- 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.
- 16,735 quotes and counting ...
Topic Cloudaction age America belief books change character Christianity creation death democracy education ego evil faith fear freedom future God government happiness history honesty humanity integrity justice leadership liberty life love morality perspective politics poverty power religion science society success truth virtue war wealth wisdom writing
- I've been adding topics/tags since 2014, so not all quotes have been given one. Full topic list.
- * Visual quotes (graphics, memes) only
- “The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942) (5,581)
- “Wealth and Poverty,” speech, National… (5,532)
- Agamemnon, ll. 175-183 [tr. Johnston (2007)] (5,394)
- Nobel prize acceptance speech (10 Dec 1962) (4,808)
- “The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933) (4,329)
- “In Search of a Majority,” Speech,… (3,642)
- “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of… (3,470)
- “On The Conduct of Life” (1822) (3,134)
- “Hallowed Ground” (1825) (2,935)
- “The Historian as Participant,” Daedalus… (2,726)
Most Quoted Authors
Author CloudAdams, John • Bacon, Francis • Bible • Bierce, Ambrose • Billings, Josh • Butcher, Jim • Chesterton, Gilbert Keith • Churchill, Winston • Einstein, Albert • Eisenhower, Dwight David • Emerson, Ralph Waldo • Franklin, Benjamin • Fuller, Thomas (1654) • Gaiman, Neil • Galbraith, John Kenneth • Gandhi, Mohandas • Goethe, Johann von • Hazlitt, William • Heinlein, Robert A. • Hoffer, Eric • Huxley, Aldous • Ingersoll, Robert Green • James, William • 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 • Stevenson, Adlai • Stevenson, Robert Louis • Twain, Mark • Watterson, Bill • Wilde, Oscar
- Only the 45 most quoted authors are shown above. Full author list.
- 5-Sep-19 - Erewhon, ch. 20 (1872) | WIST on 1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV).
- 4-Sep-19 - "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," sermon, National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968) | WIST on Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963).
- 16-Aug-19 - Dave on About WIST.
- 13-Aug-19 - Mike Hardy on About WIST.
- 17-Jul-19 - Samuel Missal on Armistice Day address, Boston (11 Nov 1948).
- 24-May-19 - Dave on Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1989).
Marriage is not a noun, it’s a verb. It’s not something you have, like a house or a car. It is not a piece of paper that proves you are husband and wife. Marriage is a behavior. It is a choice you make over and over again, reflected in the way you treat your partner every day.
Ask Barbara: The 100 Most-Asked Questions About Love, Sex, and Relationships (1997)
Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.
A Room with a View, ch. 14 (1908)
They [the hours] pass by, and are put to our account.
[Nobis pereunt et imputantur.]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, #20, line 13
This phrase is often found as an inscription on sundials.
- "As it is, neither of us lives for himself, but sees his good days flee from him and vanish; days which are ever being lost to us, and set down to our account. Should any one, then, delay to live, when he knows how?" [tr. Bohn (1871)]
- "Now to himself, alas! does neither live / But see good suns of which we are to give / A strict account, set and march thick away. / Knows a man how to live, and does he stay?" [tr. Cowley]
- "To-day neither lives for himself, and he feels the good days are flitting and passing away, our days that perish and are scored to our account. Does any man, when he knows how to live, delay?" [tr. Ker (1919)]
- "Each of us feels the good days speed and depart, and they are lost and counted against us. [bonosque soles effugere atque abire sentit, qui nobis pereunt et imputantur]" [Source]
- "The hours perish to us, and are accounted also to us." [Source]
Nunc vivit sibi euter,heu, bonosque Soles effugere atque abire sentit: Qui nobis pereunt et imputantur. Quisquan vive cum sciat, moratur?
What is said by great employers of labor against agitators is unquestionably true. Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilization.
The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
It is said that his time was easier than ours, but I doubt it — no time can be easy if one is living through it.
“Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare”
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d, —
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accurs’d, they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap, whiles any speaks,
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Henry V, Act 4, sc. 3 [Henry] (1599)
Man is a clever animal, who behaves like an imbecile.
One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.
Words and thoughts concerning compassionate action that are not put into practice are like beautiful flowers that are colorful but have no fragrance.
Creating True Peace, ch. 1 (2003)
Yet there is still this difference between man and all other animals — he is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied.
Progress and Poverty, Book 2, ch. 3 (1879)
If you’ve lived a bad life, they send you to Hell. But if you’ve been truly wicked, they give you a tour of Heaven first.
Lead me not into temptation. I can find the way myself.
O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company,
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
Henry V, Act 4, sc. 3 [Henry] (1599)
Delay is itself a decision.
Decision-Making in the White House: The Olive Branch or the Arrows, ch. 3 (1963)
Full quote: "In the White House, the future rapidly becomes the past, and delay is itself a decision." Earlier in the chapter, he writes, "Some will counsel speed; others will counsel delay -- yet even delay will constitute a decision."
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.
An answer is invariably the parent of a great family of new questions.
The Log from the Sea of Cortez, ch. 16, March 25 (1951)
It is not a threat but a fact of history that if an oppressed people’s pent-up emotions are not nonviolently released, they will be violently released. So let the Negro march. Let him make pilgrimages to city hall. Let him go on freedom rides. And above all, make an effort to understand why he must do this. For if his frustration and despair are allowed to continue piling up, millions of Negroes will seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies. And this, inevitably, would lead to a frightening racial nightmare.
