No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one has not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better. With mere good intentions, hell is proverbially paved.

William James (1842-1910) American psychologist and philosopher
The Principles of Psychology, Vol. 1, “Habit” (1890)
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The Martini is to middle- and upper-class American society what peyote is to the Yaqui Indians: a sacred rite that affirms tribal identity, encourages fanciful thought and —
let’s be honest here — delivers a whoppingly nice high.

Barnaby Conrad III (b. 1952) American author, artist, editor
“Martini Madness,” Cigar Aficionado (Spring 1996)
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A man is a god in ruins.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” ch. 8 (1836)
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If the world were a logical place, men would ride side-saddle.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Sudden Death (1983)
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Government was intended to suppress injustice, but it offers new occasions and temptations for the commission of it.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, “Summary of Principles” 2.4 (1793)
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We are justified in enforcing good morals, for they belong to all mankind; but we are not justified in enforcing good manners, for good manners always mean our own manners.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
All Things Considered, “Limericks and Counsels of Perfection” (1908)
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I’m not sure why it happened, and I’m not certain at all when it happened, but at some point, wanting a happy ending became uncool. Maybe it’s the relentless (and again, highly flawed) criticism that “such things aren’t realistic.” To which my response is, so the fuck what? It’s call fiction. If you want real, step outside.

Greg Rucka (b. 1969) American comic book writer and novelist
Lazarus: X+66 #3, letter column (Sep 2017)
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No cook can ignore the opinion of a man who asks for three helpings. One is politeness, two is hunger, but three is a true and cherished compliment.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
The Green Mill Murder, ch. 6 (1993)
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Books, that paper memory of mankind.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
The Art of Literature, ch. 4 “On Men of Learning” [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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Not everyone is worth listening to.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 1 “Consolation For Unpopularity” (2000)
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Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the day-time, and falling into at night.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) American poet
Letter to Whitter “Hal” Bynner and Arthur Davidson Ficke (1920)
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The murmuring poor, who will not fast in peace.

George Crabbe (1754-1832) English poet, writer, surgeon, clergyman
“The Newspaper,” l. 158 (1785)
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Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.

Norman Schwarzkopf (b. 1934) American military leader
(Attributed)
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Y2K was a real end-of-civilization problem. And the people who could deal with it treated it as such, working flat-out on disaster management for the last year-long countdown. With the result that the end-of-the-world scenario didn’t happen … causing everyone not directly involved to conclude that it was a false alarm.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks (2016)
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He that lacks time to mourn, lacks time to mend.
Eternity mourns that. ‘Tis an ill cure
For life’s worst ills, to have no time to feel them.
Where sorrow’s held intrusive and turned out,
There wisdom will not enter, nor true power,
Nor aught that dignifies humanity.

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
Philip Van Artevelde, Part 1, Act 1, sc. 5 (1834)
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Beauties in vain their pretty Eyes may roll;
Charms strike the Sight, but Merit wins the Soul.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
The Rape of the Lock, Canto 5, l. 33 (1712)
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It is the trifles of life that are its bores, after all. Most men can meet ruin calmly, for instance, or laugh when they lie in a ditch with their own knee-joint and their hunter’s spine broken over the double post and rails: it is the mud that has choked up your horn just when you wanted to rally the pack; it’s the whip who carries you off to a division just when you’ve sat down to your turbot; it’s the ten seconds by which you miss the train; it’s the dust that gets in your eyes as you go down to Epsom; it’s the pretty little rose note that went by accident to your house instead of your club, and raised a storm from madame; it’s the dog that always will run wild into the birds; it’s the cook who always will season the white soup wrong — it is these that are the bores of life, and that try the temper of your philosophy.

Ouida (1839-1908) English novelist [pseud. of Maria Louise Ramé]
Under Two Flags, ch. 1 (1867)
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Fond as we are of our loved ones, there comes at times during their absence an unexplained peace.

Other Authors and Sources
Anne Shaw, But Such Is Life (1931)
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Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks, ch. 18 (2016)
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A variant of Clarke's Third Law.
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Wisdom is corrupted by ambition, even when the quality of the ambition is intellectual. For ambition, even of this quality, is but a form of self-love ….

