Quotations

Insight

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Maxims of François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613–1680):

  • “An extraordinary Haste to discharge an Obligation is a Sort of Ingratitude.”
  • “Did we not flatter ourselves, the Flattery of others could never hurt us.”
  • “Before we passionately desire a Thing, we should examine into the Happiness of its Possessor.”
  • “Few Men are able to know all the Ill they do.”
  • “Fortune never seems so blind to any as to those on whom she bestows no Favours.”
  • “Happiness is in the Taste, not in the Thing; and we are made happy by possessing what we love, not what others think lovely.”
  • “Men may boast of their great Actions; but they are oftner the Effects of Chance, than of Design.”
  • “The Glory of great Men ought always to be rated according to the Means used to acquire it.”
  • “We should manage our Fortune as our Constitution; enjoy it when good, have Patience when ’tis bad, and never apply violent Remedies but in Cases of Necessity.”
  • “We bear, all of us, the Misfortunes of other People with heroic Constancy.”
  • “Whatever great Advantages Nature can give, she can’t without Fortune’s Concurrence make Heroes.”

And “Hope, deceitful as it is, carries us thro’ Life agreeably enough.”

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“It is only through fiction that facts can be made instructive or even intelligible.” — George Bernard Shaw

“People think that because a novel’s invented, it isn’t true. Exactly the reverse is the case. Biography and memoirs can never be wholly true, since they cannot include every conceivable circumstance of what happened. The novel can do that.” — Anthony Powell

“I write fiction and I’m told it’s autobiography, I write autobiography and I’m told it’s fiction, so since I’m so dim and they’re so smart, let them decide what it is or it isn’t.” — Philip Roth

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“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing that a tomato doesn’t belong in a fruit salad.” — Miles Kington

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“Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be interrupted for one century, civilization would die, and we should be savages again.” — Will and Ariel Durant

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“It has been said, not truly, but with a possible approximation to truth, that in 1802 every hereditary monarch was insane.” — Walter Bagehot

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“When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean.” — Lin-Chi

Misc

  • Juneau, Alaska, is larger than Rhode Island.
  • After reading Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria, Byron said, “I wish he would explain his explanation.”
  • If A + B + C = 180°, then tan A + tan B + tan C = (tan A)(tan B)(tan C).
  • Five counties meet in the middle of Lake Okeechobee.
  • “Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.” — George Sand

No one knows whether Andrew Jackson was born in North Carolina or South Carolina. The border hadn’t been surveyed well at the time.

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“All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don’t know by what you do; that’s what I called ‘guessing what was at the other side of the hill.'” — Duke of Wellington

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“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle

“Education enables you to express assent or dissent in graduated terms.” — William Cory

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” — Robert Frost

“To change an opinion without a mental process is the mark of the uneducated.” — Geoffrey Madan

“To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

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“An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn’t take his education too seriously.” — Charles F. Kettering

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“There is a danger in being persuaded before one understands.” — Thomas Wilson

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“The success of most things depends upon knowing how long it will take to succeed.” — Montesquieu

You Are Here

Metaphors for life:

“A theater in which the worst people often have the best seats.” — Aristonymus

“A hospital in which every patient is possessed by the desire to change his bed.” — Charles Baudelaire

“A maze in which we take the wrong turning before we have learned to walk.” — Cyril Connolly

“A garish, unrestful hotel.” — Joseph Conrad

“Like eating artichokes — you’ve got to go through so much to get so little.” — Tad Dorgan

“For most men … a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed.” — Clifton Fadiman

“A library owned by an author. In it are a few books which he wrote himself, but most of them were written for him.” — Harry Emerson Fosdick

“An onion, and one peels it crying.” — French proverb

“The only riddle that we shrink from giving up.” — W.S. Gilbert

“Life is something like this trumpet. If you don’t put anything in it, you don’t get anything out.” — W.C. Handy

“A succession of frontispieces. The way to be satisfied is never to look back.” — William Hazlitt

“A long headache in a noisy street.” — John Masefield

“A foreign language: all men mispronounce it.” — Christopher Morley

“A party: one arrives long after it’s started, and one’s going to leave long before it’s over.” — Robert Morley

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“Honesty is the best policy: but he who acts on that principle is not an honest man.” — Archbishop Richard Whately

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“There is nothing so easily made offensive as good reasoning.” — Sir Arthur Helps

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“One of my chief objections to the management of the universe is that we suffer so much more from our gentler and more amiable vices than from our darkest crimes.” — A.E. Housman, letter to Grant Richards, 1913

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“It is true that that may hold in these things, which is the general root of superstition; namely, that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss; and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other.” — Francis Bacon

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“What leapings of the heart must there not have been throughout that long warfare! What moments of terror and triumph! What acts of devotion and desperate wonders of courage!” — H.G. Wells, of prehistoric man

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“People who make history know nothing about history. You can see that in the sort of history they make.” — G.K. Chesterton

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“The monuments of wit survive the monuments of power.” — Francis Bacon

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“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” — Bertrand Russell

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“Every time an idiot dies, your IQ goes down.” — Bill Ballance

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“Man is an exception, whatever he is. If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head.” — G.K. Chesterton

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“You can tell the character of every man when you see how he gives and receives praise.” — Seneca

“To learn a man’s character, mark how he takes a favour.” — Archbishop Richard Whately

“If all else fails, the character of a man can be recognized by nothing so surely as by a jest which he takes badly.” — G.C. Lichtenberg

“To know a man, observe how he wins his object, rather than how he loses it; for when we fail, our pride supports us — when we succeed, it betrays us.” — Charles Caleb Colton

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” — Voltaire

Also:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — Gandhi