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Let me explain, young man, the two blessings of human life.
Firstly Demeter, Mother Earth — call her what you will —
sustains us mortals with the gift of grain, of solid food.
But he who came next — son of Semele —
matched her gift to man: he brought us wine.
And wine brought peace to the troubled mind,
gave an end to grief, and gave us sleep — blessed sleep —
a forgetting of our sadness.

[δύο γάρ, ὦ νεανία,
τὰ πρῶτ᾽ ἐν ἀνθρώποισι: Δημήτηρ θεά —
γῆ δ᾽ ἐστίν, ὄνομα δ᾽ ὁπότερον βούλῃ κάλει:
αὕτη μὲν ἐν ξηροῖσιν ἐκτρέφει βροτούς:
ὃς δ᾽ ἦλθ᾽ ἔπειτ᾽, ἀντίπαλον ὁ Σεμέλης γόνος
βότρυος ὑγρὸν πῶμ᾽ ηὗρε κεἰσηνέγκατο
280θνητοῖς, ὃ παύει τοὺς ταλαιπώρους βροτοὺς
λύπης, ὅταν πλησθῶσιν ἀμπέλου ῥοῆς,
ὕπνον τε λήθην τῶν καθ᾽ ἡμέραν κακῶν
δίδωσιν, οὐδ᾽ ἔστ᾽ ἄλλο φάρμακον πόνων.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 274ff [Tiresias/Τειρεσίας] (405 BC) [tr. Robertson (2014)]

To Pentheus, discussing Dionysus. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

The two chief rulers of this nether world,
Proud boy, are Ceres, Goddess most benign,
Or Earth, (distinguish her by either name)
Who nourishes mankind with solid food:
Yet hath the son of Semele discover'd,
And introduc'd, the grape's delicious draught,
Which vies with her, which causes every grief
To cease among the wretched tribes of men,
With the enlivening beverage of the vine
Whenever they are fill'd; he also gives
Sleep, sweet oblivion to our daily cares,
Than which no medicine is with greater power
Endued to heal our anguish.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

For two things, young man, are first among men: the goddess Demeter -- she is the earth, but call her whatever name you wish; she nourishes mortals with dry food; but he who came afterwards, the offspring of Semele, discovered a match to it, the liquid drink of the grape, and introduced it to mortals. It releases wretched mortals from grief, whenever they are filled with the stream of the vine, and gives them sleep, a means of forgetting their daily troubles, nor is there another cure for hardships.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

Youth! there are two things
Man's primal need, Demeter, the boon Goddess
(Or rather will ye call her Mother Earth?),
With solid food maintains the race of man.
He, on the other hand, the son of Semele,
Found out the grape's rich juice, and taught us mortals
That which beguiles the miserable of mankind
Of sorrow, when they quaff the vine's rich stream.
Sleep too, and drowsy oblivion of care
He gives, all-healing medicine of our woes.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

Two names, vain youth,
Rank first among mankind : Demeter one,
And Ge the other; give which name thou willest.
She nurtures man, but quenches not his thirst;
The son of Semele has helped this want:
He finds and grants to men the grape’s rich draught;
He takes away the woe of wearied souls,
Filling sad hearts with the vine’s ruddy stream;
And gives them sleep, the cure of daily grief,
The only drug which lightens human ills.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 262ff]

Two things there are, young prince, that hold first rank among men, the goddess Demeter, that is, the earth, -- call her which name thou please; she it is that feedeth men with solid food; and as her counterpart came this god, the son of Semele, who discovered the juice of the grape and introduced it to mankind, stilling thereby each grief that mortals suffer from, soon as e’er they are filled with the juice of the vine; and sleep also he giveth, sleep that brings forgetfulness of daily ills, the sovereign charm for all our woe.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

Two chiefest Powers,
Prince, among men there are: divine Demeter --
Earth is she, name her by which name thou wilt; --
She upon dry food nurtureth mortal men:
Then followeth Semelê's Son; to match her gift
The cluster's flowing draught he found, and gave
To mortals, which gives rest from grief to men
Woe-worn, soon as the vine's stream filleth them.
And sleep, the oblivion of our daily ills,
He gives -- there is none other balm for toils.
[tr. Way (1898)]

Young Prince, that in man's world are first of worth.
Dêmêtêr one is named; she is the Earth --
Call her which name thou will! -- who feeds man's frame
With sustenance of things dry. And that which came
Her work to perfect, second, is the Power
From Semelê born. He found the liquid shower
Hid in the grape. He rests man's spirit dim
From grieving, when the vine exalteth him.
He giveth sleep to sink the fretful day
In cool forgetting. Is there any way
With man's sore heart, save only to forget?
[tr. Murray (1902)]

