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Cool Quotes - B

BBC


I am against the monopoly enjoyed by the BBC. For eleven years they kept me off the air. They prevented me from expressing views which have proved to be right. Their behaviour has been tyrannical. They are honeycombed with Socialists—probably with Communists.
Winston Churchill

Baby


A baby is an inestimable blessing and bother.
Mark Twain

A man deposits seed in a womb and goes away, and then another cause takes it, and labors on it, and makes a baby. What a consummation from such a beginning!
Marcus Aurelius

Who would not tremble and rather choose to die than to be a baby again, if he were given such a choice?
St. Augustine

An infant … is all gut and squall.
Charles Brown

A soiled baby, with a neglected nose, cannot be conscientiously regarded as a thing of beauty.
Mark Twain

Bach, J. S.


Bach almost persuades me to be a Christian.
Roger Fry

Bachelor


A bachelor is a selfish, undeserving guy who has cheated some woman out of a divorce.
Don Quinn

Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn't, they'd be married too.
H. L. Mencken

Cock's bones! now again I stand
The jolliest bachelor i' th' land.
Attributed to Henry VIII of England: On the beheading of Anne Boleyn, 1536

A single man has not nearly the value he would have in [a] state of union. He is an incomplete animal. He resembles the odd half of a pair of scissors.
Benjamin Franklin

An old bachelor is a poor critter.
C. F. Browne

A bachelor is one who enjoys the chase but does not eat the game.
Author unidentified

Praise all wives, but remain a bachelor.
Italian Proverb

So long as a man is without a wife he is only half a man.
Sanskrit Proverb

Happy am I who have no wife.
Menander

When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.
Shakespeare

A good bachelor drinks his dessert (and sometimes the rest of his meals). A sweet tooth is a danger signal that you're getting too much exercise and not enough cocktails.
P. J. O'Rourke

Backfire


For 'tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard.
William Shakespeare

Bad


No man becomes bad all at once.
Juvenal

Nothing so bad but it might be worse.
English Proverb

A man once bad is assumed to be always bad. (Semel malus, semper presumitur esse malus.)
Legal Maxim

Bait


Fish, or cut bait.
American Proverb

Balance


One who is serious all day will never have a good time, while one who is frivolous all day will never establish a household.
Ptahhotpe

Bald


There is nothing more contemptible than a bald man who pretends to have hair.
Martial

Honest men grow gray; others grow bald.
Hungarian Proverb

Balkans


[The Balkans] produce more history than they can consume.
Winston Churchill

If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans.
Otto von Bismarck

Ballot


Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets.
Abraham Lincoln

Banana


Where the banana grows man is sensual and cruel.
R. W. Emerson

Bank


If you owe a bank enough money you own it.
Author unidentified

A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it.
Bob Hope

Banker


A banker is a man who lends you an umbrella when the weather is fair, and takes it away from you when it rains.
Author unidentified

Bankruptcy


If the nation is living within its income its credit is good. If in some crisis it lives beyond its income for a year or two it can usually borrow temporarily on reasonable terms. But if, like the spendthrift, it throws discretion to the winds, is willing to make no sacrifice at all in spending, extends its taxing up to the limit of the people's power to pay, and continues to pile up deficits, it is on the road to to bankruptcy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Baptism


I think the baptismal service almost perfect. I never could attend a christening without tears bursting fourth at the sight of the helpless innocent in a pious clergyman's arms.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Barbarian


[The Gauls] derided the hairy and gigantic savages of the North; their rustic manners, dissonant joy, voracious appetite, and their horrid appearance, equally disgusting to the sight and to the smell.
Edward Gibbon

Bargain


It's a bad bargain where nobody gains.
English proverb

No bargain without wine.
Latin saying

Bargain like a gypsy, but pay like a gentleman.
Hungarian proverb

Baseball


Think! How the hell are you gonna think and hit at the same time?
Yogi Berra

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.
George F. Will

Bashfulness


To get thine ends, lay bashfulness aside;
Who fears to ask doth teach to be deny'd.
Robert Herrick

Though modesty be a virtue, yet bashfulness is a vice.
Thomas Fuller

The bashful always lose.
French Proverb

Bashfulness, however it may incommode for a moment, scarcely ever produces evils of long continuance; it may flush the cheek, flutter in the heart, deject the eyes, and enchain the tongue, but its mischiefs soon pass off without remembrance.
Samuel Johnson

Basque


When the Devil himself tried to study Basque, he learned only three words in seven years.
Basque proverb

Bastard


Those born of sinful intercourse are not counted as children.
Legal Maxim

Battle


Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.
The Duke of Wellington: Despatch from the field of Waterloo, June, 1815

If your bayonet breaks, strike with the stock; if the stock gives way, hit with your fists; if your fists are hurt, bite with your teeth.
M. I. Dragomiroff: Notes for Soldiers, c. 1890

In battle those who are most afraid are always in most danger.
Cataline

The battle is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
Patrick Henry

Battles, in these ages, are transacted by mechanism; men now even die, and kill one another, in an artificial manner.
Thomas Carlyle

Quid enim? Concurritur-horae
Momento cita mors venit, aut victoria laeta.

