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Samuel Butler Quotes


A British satirist, best known for his novels Erewhon and The Way of All Flesh.
(1835 - 1902)

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[Ideas] are like shadows - substantial enough until we try to grasp them.
 

A definition is the enclosing a wilderness of idea within a wall of words.
 

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.
 

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.
[Friendship]
 

A great portrait is always more a portrait of the painter than of the painted.
 

A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg.
[Heredity]
 

A lawyer's dream of heaven: every man reclaimed his property at the resurrection, and each tried to recover it from all his forefathers.
 

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a little want of knowledge is also a dangerous thing.
 

A man should be just cultured enough to be able to look with suspicion upon culture at first, not second hand.
 

A man's friendships are, like his will, invalidated by marriage - but they are also no less invalidated by the marriage of his friends.
 

A man's style in any art should be like his dress - it should attract as little attention as possible.
 

A pair of lovers are like sunset and sunrise: there are such things every day but we very seldom see them.
 

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.
 

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.
 

A skilful leech is better far, than half a hundred men of war.
 

A virtue to be serviceable must, like gold, be alloyed with some commoner, but more durable alloy.
[Virtue]
 

Academic and aristocratic people live in such an uncommon atmosphere that common sense can rarely reach them.
 

Adversity, if a man is set down to it by degrees, is more supportable with equanimity by most people than any great prosperity arrived at in a single lifetime.
[Adversity]
 

After having spent years striving to be accurate, we must spend as many more in discovering when and how to be inaccurate.
 

All a rhetorician's rules teach nothing but to name his tools.
[Rhetoric]
 


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