Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce, satirist
Ambrose Bierce, an American journalist and author, was one of the nation's foremost satirist, focusing his wit on political cant and the definition of English-languge words. 

He began his career as a journalist covering the Civil War in western Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia. Afterward he plied his trade in the western Plains, San Francisco and England. In October 1873, he toured little-known Civil War battlefields in Texas, then traveled to Mexico to cover Pancho Villa's insurrection against the Mexican government. Bierce is believed to have died in Mexico (no one knows precisely where) at aged 71.

On this, his 172nd birthday on June 24, I thought it might be fun to publish some of this choice entries from his most popular work, "Devil's Dictionary." I first read the book some 30 years ago and I still get kick out of his clever observations. I hope you enjoy his works:

War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

Diplomacy, n. The patriotic art of lying for one's country.

Litigation, n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.

Lawyer, n. One skilled in the circumvention of the law.

Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.

Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.

Egotist, n. A person more interested in himself than in me.

Academe, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
Academy, n. [from Academe] A modern school where football is taught.

Cabbage, n. A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.

Faith, n. Believe without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.

Heaven, n. A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound on your own.

Pray, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

Twice, adv. Once too often.



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