Quotations about   friendship

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When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and true maxim “that aa drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what you will, is the great high-road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgement of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause really be a just one.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Washingtonian Temperance Society, Springfield, Illinois (22 Feb 1842)
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Added on 21-Jan-21 | Last updated 21-Jan-21
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Dear George:
Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.
Thanks for the wings!
Love, Clarence.

Frank Capra 1897-1991) Italian-American film director, producer, writer [b. Francesco Rosario Capra]
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) [with Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett]
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Added on 18-Dec-20 | Last updated 18-Dec-20
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One hardly dares to say that love is the core of the relationship, though love is sought for and created in relationship; love is rather the marvel when it is there, but it is not always there, and to know another and to be known by another — that is everything.

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author psychologist
Women and Sometimes Men (1957)
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Added on 14-Dec-20 | Last updated 14-Dec-20
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I like friends who, when you tell them you need a moment alone, know enough not to stray too far.

Robert Brault (b. c. 1945) American aphorist, programmer
(Attributed)
Added on 8-Dec-20 | Last updated 8-Dec-20
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A friend is someone who listens to your bullshit, tells you that it is bullshit, and listens some more.

Robin Williams (1951-2014) American comedian and actor
(Attributed)
Added on 7-Dec-20 | Last updated 7-Dec-20
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Misfortune shows those who are not friends really but only because of some casual utility.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Eudemian Ethics, Book 7, sec. 1238a, l. 20 [tr. Rackham]
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Alt. trans.: "Misfortune shows those who are not really friends, but friends only for some accidental utility." [tr. Solomon]
Added on 4-Dec-20 | Last updated 4-Dec-20
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One odd thing about foreign-policy professionals is that for all their sophistication, they tend to think the way to communicate with allies and potential allies is to compliment and sooth, compliment and soothe. But that isn’t polite, it’s patronizing, and to patronize is to insult. Candor is a compliment; it implies equality. It’s how true friends talk.

Peggy Noonan (b. 1950) American writer
What I Saw at the Revolution, ch. 11 (1990)
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Added on 11-Nov-20 | Last updated 11-Nov-20
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The person who is sick in the body needs a doctor;
someone who is sick in the mind needs a friend
For a well-meaning friend knows how to treat grief.

[Τῷ μὲν τὸ σῶμα διατεθειμένῳ κακῶς
χρεία ‘στ’ ἰατροῦ, τῷ δὲ τὴν ψυχὴν φίλου·
λύπην γὰρ εὔνους οἶδε θεραπεύειν φίλος.]

Menander (c. 341 - c. 290 BC) Greek comedic dramatist
Fragment 591 K., in Stobaeus, Anthology [tr. @sentantiq]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "For him who is ill at ease in his body there is need of a physician, but need of a friend for him whose soul is ill. For loyal words have the secret of healing grief." [tr. Allinson (1921)]
  • "Sick bodies need a doctor, minds a friend; / Kind words have skill the mourner's pain to mend." [tr. Edmonds]
Added on 6-Oct-20 | Last updated 6-Oct-20
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We are each the star of our own situation comedy, and, with luck, the screwball friend in someone else’s.

Robert Brault (b. c. 1945) American aphorist, programmer
(Attributed)
Added on 29-Sep-20 | Last updated 29-Sep-20
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Thou canst not joke an Enemy into a Friend; but thou may’st a Friend into an Enemy.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Apr 1739)
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Added on 17-Sep-20 | Last updated 17-Sep-20
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CHARLIE ANDERSON: There’s some difference between lovin’ and likin’. When I married Jennie’s mother, I — I didn’t love her — I liked her — I liked her a lot. I liked Martha for at least three years after we were married and then one day it just dawned on me I loved her. I still do … still do. You see, Sam, when you love a woman without likin’ her, the night can be long and cold, and contempt comes up with the sun.

James Lee Barrett (1929-1989) American author, producer, screenwriter
Shenandoah (1965)
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See Nietzsche.
Added on 16-Sep-20 | Last updated 21-Sep-20
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We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.

Orson Welles (1915-1985) American writer, director, actor
In Someone to Love, film (1987) [written and directed by Henry Jaglom]

Ad libbed by Welles, in his last film appearance.
Added on 22-Jul-20 | Last updated 22-Jul-20
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A novel which survives, which withstands and outlives time, does do something more than merely survive. It does not stand still. It accumulates round itself the understanding of all these persons who bring to it something of their own. It acquires associations, it becomes a form of experience in itself, so that two people who meet can often make friends, find an approach to each other, because of this one great common experience they have had.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) Irish author
“Truth and Fiction,” BBC Radio (Oct 1956)
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Added on 20-Jul-20 | Last updated 20-Jul-20
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There is no fellowship inviolate,
no faith is kept, when kingship is concerned.

