Quotations about:
    influence


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Generally speaking, men are influenced by books which clarify their own thought, which express their own notions well, or which suggest to them ideas which their minds are already predisposed to accept.

Carl L. Becker (1873-1945) American historian
The Declaration of Independence, ch. 2 “Natural Rights Philosophy” (1922)
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Added on 22-Jan-24 | Last updated 22-Jan-24
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The superstition into which we’re born,
Even when we recognize it, loses not
Its power on us! Not all those are free
Who ridicule their chains.

[Der Aberglaub’, in dem wir aufgewachsen,
Verliert, auch wenn wir ihn erkennen, darum
Doch seine Macht nicht über uns. — Es sind
Nicht alle frei, die ihrer Ketten spotten.]

Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramaturg, writer
Nathan the Wise [Nathan der Weise], Act 4, sc. 4 [Templar] (1779) [tr. Corbett (1883)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

Yet the superstition
in which we have grown up, not therefore loses
when we detect it, all its influence on us.
Not all are free that can bemock their fetters.
[tr. Taylor (1790)]

The superstition in which we grew up,
Does not cease influencing us, e'en after
We have discover'd its absurdity.
Not all are free who do bemock their fetters.
[tr. Reich (1860)]

The superstition in which we were brought up never loses its power over us, even after we understand it.
[Source (1866)]

And yet the superstitions we have learned
From education, do not lose their power
When we have found them out; nor are all free
Whose judgment mocks the galling chains they wear.
[tr. Boylan (1878)]

The superstition in which we have grown up
Does not lose (even if we see through it)
Its power on us, on that account;
All are not free who mock their chains.
[tr. Jacks (1894)]

The superstitions of our early years,
E'en when we know them to be nothing more,
Lose not for that their hold upon our hearts;
Not all are free who ridicule their chains.
[tr. Maxwell (1917)]

The superstition in which we have grown up does not lose its power over us even for the reason that we recognize it as such. Not all are free who mock their chains.
[tr. Reinhardt (1950)]

The superstition in which we grew up,
Though we may recognize it, does not lose
Its power over us -- Not all are free
Who make mock of their chains.
[tr. Morgan (1955)]

Merely because we see the defects of the superstition we grew up in, it doesn't lose its hold upon our souls! Those men who mock their chains are not all free!
[tr. Ade (1972)]

 
Added on 5-Dec-23 | Last updated 27-Dec-23
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Childhood is a thing that happens so early you don’t forget it. Everything else you grow out of, but you never recover from childhood.

Beryl Bainbridge
Beryl Bainbridge (1932-2010) English novelist
“Beryl Bainbridge and Her Tenth Novel,” interview by Willa Petschek, New York Times (1981-03-01)
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Added on 25-Oct-23 | Last updated 25-Oct-23
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Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, “My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.” But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today but for tomorrow.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020) American lawyer and jurist, Supreme Court Justice (1993-2020)
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Malvina Harlan,” interview by Nina Totenberg, NPR (2002-05-02)
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Speaking of Justice John Marshall Harlan and his lone dissent in Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883), where the Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Ginsburg was being interviewed for her role in getting a long-lost memoir by Malvina Harlan, the Justice's wife, published as a book.
 
Added on 17-Oct-23 | Last updated 17-Oct-23
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So strong is custom formed in early years.

[Adeo in teneris consuescere multum est.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
Georgics [Georgica], Book 2, l. 272ff (2.272) (29 BC) [tr. Greenough (1900)]
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Discussing how, when transplanting vines, wise farmers try to match the soil and orientation of the plant toward the sun to the conditions where they first sprouted. The same phrase is often extended (when extracted like this) to the lasting effects of early training on children. See also Pope.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Such strength hath custome in each tender soule.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

So strong is Custom; such Effects can Use
In tender Souls of pliant Plants produce.
[tr. Dryden (1709), ll. 366-367]

So strong is habit's force in tender age.
[tr. Nevile (1767), l. 302]

So custom strongly sways the youthful year.
[tr. Sotheby (1800)]

Of such avail is custom in tender years.
[tr. Davidson (1854)]

