- WIST is my personal collection of quotations, curated for thought, amusement, turn of phrase, historical significance, or sometimes just (often-unintentional) irony.
Please feel free to browse and borrow.
- 18,744 quotes and counting ...
Author CloudAdams, John • Aristotle • Bacon, Francis • Bible • Bierce, Ambrose • Billings, Josh • Butcher, Jim • Chesterfield (Lord) • Chesterton, Gilbert Keith • Churchill, Winston • Cicero, Marcus Tullius • Einstein, Albert • Eisenhower, Dwight David • Emerson, Ralph Waldo • Franklin, Benjamin • Fuller, Thomas (1654) • Gaiman, Neil • Galbraith, John Kenneth • Gandhi, Mohandas • Hazlitt, William • Heinlein, Robert A. • Hoffer, Eric • Huxley, Aldous • Ingersoll, Robert Green • Jefferson, Thomas • Johnson, Lyndon • Johnson, Samuel • Kennedy, John F. • King, Martin Luther • La Rochefoucauld, Francois • Lewis, C.S. • Lincoln, Abraham • Mencken, H.L. • Orwell, George • Pratchett, Terry • Roosevelt, Eleanor • Roosevelt, Theodore • Russell, Bertrand • Seneca the Younger • Shakespeare, William • Shaw, George Bernard • Sophocles • Stevenson, Adlai • Stevenson, Robert Louis • Twain, Mark
- Only the 45 most quoted authors are shown above. Full author list.
Most Quoted Authors
Topic Cloudaction age America beauty belief change character death democracy education ego error evil faith fear freedom future God government happiness history human nature humanity integrity leadership liberty life love morality perspective politics power pride progress reality religion science society success truth virtue war wealth wisdom writing
- I've been adding topics since 2014, so not all quotes have been given one. Full topic list.
- “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National… (8,789)
- Agamemnon, ll. 175-183 [tr. Johnston (2007)] (6,324)
- “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (6,120)
- “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (5,365)
- Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (4,927)
- “On The Conduct of Life” (1822) (4,569)
- “Tips for Teens,” Social Studies (1981) (4,335)
- “In Search of a Majority,” Speech,… (4,006)
- “A Cult of Ignorance,” Newsweek (21 Jan 1980) (3,799)
- “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of… (3,790)
- “Notes on Nationalism” (1945) on
- Notice to email subscribers on
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- A Writer’s Notebook (1949) on
- The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 6, l. 180ff [Odysseus to Nausicaa] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Rieu (1946)] on
- Meditations, Book 2, #11 [tr. Gill (2014)] on
- “We’ll Meet Again” (1939) [with Hughie Charles] on
- Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #3366 (1732) on
- In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010) on
Monarchy is like a sleek craft, it sails along well until some bumbling captain runs it into the rocks. Democracy, on the other hand, is like a raft. It never goes down but, dammit, your feet are always wet.
This is the earliest reference I can find to this metaphor. Variants:
- "A monarchy is a merchantman which sails well, but will sometimes strike on a rock and go to the bottom; a republic is a raft which will never sink, but then your feet are always in the water." This variant is often attributed to a speech in the House of Representatives in 1795, but is not found in records of Ames' speeches.
- "A monarchy is like a man-of-war -- bad shots between wind and water hurt it exceedingly; there is danger of capsizing. But democracy is a raft. You cannot easily overturn it. It is a wet place, but it is a pretty safe one." -- Joseph Cook (1860-1947) Anglo-Australian politician
- "Dictatorship is like a big proud ship -- steaming away across the ocean with a great hulk and powerful engines driving it. It’s going fast and strong and looks like nothing could stop it. What happens? Your fine ship strikes something -- under the surface. Maybe it’s a mine or a reef, maybe it’s a torpedo or an iceberg. And your wonderful ship sinks. Now take democracy. It’s like riding on a raft, a rickety raft that was put together in a hurry. We get tossed about on the waves, it’s bad going and our feet are always wet. But that raft doesn’t sink … It’s the raft that will get to the shore at last." --- Roaldus Richmond (fl. 1940) American writer. In, ed., "A Yankee Businessman in New Hampshire," American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers Project, 1936-1940
- "Democracy is like a raft: It won't sink, but you will always have your feet wet." -- Russell B. Long (1918-2003) American politician
- "But you have to understand, American democracy is not like the system you have. We're not an ocean liner that sails across the ocean from point A to point B at 30 knots. That's not American democracy. American democracy is kind of like a life raft that bobs around the ocean all the time. Your feet are always wet. Winds are always blowing. You're cold. You're wet. You're uncomfortable -- but you never sink." -- Colin Powell (b. 1937) American politician, diplomat, soldier
Added on 1-Apr-16 | Last updated 7-Aug-20