button to main menu  Maps in Quotes


Just miscellaneous quotations mentioning maps, compasses, scales, surveying, geography ...
George B Airy the sixth Astronomer Royal wrote about James Cook, in Dolcoath:-
    When the greatest of England's bold voyagers perished, / 'Twas the ear of a savage that heard his last groans / And, far from the land where his memory is cherished, / On a tropical island are scattered his bones: / Unjust was the fate that arrested his motion, / Who with vigour unequalled, unyielding devotion, / Surveyed every coast, and explained every ocean, / In frigid, and torrid, and temperate zones.
W S Anglin     Mathematics is not a careful march down a well-cleared highway; but a journey into a strange wilderness, where the explorers often get lost. Rigour should be a signal to the historian that the maps have been made, and the real explorers have gone elsewhere.
Barrie, J M On the problems of refolding:-
    There are men who can do almost anything except shut a map
Edmund Clerihew Bentley from Biography for Beginners:-
    The art of Biography / Is different from Geography. / Geography is about maps, / Biography is about chaps.
Mrs Birkhoff Meeting the new wife of mathematician Arthur Bernhart, Mrs Birkhoff wife of mathematician George D Birkdhoff, asked:-
    Tell me, did your husband make you draw maps for him to colour on your honeymoon, as mine did?
Samuel Butler from Hudibras:-
    For he by geometric scale / Could take the size of pots of ale.
John Byng from Ride into the West, 1782, at Romsey, Hampshire:-
    No information of my Road cou'd be got here, so I must proceed by the Map as a Mariner does by his Compass; for neither Hostler, nor Waiter, knew a Mile from the door, and A Landlord would scorn to wait upon me. ...
Lewis Carroll from The Hunting of the Snark, 1876, the Bellman:-
    He had bought a large map representing the sea, / Without the least vestige of land: / And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be / A map they could all understand.
    'What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators, / Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?' / So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply, / 'They are merely conventional signs!'
    'Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes! / But we've got our brave Captain to thank' / (So the crew would protest) 'that he's bought us the best - / A prefect and absolute blank!'
Lewis Carroll from Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, 1893 (chapter 11):-
    'What a useful thing a pocket-map is!' I [Bruno] remarked.
    'That's another thing we've learned from your Nation,' said Mein Herr, 'map-making. But we've carried it much further than you. What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?'
    'About six inches to the mile.'
    'Only six inches!' exclaimed Mein Herr. 'We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came to the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!'
    'Have you used it much?' I enquired.
    'It has never been spread out, yet,' said Mein Herr: 'the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So now we use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well ...'
Lewis Carroll Alice, in Alice in Wonderland:-
    If you don't know where you are, it doesn't matter how you got there
T Chubb From a catalogue of printed maps of Wiltshire, 1911:-
    My work terminates at the publication of the 25-inch Ordnance Survey, 1885, there being nothing of antiquarian interest after that date.
Clancy, Tom Hidden Agendas,a Net Force story:-
    Giving up his survival trip for a real assignment was not in the least bit distressing to him. War games and camping trips were only the maps not the territory.
William Cowper On the Receipt of My Mother's Picture:-
    Me howling blasts drive devious, tempest-tossed, / Sails ripped, seams opening wide, and compass lost
Dr John Dee 1570:-
    Some, to beautify their Halls, Parlors, Chambers, Galeries, Studies, or Libraries ... liketh, loveth, getteth, and useth, Maps, Charts, and Geographical Globes
Charles Dickens from Martin Chuzzlewit:-
    ... a highly geological home-made cake ...
Nicholas Freeling from Not as Far as Velma
    ... tables of wood, scrubbed until the grain looks like the isometric map of the South China Sea.
Christopher Fry from The Lady's Not for Burning
    Where in this small-talking world can I find / A Longitude with no platitude?
John Gay from Sweet William's Farewell:-
    We only part to meet again. / Change, as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be / The failthful compass that still points to thee.
Thomas Hobbes 17th century ... when at Oxford ...:-
    tooke great delight to goe to the bookebinders shops and lye gaping on maps.
Lyall, Gavin From Uncle Target, published 1988
    ... no Army officer worth his rank can resist a map. Proper study of a map will win the battle, increase potency, pick a Derby winner and cure warts. A map is The Future - to those who can read.
