband.
Mr. Czermak, however, was dead.
--in John Train _True Remarkable Occurrences_ [1981].



fortuitous [for-'tu-i-tκs], adjective:
Coincidental, accidental; occurring by chance.



see: "LIFE" for other related links
see: "MEMORIES" for other related links

The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next.
--Matthew Arnold (1822—1888)
English Victorian poet and literary and social critic.
_God and the Bible: A Review of Objections ..._ [1875]

Such fire was not by water to be drown'd,
Nor he his nature changed by changing ground.
--Ludovico Ariosto (1474—1533)
Italian poet.
_Orlando furioso_ [1516]

Times change. The vices of your age are stylish today.
--Aristophanes (c. 450—c. 388 B.C.)
Greek comic dramatist.
_The Clouds_ [c. 423 B.C.]

They who will not apply new remedies must expect new evils.
--Francis Bacon (1561—1626)
English philosopher and essayist.
Attributed in _The London Magazine_ [February 1828].

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to
mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.
--Henri Bergson (1859—1941)
French philosopher.
_Creative Evolution_ [1911]


Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?
"Jeremiah" 13:23

There is no new thing under the sun.
"Ecclesiastes" 1:9


Alas! There is no casting anchor in the stream of time!
--Marguerite Blessington (1789—1849)
Irish novelist and poet.
_Country Quarters_ [1850]


22nd Dec., 1900. The old century is very nearly out, and leaves
the world in a pretty pass, and the British Empire is playing the
devil in it as never an empire before on so large a scale. We may
live to see its fall. All the nations of Europe are making the same
hell upon earth in China, massacring and pillaging and raping in
the captured cities as outrageously as in the Middle Ages. The
Emperor of Germany gives the word for slaughter and the Pope
looks on and approves. In South Africa our troops are burning
farms under Kitchener's command, and the Queen and the two
houses of Parliament, and the bench of bishops thank God publicly
and vote money for the work. The Americans are spending fifty
millions a year on slaughtering the Filipinos; the King of the
Belgians has invested his whole fortune on the Congo, where
he is brutalizing the Negroes to fill his pockets. The French and
Italians for the moment are playing a less prominent part in the
slaughter, but their inactivity grieves them. The whole white race
is reveling openly in violence, as though it had never pretended
to be Christian. God's equal curse be on them all! So ends the
famous nineteenth century into which we were so proud to
have been born. ...

31st Dec., 1900. I bid good-bye to the old century, may it rest
in peace as it has lived in war. Of the new century I prophesy
nothing except that it will see the decline of the British Empire.
Other worse empires will rise perhaps in its place, but I shall
not live to see the day. It all seems a very little matter here in
Egypt, with the pyramids watching us as they watched Joseph,
when, as a young man four thousand years ago, perhaps in this
very garden, he walked and gazed at the sunset behind them,
wondering about the future just as I did this evening. And so,
poor wicked nineteenth century, farewell!

--Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840—1922)
English poet and publicist.
_My Diaries, 1888-1914_ [1921]


Every age has its pleasures, its
style of wit, and its own ways.
--Nicolas Boileau-Desprιaux (1636—1711)
French critic and poet.
_L'art poιtique_, canto III [1674]

The humblest citizen of all the land, when clad in
the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than
all the hosts of Error.
--William Jennings Bryan (1860—1925)
American Democratic and Populist politician who
ran for the presidency three times without success.
Speech at the National Democratic Convention, Chicago, Illinois [1896].

A state without the means of some change
is without the means of its conservation.
--Edmund Burke (1729—1797)
Irish-born Whig politician and man of letters.
_Reflections on the Revolution in France_ [1790]

I'll turn over a new leaf.
--Miguel de Cervantes (1547—1616)
Spanish novelist.
_Don Quixote de la Mancha_, pt. II, bk. iii, ch. xiii [1615]

The heart never grows better by age; I fear rather worse;
always harder. A young liar will be an old one; and a
young knave will only be a greater knave as he grows
--Lord Chesterfield [Philip Dormer Stanhope] (1694—1773)
British writer and politician.
Letters to his son [17 May 1750].

