"A pearl may in a toad's head dwell, and may be found too in an oyster
-- John Bunyan, Apology for his Book
folklore said that the toad carried a magical gem in its head that was
an antidote for poison. (These stones were really the fossilized teeth
of an ancient fish.)
This quotation is from John Bunyan's very long and convoluted forward
to his book, "The Pilgrim's Progress." To me, the purpose of
this 235 line apology (as he calls it) is to say, "Please give my
humble work, written by a humble man, a try - you may find some unexpected
good in it."
With this reference to a pearl in a toad's head Bunyan suggests that the
reader may find something of value (the pearl) in his book (the toad),
as they might in a book by an author of more renown (the oyster.)
In other words, don't judge a book by its cover.
"It is wiser to find out than to suppose"
-- Mark Twain
I had to pick a personal motto, this quotation would in my top 5 finalists.
As a child, I loved to browse through the volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia.
My reference library overflows its shelves, and the books are full of
little paper bookmarks. "Finding out" may be wise, but it can
also be an exciting journey to unexpected places.