Ambrose Gwinett Bierce Quotes on Thought & Thinking (7 Quotes)


    EDITOR, n. A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, but is placable with an obolus a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering his mind at the tail of a dog then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star. Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to suit. And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack up some pathos.O, the Lord of Law on the Throne of Thought, A gilded impostor is he. Of shreds and patches his robes are wrought, His crown is brass, Himself an ass, And his power is fiddle-dee-dee. Prankily, crankily prating of naught, Silly old quilly old Monarch of Thought. Public opinion's camp-follower he, Thundering, blundering, plundering free. Affected, Ungracious, Suspected, Mendacious, Respected contemporaree --J.H. Bumbleshook

    ALONE, adj. In bad company.In contact, lo the flint and steel, By spark and flame, the thought reveal That he the metal, she the stone, Had cherished secretly alone. --Booley Fito

    HEAD-MONEY, n. A capitation tax, or poll-tax. In ancient times there lived a king Whose tax-collectors could not wring From all his subjects gold enough To make the royal way less rough. For pleasure's highway, like the dames Whose premises adjoin it, claims Perpetual repairing. So The tax-collectors in a row Appeared before the throne to pray Their master to devise some way To swell the revenue. So great, Said they, are the demands of state A tithe of all that we collect Will scarcely meet them. Pray reflect How, if one-tenth we must resign, Can we exist on t'other nine The monarch asked them in reply; Has it occurred to you to try The advantage of economy; It has, the spokesman said we sold All of our gray garrotes of gold With plated-ware we now compress The necks of those whom we assess. Plain iron forceps we employ To mitigate the miser's joy Who hoards, with greed that never tires, That which your Majesty requires. Deep lines of thought were seen to plow Their way across the royal brow. Your state is desperate, no question Pray favor me with a suggestion. O King of Men, the spokesman said, If you'll impose upon each head A tax, the augmented revenue We'll cheerfully divide with you. As flashes of the sun illume The parted storm-cloud's sullen gloom, The king smiled grimly. I decree That it be so --and, not to be In generosity outdone, Declare you, each and every one, Exempted from the operation Of this new law of capitation. But lest the people censure me Because they're bound and you are free,'Twere well some clever scheme were laid By you this poll-tax to evade. I'll leave you now while you confer With my most trusted minister. The monarch from the throne-room walked And straightway in among them stalked A silent man, with brow concealed, Bare-armed --his gleaming axe revealed --G. J.

    SATAN, n. One of the Creator's lamentable mistakes, repented in sashcloth and axes. Being instated as an archangel, Satan made himself multifariously objectionable and was finally expelled from Heaven. Halfway in his descent he paused, bent his head in thought a moment and at last went back. There is one favor that I should like to ask, said he. Name it. Man, I understand, is about to be created. He will need laws. What, wretch you his appointed adversary, charged from the dawn of eternity with hatred of his soul --you ask for the right to make his lawsPardon what I have to ask is that he be permitted to make them himself. It was so ordered.

    LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion --thusMajor Premise Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.Minor Premise One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds therefore --Conclusion Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second. This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.


    ERUDITION, n. Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.So wide his erudition's mighty span, He knew Creation's origin and plan And only came by accident to grief -- He thought, poor man, 'twas right to be a thief. --Romach Pute

    GHOUL, n. A demon addicted to the reprehensible habit of devouring the dead. The existence of ghouls has been disputed by that class of controversialists who are more concerned to deprive the world of comforting beliefs than to give it anything good in their place. In 1640 Father Secchi saw one in a cemetery near Florence and frightened it away with the sign of the cross. He describes it as gifted with many heads an an uncommon allowance of limbs, and he saw it in more than one place at a time. The good man was coming away from dinner at the time and explains that if he had not been heavy with eating he would have seized the demon at all hazards. Atholston relates that a ghoul was caught by some sturdy peasants in a churchyard at Sudbury and ducked in a horsepond. (He appears to think that so distinguished a criminal should have been ducked in a tank of rosewater.) The water turned at once to blood and so contynues unto ys daye. The pond has since been bled with a ditch. As late as the beginning of the fourteenth century a ghoul was cornered in the crypt of the cathedral at Amiens and the whole population surrounded the place. Twenty armed men with a priest at their head, bearing a crucifix, entered and captured the ghoul, which, thinking to escape by the stratagem, had transformed itself to the semblance of a well known citizen, but was nevertheless hanged, drawn and quartered in the midst of hideous popular orgies. The citizen whose shape the demon had assumed was so affected by the sinister occurrence that he never again showed himself in Amiens and his fate remains a mystery.


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