Monday, July 12, 2010

Discordant quotes from the past

Nearly every book I read is nonfiction, and most of it trends towards being a book about history, or being a famous book in the past that is now considered a primary source of history.  Most of my reading includes the thoughts and opinions and cultures that are separated from today's world by hundreds or thousands of years, and as such, I often run across quotes from historical figures that simply jar with my 21st century, American mindset.  They strike such a discordant note that I often write them down to have them for reference.  Other times, I will run across quotes do not necessarily jar with my mindset as much as they simply surprise me.  I'll be posting these collections of quotes from time to time as I come across them.  Other than providing some background and context for the quotes, I will simply let them speak for themselves. 

Malachy Postlethwayt, 18th century English author/economist, defending the English slave trade in the colonies:
  • "We shall take things as they are, and reason from them in their present state, and not from that wherein we could hope them to be...We cannot think of giving up the slave-trade, notwithstanding my good wishes that it could be done."
St. Augustine, expressing amazement at how God allows him to know things about his infancy from the stories his family tells him even though he can't remember those years:
  • "You have endowed men so that he can gather these things concerning himself from others, and even on the words of weak women believe much about himself."
Editorial from the September, 1912 edition of The Biblical World, referring to prostititution:
  • "Some of the men and women who know most about the facts, and who are our representatives in this task, express their confident hope that this century may be known in history as the time when this dark blot was removed from human life."
Written in The New York Herald in 1893.
  • "Thanksgiving Day is no longer a solemn festival to God for mercies given.  It is a holiday granted by the State and Nation to see a game of football."