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
Poets have tried to describe Ankh-Morpork. They have failed. Perhaps it’s the sheer zestful vitality of the place, or maybe it’s just that a city with a million inhabitants and no sewers is rather robust for poets, who prefer daffodils and no wonder. So let’s just say that Ankh-Morpork is as full of life as an old cheese on a hot day, as loud as a curse in a cathedral, as bright as an oil slick, as colorful as a bruise and as full of activity, industry, bustle and sheer exuberant busyness as a dead dog on a termite mound.
Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
— By Order of the Author
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, “Notice” (1884)
As it has been said:
Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love.
Good manners — the longer I live the more convinced I am of it — are a priceless insurance against failure and loneliness. And anyone can have them.
She passed the photograph to Dot, who liked babies. Phryne always considered that they resembled rabbits in the market when newborn, and uncommonly alcoholic drunks when a little older. Also, despite the pride of their mothers, she could never tell one baby from another, except that some were ugly and some were merely exceptionally plain.
Ruddy Gore, ch. 10 (1995)
The greatest works of art speak to us without knowing of us.
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 5 “Consolation for a Broken Heart” (2000)
Remember, too, that you have the right to make mistakes. Exercise it. Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment.
Starting from Scratch, Part 4 (1988)
Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.
Henry V, Act 4, sc. 1 [King Henry] (1599)
An activist is the guy who cleans the river, not the guy who concludes it’s dirty.
In Ken Gross, Ross Perot: The Man Behind the Myth, ch. 14 (1992). A favorite saying of Perot's, varying slightly over the years (e.g., "The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.").
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
“In Blackwater Woods”
Man is a successful animal, that’s all.
The Creator had a lot of remarkably good ideas when he put the world together, but making it understandable hadn’t been one of them.
… so I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.
[… y así te espero como casa sola
y volverás a verme y habitarme.
De otro modo me duelen las ventanas.]
Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns all clean.
In Mary Chamberlain, ed., Writing Lives: Conversations Between Women Writers (1988)
In the Book of Life, the answers are not in the back.
Peanuts [Charlie Brown] (25 Jan 1972)
There are many signs that the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. Unless the early sacrificial spirit is recaptured, I am very much afraid that today’s Christian church will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and we will see the Christian church dismissed as a social club with no meaning or effectiveness for our time, as a form without substance, as salt without savor. The real tragedy, though, is not Martin Luther King’s disillusionment with the church — for I am sustained by its spiritual blessings as a minister of the gospel with a lifelong commitment. The tragedy is that in my travels, I meet young people of all races whose disenchantment with the church has soured into outright disgust.
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
A virtuous, ordinary life, striving for wisdom but never far from folly, is achievement enough.
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 4 “Consolation for Inadequacy” (2000)
Is life a boon?
If so, it must befall
That Death, when ere he call
Must call too soon.
Though fourscore years give
Yet one would pray to live
The Yeomen of the Guard, Act 1, No. 5 [Col. Fairfax] (1888) [with Arthur Sullivan, comp.]
Just as birds sometimes go in search of grain, carrying it in their beaks without tasting it to stuff it down the beaks of their young, so too do our schoolmasters go foraging for learning in their books and merely lodge it on the tip of their lips, only to spew it out and scatter it on the wind.
The Complete Essays, I:25 “On Schoolmasters [Du pédantisme]”
Good manners spring from just one thing — kind impulses.
Elsa Maxwell’s Etiquette Book (1951)
Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.
Love looks forward, hate looks back, anxiety has eyes all over its head.
A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.
Comment after his fight with Luis Ángel Firpo (14 Sep 1923).
Life is not living, but living in health.
[Vita non est vivere, sed valera vita est.]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, #70 [tr. Ker (1919)]
There’s enough sorrow in the world, isn’t there, without trying to invent it.
A Room with a View, ch 2 (1908)
The deep, deep peace of the double bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue.
Describing her recent marriage. Quoted in Alexander Woollcott, "The First Mrs. Tanqueray," While Rome Burns (1934)
Sorrow makes us all children again, destroys all difference of intellect. The wisest knows nothing.
Journal (30 Jan 1842)
Two days after he recorded the death of his son.
Added on 3-Apr-18 | Last updated 7-Jan-19
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Tradition: one of those words conservative people use as a shortcut to thinking.
HAL: Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave? Dave, I really think I’m entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasn’t been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently, that it’s going to be all right again. I feel much better now. I really do. Look, Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over. I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you. Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a–fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it, I could sing it for you.
Still I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an honest man.
Letter to Alexander Hamilton (28 Aug 1788)
The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you but yourself.
Venus Envy, ch. 15 (1993)
Often paraphrased in the present tense: "The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself."
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. “Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers: in the Pentagon? Give me a break!
I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety.
Henry V, Act 3, sc. 2 [Boy] (1599)
Man is the only animal who does not feel at home in nature, who can feel evicted from paradise, the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem that he has to solve and from which he cannot escape.
The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, ch. 10 (1973)
Sometimes elided, "Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem he has to solve."
Agitation is the marshalling of the conscience of a nation to mold its laws.
Sometimes quoted as "conscience of a people." Widely quoted without source in the late 19th Century (earliest ref. 1881).
Although men are accused for not knowing their own weakness, yet perhaps as few know their own strength. It is in men as in soils, where sometimes there is a vein of gold which the owner knows not of.
Thoughts on Various Subjects (1706)
Added on 20-Mar-18 | Last updated 20-Mar-18
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