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There is something that is much more scarce, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognize ability.
They are able because they think they are able.
Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study.
The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.
It generally happens that assurance keeps an even pace with ability, and the fear of miscarriage, which hinders Our first attempts, is gradually dissipated as our skill advances towards certainty of success.
… for nothing out of the common order of nature can be long borne.
I will not give to a woman an instrument to procure abortion.
Prevention of birth is a precipitation of murder. He also is a man who is about to be one.
Abortions will not let you forget. You remember the children you got that you did not get.
My fellow citizens, the President is dead, but the Government lives and God Omnipotent reigns.
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, …
Speak no evil of an absent friend. (Non male loquare absenti amico.)
Seldom seen, soon forgotten.
The pain without the peace of death.
The absent are as good as dead.
The absent and the dead have no friends.
Absence makes the heart go wander.
Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind blows out candles and fans fire.
Absence is to love what wind is to fire;
It extinguishes the small, it kindles the great.
(L'absence est à l'amour ce qu'est au feu le vent;
Il éteint le petit, il allume le grand.)
Abstemiousness And Gluttony
To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.
Short supper; long life.
If you find honey, eat just enough —
too much of it, and you will vomit.
Abstinence is as easy to me, as temperance would be difficult.
A man proposes his schemes of life in a state of abstraction and disengagement, exempt from the enticements of hope, the solicitations of affection, the importunities of appetite, or the depressions of fear, and is in the same state with him that teaches upon land the art of navigation, to whom the sea is always smooth, and the wind always prosperous.
Abundance kills more than hunger.
Just as I see abundance as validation of my faith in God, the religion of Secular Fundamentalism sees shortage as validation of their faith.
A university studies politics, but it will not advocate fascism or communism. A university studies military tactics, but it will not promote war. A university studies peace, but it will not organize crusades of pacifism. It will study every question that affects human welfare, but it will not carry a banner in a crusade for anything except freedom of learning.
Nothing under the sun is ever accidental.
If someone accuses you for something you haven't done he either has done it himself or he would do it if he were you.
No man has lived to much purpose unless he has built a house, begotten a son, or written a book.
Never mistake activity for achievement.
Accomplishing something provides the only real satisfaction in life.
The wisest man I have ever known once said to me: "Nine out of every ten people improve on acquaintance," and I have found his words true.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min'?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o' lang syne?
If a man is worth knowing at all, he is worth knowing well.
Acquaintance, n. A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to.
A wise man knows everything; a shrewd one, everybody.
Sir, I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance.
The Japanese have a word for it. It's judo — the art of conquering by yielding. The Western equivalent of judo is, "Yes, dear."
On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting; ’Twas only that when he was off he was acting.
There are two kinds of people: those who don't do what they want to do, so they write down in a diary about what they haven't done, and those who haven't time to write about it because they're out doing it.
I plow, but I do not write about plowing.
It seems to me that man is made to act rather than to know: the principles of things escape our most persevering researches.
Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in times of moral crisis, do nothing.
To an active mind, indolence is more painful than labor.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
"He means well" is useless unless he does well.
The inactivity of a conqueror betrays the loss of strength and blood …
No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step toward solution. Do something.
Colonel Brighton: Look, sir, we can't just do nothing.
General Allenby: Why not? It's usually best.
No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
This world, where much is to be done and little to be known.
Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.
We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.
I never worry about action, but only about inaction.
[They] rate themselves by the goodness of their opinions, and forget how much more easily men may shew their virtue in their talk than in their actions …
I prefer the talents of action — of war — of the senate — or even of science — to all the speculations of those mere dreamers of another existence.
The end of man is an action and not a thought, though it were the noblest.
Actors are a nuisance in the earth, the very offal of society.
[Studio official's assessment of Fred Astaire:] Can't act. Slightly bald. Also dances.
The life of youth and beauty is too short for the bringing an actress to perfection.
In the Garden of Eden sat Adam,
Massaging the bust of his madam,
He chuckled with mirth,
For he knew that on earth,
There were only two boobs and he had 'em.
What could Adam have done to God that made Him put Eve in the garden?
The tomb of Adam! How touching it was, here in a land of strangers, far away from home, and friends, and all who cared for me, thus to discover the grave of a blood relation. True, a distant one, but still a relation.