[Nulla sancta societas
Nec fides regni est.]

Quintus Ennius (239-169 BC) Roman poet, writer
Fragment 402-3 [tr. Miller]
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Quoted in Cicero, De Officiis, Book 1, ch. 8, sec. 26 (scaen. 404 Vahlen), speaking of Julius Caesar.

Alt. trans.:
  • "To kingship belongs neither sacred fellowship nor faith."
  • "No society is sacred, nor faith of empire." [tr. Johnson (1828)]
  • "There is no holy bond, and no fidelity / 'Twixt those who share a throne." [Source]
  • "Where the throne's shared, there cannot be good faith." [Source]
Added on 27-Feb-20 | Last updated 27-Feb-20
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A sure friend is known in unsure times.

[Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur.]

Quintus Ennius (239-169 BC) Roman poet, writer
Fragment, Scaenica 210 [Vahlen]

As quoted in Cicero, On Friendship [De Amicitia], ch. 17. sec. 64.

Alt. trans.:
  • "In unsure fortune a sure friend is seen." [tr. Peabody (1884)]
  • "When things get iffy, you find out who your true friends are." [tr. Ehrlich (1995)]
  • "A sure friend is tried in doubtful matters." [Source]
  • "A friend is never known until one have need." [Source]
  • "A friend is never known 'till a man have need." [Source]
  • "A true friend is discerned during an uncertain matter." [Source]
  • "A certain friend is discerned in an uncertain time." [Source]
Added on 20-Feb-20 | Last updated 20-Feb-20
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If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969)
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Added on 31-Jan-20 | Last updated 31-Jan-20
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We pick our friends not only because they are kind and enjoyable company, but also, perhaps more importantly, because they understand us for who we think we are.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 4 “Consolation for Inadequacy” (2000)
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Added on 30-Jan-20 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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Ultimately, the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or friendship, is conversation.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
De Profundis, “Epistola: In Carcere et Vinculis” (1897)
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Added on 1-Jan-19 | Last updated 1-Jan-19
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One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life, and it is therefore essential that they should not let one down. They often do. The moral of which is that I must, myself, be as reliable as possible, and this I try to be. But reliability is not a matter of contract — that is the main difference between the world of personal relationships and the world of business relationships. It is a matter for the heart, which signs no documents. In other words, reliability is impossible unless there is a natural warmth. Most men possess this warmth, though they often have bad luck and get chilled. Most of them, even when they are politicians, want to keep faith. And one can, at all events, show one’s own little light here, one’s own poor little trembling flame, with the knowledge that it is not the only light that is shining in the darkness, and not the only one which the darkness does not comprehend.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Added on 14-Nov-18 | Last updated 14-Nov-18
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We don’t exist unless there is someone who can see us existing, what we say has no meaning until someone can understand, while to be surrounded by friends is constantly to have our identity confirmed; their knowledge and care for us have the power to pull us from our numbness. In small comments, many of them teasing, they reveal they know our foibles and accept them and so, in turn, accept that we have a place in the world.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 2 “Consolation For Not having Enough Money” (2000)
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Added on 19-Oct-17 | Last updated 19-Oct-17
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Friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler #23 (23 Sep 1758)
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Added on 8-Aug-17 | Last updated 8-Aug-17
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The moral of it is, that if we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for THEIR sakes rather than OUR OWN; we must look at their truth to THEMSELVES, full as much as their truth to US. In the latter case, every wound to self-love would be a cause of coldness; in the former, only some painful change in the friend’s character and disposition — some frightful breach in his allegiance to his better self — could alienate the heart.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Letter to W S. Williams (21 Jul 1851)
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Added on 7-Apr-17 | Last updated 7-Apr-17
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It’s no good trying to keep up old friendships. It’s painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
Cakes and Ale (1930)
Added on 1-Dec-16 | Last updated 1-Dec-16
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A friend in power is a friend lost.

Henry Adams (1838-1918) American journalist, historian, academic, novelist
The Education of Henry Adams, ch. 7 (1907)
Added on 20-Oct-16 | Last updated 20-Oct-16
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You find out who your real friends are when you’re involved in a scandal.

Elizabeth Taylor (b. 1932) American actress
Comment (1961)

When in Rome during the filming of Cleopatra and a highly publicized adulterous love affair with Richard Burton.
Added on 21-Sep-16 | Last updated 21-Sep-16
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Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.

franklin-slower-in-changing-wist_info-quote

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack
Added on 19-Sep-16 | Last updated 19-Sep-16
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That is what trust is, you know: if we never had secrets from our friends and loved ones, there would never be any need for them to trust us.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Orca [Kiera] (1996)
Added on 30-Jul-16 | Last updated 30-Jul-16
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There is nothing we like to see so much as the gleam of pleasure in a person’s eye when he feels that we have sympathized with him, understood him, interested ourself in his welfare. At these moments something fine and spiritual passes between two friends. These moments are the moments worth living.