[O tempora! O mores!]
Oh, the times! Oh, the customs!
--Marcus Tullius Cicero (106—43 B.C.)
Roman orator and statesman.
_In Catilinam_, Speech I, ch. I


They must often change who would be
constant in happiness and wisdom.
--Confucius (551—479 B.C.)
K'ung Ch'iu, Chinese philosopher.
Quoted in Oliver Goldsmith, "The Citizen of the World or,
Letters from a Chinese Philosopher, Residing in London,
to his Friends in the East" [1762], [number 123].

It is only the supremely wise or the deeply ignorant who never alter.
--Confucius (551—479 B.C.)
K'ung Ch'iu, Chinese philosopher.
Attributed in Sir Gilbert Parker _The Weavers_ [1907].


The goal of every culture is to decay through over-civilization;
the factors of decadence, — luxury, scepticism, weariness and
superstition, — are constant. The civilization of one epoch
becomes the manure of the next.
--Cyril Connolly (1903—1974)
English writer.
_The Unquiet Grave_ [1944], part II, "Te Palinure Petens"

As one gets older, one discovers everything is going
to be exactly the same — with different hats on.
--Noλl Coward (1899—1973)
English playwright, actor, and composer.
Quoted in _The Film Daily_, vol. 125 [1964].

Life is not a static thing. The only people who do not change their minds
are incompetents in asylums, who can't, and those in cemeteries.
--Everett McKinley Dirksen (1896—1959)
American congressman and senator.
In _The New York Times_ [3 January 1965].

The custom and fashion of to-day will be the
awkwardness and outrage of to-morrow. So
arbitrary are these transient laws.
--Alexandre Dumas (1802—1870)
French novelist and dramatist.
Attributed in James Comper Gray _The Biblical
Museum: Old Testament_, vol. 3 of 8 [1878 ed.].

I sometimes sense the world is changing almost too
fast for its inhabitants, at least for us older ones.
--Elizabeth II (b. 1926)
Queen of the United Kingdom [1952-].
Quoted in "The Times" (London) [9 October 1997].


A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by
little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency
a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern
himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now
in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in
hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803—1882)
American philosopher and poet.
_Essays_ [1841], "Self-Reliance"

What the tender and poetic youth dreams to-day, and conjures
up with inarticulate speech, is to-morrow the vociferated result
of public opinion, and the day after is the character of nations.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803—1882)
American philosopher and poet.
Quoted in James Comper Gray _The Biblical
Museum: Old Testament_, p. 160 [1876].


All is change; all yields its place and goes.
--Euripides (485?—406 B.C.)
Greek dramatist.
_Heracles_ [421-416 B.C.]

Change is not always progress. [...] A fever of
newness has been everywhere confused with
the spirit of progress.
--Henry Ford (1863—1947)
American car manufacturer.
_Ford Ideals_ [1922]

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy;
for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must
die in one life before we can enter another!
--Anatole France [Jacques Anatole Thibault] (1844—1924)
French novelist, man of letters, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921.
_Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard_ (The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard) [1881]

It's a long Lane that never turns.
--Thomas Fuller (1654—1734)
English writer and physician.
Comp., _Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs_ [1732]


A small body of determined spirits fired by an
unquenchable faith in their mission can alter
the course of history.
--Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869—1948)
Indian statesman and leader of the nationalistic
movement against British rule.
Quoted in Nirmal Kumar Bose (ed.) _Selections From Gandhi_, p. 27 [1948].
(See Mead, below.)

We must be the change we wish to see in the world.
--Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869—1948)
Indian statesman and leader of the nationalistic
movement against British rule.
Attributed in "L.A. Times" [30 July 1989].



"R.I.P., Encyclopedia Britannica"
By Peter Garrison, in "Los Angeles Times" [20 May 2012]

These days, the sound of the digital scythe being whetted makes me cast more lingering looks at the paper and cardboard relics on my bookshelves. At none more, since the announcement in March of their imminent extinction, than the familiar brown and gold, oddly titled volumes of my 1958 Encyclopaedia Britannica: HYDROZ to JEREM, MARYB to MUSHE, SARS to SORC.