The battle joins, and, in a moment's flight,
Death, or a joyful conquest, ends the fight.

Horace

Battlefield


Well, well, General, bury these poor men, and let us say no more about it.
R. E. Lee: To General A. P. Hill after the battle of Bristoe Station, Oct. 14, 1863

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
Abraham Lincoln

On fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.
Theodore O'Hara

Beard


Beware of women with beards and men without them.
Basque proverb

Beating


A spaniel, a woman, and a walnut tree,
The more they're beaten the better they be.
John Ray

Beauty


Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless: peacocks and lilies, for instance.
John Ruskin

Why is it that beautiful women never seem to have any curiosity?

Is it because they know they're classical? With classical things the Lord finished the job. Ordinary ugly people know they're deficient and they go on looking for the pieces.

Penelope Gilliatt

Beauty and wisdom are seldom found together.
Petronius Arbiter

A holy woman may be beautiful by the gift of nature, but she must not give occasion to lust. If beauty be hers, so far from setting it off she ought rather to obscure it.
Tertullian

Had she deigned to remove her veil, God Himself would have fallen in love with her.
Torquato Tasso

A poor beauty finds more lovers than husbands.
George Herbert

Beauty and sadness always go together.
George MacDonald

We ascribe beauty to that which is simple; which has no superfluous parts; which exactly answers its end; which stands related to all things; which is the mean of many extremes.
R. W. Emerson

It is better to be beautiful than to be good, but it is better to be good than to be ugly.
Oscar Wilde

It is the beautiful bird which gets caged.
Chinese Proverb

Beauty is a good letter of introduction.
German Proverb

Beauty and chastity are always quarreling.
Spanish Proverb

[Beauty is] an outward gift which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused.
Edward Gibbon

Beauty, Mr Rambler, has often overpowered the resolutions of the firm, and the reasonings of the wise, roused the old to sensibility, and subdued the rigorous to softness.
Samuel Johnson

She who is beautiful is more formidable than fire and iron.
Anacreon

Gaze not upon a maiden, lest her beauty be a stumbling-block to thee.
Ecclesiasticus IX, 5

How rare a thing it is to match virginity with beauty.
John Lyly

Beauty in a good woman is like fire at a distance or a sharp sword: the one does not burn, or the other wound, those who come not too close.
Cervantes

Beauty soon grows familiar to the lover,
Fades in his eye, and palls upon the sense.
Joseph Addison

Whenever, at a party, I have been in the mood to study fools, I have always looked for a great beauty: they always gather round her like flies around a fruit-stall.
Jean Paul Richter

The fatal gift of beauty.
Lord Byron

To marry a woman for her beauty is like buying a house for its paint.
Author unidentified

These three soon pass away: the echo, the rainbow, and the beauty of a woman.
German proverb

Rarely do great beauty and great virtue dwell together.
Petrarch

You will find that there are other charms than those of beauty, and other joys than the praise of fools.
Samuel Johnson

If you get simple beauty and naught else,
You get about the best thing God invents.
Robert Browning

Bed


Loath to bed, and loath to rise.
John Clarke

No bed is big enough to hold three.
German Proverb

When one begins to turn in bed it is time to turn out.
Ascribed to the Duke of Wellington

The waterbed trend was similar to the fulfillment movement, in the sense that you paid for something that was supposed to bring you happiness, but you wound up with something less fulfilling, in this case motion sickness and water damage.
Dave Barry

Bedroom


A husband and wife who have separate bedrooms have either drifted apart—or found happiness.
Honoré de Balzac

Bee


The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.
St. John Chrysostom

The bee that hath honey in her mouth hath a sting in her tail.
John Lyly

So the industrious bees do hourly strive
To bring their loads of honey to the hive;
Their sordid owners always reap the gains,
And poorly recompense their toils and pains.
Mary Collier

Beef


Beefsteaks and porter are gude belly mortar.
Scottish Proverb

Beer


He that drinks strong beer,
And goes to bed mellow,
Lives as he ought to live,
And dies a hearty fellow.
Author unidentified

