John Jay Chapman quotes you should know

Even though he had written 25 books, I had never heard of John Jay Chapman until I found him quoted the other day by Janet Fiamengo. But 25 books and not one known to me. All is most certainly vanity. Here’s the quote:

“Retain the power of speech no matter what other power you may lose … Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don’t be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time.”

And this is one I particularly like which is an important reminder to those who write for a living:

People who love soft methods and hate iniquity forget this,—that reform consists in taking a bone from a dog. Philosophy will not do it.

There is also this which has a pointed message for today, but if one reads it right, has a pointed message for every day ending with the letter “y”.

A political organization is a transferable commodity. You could not find a better way of killing virtue than by packing it into one of these contraptions which some gang of thieves is sure to find useful.

Here are others, each as relevant today as the moment they were first written down:

All progress is experimental.

When a man talks with absolute sincerity and freedom he goes on a voyage of discovery. The whole company has shares in the enterprise.

Every generation is a secret society and has incommunicable enthusiasms, tastes and interests which are a mystery both to its predecessors and to posterity.

It is just as impossible to help reform by conciliating prejudice as it is by buying votes. Prejudice is the enemy. Whoever is not for you is against you.

Everybody in America is soft, and hates conflict. The cure for this, both in politics and social life, is the same—hardihood. Give them raw truth.

The short lesson that comes out of long experience in political agitation is something like this: all the motive power in all of these movements is the instinct of religious feeling. All the obstruction comes from attempting to rely on anything else. Conciliation is the enemy.

Our goodness comes solely from thinking on goodness; our wickedness from thinking on wickedness. We too are the victims of our own contemplation.

Good government is the outcome of private virtue.

A political organization is a transferable commodity. You could not find a better way of killing virtue than by packing it into one of these contraptions which some gang of thieves is sure to find useful.

Too much agreement kills the chat.

And this is from The Two Philosophers: A Quaint, Sad Comedy (1892)

Act I

I’ve studied every science round,
And many a doctrine have I found;
Greek and German roots of thought
In years of labor have I sought;
And every gnarled and eyed potato
Out of Zoroaster and Plato
Do I plant in your young heads,
And watch ’em sprout as in hot-beds

Act II

And since we speak of culture,
What is culture, do you think?
FIRST SCHOLAR.
Culture is spiritual food
And intellectual drink.
REGIUS.
A petty saying, — I confess
Not quite what I expected.
Let some one make another guess,

Act III

Notice is hereby given that one
Of your professors in your college
Has made a scurvy attack upon
The American school of knowledge,
Which said attack is couched in words
Unmeasured and profane,
And seems to show, conclusively,
The writer is insane.
But sane or mad, the writer is
Grossly devoid of truth,
And wickedly incompetent
To have the charge of youth.

Maybe nothing really ever changes after all.

One thought on “John Jay Chapman quotes you should know

  1. Thanks for this, Steve. I must admit that I didn’t know anything much more about John Jay Chapman than that he was the author of that wonderful passage I quoted. And I stole it from a friend of mine,Tim Murray. Thanks for doing this research on Chapman. He was an astute fellow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s