So custom lords it o'er the youthful wood.
[tr. Blackmore (1871), l. 324]

Such is the force of habits formed in early years.
[tr. Wilkins (1873)]

So strong is custom formed in early years.
[tr. Rhoades (1881)]

So powerful is habit in things of tender age.
[tr. Bryce (1897)]

So strong is the habit of infancy.
[tr. Mackail (1899)]

So potent is early habit's control.
[tr. Way (1912)]

So loth to change
Are a young creature's ways.
[tr. Williams (1915)]

So strong is habit in tender years.
[tr. Fairclough (Loeb) (1916)]

So important are habits developed in early days.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1940)]

For habit dominates the early stage.
[tr. Bovie (1956)]

So much effect has habit on the young.
[tr. Wilkinson (1982)]

We grow accustomed to so much in tender years.
[tr. Kline (2001)]

How powerful the innate habits of tender plants!
[tr. Lembke (2004)]

So powerfully runs habit in the tender stems.
[tr. Johnson (2009)]

Such is the need, when young, of what's familiar.
[tr. Ferry (2015)]

 
Added on 2-Aug-23 | Last updated 25-Oct-23
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One knows not whether nature doth not impose some secrecy upon him who has been privy to certain things. At least, it is to be doubted whether it be good to blazon such. If some books are deemed most baneful and their sale forbid, how, then, with deadlier facts, not dreams of doting men? Those whom books will hurt will not be proof against events. Events, not books, should be forbid.

Herman Melville (1819-1891) American writer
The Encantadas, Sketch 8 (1854)
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Added on 21-Jun-23 | Last updated 21-Jun-23
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I haven’t got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.

David Sedaris (b. 1956) American humorist, comedian, author
Naked, “Something for Everyone” (1997)
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Added on 14-Apr-23 | Last updated 14-Apr-23
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I don’t think about whether people will remember me or not. I’ve been an okay person. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve taught people a thing or two. That’s what’s important. Sooner or later the public will forget you, the memory of you will fade. What’s important are the individuals you’ve influenced along the way.

Julia Child
Julia Child (1912-2004) American chef and writer
“What I’ve Learned: Julia Child,” interview by Mike Sager, Esquire (2001-06)
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Reprinted in Brendan Vaughan, Esquire: The Meaning of Life (2004)
 
Added on 23-Mar-23 | Last updated 3-Aug-23
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There is, perhaps, no surer mark of folly, than an attempt to correct the natural infirmities of those we love. The finest composition of human nature, as well as the finest china, may have a flaw in it; and this, I am afraid, in either case, is equally incurable; though, nevertheless, the pattern may remain of the highest value.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) English novelist, dramatist, satirist
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Book 2, ch. 7 (1749)
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Added on 24-Feb-23 | Last updated 24-Feb-23
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The object of what we call deportment and good manners is to attain that which can otherwise be attained only by force or not even by force.

[Durch das, was wir Betragen und gute Sitten nennen, soll das erreicht werden, was außerdem nur durch Gewalt, oder auch nicht einmal durch Gewalt zur erreichen ist.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Elective Affinities [Die Wahlverwandtschaften], Part 2, ch. 5, “From Ottilie’s Journal [Aus Ottiliens Tagebuche]” (1809) [tr. Hollingdale (1971)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

That which we call politeness and good breeding effects what otherwise can only be obtained by violence, or not even that.
[Niles ed. (1872)]

 
Added on 23-Jan-23 | Last updated 23-Jan-23
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The mind is formed by the knowledge and the direction of ideas it receives and the guidance it is given. Great things alone can make a great mind, and petty things will make a petty mind unless a man rejects them as completely alien.

[Weil der menschliche Geist durch die ihm mitgetheilten Kenntnisse und Ideenrichtungen erzogen wild. Nor das Grosse kann ihn grostartig, das Kleine nur kleinlich machen, wenn er et nicht wie elwas ganz Fremdes ganz von sich stösst.]