It's like I have a shotgun in my mouth, and I've got my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun metal.
As to the adjective, when in doubt strike it out.
The adjective is the enemy of the noun.
Admiration is a very short-lived passion, that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object.
Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.
Things not understood are admired.
Admonish your friends in private; praise them in public.
I had always thought that once you grew up you could do anything you wanted — stay up all night or eat ice-cream straight out of the container.
For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.
All at once he followed her [the adulteress] like an ox going to the slaughter
If a married woman shall be caught lying with another man, both shall be bound and thrown into the river.
But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment;
whoever does so destroys himself.
Between a man and his wife a husband's infidelity is nothing. The man imposes no bastards on his wife.
A wanton and lascivious eye
Betrays the heart's adultery.
We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!
The adverb is the enemy of the verb.
Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power. This is the supreme test.
(Popular variation: Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.)
In time of prosperity friends will be plenty;
In time of adversity not one in twenty.
In prosperity, caution; in adversity, patience.
By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man's, I mean.
While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.
Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.
You can't adjust the winds, but you can adjust your sails.
Prosperity getteth friends, but adversity trieth them.
In the adversity of our best friends we often find something that is not wholly displeasing to us.
Adversity makes a man wise, not rich.
Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.
Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them.
The pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon.
Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.
Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark: you know what you are doing, but nobody else does.
Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.
I always hated those testimonials on TV … [where the actress says,] "If I can do it, you can do it." How the hell does she know what I can and cannot do?
When we ask advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.
Whatever your advice, make it brief.
Advice is least heeded when most needed.
You may give him good advice, but who can give him wit to take it?
The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.
Beware the advice of a poor man.
Never advise anyone to go to war or to marry.
Years ago, my mother used to say to me, "In this world, Elwood, you must be be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.
Ask advice only of your equals.
Many receive advice, few profit by it.
Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example.
[But] if the royal ear [of Theodoric] was open to the voice of truth, a saint and a philosopher are not always to be found at the ear of kings.
If you've ever taken advice from a cartoonist, there's a good chance it didn't end well.
It is better to advise than upbraid, for the one corrects the erring; the other only convicts them.
How is it possible to expect that mankind will take advice, when they will not so much as take warning?
Advice is seldom welcome; and those who want it the most always like it the least.
We ask advice but mean approbation.
We may give advice but we cannot give conduct.
Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
To think how mony counsels sweet,
How mony lengthen'd, sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises!
(Ah, gentle ladies, it makes me cry,
To think how many counsels sweet,
How much long and wise advice
The husband from the wife despises!)
I have, all my life long, been lying till noon; yet I tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good.
Vanity is so frequently the apparent motive of advice, that we, for the most part, summon our powers to oppose it without any very accurate inquiry whether it is right. It is sufficient that another is growing great in his own eyes at our expense, and assumes authority over us without our permission; for many would contentedly suffer the consequences of their own mistakes, rather than the insolence of him who triumphs as their deliverer.
The qualities we have do not make us so ridiculous as those we affect to have.
And I cannot always withhold some expression of anger, like Sir Hugh in the comedy, when I happen to find that a woman has a beard.
[For] it is not folly but pride, not errour but deceit, which the world means to persecute, when it raises the full cry of nature to hunt down affectation.
The hatred which dissimulation always draws upon itself, is so great, that if I did not know how much cunning differs from wisdom, I should wonder that any men have so little knowledge of their own interest, as to aspire to wear a mask for life …
Hypocrisy is the necessary burthen of villany, affectation part of the chosen trappings of folly; the one completes a villain, the other only finishes a fop. Contempt is the proper punishment of affectation, and detestation the just consequence of hypocrisy.
For, if the pinnacles of fame be at best slippery, how unsteady must his footing be who stands upon pinnacles without foundation!
Affectation may possibly succeed for a time, and a man may, by great attention, persuade others, that he really has the qualities which he presumes to boast; but the hour will come when he should exert them, and then whatever he enjoyed in praise, he must suffer in reproach.
Affection is a coal that must be cooled;
Else, suffered, it will set the heart on fire.
I could have been happy with a servant girl had she only in sincerity of heart responded to my affection.
Affliction may one day smile again; and till then, sit thee down, sorrow!
