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I like to see the Old Man now and then
And try not to be too uncivil.
It’s charming in a noble squire when
He speaks humanely with the very Devil.

[Von Zeit zu Zeit seh ich den Alten gern,
Und hüte mich, mit ihm zu brechen.
Es ist gar hübsch von einem großen Herrn,
So menschlich mit dem Teufel selbst zu sprechen.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 3 “Prologue in Heaven,” l. 350ff [Mephistopheles] (1808-1829) [tr. Kaufmann (1961)]

Some translations (and this site) include the Declaration, Prelude on the Stage, and Prologue in Heaven as individual scenes; others do not, leading to their Part 1 scenes being numbered three lower.

On his discussions with the Lord. (Source (German)). Alternate translations:

I like to see the Old Man not infrequently,
And I forbear to break with Him or be uncivil;
It's very pretty in so great a Lord as He
To talk so like a man even with the Devil.
[tr. Priest (1808)]

From time to time I visit the Old Fellow,
And I take care to keep on good terms with him.
Civil enough is this same God Almighty,
To talk so freely with the Devil himself.
[tr. Shelley (1815)]

I like to see the Ancient One occasionally, and take care not to break with him. It is really civil in so great a Lord, to speak so kindly with the Devil himself.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

The ancient one I like sometimes to see,
And not to break with him am always civil;
'Tis courteous in so great a lord as he,
To speak so kindly even to the devil.
[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

I like at times to exchange with him a word,
And take care not to break with him. 'Tis civil
In the old fellow and so great a Lord
To talk so kindly with the very devil.
[tr. Brooks (1868)]

I like, at times, to hear The Ancient's word,
And have a care to be most civil:
It's really kind of such a noble Lord
So humanly to gossip with the Devil!
[tr. Taylor (1870)]

From time to time the ancient gentleman
I see, and keep on the best terms I can.
In a great Lord ’tis surely wondrous civil
So face to face to hold talk with the devil.
[tr. Blackie (1880)]

I like to see the Ancient now and then,
And shun a breach, for truly 'tis most civil
In such a mighty personage to deign
To chat so affably, e'en with the very Devil.
[tr. Latham (1908)]

From time to time it's good to see the Old Man;
I must be careful not to break with him.
How decent of so great a personage
to be so human with the devil.
[tr. Salm (1962)]

At times I don't mind seeing the old gent,
And try to keep relations smooth and level.
Say what you like, it's quite a compliment:
A swell like him so man-to-man with the Devil!
[tr. Arndt (1976)]

I like to see him sometimes, and take care
Not to fall out with him. It's civil
Of the old fellow, such a grand seigneur,
To have these man-to-man talks with the Devil!
[tr. Luke (1987)]

I like to see the Old Man now and then,
And take good care I don't fall out with him.
How very decent of a Lord Celestial
To talk man to man with the Devil of all people.
[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

I like to drop in on him if I can,
Just to keep things between us on the level.
It's really decent of the Grand Old Man
To be so civil to the very Devil.
[tr. Williams (1999)]

I like to hear the Old Man’s words, from time to time,
And take care, when I’m with him, not to spew.
It’s very nice when such a great Gentleman,
Chats with the devil, in ways so human, too!
[tr. Kline (2003)]

Added on 23-Aug-22 | Last updated 25-Oct-22
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The righteous and continuing wrath of the Northern press opened no eyes and touched no consciences in the little town in Mississippi where the two men were tried. It was like a cold wind that made them huddle together for protection against an outside force which they could equate with an adversary. It struck me at the time that the trial and its aftermath was simply, “They’re bastards, but they’re our bastards.”

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Patterns, Introduction (1957)

Speaking of the acquittal of the killers of Emmett Till. The murder inspired Serling's teleplay, Noon on Doomsday, shown on The United States Steel Hour (Apr 1956).
Added on 22-Feb-22 | Last updated 22-Feb-22
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He who is mistaken in an action which he sincerely believes to be right may be an enemy, but retains our esteem.

[Celui qui se trompe dans une intention qu’il croit bonne, on peut le combattre, on ne cesse pas de l’estimer.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 3, ch. 16 (1874)
Added on 20-May-16 | Last updated 10-Oct-19
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I would permit no man, no matter what his colour might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) American educator, writer
Up from Slavery, ch. 11 (1901)

This has been paraphrased in various ways, and is the source of Martin Luther King, Jr's quote he attributed to Washington: "Let no man pull you so low as to make you hate him" (e.g., Stride Toward Freedom, ch. 6 (1958)). King used this or variants of this paraphrase frequently in his speeches, though it was only in his early activism that he referenced Washington by name.
Added on 8-Dec-15 | Last updated 20-Jan-22
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Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The True Believer, Part 3, sec. 65, (1951)
Added on 25-Aug-11 | Last updated 19-Apr-18
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The real existence of an enemy upon whom one can foist off everything evil is an enormous relief to one’s conscience. You can then at least say, without hesitation, who the devil is; you are quite certain that the cause of your misfortune is outside, and not your own attitude.

Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist
“General Aspects of Dream Psychology” (1916) [tr. R. Hull (1960)]
Added on 10-Dec-09 | Last updated 19-Jan-16
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He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
Added on 18-Nov-09 | Last updated 14-Jul-20
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A small loan makes a debtor; a great one, an enemy.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 12 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
Added on 17-Jul-09 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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You don’t promote the cause of peace by talking only to people with whom you agree.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
News conference (20 Jan 1957)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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He rather hated the ruling few than loved the suffering many.

Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) English jurist and philosopher
Comment on James Mill

In the journal of Caroline Fox (7 Aug 1840), regarding the father of John Stuart Mill. James Mill was a proponent of Bentham's philosophy. The observation was recalled in conversation with John Bowring, Bentham's executor.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Mar-22
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