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Proverbs by William Scott Downey


Useful Life Lessons

You should drop indoctrination from long ago

There are many cranks around; wearing religious masks suits some of them.

Study the proverbs and see what is taking shape. How penetrating may these be, and what were they part of? Should the attitudes they back up, be allowed to shape you. You may come to notice the permeating attitudes from what is repeatedly endorsed, and what is talked against, and even down on.These "proverbs" are the work of one man only, a reverend in Boston in the mid-1800s. They were well received by leaders at the time, so there is reason to think that the conveyed attitudes and moral stances, served the privileged ones well: the clergy, even Queen Victoria. So suspect that Victorian Age values are at play. Also consider that many of those values served snobs.

I once witnessed that my mother found a long lost gold bracelets in a heap of sawdust - and coming across more fully accomplished proverbs in the heap of the reverend is quite similar. And just to make sure than no one barks up the wrong tree and accuses me of sharing all the attitudes of the Christian author, may I mention: We thresh corn to get something of value; we are not interested in religious chaff and the pitfalls that follow from such matter.

The reverend talks down on women in sweeping lines from the conditions they were given long ago, and endorses virtues that are bordering on something good - such as backing up good mates. But ideas that women have a right to defend themselves and "make the best of it" and fulfil themselves in "all" sorts of fields, are "gloriously" absent. Another example: He never says, "You have a right to be horny."

A child of his times and conditions - and subtle religious conditioning - once showed his attitudes and various cramped or cramping views through many similes and subtle derangement of much inherently good, such as being wealthy and enjoying life. As you may understand, I have included a mere fraction of his "mafia" (read: "our know-better-family") indoctrination and prejudice and abridged many similes that serve the clergy too. They were not that beautiful and valuable, I found. One may say I have thus extracted his very many bad teeth. But you may also find that occasionally I thought there were some healthy teeth (attitudes) left. I dropped his stories and visions as completely uninteresting to me too. I found that good.

As for technicalities, Downey's original arrangement into brief chapters and numbered sentences, has been maintained, and abridged sayings are marked by [Abr].

People believe according to how their id system has been fixated too. But I suggest the selection of observations and notes that follow may profit man and woman independently of religious faith.

- Tormod Kinnes

Chapter 1

8. No man should think better or worse of himself merely on account of his birth; but rather let all think soberly.

Chapter 2

12. For a tutor to give a pupil a longer lesson than he can receive, is much like a farmer giving a heavier load to an ass than he can take to market.

Chapter 5

11. Prosperity gathers smiles, while adversity scatters them.

Chapter 6

8. All the branches of a tree do not lean the same way. [Abr]

9. Judge nothing by the appearance. The more beautiful the serpent, the more fatal its sting [can be].

Chapter 9

1. There is danger in beauty, and delusion in pleasure. [Abr]

9. Children are . . . often coming without being called.

Chapter 10

7. The warrior who unthinkingly wanders from his camp unarmed, can make but feeble resistance when overtaken by the enemy. [Abr]

9. Beautiful peaches are not always the best flavoured. [Abr]

Chapter 11

4. To travel across the Atlantic we make much preparation. [Abr]

7. Wealth may add splendour to life. [Abr]

8. The mind is of inestimable value, and man should strive to cultivate it well. [Cf]

Chapter 12

2. Man loves the vine for its fruit. [Abr]

4. The diamond is among precious stones. [Abr]

5. For one to admire a woman merely for her beauty, is to love the building for its exterior; but to love one for the greatness of her soul, is to appreciate the tenement for its intrinsic value.

6. To seek for teetotallers at a gin shop is to expect donations from misers. [Abr]

Chapter 13

6. Of your neighbour's faults see little, hear little, and speak less than you either see or hear.

Chapter 14

5. The smiles of women are of so irresistible a nature that warriors can be subdued. [Mod]

Chapter 15

3. Reason without revelation is as a ship without a rudder.

8. Adversity will rid the spendthrift of her sycophants. [Abr]

Chapter 16

7. It is not the mere sight of the medicine that cures the sick. [Abr]

Chapter 17

2. Falsehood is a polished exterior; but truth is a gemmed interior.

Chapter 18

2. A vicious man cannot appreciate the graces of a virtuous wife.

6. The fruit of small trees is easily stolen; so the charms of the comely poor are easily ravished.

Chapter 20

5. Great buildings are not always the best furnished. [Abr]

Chapter 24

6. The tree cannot exist without its sap. [Abr]

10. He who stoops low, exposes himself. [Abr]

William Scott Downey proverbs, END MATTER

William Scott Downey proverbs, LITERATURE  

Downey, William Scott. Proverbs by Rev. William Scott Downey, B.D. 7th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co., 1855.

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