Month: May 2021

“Love, my dear, is made up of imperceptible sensations. We know that it is as strong as death, but also as frail as glass. The slightest shock breaks it, and our power crumbles, and we are never able to raise it again.” – Guy de Maupassant, “The Kiss” (trans. McMaster, et al.)

“At my first Admission into this Printing House, I took to working at the Press, imagining I felt a Want of the Bodily Exercise, I had been us’d to in America, where Presswork is mix’d with Composing. I drank only Water; the other Workmen, near 50 in Number, were great Guzzlers of Beer. On occasion I carried up & down Stairs a large Form of Types in each hand, when others carried but one in both Hands. They wonder’d to see from this & several Instances that the Water-American as they call’d me was stronger than themselves who drank strong Beer. We had an Alehouse Boy who attended always on the House to supply the Workmen. My Companion at the Press, drank every day a Pint before Breakfast, a Pint at Breakfast with his Bread and Cheese; a Pint between Breakfast and Dinner; a Pint at Dinner; a Pint in the Afternoon about Six o’clock, and another when he had done his Day’s-Work. I thought it a detestable Custom.—But it was necessary, he suppos’d, to drink strong Beer that he might be strong to labour. I endeavour’d to convince him that the Bodily Strength afforded by Beer could only be in proportion to the Grain or Flour of the Barley dissolved in the Water of which it was made; that there was more Flour in a Penny-worth of Bread, and therefore if he would eat that with a Pint of Water, it would give him more Strength than a Quart of Beer.—He drank on however, & had 4 or 5 Shillings to pay out of his Wages every Saturday Night for that muddling Liquor; an Expence I was free from.—And thus these poor Devils keep themselves always under.” – Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography (emphases in original)

“Where now, oh! vile worm, is all thy boasted fortitude and resolution? What is become of thine arrogance and self-sufficiency? Why dost thou tremble and stand aghast? How humble, how helpless, how contemptible you now appear.” – Alexander Hamilton, “To the Royal Danish American Gazette” (September 6, 1772)

“This obscure Family of ours was early in the Reformation, and contain’d Protestants thro’ the Reign of Queen Mary, when they were sometimes in Danger of Trouble on Account of their Zeal against Popery. They had got an English Bible, & to conceal & secure it, it was fastened open with Tapes under & within the Frame of a Joint Stool. When my Great Great Grandfather read in it to his Family, he turn’d up the Joint Stool upon his Knees, turning over the Leaves then under the Tapes. One of the Children stood at the Door to give Notice if he saw the Apparitor coming, who was an Officer of the Spiritual Court. In the Case the Stool was turn’d down upon its feet, when the Bible remain’d conceal’d under it as before.” – Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography

“I have lately made a Tour thro’ Ireland and Scotland. In these Countries a small Part of the Society are Landlords, great Noblemen and Gentlemen, extreamly opulent, living in the highest Affluence and Magnificence: The Bulk of the People Tenants, extreamly poor, living in the most sordid Wretchedness in dirty Hovels of Mud and Straw, and cloathed only in Rags. I thought often of the Happiness of New England, where every Man is a Freeholder, has a Vote in publick Affairs, lives in a tidy warm House, has plenty of good Food and Fewel, with whole Cloaths from Head to Foot, the Manufactury perhaps of his own Family. Long may they continue in this Situation! But if they should ever envy the Trade of these Countries, I can put them in a Way to obtain a Share of it. Let them with three fourths of the People of Ireland, live the Year round on Potatoes and Butter milk, without Shirts, then may their Merchants export Beef, Butter and Linnen. Let them with the Generality of the Common People of Scotland go Barefoot, then may they make large Exports in Shoes and Stockings: And if they will be content to wear Rags like the Spinners and Weavers of England, they may make Cloths and Stuffs for all Parts of the World. Father, if my Countrymen should ever wish for the Honour of having among them a Gentry enormously wealthy, let them sell their Farms and pay rack’d Rents; the Scale of the Landlords will rise as that of the Tenants is depress’d who will soon become poor, tattered, dirty, and abject in Spirit.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to Joshua Babcock” (January 13, 1772) (emphasis in original)

