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Samuel Butler quotes (165)

A drunkard would not give money to sober people. He said they would only eat it, and buy clothes and send their children to school with it.
Samuel Butler   Category:

A friend who cannot at a pinch remember a thing or two that never happened is as bad as one who does not know how to forget.
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A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg.
Samuel Butler   Category: Nature

A lawyer's dream of heaven: every man reclaimed his property at the resurrection, and each tried to recover it from all his forefathers.
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A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a little want of knowledge is also a dangerous thing.
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A man should be just cultured enough to be able to look with suspicion upon culture at first, not second hand.
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A man's friendships are, like his will, invalidated by marriage - but they are also no less invalidated by the marriage of his friends.
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A physician's physiology has much the same relation to his power of healing as a cleric's divinity has to his power of influencing conduct.
Samuel Butler   Category: Medical

A sense of humor keen enough to show a man his own absurdities will keep him from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those worth committing.
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A skilful leech is better far, than half a hundred men of war.
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A virtue to be serviceable must, like gold, be alloyed with some commoner, but more durable alloy.
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Academic and aristocratic people live in such an uncommon atmosphere that common sense can rarely reach them.
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All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.
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All philosophies, if you ride them home, are nonsense, but some are greater nonsense than others.
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All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.
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All truth is not to be told at all times.
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An apology for the devil: it must be remembered that we have heard one side of the case. God has written all the books.
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And so there is no God but has been in the loins of past gods.
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Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well.
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Be virtuous and you will be vicious.
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Belief like any other moving body follows the path of least resistance.
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Books are like imprisoned souls till someone takes them down from a shelf and frees them.
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Brigands demand your money or your life; women require both.
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Christ and The Church: If he were to apply for a divorce on the grounds of cruelty, adultery and desertion, he would probably get one.
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Christ was only crucified once and for a few hours. Think of the hundreds of thousands whom Christ has been crucifying in a quiet way ever since.
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Christ: I dislike him very much. Still, I can stand him. What I cannot stand is the wretched band of people whose profession is to hoodwink us about him.
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Death is only a larger kind of going abroad.
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Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.
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Don't learn to do, but learn in doing. Let your falls not be on a prepared ground, but let them be bona fide falls in the rough and tumble of the world.
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Every man's work, whether it be literature, or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.
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Evil is like water, it abounds, is cheap, soon fouls, but runs itself clear of taint.
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Faith - you can do very little with it, but you can do nothing without it.
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Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself.
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For truth is precious and divine, too rich a pearl for carnal swine.
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Friendship is like money, easier made than kept.
Samuel Butler   Category: Money

From a worldly point of view, there is no mistake so great as that of being always right.
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God and the Devil are an effort after specialization and the division of labor.
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God as now generally conceived of is only the last witch.
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God cannot alter the past, though historians can.
Samuel Butler   Category: History

God was satisfied with his own work, and that is fatal.
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Half the vices which the world condemns most loudly have seeds of good in them and require moderate use rather than total abstinence.
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He has spent his life best who has enjoyed it most. God will take care that we do not enjoy it any more than is good for us.
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He that complies against his will is of his own opinion still.
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Human life is as evanescent as the morning dew or a flash of lightning.
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I do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy.
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I never knew a writer yet who took the smallest pains with his style and was at the same time readable.
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I really do not see much use in exalting the humble and meek; they do not remain humble and meek long when they are exalted.
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If God wants us to do a thing, he should make his wishes sufficiently clear. Sensible people will wait till he has done this before paying much attention to him.
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If I die prematurely I shall be saved from being bored to death at my own success.
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If life must not be taken too seriously, then so neither must death.
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If people would dare to speak to one another unreservedly, there would be a good deal less sorrow in the world a hundred years hence.
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If the headache would only precede the intoxication, alcoholism would be a virtue.
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If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.
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If you follow reason far enough it always leads to conclusions that are contrary to reason.
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In law, nothing is certain but the expense.
Samuel Butler   Category: Legal

In old times people used to try and square the circle; now they try and devise schemes for satisfying the Irish nation.
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In the midst of vice we are in virtue, and vice versa.
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Is life worth living? This is a question for an embryo not for a man.
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It has been said that the love of money is the root of all evil. The want of money is so quite as truly.
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It is a wise tune that knows its own father, and I like my music to be the legitimate offspring of respectable parents.
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It is better to have loved and lost than never to have lost at all.
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It is not he who gains the exact point in dispute who scores most in controversy - but he who has shown the better temper.
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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.
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It is seldom very hard to do one's duty when one knows what it is, but it is often exceedingly difficult to find this out.
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It is tact that is golden, not silence.
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It is the function of vice to keep virtue within reasonable bounds.
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Justice is my being allowed to do whatever I like. Injustice is whatever prevents my doing so.
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Justice while she winks at crimes, Stumbles on innocence sometimes.
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Let every man be true and every god a liar.
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Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.
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