Quotations by Butler, Samuel


Half the vices that the world condemns most loudly have seeds of good in them and require moderate use rather than total abstinence.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Life is like music, it must be composed by ear, feeling and instinct, not by rule. Nevertheless one had better know the rules, for they sometimes guide in doubtful cases, though not often.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Going away: I can generally bear the separation, but I don’t like the leave-taking.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Death, like life, is an affair of being more frightened than hurt.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Erewhon (1872)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

It has ben said that the love of money is the root of all evil. The want of money is so quite as truly.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Erewhon, ch. 20 (1872)

See Bible, 1 Timothy 6:10
Added on 4-Nov-11 | Last updated 11-Jan-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

There is hardly any error into which men may not easily be led if they base their conduct upon reason only.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Erewhon, ch. 21 (1872)
Added on 11-Jan-13 | Last updated 11-Jan-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The three most important things a man has are, briefly, his private parts, his money, and his religious opinions.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Further Extracts from Notebooks (1934)
Added on 15-Aug-08 | Last updated 15-Aug-08
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Reforms and discoveries are like offenses; they must needs come, but woe unto that man through whom they come.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Further Extracts from the Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 1 (ed. A. T. Bartholemew (1934))
Added on 15-Aug-13 | Last updated 15-Aug-13
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The Bible may be the truth, but it is not the whole truth, nor is it nothing but the truth.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Further Extracts from the Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 1 [ed. A. Bartholomew] (1934)
Added on 13-Mar-09 | Last updated 13-Mar-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

An honest God’s the noblest work of man.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Further Extracts from the Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 1 [ed. Bartholomew (1934)]

See Pope.
Added on 15-Nov-10 | Last updated 15-Nov-10
Link to this post | 1 comment
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Further Extracts from the Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 4 [ed. A. Bartholomew] (1934)
Added on 13-May-09 | Last updated 13-May-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Further Extracts from the Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 5 [ed. Bartholemew (1934)]
Added on 29-Jun-11 | Last updated 29-Jun-11
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Life and Habit, ch. 8 (1877)

Full text.

Added on 10-Apr-09 | Last updated 10-Apr-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Any fool can paint a picture but it takes a wise man to be able to sell it.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1883-1887)
Added on 14-Apr-14 | Last updated 14-Apr-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Christ and The Church: If he were to apply for a divorce on the grounds of cruelty, adultery and desertion, he would probably get one.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

To know God better is only to realize how impossible it is that we should ever know him at all. I know not which is more childish

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

There are two great rules in life, the one general and the other particular. The first is that every one can in the end get what he wants if he only tries. This is the general rule. The particular rule is that every individual is more or less of an exception to the general rule.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1912)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-May-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Life is one long process of getting tired.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

There is no such source of error as the pursuit of absolute truth.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

It must be remembered that we have only heard one side of the case. God has written all the books.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “An Apology for the Devil” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 26-Feb-09 | Last updated 26-Feb-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Dogs” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 12-Mar-09 | Last updated 12-Mar-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

If we are asked what is the most essential characteristic that underlies this word, the word itself will guide us to gentleness, to absence of such things as brow-beating, overbearing manners and fuss, and generally to consideration for other people.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Gentleman” (1912)
    (Source)
Added on 18-Dec-08 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

To live is like to love — all reason is against it, and all healthy instinct for it.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Life and Love” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 27-Nov-08 | Last updated 27-Nov-08
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

To live is like to love – all reason is against it, and all healthy instinct for it.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Life and Love” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 26-Mar-09 | Last updated 26-Mar-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Morality turns on whether the pleasure precedes or follows the pain. Thus it is immoral to get drunk because the headache comes after the drinking. But if the headache came first and the drunkenness afterwards, it would be moral to get drunk.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Morality” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 19-Feb-09 | Last updated 19-Feb-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

God’s merits are so transcendent that it is not surprising his faults should be in reasonable proportion.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Rebelliousness”(1912)

Full text.

