An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
An art school is a place where about three people work with feverish energy and everybody else idles to a degree that I should have conceived unattainable by human nature. Moreover, those who work are, I will not say the least intelligent, but, by the very nature of the case, for the moment the most narrow; those whose keen intelligence is for the time narrowed down to a strictly technical problem.
Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.
A yawn is a silent shout.
Bigotry may be roughly defined as the anger of men who have no opinions.
Children are innocent and love justice, while most adults are wicked and prefer mercy.
Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf is better than a whole loaf.
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms: it means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.
Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.
Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump. You may be freeing him from being a camel.
Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know.
Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.
I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."
I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.
It isn't that they can't see the solution, it is that they cannot see the problem.
It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.
It is very good for a man to talk about what he does not understand; as long as he understands that he does not understand it.
It seems a pity that psychology should have destroyed all our knowledge of human nature.
Journalism largely consists of saying "Lord Jones is dead" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.
Men are not only bad from good motives, but also often good from bad motives.
Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.
"My country, right or wrong" is a thing that no patriot would think of saying, except in a desperate case. It is like saying "My mother, drunk or sober."
Psychoanalysis: Confession without absolution.
Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.
The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.
The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or a high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living.
The doctrine of human equality reposes on this: that there is no man really clever who has not found that he is stupid.
The function of the imagination is not to make strange things settled, so much as to make settled things strange.
The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. And one of the games to which it is most attached is called, "Keep tomorrow dark," and which is also named (by the rustics in Shropshire, I have no doubt) "Cheat the Prophet." The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely. Then they go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun.
The Modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; but their truth is pitiless. And thus some humanitarians care only for pity; but their pity is often untruthful.
The only way of catching a train I have ever discovered is to miss the train before.
The people who are the most bigoted are the people who have no convictions at all.
The place that the shepherds found was not an academy or an abstract republic; it was not a place of myths allegorized or dissected or explained away. It was a place of dreams come true.
The poor object to being governed badly, while the rich object to being governed at all.
There are a good many fools who call me a friend, and also a good many friends who call me a fool.
There are no uninteresting things, there are only uninterested people.
There is nothing the matter with Americans except their ideals. The real American is all right; it is the ideal American who is all wrong.
The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
The word good has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.
Thieves respect property; they merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.
Tradition does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive.
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.
Truths turn into dogmas the minute they are disputed.
When all philosophies shall fail,
This word alone shall fit;
That a sage feels too small for life,
And a fool too large for it.
Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.
You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.
You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.
You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world.
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