I’m looking over some lost quotations and proverbs tonight, lost because they are collected in W. Gurney Benham’s A Book of Quotations: Proverbs and Household Words, published in 1907, an ugly volume I plan to throw out because I’ve wasted twenty years of my life with it sitting on my shelf.
Great Scot! The Interwebs have revealed their Mastery of All The Things by producing a copy of Benham’s book in its archives, so I guess it isn’t lost after all — if buried under 305 billion pages of Interweb means it is not lost.
But what was I saying? I’ve kept this book because of its curious collection. After the typical Bartlett’s stuff, it has a section of “waifs and strays,” “naturalised phrases,” and toasts, followed by Greek and Latin quotations, French and Spanish quotations, and then a long list of English proverbs. It’s the non-English language quotations that seemed most valuable to me. Where else would I find a curated list of pearls and miscellany from the past?
Quid enim salvis infamia nummis?
What indeed is infamy as long as our money is safe?
Going to ruin is silent work.
Omnis homo mendax.
Every man is a liar.
C’est l’imagination qui gouverne le genre humain.
It is imagination which rules the human race.
Quid Romae faciam? mentiri nescio.
What can I do at Rome? I do not know how to lie.
Vulnus alit venis et caeco carpitur igni.
She cherishes the wound in her veins and is consumed by an unseen fire.
But whether we have less or more,
Alway thank we God therefor.