Don Marquis (1878-1937) American journalist and humorist
Prefaces, “Preface to a Memorandum Book” (1919)
Added on 3-May-16 | Last updated 3-May-16
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There are no friends at cards or world politics

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) American humorist and journalist
(Attributed)
Added on 12-Feb-16 | Last updated 12-Feb-16
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When my friend does something stupid, he is just my friend doing something stupid. When I do something stupid, I have deeply betrayed myself.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays (2001)
Added on 13-Nov-15 | Last updated 13-Nov-15
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PETRI: We cannot make peace with people we detest.

KIRK: Stop trying to kill each other. Then worry about being friendly.

John Meredyth Lucas (1919-2002) American screenwriter
Star Trek, 3×13 “Elaan of Troyius” (20 Dec 1968)
Added on 19-Oct-15 | Last updated 19-Oct-15
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Would you have a friend who talks to you the way you talk to yourself?

Carolyn Ann "Callie" Khouri (b. 1957) American screenwriter, producer, director, feminist
Commencement Address, Sweet Briar College (22 May 1994)
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Added on 17-Jun-15 | Last updated 17-Jun-15
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Speak well of your friend in public, admonish him in secret.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 870 [tr. Lyman, Jr (1862)]
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Being honest may not get you many friends, but it’ll always get you the right ones.

John Lennon (1940-1980) English rock musician, singer, songwriter
(Attributed)

Frequently attributed to Lennon, but with no actual source ever provided.
Added on 24-Jul-14 | Last updated 24-Jul-14
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In giving advice, seek to help, not please, your friend.

Solon (c. 638 BC - 558 BC) Athenian statesman, lawmaker, poet
(Attributed)
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Praise your friends, and let your friends praise you.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
The Dignity of Human Nature, Sec. 5 “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation” (1754)
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Added on 19-Jun-14 | Last updated 19-Jun-14
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Agreement in likes and dislikes — this, and this only, is what constitutes true friendship.

[Nam idem velle atque idem nolle, ea demum firma amicitia est.]

Catiline (108-62 BC) Roman politician [Lucius Sergius Catilina]
Quoted in Sallust, Catiline’s War [Bellum Catilinae], 20.4 (42 BC) [tr. Rolf]

Alt. trans.: "For to like the same things and to dislike the same things, only this is a strong friendship."
Added on 29-May-14 | Last updated 29-May-14
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No good thing is pleasant to possess without friends to share it.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Letters to Lucilius [Epistulae morales ad Lucilium], letter 6 “On Sharing Knowledge,” sec. 4 [tr. Gummere (1918)]
Added on 22-Nov-13 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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Do not choose for your wife any woman you would not choose for a friend if she were a man.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
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A person who is never duped cannot be a friend.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
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A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
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The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.

Clara Lucas Balfour (1808-1878) English novelist, lecturer, temperance campaigner
Sunbeams for All Seasons: Counsels, Cautions, and Precepts (1861 ed.)
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A crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Friendship,” Essays, No. 27 (1625)
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Do not keep on with a mockery of friendship after the substance is gone — but part, while you can part friends. Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming.

Hazlitt - mockery of friendship - wist_info quote

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
“On The Conduct of Life” (1822)
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Added on 9-Feb-10 | Last updated 19-Jan-16
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All love that has not friendship for its base
Is like a mansion built upon the sand.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) American author and poet.
“Upon the Sand” (1910)
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Added on 11-Jun-09 | Last updated 12-Nov-14
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For though we love both the truth and our friends, piety requires us to honor the truth first.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1, ch. 6 (I.1096a16) [tr. T. Irwin (1985)]

Alt trans.: "Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends."
Added on 15-Dec-08 | Last updated 17-Jan-20
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No guest is so welcome in a friend’s house that he will not become a nuisance after three days.

Plautus (b. c. 254 BC) Roman playright [Titus Macchius Plautus]
Miles Gloriosus, 3.2, l. 741
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Fellowship in woe doth woe assuage.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
“The Rape of Lucrece,” l. 790 (1594)
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He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare,
And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.

'Ali ibn Abi-Talib (602-661) Fourth Caliph
One Hundred Sayings [Sad Kalimah / Mi’at Kalimah]

Quoted by (and thus frequently attributed to) Ralphg Waldo Emerson.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Mar-20
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The worst solitude is to be destitute of sincere friendship.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-May-16
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I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Sometimes misquoted as: "If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the decency to betray my country."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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The holy passion of friendship is so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring in nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 8, epigraph (1894)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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It is not lack of love but lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Sep-20
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