I wish to see this beverage [beer] become common instead of the whisky which kills one-third of our citizens, and ruins their families.
Thomas Jefferson

Here
With my beer
I sit,
While golden moments flit:
Alas!
They pass
Unheeded by:
And as they fly,
I,
Being dry,
Sit, idly sipping here
My beer.
George Arnold

There is no bad beer: some kinds are better than others.
German Proverb

Come and let me cheer your spirits,
Make you sing the songs of wisdom,
That with honor ye may praise me,
Sing the songs of beer immortal!
Elias Lonnrot, The Kalevala

Thus was brewed the beer of Northland,
At the hands of Osmo's daughter;
This the origin of brewing
Beer from Kalew-hops and barley;
Great indeed the reputation
Of the ancient beer of Kalew,
Said to make the feeble hardy,
Famed to dry the tears of women,
Make the aged young and supple,
Make the brave men ever braver,
Fill the heart with joy and gladness,
Fill the mind with wisdom-sayings,
Fill the tongue with ancient legends,
Only makes the fool more foolish.
Elias Lonnrot, The Kalevala

Beer that is not drunk has missed its vocation.
Meyer Breslau

Beer and bread make the cheeks red.
German proverb

Bread is the staff of life, but beer is life itself.
Oxfordshire proverb

I'm only here for the beer.
Advertising slogan

It's Miller time.
Miller beer

Beethoven


Beethoven can write music, thank God—but he can do nothing else on earth.
Ludwig van Beethoven

Keep your eyes on him [Beethoven]; he'll make the world talk of him some day.
W. A. Mozart

Beethoven is not beautiful. He is dramatic, powerful, a maker of storms, a subduer of tempests; but his speech is the speech of a self-centered egotist. He is the father of all the modern melomaniacs, who, looking into their own souls, write what they see therein—misery, corruption, slighting selfishness, and ugliness.
James Huneker

Beetle


The Creator, if He exists, has a special preference for beetles.
J. B. S. Haldane

Beggar


Beggars should be abolished. It annoys one to give to them, and it annoys one not to give to them.
F. W. Nietzsche

It is a beggar's pride that he is not a thief.
Japanese Proverb

The beggar fears no reverse of fortune.
Bhartrihari

He [the beggar] is not expected to become bail or surety for any one. No man troubleth him with questioning his religion or politics. He is the only free man in the universe.
Charles Lamb

Begging


What we are told about the great sums got by begging is not true: the trade is overstocked.
Samuel Johnson

Beginning


The beginning is half of the whole.
Plato

Every beginning is hard.
German Proverb

Well begun is half done.
Horace

"Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked.

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

Lewis Carroll

If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything, is ready, we shall never begin.
Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev

To have begun is half the job: be bold and be sensible. (Dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude.)
Horace

Belief


I believe it because it is absurd.
Tertullian (Attributed)

We believe nothing so firmly as what we least know.
Michel de Montaigne

He does not believe [who] does not live according to his belief.
Thomas Fuller

Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.
Dinah Mulock Craik

Never tell all that you know, or do all that you can, or believe all that you hear.
Portuguese Proverb

Belief forms behavior.
David Klinghoffer

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.
Bertrand Russell

Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.
Bertrand Russell

Alice: This is impossible.
The Mad Hatter: Only if you believe it is.
Alice in Wonderland (2010 film)

We believe whatever we want to believe.
Demosthenes

Everyone believes very easily whatever he fears or desires.
Jean de la Fontaine

We do everything by custom, even believe by it; our very axioms, let us boast of freethinking as we may, are oftenest simply such beliefs as we have never heard questioned.
Thomas Carlyle

What we call rational grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts.
T. H. Huxley

Nothing is so firmly believed as what is least known.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Men are nearly always willing to believe what they wish.
Julius Caesar

Believer


The believer is happy; the doubter is wise.
Hungarian proverb

Belisarius


The spectator and historian of [Belisarius's] exploits has observed, that amidst the perils of war, he was daring without rashness, prudent without fear, slow or rapid according to the exigencies of the moment; that in the deepest distress he was animated by real or apparent hope, but that he was modest and humble in the most prosperous fortune.
Edward Gibbon

Bell


All the church-bells made a solemn din—
A fire-alarm to those who lived in sin.
Ambrose Bierce

Belly


A full belly neither fights nor flies well.
George Herbert

Beneficiary


We naturally endear to ourselves those to whom we impart any kind of pleasure, because we imagine their affection and esteem secured to us by the benefits which they receive.
Samuel Johnson

Benefit


Cui bono? (to whose benefit?)
Author unidentified, though most associated with Lucius Cassius