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
Notes from Life, “Wisdom” (1847)
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If a man is not rising upwards to be an angel, depend upon it, he is sinking downwards to be a devil. He cannot stop at the beast. The most savage of men are not beasts; they are worse, a great deal worse.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) English poet and critic
Table Talk (30 Aug 1833)
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Where Plenty smiles — alas! she smiles for few,
And those who taste not, yet behold her store,
Are as the slaves that dig the golden ore,
The wealth around them makes them doubly poor.

George Crabbe (1754-1832) English poet, writer, surgeon, clergyman
The Village, Book 1, line 136 (1783)
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A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) Lebanese-American poet, writer, painter [Gibran Khalil Gibran]
The Voice of the Master, Part 2, ch. 8 (1960)
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I’m convinced if I keep going one day I will write something decent. On very bad days I will observe that I must have written good things in the past, which means that I’ve lost it. But normally I just assume that I don’t have it. The gulf between the thing I set out to make in my head and the sad, lumpy thing that emerges into reality is huge and distant and I just wish that I could get them closer.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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As the true object of education is not to render the pupil the mere copy of his preceptor, it is rather to be rejoiced in, than lamented, that various reading should lead him into new trains of thinking.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
The Enquirer, Essay 15 “Of Choice in Reading” (1797)
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What Man seeks, to the point of anguish, in his gods, in his art, in his science, is meaning. He cannot bear the void. He pours meaning on events like salt on his food. He denies that life bounces along at random, at the mercy of events, in sound and in fury. He wants it always to be directed, aimed toward a goal, like an arrow.

François Jacob (1920-2013) French biologist, Nobel prize winner in Medicine
The Statue Within: An Autobiography (1987) [tr. Philip (1988)]
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Man is a carnivorous production,
And must have meals, at least one meal a day;
He cannot live, like woodcocks, upon suction,
But, like the shark and tiger, must have prey.

Although his anatomical construction
Bears vegetables, in a grumbling way,
Your laboring people think beyond all question,
Beef, veal, and mutton better for digestion.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Don Juan, Canto 2, #67 (1823)
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Action is character.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) American writer [Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald]
“Notes for The Last Tycoon” (1941)
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Ever since I had dinner with Lou Reed I’ve tried to avoid meeting the people who would make me feel starstruck. It was a great dinner but by the end of it Lou Reed was no longer my hero, and I don’t have many heroes. I resolutely avoided meeting David Bowie, which became harder when I became friends with Duncan Jones, his son, and then got even harder when I moved to Woodstock and he lived around the corner. But I love the fact that the Bowie that I have is the Bowie in my head: a strange, evolving, absolutely fictional Bowie who became my hero when I was 11.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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The King in a carriage may ride,
And the Beggar may crawl at his side;
But in the general race,
They are traveling all the same pace.

Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883) English writer, poet, translator
“Chronomoros,” l. 57ff, Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal (5 Dec 1840)
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Better to love amiss than nothing to have loved.

George Crabbe (1754-1832) English poet, writer, surgeon, clergyman
Tales in Verse, Tale 14 “The Struggles of Conscience” (1812)

See Tennyson (1849).
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A just man is not one who does no ill,
But he, who with the power, has not the will.

Philemon (c. 362 BC – c. 262 BC) Athenian poet and playwright
Sententiæ, II

Attributed in John Booth, Epigrams, Ancient and Modern (1863)..
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The absent are like children; they are helpless to defend themselves.

Charles Reade (1814-1884) English novelist and dramatist
Foul Play, ch. 44 (1869)
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Vampire super-strength is a poor fit for many of the modern world’s problems — it really doesn’t help you fill in your time-sheet any faster — but when it comes to breaking damp-weakened wooden door frames it’s superb.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks (2016)
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The art of living easily as to money, is to pitch your scale of living one degree below your means.

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
Notes from Life, “Of Money” (1853)
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A man’s action is only a picture-book of his creed.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Letters and Social Aims, “Poetry and Imagination” (1876)
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I miss what I had in terms of the speed of memory access. If I needed a word or a fact it was already at my fingertips and now it’s like an arthritic and elderly gentleman has to sit up and go down many, many flights of stairs very slowly and go and rummage in dusty drawers. Eventually he will return four days later, normally at about 1:30 in the morning, and I will sit up and go, “Oh yes! ‘Crepuscular.’ That was the word I was looking for.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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Take hope from the heart of man and you make him a beast of prey.

