Quotations about   advice

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“The choice is yours: to go or wait.”

“And it is also said,” answered Frodo: “Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.”

“Is it indeed?” laughed Gildor. “Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 3 “Three Is Company” (1954)
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Added on 5-May-22 | Last updated 5-May-22
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You will always find some Eskimos ready to instruct the Congolese on how to cope with heat waves.

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
Unkempt Thoughts [Myśli nieuczesane] (1957) [tr. Gałązka (1962)]
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Added on 15-Feb-22 | Last updated 15-Feb-22
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This is all I had to say on friendship. One piece of advice on parting. Make up your minds to this. Virtue (without which friendship is impossible) is first; but next to it, and to it alone, the greatest of all things is Friendship.

[Haec habui de amicitia quae dicerem. Vos autem hortor ut ita virtutem locetis, sine qua amicitia esse non potest, ut ea excepta nihil amicitia praestabilius putetis.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
“Laelius De Amicitia [Laelius on Friendship],” ch. 27 / sec. 104 (44 BC) [tr. Shuckburgh (1909)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Such are the remarks I had to make on friendship. But as for you, I exhort you to lay the foundations of virtue, whithout which friendship can not exist, in such a matter that, with this one exception, you may consider that nothing in the world is more excellent than friendship.
[tr. Edmonds (1871)]

I had these things to say to you about friendship; and I exhort you that you so give the foremost place to virtue without which friendship cannot be, that with the sole exception of virtue, you may think nothing to be preferred to friendship.
[tr. Peabody (1887)]

This is all that I had to say about friendship; but I exhort you both so to esteem virtue (without which friendship cannot exist), that, excepting virtue, you will think nothing more excellent than friendship.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

Added on 17-May-21 | Last updated 17-May-21
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Be warned against all “good” advice because “good” advice is necessarily “safe” advice, and though it will undoubtedly follow a sane pattern, it will very likely lead one into total sterility — one of the crushing problems of our time.

Jules Feiffer (b. 1929) American cartoonist, authork, satirist
Interview by Roy Newquist, Counterpoint (1964)
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Added on 20-Apr-21 | Last updated 20-Apr-21
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I will leave it for the present, as this letter is already pretty long. Such is my desire, my anxiety for your perfection, that I never think I have said enough, though you may possibly think I have said too much; and though, in truth, if your own good sense is not sufficient to direct you, in many of these plain points, all that I or anybody else can say will be insufficient.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (18 Nov 1748)
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Chesterfield repeats the sentiment in a later letter (22 Sep 1749):
This letter is a very long, and so possibly a very tedious one; but my anxiety for your perfection is so great, and particularly at this critical and decisive period of your life, that I am only afraid of omitting, but never of repeating or dwelling too long upon anything that I think may be of the least use to you.
Added on 18-Mar-21 | Last updated 18-Mar-21
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“So, Jeeves!”

“Yes, sir.”

“What do you mean. Yes, sir?”

“I was endeavouring to convey my appreciation of the fact that your position is in many respects somewhat difficult, sir. But I wonder if I might call your attention to an observation of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He said: ‘Does aught befall you? It is good. It is part of the destiny of the Universe ordained for you from the beginning. All that befalls you is part of the great web.'”

I breathed a bit stertorously.

“He said that, did he?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, you can tell him from me he’s an ass.”

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) Anglo-American humorist, playwright and lyricist [Pelham Grenville Wodehouse]
The Mating Season, ch. 4 (1949)
    (Source)

Adapted from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 4, #26 [tr. Rendall (1901)].

Wodehouse uses in "Ordeal by Golf" (1919) a similar sentiment from Meditations, Book 10, #5, to suggest Marcus Aurelius was a golfer.

Imitate the spirit of Marcus Aurelius. "Whatever may befall thee," says that great man in his "Meditations," "it was preordained for thee from everlasting. Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear." I like to think that this noble thought came to him after he had sliced a couple of new balls into the woods, and that he jotted it down on the back of his score-card.
Added on 11-Mar-21 | Last updated 19-Oct-21
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TIRESIAS: Oh god, is there a man alive who knows, who actually believes …
CREON: What now? What earth-shattering truth are you about to utter?
TIRESIAS: … just how much a sense of judgment, wisdom is the greatest gift we have?
CREON: Just as much, I’d say, as a twisted mind is the worst affliction known.
TIRESIAS: You’re the one who’s sick, Creon, sick to death.