Mankind, young man, possesses two supreme blessings.
First of these is the goddess Demeter, or Earth
whichever name you choose to call her by.
It was she who gave to man his nourishment of grain.
But after her there came the son of Semele,
who matched her present by inventing liquid wine
as his gift to man. For filled with that good gift,
suffering mankind forgets its grief; from it
comes sleep; with it oblivion of the troubles
of the day. There is no other medicine
for misery.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

For there are two things, young man,
that are first among humans: the goddess Demeter
(she is the earth; call her which name you like) --
she nourishes men by way of dry food;
and he who filled the complementary role, Semele's offspring,
discovered the grape-cluster's liquid drink and introduced it
to mortals, that which stops wretched men
from suffering, when they are filled with the stream of the vine,
and gives sleep as oblivion of the evils that happen by day;
nor is there any other cure against distress.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

There are two powers, young man, which are supreme in human affairs: first, the goddess Demeter, she is the Earth -- call her by what name you will; and she supplies mankind with solid food. Second, Dionysus the son of Semele; the blessing he provides is the counterpart to the blessing of bread; he discovered and bestowed on men the service of drink, the juice that streams from the vine-clusters; men have but to take their fill of wine, and the sufferings of an unhappy race are banished, each day's troubles are forgotten in sleep -- indeed this is our only cure for the weariness of life.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

Think of two principles, two supreme
Principles in life. First, the principle
Of earth, Demeter, goddess of sil or what you will.
That nourishes man, yields him grain. Bread. Womb-like
It earths him as it were, anchors his feet.
Second, the opposite, and complementary principle --
Ether, locked in the grape until released by man.
For after Demeter came the son of Semele
And matched her present with the juice of grapes.
Think of it as more than drug for pain
Though it is that.
We wash our souls, our parched
Aching souls in streams of wine and enter
Sleep and oblivion. Filled with this good gift
Mankind forgets its grief.
[tr. Soyinka (1973)]

Two things, my boy,
are primary for men: goddess Demeter
(that’s Earth, call her whichever name you like),
the nourisher of mortals in dry food;
next comes her rival, the child of Semele:
the cluster’s wet drink he found and introduced
to men, that stops poor mortals their distress
when they are filled to flowing with the vine,
giver of sleep, forgetfulness of daily ills,
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

Young man,
two are the forces most precious to mankind.
The first is Demeter, the Goddess.
She is the Earth -- or any name you wish to call her --
and she sustains humanity with solid food.
Next came the son of the virgin, Dionysus,
bringing the counterpart to bread, wine
and the blessings of life's flowing juices.
His blood, the blood of the grape,
lightens the burden of our mortal misery.
When, after their daily toils, men drink their fill,
sleep comes to them, bringing release form all their troubles.
There is no other cure for sorrow.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

Two things, young man,
Are first among mankind: Demeter,
She's the Earth -- call her by either name --
Who nourishes mortals with dry food.
The other, who came after, the seed
Of Semele, discovered Demeter's wet rival,
The drink of the grap, brought it to man
To ease pain for suffering mortals,
When they are filled with the flowing vine,
And to give sleep, forgetful of daily life.
There is no other cure for pain.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

For there are two things, young man,
that are the primary elements among humans. First there’s the goddess Demeter.
She’s the earth But you can call her by whatever name you wish.
She nourishes mortals with dry foods. But he who came afterward,
Semele’s offspring, discovered the wet drink of the grape
as a counter-balance to Demeter’s bread. He introduced it
to mortals to stop their sorrow and pain.
Whenever men are filled with the stream of the grape-vine
they can sleep and forget the evils of the day.
No other medicine alleviates human suffering.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

Young man, there are two
first principles in human life: the goddess Demeter --
or earth -- you may use what name you like --
who nourishes us by means of the dry element;
and the second one balances her exactly, that’s
Semélê’s child, who discovered, in the wet element,
a drink from grapes, a drink he delivered to us.
This brings relief from pain for long-suffering mortals
when they are filled with the vineyard’s bounty;
it grants sleep, lets them forget the evils of the day,
and there is no other cure for trouble.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

