Friday, February 27, 2009

Farrar on Knowledge without Common Sense

There is a mis-attributed quotation floating around on the internet that goes something like this:
Knowledge, without common sense, says Lee, is folly; without method, it is waste; without kindness, it is fanaticism; without religion, it is death. But with common sense, it is wisdom with method, it is power; with clarity, it is beneficence; with religion, it is virtue, and life, and peace.

Farrar, Austin
I won't link to the various sources of this mis-attributed quotation lest I give them additional publicity and instead I will clarify the source and accuracy of this quotation and perhaps then future googlers will find their way here. In the form above, the quotation makes little sense -- it has been garbled in transmission. Moreover, the quotation is not from "Austin Farrar", an apparent assimilation of the first name "Austin" in Austin Farrer to the true author, Frederick William Farrar. Here is a correct version of the quotation:
"You must not only listen but read, you must not only read but think; knowledge," it has been said, "without common sense is folly, without method it is waste, without kindness it is fanaticism, without religion it is death;" aye, but -— and every page of the New Testament confirms the lesson —- with common sense it is wisdom; with method it is power; with charity it is beneficence; with religion it is virtue, and life, and peace.

Frederick William Farrar, The Witness of History to Christ: Five Sermons Preached Before the University of Cambridge; Being the Hulsean Lectures for the Year 1870 (London: Macmillan, 1871), 159-60.
The piece in quotation marks is attributed by Farrar (159, n. 3) as follows:
From a speech by the late Bp. of Manchester (Dr J. Prince Lee), at the opening of the Bury Athenaeum. Cf. S. Bernard, " Ut legeret intelligendi fecit cupiditas; ut intelligeret oratio impetravit; ut impetraret vitae sanctitas promeruit. Sic cupiat, sic oret, sic vivat qui se proficere velit."
This blog entry comes by virtue of the glories of Google Books.


AKMA said...

Surely the attribution should read “at the opening of the Bury Athenaeum”?

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, AKMA. Corrected. Made the mistake of copying and pasting without paying attention.