[The] bulk of mankind must owe their affluence to small and gradual profits, below which their expense must be resolutely reduced.
One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell that would tell anything.
I'm very pleased with each advancing year. It stems back to when I was forty. I was a bit upset about reaching that milestone, but an older friend consoled me. 'Don't complain about growing old — many, many people do not have that privilege.'
Old age is not so bad when you consider the alternatives.
As for me, except for an occasional heart attack, I feel as young as I ever did.
You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.
Nothing so dates a man as decrying the younger generation.
There are three categories of age: youth, middle age, and "Gee, you're looking well."
Youth is a blunder; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.
Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.
Aggression unchallenged is aggression unleashed.
In every unbeliever's heart there is an uneasy feeling that, after all, he may awake after death and find himself immortal. This is his punishment for his unbelief. This is the agnostic's Hell.
My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me.
All I can say is that I have taken more out of alcohol than it has taken out of me.
To alcohol! The cause of — and solution to — all of life's problems.
Alcohol is the prince of liquids, and carries the palate to its highest pitch of exaltation.
Hamilton was honest as a man, but, as a politician, believed in the necessity of either force or corruption to govern men.
Alice Roosevelt Longworth
I can do one of two things. I can be president of the United States or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.
Close alliances with despots are never safe for free states.
Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.
The nature of the English government forbids, of itself, reliance on her engagements; and it is well known she has been the least faithful to her alliances of any nation of Europe.
Any alliance whose purpose is not the intention to wage war is senseless and useless
Alliteration tickles the ear, and is a very popular form of language among savages.
I must be dunned for alms, and do not scramble over hedges and ditches in searching for opportunities of flinging away my money on good works.
I do not give alms: I am not poor enough for that.
It is better to be alone than in ill company.
A man is never alone, not only because he is with himself and his own thoughts, but because he is with the Devil, who ever consorts with our solitude.
I was never less alone than while by myself.
Woe unto him that is never alone, and cannot bear to be alone.
A man alone is either a god or a devil. (Homo solus aut deus, aut daemon.)
Alone the world alone and you go out of the world alone yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even going and coming.
It is the freeman who must win freedom for the slave; it is the wise man who must think for the fool; it is the happy who must serve the unhappy.
Nobody does good to men with impunity.
A sovereign should always regard an ambassador as a spy.
Ambassadors are the eyes and ears of the state.
[An ambassador is] a politician who is given a job abroad in order to get him out of the country.
Vain the ambition of kings
Who seek by trophies and dead things
To leave a living name behind,
And weave but nets to catch the wind.
It seems that ambition makes most people wish to be loved rather than to love others.
Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.
I would to God there were more ambition in the country … ambition of that laudable kind, to excel.
Men are generally idle, and ready to satisfy themselves, and intimidate the industry of others, by calling that impossible which is only difficult.
Ambition is a vice, but it may be the father of virtue.
The same ambition can destroy or save,
And makes a patriot as it makes a knave.
Where ambition ends happiness begins.
Ambition is the rankest poison to the church, when it possesses preachers. It is a consuming fire.
His demands were, indeed, very often such as virtue could not easily consent to gratify; but virtue is not to be consulted when men are to raise their fortunes by the favour of the great.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition:
By that sin fell the angels.
Those who are believed to be most abject and humble are usually most ambitious and envious.
I have never yet exerted ambition in rising in the state. But sure I am, no man has made his way better to the best company.
… when we have once obtained an acknowledged superiority over our acquaintances, imagination and desire easily extend it over the rest of mankind, and if no accident forces us into new emulations, we grow old, and die in admiration of ourselves.
… to be admired must be the constant aim of ambition …
In England I would rather be a man, a horse, a dog, or a woman, in that order. In America I think the order would be reversed.
I regard England as my wife and America as my mistress.
The European traveler in America — at least if I may judge by myself — is struck by two peculiarities: first, the extreme similarity of outlook in all parts of the United States (except the Old South), and secondly, the passionate desire of each locality to prove that it is peculiar and different from every other. The second of these is, of course, caused by the first.
Because I really want to live in a country where the poor people are fat.
The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.
America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
America is not what's wrong with the world.