Young man -- there are two great first things that we
as mortals have: the goddess of the Earth,
Deméter -- call her by whatever name
You wish -- gave us our solid food, and he
Who came next, Semélê’s child, gave us liquid --
From the grape -- as a counterpart to Deméter's bread.
The god's invention, it give sus poor mortals
Release from pain and sorrow, when we're filled
With what flows from the vine; it gives us sleep,
When we can forget the evils of the day.
Nor for us mortals can another drug
For suffering surpass it.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000), l. 321]

Two things are chief among mortals, young man: the goddess Demeter -- she is Earth but call her either name you like -- nourishes mortals with dry food. But he who came next, the son of Semele, discovered as its counterpart the drink that flows from the grape cluster and introduced it to mortals. It is this that frees trouble-laden mortals from their pain -- when they fill themselves with the juice of the vine -- this that gives sleep to make one forget the day's troubles: there is no other treatment for misery.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

There are two things in this world, young prince, that have been gifted to mankind. The first is the goddess Demeter or the earth, if you wish to call her so, or any other name you would give her, who feeds us mortals with solid food. The second is the son of Semele, who brought us the liquid hidden in the grape. This is no small gift, for when else can mortals loose the ties of their grief? It is wine -- that slips away the ragged robes of the day, sinking us into cool forgetting.
[tr. Rao/Wolf (2004)]

There are two things, young man that are most important to people: It is goddess Demetre (call her by whatever other name you want) who feeds the folk on Earth and who IS Earth; and her counterpart, Dionysos, the son of Semele, this god, the god who discovered the juice of the grape and which he brought to us mortals. This liquid holds back the pain of the tortured soul, gives soft sleep to folk and lets them forget their daily suffering. There’s truly no better medicine for pain or fatigue.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

For there are two things, young one, two, that are
first among humans: One is the goddess Demeter --
and she is earth, call her whatever you will --
it is she who nourishes mortals in corn and grain;
but he who comes after, Semele's offspring, he invented them to match
the flowing drink of the grape and introduced it to mortals;
it gives wretched humans pause from pain when-
ever they are filled with the vine's stream,
and sleep, as aids to forget the troubles of the day:
there is no other drug that cures misery.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

Young man, among human beings two things stand out preeminent, of highest rank. Goddess Demeter is one -- she's the earth (though can call her any name you wish), and she feeds mortal people cereal grains. The other one came later, born of Semele -- he brought with him liquor from the grape, something to match the bread from Demeter. He introduced it among mortal men. When they can drink, up what streams off the vine, unhappy mortals are released from pain. It grants them sleep, allows them to forget their daily troubles. Apart from wine, there is no cure for human hardship.
[tr. Johnston (2008)]

For there are two things, young man, two that are prized above all else by men. The first is the goddess Demeter, for she is the Earth. Call her whichever you prefer. It is she who brings forth solid food from the earth. Dry goods, if you will. But her junior, Semele’s child, showed us the other side of the coin, found the nectar in a bunch of grapes and gave it to mortals, letting them be free of pain when they partake of the river-of-the-vine. He gives us sleep, to forget the evils of the day for a time, and there is no better prescription for pain.
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

But let me tell you there are two powers over us, sometimes called "the dry" and "the wet." The first is personified by the goddess Demeter or Earth -- whichever you wish to call her; she nourishes mortals with dry food, with bread. This new god, Semele's child, has come with a matching gift, a crystalline liquid from clustered grapes which he generously brought to end all human suffering. Wine fills the emptiness in the grieved heart and helps us forget in blissful sleep. Hsi is the only medicine to cure our pain.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

Two things, young man, have supremacy among humans: The goddess Demeter -- she is the earth, but call her whatever name you wish -- nourishes mortals with dry food. But he who came then, the offspring of Semele, invented a rival, the wet drink of the grape, and introduced it to mortals. It releases wretched mortals from their pains, whenever they are filled with the stream of the vine, and gives them sleep, a means of forgetting their daily woes. There is no other cure for pains [ponoi].
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

Added on 21-Feb-23 | Last updated 11-Jul-23
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More quotes by Euripides

Well, that’s Philosophy I’ve read,
And Law and Medicine, and I fear
Theology, too, from A to Zed;
Hard studies all, that have cost me dear.
And so I sit, poor silly man
No wiser now than when I began.

[Habe nun, ach! Philosophie,
Juristerei und Medizin,
Und leider auch Theologie
Durchaus studiert, mit heißem Bemühn.
Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor!
Und bin so klug als wie zuvor.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 4 “Night,” ll. 354ff (1808-1829) [tr. Luke (1987)]

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.