New benefits cannot obliterate old injuries.
Niccolò Machiavelli

There is a hook in every benefit, that sticks in his jaws that takes that benefit, and draws him whither the benefactor will.
John Donne

Benevolence


To act from pure benevolence is not possible for finite beings. Human benevolence is mingled with vanity, interest, or some other motive.
Samuel Johnson

The most melancholy of human reflections, perhaps, is that, on the whole, it is a question whether the benevolence of mankind does most good or harm.
Walter Bagehot

Bernard Montgomery


In defeat, unbeatable; in victory, unbearable.
W. Churchill, on Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery

Berry


Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.
William Butler, of the strawberry

Best


The best smell is bread, the best savor salt, the best love that of children.
George Herbert

The best is the enemy of the good.
Voltaire

It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.
Winston Churchill

Betrayal


You also, Brutus? (Et tu, Brute!, though what Caesar said, if anything, and in what language, is uncertain)
Julius Caesar (Attributed)

Betting


The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong—but that's the way to bet.
Author unidentified

Most men (till by losing rendered sager)
Will back their own opinions by a wager.
Byron

Put up or shut up.
American saying

Bible


I have made it a practice for several years to read the Bible through in the course of every year. I usually devote to this reading the first hour after I rise every morning.
John Quincy Adams

Bibliomania


Bibliomania, or the collecting of an enormous heap of books without intelligent curiosity, has, since libraries have existed, infected weak minds.
Isaac D'Israel

Bigotry


You cannot separate race, religion and culture. It will not work to say it is wrong and unlawful to insult a man's race but quite all right to spit on his god and insult the religious beliefs which form the biggest single element in his culture. In most societies the three are inextricably intermingled.
Paul Johnson

Bill Of Rights


The only guarantee of the Bill of Rights which continues to have any force and effect is the one prohibiting quartering troops on citizens in time of peace. All the rest have been disposed of by judicial interpretation and legislative whittling.
H. L. Mencken

It was observed half a century ago that what is a stone wall to a layman, to a corporate lawyer is a triumphant arch. Much the same might be said of civil rights and freedoms. To the layman the Bill of Rights seems to be a stone wall against the misuse of power. But in the hands of a congressional committee, or often enough of a judge, it turns out to be so full of exceptions and qualifications that it might be a whole series of arches.
Henry Steele Commager

Billiards


To play billiards well is a sign of a misspent youth.
Author unidentified

Biographer


Our Grubstreet biographers … watch for the death of a great man, like so many undertakers, on purpose to make a penny of him.
Joseph Addison

Biography


Biography is one of the new terrors of death.
John Arbuthnot

Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man—the biography of the man himself cannot be written.
Mark Twain

There has rarely passed a life of which a judicious and faithful narrative would not be useful.
Samuel Johnson

Biography is the only true history.
Thomas Carlyle

Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography.
Oscar Wilde

If a man is to write A Panegyrick, he may keep vices out of sight; but if he professes to write A Life, he must represent it as it was.
Samuel Johnson

If we owe regard to the memory of the dead, there is yet more respect to be paid to knowledge, to virtue, and to truth.
Samuel Johnson

Nobody likes being written about in their lifetime, it's as though the FBI and the CIA were suddenly to splash your files in the paper.
Saul Bellow

A well-written Life is almost as rare as a well-spent one.
Thomas Carlyle

Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.
Benjamin Disraeli

I never did write a biography, and I don't exactly know how to set about it; you see I have to be accurate and keep to facts; a most difficult thing for a writer of fiction.
Elizabeth Gaskell, while writing her Life of Charlotte Brontë

Bird


Birds of prey do not sing.
German proverb

Birth


Birth, n. The first and direst of all disasters.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Man alone, at the moment of his birth, is cast naked upon the naked earth.
Pliny the Elder

When we are born we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools.
Shakespeare

The first breath is the beginning of death.
Thomas Fuller

My mother groan’d! my father wept.
Into the dangerous world I leapt:
Helpless, naked, piping loud,
Like a fiend hid in a cloud.
William Blake

Birth and Death


For no king has had a different beginning of existence; there is for all one entrance into life, and one way out.
Wisdom of Solomon 7:5-6

Bishop


For a bishop to preach, 'tis to do other folks' office, as if the steward of the house should execute the porter's or the cook's place. 'Tis his business to see that they and all other about the house perform their duties.
John Seldon

A bishop should not go to a house where he may meet a young fellow leading out a wench.
Samuel Johnson

Blame


Blame is safer than praise.
R. W. Emerson

It makes a difference whose ox is gored.
Martin Luther

Blasphemy


[Blasphemy is] denying the being or providence of God, contumelious reproaches of our Saviour Christ, profane scoffing at the Holy Scripture, or exposing it to contempt or ridicule.
William Blackstone

Blessed


Judge none blessed before his death.
Ecclesiasticus 11:28

Blessing


May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour
Before the Devil knows you're dead.
Author unidentified

May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live.
Author unidentified

May your neighbors respect you,
Trouble neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you.
Author unidentified

May the Good Lord take a liking to you, … but not too soon!
Author unidentified

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

It may well be a blessing in disguise. At the moment it seems quite effectively disguised.
Winston Churchill, when told that his election loss may be a blessing in disguise

The five blessings are long life, riches, serenity, the love of virtue, and the attainment of ambition.
The Hung-Fan

My God! how little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy.
Thomas Jefferson

Blessings never come in pairs; misfortunes never come alone.
Chinese proverb

Nothing is an unmixed blessing.

(Nihil est ab omni
Parte beatum
.)

Horace

Blind


In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.
Desiderius Erasmus

Blindness


Why should I not submit with complacency to this loss of sight, which seems only withdrawn from the body without to increase the sight of the mind within?
John Milton

Then had I not been thus exil'd from light;
As in the land of darkness yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried; but O yet more miserable!
John Milton

Bliss


Thou hast no right to bliss.
Matthew Arnold

Blood


The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
Tertullian, paraphrased

All blood is alike ancient.
Thomas Fuller

Not by speechifying and counting majorities are the great questions of our times to be solved—that was the error of 1848 and 1849—but by iron and blood (Eisen und Blut).
Otto von Bismarck

Bluestocking


I have always (at least from fifteen) thought the reputation of learning a misfortune to a woman.
Mary Wortley Montagu

Blushing


Blushing is virtue's color.
John Ray

Boasting


One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.
1 Kings 20:11

Body


The body of a man is not a home but an inn—and that only briefly.
Seneca

The [body], for a time the unwilling sport
Of circumstances and passion, struggles on;
Fleets through its sad duration rapidly:
Then like an useless and worn-out machine,
Rots, perishes, and passes.
P. B. Shelley

Bolshevism


But my hatred of Bolshevism and Bolsheviks is not founded on their silly system of economics, or their absurd doctrine of an impossible equality. It arises from the bloody and devastating terrorism which they practice in every land into which they have broken, and by which alone their criminal regime can be maintained.
Winston Churchill

Book


Reading all the good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries.
René Descartes

There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.
G. K. Chesterton

Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folk have lent me.
Anatole France

The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.
Oscar Wilde

I never can understand how two men can write a book together; to me that's like three people getting together to have a baby.
Evelyn Waugh

I am being frank about myself in this book. I tell of my first mistake on page 850.
Henry Kissinger, of his memoirs

If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or, as it were, fondle them—peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on their shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you will at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances.
Winston Churchill

May blessings be upon the head of Cadmus, or the Phoenicians, or whoever invented books.
Thomas Carlyle

The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing; every one must be an author; some out of vanity, to acquire celebrity and raise up a name, others for the sake of mere gain.
Martin Luther

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon

A great [large] book is a great evil.
Joseph Addison

I keep to old books, for they teach me something; from the new I learn very little.
Voltaire (François Marie Arouet)

My books are friends that never fail me.
Thomas Carlyle

Books are a triviality. Life alone is great.
Thomas Carlyle

A room without books is like a body without a soul.
G. K. Chesterton

I buy books at a geometric rate, but read only arithmetically.
Tony Daniels (c.f. Malthus)

Another damned, thick, square book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr Gibbon?
Duke of Gloucester, to Edward Gibbon

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Ecclesiastes 12:12

Ignorant asses visiting stationers' shops, their use is not to inquire for good books, but new books.
John Webster

There's no book so bad that something good may not be found in it.
Cervantes

Sometimes I read a book with pleasure, and detest the author.
Jonathan Swift

I showed her that books were sweet unreproaching companions to the miserable, and that if they could not bring us to enjoy life, they would at least teach us to endure it.
Oliver Goldsmith

Books with striking and ingenious titles are seldom worth reading.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

The one fault of really good books is that they almost always produce a great prodigy of bad ones.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Books are fatal: they are the curse of the human race. Nine-tenths of existing books are nonsense, and the clever books are the refutation of that nonsense. The greatest misfortune that ever befell man was the invention of printing.
Benjamin Disraeli

Books are good enough in their own way, but they are a mighty bloodless substitute for life.
R. L. Stevenson

Books for general reading always smell badly; the odor of common people hangs about them.
F. W. Nietzsche