America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
I'll start to worry about America's standing in the world when people from all corners of the earth cease to want to come here.
America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.
The Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.
We have learned one lesson in the last half-century: the well-being of the world depends, above all, on the sensible pursuit of common aims by the United States and the free European peoples. That the Japanese are rapidly transforming this relationship into a triangular one goes without saying. But the U.S.-European axis remains the fulcrum of stability, and the Europeans know it: it is the one fixed point in their geopolitics. For this reason they are remarkably dependent on the workings of the American system, and the character of the man it places in the White House.
I wonder if the word "American" will one day have the same connotation as the word "byzantine."
America is now a land that rewards failure — at the personal, corporate, and state level.
The later chapters of "The Decline and Fall of the United States" will make interesting reading.
I want no criticism of America at my table. The Americans criticize themselves more than enough.
Europe is the product of history. America is the product of philosophy.
Anyone, in any walk of life, who is content with mediocrity is untrue to himself and to American tradition.
America will never be an ordinary country; it's always going to be extraordinary.
Anyone who travels to every part of the United States, as I do, becomes aware that the notion of America oppressing humanity is absurd. To a great extent, America is humanity.
In the 1770s, surveying the immensity and diversity of London, Dr. Samuel Johnson laid down: "Sir, a man who is tired of London is tired of life." The saying could be rephrased today. A man who hates America hates humanity.
In America the geography is sublime, but the men are not: the inventions are excellent, but the inventors one is sometimes ashamed of.
… how is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?
Young man, there is America — which at this day serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men and uncouth manners; yet shall, before you taste of death, show itself equal to the whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy of the world.
Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them.
Nothing contributes more to peace of soul than having no opinion at all.
I do not think the Red Indians had any right to say, "The American Continent belongs to us and we are not going to have any of these European settlers coming in here." They had not the right, nor had they the power.
[America] goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
The American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goosesteppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end of the Middle Ages.
The Americans are the illegitimate children of the English.
Americans are very smart about the things they care about, and ignorant about the things they don't.
We [Americans] are fat, overgrown lab rats, and we get too many reward pellets for too little effort.
There are no people in the world who are so slow to develop hostile feelings against a foreign country as the Americans and there are no people who once estranged, are more difficult to win back.
I am not a Virginian but an American.
They [Americans] are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging.
I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.
See what it is to have a nation to take its place among civilized states before it has either gentlemen or scholars. They have in the course of 20 years acquired a distinct national character for low, lying knavery.
I have traveled more than four thousand miles about this country; and I never met one single insolent or rude … American.
[An American is] an Anglo-Saxon relapsed into semi-barbarism.
The American is nomadic in religion, in ideas, in morals.
God looks after drunks, children, and Americans.
A European says: I can't understand this, what's wrong with me? An American says: I can't understand this, what's wrong with him [the author]?
… the American has grown so accustomed to the denial of his constitutional rights and to the minute regulation of his conduct by swarms of spies, letter-openers, informers and agents provocateurs that he no longer makes any serious protest.
Oppressive laws do not destroy minorities; they simply make bootleggers.
Sometimes it [the witch-hunt] is launched from one end of the ideological spectrum, sometimes from the other, but its characteristics remain the same: fanaticism, self-righteousness, abuse of the legal forms, contempt for justice.
What was once a constitutional federal republic is now converted, in reality, into one as absolute as that of the autocrat of Russia, and as despotic in its tendency as any absolute government that ever existed.
It is remarkable how very debased the language has become in a short period in America.
When I speak my native tongue in its utmost purity in England, and Englishman can't understand me at all.
The next Augustan age will dawn on the other side of the Atlantic. There will, perhaps, be a Thucydides at Boston, a Xenophon at New York, and, in time, a Virgil at Mexico, and a Newton at Peru. At last, some curious traveler from Lima will visit England and give a description of the ruins of St. Paul’s, like the editions of Balbec and Palmyra.
Ammianus is so eloquent, that he writes nonsense.
I am a great friend to public amusements; for they keep people from vice.
The following classes of aliens shall be excluded from admission into the United States: … anarchists, or persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the government of the United States, or of all government, or of all forms of law, or the assassination of public officials.
We started off trying to set up a small anarchist community, but people wouldn't obey the rules.
