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John Russell

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[A proverb is] one man's wit, and all men's wisdom.
--
Variant: [A proverb is] the wisdom of many and the wit of one.
--
Remark to James Mackintosh on October 6, 1830, reported in his posthumous memoir, Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Sir James Mackintosh, Vol. 2 (1836), p. 472

 
John Russell

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Modern derivatives:
The proverb's meaning is changed in many English versions from the 20th and 21st centuries that start with the proverb's first half (through "they") and then end with a phrase that replaces "first make mad" or "make mad." Such versions can be found at Internet search engines by using either of the two keyword phrases that are on Page 2 and Page 4 of the webpage "Pick any Wrong Card." The rest of that webpage is frameworks that induce a reader to compose new variations on this proverb.

 
Euripides
 

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced — Even a proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has illustrated it.

 
John Keats
 

The first step toward greatness is to be honest, says the proverb; but the proverb fails to state the case strong enough. Honesty is not only "the first step toward greatness," — it is greatness itself.

 
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“A person needs only a little in order to live and needs that little only a little while”-this is a high minded proverb that is worthy of being received and understood as it wants to be understood; it is too earnest to want to be admired as a beautiful expression or an elegant locution. As such it is thoughtlessly used at times: one calls it out to the needy person, perhaps in order to console him in passing, perhaps also just to have something to say; one says it to oneself, even on a lucky day, since the human heart is very deceitful, is all too eager to take high-mindedness in vain and is proud of needing only a little-while using much. One says it to oneself on a day of need, and hurries ahead to welcome oneself admiringly at the goal-when one has accomplished something glorious-but one is as little served thereby as the proverb is.

 
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For man seeketh in society comfort, use, and protection: and they be three wisdoms of divers natures, which do often sever: wisdom of the behaviour, wisdom of business, and wisdom of state.

 
Francis Bacon
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