Saturday, April 29, 2017

"But When, Friend, Dost Thee Think?"

As final exams draw near at many colleges and universities (at least for those on a semester schedule), it seems appropriate to pass along this old story as told by Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University, at the 143rd Annual banquet of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York., 1911 (pp. 43-55), and available through the magic of the HathiTrust Digital Library
"I cannot help recalling an admirable story which is told of ROBERT SOUTHEY, once Poet Laureate of England. SOUTHEY was boasting to a Quaker friend of how exceedingly well be occupied his time, how he organized it, how he permitted no moment to escape; how every instant was used; how he studied Portuguese while he shaved, and higher mathematics in his bath.

"And then the Quaker said to him softly: `But when, friend, dost thee think? 
"My impression is that we need now some time to think, in order that reflection and study of principle, and grasp upon realities, may take the place of perpetual discussion and exposition, partly of what is, partly of what never was, partly of what never can be."