Mauro, Fra Cartographer to the court of Venice, commented:-
    Cartography is a sublime craft.
Prince Metternicht from a letter 19 November 1849:-
    Italien ist ein geographiscer Begriff
that is:-
    Italy is a geographical expression
J A Suarez Miranda from Travels of Praiseworthy Men, 1658 (?):-
    ... In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that a Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Empire itself an entire Province. In the course of Time, these Extensive maps were found somehow wanting, and so the College of Cartographers evolved a Map of the Empire that was of the same Scale as the Empire and that coincided with it point for point. Less attentive to the Study of Cartography, succeeding Generations came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome, and, not without Irreverence, they abandoned it to the Rigours of Sun and Rain. In the western Deserts, tattered fragments of the Map are still to be found, ...
Napoleon On his retreat from Moscow:-
    Any map is better than no map at all
William Pitt Referring to a map of Europe, January 1806, on receiving the news of Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, December 1805:-
    Roll up that map; it will not be wanted these ten years.
Michael Polanyi from Personal Knowledge, toward a post-critical philosphy, 1958:-
    ... all theory may be regarded as a kind of map extended over space and time.
Martin Rudwick from The Emergence of a Visual Language for Geological Science 1760-1840, 1976:-
    ... a geological map ... is a document presented in a visual language; and like any ordinary verbal language this embodies a complex set of tacit rules and conventions that have to be learned by practice. ... [there must be a community] which tacitly accepts these rules and shares an understanding of these conventions.
William Shakespeare     When we mean to build / We first survey the plot, then draw the model: ...
Martin Cruz Smith from Rose, set in the Lancashire coalfields, 19th century.
    People could no more resist maps of where they lived than they could portaits of themselves ...
    Triangulation is the mapmakers method. If you know the position and height of any two places and you see a third, you can work out its position and height. That's what maps are, invisible triangles.
Robert Louis Stevenson from Treasure Island, published 1883:-
    ... the map of an island, with latitude and longitude, soundings, names of hills, and bays and inlets, and every particular that would be needed to bring a ship to a safe anchorage upon its shores. ... a hill in the centre paret marked 'The Spy-glass'. There several additions of a later date; but, above all, three crosses of red ink - two on the north part of the island, one in the south-west, and, beside the last, in the same red ink, and in a small neat hand, ... these words: 'Bulk of treasure here.'
    Over on the back the same hand had written this further information:
    'Tall tree, Spy-glass Shoulder, bearing a point to the N. of N.N.E.
and (though I cannot find it) also in Treasure Island; maps are:-
    ... an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to see or two pence worth of imagination to understand with ...
and elsewhere:-
    I am told that there are people who do not care for maps, and I find it hard to believe it.
Robert Louis Stevenson     All good adventures start with a map
Johnathon Swift commented:-
    So geographers, in Afric maps, / With savage pictures fill their gaps, / And, o'er inhabitable downs, / Place elephants for want of towns.
Mark Twain from Life on the Mississippi:-
    When I'm playful I use the meridians of Longitude and parallels of latitude for a seine, and drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales.
Mark Twain from Tom Sawyer Abroad, Huck Finn to Tom sawyer:-
    We're right over Illinois yet. And you can see for yourself that Indiana ain't in sight ... Illinois is green, Indiana is pink. You show me any pink down here, if you can. No, sir: it's green.
    Indiana pink? Why, that's a lie!
    It ain't no lie; I've seen it on a map, and it's pink.
Anon from the Ballad of Gresham College, about 1660:-
    The College will the whole world measure; / Which most impossible conclude, / And Navigation make a pleasure / By finding out the Longitude. / Every Tarpaulin shall then with ease / Sayle any ship to the Antipodes.
Unknown From a Tour to the Caves of the West Riding of Yorkshire, late 18th century
    [from Ingleborough] ... All the country betwixt us and the sea, to the extent of forty, fifty, and sixty miles, from the north-west, by the west, to the south-west, lay stretched out beneath us, like a large map, with the roads, rivers, villages, towns, seats, hills and vales, capes and bays, in succession. Elevation is a great leveller; all the hills and little mountains in the country before us, appeared sunk in our eyes, and in the same plain with the adjacent meaows.

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