“I rather suspect, from certain circumstances, that though the general government of the universe is well administered, our particular little affairs are perhaps below notice, and left to take the chance of human prudence or imprudence, as either may happen to be uppermost.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to George Whitefield” (1769)

“Providence will bring about its own ends by its own means; and if it intends the downfall of a nation, that nation will be so blinded by its pride, and other passions, as not to see its danger, or how its fall may be prevented.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to _” (November 28, 1768)

“Treat your Wife always with Respect. It will procure Respect to you, not from her only, but from all that observe it. Never use a slighting Expression to her even in jest; for Slights in Jest after frequent bandyings, are apt to end in angry earnest. Be studious in your Profession, and you will be learned. Be industrious and frugal, and you will be rich. Be sober and temperate and you will be healthy. Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy. At least you will by such Conduct stand the best Chance for such Consequences.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to John Alleyne” (August 9, 1768)

“We embarked for Calais with a Number of Passengers who had never been before at Sea. They would previously make a hearty Breakfast, because if the Wind should fail, we might not get over till Supper-time. Doubtless they though that when they had paid for their Breakfast they should have a Right to it, and that when they had swallowed it they were sure of it. But they had scarce been out half an Hour before the Sea laid Claim to it, and they were oblig’d to deliver it up.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to Mary Stevenson” (September 14, 1767)

“It sometimes is cloudy, it rains, it hails; again ‘tis clear and pleasant, and the Sun shines on us. Take one thing with another, and the World is a pretty good sort of a World; and ‘tis our Duty to make the best of it and be thankful. One’s true Happiness depends more upon one’s own Judgement of one’s self, on a Consciousness of Rectitude in Action and Intention, and in the Approbation of those few who judge impartially, than upon the Applause of the unthinking undiscerning Multitude, who are apt to cry Hosanna today, and tomorrow, Crucify him.” Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to Jane Mecom” (March 1, 1766)

“In time perhaps Mankind may be wise enough to let Trade take its own Course, find its own Channels, and regulate its own Proportions, &c. At present, most of the Edicts of Princes, Placaerts, Laws and Ordinances of Kingdoms and States, for that purpose, prove political Blunders. The Advantages they produce not being general for the Commonwealth, but particular, to private Persons or Bodies in the State who procur’d them, and at the expense of the rest of the People.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to Peter Collinson” (April 30, 1764) (emphases in original)

“First of all, voting is your civic duty. There’s a debate about whether or not a journalist should openly subscribe to a political ideology (let alone donate to a campaign), but that’s a debate between newsrooms and editors, and its conclusion should be clearly expressed to the readers. Second, don’t ever tell a journalist what to do. Journalists are strange and stubborn folk (and miserable drinking companions). We spend much of our time locked in our own minds trying not to screw up. Most of us are not paid enough to deal with a sea of faceless voices threatening to rape us, and/or our mothers, and/or our dead relatives, and/or our pets because some jackass on the other side of the country misquoted a city arborist. We’re all keenly aware that anytime one of us screws up in the slightest there’s a sea of assholes bellowing about media bias across the political spectrum. A good journalist is a civil servant. We do shit work, for shit pay, and constantly get shit on. We lay our lives on the line to bring you the information you need to make rational decisions. A good journalist has opinions because they’re human, but they should be hard to figure out.” – Dominic Gwinn, “The Smoke Eater” (March 3, 2020)

“The Church People and the Puritans in a Country Town, had once a bitter Contention concerning the Erecting of a Maypole, which the former desir’d and the latter oppos’d. Each Party endeavour’d to strengthen itself by obtaining the Authority of the Mayor, directing or forbidding a Maypole. He heard their Altercation with great Patience, and then gravely determin’d thus; You that are for having no Maypole shall have no Maypole; and you that are for having a Maypole shall have a Maypole. Get about your Business and let me hear no more of this Quarrel.” – Benjamin Franklin, “Letter to David Hume” (May 19, 1762)

“How the future manifests itself and brings to pass what it holds is a multifaceted phenomenon that is not necessarily guided by theoretical forces or mathematical models. Instead, causal agents that engender knowing and purposeful human behavior, individual and collective, fundamentally shape that narrative.” – Judge Victor Marrero, State of New York v. Deutsche Telecom (February 10, 2020)