Famous people say the darndest things (for those of you who don't remember Art Linkletter, the opening line is purloined). And I enjoy immensely combing them out and collecting them, now on a computer. Here are some recent gleanings. Unlike previous versions of this, I have clumped two or more from almost each person. The quotes are in bold, separated by * * * and the writers separated by --------:
I think the only bad thing I did during the whole ceremony was when I kissed her after the minister gave me permission to, I gave her a pat on the ass, which has always been customary with me when I kiss a girl. I don’t know why that ever started but it just seems okay to do something with your right hand and that was sort of natural.
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I’d never seen or heard in my life, such vitriolic—un-based attacks on one man as had been directed to me. Sometimes, they didn’t spell it out. But “coward----uneducated----ungentlemanly----bigot” and all those things. I’ve never in my life seen such inflammatory language as has been used by some men who know better. . . . I think these people should, frankly, hang their heads in shame. Because I think they’ve made the fourth estate a rather sad, sorry mess.
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During a libel trial:
Q By the way -- I would just like to digress from this a minute -- you have a bulldog, don’t you?
A I had a bulldog.
Q You had one?
A Had two of them.
Q He had a gold tooth, didn’t he?
A He had a gold tooth, yes.
Q Did you and a dentist friend pull out his tooth one night and put a gold tooth in?
A No. He broke one of his big teeth off. Bulldogs have two teeth in front. He broke the top off and it was obviously hard for him to chew, and so this dentist friend of my sister offered to pull it out and make a cap for it, and she said “Well, as long as you are going to do it, you might as well make it gold.” So he had a gold cap on his tooth and he wore it until he died.
When I was being raised in New York, I was pretty much taught that people like Barry Goldwater were the enemy. In my more moderate adult days I find him a fascinating, fun loving, adventerous family man who shares many beliefs with me, not least a deep love of nature and a notion that feeling free trumps being conventional (both, sometimes to my detriment). The first quote is about his wedding, when I imagine he probably got a few glares for patting his wife's butt. The second was his reaction to the press during his run for president in '64 and the third from a truly humorous deposition wherein the attorney was trying to paint him as a raging extremist. In this little tidbit counsel was trying to show that Goldwater was some kind of monster who would pull a dog's tooth on a whim. A few years ago I was touched to see that he and George McGovern, both who were WWII pilots and both who were demolished in their bids for the presidency in the '60s (Goldwater by LBJ and McGovern by Nixon) were good friends who said that they really didn't disagree on much anymore.
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or was likely to see; but I apprehend that it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize on, having never studied it, and I think it is needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, as it probably has, of making his doctrines more respected and better observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.
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He is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree, near the river where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case; but, like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district.
These are from my founding hero, Benjamin Franklin, the subject of enough biographies to fill anyone's library (I have only six on my shelf, but have and will read many more). The first is his take on Jesus - much in line with Jefferson and Adam's view as it being a superior moral philosophy, but doubtful of his divinity. Reading Franklin you can see his belief in God flourishing as he aged. The second is just pure Franklin, making his case that the turkey would be a better symbol for America. I respect his inspiration, but, having watched turkeys and eagles fly, I'm glad we he was outvoted.
Why is it that nobody understands me, yet everybody likes me?
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I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.
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[My wife] is an unfriendly, humorless creature who gets nothing out of life and who, by her mere presence, extinguishes other people’s joy of living.
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I’ve been so preoccupied with what would happen in the event of my death that I’m surprised to find myself still alive.
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You must be aware that most men (and also not only a few women) are by nature not monogamous. This nature makes itself even more forceful when tradition and circumstance stand in an individual’s way.
Albert Einstein may be the 20th century's most iconic figure (Churchill? Gandhi?). Aside from his brilliance in physics, it interests me that he met with failure in his great attempts on the great problems time and time again up to his death. Because he seems superhuman in some ways, revered even by other physicists, his human qualities are quite entertaining. As a family man he left something to be desired, but perhaps that is true of many "great" men. Even reading hagiographies about him, I grieve for his first wife and wonder what became of their daughter (unknown).
If I were at the place of execution, and I saw the fire lighted, and the faggots catching and the executioner ready to build up the fire, and if I were in the fire, even so I would say nothing else, and I would maintain what I have said at this trial until death. I have nothing more to say.
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If I said that God had not sent me, I should damn myself. It is true that God sent me.
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Alas, I am so horribly and cruelly used, that my clean body, never yet defiled, must this day be burnt and turned to ashes. Ha! Ha! I would rather be beheaded seven times than suffer burning.
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I pray you, go to the nearest church, and bring me the cross, and hold it up level with my eyes until I am dead. I would have the cross on which God hung be ever before my eyes while life lasts in me. Jesus, Jesus!
I can't explain why I have a thing for the medieval Xena, Joan of Arc, but I do. She was as devoted a theist as can be and was burnt to death for her beliefs. Her passion is inspiring. Of course, she reported repeatedly talking to phantom saints and might literally have been crazy. But society often makes exceptions for religiously inspired psychosis when there are enough followers or fame. I highly recommend William Flasker's little book, Joan of Arc: In Her Own Words, which is, no surprise, almost entirely her own words. I'm not kidding that I have gotten misty eyed reading it. Yet my interest in her was sparked many years ago upon reading George Bernard Shaw's St. Joan. I haven't read Shaw in probably close to 30 years and wonder myself how much I would enjoy it now, but he took some of it from the her actual trial.
