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The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

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Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed,—

I, too, am America.

‘I, Too’ in ‘Survey Graphic’ March 1925

‘It’s powerful,’ he said. ‘What?’

‘That one drop of Negro blood—because just one drop of black blood makes a man coloured. One drop—you are a Negro!’

‘Simple Takes a Wife’ (1953) p. 85

8.152 Ted Hughes 1930—

It took the whole of Creation

To produce my foot, my each feather: Now I hold Creation in my foot.

‘Hawk Roosting’ (1960)

8.153 Thomas Hughes 1822-96

Tom and his younger brothers as they grew up, went on playing with the village boys without the idea of equality or inequality (except in wrestling, running, and climbing) ever entering their heads, as it doesn’t till it’s put there by Jack Nastys or fine ladies’ maids.

‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’ (1857) pt. 1, ch. 3

‘I don’t care a straw for Greek particles, or the digamma, no more does his mother. What is he sent to school for?...If he’ll only turn out a brave, helpful, truth-telling Englishman, and a gentleman, and a Christian, that’s all I want,’ thought the Squire.

‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’ (1857) pt. 1, ch. 4

He never wants anything but what’s right and fair; only when you come to settle what’s right and fair, it’s everything that he wants and nothing that you want. And that’s his idea of a compromise. Give me the Brown compromise when I’m on his side.

‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’ (1857) pt. 2, ch. 2

It’s more than a game. It’s an institution.

‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’ (1857) pt. 2, ch. 7 (on cricket)

8.154 Victor Hugo 1802-85

Le mot, c’est le Verbe, et le Verbe, c’est Dieu.

The word is the Verb, and the Verb is God.

‘Contemplations’ (1856) bk. 1, no. 8

Souffrons, mais souffrons sur les cimes.

If suffer we must, let’s suffer on the heights.

‘Contemplations’ (1856) bk. 5, no. 26 ‘Les Malheureux’

On rèsiste á l’invasion des armèes; on ne rèsiste pas á l’invasion des idèes.

A stand can be made against invasion by an army; no stand can be made against invasion by an


‘Histoire d’un Crime’ (written 1851-2, published 1877) pt. 5, sect. 10

La symètrie, c’est l’ennui, et l’ennui est le fond même du deuil. Le dèsespoir baîlle.

Symmetry is tedious, and tedium is the very basis of mourning. Despair yawns.

‘Les Misèrables’ (1862) vol. 2, bk. 4, ch. 1

Jèsus a pleurè, Voltaire a souri; c’est de cette larme divine et de ce sourire humain qu’est faite la douceur de la civilisation actuelle. (Applaudissements prolongès.)

Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. Of that divine tear and of that human smile the sweetness of

present civilisation is composed. (Hearty applause.)

Transcript of centenary oration on Voltaire, 30 May 1878, ‘Centennaire de Voltaire’ (1878)

8.155 David Hume 1711-76

Custom, then, is the great guide of human life.

‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ (1748) sect. 5, pt. 1

If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning, concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ (1748) sect. 12, pt. 3

Their credulity increases his impudence: and his impudence overpowers their credulity.

‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ (1748) ‘Of Miracles’ pt. 2 (on religious enthusiasts)

We soon learn that there is nothing mysterious or supernatural in the case, but that all proceeds from the usual propensity of mankind towards the marvellous, and that, though this inclination may at intervals receive a check from sense and learning, it can never be thoroughly extirpated from human nature.

‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ (1748) ‘Of Miracles’ pt. 2

The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. Mere reason is insufficient to convince us of its veracity: and whoever is moved by faith to assent to it, is conscious of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts all the principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience.

‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ (1748) ‘Of Miracles’ pt. 2

Avarice, the spur of industry, is so obstinate a passion, and works its way through so many real dangers and difficulties, that it is not likely to be scared by an imaginary danger, which is so small that it scarcely admits of calculation.

‘Essays’ (1741-2) ‘Of Civil Liberty’

It cannot reasonably be doubted, but a little miss, dressed in a new gown for a dancing-school

ball, receives as complete enjoyment as the greatest orator, who triumphs in the splendour of his eloquence, while he governs the passions and resolutions of a numerous assembly.

‘Essays’ (1741-2) ‘The Sceptic’

Should it be said, that, by living under the dominion of a prince, which one might leave, every individual has given a tacit assent to his authority...We may as well assert, that a man by remaining in a vessel, freely consents to the dominion of the master; though he was carried on board while asleep, and must leap into the ocean, and perish, the moment he leaves her.

‘Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary’ (ed. T. H. Green and T. H. Grose, 1875) ‘Of the Original Contract’ (1748)

In all ages of the world, priests have been enemies of liberty.

