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"wiser today than he was yesterday"
2012-12-03

Saw this quote on Facebook:

A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift

Heartily approve of the sentiment; applying it is the hard part. Anyway, I was struck by a completely inexplicable desire to check the attribution. Googling yielded indeterminate results: some quote it as Swift’s while others credit Alexander Pope. As far as I can tell, it originates in Miscellanies, Volume II, coauthored by Swift, Pope, and a Dr. Arbuthnot, which explains the disagreement.

image of the quote on page 255

The table of contents appears to divide the segments by author; it’s not unambiguous, but seems to suggest Pope as the true author.

image of the TOC possibly attributing the section containing page 255 to Pope

Page 255 has more wisdom to offer (at least, this is wise in some cases):

"To be angry, is to revenge the fault of others upon ourselves."

But I think it’s most fitting to leave you with this timeless gem:

"Superstition is the Spleen of the Soul."


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