[Τειρεσίας: φεῦ. ἆρ᾽ οἶδεν ἀνθρώπων τις, ἆρα φράζεται,
Κρέων: τί χρῆμα; ποῖον τοῦτο πάγκοινον λέγεις;
Τειρεσίας: ὅσῳ κράτιστον κτημάτων εὐβουλία;
Κρέων: ὅσῳπερ, οἶμαι, μὴ φρονεῖν πλείστη βλάβη.
Τειρεσίας: ταύτης σὺ μέντοι τῆς νόσου πλήρης ἔφυς.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1048ff (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1162ff]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

TEIRESIAS: Oh! What man is there that knows? who that considers --
KREON: In what? thou askest comprehensive questions.
TEIRESIAS: How far the best of goods good counsel is?
KREON: As far as folly is the greatest loss.
TEIRESIAS: Well, though, at least hast caught that grievous ailment.
[tr. Donaldson (1848), l. 1015]

TEIRESIAS: Alas! doth any know and lay to heart --
CREON: Is this the prelude to some hackneyed saw?
TEIRESIAS: How far good counsel is the best of goods?
CREON: True, as unwisdom is the worst of ills.
TEIRESIAS: Thou art infected with that ill thyself.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

TIRESIAS: Ah! where is wisdom? who considereth?
CREON: Wherefore? what means this universal doubt?
TIRESIAS: How far the best of riches is good counsel!
CREON: As far as folly is the mightiest bane.
TIRESIAS: Yet thou art sick of that same pestilence.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

TEIRESIAS: Alas! Does any man know, does any consider --
CREON: What is this? What universal truth are you announcing?
TEIRESIAS: -- by how much the most precious of our possessions is the power to reason wisely?
CREON: By as much, I think, as senselessness is the greatest affliction.
TEIRESIAS: Yet you came into being full of that disease.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

TEIRESIAS: Alas! Doth any man know, doth any consider ...
CREON: Whereof? What general truth dost thou announce?
TEIRESIAS: How precious, above all wealth, is good counsel.
CREON: As folly, I think, is the worst mischief.
TEIRESIAS: Yet thou art tainted with that distemper.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

TEIRESIAS: Ah Creon! Is there no man left in the world --
CREON: To do what? -- Come, let’s have the aphorism!
TEIRESIAS: No man who knows that wisdom outweighs any wealth?
CREON: As surely as bribes are baser than any baseness.
TEIRESIAS: You are sick, Creon! You are deathly sick!
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 825ff]

TEIRESIAS: Ah, is there any wisdom in the world?
CREON: Why, what is the meaning of that wide-flung taunt?
TEIRESIAS: What prize outweighs the priceless worth of prudence?
CREON: Ay, what indeed? What mischief matches the lack of it?
TEIRESIAS: And there you speak of your own symptom, sir.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

TEIRESIAS: Alas! What man can tell me, has he thought at all ...
CREON: What hackneyed saw is coming from your lips?
TEIRESIAS: How better than all wealth is sound good counsel.
CREON: And so folly worse than anything.
TEIRESIAS: And you're infected with that same disease.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

TEIRESIAS: Does any man reflect, does any know ...
CREON: Know what? Why do you preach at me like this?
TEIRESIAS: How much the greatest blessing is good counsel?
CREON: As much, I think, as folly is his plague.
TEIRESIAS: Yet with this plague you are yourself infected.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

TIRESIAS: This is very sad: Does any human being know, or even question ...
CREON: What's this? More of your great "common knowledge"?
TIRESIAS: How powerful good judgment is, compared to wealth.
CREON: Exactly. And no harm compares with heedlessness.
TIRESIAS: Which runs through you like the plague.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

TIRESIAS: Pheu, does any man know, does he consider ...
CREON: Just what? What old saw are you saying?
TIRESIAS: by how much the best of possessions is good counsel?
CREON: By as much, I suppose, as not to have sense is the greatest harm.
TIRESIAS: You certainly were full of this sickness.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

TEIRESIAS: Is there no one who ... does no one know ... Speak up! Speak up!
CREON: What? What are you trying to say to us?
TEIRESIAS: What? What I’m trying to tell you, Creon, is that man’s best endowment is wisdom.
CREON: Just as idiocy is our worst curse.
TEIRESIAS: You’re possessed by this illness to the full.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

