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Three Wise Men
Lucretius, Bacon and Trollope
©winnie caw 2004
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Titus Lucretius Carus
c. 94 - 55 BC
Roman Poet
Francis Bacon
(Ist Baron Verulam and Viscount St Albans)
1561 - 1626
English lawyer, courtier, philosopher, and essayist

Anthony Trollope

1815 - 82 

English Novelist  


Nothing can be created out of nothing.
De Rerum Natura 
bk. 1, 1. 155

So the vital strength of his spirit won through, and he made his way far outside the flaming walls of the world and ranged over the measureless whole, both in mind and spirit.
De Rerum Natura bk. 1, 72(on Epicurus)

Lovely it is, when the winds are churning up the waves on the great sea, to gaze out from the land on the great efforts of someone else; not because it's an enjoyable pleasure that somebody is in difficulties, but because it's lovely to realise what troubles you are yourself spared. Lovely also to witness great battle-plans of war, carried out across the plains, without your having any share in the danger. But nothing is sweeter than to occupy the quiet precincts that are well protected by the teachings of the wise, from where you can look down on others and see them wandering all over the place, getting lost and striving as they seek the way in life, striving by their wits, pitting their noble birth, by night and by day struggling by superior efforts to rise to power at the top and gain possession of all things.
De Rerum Natura 
bk. 2, 1. 1

Some races increase, others are reduced, and in a short while the generations of living creatures are changed and like runners relay the torch of life.
De Rerum Natura 
bk. 2, 1. 7

Death therefore is nothing to us nor does it concern us a scrap, seeing that the nature of the spirit we possess is something mortal.
De Rerum Natura 
bk. 3, 1. 830

We can know there is nothing to be feared in death, that one who is not cannot be made unhappy, and that it matters not a scrap whether one might ever have been born at all, when death that is immortal has taken over one's mortal life.
De Rerum Natura 
bk. 3, 1. 866

Why not, like a banqueter fed full of life, withdraw with contentment and rest in peace, you fool?
De Rerum Natura 
bk. 3, 1. 938

And life is given to none freehold, but it is leasehold for all.
De Rerum Natura 
bk. 3, 1. 971

From the midst of the fountain of delights rises something bitter that chokes them all amongst the flowers.
De Rerum Natura 
bk. 4, 1. 1133



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.
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
bk. 1, ch.4, sect. 8

So let great authors have their due, as time, which is the author of authors, be not deprived of his due, which is further and further to discover truth.
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
bk. 1, ch.4, sect. 12

Poesy was ever thought to have some participation of divineness, because it doth raise and erect the mind, by submitting the shows of things to the desires of the mind; whereas reason doth buckle and bow the mind unto the nature of things.
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
bk. 2, ch.4, sect. 1

The knowledge of man is as the waters, some descending from above, and some springing from beneath; the one informed by the light of nature, the other inspired by divine revelation.
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
bk. 2, ch.5, sect. 1

They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
bk. 2, ch.7, sect. 5

Words are the tokens current and accepted for conceits, as moneys are for values.
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
bk. 2, ch.16, sect. 3

A dance is a measured pace, as a verse is a measured speech.
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
bk. 2, ch.16, sect. 5

But men must know, that in this theatre of man's life it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on.
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
bk. 2, ch.20, sect. 8

It is in life as it is in ways, the shortest way is commonly the foulest, and surely the fairer way is not much about.
The Advancement of Learning (1605)
bk. 2, ch.23, sect. 45

Riches are a good handmaid, but the worst mistress.
De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum (1623)
bk. 6, ch 3, pt.3 
'The Antitheta of Things' no 30
(translated by Gilbert Watts, 1640)

Silence is the virtue of fools.
De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum (1623)
bk. 6, ch 3, pt.3 
'The Antitheta of Things' no 31
(translated by Gilbert Watts, 1640)

That all things are changed, and that nothing really perishes, and that the sum of matter remains exactly the same, is sufficiently certain.
Cogitationes de Natura Rerum Cogitatio 5 in 
J Spedding (ed..) The Works of Francis Bacon vol. 5 
(1858) p. 426

I hold every man a debtor to his profession.
The Elements of the Common Law 
(1596) preface

If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world.
Essays (1625) 
'Of Goodness, and Goodness of Nature'

He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.
Essays (1625) 
'Of Innovators'

God Almighty first planted a garden; and,  indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.
Essays (1625) 'Of Gardens' 

A crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.
Essays (1625) 'Of Friendship'

Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state, servants of fame, and servants of business.
Essays (1625) 'Of Great Place'

It is a strange desire to seek power and lose liberty.
Essays (1625) 'Of Great Place'

There is little friendship in the world, and least of all between equals.
Essays (1625) 'Of Followers and Friends'

Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him, and from the top of it offer up his prayers for the observers of his law. The people assembled: Mahomet called the hill to come to him again and again; and when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said, 'If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill.'
Essays (1625) 'Of Boldness'

To choose time is to save time.
Essays (1625) 'Of Dispatch''

Houses are built to live in and not to look on; therefore let use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had.
Essays (1625) 'Of Building'

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
Essays (1625) 'Of Beauty'

A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds to religion.
Essays (1625) 'Of Religion'

In civil business; what first? boldness; what second and third? boldness: and yet boldness is a child of ignorance and baseness.
Essays (1625) 'Of Boldness'

Boldness is an ill keeper of promise.
Essays (1625) 'Of Boldness'

I had rather believe all the fables in the legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind.
Essays (1625) 'Of Atheism'


Whimsy Magazine


Words for Today

Chinese Whispers

Poem for today

Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write.
Autobiography (1883) ch.15

A man's mind will very generally refuse to make itself up until it be driven and compelled by emergency.
Ayala's Angel (1881) ch.41

How did I respect you when you dared to speak the truth to me? Men don't know women, or they would be harder to them.
The Claverings (1867) ch.15

There is no road to wealth so easy and respectable as that of matrimony.
Doctor Thorpe (1858) ch.16

Let no man boast himself that he has got through the perils of winter till at least the seventh of May.
Doctor Thorne (1858) ch..47

We cannot have heroes to dine with us. There are none. And were those heroes to be had, we should not like them ... the persons whom you cannot care for in a novel, because they are so bad, are the very same that you so dearly love in your life, because they are so good.
The Eustace Diamonds (1873) ch. 35

For the most of us, if we do not talk of ourselves, or at any rate of the individual circles of which we are the centres, we can talk of nothing. I cannot hold with those who wish to put down the insignificant chatter of the world.
Framley Parsonage (1860) ch. 10

They who do not understand that a man may be brought to hope that which of all things is the most grievous to him, have not observed with sufficient closeness the perversity of the human mind.
He Knew He Was Right
(1869) ch.38

She understood how much louder a cock can crow in its own farmyard than elsewhere.
The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867) ch. 17

It's dogged as does it. It ain't thinking about it.
The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867) ch. 61
(Giles Hoggett)

With many women I doubt whether there be any more effectual way of touching their hearts than ill-using them and then confessing it. If you wish to get the sweetest fragrance from the herb at your feet, tread on it and bruise it.
Miss Mackenzie (1865) ch.10

As for conceit, what man will do any good who is not conceited? Nobody holds a good opinion of a man who has a low opinion of himself.
Orley Farm (1862) ch.22

Perhaps there is no position more perilous to a man's honesty than that ... of knowing himself to be quite loved by a girl whom he almost loves himself.
Phineas Finn (1869) ch.50

She knew how to allure by denying, and to make the gift rich by delaying it.
Phineas Finn (1869) ch.57

Take away from English authors their copyrights, and you would very soon take away from England her authors.
Autobiography (1883) ch. 6

He must have known me had he seen me as he was wont to see me, for he was in the habit of flogging me constantly. Perhaps he did not recognise me by my face.
Autobiography (1883) ch. 1

It is admitted that a novel can hardly be made interesting or successful without love ... It is necessary because the passion is one which interests or has interested all. Everyone feels it, has felt it, or expects to feel it.
Autobiography (1883) ch.12

Those who have courage to love should have courage to suffer.
The Bertrams (1859) ch. 27

What man thinks of changing himself so as to suit his wife? And yet men expect that women should put on altogether new characters when they are married, and girls think that they can do so.
Phineas Redux (1874) ch. 3

To think of one's absent love is very sweet; but it becomes monotonous ... I doubt whether any girl would be satisfied with her lover's mind if she knew the whole of it.
The Small House at Allington (1864) ch. 4

Why is it that girls so constantly do this, - so frequently ask men who have loved them to be present at their marriages with other men? There is no triumph in it. It is done in sheer kindness and affection. They intend to offer something which shall soften and not aggravate the sorrow that they have caused ... I fully appreciate the intention, but in honest truth, I doubt the eligibility of the proffered entertainment.
The Small House at Allington (1864) ch. 9

It may almost be a question whether such wisdom as many of us have in our mature years has not come from the dying out of the power of temptation, rather than as the results of thought and resolution.
The Small House at Allington (1864) ch. 14

Is it not singular how some men continue to obtain the reputation of popular authorship without adding a word to the literature of their country worthy of note? ... To puff and to get one's self puffed have become different branches of a new profession.
The Way We Live Now (1875) ch. 1

Love is like any other luxury. You have no right to it unless you can afford it.
The Way We Live Now (1875) ch. 84





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