The Philosopher’s Scales

I love stepping back in time.

Do you doubt me?

Do you doubt it can’t be done?

My favorite doorway into history is fragile,  thread bound, sometimes ink stained, original editions books… (before the politically correct crowd has had a chance to get their little hands on them.)

Back in 2007 I was doing  research for a local history project and wanted to immerse myself in the 1830’s….

On a lark I purchased an assortment of  original edition school textbooks from 1833 up until late 1800’s …McGuffy Readers, Ray’s Arithmetic,  etc. on e-bay.

And it worked.  I was able to re-enter the world of 1839 through the eyes of a teacher, and the scholar.  (Students were called “scholar” back then.)

Well, the  last few nights I have been pulling  the  First Class Reader compiled by B.D. Emerson  1833 off the shelf  and discovered several keepers.

Pause.

I am an educator.

Not formally trained but, an educator, never the less.

A teacher friend of ours, who  has a  degree, and who has sat in my class room on numerous occasions, once said something to me about my teaching ability  that removed all doubt in my mind of that concern. (Could I teach?)

Anyway, back to the book…I  wanted to share a portion of a poem by Jane Taylor (  link) entitled The Philosopher’s Scales… (She died in 1824.  She was a prolific writer and poet, most famous for her poem Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. 🙂

I’m going to only share part of it.  Some of the words and her analogies may require a little digging on your part if you want to suck  the marrow out… DM

The Philosopher’s Scales

What were they? – you ask:

you shall presently see;

These scales were not made to weigh sugar and tea;

O no; – for such properties wondrous had they,

That qualities, feelings, and thoughts they could weigh,

 

Together with articles, small or immense,

From mountains or planets to atoms of sense;

Nought was there so bulky but there it could lay,

and nought so ethereal but there it would stay;

And nought so reluctant but in it must go: –

All which some examples more clearly will show…….

 

Next time he put in Alexander the Great.

With a garment that Dorcas had made- for a weight;

And though clad in armor from sandals to crown,

The hero rose up, and the garment went down….

 

By further experiments (no matter how)

He found that ten chariots weighed less that one plough.

A sword, with gilt trappings, rose up in the scale,

Though balanced by only a ten penny nail.

A Lord and a lady went up at full sail,

When a bee chanced to light on the opposite scale.

 

Ten doctors, ten lawyers, two courtiers, one earl,-

Ten counselor’s wigs full of powder and curl,-

All heaped in one balance, and swinging from thence,

Weighed less than some atoms of candor and sense;-

A first-water diamond, with brilliance begirt,

Than one good potato just washed from the dirt;-

_______________________

Pause

Sometimes I wrestle with whether or not my life is accounting for much….compared to, let’s say, someone in politics,  certain professions, etc.   And after immersing myself in a poem (like this one)  my heart is again re calibrated, and tracking as it should.

(Like when you take your car into your mechanic and he does a front end alignment.)

 

Question for you the reader….

Are there certain authors, poets, books, poems, quotes etc. that you love, that helps you to stay on track?   I would love to hear about them.  If you have a link, post it.   DM

 

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12 thoughts on “The Philosopher’s Scales

  1. My choices of books?

    Orwells Books:- 1984 and Animal Farm
    This guy was a visionary.
    https://wikispooks.com/w/images/f/fc/1984.pdf
    http://vho.org/aaargh/fran/livres4/AFarm.pdf

    Sun Tzu The Art of War.
    http://www.puppetpress.com/classics/ArtofWarbySunTzu.pdf
    Only it’s also a manual for life, for business, and survival.

    A woman in the polar night by Christiane Ritter.
    A truly magical story of her experiences in Spitsbergen, an Arctic island north of Norway in 1938. I’ve read it so many times.
    It’s one of those books you start to read and cannot put down.

    An author on most banned lists.
    Mao Tse-Tung on Guerilla Warfare.

    A long read about political and military thinking.
    http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/FMFRP%2012-18%20%20Mao%20Tse-tung%20on%20Guerrilla%20Warfare.pdf

    My fathers pocket bible.
    I don’t read it enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh quotes…..I’m all about quotes – though I don’t know who to attribute them too. An old favorite ‘fast is fine – accuracy is final’. Latest favorite ‘don’t waste your time looking back – you’re not going that way’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the poem, too. (And I could see where it could validate one’s “less glamorous” life. I especially love the potato vs. the diamond, and the “few atoms of candor and sense” vs. all the guys in the powdered wigs!) I’ll take a potato and some candor and sense any day…

    I like the Old Testament, New Testament, Quran, The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, Walden. And the poem “If” which my father was made to recite by his father…written by Rudyard Kipling in 1995, not so ancient but still older than me by quite a bit:

    If
    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make a heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember having to bring a favorite poem in to school when I was in jr. high and bringing in this poem, atributed to St. Francis of Assisi:

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
    Where there is injury, pardon.
    Where there is doubt, faith.
    Where there is despair, hope.
    Where there is darkness, light.
    Where there is sadness, joy.
    O Divine Master,
    grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
    to be understood, as to understand;
    to be loved, as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive.
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

    The 23rd Psalm, and Ecclesiastes (to everything there is a season)…

    I was a weird kid. I don’t think that’s what the other kids brought in. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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