… but life is surely given us for higher purposes than to gather what our ancestors have wisely thrown away, and to learn what is of no value, but because it has been forgotten.
I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.
Nothing is so soothing to our self-esteem as to find our bad traits in our forebears. It seems to absolve us.
It is certainly desirable to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors.
He who boasts of his descent praises another.
A mule always boasts that its ancestors were horses.
Speak of the moderns without contempt and of the ancients without idolatry; judge them all by their merits and not by their age.
People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.
The Queen is not amused.
If we had had the cable telegraph in those days, this blood [from the battle of New Orleans] would not have been spilt, those lives would not have been wasted; and better still, Jackson would probably never have been president. We have gotten over the harms done us by the war of 1812, but not over some of those done us by Jackson's presidency.
Who does the best his circumstances allows
Does well, acts nobly; angels could do no more.
The best cure for anger is delay.
How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
Whate'er's begun in anger ends in shame.
When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.
Anger is a vulgar passion directed to vulgar ends, and it always sinks to the level of its object.
The size of a man can be measured by the size of the thing that makes him angry.
He who is slow to anger is longer getting over it.
Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry.
An angry man [differs] from a madman only in the shorter time which his passion [endures].
"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Anger so clouds the mind, that it cannot perceive the truth.
We are all crazy when we are angry.
Women are like wasps in their anger.
The angry man never wanted woe.
Anger begins with folly, and ends with repentance.
The best answer to anger is silence.
He who restrains his anger overcomes his greatest enemy.
Those sudden bursts of rage generally break out upon small occasions; for life, unhappy as it is, cannot supply great evils as frequently as the man of fire thinks it fit to be enraged
Whoever converses with him (the man prone to anger), lives with the suspicion and solicitude of a man that plays with a tame tiger, always under a necessity of watching the moment in which the capricious savage shall begin to growl.
This is the round of a passionate man's life; he contracts debts when he is furious, which his virtue, if he has virtue, obliges him to discharge at the return of reason. He spends his time in outrage and acknowledgment, injury and reparation.
I am angry nearly every day of my life … but I have learned not to show it; and I still hope to learn not to feel it, though it may take me another forty years to do so.
Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor.
Anger is never without an Argument, but seldom with a good one. (Alternative version: Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.)
I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
The great qualities of the Anglo-Saxon race are industry, intelligence, and self-confidence.
The Anglo-Saxon carries self-government and self-development with him wherever he goes.
I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.
The pig, if I am not mistaken,
Supplies us sausage, ham, and bacon.
Let others say his heart is big —
I call it stupid of the pig.
If you have no trouble, buy a goat.
Our toil is lessened, and our wealth is increased, by our dominion over the useful animals …
There be beasts that, at a year old, observe more, and pursue that which is for their good more prudently, than a child can do at ten.
The lower animals have not the high advantages which we have, but they have some which we lack. They know nothing of our hopes, but they also know nothing of our fears; they are subject to death as we are, but they are not aware of it; most of them are better able to take care of themselves than we are, and they make a less evil use of their passions.
Animals are such agreeable friends — they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
We have no reason to believe that other creatures have higher faculties, or more extensive capacities, than the preservation of themselves, or their species, requires; they seem always to be fully employed, or to be completely at ease without employment, to feel few intellectual miseries or pleasures, and to have no exuberance of understanding to lay out upon curiosity or caprice, but to have their minds exactly adapted to their bodies, with few other ideas than such as corporal pain or pleasure impresses upon them.
We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.
No answer is also an answer.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
As a thinker and a planner the ant is the equal of any savage race of men; as a self-educated specialist in several arts she is the superior of any savage race of men; and in one or two high mental qualities she is above the reach of any man, savage or civilized.
Violent antipathies are always suspicious, and betray a secret affinity.
Let others praise ancient times; I am glad that I was born in these.
Damn the age; I will write for antiquity.
The antisocial or asocial man is either a beast or a god.
To live in anguish is death itself; anxiety defeats and destroys man.
You know what is before you. The whips and scorpions, the thorns without roses, the dangers, anxieties, and weight of Empire.
It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what other men in whole books — what other men do not say in whole books.
But, perhaps, the excellence of aphorisms consists not so much in the expression of some rare or abstruse sentiment, as in the comprehension of some obvious and useful truth in few words.
