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An inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of... Options
Daemon
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM
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Joined: 3/7/2009
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An inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather.

Washington Irving (1783-1859)
worldsclyde
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 3:01:27 AM
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Location: Spokane, WA USA
No one today would use the image of oil spreading over the sea as a nice thing. I'm just sayin'
Joseph Glantz
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 5:27:04 AM
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Well I do more and more like the people who aren't angry at the world - at least not so angry that they don't listen to the people they disagree wirth.
GabhSigenod
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 6:48:22 AM

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Well, I will give him "smooth", but I'm not so sure about "equable".
AJC
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 9:46:15 AM
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Joined: 7/16/2009
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Location: United States, Michigan
Valium and vodka do tht too. Not at the same time though.Whistle
MTC
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 11:00:20 AM
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There is a real historical basis for Irving's figurative language "spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought." In the past to prevent rough seas oil actually was poured over the waters to produce a calming effect. While I am no chemist, apparently this has something to do with breaking the surface tension.

But Worldsclyde was quite right. Thanks to oil spills, today the expression is more troubling than the jangled nerves it was originally intended to soothe.
MarySM
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 12:20:42 PM
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Joined: 11/22/2009
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I am lucky to have a few people in my life that meet that description. It's a good thing because I also have one who likes to keep the seas troubled.
Angus
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 1:32:27 PM
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This quote is specious hyperbole, meant to be amusing.
MTC
Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 7:10:47 PM
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Joined: 1/18/2011
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To Angus: You have an interesting take on Irving's quotation. Why do you believe it is "specious hyperbole, meant to be amusing?" It might reasonably be characterized as "hyperbolic" in the sense of exaggeration for effect, but not "specious" in the sense of plausible but false. On the contrary, Irving was trying to highlight something we all recognize from experience : the value of an even disposition in trying times.
Angus
Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 5:07:49 PM
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To MTC: It is specious because "an inexhaustible good nature" does not exist in any creature, and were it to exist it would not be a precious gift of heaven (note that heaven is not capitalized) but a sentence of swift, ignominious failure or death. My take on the quote is traditional ... Irving was a satirist.
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