‘Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary’ (ed. T. H. Green and T. H. Grose, 1875) ‘Of the Parties of Great Britain’ (1741-2)

The heart of man is made to reconcile the most glaring contradictions.

‘Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary’ (ed. T. H. Green and T. H. Grose, 1875) ‘Of the Parties of Great Britain’ (1741-2)

In all matters of opinion and science...the difference between men is...oftener found to lie in generals than in particulars; and to be less in reality than in appearance. An explanation of the terms commonly ends the controversy, and the disputants are surprised to find that they had been quarrelling, while at bottom they agreed in their judgement.

‘Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary’ (ed. T. H. Green and T. H. Grose, 1875) ‘Of the Standard of Taste’ (1757)

Beauty is no quality in things themselves. It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.

‘Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary’ (ed. T. H. Green and T. H. Grose, 1875) ‘Of the Standard of Taste’ (1757)

Opposing one species of superstition to another, set them a quarrelling; while we ourselves, during their fury and contention, happily make our escape into the calm, though obscure, regions of philosophy.

‘Four Dissertations’ (1757) ‘The Natural History of Religion’ sect. 15

Never literary attempt was more unfortunate than my Treatise of Human Nature. It fell deadborn from the Press.

‘My Own Life’ (1777) ch. 1

Poets...though liars by profession, always endeavour to give an air of truth to their fictions.

‘A Treatise upon Human Nature’ (1739) bk. 1, pt. 3

8.156 Hubert Humphrey 1911-78

Here we are the way politics ought to be in America, the politics of happiness, the politics of purpose and the politics of joy.

Speech in Washington, 27 April 1968, in ‘New York Times’ 28 April 1968, p. 66

8.157 Leigh Hunt 1784-1859

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!) Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace, And saw, within the moonlight in his room, Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,

An angel writing in a book of gold:— Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold, And to the presence in the room he said,

‘What writest thou?’—The vision raised its head, And with a look made of all sweet accord, Answered, ‘The names of those who love the Lord.’

‘Abou Ben Adhem’ (1838)

You strange, astonished-looking, angle-faced, Dreary-mouthed, gaping wretches of the sea.

‘The Fish, the Man, and the Spirit’ (1836)

‘By God!’ said Francis, ‘rightly done!’ and he rose from where he sat: ‘No love,’ quoth he, ‘but vanity, sets love a task like that.’

‘The Glove and the Lions’ (1836)

The laughing queen that caught the world’s great hands.

‘The Nile’ (1818); referring to Cleopatra

Jenny kissed me when we met, Jumping from the chair she sat in; Time, you thief, who love to get Sweets into your list, put that in: Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,

Say that health and wealth have missed me, Say I’m growing old, but add,

Jenny kissed me.

‘Rondeau’ (1838)

Stolen sweets are always sweeter, Stolen kisses much completer, Stolen looks are nice in chapels, Stolen, stolen, be your apples.

‘Song of Fairies Robbing an Orchard’ (1830)

And all the scene, in short—sky, earth, and sea, Breathes like a bright-eyed face, that laughs out openly. ’Tis nature, full of spirits, waked and springing:—

The birds to the delicious time are singing, Darting with freaks and snatches up and down, Where the light woods go seaward from the town.

‘The Story of Rimini’ (1816) canto 1, l. 18

The two divinest things this world has got, A lovely woman in a rural spot!

‘The Story of Rimini’ (1816) canto 3, l. 257

A pleasure so exquisite as almost to amount to pain.

Letter to Alexander Ireland, 2 June 1848, on receiving ‘a glorious batch of ‘Examiners’’, in ‘The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt’ (1862) vol. 2, p. 122

8.158 Anne Hunter 1742-1821

My mother bids me bind my hair With bands of rosy hue,

Tie up my sleeves with ribbons rare, And lace my bodice blue.

‘A Pastoral Song’ (1794)

8.159 William Hunter 1718-83

Some physiologists will have it that the stomach is a mill;—others, that it is a fermenting vat;— others again that it is a stew-pan;—but in my view of the matter, it is neither a mill, a fermenting vat, nor a stew-pan—but a stomach, gentlemen, a stomach.

MS. note from his lectures, in J.A. Paris ‘A Treatise on Diet’ (1824) epigraph

8.160 Herman Hupfeld 1894-1951

You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss, A sigh is just a sigh;

The fundamental things apply, As time goes by.

‘As Time Goes By’ (1931 song).

8.161 John Huss c.1372-1415

O sancta simplicitas!

O holy simplicity!

At the stake, seeing an aged peasant bringing a bundle of twigs to throw on the pile. In Zincgreff-Weidner ‘Apophthegmata’ (Amsterdam, 1653) pt. 3, p. 383.

8.162 Saddam Hussein (Saddam bin Hussein at-Takriti) 1937—

The mother of battles.

