Samuel Butler

Samuel
Butler
1835
1902

English Poet, Novelist, Scholar, Translator

Author Quotes

They say the test of this [literary power] is whether a man can write an inscription. I say "Can he name a kitten?" And by this test I am condemned, for I cannot.

To love God is to have good health, good looks, good sense, experience, a kindly nature and a fair balance of cash in hand.

We can never get rid of mouse-ideas completely, they keep turning up again and again, and nibble, nibble--no matter how often we drive them off. The best way to keep them down is to have a few good strong cat-ideas which will embrace them and ensure their not reappearing till they do so in another shape.

Whatso'er we perpetrate We do but row, we are steered by fate.

With mortal crisis doth portend My days to appropinque an end.

Think of and look at your work as though it were done by your enemy. If you look at it to admire it, you are lost.

To me it seems that those who are happy in this world are better and more lovable people than those who are not.

We can no longer separate things as we once could: everything tends towards unity; one thing, one action, in one place, at one time. On the other hand, we can no longer unify things as we once could; we are driven to ultimate atoms, each one of which is an individuality. So that we have an infinite multitude of things doing an infinite multitude of actions in infinite time and space; and yet they are not many things, but one thing.

When a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing, it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a hundred years hence.

Women can stand a beating except when it is with their own weapons.

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

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 a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing, it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a hundred years hence.

Words are like money; there is nothing so useless, unless when in actual use.

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 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 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.

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

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 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.

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

English Poet, Novelist, Scholar, Translator