TEIRESIAS: Alas, does any man know or think about ...
CREON: Think what? What sort of pithy common thought are you about to utter?
TEIRESIAS: ... how good advice is valuable -- worth more than all possessions.
CREON: I think that’s true, as much as foolishness is what harms us most.
TEIRESIAS: Yet that’s the sickness now infecting you.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

TIRESIAS: Does any man know, does any consider ...
CREON: What thing? What great aphorism will you speak?
TIRESIAS: ... how much prudence is the greatest of possessions?
CREON: As much as stupidity is the worst hurt?
TIRESIAS: You certainly seem full of this disease.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
Added on 25-Feb-21 | Last updated 25-Feb-21
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I think, for what my young opinion’s worth,
That good as it is to have infallible wisdom,
Since this is rarely found, the next best thing
Is to be willing to listen to wise advice.

[γνώμη γὰρ εἴ τις κἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ νεωτέρου
πρόσεστι, φήμ᾽ ἔγωγε πρεσβεύειν πολὺ
φῦναι τὸν ἄνδρα πάντ᾽ ἐπιστήμης πλέων:
εἰ δ᾽ οὖν, φιλεῖ γὰρ τοῦτο μὴ ταύτῃ ῥέπειν,
καὶ τῶν λεγόντων εὖ καλὸν τὸ μανθάνειν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 719ff [Haemon] (441 BC) [tr. Watling (1947)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

For, if grounded maxims
May find their utterance e'en in me your son,
I dare be bold to say 'tis better far
That understanding should be born in man:
But if this may not be: -- and, to say sooth,
The common scale inclines not thus, -- 'tis well
To learn from any one who reasons soundly.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

For, if one young in years may claim some sense,
I'll say 'tis best of all to be endowed
With absolute wisdom; but, if that's denied,
(And nature takes not readily that ply)
Next wise is he who lists to sage advice.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

If any judgement hath informed my youth,
I grant it noblest to be always wise,
But, -- for omniscience is denied to man --
Tis good to hearken to admonishment.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

For if even from me, a younger man, a worthy thought may be supplied, by far the best thing, I believe, would be for men to be all-wise by nature. Otherwise -- since most often it does not turn out that way -- it is good to learn in addition from those who advise you well.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

For if I, a younger man, may offer my thought, it were far best, I ween, that men should be all-wise by nature; but, otherwise -- and oft the scale inclines not so -- 'tis good also to learn from those who speak aright.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

I know I am young; but please let me say this: The ideal condition
Would be, I admit, that men should be right by instinct;
But since we are all too likely to go astray,
The reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 578ff]

Young as I am, if I may give advice,
I'd say it would be best if men were born
perfect in wisdom, but failing this
(which often fails) it can be no dishonor
to learn from others when they speak good sense.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

If one who is still young can speak with sense,
Then I would say that he does best who has
Most understanding; second best, the man
Who profits from the wisdom of another.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

I'm young, I know, but let me offer this:
it would be best by far, I admit,
if a man were born infallible, right by nature.
If not -- and things don't often go that way --
it's best to learn from those with good advice.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 805ff]

For if an opinion comes up from me, a younger person,
I say it is by far best that a man be born filled with
wisdom. If he is not, for the scale does not usually so incline,
to learn from those speaking competently is a noble thing.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

I’m younger, I know but I still might be able to judge what’s right and I say that it’s a good thing for a man to be born with all possible wisdom but still -- because it’s not such a common thing -- to be able to learn from others.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

For if I, as a younger man, may state
my views, I’d say it would be for the best
if men by nature understood all things --
if not, and that is usually the case,
when men speak well, it good to learn from them.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

Even though I'm young, a good idea might come from me: It would be best by far that man be born full of all the knowledge there is, but, if it usually happens not to turn out that way, to learn from those who speak well is a good substitute.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

Added on 28-Jan-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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Though great in all, thou seem’st averse to lend
Impartial audience to a faithful friend:
To gods and men thy matchless worth is known,
And every art of glorious war thy own;
But in cool thought and counsel to excel,
How widely differs this from warring well!
Content with what the bounteous gods have given,
Seek not alone to engross the gifts of heaven.
To some the powers of bloody war belong,
To some, sweet music, and the charm of song;
To few, and wondrous few, has Jove assigned
A wise, extensive, all-considering mind;
Their guardians these the nations round confess,
And towns and empires for their safety bless.