If I am asked, Shall I utter the formula of Islam or submit to death? I answer, Utter the formula and live.
All is not gold that shines like gold. (Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum.
- Everything that glitters is not gold.
- Do not hold as gold all that shines as gold.
Three-tenths of a good appearance are due to nature; seven-tenths to dress.
A good exterior is a silent recommendation.
Appearances are very deceitful.
Men are valued, not for what they are, but for what they seem to be.
Do not praise individuals for their good looks, or loathe anyone because of appearance alone.
Beware, as long as you live, of judging people by appearances.
I … smell the stench of appeasement in the air.
I think that if I give him [Stalin] everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.
My good friends this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace in our time.
We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame. My feeling is that we shall choose shame and then have war thrown in a little later on even more adverse terms than at present.
All man's efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied.
Subdue your appetites, and you've conquered human nature.
Appetite comes with eating … but the thirst goes away with drinking.
Let appetite obey reason.
Leave with an appetite.
If thou rise with an appetite thou art sure never to sit down without one.
The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and hunger; the first is a perpetual call upon them to propagate their kind, the latter to preserve themselves.
When most the world applauds you, most beware:
'Tis often less a blessing than a snare.
Do not trust to the cheering, for those very persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged.
When you applaud me at the start [of my speech], that's faith; midway through, that's hope. But, ah, my dear friends, if you applaud me at the end, that will be charity!
Better the oppression of Turks than the justice of Arabs.
The life of a wandering Arab [in the time of Gibbon] is a life of danger and distress; and though sometimes, by rapine or exchange, he may appropriate the fruits of industry, a private citizen in Europe is in the possession of more solid and pleasing luxury than the proudest emir, who marches in the field at the head of ten thousand horse.
[The] noblest of [Arabs] united the love of arms with the profession of merchandise.
[Arabs are] a people, whom it is dangerous to provoke, and fruitless to attack.
But [the Arabs'] friendship was venal, their faith inconstant, their enmity capricious: it was an easier task to excite than to disarm these roving barbarians; and, in the familiar intercourse of war, they learned to see, and to despise, the splendid weakness both of Rome and of Persia.
The character of Hatem is the perfect model of Arabian virtue: he was brave and liberal, an eloquent poet, and a successful robber …
Arabs would have sat in the dark forever had not the Zionist engineers harnessed the Jordan river for electrification. Now they swarm into Palestine in seeking the light.
He was swearing audibly, and when he found that the infirmities of the English tongue hemmed in his rage, he sought consolation in Arabic, which is expressly designed for the use of the afflicted.
Scanavius relates that he knew an archbishop who was so old that he could remember a time when he did not deserve hanging.
Architect, n. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.
The fate of the architect is the strangest of all. How often he expends his whole soul, his whole heart and passion, to produce buildings into which he himself may never enter.
I have found a paper of mine in which I call architecture frozen music [erstarrte Musik]. Really there is something in this; the tone of mind produced by architecture approaches the effect of music.
In architecture the pride of man, his triumph over gravitation, his will to power, assume a visible form. Architecture is a sort of oratory of power.
This gloomy region [the Arctic], where the year is divided into one day and one night, lies entirely outside the stream of history.
Be calm in arguing: for fierceness makes
Error a fault, and truth discourtesy.
When we wish to reprove with profit, and show another that he is mistaken, we must observe on what side he looks at the thing, for it is usually true on that side, and to admit to him that truth, but to discover to him the side whereon it is false. He is pleased with this, for he perceives that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to look on all sides.
It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them.
To attempt to argue any great question upon facts only is absurd; you cannot state any fact before a mixed audience which an opponent as clever as yourself cannot with ease twist towards another bearing, or at least meet by a contrary fact, as it is called.
There is no greater mistake that the hasty conclusion that opinions are worthless because they are badly argued.
You cannot argue with someone who denies the first principles. (Contra negantem principia non est disputandum.)
I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents.
If you can make a good bargain with an Armenian you can make a good bargain with the Devil.
The principal foundations of all states are good laws and good arms; and there cannot be good laws where there are not good arms.
Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms.
I do not wish to see guns in the hands of all the world, for there are other ferae naturae besides hares and partridges.
