Werther, Goethe, 1774.

“The fools, who do not understand that actual rank does not matter at all and that he who occupies the top very rarely plays the chief role. How often a king is ruled by a minister; how many ministers by their secretaries! And who is then the first? I believe it is the man who knows his fellowmen at a glance and has sufficient power or shrewdness to harness their forces and passions to the execution of his plans.”


Keynes on economics

“Too large a proportion of recent
mathematical economics are merely concoctions, as imprecise as the initial assumptions they rest on, which allow the author to lose sight of the complexities and interdependencies of the real world in a maze of pretentious and unhelpful symbols.”
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

Eating habits of the Turkish soldier during the 16th century

There is one visible sign of this poverty: the frugality that has never failed to impress the northerner. The Fleming Busbecq, when in Anatolia, wrote in 1555, “I dare say that a man of our country spends more on food in one day than a Turk in twelve. . . . The Turks are so frugal and think so little of the pleasures of eating that if they have bread, salt, and some garlic or an onion and a kind of sour milk which they call yoghoort, they ask nothing more. They dilute this milk with very cold water and crumble breadinto it and take it when they are hot and thirsty .. • it is not only palatable and digestible, but also possesses an extraordinary power of quenching the thirst.’ This sobriety has often been noted as one of the great strengths of the Turkish soldier on campaign. He would be content with a little rice,ground meatdried in the sun, and bread coarsely cooked in the ashes of the camp fire.” The western soldier was more particular, example of the many Germans and Swiss.

Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean  and the Mediterranean world in the age of Philip II,  Harper, pg 241, 1972.

Robespierre on Jews

“How can [the Jews] be blamed for the persecutions that different peoples have inflicted on them? . . . They are furthermore charged with vices, prejudices, sectarian spirit and self-interest. But what can we ascribe these to, except our own injustice? Having debarred them from all honours, even the right to public esteem, we have left them no other goal than that of financial speculation. Let us restore them to happiness, to the patrie, to virtue, by restoring to them the dignity of men and of citizens.”

Ref:  A People’s History of the French Revolution, Eric Hazan, 2014, Verso Books.