[Ἕκτορ ἀμήχανός ἐσσι παραρρητοῖσι πιθέσθαι.
οὕνεκά τοι περὶ δῶκε θεὸς πολεμήϊα ἔργα
τοὔνεκα καὶ βουλῇ ἐθέλεις περιίδμεναι ἄλλων:
ἀλλ᾽ οὔ πως ἅμα πάντα δυνήσεαι αὐτὸς ἑλέσθαι.
ἄλλῳ μὲν γὰρ ἔδωκε θεὸς πολεμήϊα ἔργα,
ἄλλῳ δ᾽ ὀρχηστύν, ἑτέρῳ κίθαριν καὶ ἀοιδήν,
ἄλλῳ δ᾽ ἐν στήθεσσι τιθεῖ νόον εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
ἐσθλόν, τοῦ δέ τε πολλοὶ ἐπαυρίσκοντ᾽ ἄνθρωποι,
καί τε πολέας ἐσάωσε, μάλιστα δὲ καὐτὸς ἀνέγνω.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 13, l. 726ff (13.726) (c. 750 BC) [tr. Pope (1715-20)]
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Polydamas, suggesting Hector accept counsel from others. Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

Hector, still impossible ’tis to pass
Good counsel upon you. But say some God prefers thy deeds,
In counsels wouldst thou pass us too? In all things none exceeds.
To some God gives the pow’r of war, to some the sleight to dance,
To some the art of instruments, some doth for voice advance;
And that far-seeing God grants some the wisdom of the mind,
Which no man can keep to himself, that, though but few can find,
Doth profit many, that preserves the public weal and state,
And that, who hath, he best can prize.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 646ff]

Hector! Thou ne’er canst listen to advice;
But think’st thou, that if heaven in feats of arms
Give thee pre-eminence, thou must excel
Therefore in council also all mankind?
No. All-sufficiency is not for thee.
To one, superior force in arms is given,
Skill to another in the graceful dance,
Sweet song and powers of music to a third,
And to a fourth loud-thundering Jove imparts
Wisdom, which profits many, and which saves
Whole cities oft, though reverenced but by few.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 877ff]

Hector, thou art impossible to be persuaded by advice. Because indeed a god hath given thee, above others, warlike deeds, for this reason dost thou also desire to be more skilled than others in counsel? But by no means canst thou thyself obtain all things at once. To one indeed hath the deity given warlike deeds; to another dancing; and to another the harp and singing. To another again far-sounding Jove implants a prudent mind in his bosom, of which many men reap the advantage, as it even preserves cities; and he himself who possesses it especially knows its value.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Hector, I know thee, how unapt thou art
To hearken to advice; because the Gods
Have giv’n thee to excel in warlike might,
Thou deemest thyself, in counsel too, supreme;
Yet every gift thou canst not so combine:
To one the Gods have granted warlike might,
To one the dance, to one the lyre and song;
While in another’s breast all-seeing Jove
Hath plac’d the spirit of wisdom, and a mind
Discerning, for the common good of all:
By him are states preserv’d; and he himself
Best knows the value of the precious gift.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

Hector, thou art hard to be persuaded by them that would counsel thee; for that god has given thee excellence in the works of war, therefore in council also thou art fain to excel other men in knowledge. But in nowise wilt thou be able to take everything on thyself. For to one man has god given for his portion the works of war, to another the dance, to another the lute and song, but in the heart of yet another hath far-seeing Zeus placed an excellent understanding, whereof many men get gain, yea he saveth many an one, and himself best knoweth it.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

Hector, there is no persuading you to take advice. Because heaven has so richly endowed you with the arts of war, you think that you must therefore excel others in counsel; but you cannot thus claim preeminence in all things. Heaven has made one man an excellent soldier; of another it has made a dancer or a singer and player on the lyre; while yet in another Jove has implanted a wise understanding of which men reap fruit to the saving of many, and he himself knows more about it than any one.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Hector, hard to deal with art thou, that thou shouldest hearken to words of persuasion. Forasmuch as god has given to thee as to none other works of war, therefore in counsel too art thou minded to have wisdom beyond all; but in no wise shalt thou be able of thine own self to compass all things. To one man hath God given works of war, to another the dance, to another the lyre and song, and in the breast of another Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, putteth a mind of understanding, wherefrom many men get profit, and many he saveth; but he knoweth it best himself.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