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 2, ch. 2 “On the Theory of War [Über die Theorie des Krieges],” § 40 (2.2.40) (1832) [tr. Howard & Paret (1976)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

The human mind is trained by the knowledge imparted to it, and the direction given to its ideas. Only what is great can make it great; the little can only make it little, if the mind itself does not reject it as something repugnant.
[tr. Graham (1873)]

The human mind is formed by the kinds of knowledge imparted to it and the direction given to its ideas. Only what is great can make it great; the little can only make it little, if the mind itself does not reject it as something repugnant to it.
[tr. Jolles (1943)]

 
Added on 8-Nov-22 | Last updated 28-Mar-23
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If any young Miss reads this autobiography and wants a little advice from a very old hand, I will say to her, when a man threatens to commit suicide after you have refused him, you may be quite sure he is a vain, petty fellow or a great goose; if you felt any doubts about your decision before, you need have none after this and under no circumstances must you give way. To marry a man out of pity is folly; and if you think you are going to influence the kind of fellow who has “never had a chance, poor devil,” you are profoundly mistaken. One can only influence the strong characters in life, not the weak; and it is the height of vanity to suppose that you can make an honest man of anyone.

Margot Asquith
Margot Asquith (1864-1945) British socialite, author, wit [Emma Margaret Asquith, Countess Oxford and Asquith; Margot Oxford; née Tennant]
Autobiography, Vol. 1, ch. 7 (1920)
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In a similar vein, in More or Less about Myself, ch. 5 (1934) she wrote: "It is easier to influence strong than weak characters in life."
 
Added on 26-Sep-22 | Last updated 26-Sep-22
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Then the tyrant dies, and his rule is over; the martyr dies, and his rule begins.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
Select Entries from Journals and Papers on On My Work as an Author and The Point of View for My Work as an Author, Paper IX B 63:13 373 [tr. Hong/Hong]
 
Added on 16-Mar-22 | Last updated 16-Mar-22
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We should strive only to think and speak rightly, without seeking to win others over to our own taste and opinions; that is too great an undertaking.

[Il faut chercher seulement à penser et à parler juste, sans vouloir amener les autres à notre goût et à nos sentiments; c’est une trop grande entreprise.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 1 “Of Works of the Mind [Des Ouvrages de l’Esprit],” § 2 (1.2) (1688) [tr. Stewart (1970), “Of Books”]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

We must only endeavour to think and speak justly our selves, without aiming to bring others over to our taste and sentiment; We shall find that too great an enterprize.
[Bullord ed. (1696) "Of Polite Learning"]

We must only endeavour to think and speak justly our selves, without aiming to bring others over to our Taste and Sentiments; that would be too great an Enterprize.
[Curll ed. (1713), "Of Works of Wit and Eloquence"]

We must only endeavour to think and speak justly ourselves, without aiming to bring others over to our Taste and Sentiments; that would be too great an Enterprize.
[Browne ed. (1752), "Of Works of Genius"]

We should only endeavor to think and speak correctly ourselves, without wishing to bring others over to our taste and opinions; this would be too great an undertaking.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

 
Added on 14-Mar-22 | Last updated 6-Jun-23
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I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.

Kipling - Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind - wist.info quote

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“Surgeons and the Soul,” speech, Royal College of Surgeons (14 Feb 1923)
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Added on 30-Nov-21 | Last updated 30-Nov-21
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Words are more powerful than perhaps anyone suspects, and once deeply engraved in a child’s mind, they are not easily eradicated.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
I Knew a Phoenix, “A Belgian School” (1959)
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Added on 9-Nov-21 | Last updated 9-Nov-21
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A cloudy day, or a little sunshine, have as great an influence on the constitutions as the most real blessings or misfortunes.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #162 (5 Sep 1711)
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Added on 27-Oct-21 | Last updated 27-Oct-21
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In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statues and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Debate #1, Ottawa, Illinois (21 Aug 1858)
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Added on 24-Sep-21 | Last updated 24-Sep-21
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The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief, which is at the heart of all popular religion, that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Morals, Part 1, ch. 7 (1929)
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Added on 23-Aug-21 | Last updated 23-Aug-21
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People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Witches Abroad (1991)
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There are those in the industry who believe broadcasting can move men, and even some who believe it could move mountains, but they are outnumbered by those who believe all it has to do is move goods.

