Persuasion is the resource of the feeble; and the feeble can seldom persuade.Edward Gibbon: 1776-88 The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch.68.
I know that Ihavethe bodyof a weak and feeble woman, but I havetheheart and stomach of a kingand a king of England too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any Prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm.Elizabeth I: 1588 Address at Tilbury on the approach of the Spanish Armada.
Tis impossible to avail our selves of the genuine Powers of Eloquence, without examining in their Elements and first Principles, the Force and Harmony of Numbers, as employed by the Poets and orators of ancient and modern times, and without considering the natural Powers of Imagination, and the Disposition of Mankind to Metaphor and figure, which will require the Knowledge of the true Principles of Grammar, and Rhetoric, and of the best classical Authors.Now to what higher object, to what greater Character, can any Mortal aspire, than to be possessed of all this Knowledge, well digested, and ready at Command, to assist the feeble and Friendless, to discountenance the haughty and lawless, to procure Redress of Wrongs, the Advancement of Right, to assert and maintain Liberty and Virtue, to discourage and abolish Tyranny and Vice?john adams: Letter to Jonathan Sewall (October 1759)
Beware! By Allah the son of Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) dressed himself with it (the caliphate) and he certainly knew that my position in relation to it was the same as the position of the axis in relation to the hand-mill. The flood water flows down from me and the bird cannot fly upto me. I put a curtain against the caliphate and kept myself detached from it.Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown up are made feeble and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets Allah (on his death). I found that endurance thereon was wiser. So I adopted patience although there was pricking in the eye and suffocation (of mortification) in the throat. I watched the plundering of my inheritance till the first one went his way but handed over the Caliphate to Ibn al-Khattab after himself.(Then he quoted al-A`sha's verse):My days are now passed on the camel's back (in difficulty) while there were days (of ease) when I enjoyed the company of Jabir's brother Hayyan.It is strange that during his lifetime he wished to be released from the caliphate but he confirmed it for the other one after his death. No doubt these two shared its udders strictly among themselves. This one put the Caliphate in a tough enclosure where the utterance was haughty and the touch was rough. Mistakes were in plenty and so also the excuses therefore. One in contact with it was like the rider of an unruly camel. If he pulled up its rein the very nostril would be slit, but if he let it loose he would be thrown. Consequently, by Allah people got involved in recklessness, wickedness, unsteadiness and deviation.Nevertheless, I remained patient despite length of period and stiffness of trial, till when he went his way (of death) he put the matter (of Caliphate) in a group and regarded me to be one of them. But good Heavens! what had I to do with this "consultation"? Where was any doubt about me with regard to the first of them that I was now considered akin to these ones? But I remained low when they were low and flew high when they flew high. One of them turned against me because of his hatred and the other got inclined the other way due to his in-law relationship and this thing and that thing, till the third man of these people stood up with heaving breasts between his dung and fodder. With him his children of his grand-father, (Umayyah) also stood up swallowing up Allah's wealth like a camel devouring the foliage of spring, till his rope broke down, his actions finished him and his gluttony brought him down prostrate.At that moment, nothing took me by surprise, but the crowd of people rushing to me. It advanced towards me from every side like the mane of the hyena so much so that Hasan and Husayn were getting crushed and both the ends of my shoulder garment were torn. They collected around me like the herd of sheep and goats. When I took up the reins of government one party broke away and another turned disobedient while the rest began acting wrongfully as if they had not heard the word of Allah saying:That abode in the hereafter, We assign it for those who intend not to exult themselves in the earth, nor (to make) mischief (therein); and the end is (best) for the pious ones. (Qur'an, 28:83)Yes, by Allah, they had heard it and understood it but the world appeared glittering in their eyes and its embellishments seduced them. Behold, by Him who split the grain (to grow) and created living beings, if people had not come to me and supporters had not exhausted the argument and if there had been no pledge of Allah with the learned to the effect that they should not acquiesce in the gluttony of the oppressor and the hunger of the oppressed I would have cast the rope of Caliphate on its own shoulders, and would have given the last one the same treatment as to the first one. Then you would have seen that in my view this world of yours is no better than the sneezing of a goat.ali ibn abi talib: Known as the Sermon of ash-Shiqshiqiyyah (roar of the camel), It is said that when Amir al-mu'minin reached here in his sermon a man of Iraq stood up and handed him over a writing. Amir al-mu'minin began looking at it, when Ibn `Abbas said, "O' Amir al-mu'minin, I wish you resumed your Sermon from where you broke it." Thereupon he replied, "O' Ibn `Abbas it was like the foam of a Camel which gushed out but subsided." Ibn `Abbas says that he never grieved over any utterance as he did over this one because Amir al-mu'minin could not finish it as he wished to.
Liberty, equality — bad principles! The only true principle for humanity is justice; and justice to the feeble becomes necessarily protection or kindness.henri-frédéric amiel: Undated entry of December 1863 or early 1864, as translated by Humphry Ward (1893), p. 215
The hushed winds wail with feeble moanLike infant charity.joanna baillie: Orra (1812), Act III, scene 1, "The Chough and Crow"; in Plays on the Passions, Volume III.
