Quotations about   danger

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A faint smile hovered around the man’s lips. It was the sort of smile that lies on sandbanks waiting for incautious swimmers.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Mort (1987)
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Added on 15-Oct-18 | Last updated 15-Oct-18
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I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry V, Act 3, sc. 2 [Boy] (1599)
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Added on 2-Apr-18 | Last updated 2-Apr-18
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To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.

Anne Rice (b. 1941) American author [b. Howard Allen Frances O'Brien]
The Vampire Lestat, Part 5, ch. 3 (1992)
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Added on 23-Feb-18 | Last updated 23-Feb-18
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In short, Mort was one of those people who are more dangerous than a bag full of rattlesnakes. He was determined to discover the underlying logic behind the universe. Which was going to be hard, because there wasn’t one.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Mort (1987)
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Added on 23-Feb-18 | Last updated 23-Feb-18
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Always in a moment of extreme danger things can be done which had previously been thought impossible. Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas.

Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) German field marshal
The Rommel Papers, ch. 11 [ed. B. H. Liddell Hart, (1953)]
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Added on 1-Aug-17 | Last updated 1-Aug-17
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I think it’s reasonable to say that vampire hunters either have an extremely short life expectancy, or constitute one of the most deadly threats you are ever likely to encounter. They are invariably howling-at-the-moon stark raving bonkers, and not in a good way.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Rhesus Chart (2014)
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Added on 6-Jun-17 | Last updated 6-Jun-17
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And the great danger facing us today is not so much the atomic bomb that was created by physical science. Not so much that atomic bomb that you can put in an aeroplane and drop on the heads of hundreds and thousands of people — as dangerous as that is. But the real danger confronting civilization today is that atomic bomb which lies in the hearts and souls of men, capable of exploding into the vilest of hate and into the most damaging selfishness — that’s the atomic bomb that we’ve got to fear today. Problem is with the men. Within the heart and the souls of men. That is the real basis of our problem.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” Sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
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Added on 21-Apr-17 | Last updated 21-Apr-17
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The fortitude which has encountered no dangers, that prudence which has surmounted no difficulties, that integrity which has been attacked by no temptations, can at best be considered but as gold not yet brought to the test, of which therefore the true value cannot be assigned.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler #150 (24 Aug 1751)
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Added on 11-Apr-17 | Last updated 11-Apr-17
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Ryunac, notwithstanding the bow, appeared unhappy with the answer. “You perceive,” he said, “that this answer is not likely to make me love you.”

“Well, but it is the truth, and I have been told that the truth has always some value.”

“Indeed it has value. So much so, that it should not be squandered uselessly; especially when doing so can be dangerous.”

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
The Paths of the Dead (2002)
Added on 3-Mar-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-17
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And perhaps, after all, it is better that the lad should break his neck than that you should break his spirit.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
The Amateur Emigrant (1880)
Added on 7-Feb-17 | Last updated 7-Feb-17
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The world is not always a kind place. That’s something all children learn for themselves, whether we want them to or not, but it’s something they really need our help to understand.

Fred Rogers (1928-2003) American educator, minister, songwriter, television host ["Mister Rogers"]
You Are Special (1994)
Added on 24-Jan-17 | Last updated 24-Jan-17
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A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men.

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
Under the Dome (2009)
Added on 12-Oct-16 | Last updated 12-Oct-16
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Now any dogma, based primarily on faith and emotionalism, is a dangerous weapon to use on others, since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Foundation, Part 5 “The Merchant Princes,” Sec. 13 (1951)
Added on 5-Jul-16 | Last updated 5-Jul-16
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Carelessness does more harm than a want of knowledge.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
(Attributed)
Added on 11-Jun-16 | Last updated 11-Jun-16
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We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
Two Cheers for Democracy, “The Tercentenary of the Areopagitica” (1951)
Added on 7-Jun-16 | Last updated 7-Jun-16
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MINSTREL: [singing]
He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp,
Or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken,
To have his kneecaps split and his body burned away,
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin!
His head smashed in, and his heart cut out,
And his liver removed, and his bowels unplugged,
And his nostrils raped, and his bottom burnt off,
And his penis —

SIR ROBIN: That’s enough music for now, lads.

