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The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

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‘The Changeling’ (performed c.1622) act 3, sc. 4

O come not near me sir; I shall defile you. I that am of your blood was taken from you

For your better health. Look no more upon’t, But cast it to the ground regardlessly;

Let the common sewer take it from distinction. Beneath the stars, upon yon meteor

Ever hung my fate, ’mongst things corruptible; I ne’er could pluck it from him. My loathing Was prophet to the rest, but ne’er believed.

‘The Changeling’ (performed c.1622) act 5, sc. 3

1.122 George Mikes 1912—

On the Continent people have good food; in England people have good table manners.

‘How to be an Alien’ (1946) p. 10

Continental people have sex life; the English have hot-water bottles.

‘How to be an Alien’ (1946) p. 25

An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one.

‘How to be an Alien’ (1946) p. 44

1.123 John Stuart Mill 1806-73

Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.

‘Autobiography’ (1873) ch. 5

No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible, until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.

‘Autobiography’ (1873) ch. 7

As often as a study is cultivated by narrow minds, they will draw from it narrow conclusions.

‘Auguste Comte and Positivism’ (1865) pt. 1, p. 82

The Conservatives...being by the law of their existence the stupidest party.

‘Considerations on Representative Government’ (1861) ch. 7 (note)

When society requires to be rebuilt, there is no use in attempting to rebuild it on the old plan.

‘Dissertations and Discussions’ vol. 1 (1859) ‘Essay on Coleridge’

If we may be excused the antithesis, we should say that eloquence is heard, poetry is overheard.

‘Dissertations and Discussions’ vol. 1 (1859) ‘Thoughts on Poetry and its Varieties’

Detention by the State of the unearned increment of rent.

‘Dissertations and Discussions’ vol. 4 (1875) ‘The Right of Property in Land’

I will call no being good, who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellowcreatures; and if such a being can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.

‘Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy’ (1865) ch. 7

The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with

the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 1

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 1

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 2

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 2

A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 2

The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 3

All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 3

Liberty consists in doing what one desires.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 5

The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 5

A State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.

‘On Liberty’ (1859) ch. 5

The great majority of those who speak of perfectibility as a dream, do so because they feel that it is one which would afford them no pleasure if it were realized.

‘Speech on Perfectibility’ (1828) in ‘Autobiography’ (ed. Harold J. Laski, 1924) p. 290

The principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes—the legal subordination of one sex to the other—is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement...it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other.

‘The Subjection of Women’ (1869) ch. 1

The moral regeneration of mankind will only really commence, when the most fundamental of the social relations [marriage] is placed under the rule of equal justice, and when human beings learn to cultivate their strongest sympathy with an equal in rights and in cultivation.

‘The Subjection of Women’ (1869) ch. 4

The most important thing women have to do is to stir up the zeal of women themselves.

Letter to Alexander Bain, 14 July 1869, in Hugh S. R. Elliot (ed.) ‘Letters of John Stuart Mill’ vol. 2 (1910)

Were there but a few hearts and intellects like hers this earth would already become the hopedfor heaven.

Epitaph (1859) inscribed on the tomb of his wife, Harriet, at the cemetery of St Vèran, near Avignon. M. St J. Packe ‘Life of John Stuart Mill’ (1954) bk. 7, ch. 3

1.124 Edna St Vincent Millay 1892-1950

Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age The child is grown, and puts away childish things.

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies. Nobody that matters, that is.

‘Childhood is the Kingdom where Nobody dies’ (1934).

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

‘Dirge Without Music’ (1928)

My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light.

‘A Few Figs From Thistles’ (1920) ‘First Fig’

Safe upon solid rock the ugly houses stand:

Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

‘A Few Figs From Thistles’ (1920) ‘Second Fig’

I only know that summer sang in me A little while, that in me sings no more.

‘The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems’ (1923) sonnet 19

Death devours all lovely things; Lesbia with her sparrow Shares the darkness—presently Every bed is narrow.

‘Passer Mortuus Est’ (1921).

After all, my erstwhile dear, My no longer cherished, Need we say it was not love, Now that love is perished?

‘Passer Mortuus Est’ (1921)

1.125 Alice Duer Miller 1874-1942

I am American bred,

I have seen much to hate here—much to forgive, But in a world where England is finished and dead, I do not wish to live.

‘The White Cliffs’ (1940) p. 70

1.126 Arthur Miller 1915—

A suicide kills two people, Maggie, that’s what it’s for!

