Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's Not The Critic Who Counts...

The quote below is one of my favourites. It's part of a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave on citizenship at the University of Paris in 1910.

'It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.'

Theodore Roosevelt 1910

I'm sure that they had speech writers even then, but somehow I can't quite imagine Tony coming out with anything like that...

Once when some bangle wearing Advisor from the LEA came to talk to us for an hour about the latest methods for wasting time in the classroom; I pinned up a copy on the wall just behind where she stood. The irony escaped her, but it entertained one or two in the audience.

Mind you, I think my old English teacher might have had something to say about the length of his second sentence...


Bill Sticker said...

I think the attitude of Roosevelts speechwriters must have been; 'full speech ahead and damn the sentence length' (Apologies to American Civil War Admiral Farragut).

Sometimes the rules are made to be broken; at least in the worthy cause of enriching the English language.



Anonymous said...

Reminds me of this quote:
"We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization."
It's usually attributed to Gaius Petronius Arbiter, but was probably written by Charlton Ogburn Jr. just after World War 2.

Keep up the good work.


Tom Welsh said...

Actually, I suppose your Roosevelt quote is quite representative of how Blair feels about his own career.

As for the long sentence, back in those days many people were (a) educated; (b) literate; and (c) patient.

ed said...

Actually, Mr Chalk, I reckon that is exactly the sort of thing that grinning pillock Blair would say - sentences that go on for ever with no verbs.