John Selden

From Quotes
The ideas of a time are like the clothes of a season: they are as arbitrary, as much imposed by some superior will which is seldom explicit. They are utilitarian and political, the instruments of smooth-running government.
Wyndham Lewis
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John Selden (December 16, 1584 - November 30, 1654) was an English jurist, legal antiquary and oriental scholar.


Table Talk (1689)

  • Scrutamini scripturas (Let us look at the scriptures). These two words have undone the world.
    • Bible, Scripture.
  • Old friends are best. King James used to call for his old shoes; they were easiest for his feet.
    • Friends.
  • Humility is a virtue all preach, none practice; and yet everybody is content to hear.
    • Humility.
  • 'Tis not the drinking that is to be blamed, but the excess.
    • Humility.
  • Commonly we say a judgement falls upon a man for something in him we cannot abide.
    • Judgements.
  • Equity is a roguish thing. For Law we have a measure, know what to trust to; Equity is according to the conscience of him that is Chancellor, and as that is larger or narrower, so is Equity. 'T is all one as if they should make the standard for the measure we call a "foot" a Chancellor's foot; what an uncertain measure would this be! One Chancellor has a long foot, another a short foot, a third an indifferent foot. 'T is the same thing in the Chancellor's conscience.
    • Equity.
  • Ignorance of the law excuses no man; not that all men know the law, but because 'tis an excuse every man will plead, and no man can tell how to refute him.
    • Law.
  • No man is the wiser for his learning.
    • Learning.
  • Wit and wisdom are born with a man.
    • Learning.
  • Few men make themselves masters of the things they write or speak.
    • Learning.
  • Take a straw and throw it up into the air — you may see by that which way the wind is.
    • Libels.
  • Philosophy is nothing but discretion.
    • Philosophy.
  • Marriage is a desperate thing.
    • Marriage.
  • Thou little thinkest what a little foolery governs the world.
    • Pope. Compare: "Behold, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed", Oxenstiern (1583–1654).
  • They that govern the most make the least noise.
    • Power.
  • Syllables govern the world.
    • Power.
  • Never king dropped out of the clouds.
    • Power.
  • Never tell your resolution beforehand.
    • Wisdom.
  • Wise men say nothing in dangerous times.
    • Wisdom.
  • Pleasure is nothing else but the intermission of pain.
    • Pleasure.
  • Preachers say, Do as I say, not as I do.
    • Preaching.
  • A king is a thing men have made for their own sakes, for quietness' sake. Just as in a family one man is appointed to buy the meat.
    • Of a King.

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