Quotations about   heritage

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The man who has not anything to boast of but his illustrious ancestors, is like a potato, the only good belonging to him is under ground.

Thomas Overbury (1581-1613) English poet
Characters (1612)
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Earliest found in The Lady's Monthly Museum (June 1807), expressed as a paraphrase.
Added on 6-Nov-18 | Last updated 6-Nov-18
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We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse: we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.

Penelope Lively (b. 1933) British writer
Moon Tiger (1987)
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Added on 2-Oct-18 | Last updated 2-Oct-18
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If your descent is from heroic sires,
Show in your life a remnant of their fires.

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
Satires, Satire 5, l. 43 (1666)
Added on 4-Sep-18 | Last updated 4-Sep-18
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Books, that paper memory of mankind.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
The Art of Literature, ch. 4 “On Men of Learning” [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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Added on 12-Oct-17 | Last updated 12-Oct-17
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When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Seder Nashim, Kiddushin 30a

Paraphrase of "This serves to say to you that whoever teaches his son Torah, the verse ascribes him credit as though he taught him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the end of all generations" (alt. trans. "to him who teaches his son Torah, the Writ ascribes merit as though he had taught him, his son and his son's son until the end of all time!"). This is in turn referenced to Deut. 4:9.
Added on 27-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say;
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?

Omar Khayyám (1048-1123) Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer
Rubaiyat, 9 [tr. FitzGerald, 5th Ed. (1889)]
Added on 17-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)
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Recounted in the Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol. 46, #7 (Jan 1898) as an anecdote from a clergyman printed in the New York Tribune.
Added on 25-May-17 | Last updated 25-May-17
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A teacher’s major contribution may pop out anonymously in the life of some ex-student’s grandchild.

Wendell Berry (b. 1934) American farmer, educator, poet, conservationist
“Wallace Stegner and the Great Community,” What Are People For? (1990)
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Added on 19-May-17 | Last updated 19-May-17
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We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American poltician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Speech, Consumer Advisory Council, Washington, DC (13 Dec 1963)
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Added on 6-Jun-16 | Last updated 6-Jun-16
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If your descent is from heroic sires,
Show in your life a remnant of their fires.

[Si vous êtes sorti de ces héros fameux,
Montrez-nous cette ardeur qu’on vit briller en eux.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
Satires, Satire 5, l. 43 (1716)
Added on 1-Jun-16 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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You know, if you’re an American and you’re born at this time in history especially, you’re lucky. We all are. We won the world history Powerball lottery, but a little modesty about it might keep the heat off of us. I can’t stand the people who say things like, “We built this country!” You built nothing. I think the railroads were pretty much up by 1980.

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Victory Begins at Home (20 Jan 2004)
Added on 4-May-16 | Last updated 4-May-16
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When I think about all the money we spent on bombs and munitions, and our failures in Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world … Instead of advancing our agenda using force, we should have instead built schools and hospitals in these countries, improving the lives of their children. By now, those children would have grown into positions of influence, and they would be grateful to us instead of hating us.

George Shultz (b. 1920) American economist, statesman, businessman
(Attributed)
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Quoted in In Daniel Levitin, The Organized Mind (2014).
Added on 30-Nov-15 | Last updated 30-Nov-15
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What you fear to believe, your children will believe.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #340 (2001)
Added on 2-Oct-15 | Last updated 2-Oct-15
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You ask me in effect why I am not a Roman Catholic. If it comes to that, why am I not — and why are you not — a Presbyterian, a Quaker, a Mohammedan, a Hindu, or a Confucianist? After how prolonged and sympathetic study and on what grounds have we rejected these religions? I think those who press a man to desert the religion in which he has been bred and in which he believes he has found the means of Grace ought to produce positive reasons for the change — not demand from him reasons against all other religions. It would have to be all, wouldn’t it?

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Letter to Father Peter Milward (6 May 1963)
Added on 15-Jul-15 | Last updated 15-Jul-15
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The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
The Problems of Philosophy, ch. 15 “The Value of Philosophy” (1912)
Added on 19-Jun-15 | Last updated 19-Jun-15
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Religion that seeks to be no more than a time capsule is likely to be claustrophobic.

Abdal Hakim Murad (b. 1960) British Muslim shaykh, researcher, writer, academic [b. Timothy John Winter]
“Contentions 2,” # 8
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Added on 17-Apr-15 | Last updated 17-Apr-15
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Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“A Psalm of Life” (1838)
Added on 14-Jan-15 | Last updated 14-Jan-15
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Shun those studies in which the work that results dies with the worker.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Italian artist, engineer, scientist
Note-books, 1 [tr. McCurdy (1908)]
Added on 1-Jan-15 | Last updated 1-Jan-15
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All of us, no matter from what land our parents came, no matter in what way we may severally worship our Creator, must stand shoulder to shoulder in a united America for the elimination of race and religious prejudice. We must stand for a reign of equal justice to both big and small.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
“Americanism,” speech to the Knights of Columbus, New York (12 Oct 1915)
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Added on 26-Nov-14 | Last updated 26-Nov-14
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When I am dead,
I hope it may be said:
‘His sins were scarlet,
But his books were read’.

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) Franco-British writer, historian [Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc]
“On His Books” (1923)
Added on 25-Jul-11 | Last updated 3-Jun-14
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Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence?

I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.

Open your doors and look abroad.

From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before.

In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across a hundred years.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian Bengali poet, philosopher [a.k.a. Rabi Thakur, Kabiguru]
The Gardener, #85 (1915)
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Added on 7-Jun-10 | Last updated 8-Oct-15
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There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
The Story of My Life, Part 1, ch. 1 (1903)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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