Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce

(1824 - c. 1914)

A prolific newspaperman for decades, Ambrose Bierce began to publish entries to his “Devil’s Dictionary” in 1881, and contradicted the editorial policy of his employer William Randolph Hearst by condemning the Spanish-American War in 1898. Before traveling to Mexico in 1913 to potentially lend a hand in Pancho Villa’s revolution, Bierce wrote in a letter to his niece, “If you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags, please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life.” He was never heard from again.

All Writing

Misfortune, n. The kind of fortune that never misses.

- Ambrose Bierce,1906

Calamities are of two kinds: misfortune to ourselves, and good fortune to others.

- Ambrose Bierce,1906

Fashion, n. A despot whom the wise ridicule and obey.

- Ambrose Bierce,1911

Mammon, n. The god of the world’s leading religion. His chief temple is in the holy city of New York. 

- Ambrose Bierce,1911

Voices In Time

1870 | San Francisco

Giving the Devil His Due

We have contemplated with considerable satisfaction the various attempts to take human life during the present week.More

Academe, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.

Academy, n. (from academe) A modern school where football is taught.

- Ambrose Bierce,1906

Voices In Time

1906 | Washington, DC

Redefined

Ambrose Bierce reinterprets the dictionary.More

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

- Ambrose Bierce,1906

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

- Ambrose Bierce,1906

Abstainer, n. A weak man who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.

- Ambrose Bierce,1906

Ocean. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man—who has no gills.

- Ambrose Bierce,1906

Epitaph, n. An inscription on a tomb, showing that virtues acquired by death have a retroactive effect.

- Ambrose Bierce,1906

Miscellany

In one of the last letters he ever sent, in October 1913, Ambrose Bierce wrote to his niece, “Goodbye—if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags, please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. To be a Gringo in Mexico—ah, that is euthanasia.” His intention was to see the Mexican Revolution, but the circumstances of his death are unknown.

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