Alexander Kendrick (1910-1991) American journalist
Prime Time: The Life of Edward R. Murrow (1969)
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Added on 29-Jan-21 | Last updated 29-Jan-21
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But, of all motives, none is better adapted to secure influence and hold it fast than love; nothing is more foreign to that end than fear. […] For fear is but a poor safeguard of lasting power; while affection, on the other hand, may be trusted to keep it safe for ever.

[Omnium autem rerum nec aptius est quicquam ad opes tuendas ac tenendas quam diligi nec alienius quam timeri. … Malus enim est custos diuturnitatis metus contraque benivolentia fidelis vel ad perpetuitatem.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 2, ch. 7 (2.7) / sec. 23 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
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Discussing the fate of tyrants such as Julius Caesar. Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Now of all those methods, which tend to the advancement and maintenance of our interest, there is none more proper and convenient than love, and none more improper and inconvenient than fear. [...] For obedience, proceeding from fear, cannot possibly be lasting; whereas that which is the effect of love will be faithful for ever.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

Of all means there is none better fitted for supporting and retaining our influence than to be loved; or more foreign to it, than to be feared. [...] Fear is a false and short-lived security, but the love of men is faithful and lasting.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

Now, of all things there is none more adapted for supporting and retaining our influence than to be loved, nor more prejudicial than to be feared. [...] For fear is but a bad guardian to permanency, whereas affection is faithful even to perpetuity.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

But of all things nothing tends so much to the guarding and keeping of resources as to be the object of affection; nor is anything more foreign to that end than to be the object of fear. [...] For fear is but a poor guardian for permanent possession, and, on the other hand, good will is faithful so long as there can be need of its loyalty.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

Of all the means of maintaining power, love is the best, the worst fear. [...] Fear is a poor guardian of lasting power; love will keep it safe for ever.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

However, among all qualities there is no more appropriate way to preserve and defend one's resources than to be well-liked, nothing less appropriate than to be feared. [...] To arouse fear in others is a bad guarantee of longevity, while on the other hand good will is faithful unto eternity.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
Added on 25-Jan-21 | Last updated 8-Sep-22
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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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Ignorance iz the wet nuss of prejudice.

[Ignorance is the wet nurse of prejudice.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist, aphorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Puddin and Milk” (1874)
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Added on 2-Jul-20 | Last updated 2-Jul-20
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Human blunders, however, usually do more to shape history than human wickedness.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
The Origins of the Second World War, ch. 10 “The War of Nerves” (1961)
 
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We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
Speech, House of Commons (28 Oct 1943)
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During the debate over rebuilding the House of Commons, which had been destroyed during a German bombing.
 
Added on 1-Apr-20 | Last updated 1-Apr-20
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Home is in every sentence of your writing.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“The Art of Fiction,” Paris Review, #116, Interview with George Plimpton (1990)
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Added on 12-Mar-20 | Last updated 12-Mar-20
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An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) French writer, novelist
Letter to Louise Colet (9 Dec 1852)
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In a later letter to Leoroyer de Chanepie (18 Mar 1857), he repeated the sentiment: "The artist must be in his work as God is in creation, invisible and all-powerful; one must sense him everywhere but never see him."
 
Added on 13-Feb-20 | Last updated 10-Jun-21
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“Praying for particular things,” said I, “always seems to me like advising God how to run the world. Wouldn’t it be wiser to assume that He knows best?”

“On the same principle,” said he, “I suppose you never ask a man next to you to pass the salt, because God knows best whether you ought to have salt or not. And I suppose you never take an umbrella, because God knows best whether you ought to be wet or dry.”

“That’s quite different,” I protested.

“I don’t see why,” said he. “The odd thing is that He should let us influence the course of events at all. But since He lets us do it in one way, I don’t see why He shouldn’t let us do it in the other.”