I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it.
Woodrow Wilson

The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.
Yoshida Kenkō

Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.
W. H. Auden

As good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself.
John Milton

A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.
John Milton

I have rather studied books than men.
Francis Bacon

Books say: she did this because. Life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't.
Julian Barnes

While a book has got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the reader it's got to be worthwhile from the point of view of the writer as well.
Terry Pratchett

Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation, as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.
Joseph Addison

The ancient books are for authors; the new ones, for readers.
Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu

The grave puts an end to flattery and artifice, and the information that we receive from books is pure from interest, fear, or ambition.
Samuel Johnson

We see that volumes [of books] may be perused, and perused with attention, to little effect; and that maxims of prudence, or principles of virtue, may be treasured in the memory without influencing the conduct.
Samuel Johnson

They liked the book the better the more it made them cry.
Oliver Goldsmith

A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is unlikely to look out.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

We really only learn from books we cannot judge. The author of a book we could really judge ought surely to be learning from us.
J. W. Goethe

Each country Book-club bows the knee to Baal,
And, hurling lawful Genius from the throne,
Erects a shrine and idol of its own.
Lord Byron

"What is the use of a book", thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
Lewis Carroll

If my books had been any worse, I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better, I should not have come.
Raymond Chandler

He was a one-book man. Some men have only one book in them; others, a library.
Sydney Smith

Your borrowers of books—those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes.
Charles Lamb

One writes only half the book; the other half is with the reader.
Joseph Conrad

The reading of good books is like a conversation with the best men of past centuries—in fact like a prepared conversation, in which they reveal only the best of their thoughts. (La lecture de tous les bons livres est comme une conversation avec les plus honêttes gens des siècles passés, qui en ont été les auteurs, et même une conversation étudiée en laquelle ils nous découvrent que les meilleures de leurs pensées.)
René Descartes

A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.
Arthur Schopenhauer

A new book often seizes the attention of the publick, without any other claim than that it is new.
Samuel Johnson

But such is the present state of our literature, that the ancient sage, who thought a great book a great evil, would now think the multitude of books a multitude of evils.
Samuel Johnson

I look at them [books] as a child looks at a cake,—with glittering eyes and watering mouth, imagining the pleasure that awaits him!
Elizabeth Gaskell, on the books she was planning to read

Of all the needs a book has, the chief need is that it be readable.
Anthony Trollope

All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hour, and the books of all time.
John Ruskin

I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.
C. S. Lewis

You can't get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
C. S. Lewis

Book of Job


The book of Job is pure Arab poetry of the highest and most antique cast.
S. T. Coleridge

Bookseller


Here lies a bookseller, the leaf of his life being finished, awaiting a new edition, augmented and corrected.
Epitaph on the grave of Jacob Tonson

Bore


Bore, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.
Voltaire (François Marie Arouet)

A bore is one who, when you ask him, "How are you?," tells you.
Author unidentified

Boredom


When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves that they are bored.
Eric Hoffer

Boredom is an evil that is not to be estimated lightly. It can come in the end to real despair. The public authority takes precautions against it everywhere, as against other universal calamities.
Arthur Schopenhauer

Ennui has made more gamblers than avarice, more drunkards than thirst, and perhaps as many suicides as despair.
C. C. Colton

Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.
Bertrand Russell

Good-bye. I am leaving because I am bored.
George Saunders, last words

There is nothing so insupportable to man as complete repose, without passion, occupation, amusement, care. Then it is that he feels his nothingness, his isolation, his insufficiency, his dependence, his impotence, his emptiness.
Blaise Pascal

Borrowing and Lending


Borrowing is not much better than begging.
G. E. Lessing

Neither borrow money of a friend; but of a mere stranger; where paying for it, thou shalt hear of it no more: otherwise thou shalt eclipse thy credit, lose thy friend, and yet pay as dear to another.
William Cecil

The human species is composed of two distinct races, the men who borrow, and the men who lend.
Charles Lamb

Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Shakespeare

The first chance you have to avoid a loss from a foolish loan is by refusing to make it. There is no second chance.
Charlie Munger

Borrowers are nearly always ill-spenders, and it is with lent money that all evil is mainly done and all unjust war protracted.
John Ruskin

Boxing


Boxing's just show business with blood.
Frank Bruno

Boy


A boy is, of all wild beasts, the most difficult to manage.
Plato

The parent who could see his boy as he really is, would shake his head and say, "Willie is no good; I'll sell him."
Stephen Leacock

One boy is more trouble than a dozen girls.
English Proverb

The fact that boys are allowed to exist at all is evidence of remarkable Christian forbearance among men—were it not for a mawkish humanitarianism, coupled with imperfect digestive powers, we should devour our young, as Nature intended.
Ambrose Bierce

