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It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.”

Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell (b. 1963) Anglo-Canadian journalist, author, public speaker
Outliers: The Story of Success, ch. 1 “The Matthew Effect,” sec. 5 (2008)
Added on 16-Jan-23 | Last updated 16-Jan-23
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In any country, regardless of what its laws say, wherever people act upon the idea that the disadvantage of one man is the good of another, there slavery exists. Wherever, in any country the whole people feel that the happiness of all is dependent upon the happiness of the weakest, there freedom exists.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) American educator, writer
Speech, Republican Club, New York City (12 Feb 1909)
Added on 18-Nov-22 | Last updated 14-Nov-22
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For tho’ it is certainly more laudable, and a thing of greater moment, to be generous, constant, and magnanimous, than merely to be polite and well bred; yet we find, from daily experience, that sweetness of manners, a genteel carriage, and, polite address are frequently of more advantage to those who are so happy as to be possessed of them, than any greatness of soul or brightness of parts are to those who are adorned with those more shining talents.

[E come che l’esser liberale o constante o magnanimo sia per sé sanza alcun fallo più laudabil cosa e maggiore che non è l’essere avenente e costumato, non di meno forse che la dolcezza de’ costumi e la convenevolezza de’ modi e delle maniere e delle parole giovano non meno a’ possessori di esse che la grandezza dell’animo e la sicurezza altresì a’ loro possessori non fanno.]

Giovanni della Casa
Giovanni della Casa (1503-1556) Florentine poet, author, diplomat, bishop
Galateo: Or, A Treatise on Politeness and Delicacy of Manners [Il Galateo overo de’ costumi], ch. 1 (1558) [tr. Graves (1774)]

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

And albeit Liberalitie, or magnanimitie, of themselves beare a greater praise, then, to be a well taught or manored man: yet perchaunce, the courteous behaviour and entertainement with good maners and words, helpe no lesse, him that hath them: then the high minde and courage, advaunceth him in whome they be.
[tr. Peterson (1576)]

Although liberality, courage, or generosity are without doubt far greater and more praiseworthy things than charm and manners, none the less, pleasant habits and decorous manners and words are perhaps no less useful to those who have them than a noble spirit and self-assurance are to others.
[tr. Einsenbichler/Bartlett (1986)]

Added on 22-Aug-22 | Last updated 13-Dec-22
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But if I am to die before my time, I count that a gain. When anyone lives as I do, surrounded by evils, how can he not carry off gain by dying?

[εἰ δὲ τοῦ χρόνου
πρόσθεν θανοῦμαι, κέρδος αὔτ᾽ ἐγὼ λέγω.
ὅστις γὰρ ἐν πολλοῖσιν ὡς ἐγὼ κακοῖς
ζῇ, πῶς ὅδ᾽ Οὐχὶ κατθανὼν κέρδος φέρει]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 460 ff [Antigone] (441 BC) [tr. Jebb (1891)]

Alt. trans.:

But if I am to die before my time, I count that a gain: for when any one lives, as I do, compassed about with evils, can such an one find aught but gain in death?
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

And if my time is shortened, this to me
Is gain indeed. For whoso lives, as I live,
Beset with many sorrows, how does he
Not win by dying?
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

If death
Is thereby hastened, I shall count it gain
For death is gain to him whose life, like mine,
Is full of misery.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

And now, if I fall
A little sooner, 'tis the thing I wish.
To thou, who live in misery like me,
Believe me, King, 'tis happiness to die.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

But if I die young, all the better:
People who live in misery like mine
Are better dead.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

I knew that my death was imminent, of course I did, and even if it came sooner, I would still think it a good thing because when one lives in such a dreadful misery why should he not think death to be a good thing?
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

And if I have to die
before my time, well, I count that a gain.
When someone has to live the way I do,
surrounded by so many evil things,
how can she fail to find a benefit
in death?
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 521ff]

If I die
before my time, I say it is a gain.
Who lives in sorrows many as are mine
how shall he not be glad to gain his death?
[tr. Wyckoff]

But if
I shall die before my time, I declare it a profit,
for whoever lives beset, as I do, by many things evil,
how does he not gain profit by dying?
[tr. Tyrrell/Bennett]
Added on 13-Nov-20 | Last updated 9-May-21
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Let none of us delude himself by supposing that honesty is always the best policy. It is not.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
Speculum Animae, Part 2, “Sunday Morning,” address, Cambridge (15 Jan 1911)

Inge's argument is not that honesty is not the most virtuous course, but that it is not always the most secularly advantageous course, and that such disadvantage is one of the costs of maintaining Christian virtue.
Added on 5-Oct-20 | Last updated 5-Oct-20
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All ambitions are lawful except those which climb upward on the miseries or credulities of mankind.

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Polish-English novelist [b. Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski]
A Personal Record (1912)
Added on 21-Jun-17 | Last updated 21-Jun-17
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When once a social order is well established, no matter what injustice it involves, those who occupy a position of advantage are not long in coming to believe that it is the only possible and reasonable order.

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
Added on 20-Feb-17 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.

Aesop (620?-560? BC) Legendary Greek storyteller
Fables [Aesopica], “The Wolf and the Kid” (6th C BC) [tr. Jacobs (1894)]

Alternate translation: "Time and place often give the advantage to the weak over the strong." [tr. Townsend (1887), "The Kid and the Wolf"]
Added on 20-Nov-15 | Last updated 16-Sep-21
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It has not yet been recorded that any human being has gained a very large or permanent contentment from meditation upon the fact that he is better off than others.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Main Street (1920)
Added on 15-Sep-15 | Last updated 15-Sep-15
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Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 12ff [Duke Senior] (1599)
Added on 20-May-13 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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The chief difference between free capitalism and State socialism seems to be this: that under the former a man pursues his own advantage openly, frankly, and honestly, whereas under the latter he does so hypocritically and under false pretences.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Minority Report: H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks, #397 (1956)
Added on 15-Jan-09 | Last updated 2-May-16
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A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.

[Al varón sabio más le aprovechan sus enemigos que al necio sus amigos.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 84 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]

See also Aristophanes. (Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

The wise man draws more advantage from his Enemies, than the fool does from his Friends.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

To a wise man, his enemies avail him more, than to a fool, his friends.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

The wise person finds enemies more useful than the fool finds friends.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

Added on 25-Jul-07 | Last updated 19-Dec-22
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And while I at length debate and beate the bush,
There shall steppe in other men and catch the burdes.

John Heywood (1497?-1580?) English playwright and epigrammist
Proverbes, Part 1, ch. 3 (1546)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Jul-20
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Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.

Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956) Russian chess grandmaster
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Sep-20
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“Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just” —
And four times he who gets his fist in fust.

Artemus Ward (1834-1867) American humorist, editor, lecturer [pseud. of Charles Farrar Browne]
Shakespeare Up-to-Date

See Shakespeare. Also attributed to Josh Billings in Josh Billings: His Sayings (1865), and sometimes oddly credited to Romans 13:7.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Sep-14
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