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"Again Gracian - A Selection of maxims dealing with interpersonal relationships" - December 1945 - Privately Printed for Dr. C. Charles Burlingame: Hartford: Boston: New York: M. CM. XLV as an Adobe PDF file of the JPG images
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Special Contents Copyright 1945 By Dr. C. Charles Burlingame
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A year ago I presented to you a little book on Shakespeare. This year, I had planned a small volume dealing with Genghis Khan, intending to compare his ideology and philosophy with those of Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese leaders, just to show that "there is nothing new under the sun." My interest in Ghengis Khan mounted until the victory in Europe, when it began to wane. Then, with our success in the Pacific, my enthusiasm for war and warriors disappeared altogether.
Instead, my thoughts took a "postman's holiday" through speculation on interpersonal relations versus the atomic bomb. Current day remarks to the effect that man's inventive genius had outstripped his ethical development introduced no new thought to a psychiatrist, especially one who had spent some years in the field of industrial personnel work.
The late Dr. Frederick Tilney, one of America's great brain anatomists, used to say that we have twelve billion brain cells, but only use about three billion of them. Always interested by this observation, I used to speculate amusedly on how pleasant life could be if we developed the other nine billion in improving interpersonal and ethical relationships.
It seems to me that through the ages, only one group of men has been a consistent custodian of mankind's interpersonal relationships. Politicians and statesmen have sporadically had their fling at this responsibility. Educators and learned professional men have treasured and developed the ethical side of man, but inconsistently so. However, I have always believed, with my limited knowledge of religious leaders, that the clergy has been the constant custodian of, and has most continuously aimed for improvement in, human interpersonal relationships.
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I wonder if I am right in believing that all the great religious teachers have so striven? If this is true, the world's most impregnable defense against the atomic bomb may become the basic responsibility of the religious leaders of the world. Ideologies and contracts can serve only a minor role as compared with each man's ethical desires, and I doubt if any contract or agreement between men or between nations is any better than the sum total of the ethics of the individuals entering into the agreement.
With these thoughts in mind, I have, for the second time, turned to Gracian. Baltasar Gracian y Morales, as you know, was a Spanish philosopher and monk whose understanding of human nature seems to have been as many faceted as human nature itself. Born in a village in Calatayud circa 1601, he became a member of the Society of Jesus when he was eighteen, and entered into a period of contemplation and study. He has been enormously popular, but criticism of him ranges from lavish praise to stinging denunciation. His works, twelve volumes in all, which have been translated into many languages, reflect the satirist, the wit, the egoist, the humanitarian, and the psychologist, but through them all is a dynamic awareness of human relationships. His is a shrewd mind with an analytic faculty, and he is a vivid reminder that human nature has not changed in huildreds of years.
In Gracian I have found much support for my speculative ruminations, and I decided to send this selection on to you as a New Year's Greeting, instead of my usual Christmas offering, believing that Gracian might give us both something with which to begin the 1946 "Dance of Life."
C. C. B. January 1, 1946
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BALTASAR GRACIAN Y MORALES
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IT IS A SECOND LIFE . . .
Have friends. It is a second life. Every friend is something good, and something wise to his friend: a man is only worth what the others will him; and that they may will him much, the way must be found to their hearts: we have to live, either with friends, or with enemies, wherefore try daily to make a friend, and even if not as an intimate, at least as one well disposed, that some may remain afterwards as confidants having passed through the ordeal of selection.
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IT IS THE HALO OF THE MIGHTY . . .
Be gracious: it is the halo of the mighty by which they gain the good will of a populace. This is the single advantage of power, that it enables the holder to do more good: those are friends who make friends.
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TAKE MEASURE OF ANOTHER . . .
Know how to analyze a man. More important far, to know the make-up, arid the properties of men, than those of herbs, and stones. This is the most delicate of the occupations of life: for the metals are known by their ring, and men by what they speak; words show forth the mind of a man; yet more, his works. To this end, the greatest caution is necessary, the clearest observation, the subtilest understanding, and the most critical judgment.