‘After the Fall’ (1964) act 2

All organization is and must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition just as two objects cannot occupy the same space.

‘The Crucible’ (1952) act 1

The world is an oyster, but you don’t crack it open on a mattress.

‘Death of a Salesman’ (1949) act 1

Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid.

‘Death of a Salesman’ (1949) act 1

For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.

‘Death of a Salesman’ (1949) ‘Requiem’

‘How do you find your way back in the dark?...’Just head for that big star straight on. The highway’s under it; take us right home.’

‘The Misfits’ (1961) ch. 12

The car, the furniture, the wife, the children—everything has to be disposable. Because you see the main thing today is—shopping.

‘The Price’ (1968) act 1

The gullet of New York, swallowing the tonnage of the world.

‘A View from the Bridge’ (1955); describing Red Hook

The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.

‘Shadows of the Gods: A critical View of the American Theatre’, in ‘Harper’s Magazine’ August 1958

A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.

In ‘Observer’ 26 November 1961

A theatre where no-one is allowed to walk out and everyone is forced to applause.

Describing Eastern Europe in ‘Omnibus’ (BBC TV) 30 October 1987; in ‘Independent’ 31 October 1987

1.127 Henry Miller 1891-1980

Even before the music begins there is that bored look on people’s faces. A polite form of selfimposed torture, the concert.

‘Tropic of Cancer’ (1934) p. 84

Every man with a bellyful of the classics is an enemy to the human race.

‘Tropic of Cancer’ (1934) p. 280

1.128 Jonathan Miller 1934—

In fact, I’m not really a Jew. Just Jew-ish. Not the whole hog, you know.

‘Beyond the Fringe’ (1960 review) ‘Real Class’

1.129 William Miller 1810-72

Wee Willie Winkie rins through the town, Up stairs and down stairs in his nicht-gown, Tirling at the window, crying at the lock,

Are the weans in their bed, for it’s now ten o’clock?

‘Willie Winkie’ (1841)

1.130 Spike Milligan (Terence Alan Milligan) 1918—

You silly twisted boy.

‘The Goon Show’ (BBC radio series) ‘The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler’ 12 October 1954

Ying tong iddle I po.

‘The Goon Show’ (BBC radio series) ‘The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler’ 12 October 1954; also in ‘The Ying Tong Song’ (1956)

You rotten swines. I told you I’d be deaded.

‘The Goon Show’ (BBC radio series) ‘The Hastings Flyer’ 3 January 1956 (Bluebottle speaking)

Moriarty: Sapristi Nuckoes—do you always drink ink? Seagoon: Only in the mating season.

‘The Goon Show’ (BBC radio series) ‘Napoleon’s Piano’ 11 October 1955

He’s fallen in the water.

‘The Goon Show’ (BBC radio series) 1956 onwards; ‘Little Jim’ [Spike Milligan]’s catch-phrase

Money couldn’t buy friends but you got a better class of enemy.

‘Puckoon’ (1963) ch. 6

1.131 A. J. Mills, Fred Godfrey, and Bennett Scott

Take me back to dear old Blighty.

Title of song (1916)

1.132 A. A. Milne 1882-1956

‘I don’t want him,’ said Rabbit. ‘But it’s always useful to know where a friend-and-relation is, whether you want him or whether you don’t.’

‘The House at Pooh Corner’ (1928) ch. 3

He respects Owl, because you can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count.

‘The House at Pooh Corner’ (1928) ch. 5

Pooh began to feel a little more comfortable, because when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you sometimes find that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.

‘The House at Pooh Corner’ (1928) ch. 6

They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace— Christopher Robin went down with Alice.

Alice is marrying one of the guard. ‘A soldier’s life is terrible hard,’ Says Alice.

‘When We Were Very Young’ (1924) ‘Buckingham Palace’

James James Morrison Morrison

Weatherby George Dupree Took great

Care of his Mother, Though he was only three. James James

Said to his Mother, ‘Mother,’ he said, said he;

‘You must never go down to the end of the town, if you don’t go down with me.’

‘When We Were Very Young’ (1924) ‘Disobedience’

There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red), And all the day long he’d a wonderful view Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

‘When We Were Very Young’ (1924) ‘The Dormouse and the Doctor’

The King asked The Queen, and The Queen asked The Dairymaid:

‘Could we have some butter for The Royal slice of bread?’