You are a hard man to persuade.
Zeus gave you mastery in arms; therefore
you think to excel in strategy as well.
And yet you cannot have all gifts at once.
Heaven gives one man skill in arms, another
skill in dancing, and a third man skill
at gittern-harp and song; but the Lord Zeus
who views the wide world has instilled clear thought
in yet another. By his aid men flourish,
and there are many he can save; he knows
better than any what his gift is worth.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

Impossible man! Won't you listen to reason?
Just because some god exalts you in battle
you think you can beat the rest at tactics too.
How can you hope to garner all the gifts at once?
One man is a splendid fighter -- a god has made him so --
one's a dancer, another skilled at lyre and song,
and deep in the next man's chest farseeing Zeus
plants the gift of judgment, good clear sense.
And many reap the benefits of that treasure:
troops of men he saves, as he himself knows best.
[tr. Fagles (1990), l. 839ff]

You are a difficult man to convince with words of persuasion,
Hektor--because god gave you war-deeds beyond others,
therefore in counsel as well as beyond others you wish to have wisdom.
But no way by yourself can you possibly have all together.
For it is true that the god gives war-deeds mainly to one man,
and to another the dance, to another the song and lyre-playing,
while in another man's bosom the lord wide-thundering Zeus puts
excellent wisdom, from which many people derive the advantage --
numerous men he saves, but himself best knows of its value.
[tr. Merrill (2007)]
Added on 6-Jan-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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Let me tell you the secret of such so-called successes as there have been in my life, and here I believe I give you really good advice. It was to burn my boats and demolish my bridges behind me. Then one loses no time in looking behind, when one should have quite enough to do in looking ahead — then there is no chance for you or your men but forward. You have to do or die!

Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930) Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian
Speech, St Andrews University (3 Nov 1926)
    (Source)

Translated in his Adventure, and Other Papers (1927).
Added on 22-Oct-20 | Last updated 22-Oct-20
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What the world wants iz good examples, not so mutch advice; advice may be wrong, but examples prove themselves.

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Puddin and Milk” (1874)
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DUKHAT: When others do a foolish thing, you should tell them it is a foolish thing. They can still continue to do it, but at least the truth is where it needs to be.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 4×09 “Atonement” (24 Feb 1997)
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Advice iz a drug in the market; the supply alwus exceeds the demand.

[Advice is a drag on the market; the supply always exceeds the demand.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Lobstir Sallad” (1874)
    (Source)
Added on 7-May-20 | Last updated 7-May-20
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Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations. There were people who said, “You can’t go into space. You can’t go to the moon.” If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out. Yes, you can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.

Mae Jemison (b. 1956) American engineer, physician, astronaut
Interview, Chicago Sun-Times (May 1994)
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Added on 14-Feb-20 | Last updated 14-Feb-20
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The dramatic art is particularly satisfying for any writer with a polemical bent; and I am at heart a propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag, complacently positive that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.

Gore Vidal (1925-2012) American novelist, dramatist, critic
Visit to a Small Planet and Other Television Plays, Preface (1956)
    (Source)
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Who kindly sets a wand’rer on his way
Does e’en as if he lit another’s lamp by his:
No less shines his, when he his friend’s hath lit.

[Homó, qui erranti cómiter monstrát viam,
Quasi lúmen de suo lúmine accendát, facit.
Nihiló minus ipsi lúcet, cum illi accénderit.]

Quintus Ennius (239-169 BC) Roman poet, writer
Telephus, frag 412-414 [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

The fragment comes to us from Cicero, De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 16 / sec. 51 (44 BC). Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

He that directs the wandering traveller,
Doth, as it were, light another's torch by his own;
Which gives him ne'er the less of light, for that
It gave another.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

The man who kindly points out the way to the wandering traveller, gives light to the lamp of another, without diminishing by the communication the light of his own.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

He who kindly shows the bewildered traveller the right road, does as it were light his lamp by his own; which affords none the less light to himself after it has lighted the other.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

Who kindly shows a wanderer his way,
Lights, as it were, a torch from his own torch, --
In kindling others' light, no less he shines.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

The man who kindly points the way top a wanderer, does as though he kindles a light from the light that is his; it shines none the less for himself when he has kindled it for his fellow.
["trib Teleph. R suae lumine accendit facis Hartman, Mnemoe., XXI, 382 fortass recte"]
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To Herbert Westbrook, without whose never-failing advice, help, and encouragement, this book would have been finished in half the time.

