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Chesterfield on the Proclivities of Little Minds

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Little minds mistake little objects for great ones, and lavish away upon the former that time and attention which only the latter deserve. To such mistakes we owe the numerous and frivolous tribe of insect-mongers, shell-mongers, and pursuers and driers of butterflies, etc. The strong mind distinguishes, not only between the useful and the useless, but likewise between the useful and the curious.

Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield, letter dated Dec. 6, 1748 to his son, Philip Stanhope, in The Letters of the Rt Hon Earl of Chesterfield, vol. II, p. 112 (1774).

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