The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘book’

Quotes of the Day!

The following quotes come from W. Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence.


I forget who it was that recommended men for their soul’s good to do each day two things they disliked : it was a wise man, and it is a precept that I have followed scrupulously ; for every day I have got up and I have gone to bed.


Mrs. Strickland used her advantage with tact. You felt that you obliged her by accepting her sympathy. When, in the enthusiasm of my youth, I remarked on this to Rose Waterford, she said:

‘Milk is very nice, especially with a drop of brandy in it, but the domestic cow is only too glad to be rid of it. A swollen udder is very uncomfortable.’


It was obvious that he had no social gifts, but these a man can do without ; he had no eccentricity even, to take him out of the common run ; he was just a good, dull, honest, plain man. One would admire his excellent qualities, but avoid his company.


‘Tell him that our home cries out for him. Everything is just the same, and yet everything is different.’


I had not yet learnt how contradictory is human nature ; I did not know how much pose there is in the sincere, how much baseness in the noble, or how much goodness in the reprobate.


Only the poet or the saint can water an asphalt pavement in the confident anticipation that lilies will reward his labour.

Self and Sex Series – Book Pictures

When I was home a few weeks ago I saw some of my favorite old books in my bedroom. One of them is a book that is not mine, it’s one my mom found that is old and fantastic.

It’s called What a Young Boy Ought to Know. It was written by Sylvanus Stall as part of the Purity and Truth, Self and Sex Series. If that’s not a catchy series, I don’t know what catchy means. Wait, what does catchy mean? That’s like an adjective to describe catchers in baseball?

Anywho – here are some pictures of the book, which is great for the content, and also because it’s from 1897 (old books are fun).

Self and Sex1

So elegant. So full of … facts?

Self and Sex2

The whole series was written lucidly and purely … Whoa.

Self and Sex3

All joking aside, I was pretty surprised to see a few females (they had pages of older folks spewing kind words about these books). That struck me as fairly progressive considering the year and content of this book.

Self and Sex4

“Dad can I start reading tonight, please? Please please PUH-LEASE!”
-Any boy, after seeing the riveting enticements of chapter 1



Self and Sex5

Part II’s title … I wonder if a counter book was produced and their chapter two had the title, “Use it or Lose it.”



Self and Sex6

That’s right ladies and older gentlemen, you’re not off the hook – you all need to know what is appropriate when it come to Purity and Truth, Self and Sex.

Lincoln by Thomas Keneally

Not too long ago I read Lincoln by Thomas Keneally. I decided to read the book because I was heading to Washington, D.C. and the Lincoln Memorial is one of my favorite places to visit. Apparently the Penguin series of biographies focuses on brevity (so there’s a good chance this is the smallest biography of Lincoln that isn’t intended for children).

Lincoln Memorial

For me, a favorite D.C. activity is waking up early and jogging around the mall with Lincoln being a definite spot. Early in the morning is the only time the place is empty.

I didn’t know much about Lincoln, and unfortunately due to a lame memory I still don’t know too much – but I remembered my dad saying he liked Lincoln’s leadership style (leading by communication – culling the knowledge of those around him). The reasons all there, I started the book.

The most striking thing about the book was learning that what I consider nasty political moves were happening even during Lincoln’s rise. Lincoln was the victim of political savvy (read: worthless politicians and their games) and he played the game very well himself. I suppose it could be considered naive, or maybe I just romanticized the past, but I felt like at that time things should have been simpler: you got elected based on merit alone, not on your ability to position yourself and your opponents.

The book is very readable and interesting. I have to admit I didn’t blow through it, instead I would read a lot and then put it aside until reading a lot again. I would definitely recommend it.

The nice (and bad) thing about biographies of amazing people is that they leave me feeling inspired and ready to tackle the world, and at the same time like an underachiever and lazy bum. It’s a weird mix.

Without further ado, some quotes:

Here was God’s inscrutable will at work once more, its irrationality a further test to young Lincoln’s soul, which both despised and yet yearned for the comforts of ordinary belief.

I think it would be great if politician’s today started speaking this simply and humbly, this was from a very early campaign speech of his:

“My politics is short and sweet, like an old woman’s dance. I am in favor of a national bank, a high and protective tariff, and the internal improvement system. If elected, I will be thankful. If beaten, I can do as I have been doing, work for a living.”

(Also I wonder if he intended that as a shot at politicians – only if he is beaten will be work for a living … To the victor go the spoils, eh?)

Here is an example of something that I had associated with modern politicians, using your clothing to make a political statement:

For the journey to the state capital, Lincoln wore “a very respectable looking suit of jeans,” not the highest level of fashion but in accordance with the spirit of Henry Clay’s party – to wear jean cloth was a statement of support for American manufacturers.

In my opinion, this is a too often ignored reason for political differences. Some people look at the world and think how if it only tried a little harder, it could be much better. Other people look at the world and think how if only it had a little help, it could then improve itself and be much better.

Like many a man who had remade himself, he falsely considered that any laborer had the same gift thus to transform himself, to become a merchant or a lawyer or at least an employer of other labor.

Kudos to modern medicine.

Child deaths were common enough for books of etiquette to advise Christian mothers how to behave when they lost their children. The Mother’s Assistant described a bad mother as saying, “I cannot lose my child, I cannot. She is so bright and promising,” whereas a good mother “leaned on the Almighty and meekly bowed her head to earthly things.”

See, he was a crafty devil! … His opponent Douglas also made a “good play to the politics of fear.”

He quietly encouraged Buchanan’s Democrats to stand up against Douglas, and he asked some of his powerful supporters to direct Republican funds toward anti-Douglas Democratic newspapers.

And more of the political machine and it’s posturing.

The convention went wild, and the only figure who was not delighted at such a vote-winning display was Abraham himself.

Just a very smart statement, the whole context relates to trying to talk to the South – prior to the start of the Civil War.

“I have said this so often already, that a repetition of it is but mockery, bearing the appearance of weakness.”

After the Civil War had started, and things were looking ugly.

And yet, despite his agnosticism, he had come to believe in God as a historic force. “In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, but one must be wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party; and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are the best adaptation to effect his purpose.”

I’d like to think, because sometimes I can be optimistic (call it cynical idealism), that if a good writer came up with a biography for the average person, anyone could look good. I say this because, intentionally or not, you’re probably bound to say a few profound things in your life. Lincoln managed to say profound things while under some small amount of stress … which is pretty good I guess.

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