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BE MODERATE IN OPINION . . .
Be moderate in opinion. Every man takes his views as suits his interests: and he is Alled with reasons for his stand. For, in most instances, judgment gives way before feeling. Thus two opposite opinions come to meet, and each believes that his is the side of reason: but she, always most honest, has never two faces. Let the prudent man imagine himself placed on the other side: and examine from it the arguments, when he will not damn the other utterly, nor yet justify himself entirely in what is so puzzling.
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BE ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN . . .
Know how to be all things to all men. A wise Proteus, he who is learned with the learned, and with the pious, pious: it is the great way of winning all to you: for to be like, is to be liked. Observe each man's spirit and adapt yourself: to the serious, or to the jovial, as the case may be, by following the fashion, through a politic change within yourself.
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BE A GENTLE MAN . . .
Gain the name of being a gentleman, for it is enough to make you loved. Courtesy is the stem of culture, a species of sorcery, and so gains the affection of everybody, just as discourtesy wins scorn, and a universal hatred: Let courtesy always be too much, rather than too little, hold to it as a matter of duty between enemies, for it exhibits your courage, costing little, and being worth much, for to show honor is to be honored. Gallantry, and honor have this advantage, they are saved through spending, the first if practiced, the second if worn.
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BE OBLIGING . . .
Be obliging. Most men neither speak nor act for what they are, but as they must; the most and the best of what is ours depends upon the opinion of others: some rest content because right is on their side; but this is not enough, for it needs the help of diligence. To be obliging often costs but little; and it is worth much, for with mere words, you buy deeds; and there is no bauble so mean in this great house of the world, that once in the year it may not prove necessary.
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DISPLAY NO SELF-SATISFACTION . . .
Display no self-satisfaction. Live, not unsatisfied with yourself, for that is cowardice, nor yet self-satisfied, for that is stupidity. Self-complacency starts for the most part in witlessness, and ends in a blissful ignorance which even though soothing to the soul, does not maintain a name. Homer himself must sleep at times, and Alexander come down from his pedestal and out of his delusion. Things depend upon many circumstances, and what was a triumph. in one place, and upon that occasion, in another becomes a disgrace, but what is most unruly about this form of stupidity is that the vainest self-satisfaction goes to flower, and then buds forth all about through its seeds.
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DO NOT BE A SCANDAL SHEET . . .
Do not be a scandal sheet. Do not be smart at the expense of another, which is more odious, than difficult; all take vengeance upon such an one, by speaking ill of him, and since he stands alone, and they are many, he is conquered more quickly, than they are convinced; the slanderer is forever despised, and even when, at times, great men are seen in his company, it is more because his mockery amuses them than because his wisdom enchants them.
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ACCUSTOM YOURSELF TO DEFECTS . . .
Accustom yourself to the defects of those about you, as you would accustom yourself to those of ugly mien, for there are beasts, with whom no one can live, nor yet without. It is, therefore, the pakt of wisdom to get used to them as to ugliness itself. When first seen they terrify, but little by little this horror becomes less, and wisdom becomes hardened against the unpleasant, or learns how to bear it.
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LEARN HOW TO GRASP A THING . . .
Learn how to grasp a thing, not by its blade which cuts, but by its hilt, which protects: especially in the battle of life. To a wise man, his enemies avail him more, than to a fool, his friends. For more to be feared is flattery, than hate, since this effaces the flaws, which flattery would conceal. The man who knows makes a mirror of spite, more faithful than the mirror of affection, and foresees his shortcomings, or corrects them, for prudence grows apace, when it must live against rivalry, or malevolence.
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KNOW HOW TO SAY NO . . .