For what accords better and more aptly with faith than to acknowledge ourselves divested of all virtue that we may be clothed by God, devoid of all goodness that we may be filled by him, the slaves of sin that he may give us freedom, blind that he may enlighten, lame that he may cure, and feeble that he may sustain us; to strip ourselves of all ground of glorying that he alone may shine forth glorious, and we be glorified in him?john calvin: Prefatory Address as translated by Henry Beveridge
The man who labors to please his neighbor for his good to edification has the mind that was in Christ. It is a sinner trying to help a sinner. Even a feeble, but kind and tender man, will effect more than a genius, who is rough and artificial.richard cecil: p. 128. (Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895))
They [French critics of the Paris Salon of 1824, where his painting 'the Hay Wain' received a gold medal] are very amusing and acute — but very shallow and feeble. Thus one — after saying: "'it is but justice to admire the truth — 'the color' — and 'general vivacity' & richness —" – yet they want the objects more formed and defined &c, and say they are like the rich preludes in musick, and the full harmonious warblings of the Aeolian lyre, which means 'nothing,' and they call them orations — and harangues — and high-flown conversations affecting a careless ease — &c &v &c - Is not some of this 'blame' the highest 'praise' – what is poetry? – What is Coleridge's Ancient Mariner (the very best modern poem) but something like this?john constable: Letter to Rev. John Fisher, 1824, as quoted in Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, Constable, (Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1993), p. 205
It would be impossible to get through the kind of life that I have known without accumulating a vast unused stockpile of rage. Retaliation, though, was a luxury I could never afford. On the physical level I was too feeble. On any other I was not rich enough. I never dared to be rude to anyone. I never knew that I might not need him later. Long after fantasies of sexual excess had ceased to torment me, my imagination was inflamed by lurid day-dreams of having my revenge on the world.Quentin Crisp: Ch. 29 (The Naked Civil Servant (1968))
He that of such a height hath built his mind,And rear'd the dwelling of his thoughts so strong,As neither fear nor hope can shake the frameOf his resolved powers ; nor all the windOf vanity or malice pierce to wrongHis settled peace, or to disturb the same ;What a fair seat hath he, from whence he mayThe boundless wastes and wilds of man survey?And with how free an eye doth he look downUpon these lower regions of turmoil?Where all the storms of passions mainly beatOn flesh and blood : where honour, power, renown,Are only gay afflictions, golden toil ;Where greatness stands upon as feeble feet,As frailty doth ; and only great doth seemTo little minds, who do it so esteem.Samuel Daniel: To the Countess of Cumberland. Stanza 1
If there is any such concept as a God , it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.Albert Einstein, as quoted in The Private Albert Einstein (1992) by Peter A. Bucky and Allen G. Weakland, p. 86
Gentlemen, be courteous to the old maids, no matter how poor and plain and prim, for the only chivalry worth having is that which is the readiest to to pay deference to the old, protect the feeble , and serve womankind , regardless of rank, age, or color.Elizabeth Gaskell, Louisa May Alcott, in Stop What You’re Doing and Read…To Warm You in Cold Weather: Little Women .., p.366
What a chimera then is man! What a novelty ! What a monster , what a chaos , what a contradiction, what a prodigy ! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm , depository of truth , a sink of uncertainty and error , the glory and the shame of the universe .Blaise Pascal, in Fred B. Craddock, et al., Preaching Through the Christian Year: Year C: A Comprehensive Commentary on the Lectionary (Google eBook), Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 01-Nov-1994, p.51
I said before, the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.Albert Einstein, as quoted in The Private Albert Einstein (1992) by Peter A. Bucky and Allen G. Weakland, p. 86.
For mightier far Than strength of nerve or sinew, or the sway Of magic potent over sun and star, Is love, though oft to agony distrest, And though his favourite be feeble woman's breast.William Wordsworth, Laodamia, Stanza 15.
