from the Devil’s dictionary

Past, n. That part of Eternity with some small fraction of which we have a slight and regrettable acquaintance. A moving line called the Present parts it from an imaginary period known as the Future. These two grand divisions of Eternity, of which the one is continually effacing the other, are entirely unlike. The one is dark with sorrow and disappointment, the other bright with prosperity and joy. The Past is the region of sobs; the Future is the realm of song. In the one crouches memory, clad in sackcloth and ashes, mumbling penitential prayer; in the sunshine of the other Hope flies with a free wing, beckoning to temples of success and bowers of ease. Yet the Past is the Future of yesterday, the Future is the Past of to-morrow. They are one — the knowledge and the dream.

An unexpectedly sober entry from Ambrose Bierce, The Enlarged Devil’s Dictionary: that selfsame tome that deems that Painting, n., is “the art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic”, that Cabbage, n., is “a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head”, and indeed that History, n., is “an account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools”.

Just thought I’d share.


2 responses to “from the Devil’s dictionary

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