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


  • [Axel, Count Oxenstiern, chancellor of Sweden; born in Upland, June, 1583; educated at Jena and Wittenberg; prime minister, 1611; continued Sweden’s connection with the Thirty Years’ War after the death of Gustavus Adolphus, and governed the kingdom during the minority of Queen Christina; died August, 1654.]
  • Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

  • When his son hesitated at accepting the representation of Sweden at the Peace Congress of Westphalia, at the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ War, in 1648, alleging his ignorance and inexperience, the chancellor said to him, “An nescis, mi fili, quantiliâ prudentiâ mundus regatur?” These words were attributed to Pope Julius III. (1550–1555), when a Portuguese monk pitied him, to have the weight of the world upon his shoulders: “You would be surprised if you knew with how little expense of understanding the world is ruled.” It was a maxim of Turgot, “Do not govern the world too much.” Selden, Oxenstiern’s contemporary, expressed the same thought, “Thou little thinkest what a little foolery governs the world.”