Sunday, June 24, 2007

Found in a Wallet

Whilst cleaning out an old wallet today, I came upon a scrap of paper (well, several, in fact, but one in particular) on which I had scribbled two quotations.

The first is from my old friend Monsignor James Michael Doyle. It does not originate with him, for I had and have heard a similar sentiment expressed elsewhere although I am unable to find attribution for it. What Doyle said, as jotted by me on March 6, 2005, was:

Love without truth is unlasting. Truth without love is intolerable.

I have seen “irresponsible” for “unlasting.” Either way, the sentiment holds.

The second quotation also was presented by Doyle (who was speaking at an “adult forum” hosted by my wife’s Lutheran church: Doyle and I share a keen interest in ecumenism), who correctly credited Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The years tell much that the days never knew.

Ain’t that the truth.

I am, incidentally, always amused by the way certain artists and writers are almost invariably credited in a particular, and particularly stilted way. Ralph Waldo Emerson. So we don’t confuse him with all the other Ralph Emersons writing out there. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow—not to be confused with Henry Throckmorton Longfellow, the taxidermist. Of course, we all get caught up in it, to such an extent that it seems very odd to be confronted—as you sometimes will see on books published in the first half of the twentieth century—with Ralph W. Emerson or H.W. Longfellow. It just doesn’t look right—sort of like Lee H. Oswald or R.M. Nixon. It takes you a moment to figure out who’s being talked about.

Speaking of Longfellow (the writer, not the taxidermist, though it hardly matters), I am further reminded of a line from something I read in my adolescence, though Google fails to yield a single hit. The reference was to the great department-store Henry Wadsworth Woolworth, who refused to open a store in Alaska because his motto was “keep the Nome buyers yearning.”

Amazing what sticks with you, no?

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