Added on 8-Jan-09 | Last updated 8-Jan-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Is there any religion whose followers can be pointed to as distinctly more amiable and trustworthy than those of any other? If so, this should be enough. I find the nicest and best people generally profess no religion at all, but are ready to like the best men of all religions.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Religion” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 22-Jan-09 | Last updated 22-Jan-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

There are two classes [of scientists], those who want to know and do not care whether others think they know or not, and those who do not much care about knowing but care very greatly about being reputed as knowing.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Scientists” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 5-Mar-09 | Last updated 5-Mar-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Silence is not always tact and it is tact that is golden, not silence.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Silence and Tact” (1912)
    (Source)
Added on 13-Apr-15 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Everything matters more than we think it does, and, at the same time, nothing matters so much as we think it does. The merest spark may set all Europe in a blaze, but though all Europe be set in a blaze twenty times over, the world will wag itself right again.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Sparks” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 2-Apr-09 | Last updated 2-Apr-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes along.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Speech at the Somerville Club” (27 Feb. 1895)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

We play out our days as we play out cards, taking them as they come, not knowing what they will be, hoping for a lucky card and sometimes getting one, often getting just the wrong one.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “The World,” ii (1912)

Full text.

Added on 29-Jan-09 | Last updated 29-Jan-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Words are like money; there is nothing so useless, unless when in actual use.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Thought and Word,” viii (1912)

Full text.

Added on 12-Feb-09 | Last updated 12-Feb-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The extremes of vice and virtue are alike detestable; absolute virtue is as sure to kill a man as absolute vice is, let alone the dullnesses of it and the pomposities of it.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Vice and Virtue,” ii (1912)

Full text.

Added on 11-Dec-08 | Last updated 11-Dec-08
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

When a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing, it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a hundred years hence.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, “Writing for a Hundred Years Hence” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 5-Feb-09 | Last updated 5-Feb-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, ch. 1 “Life,” ix (1912)

Full text.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The public buys its opinions as it buys its meat, or takes in its milk, on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than to keep a cow. So it is, but the milk is more likely to be watered.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, ch. 17 (1912)
Added on 14-Aug-08 | Last updated 14-Aug-08
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks, ch. 21 “Faith” (1907) [ed. H. Jones]

Full text.
Added on 16-Apr-09 | Last updated 3-May-10
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

All things […] are best to those who know no better.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Prose Observations, “Ignorance” [ed. de Quehen (1979)]
Added on 10-Dec-12 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

There are more Fools than Knaves in the World,
Else the Knaves would not have enough to live upon.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Prose Observations, “Sundry Thoughts”
Added on 29-Apr-11 | Last updated 29-Apr-11
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

All the works of Nature are Miracles, and nothing makes them appear otherwise but our Familiarity with them.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Prose Observations. “Nature” [ed. de Quehen (1979)]
Added on 20-Sep-11 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

We can see nothing face to face; our utmost seeing is but a fumbling of blind finger-ends in an overcrowded pocket.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Ramblings In Cheapside (1890)
Added on 15-Jan-09 | Last updated 15-Jan-09
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

A sense of humor keen enough to show a man his own absurdities will keep him from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those that are worth committing.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, “Life” [ed. Jones (1907)]
Added on 31-Jul-14 | Last updated 31-Jul-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 1 “Life” [ed. H. Jones (1907)]
    (Source)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 25-Sep-12
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

I do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 19 [ed. Festing-Jones] (1907)
Added on 16-Sep-15 | Last updated 16-Sep-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

Never learn anything until you find you have been made uncomfortable for a good long while by not knowing it; when you find that you have occasion for this or that knowledge, or foresee that you will have occasion for it shortly, the sooner you learn it the better, but till then spend your time in growing bone and muscle; these will be much more useful to you than Latin and Greek, nor will you ever be able to make them if you do not do so now, whereas Latin and Greek can be acquired at any time by those who want them.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Way of All Flesh (1903)
Added on 25-Jan-16 | Last updated 25-Jan-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Way of All Flesh, ch. 19 (1903)

Full text.
Added on 29-Aug-08 | Last updated 29-Aug-08
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The best liar is he who makes the smallest amount of lying go the longest way.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Way of All Flesh, ch. 39 (1903)
Added on 23-Sep-15 | Last updated 23-Sep-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

There’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Way of All Flesh, ch. 61 (1903)

Full text.
Added on 14-Nov-08 | Last updated 14-Nov-08
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another and to make only two people miserable instead of four, besides being very amusing.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Letter to Miss E. M. A. Savage (21 Nov 1884)

Referring to Thomas Carlyle.
Added on 26-Aug-11 | Last updated 26-Aug-11
Link to this post | No comments
More quotes by Butler, Samuel