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The author's fascination with collecting quotations began in high school and continued through college and law school; and over the past 30 years his high school index box has become a foot locker filled with quotes that he has found useful for writing or speaking on legal and other topics.
Since ancient Egypt every civilization has collected proverbs. In the English language, The Proverbs of Alfred, (1150-80), is one of the earliest known collections of proverbs. In North America, Poor Richard's, (1732-57) by Benjamin Franklin is probably the most celebrated collection of proverbs.
Proverbs often contradict one another. You can easily find one maxim that cancels another. The wisdom that advises us to look before we leap also warns us that if we hesitate all is lost; that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but out of sight, out of mind. So what can we learn from that? Simply that life is full of contradictions, and that proverbs and maxims, etc., reflect and express these disagreements, and that many apothegms are more witty than true.
All of us, not just trial lawyers, recite famous quotes and proverbs to better express ourselves. Adages are the wit of the inarticulate. Proverbs are the gospel of the poor. Folk sayings are the college of the masses. More important: Proverbs are what a people any people believe, cherish, and teach their young. They are those harvested crops of knowledge and experience with which the dead dower each generation of the living.
Shakespeare has a phrase that runs: We patch grief with proverbs. The author has tried to do more than that. He has patched his ignorance and verbal impotence with them. The Proverb is often reason laid bare, arguments stripped of fat, complexity clarified beyond this interpretation.
The author views proverbs as the precious distillation of what many great men have learned from centuries of experience. Aristotle considered apothegms the product of intellectual maturity and, recognizing their enormous power, declared it unbecoming for the young to utter maxims!
As the author's Uncle Anthony used to say, echoing the sentiments of Peter Anderson, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Roux: Quotations found in books of that stuff are like bullpens for lawyers when you find yourself in a jam you can go to your best quote like a good closer or middle relief pitcher.
The author has included his personal favorites for each category; that is, for almost every topic in this book he has found an extract from the Bible, Ambrose Bierce, Winston Churchill, Will Rogers, William Shakespeare and Mark Twain; and on purely legal topics he has added two of his all-time heroic wordsmiths: former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael A. Musmanno.
The great thing about a reference book of quotations (whether they are proverbs or sayings) is that if you don t have an Uncle Anthony from Philly or an Aunt Mary from Brooklyn, you can borrow any of the sayings in this book and loan them to one of your own aunts and uncles.
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