Saturday, March 07, 2009

Did Cardozo Make That Up?

You will study the wisdom of the past. For in a wilderness of conflicting counsels, a trail has been blazed. You will study the life of mankind, for this is the life you must order, and to order with wisdom, must know. You will study the precepts of justice, for these are the truth that through you shall come to their hour of triumph. Here is the high emprise, the fine endeavor, the splendid possibility of achievement, to which I summon and bid you welcome.
The Benjamin Cardozo quotation on the east side of Boalt Hall is so much easier to read now that they've whacked the trees and pressure-washed the lettering. I could make it out even in the dark as I rolled by tonight on a little run. Cardozo's words, while inspiring, were not inspiring enough to inject any vigor into the pathetic, book reading blob I have become, but they were enough to remind me of something I've wondered before: " 'Emprise'? Is that a word, or something Cardozo just sort of made up? I wouldn't put that past him . . . "

For those who have wondered, "emprise" is indeed a word. Or at least, it used to be. "Emprise" is not found in the New Oxford American Dictionary nor Webster's College Dictionary, but it is in the 1989 OED (although the most modern citations are circa late-1800's). An "emprise" is "[a]n undertaking, enterprise; esp. one of an adventurous or chivalrous nature."

Not that you were on the edge of your seat . . . but there you have it.


Blogger Toney said...

Patrick, this is really better suited for the BBB.

3/09/2009 12:04 PM  
Blogger caley said...

What I want to know is how did you transcribe the entire quote? Did you memorize it? Did you sit outside on the lawn with your Blackberry copying it down?

3/09/2009 2:33 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I was confused, too. Especially because Patrick was "on a little run."

3/09/2009 2:39 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Google. (Halfway down the page.)

3/09/2009 3:12 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

[T]he University could have saved itself some money if it had chosen one of the other submissions: "There is only one Boalt but many nuts."


3/09/2009 3:18 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

How about "abandon all hope ye who enter here."

Tired Dante joke! Yay!

3/10/2009 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

". . . to which I summon you and bid you welcome." Even if you want one less "you" at Boalt, changing this quote isn't the way to do it.

4/01/2009 9:02 PM  

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