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer, literary scholar, lay theologian [Clive Staples Lewis]
God in the Dock, Part 2, ch. 7 “Scraps,” #4 (1970)
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Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Starting from Scratch, Part 3 “The Work,” “The Passive Voice, or The Secret Agent” (1989)
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Added on 26-Nov-18 | Last updated 26-Nov-18
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A man who marries a woman to educate her falls victim to the same fallacy as the woman who marries a man to reform him.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard (1927)
 
Added on 8-Aug-18 | Last updated 8-Aug-18
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When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Seder Nashim, Kiddushin 30a

Paraphrase of "This serves to say to you that whoever teaches his son Torah, the verse ascribes him credit as though he taught him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the end of all generations" (alt. trans. "to him who teaches his son Torah, the Writ ascribes merit as though he had taught him, his son and his son's son until the end of all time!"). This is in turn referenced to Deut. 4:9.
 
Added on 27-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.

Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) English aristocrat, letter writer, poet [née Pierrepont]
Letter to Mary, Countess of Bute (30 May 1756)
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Added on 17-Apr-17 | Last updated 11-Apr-22
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Be as careful of the books you read as of the company you keep, for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.

Edwin Paxton Hood (1820-1885) English nonconformist minister and author
Self-Formation (1858 ed.)
 
Added on 22-Sep-16 | Last updated 22-Sep-16
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I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
 
Added on 15-Sep-16 | Last updated 15-Sep-16
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We are as liable to be corrupted by our books as by our companions.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) English novelist, dramatist, satirist
“A Fragment of a Comment on Lord Bolingbroke’s Essays” (1755)
 
Added on 8-Sep-16 | Last updated 8-Sep-16
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There are few mortals so insensible that their affections cannot be gained by mildness; their confidence by sincerity; their hatred by scorn or neglect.

Johann Georg Zimmermann (1728-1795) Swiss philosophical writer, naturalist, physician
Aphorisms and Reflections on Men, Morals and Things (1800)
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PORTIA: How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Shakespeare - how far that little candle - wist_info quote

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Merchant of Venice, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 99ff (5.1.99-100) (1597)
    (Source)

In some versions, "So shines a good deed in a weary world."

Sometimes misattributed to Roald Dahl; Willy Wonka uses the line toward the end of the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971).
 
Added on 11-Aug-16 | Last updated 5-Feb-24
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In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
“Farewell Address” (17 Jan 1961)
    (Source)
 
Added on 10-May-16 | Last updated 2-Nov-21
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Mister Marvin Middle Class is really in a stew
Wond’rin’ what the younger generation’s coming to
And the taste of his martini doesn’t please his bitter tongue
Blame it on the Rolling Stones.
Blame it on the Stones; blame it on the Stones
You’ll feel so much better, knowing you don’t stand alone
Join the accusation; save the bleeding nation
Get it off your shoulders; blame it on the Stones.

Kris Kristofferson (b. 1936) American singer, songwriter, musician, actor
“Blame It on The Stones” (1970) [with Bucky Wilkin]
 
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The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.

Stendhal (1783-1842) French writer [pen name of Marie-Henri Beyle]
Letter (c. 1818)

Variants:
  • "The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his are the same."
  • "The shepherd ... can never convince his flock of sheep that his interests and theirs are identical."
 
Added on 6-Aug-15 | Last updated 6-Aug-15
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My father had a profound influence on me. He was a lunatic.

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan (1918-2002) Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, actor
(Attributed)
 
Added on 6-Aug-15 | Last updated 6-Aug-15
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No action, whether foul or fair,
Is ever done, but it leaves somewhere
A record, written by fingers ghostly,
As a blessing or a curse, and mostly
In the greater weakness or greater strength
Of the acts which follow it.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Christus, pt. 2 “A Village Church” (1872)
 
Added on 3-Aug-15 | Last updated 3-Aug-15
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To work a Man to thy Bent: 1. Know his Inclinations. 2. Observe his Ends. 3. Search out his Weakness. And so thou mayst either draw or drive him.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English physician, preacher, aphorist, writer
Introductio ad Prudentiam, #1068 (1725)
    (Source)
 
Added on 2-Jul-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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The result of a single action may spread like the circles that expand when a stone is thrown into a pond, until they touch places and people unguessed at by the person who threw the stone.

