Quotes by Samuel Butler

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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.

The public buys its opinions as it buys its meat, or takes in its milk, on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than to keep a cow. So it is, but the milk is more likely to be watered.
Opinions have vested interests just as men have.
Parents are the last people on earth who ought to have children.
For most men, and most circumstances, pleasure --tangible material prosperity in this world --is the safest test of virtue. Progress has ever been through the pleasures rather than through the extreme sharp virtues, and the most virtuous have leaned to excess rather than to asceticism.
The advantage of doing one's praising for oneself is that one can lay it on so thick and exactly in the right places.
The clergyman is expected to be a kind of human Sunday.
In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved.
The world will only, in the end, follow those who have despised as well as served it.
Then spare the rod and spoil the child.
I believe that he was really sorry that people would not believe he was sorry that he was not more sorry.
There are two great rules of life; the one general and the other particular. The first is that everyone can, in the end, get what he wants, if he only tries. That is the general rule. The particular rule is that every individual is, more or less, an exception to the rule.
Science, after all, is only an expression for our ignorance of our own ignorance.
The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.
People care more about being thought to have taste than about being thought either good, clever or amiable.
A lawyers dream of heaven; every man reclaimed his property at the resurrection, and each tried to recover it from all his forefathers.
To himself everyone is an immortal. He may know that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead.
I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better.
Such as take lodgings in a head that's to be let unfurnished.
Man is God's highest present development. He is the latest thing in God.
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.
A genius can never expect to have a good time anywhere, if he is a genuine article, but America is about the last place in which life will be endurable at all for an inspired writer of any kind.
There are more fools than knaves in the world, else the knaves would not have enough to live upon.
The healthy stomach is nothing if it is not conservative. Few radicals have good digestions.
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.
All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.
Evil is like water, it abounds, is cheap, soon fouls, but runs itself clear of taint.
A skilful leech is better far, than half a hundred men of war.
There is nothing which at once affects a man so much and so little as his own death.
The dead should be judged like criminals, impartially, but they should be allowed the benefit of the doubt.
To die is but to leave off dying and do the thing once for all.
A man should be just cultured enough to be able to look with suspicion upon culture at first, not second hand.
The thief. Once committed beyond a certain point he should not worry himself too much about not being a thief any more. Thieving is God's message to him. Let him try and be a good thief.
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.
The voice of the Lord is the voice of common sense, which is shared by all that is.
If there is any moral in Christianity, if there is anything to be learned from it, if the whole story is not profitless from first to last, it comes to this: that a man should back his own opinion against the world s.
People are always good company when they are doing what they really enjoy.
The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore.
Birth and death are so closely related that one could not destroy either without destroying the other at the same time. It is extinction that makes creation possible.
Because they did not see merit where they should have seen it, people, to express their regret, will go and leave a lot of money to the very people who will be the first to throw stones at the next person who has anything to say and finds a difficulty in getting a hearing.
Belief like any other moving body follows the path of least resistance.
Men are seldom more commonplace than on supreme occasions.
The youth of an art is, like the youth of anything else, its most interesting period. When it has come to the knowledge of good and evil it is stronger, but we care less about it.
Neither irony or sarcasm is argument.
We are not won by arguments that we can analyze, but by tone and temper; by the manner, which is the man himself.
Arguments are like fire-arms which a man may keep at home but should not carry about with him.
A hen is only an egg's way of making another egg.
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.
He that complies against his will is of his own opinion still.
There is but one step from the Academy to the Fad.
A virtue to be serviceable must, like gold, be alloyed with some commoner, but more durable alloy.
Rare virtues are like rare plants or animals, things that have not been able to hold their own in the world. A virtue to be serviceable must, like gold, be alloyed with some commoner but more durable metal.
Virtue knows that it is impossible to get on without compromise, and tunes herself, as it were, a trifle sharp to allow for an inevitable fall in playing.
For Wealth are all things that conduce, to one's destruction or their use. A standard both to buy and sell, all things from heaven down to hell.
Everyone should keep a mental wastepaper basket, and the older he grows, the more things will he promptly consign to it.
Words are not as satisfactory as we should like them to be, but, like our neighbors, we have got to live with them and must make the best and not the worst of them.
Work with some men is as besetting a sin as idleness.
There's many a good tune played on an old fiddle.
Ernest felt now that the turning point of his life had come. He would give up all for Christ--even his tobacco. So he gathered together his pipes and pouches, and locked them up in his portmanteau under his bed where they should be out of sight, and as much out of mind as possible. He did not burn them, because someone might come in who wanted to smoke, and though he might abridge his own liberty, yet, as smoking was not a sin, there was no reason why he should be hard on other people.