Some definitions of human characteristics from the pen of Ambrose Bierce and published in his The Devil’s Dictionary, published in book form in 1906.
Self-esteem, he wrote, is “an erroneous appraisement”. This may seem to you to be self-evident but that is because it is “evident to oneself and to no one else”. To be selfish is to be “devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others”.
Tenacity is “a certain quality of the human hand in its relation to the coin of the realm. It attains its highest development in the hand of authority and is considered a serviceable equipment for a career in politics”.
A teetotaller is “one who abstains from strong drink, sometimes totally, sometimes tolerably totally”.To be truthful is to be “dumb and illiterate”. Perhaps explaining why Bierce could define ugliness as “a gift of the gods to certain women, entailing virtue without humility”.
Those who resort to an ultimatum should recognise that it is “in diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to concession”.
Vanity is “the tribute of a fool to the worth of the nearest ass” while virtues are “certain abstentions”.
Youth, he defines, is “the Period of Possibility when Archimedes finds a fulcrum, Cassandra has a following, and seven cities compete for the honour of endowing a living to Homer”, where zeal may manifest itself. Remember, he characterises it as “a certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl”. Indeed.