Popular interpretation of his description of the approaching Gulf War in a speech in Baghdad, 6 January 1991; ‘The Times’, 7 January 1991, reported that Saddam had no intention of relinquishing Kuwait and was ready for the ‘mother of all wars’

8.163 Francis Hutcheson 1694-1746

Wisdom denotes the pursuing of the best ends by the best means.

‘An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue’ (1725) treatise 1, sect. 5, subsect. 16

That action is best, which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.

‘An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue’ (1725) treatise 2, sect. 3, subsect. 8.

8.164 Aldous Huxley 1894-1963

Christlike in my behaviour, Like every good believer, I imitate the Saviour,

And cultivate a beaver.

‘Antic Hay’ (1923) ch. 4

There are few who would not rather be taken in adultery than in provincialism.

‘Antic Hay’ (1923) ch. 10

Official dignity tends to increase in inverse ratio to the importance of the country in which the office is held.

‘Beyond the Mexique Bay’ (1934) p. 34

The sexophones wailed like melodious cats under the moon.

‘Brave New World’ (1932) ch. 5

The proper study of mankind is books.

‘Crome Yellow’ (1921) ch. 28.

Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as it is for the body. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.

‘Do What You Will’ (1929) ‘Wordsworth in the Tropics’

The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced.

‘Ends and Means’ (1937) ch. 1

So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly arise and make them miserable.

‘Ends and Means’ (1937) ch. 8

Chastity—the most unnatural of all the sexual perversions.

‘Eyeless in Gaza’ (1936) ch. 27

I can sympathize with people’s pains, but not with their pleasures. There is something curiously boring about somebody else’s happiness.

‘Limbo’ (1920) ‘Cynthia’

Several excuses are always less convincing than one.

‘Point Counter Point’ (1928) ch. 1

Brought up in an epoch when ladies apparently rolled along on wheels, Mr Quarles was peculiarly susceptible to calves.

‘Point Counter Point’ (1928) ch. 20

A million million spermatozoa, All of them alive:

Out of their cataclysm but one poor Noah

Dare hope to survive.

And among that billion minus one Might have chanced to be

Shakespeare, another Newton, a new Donne—

But the One was Me.

‘Fifth Philosopher’s Song’ (1920)

Ragtime...but when the wearied Band Swoons to a waltz, I take her hand, And there we sit in peaceful calm, Quietly sweating palm to palm.

‘Frascati’s’ (1920)

Beauty for some provides escape, Who gain a happiness in eyeing The gorgeous buttocks of the ape

Or Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying.

‘Ninth Philosopher’s Song’ (1920)

Then brim the bowl with atrabilious liquor! We’ll pledge our Empire vast across the flood: For Blood, as all men know, than Water’s thicker, But Water’s wider, thank the Lord, than Blood.

‘Ninth Philosopher’s Song’ (1920)

8.165 Sir Julian Huxley 1887-1975

Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat.

‘Religion without Revelation’ (1957 ed.) ch. 3

8.166 T. H. Huxley 1825-95

Every variety of philosophical and theological opinion was represented there [the Metaphysical Society], and expressed itself with entire openness; most of my colleagues were—ists of one sort or another; and, however kind and friendly they might be, I, the man without a rag of a label to cover himself with, could not fail to have some of the uneasy feelings which must have beset the historical fox when, after leaving the trap in which his tail remained, he presented himself to his normally elongated companions. So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of ‘agnostic’.

‘Collected Essays’ (1893-94) ‘Agnosticism’

The great tragedy of Science—the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.

‘Collected Essays’ (1893-94) ‘Biogenesis and Abiogenesis’

Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense, differing from the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: and its methods differ from those of common sense only as

far as the guardsman’s cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club.

‘Collected Essays’ (1893-94) ‘The Method of Zadig’

If some great Power would agree to make me always think what is true and do what is right, on condition of being turned into a sort of clock and wound up every morning before I got out of bed, I should instantly close with the offer.

‘Collected Essays’ (1893-94) ‘On Descartes’ ‘Discourse on Method’’ (written 1870)

If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?

‘Collected Essays’ vol. 3 (1895) ‘On Elementary Instruction in Physiology’ (written 1877)

The chess-board is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.

‘Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews’ (1870) ‘A Liberal Education’

Some experience of popular lecturing had convinced me that the necessity of making things plain to uninstructed people was one of the very best means of clearing up the obscure corners in one’s own mind.

‘Man’s Place in Nature’ (1894 ed.) preface

It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.

‘Science and Culture and Other Essays’ (1881) ‘The Coming of Age of the Origin of Species’

Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.

‘Science and Culture and Other Essays’ (1881) ‘The Coming of Age of the Origin of Species’

Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.

‘Science and Culture and Other Essays’ (1881) ‘On the Hypothesis that Animals are Automata’

I asserted—and I repeat—that a man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man—a man of restless and versatile intellect—who, not content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.

