American Journalist, Historian, Academic and Novelist
"Average human nature is very coarse, and its ideals must necessarily be average. The world never loved perfect poise. What the world does love is commonly absence of poise, for it has to be amused."
"Charles Francis Adams was singular for mental poise ? absence of self-assertion or self-consciousness ? the faculty of standing apart without seeming aware that he was alone ? a balance of mind and temper that neither challenged nor avoided notice, nor admitted question of superiority or inferiority, of jealousy, of personal motives, from any source, even under great pressure."
"Clover is off her feed (in reference to the depression of his wife, who subsequently caused her suicide.. which was deeply painful to him)."
"Double standards are inspiration to men of letters, but they are apt to be fatal to politicians."
"Even in America, the Indian summer of life should be a little sunny and a little sad, like the season, and infinite in wealth and depth of tone - but never hustled."
"Every man who has at last succeeded, after long effort, in calling up the divinity which lies hidden in a woman's heart, is startled to find that he must obey the God he summoned."
"Every syllable that can be struck out is pure profit, and every page that can be economized is a five-per-cent dividend. Nature rebels against this rule; the flesh is weak, and shrinks from the scissors; I groan in retrospect over the weak."
"Everyone carries his own inch rule of taste, and amuse himself by applying it, triumphantly, wherever he travels."
"Everyone must bear his own universe, and most persons are moderately interested in learning how their neighbors have managed to carry theirs."
"Evolution of mind was altogether another matter and belonged to another science, but whether one traced descent from the shark or the wolf was immaterial even in morals. This matter had been discussed for ages without scientific result. La Fontaine and other fabulists maintained that the wolf, even in morals, stood higher than man; and in view of the late civil war, Adams had doubts of his own on the facts of moral evolution:"
"For reasons which many persons thought ridiculous, Mrs. Lightfoot Lee decided to pass the winter in Washington. She was in excellent health, but she said that the climate would do her good."
"For the first time in his life, Mont Blanc for a moment looked to him what it was - a chaos of anarchic and purposeless forces - and he needed days of repose to see it clothe itself again with the illusions of his senses, the white purity of its snows, the splendor of its light, and the infinity of its heavenly peace. Nature was kind; Lake Geneva was beautiful beyond itself, and the Alps put on charms real as terrors."
"General Grant seriously remarked to a particularly bright young woman that Venice would be a fine city if it were drained."
"Had Grant been a Congressman one would have been on one?s guard, for one knew the type. One never expected from a Congressman more than good intentions and public spirit. Newspaper-men as a rule had no great respect for the lower House; Senators had less; and Cabinet officers had none at all. Indeed, one day when Adams was pleading with a Cabinet officer for patience and tact in dealing with Representatives, the Secretary impatiently broke out: ?You can?t use tact with a Congressman! A Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and hit him on the snout!?"
"He had often noticed that six months' oblivion amounts to newspaper-death, and that resurrection is rare. Nothing is easier, if a man wants it, than rest, profound as the grave."
"He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife."
"He never labored so hard to learn a language as he did to hold his tongue, and it affected him for life. The habit of reticence ? of talking without meaning ? is never effaced."
"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot."
"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
"I am an anarchist in politics and an impressionist in art as well as a symbolist in literature. Not that I understand what these terms mean, but I take them to be all merely synonyms of pessimist."
"I disagree with by brother Charles and Theodore Roosevelt. I think that Lee should have been hanged. It was all the worse that he was a good man and a fine character and acted conscientiously. These facts have nothing to do with the case and should not have been allowed to interfere with just penalties. It's always the good men who do the most harm in the world."
"I have written too much history to have faith in it; and if anyone thinks I'm wrong, I am inclined to agree with him."
"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."
"I tell you the solemn truth, that the doctrine of the Trinity is not so difficult to accept for a working proposition as any one of the axioms of physics."
"I would rather starve and rot and keep the privilege of speaking the truth as I see it, than of holding all the offices that capital has to give from the presidency down."
"If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands."
"If somebody thinks they're a hedgehog, presumably you just give 'em a mirror and a few pictures of hedgehogs and tell them to sort it out for themselves."
"In Paris and London he had seen nothing to make a return to life worthwhile; in Washington he saw plenty of reasons for staying dead."
"In practice, such trifles as contradictions in principle are easily set aside; the faculty of ignoring them makes the practical man."
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"