I don't think we should ever allow religion the trick of maintaining that the spiritual and the beautiful and the noble and the altruistic and the morally strong and the virtuous are in any way inventions of religion or particular or peculiar to religion. It's certainly true that you could say the Christ who said "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" — that's a wonderful to have said. Anyone who said that would earn a great deal of respect and interest, you'd say that's one of most beautiful phrases ever, ever uttered. But there is no, absolutely no monopoly on beauty and truth in religion, and I suppose one of the reasons that I'm so fond of the Greeks, and one of the reasons that the great radical and poet Shelley wrote his Prometheus Unbound was that he understood that if you were to compare the Genesis myth, which has, which had bedeviled our culture, the Western European culture for a very long time indeed, for two thousand years, it was essentially a myth in which we should be ashamed of ourselves. God says: who told you you were naked? What possible reason have we to believe that we are naked or that if we are naked there is something to be ashamed of, that what we are and what we do is something for which we should ever apologise, we should apologise for our dreams, our impulses, our appetites, our drives, our desires, are not things to apologise for. Our actions sometimes we do apologise for and we excoriate ourselves for and rightly, but that's the Genesis myth. The Greek myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from heaven and who gave to his favourite — his favourite mortal: man. In other words what the Greeks were saying is that we have divine fire, whatever is divine is in us, as humans. We are as good as the gods. The gods are capricious and mean and foolish and stupid and jealous and rapine and all the things that Greek mythology show us that they are, and that's a much better it seems to me — and for that the gods punished Prometheus and chained him to the Caucasus and vultures chewed away at his liver everyday as it regrew because he was immortal of course, and Shelley quite rightly understood — and interestingly his wife of course wrote Frankenstein as the modern Prometheus — understood that that mythological idea, that champion of a real humanity and a real humanism, as we've come to call it, is we are captains of our soul and masters of our destiny, and that we contain any divine fire that there is, divine fire that is fine and great. I mean it's perfectly obvious that if there were ever a God he has lost all possible taste. You've only got to look — forget the aggression and unpleasantness of the radical right or the Islamic hordes to the East - the sheer lack of intelligence and insight and ability to express themselves and to enthuse others of the priesthood and the clerisy here, in this country, and indeed in Europe, you know God once had Bach and Michelangelo on his side, he had Mozart, and now who does he have? People with ginger whiskers and tinted spectacles who reduce the glories of theology to a kind of sharing, you know? That's what religion has become, a feeble and anaemic nonsense, because we understood that the fire was within us, it was not in some idol on an altar, whether it was a gold cross or whether it was a Buddha or anything else, that we have it. The fault is in our stars, but also the glory is (correcting himself) in us not in our stars. The glory — anything — we take credit for what is great about man and we take blame for what is dreadful about man, we neither grovel or apologise at the feet of a god, or are so infantile as to project the idea that we once had a father as human beings and we therefore should have a divine one too. We have to grow up, which is partly what Christopher was saying.Stephen Fry: The Blasphemy Debate with Christopher Hitchens
At best, in such depression times, monetary policy is a feeble reed on which to lean.john kenneth galbraith: Chapter X, Cause and Consequence, p. 190
I am feeble, pale and weary,And my wings are nearly furled;I have caused a scene so dreary,I am glad to quit the world!With bitterness I'm thinkingOn the evil I have done,And to my caverns sinkingFrom the coming of the sun.hannah flagg gould: "The Dying Storm" in Poems (published 1835), p. 59.
Thought depends on the habitual exercise of the speculative faculties; action, on the determination of the will. The one assigns reasons for things, the other puts causes into act. ... Such is the effeminacy of the speculative and philosophical temperament, compared with the promptness and vigour of the practical! ... Reasoners in general are undecided, wavering, and sceptical, or yield at last to the weakest motive as most congenial to their feeble habit of soul.william hazlitt: "On Thought and Action"
Can my fond heart, on such a feeble proof,Embrace a faith, abhorred by him I love?I see too plainly custom forms us all;Our thoughts, our morals, our most fixed belief,Are consequences of our place of birth:Born beyond Ganges, I had been a Pagan;In France, a Christian; I am here a Saracen :'Tis but instruction, all! Our parents' handWrites on our heart the first faint characters,Which time, re-tracing, deepens into strength,That nothing can efface, but death or Heaven.aaron hill: Zara, Act I, Sc. 1.
His "mad" behavior was perhaps his way of disrupting the corrupt and feeble Zen he saw around him.ikkyū: Peter Matthiessen, in Nine-headed Dragon River : Zen journals, 1969-1985 (1986)
The hushed winds wail with feeble moan Like infant charity.Joanna Baillie, Orra (1812), Act III, scene 1, "The Chough and Crow"; in Plays on the Passions, Volume III.
When our passive feelings are almost always so sordid and so selfish, how comes it that our active principles should often be so generous and so noble? When we are always so much more deeply affected by whatever concerns ourselves, than by whatever concerns other men; what is it which prompts the generous, upon all occasions, and the mean upon many, to sacrifice their own interests to the greater interests of others? It is not the soft power of humanity , it is not that feeble spark of benevolence which Nature has lighted up in the human heart, that is thus capable of counteracting the strongest impulses of self-love. It is a stronger power, a more forcible motive, which exerts itself upon such occasions. It is reason , principle, conscience , the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct.Adam Smith, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), Part III, Chap. III
I say, that this free exercise of reason is all I ask for the vindication of the character of Jesus . We find in the writings of his biographers matter of two distinct descriptions. First, a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications. Intermixed with these, again, are sublime ideas of the Supreme Being, aphorisms and precepts of the purest morality and benevolence, sanctioned by a life of humility , innocence and simplicity of manners, neglect of riches, absence of worldly ambition and honors, with an eloquence and persuasiveness which have not been surpassed. These could not be inventions of the groveling authors who relate them. They are far beyond the powers of their feeble minds. They shew that there was a character, the subject of their history, whose splendid conceptions were above all suspicion of being interpolations from their hands.Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William Short (4 August 1820)