Ouida (1839-1908) English novelist [pseud. of Maria Louise Ramé]
A Village Commune, ch. 20 (1881)
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Whether we wake or we sleep,
Whether we carol or weep,
The Sun with his Planets in chime,
Marketh the going of Time.

Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883) English writer, poet, translator
“Chronomoros,” l. 33ff, Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal (5 Dec 1840)
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Ability is a poor man’s wealth.

Matthew Wren (1585-1667) English clergyman, bishop, scholar
(Attributed)

First found in Day's Collacon (1884).
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If you attack Stupidity, you attack an entrenched interest with friends in government and every walk of public life, and you will make small progress against it.

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks (1949)
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Segregation is a cancer in the body politic which must be removed before our democratic health can be realized. The underlying philosophy of segregation is diametrically opposed to the underlying philosophy of democracy and Christianity and all the sophisms of the logicians cannot make them lie down together.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Keep Moving from This Mountain,” Spelman College (10 Apr 1960)
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King used many of these phrases in other speeches and sermons during this period.
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The capacity of the human mind for swallowing nonsense and spewing it forth in violent and repressive action has never yet been plumbed.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
“Concerning Stories Never Written” (Oct 1952)
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A word of caution to neophyte Martini drinkers: When taken to excess, this perfectly civilized drink can lead directly to uncivilized behavior. … The purpose of the Martini is to enhance the evening, not to obliterate it.

Barnaby Conrad III (b. 1952) American author, artist, editor
“Martini Madness,” Cigar Aficionado (Spring 1996)
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There are answers which, in turning away wrath, only send it to the other end of the room.

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Middlemarch, Book 3, ch. 24 (1871)
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An allusion to Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turneth away wrath."
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Manners are of more importance than laws. Upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend. The law touches us but here and there, and now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, but a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in. They give their whole form and color to our lives. According to their quality, they aid morals, they supply them, or they totally destroy them.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter 1 (1796)
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The proper method for hastening the decay of error is not by brute force, or by regulation which is one of the classes of force, to endeavor to reduce men to intellectual uniformity, but on the contrary by teaching every man to think for himself.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Vol. 2, bk. 8, ch. 6 “Of the Enjoyment of Liberty” (1793)
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Secrets with girls, like loaded guns with boys,
Are never valued till they make a noise.

George Crabbe (1754-1832) English poet, writer, surgeon, clergyman
Tales of the Hall, “The Maid’s Story” (1819)
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Ah, Stefan, give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed.

Anne Rice (b. 1941) American author [b. Howard Allen Frances O'Brien]
The Witching Hour, Part 2 (1990)
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There may be no good reason for things to be the way they are.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 1 “Consolations for Unpopularity,” sec. 4 (2000)
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Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
Commencement Address, Knox College, Galesburg, IL (4 Jun 2005)
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There are two reasons for drinking: one is, when you are thirsty, to cure it; the other, when you are not thirsty, to prevent it. The first is obvious, mechanical, and plebeian; the second is most refined, abstract, prospicient, and canonical. I drink by anticipation of thirst that may be. Prevention is better than cure.

Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866) English novelist, satirist, poet, merchant
Melincourt, ch. 16 (1817)
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Well-married, a man is winged — ill-matched, he is shackled.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Norwood, Vol. 1, ch. 6 (1867)
    (Source)

Later requoted in Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, ch. 17 "The Family" (1887).
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Love, I find is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Dust Tracks on a Road, ch. 14 “Love” (1942)
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Laugh if you are wise, O girl, laugh.

[Ride, si sapis, o puella, ride]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, #41 “To Maximina” [tr. Ker (1919)]
    (Source)

Quoting Ovid (unsourced).

Alt. trans.:
  • Laugh if thou art wise, girl, laugh. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • Laugh, my girl, laugh, if you bee wise" -- [16th C Manuscript]
  • Laugh, lovely maid, laugh oft, if thou art wise. -- [Anon. (1695)]
 
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