Monty Python (contemp.) British comedy troupe
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Added on 3-Jun-16 | Last updated 3-Jun-16
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He is free from danger who, even when safe, is on his guard.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings]
Added on 20-May-16 | Last updated 31-May-16
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Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) English writer and mathematician [pseud. of Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson]
Through the Looking-Glass, ch. 1 (1872)
Added on 29-Apr-16 | Last updated 29-Apr-16
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The sharp side of the knife goes away from you. Pure reason does not trump brute force but surprisingly few people know what hot peppers look like when the teacher asks if you have enough to share with everyone. Never take the lid of a pressure cooker “to see if it’s done yet”. Even if you are careful with the picric acid that won’t matter if you are careless with other items next to it. Move away from mysterious burglar alarms. Do not append “you moron” to exposition directed at people who have just broken into your building. “We need to talk” is overwhelmingly unlikely to precede good news. A rough brick wall may be used to sort socks or as a backdrop for sock-art (The Neglected Art). A silent cat is Up to Something. Lungs are unsuited for many possible atmospheres, including that of London, and anything with a high content of industrial cleaners. Youth will not save you from Newton’s Laws. Or Darwin’s.

James Nicoll (b. 1961) Canadian reviewer, editor
Facebook (11 Jul 2014)
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Added on 11-Apr-16 | Last updated 11-Apr-16
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This I (still) believe:
Fire is not necessarily your friend. Neither are dogs. Things with lit fuses should not be held onto. Beware the savage croquet ball. If it is -30 out, put on a coat before you leave the house. Just because the snow keeps you from seeing other objects the objects do not cease to exist. Clotheslines are the enemy of the bicyclist. If you don’t remember how you got on the ground or where the blood came from, don’t get up right away. Gym teachers think it’s funny to commit assault with a baseball so don’t day-dream during PE even if they have you so far in the outfield there are DEW line posts on either side of you. All guns are loaded. So are many bows. Trebuchets are for outside use only.

James Nicoll (b. 1961) Canadian reviewer, editor
Facebook (11 Jul 2014)
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Added on 4-Apr-16 | Last updated 4-Apr-16
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The rules are only barriers to keep children from falling.

[Ces règles ne sont que des barrières pour empêcher les enfants de tomber.]

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Germany [De l’Allemagne], Part 4, ch. 9 (1813)
Added on 8-Mar-16 | Last updated 8-Mar-16
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Danger is like wine, it goes to your head.

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Corinne, Book 12, ch. 2 (1807)
Added on 26-Jan-16 | Last updated 26-Jan-16
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We come to know best what men are, in their worse jeopardies.

Samuel Daniel (1562-1619) English poet, dramatist, historian
To Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton (1605)
Added on 18-Dec-15 | Last updated 18-Dec-15
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Like young men from the dawn of time, I decided to choose the risk of death over certain humiliation.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Whispers Under Ground (2012)
Added on 16-Dec-15 | Last updated 16-Dec-15
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Altho insured
Remember, kiddo
They don’t pay you
They pay
Your widow
Burma-Shave

Other Authors and Sources
Burma-Shave sign
Added on 11-Nov-15 | Last updated 11-Nov-15
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How many people have died because they could not abandon their baggage?

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Friday Jones] (1982)
Added on 3-Nov-15 | Last updated 3-Nov-15
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You learn to know a pilot in a storm.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Essays, “On Providence” (4.5) [tr. Basore (1928)]
Added on 28-Sep-15 | Last updated 28-Sep-15
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No matter how unpredictable the future may be, we don’t win freedom through security systems, cryptography, interrogations and spot searches. We win freedom by having the courage and the conviction to live every day freely and to act as a free society, no matter how great the threats are on the horizon.

Cory Doctorow (b. 1971) Canadian-British blogger, journalist, activist, author
Little Brother (2008)
Added on 22-Sep-15 | Last updated 22-Sep-15
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These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to John Quincy Adams (19 Jan 1780)

Probable source of the similar "Great necessities call forth great leaders," usually cited (but not found) as a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
Added on 7-Aug-15 | Last updated 7-Aug-15
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We who think we are about to die will laugh at anything.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Night Watch (2002)
Added on 1-Jul-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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No one would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm.

Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958) American inventor, engineer, researcher, businessman
In “Looking ahead with Boss Ket,” Popular Mechanics (Feb 1935)
Added on 26-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
Added on 24-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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They taught me that the truth would make me free but failed to warn me of the kind of trouble I’d get into by trying to tell it — I remain duly grateful.

Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) Canadian writer, literary critic, environmental activist
“Attitude,” Commencement Address, University Of Toronto (14 Jun 1983)
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Added on 22-May-15 | Last updated 22-May-15
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It is the business of the future to be dangerous.

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) English mathematician and philosopher
Science and the Modern World (1925)
Added on 21-Apr-15 | Last updated 21-Apr-15
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CLARENCE: A little fire is quickly trodden out,
Which, being suffered, rivers cannot quench.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King Henry VI, Part III, Act 4, sc. 8, l. 7 (1590)
Added on 9-Apr-15 | Last updated 9-Apr-15
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WASH: Little River gets more colorful by the moment. What’ll she do next?

ZOE: Either blow us all up or rub soup in our hair. It’s a toss-up.

WASH: I hope she does the soup thing. It’s always a hoot and we don’t all die from it.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×14 “Objects in Space” (13 Dec 2002)
Added on 9-Apr-15 | Last updated 9-Apr-15
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SIMON: I’m trying to put this as delicately as I can. How do I know you won’t kill me in my sleep?
MAL: You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake, you’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed.
SIMON: Are you always this sentimental?
MAL: I had a good day.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×01 “Serenity” (pilot) (20 Dec 2002)
Added on 5-Mar-15 | Last updated 5-Mar-15
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We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1963) German poet
Letters to a Young Poet, Letter 8, 12 Aug 1904 (1929)
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Added on 20-Oct-14 | Last updated 20-Oct-14
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The three of them were walking, with extreme care, along the bank of an underground river. The bank was slippery, a narrow path along dark rock and sharp masonry. Richard watched with respect as the gray water rushed and tumbled, within arm’s reach. This was not the kind of river you fell into and got out of again; it was the other kind.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
Added on 31-Jul-14 | Last updated 31-Jul-14
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It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, “Maxims for Revolutionists: Stray Sayings” (1903)
Added on 30-Jul-14 | Last updated 30-Jul-14
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Don’t think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm.

Other Authors and Sources
Malayan proverb
Added on 11-Mar-14 | Last updated 11-Mar-14
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Nations love dangers, and when there are none to be found create them to fill the want.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [tr. Collins (1928)]
Added on 27-Feb-12 | Last updated 13-May-16
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A timid man sees dangers that do not exist.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 688 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
Added on 20-Oct-09 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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Mankind is naturally divided into three sorts; one third of them are animated at the first appearance of danger, and will press forward to meet and examine it; another third are alarmed by it, but will neither advance nor retreat, till they know the nature of it, but stand to meet it. The remaining third will run or fly upon the first thought of it.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
(Attributed)

In R. W. Emerson, Journal (Aug 1851).
Added on 26-Aug-09 | Last updated 10-Jul-16
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It isn’t often that Aunt Dahlia lets her angry passions rise, but when she does, strong men climb trees and pull them up after them.

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) Anglo-American humorist, playwright and lyricist [Pelham Grenville Wodehouse]
Right Ho, Jeeves (1934)
Added on 27-Jul-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear,
And he shows them pearly white.
Just a jack-knife has MacHeath, dea,r
And he keeps it out of sight.

[Und der Haifisch, der had Zähne
Und die trägt er im Gesicht
Und MacHeath, der had ein Messer
Doch das Messer sieht man nicht.]

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) German poet, playwright, director, dramaturgist
Die Dreigroschenoper [The Three-Penny Opera], Prologue, “The Ballad of Mackie the Knife” (1928)

English lyrics to "The Ballad of Mack the Knife" (Weill, Kurt / Berthold Brecht / Marc Blitzstein)

Alt: translation: "And the shark he has his teeth and / There they are for all to see / And MacHeath he has his knife but / No one knows where it may be."
Added on 1-Aug-08 | Last updated 4-Oct-18
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The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) American jurist, Supreme Court Justice
Schenck v. United States (3 Mar 1919)
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Added on 21-Sep-07 | Last updated 3-May-17
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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
The Open Door (1957)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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It’s starting to smell a little like danger in here — or heavily fried food.

Ben Edlund (b. 1968) American cartoonist, writer, producer
The Tick, Ep. 12, “The Tick vs. Proto Clown” (1995)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Sep-14
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He that will not set sail till all dangers are over must never put out to sea.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #2353 (1732)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-May-16
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Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.

[In tranquillo esse quisque gubernator potest.]

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 358
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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