C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


To despise theory is to have the excessively vain pretension to do without knowing what one does, and to speak without knowing what one says.


The theory that can absorb the greatest number of facts, and persist in doing so, generation after generation, through all changes of opinion and of detail, is the one that must rule all observation.

John Weiss.

  • ’Tis mighty easy o’er a glass of wine
  • On vain refinements vainly to refine,
  • To laugh at poverty in plenty’s reign,
  • To boast of apathy when out of pain,
  • And in each sentence, worthy of the schools,
  • Varnish’d with sophistry, to deal out rules
  • Most fit for practice, but for one poor fault
  • That into practice they can ne’er be brought.
  • Churchill.

    The human mind feels restless and dissatisfied under the anxieties of ignorance. It longs for the repose of conviction; and to gain this repose it will often rather precipitate its conclusions than wait for the tardy lights of observation and experiment. There is such a thing, too, as the love of simplicity and system,—a prejudice of the understanding which dispose it to include all the phenomena of nature under a few sweeping generalities,—an indolence which loves to repose on the beauties of a theory rather than encounter the fatiguing detail of its evidences.