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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Fisher Ames

  • [An American orator and statesman; born in Dedham, Mass., April 9, 1758; member of Congress, 1789–1796; elected president of Harvard College, but declined on account of ill health; died July 4, 1808.]
  • Sober, second thought.

  • In a speech on Biennial Elections, 1788, Mr. Ames said, “I consider biennial elections as a security that the sober, second thought of the people shall be law.” Matthew Henry, in his “Exposition of Job,” VI. 29, had already spoken of “their own second and sober thoughts,” which Euripides pronounced the best among mortals.—Hippolytus, 438. Cicero, having said that any man might err, quotes a proverb that “second thoughts are apt to be best” (posteriores cogitationes, ut aiunt, sapientiores solent esse).—First Philippic. Talleyrand, however, paradoxically advises “never to act on first impulses, as they are always right;” which Robert Hall qualifies by saying that “in matters of conscience first thoughts are best, in matters of prudence the last.”