During my teenage years, when my thirst and respect for knowledge were at an unsustainable peak, I resolved to read the Britannica from one end to the other. Or if not read, at least page through; even a young person much deluded about his own capacities cannot have imagined that he would absorb every single word about Bezique, Litomerice or even Trappists. But my goal was to have at least glanced into every department of human knowledge, like the tourist who passes by, and can therefore truly say that he has seen, every single painting in the Louvre.

The project was doomed from the start. Not only did topics linked by nothing more than the random accident of an initial letter fail to reliably arouse my interest; I also could not resist being led away from the alphabetical order of things by any briefly seductive scent. That was always a problem with any consultation of the Britannica; you would open it to look up one thing and be waylaid by something else, until you forgot what you wanted to find in the first place.

But the encyclopedia was always there, and as the erudite relatives who first taught me that knowledge was a pleasure in itself died one by one (and in whose final shudders I would see vanish, in an instant, vast internal encyclopedias), it remained steadfast, unchanging, dateless and true. Whatever I needed to know I could find there, expounded in that oddly toneless prose in which the slightest whiff of opinion or irony struck like a cold draft from some rudely opened door.

We all had them, my striving generation; the noble tomes were reliably to be found in the cargo of college-bound freights. Collisions were inevitable; young couples setting up housekeeping together would confront the awkward problem of what to do with their twin hereditary Britannicas.

These days I consult Wikipedia -- disreputable among scholars, I know -- far more often. It's quicker and, when that matters, more up to date. I know how much skepticism to bring to it, and I even edit entries myself from time to time. The old serendipities of encyclopedia consultation are largely -- though, thanks to hypertext links, not entirely -- missing from Wikipedia, but something else is missing too. What to call it? Maybe just mass.

Granted, the size of the Britannica -- my 1958 edition takes up 4 feet of shelf space and about equals my high school self in weight -- was a great detriment to portability. But its sheer bulk and heft seemed to imply, metaphorically, that Truth -- massive, permanent, immutable, as I thought at the time -- dwelt therein. The Britannica stood apart, remote and lofty, sacred and untouchable. Its impersonal prose seemed to underscore its authority, as if all those articles had been written by something other than mere humans. The thought that I myself might emend a single word of it never entered my mind: It was not just a practical impossibility, but a moral one.

Authorities have not always been our best friends, and perhaps Wikipedia's postmodern assumption that Truth is not what one gray eminence thinks, but rather what we can all agree upon, will put future knowledge-seekers into a healthier relationship with their sources. But I still glance with nostalgia at those now seldom-visited books, and I feel a little pang of loss for the permanent and reliable world they stood for.


We hate change and love it at the same time.
What we really want is for things to remain
the same but get better.
--Sydney J. Harris (1917—1986)
American journalist.
Quoted in "The Volunteer Leader", pub. by
American Hospital Association [1976].

Fashions in sin change.
--Lillian Hellman (1905—1984)
American dramatist.
"Watch on the Rhine" [1941]


You cannot step twice into the same river.
--Heraclitus (c. 535—475 B.C.)
Greek philosopher.
In Plato _Cratylus_

Nothing endures but change.
--Heraclitus (c. 535—475 B.C.)
Greek philosopher.
In Plato _Cratylus_



Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

--A.E. [Alfred Edward] Houseman (1859—1936)
English classical scholar and poet.
"A Shropshire Lad" no, 40, l. 5 [1896]


Change your opinions, keep to your principles;
change your leaves, keep intact your roots.
--Victor Hugo (1802—1885)
French poet, dramatist, and novelist.
In Lorenzo O'Rourke (tr.) _Victor Hugo's Intellectual Autobiography_ [1907].


Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to
life. The only completely consistent people
are the dead.
--Aldous Huxley (1894—1963)
English novelist (grandson of T.H. Huxley.)
_Do What You Will_ [1929]

Single-mindedness is all very well in cows or
baboons; in an animal claiming to belong to
the same species as Shakespeare it is simply
--Aldous Huxley (1894—1963)
English novelist (grandson of T.H. Huxley.)
_Do What You Will_ [1929]

There's only one corner of the universe you can
be certain of improving, and that's your own self.
--Aldous Huxley (1894—1963)
English novelist (grandson of T.H. Huxley.)
_Time Must Have a Stop_ [1944]


There are two kinds of fools: one says, "This is
old, therefore it is good;" the other says, "This
is new, therefore it is better."
--William Ralph Inge (1860—1954)
English writer and Dean of St. Paul's [1911-34].
_More Lay Thoughts of a Dean_ [1931]

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad
to worse; as I have found in travelling in a stage-coach, that
it is often a comfort to shift one's position and be bruised in
a new place.
--Washington Irving (1783—1859)
American author, essayist, and travel book writer.
_Tales of a Traveller_, preface [1824]

The greatest discovery of my generation is that human
beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of
--William James (1842—1910)
American philosopher.
Attributed in Norman Vincent Peale _The
Power of Positive Thinking_ [1952].

Time indeed changes manners and notions, and so far
we must expect institutions to bend to them. But time
produces also corruption of principles, and against this
it is the duty of good citizens to be ever on the watch.
--Thomas Jefferson (1743—1826)
American statesman and president [1801-09].
Letter to Spencer Roane [1821].

To reform man was a tedious and uncertain labor:
now hanging was the sure work of a minute.
--Douglas Jerrold (1803—1857)
English playwright and journalist.
_The History of St. Giles and St. James_, ch. XV [1845]


He who has so little knowledge of human nature, as
to seek happiness by changing any thing but his own
dispositions, will waste his life in fruitless efforts,
and multiply the griefs which he purposes to remove.
--Samuel Johnson (1709—1784)
English poet, critic, and lexicographer.
"The Rambler" (English journal), #6 [7 April 1750]

Every old man complains of the growing depravity
of the world, of the petulance and insolence of
the rising generation. He recounts the decency
and regularity of former times, and celebrates
the discipline and sobriety of the age in which
his youth was passed; a happy age which is now
no more to be expected, since confusion has
broken in upon the world, and thrown down
all the boundaries of civility and reverence.
--Samuel Johnson (1709—1784)
English poet, critic, and lexicographer.
"The Rambler" (English journal), #50 [8 September 1750]

Change is not made without inconvenience,
even from worse to better.
--Samuel Johnson (1709—1784)
English poet, critic, and lexicographer.
_A Dictionary of the English Language_ [1755]


...We may dig in our heels and dare life never to change,
but, all the same, it changes under our feet like sand
under the feet of a sea gazer as the tide runs out. Life
is forever undermining us. Life is forever washing away
our castles, reminding us that they were, after all,
only sand and sea water.
--Erica Jong (b. 1942)
American novelist.
_Parachutes and Kisses_ [1984]

We cannot change anything until we accept it.
Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.
--Carl Gustav Jung (1875—1961)
Swiss psychologist.
_Psychological Types, or, The Psychology of Individuation_ [1921]

[Of Garry Maddox:]
He's turned his life around. He used to be depressed
and miserable. Now he's miserable and depressed.
--Harry Kalas (1936—2009)
American sportscaster.
Quoted in Lee Green _Sportswit_ [1986].

'Plus ηa change, plus c'est la mκme chose.'
The more it changes, the more it is the same thing.
--Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808—1890)
French novelist and journalist.
"Les Guκpes" [January 1849]

I have had playmates, I have had companions;
In my days of childhood, in my joyful school days—
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
--Charles Lamb (1775—1834)
English essayist.
_Old Familiar Faces_ [1798]

In my youth [...] there were certain words you
couldn't say in front of a girl; now you can say
them, but you can't say 'girl'.
--Tom Lehrer (b. 1928)
American songwriter and satirist.
Quoted in _Washington Post_ [3 January 1982].

