Sad Signs, and a Great Once and Future King Quote

The other day Rachel Maddow tweeted a link to her favorite quote, which was Merlin saying the following to a young Arthur in T. H. White’s Once and Future King (great book):

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake in the middle of the night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

I liked it because I’ve been writing this document called “The Bitter End.” It’s about all the ways I might spend the rest of my life, things that sound fun and satisfying to me, and almost all the things I came up with involved learning new things.

And here is the sad sign. Even sadder, the next day it rained and this sign was illegible. On a happier note, I know from when a friend lost a dog that chances are whoever found him either gave him or sold him to someone who loves him too.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

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