Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

My late father used to say, fairly frequently as I recall, this quotation: “It is better to remain silent and be thought of as a a fool than to speak up and remove any doubt.”

But who was he quoting? I couldn’t find anything in Bartelby or Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, the latter, in print form, a constant source of my entertainment growing up.

Finally, I found a similar quotation at Quote Investigator. Was it attributed to Abraham Lincoln? Mark Twain? A Biblical Proverb?

“There is a biblical proverb that expresses a similar idea, namely Proverbs 17:28. Here is the New International Version followed by the King James Version of this verse:

“‘Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.’

“‘Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.'”

After dismissing Lincoln and Twain because the attributions to them were so much after their time, and noting the Proverbs have not quite the same sentiment, QI favors Maurice Switzer, from a “book titled ‘Mrs. Goose, Her Book’… The publication date was 1907 and the copyright notice was 1906. The book was primarily filled with clever nonsense verse, and the phrasing in this early version was slightly different:

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.”

This all begs the question, Is it true? Do people actually think you’re smart if you retain a mysterious silence? Perhaps; this does not appear to be a period in history when a lot goes unsaid. That apparent need to always say SOMETHING is often to the detriment of the speaker, and, quite often, of us all.

Rather off topic, but LISTEN to the Tremeloes sing Silence is Golden.

For ABC Wednesday

warrengharding

Presidents Day quiz

From JEOPARDY!:

PRESIDENTIAL MOMS
Rose Fitzgerald
Janet “Jessie” Woodrow
Dorothy Walker
Jane Knox
Hannah Simpson

PRESIDENTS’ MIDDLE NAMES
Hussein; Gamaliel; Abram; Earl; Alan

PRESIDENTS BY WON-LOST RECORD
The only one who went 4-0
2-0: He was twice too much for Adlai
2-1: 1-0 vs. James G. Blaine & a split with Benjamin Harrison
1-0, in a split decision over Samuel Tilden
One of the 2 who went 0-1

PRESIDENTS 101

The most recent left-handed president.
The first president to be born in a hospital; it was October 1924.
The first to hold an Internet chat with the public.
The first born outside the original colonies, in 1809.

ABC News ‘This Week’ Powerhouse Puzzler
Which four sitting Vice Presidents have been elected President?

ANSWERS BELOW

It’s a Scandal, It’s a Outrage

President Harding’s mistress wasn’t kidding, DNA tests show Read the rest of this entry »

Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, ending the Civil War.

Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House

Four years ago, I started to dread what I feared would be a media rehash of the American Civil War 150 years ago, battle by bloody battle. It might have happened, for all I know, but I managed to keep myself out of the loop. Surely I mentioned it rarely here.

This week, though, was quite significant. Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union general Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia, though fighting continued elsewhere for another couple months.

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, shot on April 14 Read the rest of this entry »

From Daniel Tammet’s book Thinking by Numbers, the chapter on Shapes of Speech:

“In the mid-nineteenth century, more than two millenia after Euclid, a copy of his Elements traveled in the carpetbag of a circuit lawyer from Illinois…

“The pages and their propositions made a deep impression on Lincoln’s mind, following him into his subsequent career in politics. In a speech given to an Ohio crowd in 1859 in opposition to a pro-slavery rival…

“‘Now if Judge [Stephen] Douglas will demonstrate somehow that this is popular sovereignty Read the rest of this entry »

CHRIS: Ooo, what does the infinity symbol symbolize?

Gee, I thought it was a sidewards eight.

Good on your with the presidents thing. The three presidents in one year has happened twice and three in two years but more than one year happened once (by my count using http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States), none of which I knew before the discussion came up.

Three in one year was 1841 and 1881, that’s correct. Hadn’t thought about three in two years, but that would be 1849-1850, with Polk, Taylor and Fillmore.

Which brings me to my next question: how do you learn so many random things? Did you, for example, set out to memorize all the presidents and the years? Or does your brain do that “naturally”?

After minutes of self-psychoanalysis, this is what I’ve concluded Read the rest of this entry »

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