[Concerning a group of friends, all in their late teens:]
The future held little interest for us back then. [...] We
were arrogant enough to ignore the future. And young
enough to be certain that the present was something
that would never change.
--Barry Levinson (b. 1942)
American screenwriter and film director.
_Sixty-Six_, ch. 2 [2003]

A correspondent from Hamburg, speaking of the invasion of
American trade, says: 'Incidentally, it may be remarked that
the typewriting machine with which this article is written, as
well as the thousands — nay, hundreds of thousands — of
others that are in use throughout the world, were made in
America; that it stands on an American table, in an office
furnished with American desks, bookcases, and chairs,
which cannot be made in Europe of equal quality, so
practical and convenient, for a similar price.'
--Jack London [John Griffith Chaney] (1876—1916)
American novelist and short-story writer.
_The War of Classes_ [1905]

We spake of many a vanished scene,
Of what we once had thought and said,
Of what had been, and might have been,
And who was changed, and who was dead;
And all that fills the hearts of friends,
When first they feel, with secret pain,
Their lives thenceforth have separate ends,
And never can be one again.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807—1882)
American poet.
"The Fire of Drift-Wood", l. 13 in _The Seaside and the Fireside_ [1850].

A sentimental misanthropist coined the often cited aphorism "The more I see of
human beings, the more I like animals". I maintain the contrary: only the person
who knows animals, including the highest and most nearly related to ourselves,
and who has gained insight into evolution, will be able to apprehend the unique
position of man. We are the highest achievement reached so far by the great
constructors of evolution. We are their 'latest' but certainly not their last word.
The scientist must not regard anything as absolute, not even the laws of pure
reason. He must remain aware of the great fact, discovered by Heraclitus, that
nothing whatever really remains the same even for one moment, but that everything
is perpetually changing. To regard man, the most ephemeral and rapidly evolving
of all species, as the final and unsurpassable achievement of creation, especially
at his present-day particularly dangerous and disagreeable stage of development,
is certainly the most arrogant and dangerous of all untenable doctrines. If I thought
of man as the final image of God, I should not know what to think of God. But
when I consider that our ancestors, at a time fairly recent in relation to the earth's
history, were perfectly ordinary apes, closely related to chimpanzees, I see a
glimmer of hope. It does not require very great optimism to assume that from
us human beings something better and higher may evolve. Far from seeing in
man the irrevocable and unsurpassable image of God, I assert — more modestly
and, I believe, in greater awe of the Creation and its infinite possibilities — that
the long-sought missing link between animals and the really humane being is
--Konrad Lorenz (1903—1989)
Austrian zoologist.
"On the Virtue of Scientific Humility", ch. 12 in _On Aggression_ [1963].

The foolish and the dead alone
never change their opinion.
--James Russell Lowell (1819—1891)
American poet, critic, essayist, and diplomat.
"Abraham Lincoln" [1864]

If you always do what you always did, you
will always get what you always got.
--attributed to (among others) Moms Mabley (1897—1975)
African-American vaudeville performer and comedian.

Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything.
They just cry over their condition. But when they
get angry, they bring about a change.
--Malcolm X (1925—1965)
American civil rights campaigner.
_Malcolm X Speaks_ [1965], ch. IX, "With Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer"

Lord, where we are wrong, make us willing to
change; where we are right, make us easy to
live with.
--Peter Marshall (1902—1949)
Scottish-American preacher, author, and Senate chaplain.
Quoted in Catherine Marshall _A Man Called
Peter: The Story of Peter Marshall_ [1951].

Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great
social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval.
Social progress can be measured exactly by the social
position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included.
--Karl Marx (1818—1883)
German political philosopher.
Letter to Dr. Kugelmann [12 December 1868].

It's no good trying to keep up old friendships. It's painful
for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and
the only thing is to face it.
--W. Somerset Maugham (1874—1965)
English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer.
_Cakes and Ale_ [1930]

Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world. Indeed, it is
the only thing that ever has.
--Margaret Mead (1901—1978)
American anthropologist.
Attributed in _Christian Science Monitor_ [1 June 1989].
(See Gandhi, above.)

