Samuel Butler

Samuel
Butler
1835
1902

English Poet, Novelist, Scholar, Translator

Author Quotes

To parents who wish to lead a quiet life I would say: Tell your children that they are naughty - much naughtier than most children. Point to the young people of some acquaintances as models of perfection and impress your own children with a deep sense of their own inferiority. You carry so many more guns than they do that they cannot fight you. This is called moral influence, and it will enable you to bounce them as much as you please. They think you know and they will not have yet caught you lying often enough to suspect that you are not the unworldly and scrupulously truthful person which you represent yourself to be; nor yet will they know how great a coward you are, nor how soon you will run away if they fight you with persistency and judgment. You keep the dice and throw them both for your children and yourself. Load them then, for you can easily manage to stop your children from examining them. Tell them how singularly indulgent you are; insist on the incalculable benefit you conferred upon them, firstly in bringing them into the world at all, but more particularly in bringing them into it as your own children rather than anyone else's... You hold all the trump cards, or if you do not you can filch them; if you play them with anything like judgment you will find yourselves heads of happy, united, God-fearing families... True, your children will probably find out all about it someday, but not until too late to be of much service to them or inconvenience to yourself.

We can see nothing face to face; our utmost seeing is but a fumbling of blind finger-ends in an overcrowded pocket.

When I am dead I would rather people thought me better than I was instead of worse; but if they think me worse, I cannot help it and, if it matters at all, it will matter more to them than to me.

Words are not as satisfactory as we should like them to be, but, like our neighbours, we have got to live with them and must make the best and not the worst of them.

This poem [The Ancient Mariner] would not have taken so well if it had been called “The Old Sailor.”

To put one’s trust in God is only a longer way of saying that one will chance it.

We do not know what death is. If we know so little about life which we have experienced, how shall be know about death which we have not - and in the nature of things never can?

When pious frauds and holy shifts Are dispensations and gifts.

Words impede and either kill, or are killed by, perfect thought; but they are, as a scaffolding, useful, if not indispensable, for the building up of imperfect thought and helping to perfect it.

Those who have never had a father can at any rate never know the sweets of losing one. To most men the death of his father is a new lease of life.

To swallow gudgeons ere they 're catch'd, And count their chickens ere they 're hatch'd.

We grant, although he had much wit, He was very shy of using it.

When the righteous man truth away from his righteousness that he hath committed and doeth that which is neither quite lawful nor quite right, he will generally be found to have gained in amiability what he has lost in holiness.

"Words, words, words," he writes, "are the stumbling-blocks in the way of truth. Until you think of things as they are, and not of the words that misrepresent them, you cannot think rightly. Words produce the appearance of hard and fast lines where there are none. Words divide; thus we call this a man, that an ape, that a monkey, while they are all only differentiations of the same thing. To think of a thing they must be got rid of: they are the clothes that thoughts wear—only the clothes. I say this over and over again, for there is nothing of more importance. Other men's words will stop you at the beginning of an investigation. A man may play with words all his life, arranging them and rearranging them like dominoes. If I could think to you without words you would understand me better."

Though analogy is often misleading, it is the least misleading thing we have.

To try to live in posterity is to be like an actor who leaps over the footlights and talks to the orchestra.

We grow weary of those things (and perhaps soonest) which we most desire.

When the water of a place is bad it is safest to drink none that has not been filtered through either the berry of a grape, or else a tub of malt. These are the most reliable filters yet invented.

Work with some men is as besetting a sin as idleness.

Though wisdom cannot be gotten for gold, still less can it be gotten without it. Gold, or the value of what's equivalent to gold, lies at the root of wisdom, and enters so largely into the very essence of the Holy Ghost that 'no gold, no Holy Ghost' may pass as an axiom.

True as the dial to the sun, Although it be not shin'd upon.

We know so well what we are doing ourselves and why we do it, do we not? I fancy that there is some truth in the view which is being put forward nowadays, that it is our less conscious thoughts and our less conscious actions which mainly mould our lives and the lives of those who spring from us.

When we go up to the shelves in the reading-room of the British Museum, how like it is to wasps flying up and down an apricot tree that is trained against a wall, or cattle coming down to drink at a pool!

You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it.

Through perils both of wind and limb, Through thick and thin she follow'd him.

Author Picture
First Name
Samuel
Last Name
Butler
Birth Date
1835
Death Date
1902
Bio

English Poet, Novelist, Scholar, Translator