‘When We Were Very Young’ (1924) ‘The King’s Breakfast’

And some of the bigger bears try to pretend

That they came round the corner to look for a friend;

And they try to pretend that nobody cares Whether you walk on the lines or squares. But only the sillies believe their talk;

It’s ever so portant how you walk. And it’s ever so jolly to call out, ‘Bears, Just watch me walking in all the squares!’

‘When We Were Very Young’ (1924) ‘Lines and Squares’

What is the matter with Mary Jane? She’s perfectly well and she hasn’t a pain,

And it’s lovely rice pudding for dinner again! What is the matter with Mary Jane?

‘When We Were Very Young’ (1924) ‘Rice Pudding’

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed, Droops on the little hands little gold head. Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

‘When We Were Very Young’ (1924) ‘Vespers’

Isn’t it funny

How a bear likes honey? Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

I wonder why he does?

‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (1926) ch. 1

How sweet to be a Cloud Floating in the Blue!

It makes him very proud To be a little cloud.

‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (1926) ch. 1

Pooh woke up suddenly with a sinking feeling. He had had that sinking feeling before, and he knew what it meant. He was hungry.

‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (1926) ch. 5

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie. A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly. Ask me a riddle and I reply: ‘Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.’

‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (1926) ch. 6

Time for a little something.

‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (1926) ch. 6

My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.

‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (1926) ch. 6

Owl hasn’t exactly got Brain, but he Knows Things.

‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (1926) ch. 9

1.133 Lord Milner (Alfred, Viscount Milner) 1854-1925

If we believe a thing to be bad, and if we have a right to prevent it, it is our duty to try to prevent it and to damn the consequences.

Speech at Glasgow, 26 November 1909, in ‘The Times’ 27 November 1909

1.134 John Milton 1608-74

Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie.

‘Arcades’ (1645) l. 68

Blest pair of Sirens, pledges of heaven’s joy, Sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice, and Verse.

‘At a Solemn Music’ (1645)

Where the bright seraphim in burning row Their loud uplifted angel trumpets blow.

‘At a Solemn Music’ (1645)

Before the starry threshold of Jove’s Court My mansion is.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 1

Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot, Which men call earth.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 5

Yet some there be that by due steps aspire To lay their just hands on that golden key That opes the palace of eternity.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 12

That like to rich and various gems inlay The unadornéd bosom of the deep.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 22

An old and haughty nation proud in arms.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 33

And the gilded car of day His glowing axle doth allay In the steep Atlantic stream.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 95

What hath night to do with sleep?

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 122

Come, knit hands, and beat the ground, In a light fantastic round.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 143

When the grey-hooded Even Like a sad votarist in palmer’s weed

Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus’ wain.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 188

O thievish Night

Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end, In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars,

That Nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps With everlasting oil, to give due light

To the misled and lonely traveller?

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 195

Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud Turn forth her silver lining on the night?

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 221

Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph that liv’st unseen Within thy airy shell

By slow Meander’s margent green, And in the violet-embroidered vale.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 230

Can any mortal mixture of earth’s mould Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment?

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 244

Such sober certainty of waking bliss I never heard till now.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 263

Shepherd, I take thy word,

And trust thy honest-offered courtesy, Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds With smoky rafters, than in tap’stry halls And courts of princes.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 321

With thy long levelled rule of streaming light.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 340

Virtue could see to do what Virtue would

By her own radiant light, though sun and moon Were in the flat sea sunk. And Wisdom’s self Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude,

Where with her best nurse Contemplation,

She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings That in the various bustle of resort

Were all to-ruffled, and sometimes impaired. He that has light within his own clear breast May sit i’ the centre, and enjoy bright day, But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts Benighted walks under the midday sun; Himself is his own dungeon.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 373

Yet where an equal poise of hope and fear Does arbitrate the event, my nature is That I incline to hope, rather than fear, And gladly banish squint suspicion.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 410

’Tis chastity, my brother, chastity:

She that has that, is clad in complete steel.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 420

How charming is divine philosophy!

Not harsh and crabbéd, as dull fools suppose, But musical as is Apollo’s lute,

And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets, Where no crude surfeit reigns.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 475

What the sage poets taught by th’ heavenly Muse, Storied of old in high immortal verse

Of dire chimeras and enchanted isles,

And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to hell, For such there be, but unbelief is blind.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 515

And filled the air with barbarous dissonance.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 550

I was all ear,

And took in strains that might create a soul Under the ribs of death.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 560

Against the threats

Of malice or of sorcery, or that power

Which erring men call chance, this I hold firm, Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt, Surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled.

‘Comus’ (1637) l. 586

O foolishness of men! that lend their ears

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