That which seems the height of absurdity in one
generation often becomes the height of wisdom
in the next.
--John Stuart Mill (1806—1873)
English philosopher and social reformer.
Attributed by Adlai Stevenson in _Call to
Greatness_, [1954], p. 102 (Wikiquote).

To-morrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.
--John Milton (1608—1674)
English poet.
_Lycidas_ l. 193 [1638]

I never changed anything, except my socks and my underwear.
--attributed to Robert Mitchum (1917—1997)
American film actor.

Believe, if thou wilt, that mountains change their places,
but believe not that men change their dispositions.
--Muhammad (A.D. 570?—632)
Prophet to whom the religion of Islam was revealed.
Attributed in "The Spectator" [10 September 1859].

[To the Abbe du Pradt, of the 1812 retreat from Moscow:]
From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.
--Napoleon I (1769—1821)
Emperor of France [1804-15].

King David and King Solomon
Led merry merry lives,
With many, many lady friends,
And many many wives;
But when old age crept over them -
With many, many qualms! -
King Solomon wrote the Proverbs
And King David wrote the Psalms.
--James Ball Naylor (1860—1945)
American physician and writer.
"King David and King Solomon" [1935]

When I look back upon the more than sixty years that
I have spent on this entrancing earth, and when I am
asked which of all the changes that I have witnessed
appears to me to be the most significant, I am inclined
to answer that it is the loss of a sense of shame.
--Harold Nicolson (1886—1968)
English diplomat, politician, and writer.
Quoted in Sidney Greenberg _A Treasury of the Art of Living_, p. 143 [1963].


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr (1892—1971)
American theologian.
"The Serenity Prayer" [1936]
With slightly different wording, the first four lines above were
attributed to Niebuhr in the "New York Times" on 2 August 1942.

& see:

Give me the strength to change the things I
can, the grace to accept the things I cannot,
and a great big bag of money.
--Unknown 13-year-old.


Things Ain't What They Used to Be.
--Ted Persons (fl. 1941)
American songwriter.
Title of song [1941].

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything goes.
--Cole Porter (1892—1964)
American songwriter.
_Anything Goes_ [1934 song]

I never expected to see the day when girls
would get sunburned in the places they
do today.
--Will Rogers [William Penn Adair Rogers] (1879—1935)
American humorist and actor.
Quoted in P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton _Bring on the Girls;
The Improbable Story of Our Life in Musical Comedy_ [1953].

Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from
convention, largely because they regard such departure
as a criticism of themselves.
--Bertrand Russell (1872—1970)
British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel laureate.
Quoted by H.L. Mencken in "The American Mercury" [1935].

He who cannot change the very fabric of his
thought will never be able to change reality,
and will never, therefore, make any progress.
--Anwar Sadat (1918—1981)
Egyptian politician and President [1970-81].
_In Search of Identity: An Autobiography_ [1979 ed.]


Do you think anybody ever really changes?

I've changed a lot in the last year.

I mean for the better.

--Charles Schulz (1922—2000)
American cartoonist.
("Peanuts" comic strip.)


What once were vices, are now the manners of the day.
--Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C.—65 A.D.)
Roman philosopher and poet.
_Epistulae ad Lucilium_, xxxix, as quoted in William S. Walsh _The
International Encyclopedia of Prose and Poetical Quotations_ [1908].

