“It is always observable that silence propagates itself, and that the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find any thing to say.” — Samuel Johnson
Maxims of La Rochefoucauld:
- “Jealousy is in some sort rational and just; since it only aims at the Preservation of a Good which belongs, or which we think belongs, to us: Whereas Envy is a Frenzy that cannot bear the Good of others.”
- “Good Sense should be the Test of all Rules, both ancient and modern; whatever is incompatible therewith is false.”
- “Avarice is more opposite to Economy than Liberality.”
- “We ought to be able to answer for our Fortune, to be able to answer for what we shall do.”
- “The most violent Passions have their Intermissions; Vanity only gives us no Respite.”
- “‘Tis more difficult to conceal the Sensations we have, than to feign those we have not.”
- “We should have but little Pleasure were we never to flatter ourselves.”
- “We love much better those, who endeavour to imitate us, than those who strive to equal us. For Imitation is a Sign of Esteem, but Competition of Envy.”
- “Whatever Difference may appear in Men’s Fortunes, there is nevertheless a certain Compensation of Good and Ill that makes all equal.”
And “The common Foible of old People who have been handsome, is to forget that they are no longer so.”
“There’s nothing more boring on this earth than to have to read the description of an Italian journey, except maybe to have to write one — and the writer can only make it halfway bearable by speaking as little as possible of Italy itself.” — Heinrich Heine
“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.” — Christopher Morley
“However often you may have done them a favor, if you once refuse they forget everything except your refusal.” — Pliny the Younger
“Little minds are interested in the extraordinary; great minds in the commonplace.” — Elbert Hubbard
Excerpts from the notebooks of English belletrist Geoffrey Madan (1895-1947):
Two impressions remaining, after a life of scientific research:
1. The inexhaustible oddity of nature.
2. The capacity of the human system for recovery.
— J.B.S. Haldane
“With people like you, love only means one thing.”
“No, it means twenty things: but it doesn’t mean nineteen.”
— Arnold Bennett’s Journal
“I simply ignored an axiom.” — Einstein, on Relativity
“Nowhere probably is there more true feeling, and nowhere worse taste, than in a churchyard.” — Benjamin Jowett
Happiness, only a by-product.
The fine flower of stupidity blossoms in the attempt to appear less stupid.
Boy, wanting to be a “retired business man.”
“Stand on the Right — and let others pass you.” — Directions on an Underground Escalator
“My sad conviction is that people can only agree about what they’re not really interested in.” — Bertrand Russell, New Statesman, 1 July 1939
The doctrine of omnipotence means that life is a sham fight with evil.
“All men wish to have truth on their side: but few to be on the side of truth.” — Archbishop Richard Whately
“Half-knowledge is very communicable; not so knowledge.” — Mary Coleridge
“Mastery often passes for egotism.” — Goethe
“No thoroughly occupied man was ever yet very miserable.” — Letitia Elizabeth Landon
“It was hard for me to believe. I would look down and say, ‘This is the moon, this is the moon,’ and I would look up and say, ‘That’s the Earth, that’s the Earth,’ in my head. So it was science fiction to us even as we were doing it.” — Alan Bean, Apollo 12
“In all education the main cause of failure is staleness.” — Alfred North Whitehead