A boy is a cross between a god and a goat.
Author unidentified

Boys are capital fellows in their own way, among their mates; but they are unwholesome companions for grown people.
Charles Lamb

So in some ways I'm relieved that I don't have daughters, although in other ways I envy people with daughters, because little girls tend to be thoughtful, whereas little boys tend to be—and I say this as a loving father who would not trade his son for anything in the world—jerks.
Dave Barry

Boy Scouts


The only problem with Boy Scouts is, there aren't enough of them.
Will Rogers

Brain


We use our brains very little, and when we do, it is only to make excuses for our reflexes and instincts—only to make our acts appear more studied.
Martin H. Fischer

Brandy


Red wine for children, champagne for men, and brandy for soldiers.
Otto von Bismarck

Bravery


Some have been thought brave because they were afraid to run away.
Thomas Fuller

He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.
Jonathan Swift

Women are partial to the brave, and they think every man handsome who is going to the [soldier's] camp or the gallows.
John Gay

Bread


Bread and cheese is gude to eat when folk can get nae ither meat.
Scottish proverb

Breakfast


I advise all such as have plethorick and full bodies, especially living at rest, and which are of a phlegmatick temperament, that they not only eschew the use of breakfasts, but also oftentimes content themselves with one meal in a day.
Tobias Venner

Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.
Oscar Wilde

Breast


Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies.
Song of Songs 4:5

Cover that bosom that I must not see: souls are wounded by such things.
Molière

Breeding


Birth's gude but breeding's better.
Scottish Proverb

Brendan Behan


[Brendan Behan was] too young to die, but too drunk to live.
Rene MacColl

Brevity


I have only made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter.
Blaise Pascal

Do you wish to instruct? Be brief, that the mind may catch thy precepts and the more easily retain them.
Horace

In order to speak short upon any subject, think long.
H. H. Brackenridge

That which is brief, if it be good, is good twice over.
Spanish Proverb

Brevity is the soul of wit.
William Shakespeare

Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words.
Ecclesiasticus 32:8

I strive to be brief, and I become obscure.

(Brevis esse laboro,
Obscurus fio
.)

Horace

Brewery


We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond dreams of avarice.
Samuel Johnson

Bribe


Nothing to be done without a bribe I find, in love as well as law.
Susannah Centlivre

Bridegroom


A bridegroom is a guy who has lost his liberty in the pursuit of happiness.
Author unidentified

When the bride is in the cradle the bridegroom ought to be old enough to ride a horse.
Russian proverb

Britain


In Britain, everything is policed except crime.
Mark Steyn

For Americans, the quickest way to understand modern Britain is to look at what LBJ's Great Society did to the black family and imagine it applied to the general population.
Mark Steyn

[The Suez crisis] is often said to have dealt the final blow to Britain's status as a great world power. That is not true. The status had been lost in 1947. Suez simply made it plain for all the world to see.
Paul Johnson

Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role.
Dean Acheson

Britannia needs no bulwarks,
No towers along the steep;
Her march is o’er the mountain waves,
Her home is on the deep.
Thomas Campbell

Britain will be honoured by historians more for the way she disposed of an empire than for the way in which she acquired it.
David Ormsby Gore

British


Socialism has been preached for so long, the British people no longer have any sense of personal responsibility.
Lord Thomson of Fleet

I consider the British as our natural enemies, and as the only nation on earth who wish us ill from the bottom of their souls. And I am satisfied that, were our continent to be swallowed up the ocean, Great Britain would be in a bonfire from one end to the other.
Thomas Jefferson

We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.
Thomas Babington Macaulay

No good man is a Briton. (Nemo bonus Britto est.)
Decius Magnus Ausonius

Brother


Am I my brother's keeper?
Genesis 4:9

We tell the ladies that good wives make good husbands; I believe it is a more certain position that good brothers make good sisters.
Samuel Johnson

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.
Shakespeare

Brotherhood


Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other.
William Tecumseh Sherman

Buddhism


Buddhism is a hundred times as realistic as Christianity. It is part of its living heritage that it is able to face problems objectively and coolly. It is the product of long centuries of philosophical observation.
F. W. Nietzsche

The Buddhist doctrine [is] that real riches consist not in abundance of goods but in the paucity of wants.
Alfred Marshall

Building


Build and borrow,
A sackful of sorrow.
(Bauen und Borgen,
Ein Sack voll Sorgen.)
German Proverb

