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Ability – Absurdity – Accuracy – Achievement – Action – Adaptability – Admiration – Adversity – Advertising – Advice – Affection – Age – Agreement – Ambition – America – Amusement – Ancestry – Anger – Anticipation – Anxiety – Appearance – Appetite – Argument – Aristocracy – Art and artists – Ask – Assassination – Authority – Avarice – Babies – Beauty – Behaviour – Bible – Brightness – Candour – Certainty and Doubt – Crime – Danger – Education – Effort



Do what you can with what you have where you are. (Theodore Roosevelt)

Everyone must row with the oars he has. (English Proverb)

Natural ability grows rare by conformism.

There's something that's much more scarce, something finer far, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognize ability. (Elbert Hubbard)


Don't laugh out loud at something that appears absurd or ridiculous - it could have been said by some philosopher earlier. (With Oliver Goldsmith)


Accuracy of statement aids truth; inaccuracy is a near kin to falsehood. (With Tryon Edwards)

Actors and Acting

Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing. (Ralph Richardson. Dh 3)

He brought to every one of his roles this quality of needing the money. (Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Dh 5)


Do not waste this life in vain pursuits. (Cf St. Isaac the Syrian)

Every man who is high up loves to think that he has done it all himself; and the wife smiles at that. (With James Matthew Barrie)

One of the greatest rewards for doing can be the chances it gives to do some more - even better. (With Jonas Salk)


What you do speaks so loud that I can't hear what you say. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


One learns to itch where one can scratch. (Ernest Bramah)


We do not always love those whom we admire. (François de La Rochefoucauld)


Good sides to adversity are best admired at a distance. (With Seneca)


Advertising is the spur on the flank that keeps modern company-helping economy out of hand till the day common sense is restored, if ever it happens. (With Robert W. Sarnoff)

Advertising promotes that divine discontent which makes people strive to improve their economic status. (Ralph S. Butler)

Advertising works secretly against the life of trade. (Ag. Calvin Coolidge)

Let's hope that the product that won't sell without advertising won't sell profitably with advertising. (With Albert Lasker)


Advice can be like cod liver oil, easy enough to administer but not so pleasant to take for anybody. (With Josh Billings)

Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least. (Lord Chesterfield)

Consult your friend well. His counsel may be useful where your own self-love might impair your judgement. (With Seneca)

It is all right when in prosperity to give advice to the afflicted. (With Aeschylus)

He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other. (Francis Bacon)


The affections are like lightning: you can't tell where they will strike till they have fallen. (Jean Baptiste Lacordaire)


As one grows older, one becomes wiser and more foolish. (François de la Rochefoucauld)

Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form. (André Maurois)

It takes a long time to become young. (Pablo Picasso)

Old age isn't so bad when you consider the alternative. (Maurice Chevalier)

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. (H. L. Mencken)


When two men in business always agree, one of them could be unnecessary. (With William Wrigley, Jr.)

You can at times poke fun with a man who likes to argue red-handedly - agree with him. (With Ed Howe)


A blast in the human breast is nothing to boast of. (With Niccolò Machiavelli)

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff than daydreams. (With William Shakespeare)

Most people would succeed above themselves. (Cf. H.W. Longfellow with Arthur P. Stanley)

The men who succeed are the efficient few. (Herbert N. Casson)


American youth attributes much more importance to arriving at driver's license age than at voting age. (Marshall McLuhan)

California is a fine place to live - if you happen to be an orange. (Fred Allen. Dh 14)

You will find the Americans much like the Greeks found the Romans: great, big, vulgar, bustling people . . . (Harold Macmillan)


Cards were at first for benefits designed, / Sent to amuse, not to enslave the mind. (David Garrick)

True enjoyments also keep people from vice. (With Samuel Johnson)

When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her. (Michel de Montaigne)


If it is a desirable thing to be well descended, the glory belongs to our ancestors. (With Plutarch)

Some men by ancestry are only the shadow of a mighty name. (Lucan)


The greatest remedy for anger could be delay. (Cf. Seneca)

The bright and clever mind, when laughed at, always gets angry. (Cf. Haliburton with Walter S. Landor)


We love to expect, and when expectation is either disappointed or gratified, we want to be again expecting. (Samuel Johnson)


