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Samuel Butler
1835 - 1902

English novelist, satirist, scholar, author of The Way of All Flesh and Erewhon


Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.

1912 - from Notebooks
A virtue to be serviceable must, like gold, be alloyed with some commoner but more durable metal.

1903 - from The Way of All Flesh
Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.

from The Way of All Flesh
You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it.

from Notebooks
Logic is like the sword--those who appeal to it shall perish by it.

The foundations of morality are like all other foundations: if you dig too much around them the superstructure will come tumbling down.

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.

from Notebooks
The most important service rendered by the press and the magazines is that of educating people to approach printed matter with distrust.

A credulous mind ... finds most delight in believing strange things, and the stranger they are the easier they pass with him; but never regards those that are plain and feasible, for every man can believe such.

1667 - from Characters