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Spencerian copybook maxims

In the 19th century, a set of copybooks, currently available in a Mott Media reprint, were often used to teach school students Spencerian penmanship. In the copybook approach, a line of text was presented at the top of a page and the students were to copy the text (several times) on the lines provided on the rest of the page.

Often some pithy, didactic maxim was used as the copy. Here are the copybook model texts from the final, fifth, booklet of the Spencerian Penmanship set of copybooks:

Angels are guardian spirits.
Better to live well than long.
Criticise your own writing.
Doing nothing is doing ill.
Exercise strengthens the body.
Freedom is a precious boon.
Gaming has ruined many.
Hold truth in great esteem.
Industry increases wealth.
Kind words can never die.
Let your promises be sincere.
Modesty always charms.
Nature is imitated by art.
Opinion misleads many.
Quit not certainty for hope.
Reputation is not character.
Time present is our only lot.
Virtue commands respect.
Wisdom is better than riches.
Youth should listen to age.
 
Speaking of YMMV, here is Henry David Thoreau's take on the last of those Spencerian maxims:

"One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living. Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures, for private reasons, as they must believe; and it may be that they have some faith left which belies that experience, and they are only less young than they were. I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything to the purpose. Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me; but it does not avail me that they have tried it. If I have any experience which I think valuable, I am sure to reflect that this my Mentors said nothing about."
 

August West

Moderator Emeritus
Speaking of YMMV, here is Henry David Thoreau's take on the last of those Spencerian maxims:

"One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living. Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures, for private reasons, as they must believe; and it may be that they have some faith left which belies that experience, and they are only less young than they were. I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything to the purpose. Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me; but it does not avail me that they have tried it. If I have any experience which I think valuable, I am sure to reflect that this my Mentors said nothing about."
Every generation is the greatest generation.
 

August West

Moderator Emeritus
Speaking of YMMV, here is Henry David Thoreau's take on the last of those Spencerian maxims:

"One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living. Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures, for private reasons, as they must believe; and it may be that they have some faith left which belies that experience, and they are only less young than they were. I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything to the purpose. Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me; but it does not avail me that they have tried it. If I have any experience which I think valuable, I am sure to reflect that this my Mentors said nothing about."
Another Transcendentalist, Emerson opined:

"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
 
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