Anxiety will bear a lot of nuisance. (With Josh Billings)


Getting talked about is one of the penalties . . . (Kin Hubbard)

When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck. (Richard Cardinal Cushing)


Reason should direct and appetite obey. (Cicero)

A well-governed appetite is a great part of liberty. (Seneca)


A long dispute can mean both parties are wrong. (Cf. Voltaire)

Behind every argument is someone's ignorance. (Louis D. Brandeis)

People generally quarrel because they can't argue. (Gilbert K. Chesterton)


Authority forgets a dying king. (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Some will always be above others . . . (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Art and artists

A frenzied passion for art is a canker that devours [too much] else. (Cf. Charles Baudelaire)

A painter told me that nobody could draw a tree without in some sort becoming a tree. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. (Katharine Butler Hathaway)

A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment. (Lionel Trilling)

A work of art is [also in part] an adventure of the mind. (Cf. Eugene Ionesco)

Art is . . . a metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside thereof for its conquest. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Art is a lie that makes us realise truth . . . that is given us to understand. (Pablo Picasso)

Art is hard for a puritan to understand. (With Günther Grass)

Art is too serious to be taken seriously. (Ad Reinhardt)

Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere. (Gilbert K. Chesterton)

As noble Art has survived noble nature, so too she marches ahead of it, fashioning and awakening by her inspiration. Before Truth sends her triumphant light into the depths of the heart, imagination catches its rays, and the peaks of humanity will be glowing when humid night still lingers in the valleys. (Johann Friedrich Von Schiller)

Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories. (John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester)

Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while. (Kin Hubbard)

Experiment is necessary in establishing an academy, but certain principles must apply to this business of art as to any other business which affects the artistic sense of the community. (Robert Menzies)

Fashion in art can make it hard to judge between the temporary and the lasting. (Cf. E. C. Stedman)

Great art speaks a language which every intelligent person can understand. The people who call themselves modernists today speak a different language. (Robert Menzies)

I can't do everything, But still I can do something [Edward Everett Hale)

I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that often art has judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. . . . Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts, and honor. (John Berger)

I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of [an artistic] process. (Henry James)

If my husband would ever meet a woman on the street who looked like the women in his paintings, he would fall over in a dead faint. (Mrs. Pablo Picasso)

In America the successful writer or picture-painter is indistinguishable from any other decent businessman. (Sinclair Lewis)

One puts into one's art what one has not been capable of putting into one's existence. It is because he was unhappy that God created the world. (Henri de Montherlant)

People say conversation is a lost art; how often I have wished it were. (Edward R. Murrow)

Progressive art can assist people to learn [what's] at work in the society in which they live. (Angela Davis)

The [image-rich] artist [could] has a very important job to do. He's not [to be] a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he's really needed. (Cf. David Hockney)

The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which won't actually kill him. At that point, he's in business. (John Berryman)

The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. (Pablo Picasso)

The contemporary thing in art and literature is the thing which doesn't make enough difference to the people of that generation so that they can accept it or reject it. (Gertrude Stein)

The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In . . . this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep. (Gilbert K. Chesterton)

The effort of art is to keep what is interesting in existence, to recreate it in the eternal. (George Santayana)

The finest works of art . . . make it possible for us to know, if [just] for a little while, what it actually feels like to think subtly and feel nobly. (Aldous Huxley)

The first mistake of Art is to assume that it's serious. (Lester Bangs)

The people who make art their business are mostly imposters. (Pablo Picasso)

The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone. (James Baldwin)

The public history of modern art is the story of conventional people not knowing what they are dealing with. (Robert Motherwell)

The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication: that is why so many bad artists are unable to give it up. (Cyril Connolly)

The sole art that suits me is that which tends toward absolutism. (With Andre Gide)

The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is. (Willa Cather)

There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted. (Henri Matisse)

Through art we express our conception of what nature is not. (Pablo Picasso)

To serve grand ideas with a major work is not bad, nor is it all there's to art. (With Vaclav Havel)

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. (Roger Lewin)

Twentieth-century art may start with nothing, but it flourishes by virtue of its belief in itself, in the possibility of control over what seems essentially uncontrollable, in the coherence of the inchoate, and in its ability to create its own values. (A. Alvarez)

