Favourite quotations

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Heads I win, tails you lose.

'We are always doing,' says he, 'something for Posterity, but I would fain see
Posterity do something for us.' (Joseph Addison)

Judge your fortune as you judge a coat; look not at the size of it, but see that it fits.

An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.
(Pliny the Younger, Letters, II, 15)

Muss es sein? Es muss sein. (Beethoven)

'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, Alice in Wonderland)

The rain it raineth on the just / And also on the unjust fella: / But chiefly on the just, because /
The unjust steals the just's umbrella. (Lord Bowen)

When we risk no contradiction / It prompts the tongue to deal in fiction.
(John Gay)

Man has his will,--but woman has her way. (Oliver Wendell Holmes,
The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, 1858)

An army of stags led by a lion is more formidable than an army of lions led by a stag.

A man that looks on glass, / On it may stay his eye; / Or if he pleaseth, through it pass, /
And then the heav'n espy. (George Herbert, The Elixir)

Man's spirit is a lamp the Lord gives to search out the hidden corners of his being.
(Proverbs, 20, 27)

He whose game is the eagle takes no heed of the sparrow.
(Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers)

Some Bookes are to be Tasted, Others to be Swallowed,
and Some Few to be Chewed and Digested. (Francis Bacon, Of Studies)

Distilled Bookes are like Common distilled Waters, Flashy Things.
(Francis Bacon, Of Studies)

When the state is most corrupt, the laws are most numerous.

Manners are of more importance than laws. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or
purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible
operation, like that of the air we breathe in.
(Edmund Burke, Letters on a Regicide Peace, 1796)

You don't till a field by turning it over in your mind.

He that has plenty of pepper can season his cabbage well.

When you are with foxes you must act like a fox.

The poor man needs much, the miser desires everything.

He that wishes to become rich, also wishes to become so quickly.

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.

Gratitude is the least of virtues but ingratitude the worst of vices.

In all thy humours, whether grave or mellow, / Thou'rt such a touchy, testy, pleasant fellow; /
Hast so much wit, and mirth and spleen about thee, / There is no living with thee, nor without thee.
(Joseph Addison after Martial)

Life is a queer tangle. The art of unravelling it is the art of living. (J. Lucas, Our Villa in Italy)

The age when men are eager about great work is the age when great work itself gets done.
(Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, The Art of Writing)

Said Hamlet to Ophelia / I'll draw a sketch of thee. / What kind of pencil shall I use? /
2B or not 2B? (Spike Milligan)

Now Europe balanced, neither side prevails; / For nothing's left in either of the scales.
(Alexander Pope, The Balance of Europe)

Good Mr Fortune, A.R.A., / Rejoiced in twenty sons, / But even there he failed, they say,
/ To get a likeness once.
(G. Rostrevor Hamilton, A Portrait Painter)

How odd / of God / to choose / the Jews. (W.N. Ewer, The Chosen People)
But not so odd / As those who choose / A Jewish God, / Yet spurn the Jews.
(Cecil Browne, A Reply)

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle (Friends of the Earth, Earth Matters, Summer 17/3, 1990)

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
(Winston Churchill)

Time has become like a bare income, swallowed up by our present needs;
they swarm round us like a panic of creditors, and we can but pay them
moments on account.
(Adrian Bell, Silver Ley, chapt.VI)

Under every office block lies the good earth with a seed in it,
whose April shall one day dawn.
(Adrian Bell, A Countryman's Notebook)

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
(George Santyana, The Age of Reason)

When I hear of an 'equity' in a case like this, I am reminded of a blind man in a dark room - looking for a black hat - which isn't there. (Lord Bowen)

We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed
to our method of questioning. (Werner Heisenberg)

Worry often gives small things a big shadow. (Swedish proverb)

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This page last updated: June 11, 2021.