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) Anglo-American humorist, playwright and lyricist [Pelham Grenville Wodehouse]
A Gentleman of Leisure, Dedication (1910)
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I have accustomed myself to receive with respect the opinions of others, but always take the responsibility of deciding for myself.

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) American politician, general, US President (1829-1837)
(Attributed)

Quoted by John F. Kennedy in the foreword to T. Sorensen, Decision-Making in the White House: The Olive Branch or the Arrows (1963)
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Consistently wise decisions can only be made by those whose wisdom is constantly challenged.

Theodore "Ted" Sorensen (1928-2010) American lawyer, writer, presidential adviser, speechwriter
Decision-Making in the White House: The Olive Branch or the Arrows, ch. 7 (1963)
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A lot of companies — I know it sounds crazy — but a lot of companies … hire people to tell them what to do. We hire people to tell us what to do. We figure we’re paying them all this money; their job is to figure out what to do and tell us.

Steve Jobs (1955-2011) American computer inventor, entrepreneur
“Steve Jobs: ‘Computer Science Is A Liberal Art’,” interview with Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR (1996)
    (Source)

There are a number of variants on this quotation. A common one: "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do."
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What the world wants iz good examples, not so mutch advice; advice may be wrong, but examples prove themselves.

[What the world wants is good examples, not so much advice; advice may be wrong, but examples prove themselves.]

Billings - good examples - wist_info quote

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
The Complete Works of Josh Billings, “PUDDIN AND MILK” (1842)
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“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”

“Why, what did she tell you?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ch. 7 (1979)
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The best advice I’ve ever received is, “No one else knows what they’re doing either.”

Gervais - what theyre doing either - wist_info quote

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Tweet (7 Oct 2014)
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Poets are like proverbs: you can always find one to contradict another.

[Les poëtes sont comme les proverbes : l’un est toujours là pour contredire l’autre.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Survivors of the Chancellor, ch. 5 “An Unusual Route” (1875)
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Whatever advice you give, be short.

Horace (65-8 BC) Roman poet and satirist [Quintus Horacius Flaccus]
Ars Poetica (c. 18 BC)
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History is filled with undistinguished leaders who succeeded because they had a flair for selecting sound counselors.

George W. Ball (1909-1994) American diplomat and banker
“Kennedy Up Close,” New York Review of Books (3 Feb 1994)
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Trust no friend without faults,
And love a maiden, but no angel.

[Trau keinem Freunde sonder Mängel,
Und leib’ ein Mädchen, kienem Engel.]

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramiturg, writer
Note in a Family Register (1778)

Alt. trans.: "Trust in no friend, rather forebear; / Love a sweet maid, no angel rare."
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I sometimes give myself excellent advice. Occasionally, I even listen to it.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Ghost Story (2011)
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Investment must be rational. If you can’t understand it, don’t do it.

Warren Buffett (b. 1930) American investor and financier
“About Investing: Only Buy Securities That You Understand,” Warren Buffett Speaks (1997)
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In giving advice, seek to help, not please, your friend.

Solon (c. 638 BC - 558 BC) Athenian statesman, lawmaker, poet
(Attributed)
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It is an advantage to all narrow wisdom and narrow morals that their maxims have a plausible air; and, on a cursory view, appear equal to first principles. They are light and portable. They are as current as copper coin; and about as valuable. They serve equally the first capacities and the lowest; and they are, at least, as useful to the worst men as to the best. Of this stamp is the cant of not man, but measures; a sort of charm by which many people get loose from every honourable engagement.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
“Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents” (1770)
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Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress, Vol. 5 “Reason in Science,” ch. 8 “Prerational Morality” (1905)
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Yet for a long time mortal men have discussed the question whether success in arms depends more on strength of body or excellence of mind; for before you begin, deliberation is necessary, when you have deliberated, prompt action. Thus each of these, being incomplete of itself, requires the other’s aid.