A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Arms are the props of peace. (Arma pacis fulcra.)
An army of stags led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lions led by a stag.
That's what an army is — a mob; they don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's borrowed from their mass, and from their officers.
A large army is always disorderly.
Walled towns, stored arsenals and armories, goodly races of horse, chariots of war, elephants, ordinance, artillery, and the like; all this is but a sheep in lion's skin except the breed and disposition of the people be stout and warlike.
The Greeks by their laws, and the Romans by the spirit of their people, took care to put into the hands of their rulers no such engine of oppression as a standing army. Their system was to make every man a soldier, and oblige him to repair to the standard of his country whenever that was reared. This made them invincible; and the same remedy will make us so.
The army has always been the basis of power, and it is so today. Power is always in the hands of those who command it.
It may be said, therefore, that the military opinion of the world is opposed to those people who cry 'Democratize the army!' and it must be remembered that an army is not a field upon which persons with Utopian ideas may exercise their political theories, but a weapon for the defence of the State.
[Their] minds were not yet humbled to their condition …
Art for art's sake makes no more sense than gin for gin's sake.
Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.
Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is a sort of grandchild of God.
You must treat a work of art like a great man: stand before it and wait patiently till it deigns to speak.
No one can explain how the notes of a Mozart melody, or the folds of a piece of Titian's drapery, produce their essential effects. If you do not feel it, no one can by reasoning make you feel it.
I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like.
Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before.
By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
I passionately hate the idea of being with it, I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time.
I don't know what art is, but I do know what it isn't. And it isn't someone walking around with a salmon over his shoulder, or embroidering the name of everyone they have slept with on the inside of a tent.
The photographer is like the cod which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.
I always ask the sitter if they want truth or flattery. They always ask for truth, and I always give them flattery.
Yes — one does like to make one's mummy just as nice as possible!
All that I desire to point out is the general principle that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.
If a scientist were to cut his ear off, no one would take it as evidence of a heightened sensibility.
The joy of conceptual art is that the description is everything. Oh yes, there is real artistry at work here. It just isn't on the walls but in the catalogue descriptions.
Art! Who comprehends her? With whom can one consult concerning this great goddess?
The period in which any given people reach their highest power in art is precisely that in which they appear to sign the warrant of their own ruin.
It is a gratification to me to know that I am ignorant of art.
It is the treating of the commonplace with the feeling of the sublime that gives to art its true power.
The struggle against a purpose in art is always a struggle against the moral tendency in art — against its subordination to morality. L'art pour l'art means, Let morality go to the Devil.
Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.
There is sometimes a greater judgement shewn in deviating from the rules of art, than in adhering to them; and … there is more beauty in the works of a great genius who is ignorant of all the rules of art, than in the works of a little genius, who not only knows but scrupulously observes them.
A man is as old as his arteries.
The gods that first taught artists their craft laid a great curse on mankind.
Artists are on the average less happy than men of science.
The torpid artist seeks inspiration at any cost — by virtue or by vice, by friend or by fiend, by prayer or by wine.
The great artist is the simplifier.
The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.
The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable. No virtuous man — that is, virtuous in the Y.M.C.A. sense — has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading.
There is no virtue in penance and fasting which waste the body; they are only fanatical and monkish.
A dominant religion is never ascetic.
Asceticism may be a mere expression of organic hardihood, disgusted with too much ease.
I am ashes where once I was fire.
Asia is not going to be civilised after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.
He that asketh faintly beggeth a denial.
The man who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning.
Men would be angels, angels would be gods.
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's Heaven for?
The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life:
Try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate.
Hitch your wagon to a star.
If you aspire to the highest place it is no disgrace to stop at the second, or even the third.
Assassination is the last resource of cowards.
The more numerous an assembly may be, of whatever characters composed, the greater is known to be the ascendancy of passion over reason.
When you are at Rome live in the Roman style; when you are elsewhere live as they live elsewhere.
I am always longing to be with men more excellent than myself.
When a dove begins to associate with crows its feathers remain white but its heart grows black.
[Astrology] is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune (often the surfeit of our own behavior) we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and teachers by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence.
I don't believe in astrology; I'm a Sagittarius and we're sceptical.