No, no, Orlando; men are April when they woo,
December when they wed.
--William Shakespeare (1564—1616)
English dramatist.
_As You Like It_, IV, i [1599]


You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I
dream things that never were; and I say,
'Why not?'
--George Bernard Shaw (1856—1950)
Irish playwright.
"Back to Methuselah" [1921]

All young women begin by believing they
can change the men they marry. They can't.
--George Bernard Shaw (1856—1950)
Irish comic dramatist, literary critic, Socialist
propagandist, and winner of the Nobel Prize
for Literature in 1925 [he didn't accept it.]
_On the Rocks_ [1933]



I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survived, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Oxymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
--Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792—1822)
English poet.
"Ozymandias" [1818]

Am I the person who used to wake in the
middle of the night and laugh with the joy
of living? Who worried about the existence
of God, and danced with young ladies till
long after daybreak? Who sang "Auld
Lang Syne" and howled with sentiment,
and more than once gazed at the full
moon through a blur of great. romantic
--Logan Pearsall Smith (1865—1946)
American-born man of letters.
_More Trivia_ [1934], "Last Words"


Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food,
our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that
it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days.
Mother's cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good
unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure
crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled
with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that
sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and
ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small
bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change
for the better. But it is true that we have exchanged corpulence
for starvation, and either one will kill us. The lines of change
are down.

We, or at least I, can have no conception of human life and
human thought in a hundred years or fifty years. Perhaps my
greatest wisdom is the knowledge that I do not know. The sad
ones are those who waste their energy in trying to hold it back,
for they can only feel bitterness in loss and no joy in gain.

--John Ernst Steinbeck (1902—1968)
American novelist.
_Travels With Charley: In Search of America_ [1962]


Be not angry that you cannot make others as you
wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself
as you wish to be.
--Thomas a' Kempis (1380—1471)
German ascetical writer.
_Imitation of Christ_, bk. I, ch. 16 [c. 1420]

Everybody thinks of changing humanity
and nobody thinks of changing himself.
--Leo Tolstoy (1828—1910)
Russian novelist.
_Pamphlets. Translated from the Russian_ [1900]

No matter how far you have gone
on the wrong road, turn back.
--Turkish proverb


It used to be a good hotel, but that proves
nothing - I used to be a good boy, for that
--Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835—1910)
American humorist, novelist, journalist, and river pilot.
_The Innocents Abroad_ [1869]

Habit is habit, and not to be flung out the window
by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
--Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835—1910)
American humorist, novelist, journalist, and river pilot.
_Pudd'nhead Wilson_ [1894], "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"

Happiness ain'ta thing in itself, it's only a contrast with
something that ain't pleasant. [...] And so, as soon as
the novelty is over and the force of the contrast dulled,
it ain't happiness any longer, and you have to get
something fresh.
--Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835—1910)
American humorist, novelist, journalist, and river pilot.
"Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven" in _Harper's
Monthly Magazine_ [December 1907].

"Well, there were sixty-eight people there, and sixty-two
of them had no more desire to throw a stone than you had."


"Oh, it's true. I know your race. It is made up of sheep. It
is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It
suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful
that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is
right, sometimes wrong; but no matter, the crowd follows it.
The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized,
are secretly kind-hearted and shrink from inflicting pain, but
in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority they
don't dare to assert themselves. Think of it! One kind-hearted
creature spies upon another, and sees to it that he loyally
helps in iniquities which revolt both of them. Speaking as
an expert, I know that ninety-nine out of a hundred of your
race were strongly against the killing of witches when that
foolishness was first agitated by a handful of pious lunatics
in the long ago. And I know that even to-day, after ages of
transmitted prejudice and silly teaching, only one person in
twenty puts any real heart into the harrying of a witch. And
yet apparently everybody hates witches and wants them
killed. Some day a handful will rise up on the other side
and make the most noise — perhaps even a single daring
man with a big voice and a determined front will do it —
and in a week all the sheep will wheel and follow him,
and witch-hunting will come to a sudden end."

--Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835—1910)
American humorist, novelist, journalist, and river pilot.
_The Mysterious Stranger_, ch. 9 [1916]


Our ancestors used to wear decent clothes, well-adapted
to the shape of their bodies; they were skilled horsemen
and swift runners, ready for all seemly undertakings. But
in these days the old customs have almost wholly given
way to new fads. Our wanton youth is sunk in effeminacy,
and courtiers, fawning, seek the favors of women with
every kind of lewdness. [...] They sweep the dusty ground
with the unnecessary trains of their robes and mantles;
their long, wide sleeves cover their hands whatever they
do; impeded by these frivolities they are almost incapable
of walking quickly or doing any kind of useful work [...]
They curl their hair with hot irons and cover their heads
with a fillet or a cap.
--Orderic Vitalis (1075—c. 1142)
English chronicler and monk.
In M.J. Cohan and John Major (eds.) _History in Quotations_, p. 219 [2004].

