George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard
Shaw
1856
1950

Irish Playwright, Critic, Social Reformer and Political Activist

Author Quotes

When you choose a man who thinks eight seconds is a long time, perhaps you need two of them. Hmm?

Why should you call me to account for eating decently?

You are all fundamentalists with a top dressing of science. That is why you are the stupidest of conservatives and reactionists in politics and the most bigoted of obstructionists in science itself. When it comes to getting a move on you are all of the same opinion: stop it, flog it, hang it, dynamite it, stamp it out.

You have learned something. That always feels at first as if you have lost something.

Your weak side, my diabolic friend, is that you have always been a gull: you take Man at his own valuation. Nothing would flatter him more than your opinion of him. He loves to think of himself as bold and bad. He is neither one nor the other: he is only a coward. Call him tyrant, murderer, pirate, bully; and he will adore you, and swagger about with the consciousness of having the blood of the old sea kings in his veins. Call him liar and thief; and he will only take an action against you for libel. But call him coward; and he will go mad with rage: he will face death to outface that stinging truth. Man gives every reason for his conduct save one, every excuse for his crimes save one, every plea for his safety save one: and that one is his cowardice. Yet all his civilization is founded on his cowardice, on his abject tameness, which he calls his respectability. There are limits to what a mule or an ass will stand; but Man will suffer himself to be degraded until his vileness becomes so loathsome to his oppressors that they themselves are forced to reform it.

When you know the artist, you think less of the art.

Why was I born with such contemporaries?

You are going to let the fear of poverty govern your life and your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not live.

You have no more right to consume happiness without producing it, than you do to consume wealth without producing it.

You're not a man, you're a machine.

When you loved me I gave you the whole sun and stars to play with. I gave you eternity in a single moment, strength of the mountains in one clasp of your arms, the volume of all the seas in one impulse of your soul. A moment only; but was it not enough? Were you not paid then for all the rest of your struggle on earth? ... When I opened the gates of paradise, were you blind? Was it nothing to you? When all the stars sang in your ears and all the winds swept you the heart of heaven, were you deaf? Were you dull? Was I no more to you than a bone to a dog? Was it not enough? We spent eternity together; and you ask me for a little lifetime more. We possessed all the universe together; and you ask me to give you my scanty wages as well. I have given you the greatest of all things; and you ask me to give you little things. I gave you your own soul: you ask me for my body as a plaything. Was it not enough? Was it not enough?

Why, except as a means of livelihood, a man should desire to act on the stage when he has the whole world to act in, is not clear to me.

You are so careful of your boy's morals, knowing how troublesome they may be, that you keep him away from the Venus of Milo only to find him in the arms of the scullery maid or someone much worse. You decide that the Hermes of Praxiteles and Wagner's Tristan are not suited for young girls; and your daughter marries somebody appallingly unlike either Hermes or Tristan solely to escape from your parental protection. You have not stifled a single passion nor averted a single danger: you have depraved the passions by starving them, and broken down all the defenses which so effectively protect children brought up in freedom.

You have to choose (as a voter) between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the Government. And, with due respect for these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the Capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.

Youth is wasted on the young.

When you vote, you only change the names of the cabinet. When you shoot, you pull down governments, inaugurate new epochs, abolish old orders and set up new.

Wicked people means people who have no love: therefore, they have no shame. They have the power to ask love because they don't need it: they have the power to offer it because they have none to give.

You are the window through which you must see the world.

You in America should trust to that volcanic political instinct which I have divined in you.

Whenever you wish to do anything against the law, Cicely, always consult a good solicitor first.

Wilde's permanent celebrity belongs to literature, and only his transient notoriety to police news.

You can always tell an old soldier by the inside of his holsters and cartridge boxes. The young ones carry pistols and cartridges; the old ones, grub.

You know well I couldn't bear to live with a low common man after you two; and it's wicked and cruel of you to insult me by pretending I could.

Where equality is undisputed, so also is subordination.

Wise kings wear shabby clothes, and leave the gold lace to the drum major.

Author Picture
First Name
George Bernard
Last Name
Shaw
Birth Date
1856
Death Date
1950
Bio

Irish Playwright, Critic, Social Reformer and Political Activist