Quotations about   contempt

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Low people, in good circumstances, fine clothes, and equipage, will insolently show contempt for all those who cannot afford as fine clothes, as good an equipage, and who have not (as they term it) as much money in their pockets: on the other hand, they are gnawed with envy, and cannot help discovering it, of those who surpass them in any of these articles; which are far from being sure criterions of merit.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (29 Oct 1748)
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Added on 11-Mar-21 | Last updated 11-Mar-21
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There is another sort of lies, inoffensive enough in themselves, but wonderfully ridiculous; I mean those lies which a mistaken vanity suggests, that defeat the very end for which they are calculated, and terminate in the humiliation and confusion of their author, who is sure to be detected. These are chiefly narrative and historical lies, all intended to do infinite honor to their author. He is always the hero of his own romances; he has been in dangers from which nobody but himself ever escaped; he as seen with his own eyes, whatever other people have heard or read of; he has had more bonnes fortunes than ever he knew women; and has ridden more miles post in one day, than ever courier went in two. He is soon ridiculed, and as soon becomes the object of universal contempt and ridicule.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (21 Sep 1747)
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Added on 4-Feb-21 | Last updated 4-Feb-21
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Christ saw much in this world to weep over, and much to pray over: but he saw nothing in it to look upon with contempt.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
Living Words (1860)
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Added on 18-Sep-20 | Last updated 18-Sep-20
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Familiarity breeds contempt, while rarity wins admiration.

[Parit enim conversatio contemptum; raritas conciliat admirationem.]

Apuleius (c. 124 - c. 170 AD) Numidian writer, philosopher, rhetorician [Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis]
On the God of Socrates [De Deo Socratis], ch. 4 [tr. Bohn’s (1853)]

Discussing why the gods do not mingle with humanity. Alt. trans.:
  • "Familiarity produces contempt, but infrequency conciliates admiration." [tr. Taylor (1822)]
  • "Familiarity breeds contempt, but privacy gains admiration." [Source]
  • "Familiarity breeds contempt, but concealment excites interest."
The first part of the phrase is also used as the moral in the traditional English translation of Aesop's "The Fox and the Lion."
Added on 8-Jul-20 | Last updated 8-Jul-20
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For the propaganda of totalitarian movements which precede and accompany totalitarian regimes is invariably as frank as it is mendacious, and would-be totalitarian rulers usually start their careers by boasting of their past crimes and carefully outlining their future ones. The Nazis were “convinced that evil-doing in our time has a morbid force of attraction,” Bolshevik assurances inside and outside Russia that they do not recognize ordinary moral standards have become a mainstay of Communist propaganda, and experience has proven time and again that the propaganda value of evil deeds and general contempt for moral standards is independent of mere self-interest, supposedly the most powerful psychological factor in politics.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
The Origins of Totalitarianism, Part 3, ch. 1, sec. 1 (1951)
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Added on 28-Apr-20 | Last updated 28-Apr-20
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Power always Sincerely, conscientiously, de très bon foi, believes itself Right. Power always thinks it has a great Soul and vast Views, beyond the Comprehension of the Weak; and that it is doing God Service when it is violating all his Laws.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Thomas Jefferson (2 Feb 1816)
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de très bon foi = "very candidly"
Added on 16-Oct-14 | Last updated 3-Aug-16
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Admiration is a very short-lived passion, that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #256 (24 Dec 1711)
Added on 8-Apr-13 | Last updated 10-Dec-14
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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
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There is nothing that people bear more impatiently, or forgive less, than contempt; and an injury is much sooner forgotten than an insult.

Chesterfield - injury insult - wist_info quote

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (9 Oct 1746)
Added on 15-Apr-09 | Last updated 17-Dec-15
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Many can bear Adversity but few Contempt.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #3340 (1732)
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Added on 14-Apr-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an Atheist by scripture.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The American Crisis #5, “To General Sir William Howe” (23 Mar 1778)
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Sometimes shortened as: "To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead."
Added on 18-Jul-07 | Last updated 16-Feb-21
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Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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