If you want to make enemies, try to change something.
--Woodrow Wilson (1856—1924)
American Democratic statesman and President [1913-21].
Address in Detroit, MI [10 July 1916].

You can't go back home to your family—
To a young man's dream of fame and glory,
To the country cottage away from strife and conflict,
To the father you have lost,
To the old forms and systems of things,
Which seemed everlasting but are changing all the time.
--Thomas Wolfe (1900—1938)
American novelist.
_You Can't Go Home Again_ [1940]


When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to
change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the
nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change
the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change
is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had
changed myself, I could have made an impact on my
family. My family and I could have made an impact on
our town. Their impact could have changed the nation
and I could indeed have changed the world.



Almost every act regarded in the mid-20th century as a vice was,
by the opening of the 21st century, considered a virtue. As gambling,
obscenity, pornography, drugs, divorce, homosexuality, abortion
and sneering disaffection became The New Virtue, government at
all levels began to move in on the action, starting with casinos and
currently involving, in several states and the District of Columbia,
an officially approved and bureaucratically managed narcotics trade.
--Charles Hill
"On Decadence", in _The American Interest_ [11 August 2013].


apostasy [uh-POS-tuh-see], noun:
Total desertion or departure from one's faith, principles, or party.

capricious [kuh-PRISH-us; -PREE-shus], adjective:
Apt to change suddenly; whimsical; changeable.

deracinate [dee-RAS-uh-nayt], transitive verb:
1. To pluck up by the roots; to uproot; to extirpate.
2. To displace from one's native or accustomed environment.

interpolate [in-TUR-puh-layt], transitive verb:
1. To alter or corrupt (as a book or text) by the
insertion of new or foreign matter.
2. To insert (material) into a text or conversation.
3. To insert between other elements or parts.
intransitive verb:
To make insertions.

labile ['ley-bIl or 'ley-bκl], adjective:
Changeable, unstable; apt to slip away.

misoneism [mi-sκ-'nee-i-zκm], noun:
Fear of novelty, newness or innovation.
misoneistic (adj.)

neoteric [ee-uh-TER-ik], adjective:
Recent in origin; modern; new.

permutation (noun)
1. The act, process, or result of change; transformation.
Syn.: metamorphosis, change
2. The act of changing the order of some or all of the
elements in a mathematical series, or any of the
arrangements that can result from this act.

protean [PRO-tee-un; pro-TEE-un], adjective:
1. Displaying considerable variety or diversity.
2. Readily assuming different shapes or forms.
Protean is derived from Proteus, an ancient Greek god
who had the ability to change his shape at will.

transmute [trans-MYOOT; tranz-], transitive verb:
1. To change from one nature, form, substance, or
state into another; to transform.
2. To undergo transmutation.

truncate (transitive verb)
Forms: truncated; truncating
1. To shorten by or as if by cutting off.
2. To replace (an edge or corner of a crystal) by a plane.
truncation: noun

vagary (noun)
An unpredictable or eccentric change, action, or idea.

vicissitude [vih-SIS-ih-tood; -tyood], noun:
1. Regular change or succession from one thing to another;
alternation; mutual succession; interchange.
2. Irregular change; revolution; mutation.
3. A change in condition or fortune; an instance of mutability
in life or nature (especially successive alternation from one
condition to another).

volte-face [vawlt-FAHS; vawl-tuh-], noun:
An about-face; a reversal, as in policy or opinion.

watershed ['wa-dκr-shed], noun:
1. A ridge dividing the water which drains into one
river system from that draining into another.
2. A critical turning point.

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