After 37 years in the same chair, I am retiring as the editor of the editorial pages of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. I emphatically am not hanging up this column, which I hope to continue until the preacher starts lying at my funeral.
Throughout, I have been a quotes nut — a collector of compelling observations from life and literature. These are some of the best on the important things — life, liberty, laughter, philosophy, wilderness, etc. . . .
Oliver Edwards: “I have tried in my time to be a philosopher, but…cheerfulness was always breaking in.”
William Pitt: “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants.”
George Santayana: “Life is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel.”
Abraham Lincoln: “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made against me, this shop might as well be closed to any other business. I do the very best I know how — the very best I can. And I mean to keep on doing it until the end. If the end brings me out all right, then what they say against me will not amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels, swearing I was right, would make no difference.”
Rafael Sabatini: “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense the world was mad.”
Francis Parkman: “To him who has once tasted the reckless independence, the haughty self-reliance, the sense of irresponsible freedom, which the forest life engenders, civilization thenceforth seems flat and stale. Its pleasures are insipid, its pursuits wearisome, its conventionalities, duties, and mutual dependences alike tedious and disgusting….The wilderness — rough, harsh, inexorable — has charms more potent in their seductive influence than all the lures of luxury and sloth. And often he on whom it has cast its magic finds no heart to dissolve the spell, and remains a wanderer and an Ishmaelite to the hour of his death.”
Mark Twain: “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”
Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education cannot: The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race.
Barry Goldwater: “And if I should be accused of neglecting my constituents’ interests, I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty, and in that cause I am doing the very best I can.”
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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