[Sed diu magnum inter mortalis certamen fuit vine corporis an virtute animi res militaris magis procederet. Nam et prius quam incipias, consulto, et ubi consulueris, mature facto opus est. Ita utrumque per se indigens alterum alterius auxilio eget.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Catiline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 1, sent. 5-7 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

"But a just estimate of our mental and bodily faculties was not easily made. Which of them was most conducive to the success of military operations, was in former times a question much agitated, and long undecided. It is evident, however, that before the undertaking of a warlike enterprise, judgment is required to concert and plan the necessary measures; vigor in execution is equally necessary. The powers of man, in their separate functions feeble and ineffectual, demand each other's aid, and flourish by mutual assistance." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

"It has, however, been a great and long debate, whether success in war is most owing to bodily strength or mental abilities: for, as counsel is necessary before we enter on action, after measures are duly concerted, speedy execution is equally necessary; so that neither of these being sufficient singly, they prevail only by the assistance of each other." [tr. Rose (1831)]

"But there has been for a long time a great debate amongst mortals, whether the science of war advanced more by the strength of body or by the abilities of the mind. For both before you begin there is need of counsel; and when you have counselled, there is need of vigorous execution. So whilst both by themselves are defective, the one is strengthened by the assistance of the other." [Source (1841)]

"Yet it was long a subject of dispute among mankind, whether military efforts were more advanced by strength of body, or by force of intellect. For, in affairs of war, it is necessary to plan before beginning to act, and, after planning, to act with promptitude and vigor. Thus, each being insufficient of itself, the one requires the assistance of the other." [tr. Watson (1867)]

"Not it was long hotly contested among men whether military success was more advanced by mental ability or by bodily strength, for what we need is deliberation before we begin, and after deliberation, then well-timed action; either of itself is deficient and lacks the other's help." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

"Yet for a long time there was considerable dispute amongst mortals as to whether it was through the power of the body or the prowess of the mind that military affairs made greater progress. For, before you begin, deliberation is necessary, and, when you have deliberated, speedy action: hence each element, deficient on its own, requires the help of the other." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
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Every man who has seen the world knows that nothing is so useless as a general maxim. If it be very moral and very true, it may serve for copy to a charity-boy. If, like those of Rochefoucauld, it be sparkling and whimsical, it may make an excellent motto for an essay. Few, indeed, of the many wise apophthegms which have been uttered from the time of the Seven Sages of Greece to that of Poor Richard, have prevented a single foolish action.

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) English writer and politician
“Machiavelli,” Edinburgh Review (Mar 1827)
    (Source)

Review of Œvres complètes de Machiavel, J. V. Perier ed. (1825)
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No man practises so well as he writes. I have, all my life long, been lying till noon; yet I tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Sep 1773), in James Boswell, Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1785)
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Counsel is irksome when the Matter is past Remedy.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #1181 (1732)
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He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
(Attributed)

Quoted in The Millennial Harbinger, #8 (Aug 1860).
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Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 2 (24 Mar 1750)
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It iz a darned sight eazier tew find six men who kan tell exactly how a thing ought tew be did than tew find one who will do it.

[It is a darned sight easier to find six men who can tell exactly how a thing ought to be done than to find one who will do it.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Puddin and Milk” (1874)
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Added on 9-Jul-12 | Last updated 23-Jul-20
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I met, not long ago, a young man who aspired to become a novelist. Knowing that I was in the profession, he asked me to tell him how he should set to work to realize his ambition. I did my best to explain. “The first thing,” I said, “is to buy quite a lot of paper, a bottle of ink, and a pen. After that you merely have to write.”

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Sermons in Cats,” Music at Night and Other Essays (1931)
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It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than “Try to be a little kinder.”

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
(Attributed)

Widely quoted but without a good citation. Variant: "It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other." This version was quoted by his wife, Laura Huxley, in the biography This Timeless Moment (1968).
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You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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A Prince who will not undergo the Difficulty of Understanding must undergo the Danger of Trusting.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Of Princes,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
    (Source)

Full text.

Added on 16-Jul-09 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.

Nelson Algren
Nelson Algren (1909–1981) American writer [b. Nelson Ahlgren Abraham]
A Walk on the Wild Side, ch. 3 (1956)
Added on 4-Mar-08 | Last updated 17-Nov-21
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Don’t dismiss a good idea simply because you don’t like the source.

H. Jackson "Jack" Brown, Jr. (b. 1940) American writer
Life’s Little Instruction Book, Vol. 2, #691 (1994)
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Added on 20-Jul-07 | Last updated 1-Jul-17
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It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, “Always do what you are afraid to do.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Heroism,” Essays: First Series (1841)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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What is all wisdom save a collection of platitudes? But the man who orders his life according to their teachings cannot go far wrong.

Norman Douglas (1868-1952) Austro-British writer
South Wind, ch. 16 (1917)
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