The easiest road to poverty is to build many houses.
The Greek Anthology

Burden


Light burdens, long borne, grow heavy.
George Herbert

It is not the burden but the overburden that kills the beast.
Spanish Proverb

None knows the weight of another’s burden.
George Herbert

The white man's burden.
Rudyard Kipling

Bureaucracy


I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.
Thomas Jefferson

The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.
Eugene McCarthy

Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.
Milton Friedman

The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.
Robert Conquest

It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life.
Alexis de Tocqueville

If we do not halt this steady process of building commissions and regulatory bodies and special legislation like huge inverted pyramids over every one of the simple constitutional provisions, we shall soon be spending many billions of dollars more.
F. D. Roosevelt

Burial


All I desire for my own burial is not to be buried alive.
Lord Chesterfield

And times without number it happened that two priests would be on their way to bury someone, holding a cross before them, only to find that bearers carrying three or four additional biers would fall in behind them; so that whereas the priests had thought they only had one burial to attend to, they in fact had six or eight, and sometimes more.

(E infinite volte avvenne che, andando due preti con una croce per alcuno, si misero tre o quatro bare, da'portatori portate, di dietro a quella: e, dove un morto credevano avere i preti a seppilire, n'avevano sei o otto e tal fiate pií.)

Boccaccio, during the Black Death

Business


[I]n time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties … Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.
Laurence J. Peter, commonly referred to as the Peter Principle

The basic concept of the Dilbert Principle is that the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.
Scott Adams

If I were a medical man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considered his work important.
Bertrand Russell

Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon.
Winston Churchill

Businessmen are notable for a peculiarly stalwart character, which enables them to enjoy without loss of self-reliance the benefits of tariffs, franchises, and even outright government subsidies.
Herbert J. Muller

The egalitarianism of the present tax structure is thought to be seriously dampening individual effort, initiative, and inspiration … [it] destroys ambition, penalizes success, discourages investment to create new jobs, and may well turn a nation of risk-taking entrepreneurs into a nation of softies.
Fred Maytag II

Planned Economy: Where everything is included in the plans except economy.
Carey McWilliams

No matter what you think your job is, your job is to make your boss's life easier.
Author unidentified

Parkinson's Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Northcote Parkinson

A man's work is his dilemma: his job is his bondage, but it also gives him a fair share of his identity and keeps him from being a bystander in somebody else's world.
Melvin Maddocks

It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job, it's a depression when you lose your own.
Harry S. Truman

He had talents equal to business, and aspired no higher.
Tacitus

Successful investing is anticipating the anticipations of others.
John Maynard Keynes

If you owe the bank a million dollars, you have a problem; if you owe the bank a hundred million dollars, the bank has a problem.
Author unidentified (updated for current currency values)

[The] clamour and sophistry of merchants and manufacturers easily persuade [the people], that the private interest of a part, and of a subordinate part, of the society, is the general interest of the whole.
Adam Smith

To business that we love we rise betime,
And go to’t with delight.
Shakespeare

The most sensible people to be met with in society are men of business and of the world, who argue from what they see and know, instead of spinning cobweb distinctions of what things ought to be.
William Hazlitt

My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.
Oscar Wilde

In thousands of years there has been no advance in public morals, in philosophy, in religion or in politics, but the advance in business has been the greatest miracle the world has ever known.
E. W. Howe

When I hear artists or authors making fun of business men I think of a regiment in which the band makes fun of the cooks.
Author unidentified

Busy


None are so busy as the fool and knave.
John Dryden

He that is busy is tempted by but one devil; he that is idle, by a legion.
Thomas Fuller

The busiest men have the most leisure.
English Proverb

The busy have no time for tears.
Byron

Who is more busy than he that hath least to do?
John Clarke

The busier we are, the more acutely we feel that we live, the more conscious we are of life.
Immanuel Kant

Those who have most to do, and are willing to work, will find the most time.
Samuel Smiles

Of all ridiculous things in the world what strikes me as the most ridiculous of all is being busy in the world, to be a man quick to his meals and quick to his work.
Søren Kierkegaard

Busybody


It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
C. S. Lewis

For A to sit down and think, What shall I do? is commonplace; but to think what B ought to do is interesting, romantic, moral, self-flattering, and public-spirited all at once. It satisfies a great number of human weaknesses at once. To go on and plan what a whole class of people ought to do is to feel one's self a power on earth, to win a public position, to clothe one's self in dignity. Hence we have an unlimited supply of reformers, philanthropists, humanitarians, and would-be managers-in-general of society.
William Graham Sumner

Butcher


One butcher does not fear many sheep.
Ascribed to Alexander the Great

Buyer


Let the buyer beware. (Caveat emptor.)
Legal Maxim

Buying and Selling


There are more fools among buyers than among sellers.
French proverb

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Last updated: July 12, 2024