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

I've studied now Philosophy
And Jurisprudence, Medicine,
And even, alas! Theology
All through and through with ardour keen!
Here now I stand, poor fool, and see
I'm just as wise as formerly.
[tr. Priest (1808)]

Now I have toil'd thro' all; philosophy,
Law, physic, and theology: alas!
All, all I have explor'd; and here I am
A weak blind fool at last: in wisdom risen
No higher than before.
[tr. Coleridge (1821)]

I have now, alas, by zealous exertion, thoroughly mastered philosophy, the jurist's craft, and medicine -- and to my sorrow, theology too. Here I stand, poor fool that I am, just as wise as before.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

I have, alas! Philosophy,
Medicine, Jurisprudence too,
And to my cost Theology,
With ardent labour, studied through.
And here I stand, with all my lore,
Poor fool, no wiser than before.
[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

Have now, alas! quite studied through
Philosophy and Medicine,
And Law, and ah! Theology, too,
With hot desire the truth to win!
And here, at last, I stand, poor fool!
As wise as when I entered school
[tr. Brooks (1868)]

I've studied now Philosophy
And Jurisprudence, Medicine, --
And even, alas! Theology, --
From end to end, with labor keen;
And here, poor fool! with all my lore
I stand, no wiser than before:
[tr. Taylor (1870)]

There now, I’ve toiled my way quite through
Law, Medicine, and Philosophy,
And, to my sorrow, also thee,
Theology, with much ado;
And here I stand, poor human fool,
As wise as when I went to school.
[tr. Blackie (1880)]

I have studied, alas! Philosophy,
And Jurisprudence, and Medicine, too,
And saddest of all, Theology,
With arden labor, through and through!
And here I stick, as wise, poor fool,
As when my steps first turned to school.
[tr. Latham (1908)]

I have, alas, studied philosophy,
Jurisprudence and medicine, too,
And, worst of all, theology
With keen endeavor, through and through --
And here I am, for all my lore,
The wretched fool I was before.
[tr. Kaufmann (1961)]

Alas, I have studied philosophy,
the law as well as medicine,
and to my sorrow, theology;
studied them well with ardent zeal,
yet here I am, a wretched fool
no wiser than I was before.
[tr. Salm (1962)]

I have pursued, alas, philosophy,
Jurisprudence, and medicine, And, help me God, theology,
With fervent zeal through thick and thin.
And here, poor fool, I stand once more,
No wiser than I was before.
[tr. Arndt (1976)]

I've studied, alas, philosophy,
Law and medicine, recto and verso,
And how I regret it, theology also,
Oh God, how hard I've slaved away,
With what result? Poor foolish old man,
I'm not whit wiser than when I began!
[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

Medicine, and Law, and Philosophy --
You've worked your way through every school,
Even, God help you, Theology,
And sweated at it like a fool.
Why labour at it any more?
You're no wiser now than you were before.
[tr. Williams (1999)]

Ah! Now I’ve done Philosophy,
I’ve finished Law and Medicine,
And sadly even Theology:
Taken fierce pains, from end to end.
Now here I am, a fool for sure!
No wiser than I was before.
[tr. Kline (2003)]

Added on 29-Aug-22 | Last updated 5-Sep-22
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More quotes by Goethe, Johann von

For such is the work of philosophy. It cures souls, draws off vain anxieties, confers freedom from desires, drives away fears.

[Nam efficit hoc philosophia: medetur animis, inanes sollicitudines detrahit, cupiditatibus liberat, pellit timores.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 2, ch. 4 (2.4) / sec. 11 [Marcus] (45 BC) [tr. Peabody (1886)]

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

This is the proper work of Philosophy, it healeth the Distempers of the mind, removeth vain Disquiets, sets free from impetuous Desires, banisheth Fears
[tr. Wase (1643)]

For it is the effect of philosophy, which is the medicine of our souls; it discharges all groundless apprehensions, frees us from desires, drives away fears.
[tr. Main (1824)]

For such is the effect of philosophy. She heals the mind, banishes its vain solicitudes, delivers it from the chains of cupidity, expels its fearful apprehensions.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

It is the effect of philosophy, which is the medicine of our souls; it banishes all groundless apprehensions, frees us from desires, and drives away fears.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

It is the effect of philosophy. It provides medicine for teh soul, takes away futile worries, frees us from desires, banishes fears.
[tr. Davie (2017)]

Added on 24-May-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; but the dose makes it clear that a thing is not a poison.

[Alle Ding sind Gift und nichts ohn’ Gift; allein die Dosis macht, daß ein Ding kein Gift ist.]

Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus (1493-1541) German alchemist and physician [Bombast von Hohenheim]
“The Third Defense in Writing New Prescriptions [Die dritte Defension wegen des Schreibens der neuen Rezepte], Seven Defenses [Septem Defensiones] (1538)

As quoted in F. Geerk, Paracelsus: Arzt unserer Zeit [Paracelsus: Doctor of Our Time] (1992). Variants:

  • "All drugs are poisons; the benefit depends on the dosage."
  • "All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy."
This is frequently (and misleadingly) paraphrased: "Everything is a drug; it depends on the dose."
Added on 9-Feb-21 | Last updated 9-Feb-21
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Certainty has become a consumer product. It is marketed the world over — by insurance companies, investment advisers, election campaigns, and the medical industry.

Gerd Gigerenzer (b. 1947) German research psychologist
Reckoning with Risk (2003)
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To array a man’s will against his sickness is the supreme art of medicine.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Norwood; or, Village Life in New England, Vol. 1, ch. 6 (1867)
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I know the colour rose, and it is lovely,
But not when it ripens in a tumour;
And healing greens, leaves and grass, so springlike,
In Limbs that fester are not springlike.

Daniel "Dannie" Abse (1923-2014) Welsh poet
“Pathology of Colours” (1968)
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Ah, pierce me one hundred times with your needles fine
And I will thank you one hundred times, Saint Morphine,
You who Aesculapius has made a God.

[Ah! Perce-moi cent fois de ton aiguille fine
Et je te bénirai cent fois, Sainte Morphine,
Dont Esculape eût fait une divinité.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
“To Morphine [A la morphine]” (1866)

A sonnet written while recovering from a leg injured in an attack by his nephew.

Alt. trans.: "Ah! Needle me a hundred times, and, yes, / A hundred times, Saint Morphine, I will bless / You, whom Asclepius would have deified." [Skinner (2011)]

(A number of sources give the name in the last line as "Aeseulapus," but this is almost certainly a mistyping of the Latin form of Asclepius that has been copied without consideration.)
Added on 17-Jun-16 | Last updated 17-Jun-16
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Are there no ideals more stirring than those of martial glory? Is this generation conscious of calls to the service of native land in ways no more worthy than the way of taking a musket and killing somebody? You ask, in the language of Prof. James, for a moral equivalent for war. A patriot needs only look about to find numberless causes that ought to warm the blood and stir the imagination. The dispelling of ignorance and the fostering of education, the investigation of disease and the searching out of remedies that will vanquish the giant ills that decimate the race, the inculcation of good feeling in the industrial world, the cause of the aged, the cause of the men and women who had so little chance — tell me, has war anything that beckons as these things beckon with alluring and compelling power? Whoso wants to share the heroism of battle let him join the fight against ignorance and disease — and the mad idea that war is necessary.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) American industrialist and philanthropist
“A Plea for Peace,” New York Times (7 Apr 1907)
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More quotes by Carnegie, Andrew

See, I know you entertain some kind of eternal life fantasy because you’ve chosen not to smoke; let me be the first to pop that fucking bubble and send you hurtling back to reality — because you’re dead too. And you know what doctors say: “Shit, if only you’d smoked, we’d have the technology to help you. It’s you people dying from nothing who are screwed.” I got lots of stuff waiting for me: oxygen tent, iron lung, electronic voice box; it’s like going to Sharper Image when I die.

Bill Hicks (1961-1994) American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, musician [William Melvin "Bill" Hicks]
Relentless (1992)
Added on 6-Mar-15 | Last updated 6-Mar-15
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The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines — so they should go as far as possible from home to build their first buildings.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) American architect, interior designer, writer, educator [b. Frank Lincoln Wright]
“Frank Lloyd Wright Talks of His Art,” New York Times Magazine (1953-10-04)
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The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
Polite Conversation, Dialog 2 (1738)

Borrowed / popularized from William Bullein, Government of Health, folio 50 (1558): "The first was called doctor diet, the seconde doctor quiet, the thirde doctor merry-man." (1558)
Added on 14-May-10 | Last updated 5-Nov-15
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Always laugh when you can; it is cheap medicine.

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet

Widely attributed to Byron, but no source cited.
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Mirth is God’s medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety — all this rust of life ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth. It is better than emery. Every man ought to rub himself with it.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Royal Truths (1862)
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The least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable.

Paul Broca (1824-1880) French pathologist, neurosurgeon, anthropologist
“Quelques propositions sur les tumeurs dites cancéreuses” (16 Apr 1849)
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