Replying to Bishop Samuel Wilberforce in the debate on Darwin’s theory of evolution during the meeting of the British Association at Oxford, 30 June 1860. See letter from J. R. Green to Professor Boyd Dawkins in Leonard Huxley (ed.) ‘The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley’ (1900). In a letter to Francis Darwin, Huxley agreed that this account was fair if not wholly accurate: there is no reliable verbatim transcript.

I am too much of a sceptic to deny the possibility of anything.

Letter to Herbert Spencer, 22 March 1886, in Leonard Huxley ‘Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley’ (1900) vol. 2, ch. 8

8.167 Edward Hyde

See Earl of Clarendon (3.104)

9.0 I

9.1 Dolores Ibarruri (‘La Pasionaria’) 1895-1989

Il vaut mieux mourir debout que de vivre á genoux!

It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

Speech in Paris, 3 September 1936, in ‘L’Humanitè’ 4 September 1936 (also attributed to Emiliano Zapata)

No pasar n.

They shall not pass.

Radio broadcast, Madrid, 19 July 1936, in ‘Speeches and Articles 1936-38’ (1938) p. 7.

9.2 Henrik Ibsen 1828-1906

Luftslotte,—de er så nemme at ty ind i, de. Og nemme at bygge også.

Castles in the air—they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build, too.

‘Bygmester Solness’ (The Master Builder, 1892) act 3

Flertallet har aldrig retten på sin side. Aldrig, siger jeg! Det er en af disse samfundslígne, som en fri, t’nkende mand må gíre oprír imod. Hvem er det, som udgír flertallet af beboerne i et land? Er det de kloge folk, eller er det dé dumme? Jeg taenker, vi får vaere enige om, at dumme mennesker er tilstede i en ganske forskraek kelig overv’ldende majoritet rundt omkring på den hele vide jord. Men det kan da vel, for fanden, aldrig i evighed vaere ret, at de dumme skal herske over de kloge!

The majority never has right on its side. Never I say! That is one of the social lies that a free, thinking man is bound to rebel against. Who makes up the majority in any given country? Is it the wise men or the fools? I think we must agree that the fools are in a terrible overwhelming

majority, all the wide world over.

‘En Folkefiende’ (An Enemy of the People, 1882) act 4

En skulde aldrig ha’ sine bedste buxer på, når en er ude og strider for frihed og sandhed.

You should never have your best trousers on when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.

‘En Folkefiende’ (An Enemy of the People, 1882) act 5

Sagen er den, ser I, at den st’rkeste mand i verden, det er han, som står mest alene.

The thing is, you see, that the strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone.

‘En Folkefiende’ (An Enemy of the People, 1882) act 5

Mor, gi’ mig solen.

Mother, give me the sun.

‘Gengangere’ (Ghosts, 1881) act 3

Men, gud sig forbarme,—sligt noget gír man da ikke!

But good God, people don’t do such things!

‘Hedda Gabler’ (1890) act 4

Hvad skal manden v’re? Sig selv, det er mit korte svar.

What ought a man to be? Well, my short answer is ‘himself’.

‘Peer Gynt’ (1867) act 4

Tar de livslígnen fra et gennemsnitsmenneske, så tar De lykken fra ham med det samme.

Take the life-lie away from the average man and straight away you take away his happiness.

‘Vildanden’ (The Wild Duck, 1884) act 5

9.3 Eric Idle 1943—

See Graham Chapman et al. (3.74)

9.4 Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley Cox) 1893-1970

It was not until several weeks after he had decided to murder his wife that Dr Bickleigh took any active steps in the matter. Murder is a serious business.

‘Malice Aforethought’ (1931) p. 7

9.5 Ivan Illich 1926—

In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.

‘Tools for Conviviality’ (1973) ch. 3

9.6 Charles Inge 1868-1957

This very remarkable man Commends a most practical plan: You can do what you want

If you don’t think you can’t,

So don’t think you can’t think you can.

‘On Monsieur Couè’ (1928).

9.7 William Ralph Inge (Dean Inge) 1860-1954

The enemies of Freedom do not argue; they shout and they shoot.

‘End of an Age’ (1948) ch. 4

The effect of boredom on a large scale in history is underestimated. It is a main cause of revolutions, and would soon bring to an end all the static Utopias and the farmyard civilization of the Fabians.

‘End of an Age’ (1948) ch. 6

To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy.

‘Idea of Progress’ (Romanes Lecture delivered at Oxford, 27 May 1920) p. 9

Many people believe that they are attracted by God, or by Nature, when they are only repelled by man.

‘More Lay Thoughts of a Dean’ (1931) pt. 4, ch. 1

It takes in reality only one to make a quarrel. It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.

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