Know how to say No. Since you cannot accede to everything, or to everybody, it becomes important to know how not to accede; and especially for those who command; for here enters manner. The No of one man is more esteemed, than the Yes of another; for a No that is gilded may be more satisfying than a Yes unembellished. Refusal should never be flat, the truth appearing by degrees, nor should it be absolute, for that would cancel dependence, wherefore some reinnant of hope must be kept alive, to sweeten the bitterness of the refusal. Employ courtliness to fill the void of the denial, and let pleasing words disguise the failure of action. Yes and No are quickly spoken, but they demand long consideration.
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MARK YOUR WORDS . . .
Mark your words, as a matter of caution when with rivals, and as a matter of decency, when with everybody else. There is always time to add a word, but none in which to take one back: speak, therefore, as in a testament, for the fewer the words, the less the litigation: make of that which is of no importance the training ground for that which is.
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LIVE ACCORDING TO CUSTOM . . .
Live according to custom. Even wisdom must be in style, and where it is not, it is well to know how to feign ignorance, for thought changes with the times and taste: do not be old-fashioned in thought, and modern in taste. The choice of the many has the vote in every field. The man of wisdom accommodates himself to the present, even though the past seems better, alike in the dress of his spirit, as in the dress of his body. Only in the matter of being decent does this rule of life not apply, for virtue should be practiced eternally: yet today to speak the truth and to keep one's word seem the marks of another age. Let the man of conscience live as he can, not as he might wish. Let him hold as better what fortune may have conceded him than what she has denied him.
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AND . . .
"Dignity may be a cloak for ignorance. Look
beneath the cloak and give respect when
knowledge or ability is found beneath."
Charburough - - 1 B. C.
"A closed mouth often hides a fishwife's
tongue and so enables her to pass as a lady."
Charburough - - 2 B. C.
"A group of people who may be regarded as
second-rate but who possess first-rate leadership
will overcome a group of people regarded as
first-rate but who have only second-rate leadership."
Charburough - - 3 B. C.
"Mediocrity defends itself; the mediocre
individuals who have been struggling with each
other will at once cease, uniting and finding
common cause at the appearance of the superior
person. This they primarily do for
self-preservation rather than to preserve an ideal."
Charburough - - 4 B. C.
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"Written and spoken languages are
comparatively recent methods of expression and the ones
most commonly used for misrepresentation and
deception. Learn to understand the language of
posture, bodily attitudes, and facial expression
as a much older and more thoughtful, although
Charburough - - 5 B. C.
"Just enough conceit and just enough vanity
will help create, but when Baunted they destroy
Charburough -- 6 B. C.
"Stubborness is adolescent and in maturity
should be abandoned, or transformed into
determination to be used only for constructive
Charburough - - 7 B. C.
"When you look into the pool and the
bottom seems far away, and you cannot see it at all,
the pool may not be deep, but only muddy.
Thinking and conversation are like a pool."
Charburough - - 8 B. C.
"Good organization serves through ends and
purposes sought and ever seeks to remove 'red
tape' through short cuts to orderly action."
Charburough -- 9 B. C.
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"If you can stand being always your own best critic, and yet not become introspective or discouraged, you make the greatest possible use of your native resources." Charburough - - 10 B. C.
"The imperfections of life give us purpose
and exercise in living, without which we cease
Charburough - - 11 B. C.
"Be not a perfectionist, but be an aspirant.
If you seek perfection in others, by what
standards shall you judge? If in yourself, you will find
mostly discouragement if you look for other
than progress and best effort."
Charburough - - 12 B. C.
"Were the world peopled solely with
perfectly adjusted people, we would seek the
delirium of disease as a much deserved vacation."
Charburough - - 13 B. C.
"Not until you can see the joke on yourself
are you grown up. Not until you can laugh at
that joke has your judgment reached maturity
and your sense of justice been enthroned."
Charburough - - 14 B. C.
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Illustrations drawn by
RUTH ALLEN WELD
THE SIGN OF THE STONE BOOK
The Case, Lockwood 85 Brainard Company