The Devil’s in the Details: The Sagely Opinions of Ambrose Bierce

“Cynic, n: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.” – Ambrose Bierce, American writer, author of “The Devil’s Dictionary,” journalist, and satirist, who was born on 24 June 1842.

Because Ambrose Bierce was a cynic in the true sense of the term (someone loyal to principle and fact rather than currently fashionable and usually erroneous half-truths or sugar-coated opinions), he acquired the nickname “Bitter Bierce.” Today he merely seems brilliantly insightful, at least to me, but you can decide for yourself after giving thoughtful attention to his views on a variety of topics.

“Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught.”
“Alliance – in international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other’s pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.”
“Ardor, n. The quality that distinguishes love without knowledge.”
“Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.”
“Cabbage: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.”
“Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.”
“Consul – in American politics, a person who having failed to secure an office from the people is given one by the Administration on condition that he leave the country.”
“Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.”
“Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.”
“Friendless. Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.”
“Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.”
“History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.”
“Education, n.: That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.”
“Impiety. Your irreverence toward my deity.”
“Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.”
“In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.”
“What this country needs what every country needs occasionally is a good hard bloody war to revive the vice of patriotism on which its existence as a nation depends.”
“Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence.”
“Inventor: A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.”
“Revolution, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.”
“Pray: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.”
“Saint: A dead sinner revised and edited.”
“Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”
“Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.”
“Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.”
“Patriotism. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.”
“Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.”
“Dawn: When men of reason go to bed.”

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