We can't think first and act afterward. From the moment of birth we are immersed in action, and can only fitfully guide it by taking thought. (Alfred North Whitehead)

Were art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the seriousness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness. (Jose Ortega Y Gasset)


The important thing is to not stop questioning. (Albert Einstein)


Assassination: the extreme form of censorship. (George Bernard Shaw)


Authority belongs to the people. (With Thomas Jefferson)

He who is firmly seated in authority soon learns to think security, and not progress, the highest lesson of statecraft. (James Russell Lowell)

Let the wisest have the most authority. (Cf. Plato)


Lots of people who complained about us receiving the MBE received theirs for heroism in the war - for killing people. We received ours for entertaining other people. (John Lennon]



A loud noise at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. (Ronald Knox)


Few girls are as well shaped as a good horse. (Christopher Morley)

Beauty is . . . a valuable asset if you're poor or haven't any sense. (Kin Hubbard)

If you don't have it, it doesn't much matter what else you have. (James Matthew Barrie)


Live so that you can at least get the benefit of the doubt. (Kin Hubbard)

The Bible

Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand. (Mark Twain)

The Bible is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. (With Samuel Butler)


People who are smart get into Mensa. People who are really smart look around and leave. (James Randi)



Always maintain your common sense and artful skills, and funnel it all into plain enough dealings. (With Ralph Waldo Emerson)

If we be honest with ourselves, we can be honest with each other. (With George Macdonald)

Examine what's said, mainly, not him who speaks. (With Arabian Proverb)

Certainty and Doubt

When asked whether he really believed a horseshoe hanging over his door would bring him luck:

Of course not, but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it. (Niels Bohr. Dh 54)


A criminal lawyer may be gifted with some reason and a glib tongue, but hardly with many moral scruples. (TK)

Crime shapes how we think about the world; it shapes social decisions that we make; it shapes our base of knowledge. (Bill James)

Criminal: A person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation. (Howard Scott)

Criminal justice brings about many false displays beneath a reign of terror. (TK)

Despotism is a long crime. (Victor Hugo)

Everyone accused of a crime deserves a fair trial. (John Garamendi)

Illegal killings of elephants are being linked to organized crime and the funding of armed militia groups. The illegal wildlife trade has serious consequences. (Cf. Li Bingbing)

I want to eliminate the basis of problems and basis of crime, and basis of terrorism. (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)

It will not help to put innocent people in jail. (Cf. Stephen Breyer)

Modern slavery is a hidden crime and notoriously difficult to measure. (Mo Ibrahim)

Peace is the virtue of civilisation. War is its crime. (Victor Hugo)

Surveillance cameras might reduce crime - even though the evidence here is mixed - but no studies show that they result in greater happiness of everyone involved. (Evgeny Morozov)

To expropriate property may in essence border on heavily organised criminal take-over, and is very common. (Howard Berman)

The devil's agents may be of flesh and blood, may they not? (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervillles)

The more commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it could be to clear it up. (With Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

There are lawyers that make crime pay. (With Will Rogers)



If a little knowledge is dangerous, where's the man who has so much as to be out of danger? [Thomas Huxley)

There's nobody who is not dangerous for someone. (Marquise de Sévigné)

The most dangerous thing in the world is to try to leap a chasm in two jumps. (William Lloyd George)



I was not unpopular [at school] . . . It is Oxford that has made me insufferable. (Max Beerbohm. Dh 103)

To educate a man in mind and not in morals often amounts to making a menace more effective. (Cf. Theodore Roosevelt)

Education can be a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army. (Cf. Edward Everett)

Nurture children's minds with deep thoughts, for some will never go any higher than they're told and taught. (With Benjamin Disraeli)

The truth is, many things are worth doing only in the most slovenly, halfhearted fashion possible. (Barbara Ehrenreich)

In imitation is a bit suicide. (With Ralph Waldo Emerson)

If education tries to make other persons out of us than we essentially are, deeper inside, it stultifies, and reproach matters. (With Franz Kafka)


Most people can be supported out of the effort of those earning their own way through creative or careful work. (With Robert A. Taft)

England and the English

The English are busy; they don't have time to be polite. (Montesquieu ]


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