The following was said of David Ricardo by Maria Edgeworth:

I never argued or discussed a question with any person who argues more fairly, or less for victory and more for truth. He gives full weight to every argument brought against him, and seems not to be on any side of the question for one instant longer than the conviction of his mind is on that side. It seems quite indifferent to him whether you find the truth or whether he finds it, provided it be found.

Or more concisely: He wanted to be right, whether or not he had been right.

Ricardo died at fifty-one. I myself am almost fifty, and if I were to die next year, I hope as much could truthfully be said of me.


Anonymous said...

I can remember reading an excellent condensation of this attitude some time ago: strong opinions, weakly held.

Alexander Anichkin said...

Excellently put, but you don't need to die to fit in.

The quoted passage is also a very good demonstration of the generic usage of 'he' to cover both men and women which is being replaced in modern English by singular 'they'.

John Cowan said...

What generic usage? "He" and "him" in this passage refer solely to David Ricardo, indubitably male.

Alexander Anichkin said...

It does, yes, but she also writes: never argued with any person. I thought it could be taken as a general characterisation of a type of human personality and as such refer to both men and women.