[The] sublime science of astronomy … elevates the mind of man to disdain his diminutive planet and momentary existence.
It is atheism and blasphemy to dispute what God can do: good Christians content themselves with His will revealed in His Word.
A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth a man's mind about to religion.
The three great apostles of practical atheism, that make converts without persecuting, and retain them without preaching, are wealth, health, and power.
Practical atheism, seeing no guidance for human affairs but its own limited foresight, endeavors itself to play the god, and decide what will be good for mankind and what bad.
… by cutting the umbilical cord with God, our source of ethical vitality would be gone. Morally, we would be come nothing better than a species of fantastically clever monkeys. Our ultimate fate would be too horrible to contemplate. For the truth is that we humans are all Jekyll and Hyde creatures, and the monster within each of us is always striving to take over.
They that deny a God destroy man's nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and, if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.
Man is by his constitution a religious animal; atheism is against not only our reason, but our instincts.
The kingdom that is infested by atheists is beset by famine and disease and soon perishes.
To you I'm an atheist; to God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.
Some are atheists by neglect; others are so by affectation; they that think there is no God at some times do not think so at all times.
Boldness formerly was not the character of Atheists as such. … But of late they are grown active, designing, turbulent, and seditious.
An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.
Don't fire until you can see the whites of their eyes.
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
Success is the child of audacity.
The best audience is intelligent, well-educated, and a little drunk.
The play was a great success, but the audience was a total failure.
Austerity is the proper antidote to indulgence …
Poor Austria! Two things made her a nation: she was German and she was Catholic, and now she has neither.
So long as the Austrian has his beer and sausages he will not revolt.
No Italian can hate an Austrian more than I do; unless it is the English, the Austrians seem to me the most obnoxious race under the sky.
The best part of every author is in general to be found in his book, I assure you.
While an author is yet living we estimate his powers by his worst performance, and when he is dead we rate them by his best.
An author is like a baker; it is for him to make the sweets, and others to buy and enjoy them.
An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations.
Authors with a mortgage never get writer's block.
An author places himself uncalled before the tribunal of criticism, and solicits fame at the hazard of disgrace.
To commence author is to claim praise, and no man can justly aspire to honour, but at the hazard of disgrace.
There are men that will make you books, and turn 'em loose into the world, with as much dispatch as they would do a dish of fritters.
Choose an author as you choose a friend.
The most "popular," the most "successful" writers among us (for a brief period, at least) are, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, persons of mere address, perseverance, effrontery — in a word, busy-bodies, toadies, quacks.
The author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.
A writing man is something of a black sheep, like the village fiddler. Occasionally a fiddler becomes a violinist, and is a credit to his family, but as a rule he would have done better had his tendency been toward industry and saving.
I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to please have sunk into the grave, and success and miscarriage are empty sounds. I therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquility, having little to fear or hope from censure or from praise.
No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.
The wickedness of a loose or profane author is more atrocious than that of the giddy libertine, or drunken ravisher, not only because it extends its effects wider, as a pestilence that taints the air is more destructive than poison infused in a draught, but because it is committed with cool deliberation.
Nothing has been found so mighty
That it has not found a master.
Autobiography is now as common as adultery and hardly less reprehensible.
An autobiography is an obituary in serial form with the last installment missing.
To write one's memoirs is to speak ill of everybody except oneself.
The next thing like living one's life over again seems to be a recollection of that life, and to make that recollection as durable as possible by putting it down in writing.
To set about writing my own life would be no less than horrible to me; and shall of a certainty never be done. The common impious vulgar of this earth, what has it to do with my life or me?
Is fuel efficiency really what we need most desperately? I say that what we really need is a car that can be shot when it breaks down.
Carriage without horses shall go,
And accidents fill the world with woe.
Avarice and luxury have been the ruin of every great state.
Avarice has so seized upon mankind that their wealth seems rather to possess them than they to possess their wealth.
Avarice is the root of evil. (Radix malorum est cupiditas.)
What can you conceive more silly and extravagant than to suppose a man racking his brains, and studying night and day how to fly?
The birds can fly,
An' why can't I?
I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either.
Men lose more conquests by their own awkwardness than by any virtue in the woman.
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Last updated: December 10, 2023