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
“Literature and Moral Purpose” (1990)
 
Added on 18-May-15 | Last updated 18-May-15
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The very man who has argued you down, will sometimes be found, years later, to have been influenced by what you said.

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer, literary scholar, lay theologian [Clive Staples Lewis]
Reflections on the Psalms (1964)
 
Added on 15-Aug-14 | Last updated 15-Aug-14
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Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Social Aims,” lecture, Boston (1864-12-04), Letters and Social Aims (1875)
 
Added on 19-May-14 | Last updated 27-Mar-23
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Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and insensibly approximate to the characters we most admire. In this way, a generous habit of thought and of action carries with it an incalculable influence.

Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) American epigrammatist, writer, publisher
Intuitions and Summaries of Thought, Vol. 1, “Example” (1862)
    (Source)
 
Added on 20-Dec-13 | Last updated 16-Jan-24
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It’s frightening to think that you mark your children merely by being yourself.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French author, existentialist philosopher, feminist theorist
Les Belles Images, ch. 3 (1966) [tr. O’Brian (1968)]
 
Added on 27-Dec-11 | Last updated 12-Feb-18
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Never underestimate your power to change yourself.

Never overestimate your power to change others.

H. Jackson "Jack" Brown, Jr. (b. 1940) American writer
Life’s Little Instruction Book, #284, 285 (1991)
    (Source)
 
Added on 2-Feb-09 | Last updated 17-Feb-23
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Of the best rulers
The people (only) know that they exist;
The next best they love and praise;
The next they fear;
And the next they revile.
When they do not command the people’s faith,
Some will lose faith in them,
And then they resort to oaths!
But (of the best) when their task is accomplished, their work done,
The people all remark, “We have done it ourselves.”

Lao-tzu (604?-531? BC) Chinese philosopher, poet [also Lao-tse, Laozi]
The Wisdom of Laotse, ch 17 (1948) [tr. Lin Yutang]

Alt. trans. [Tao-te Ching tr. Wing-Tsit Chan]:
"The best are those whose existence is merely known by the people.
The next best are those who are loved and praised.
The next are those who are feared. And the next are those who are reviled.
The great rulers accomplish their task; they complete their work.
Nevertheless their people say that they simply follow Nature."
 
Added on 28-Feb-08 | Last updated 6-Apr-17
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GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry IV, Part 1, Act 3, sc. 1, l. 55ff (3.1.55-57) (1597)
    (Source)
 
Added on 30-Jan-08 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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SHEPHERD’S SON: He seems to be of
great authority. Close with him, give him gold; and
though authority be a stubborn bear, yet he is oft
led by the nose with gold.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Winter’s Tale, Act 4, sc. 4, l. 932ff (4.4.932-935) (1611)
    (Source)
 
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 9-Feb-24
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He is aloof, as if his talk
Were priced beyond the purchasing;
But once his project is contrived,
The folk will want to say of it:
“Of course! We did it by ourselves!”

Lao-tzu (604?-531? BC) Chinese philosopher, poet [also Lao-tse, Laozi]
The Way of Life, ch. 17 [tr. Blakney (1955)]

Alt. trans.:
  • "A good manager is best when people barely know that he exists. Not so good when people obey and acclaim him. Worse when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done -- his aim fulfilled, they will say: 'We did it ourselves.'"
  • "When the effective leader is finished with his work, the people say it happened naturally."
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Jan-20
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead (1901-1978) American anthropologist
(Attributed)

Phrase frequently attributed to Mead, but not found in her writings. The first sentence, however, is trademarked.

Mead founded the Institute for Intercultural Studies in 1944 (it dissolved in 2009). Regarding this quote, the IIS noted on its still extant website:

We have been unable to locate when and where it was first cited, becoming a motto for many organizations and movements. We believe it probably came into circulation through a newspaper report of something said spontaneously and informally. We know, however, that it was firmly rooted in her professional work and that it reflected a conviction that she expressed often, in different contexts and phrasings.

Additional discussion about this quotation's origins: Never Doubt That a Small Group of Thoughtful, Committed Citizens Can Change the World; Indeed, It’s the Only Thing That Ever Has – Quote Investigator.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-Jun-22
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