It is odd that neither the Church nor modern public opinion condemns petting, provided it stops short at a certain point. At what point sin begins is a matter as to which casuists differ. One eminently orthodox Catholic divine laid it down that a confessor may fondle a nun’s breasts, provided he does it without evil intent. But I doubt whether modern authorities would agree with him on this point.
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According to St. Thomas the soul is not transmitted with the semen, but is created afresh with each man. There is, it is true, a difficulty: when a man is born out of wedlock, this seems to make God an accomplice in adultery. This objection, however, is only specious. There is a grave objection which troubled St. Augustine, and that is as to the transmission of original sin. It is the soul that sins, and if the soul is not transmitted, but created afresh, how can it inherit the sin of Adam? This is not discussed by St. Thomas.
I do enjoy Bertrand Russell, who writes about the most readable philosophy you can find. I wish modern parents could read his The Conquest of Happiness, which, although somewhat dated in spots, I am in great sympathy with (another literary admission - when I read it I repeatedly said to myself - He gets it! Somebody gets it!)
She must be young, handsome (I lay most stress upon a good shape), sensible (a little learning will do), well-bred (but she mush have an aversion to the word ton), chaste and tender (I am an enthusiast in my notions of fidelity and fondness), of some good nature, a great deal of generosity (she must neither love money nor scolding, for I dislike equally a termagant and an economist). In politics, I am indifferent what side she may be of; I think I have arguments that will easily convert her to mine. As to religion, a moderate streak will satisfy me. She must believe in god and hate a saint. But as to fortune, the larger stock of that the better. You know my temper and circumstances and will therefore pay special attention to this article in the treaty. Though I run no risk of going to purgatory for my avarice, yet as money is an essential ingredient to happiness in this world—as I have not much of my own and as I am very little calculated to get more either by my address or industry—it must needs be that my wife, if I get one, bring at least a sufficiency to administer to her own extravagancies.
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Some time in the summer of the year 1791, a woman called at my house in the city of Philadelphia, and asked to speak with me in private. I attended her into a room apart from my family. With a seeming air of affliction she informed me that she was a daughter of a Mr. Lewis, sister to a Mr. G. Livingston of the State of New York, and wife to a Mr. Reynolds, whose father was in the Commissary Department during the war with Great Britain; that her husband, who for a long time had treated her very cruelly, had lately left her to live with another woman, and in so destitute a condition that, though desirous of returning to her friends, she had not the means; that knowing I was a citizen of New York, she had taken the liberty to apply to my humanity for assistance.
I replied, that her situation was a very interesting one—that I was disposed to afford her assistance to convey her to her friends, but this at the moment not being convenient to me (which was the fact), I must request the place of her residence, to which I should bring or send a small supply of money. She told me the street and the number of the house where she lodged. In the evening I put a bank-bill in my pocket and went to the house. I enquired for Mrs. Reynolds and was shown up stairs, at the head of which she met me and conducted me into a bedroom. I took the bill out of my pocket and gave it to her. Some conversation ensued, from which it was quickly apparent that other than pecuniary consolation would be acceptable.
After this I had frequent meetings with her, most of them at my own house; [my wife] with her children being absent on a visit to her father. In the course of a short time, she mentioned to me that her husband had solicited a reconciliation, and affected to consult me about it. I advised to it, and was soon after informed by her that it had taken place. She told me besides that her husband had been engaged in speculation, and she believed could give information respecting the conduct of some persons in the department which would be useful. I sent for Reynolds who came to me accordingly.
Alexander Hamilton was a pretty boring writer but a fascinating character. The first is his description of what he wanted in a wife he wrote to his young friend, John Laurens. In it you can see his pride and ambition, unvarnished, as was often the style of the day. However, his devotion to fidelity you can question as he had the first true political sex scandal in our young Republic in the early 1790s while he was Secretary of the Treasury. He outed himself a few years later because he was happier humiliating his wife and family in public by admitting to the illicit sex (for which he also paid the blackmailing couple) rather than accept the charges for failing in his professional duties as secretary of state. Maybe it was cathartic for him. The line "it was quickly apparent that other than pecuniary consolation would be acceptable" will forever be among my favorite euphemisms. I'd like to know what happened when he told his wife (or did she read it in his pamphlet for the first time), but there seems to be no historical record, and it wouldn't surprise me if she thought he gave a little too much detail. If the story interests you, I recommend you to my March 28, 2008 post which covers it extensively.
In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and of adders. . . . When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people is plundered and exploited.
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There are three words which many use without a thought which for us are no catch-phrases: Love, Faith, and Hope....
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What we are we have become not against, but with, the will of Providence. And so long as we are true and honourable and of good courage in fight, so long as we believe in our great work and do not capitulate, we shall continue to enjoy in the future the blessing of Providence.
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In this world him who does not abandon himself the Almighty will not desert. Him who helps himself will the Almighty always also help; He will show him the way by which he can gain his rights, his freedom, and therefore his future.
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Whoever would dare to raise a profane hand against that highest image of God among His creatures would sin against the bountiful Creator of this marvel and would collaborate in the expulsion from Paradise?
That loving Christian man is none other than der Fuhrer, who I just love to quote for shock value. I avoided the give away references to Jews that sometimes accompanied his paeans to the lord. All are from his speeches except the last, being from Mein Kampf. I suppose this is what Shakespeare meant when he wrote "[t]he devil can cite Scripture for his purposes."
- I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .