William Makepeace Thackeray

William Makepeace

English Novelist

Author Quotes

Business first; pleasure afterwards.

Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.

Follow your honest convictions and be strong.

He that hath ears to hear, let him stuff them with cotton.

I can endure poverty but not shame-neglect but not insult, and insult from you..

If a man's character is to be abused, say what you will, there's nobody like a relation to do the business.

If, in looking at the lives of princes, courtiers, men of rank and fashion, we must perforce depict them as idle, profligate, and criminal, we must make allowances for the rich men's failings, and recollect that we, too, were very likely indolent and voluptuous, had we no motive for work, a mortal's natural taste for pleasure, and the daily temptation of a large income. What could a great peer, with a great castle and park, and a great fortune, do but be splendid and idle?

It is not that speech of yesterday, he continued, which moves you. That is but the pretext, Amelia, or I have loved you and watched you for fifteen years in vain. Have I not learned in that time to read all your feelings and look into your thoughts? I know what your heart is capable of: it can cling faithfully to a recollection and cherish a fancy, but it can?t feel such an attachment as mine deserves to mate with, and such as I would have won from a woman more generous than you. No, you are not worthy of the love which I have devoted to you. I knew all along that the prize I had set my life on was not worth the winning; that I was a fool, with fond fancies, too, bartering away my all of truth and ardour against your little feeble remnant of love.

Know ye the willow-tree, Whose grey leaves quiver, Whispering gloomily To yon pale river? Lady at even-tide Wander not near it: They say its branches hide A sad, lost spirit!

Money has only a different value in the eyes of each.

Novels are sweets. All people with healthy literary appetites love them: almost all women; a vast number of clever, hard-headed men. Judges, bishops, chancellors, mathematicians, are notorious novel readers, as well as young boys and girls, and their kind, tender mothers.

Our great thoughts, our great affections, the truths of our life, never leave us. Surely they can not separate from our consciousness, shall follow it whithersoever that shall go, and are of their nature divine and immortal.

Revenge may be wicked, but it?s natural.

Stupid people, who do not know how to laugh, are always pompous and self-conceited; that is, ungentle, uncharitable, unchristian.

The hidden and awful Wisdom which apportions the destinies of mankind is pleased so to humiliate and cast down the tender, good, and wise; and to set up the selfish, the foolish, or the wicked. Oh, be humble, my brother, in your prosperity! Be gentle with those who are less lucky, if not more deserving. Think, what right have you to be scornful, whose virtue is a deficiency of temptation, whose success may be a chance, whose rank may be an ancestor's accident, whose prosperity is very likely a satire.

The world has battle-room for all. Go fight and conquer if ye can. But if ye rise or if ye fall, be each, pray God, a gentleman!

There's a great power of imagination about these little creatures, and a creative fancy and belief that is very curious to watch . . . I am sure that horrid matter-of-fact child-rearers . . . do away with the child's most beautiful privilege. I am determined that Anny shall have a very extensive and instructive store of learning in Tom Thumbs, Jack-the-Giant-Killers, etc.

To be thought rich is as good as to be rich.

We love being in love, that's the truth on't. If we had not met Joan, we should have met Kate, and adored her. We know our mistresses are no better than many other women, nor no prettier, nor no wiser, nor no wittier. 'Tis not for these reasons we love a woman, or for any special quality or charm I know of; we might as well demand that a lady should be the tallest woman in the world, like the Shropshire giantess, as that she should be a paragon in any other character, before we began to love her.

What stories are new? All types of all characters march through all fables.

Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied? Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.

You can't order remembrance out of the mind; and a wrong that was a wrong yesterday must be a wrong to-morrow.

But Fate is stronger than all of us, and willed what has come to pass.

Could the best and kindest of us who depart from the earth have an opportunity of revisiting it, I suppose he or she (assuming that any Vanity Fair feelings subsist in the sphere whither we are bound) would have a pang of mortification at finding how soon our survivors were consoled.

For a steady self-esteem and indomitable confidence in our own courage, greatness, magnanimity, who can compare with Britons, except their children across the Atlantic?

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William Makepeace
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English Novelist