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6,095 quotations, showing Webster to Wilde

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Webster, Daniel
Knowledge is the great sun of the firmament. Life and power are scattered with all its beams.

quoted by John F. Kennedy in a speech at the University of California - Berkeley, Mar. 23, 1962
If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us, that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity.

Repression is the seed of revolution.

[Popular democratic government] The last hopes of mankind ... rest with us; and if it should be proclaimed that our example had become an argument against the experiment, the knell of popular liberty would be sounded throughout the earth. ... there remains to us a great duty of defense and preservation; and there is opened to us also a noble pursuit to which the spirit of the times strongly invites us.

Jun. 17, 1825 - from a speech at the foundation of the Bunker Hill monument commemorating the soldiers of the American Revolution
Webster, Noah
Principles ... are becoming corrupt, deeply corrupt; and unless the progress of corruption and perversion of truth can be arrested, neither liberty nor property, will long be secure in this country. And a great evil is, that men of the first distinction seem, to a great extent, to be ignorant of the real, original causes of our public distresses.

Republican government loses half its value where the moral and social duties are ... negligently practiced. To exterminate our popular vices is work of far more importance to the character and happiness of our citizens than any other improvements in our system of education.

1828
... society requires that the education of youth should be watched with the most scrupulous attention. Education is a great measurer, [it] forms the moral characters of men and morals are the basis of government.

... all history is a witness of the truth...that good morals are essential to the faithful and upright discharge of public functions.

Webster, Norman  
The area is so divided that the only safe stand seems to be the classic one of the politician who told his audience, 'Some of my friends are for the Squirrel Law, some of my friends are against the Squirrel Law. I stand with my friends.'

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
Weidenbaum, Murray
The capitalist society is very disorderly. The variance is great and may be on the basis of ability, luck, all sorts of happenstance, external circumstances. That upsets people's sense of order. But this is why someone who I think is concerned to find a system that provides more discretion for the individual will put up with all that disorder and unpredictability of results. It's not just that on the average, in an economic sense, you'll do better in a capitalistic society; it's that you have more opportunities for those adjustments as an individual.

Sep. 01, 1981 - from an interview published in Reason Magazine



Weil, Simone
There is one, and only one, thing in modern society more hideous than crime - namely, repressive justice.

Dec. 01, 1950 - from her essay "Human Personality", published in La Table Ronde
The first of the soul's needs, the one which touches most nearly its eternal destiny, is order.

1943 - from The Need for Roots, written on her deathbed, published in 1949
Welch, Jack
If you don't know how to lose, you'll never know how to win. If you don't know this, you shouldn't be playing.

2001 - reporting his mother's advice to him when he was a boy, in Jack: Straight from the Gut
Weld, William
You can lead the House to order, but you canít make it think.

... more than fifty cents on the dollar in our public school system in the United States is spent on Administration. If you know of a private industry that spends more than fifty cents on the dollar on administration and is still making a profit, I would like to know what it is.

Jun. 21, 2000 - from a speech to the New York Citizens Union Foundation
The best preparation for work is not thinking about work, talking about work or studying for work. It is work.

from a speech, quoted in Reader's Digest magazine, Sept. 2001
Wellington, Duke of
Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.

Jun. 19, 1815 - from a dispatch to his troops
Wells, Andy  
If you're just going to keep your head down, you won't make enemies, but you won't get much done either.

Aug. 23, 2000 - quoted in "The boomer of St. John's", published in the National Post
Wells, Herbert George
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

New and stirring things are belittled because if they are not belittled, the humiliating question arises, 'Why then are you not taking part in them?'




The law giver, of all beings, most owes the law allegiance. He of all men should behave as though the law compelled him. But it is the universal weakness of mankind that what we are given to administer we presently imagine we own.

Wells, Paul  
Joe Clark still thinks he won the federal election. The Progressive Conservatives have momentum, he says, and it's true: They've lost a third of their vote. Now if they can only lose the other two-thirds, victory is theirs.

Dec. 30, 2000 - from "Manley as Grit leader? Why not", published in the National Post
West, Thomas G.
Conservatives often criticize excessive government spending and regulation. But liberals leave conservatives tongue-tied when they accuse them of lacking compassion. No word in our political vocabulary - except perhaps racism - can silence critics of the welfare state more quickly and effectively. Strangely, hardly anyone pauses to consider the easy assumption that it is compassionate to spend money on the poor. Yet we have known for some time that most poor people today have not been helped, but have been positively harmed, by the poverty programs of the 1960s and '70s. Meanwhile, most of these programs are still in place. The numbers of those dependent on them are growing rapidly.

1993 - from "Poverty and the Welfare State" in Moral Ideas for America, by L. Arnn and D. Jeffrey, published by the Claremont Institute
Westmoreland, Gen. William
 Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.

Wharton, Edith
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

1902 - from Vesalius in Zante
Whately, Richard
It is generally true that all that is required to make men unmindful of what they owe God for any blessing is that they should receive that blessing often and regularly.

Every one wishes to have truth on his side, but it is not every one that sincerely wishes to be on the side of truth.

Wheaton, William F.
The present population of the entire Earth (approximately 6 billion) could easily fit into the state of Texas with the density of an average American city Ė far less than Tokyo, Mexico City or Calcutta. This can be demonstrated by a simple sixth grade-level calculation. That would leave the rest of the land mass of the entire world to the raising of food. So, you see, those who cry about overpopulation and the inability of the world to feed its people must have some other agenda.

White, Elwyn Brooks
Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.

1943 - from World Government and Peace
White, Jeff  
When governments decided to designate legions of well-off women and non-whites as "disadvantaged," their sense of social justice coincided with simple self interest. Preferential programs could have been tied to income. But by making race and sex the criteria, the middle-class bureaucrats and activists who lobbied for employment equity gave themselves preference over thousands of poor white men.

1996 - from his essay "The New Racists" published in The Next City magazine



Whitehead, Alfred North
Ideas won't keep; something must be done about them.

We think in generalities, but we live in detail.

Common sense is genius in homespun.

Civilization is the maintenance of social order, by its own inherent persuasiveness as embodying the nobler alternative. The recourse to force, however unavoidable, is a disclosure of the failure of civilization, either in the general society or in a remnant of individuals.

from "From Force to Persuasion", in Adventures of Ideas
Civilizations can only be understood by those who are civilized.

Apart from blunt truth, our lives sink decadently amid the perfume of hints and suggestions.

1966 - quoted in The Viking Book of Aphorisms, Auden and Kronenberger, Viking Press, New York
Simple solutions seldom are. It takes a very unusual mind to undertake analysis of the obvious.

Whitelaw, Lord William
We donít intend to let [Ireland] default from the rule of law at the behest of ruthless conspiracy. The disrespect for law rooted there tends to spread like a cancer to other places. I will take the sternest measures to stop the spread of that cancer elsewhere...

Jun. 13, 1972 - from a speech quoted in the New York Times
It is never wise to appear to be more clever than you are. It is sometimes wise to appear slightly less so.

Whittier, John Greenleaf
Where's the manly spirit of the hearted and unshackled gone? / Sons of old freemen, do we but inherit their names alone? / Is the old pilgrim spirit quenched with us? / Stoops the strong manhood of our souls so low, / That Mammon's lure or Party's wile can win us to silence now? / Now, when our nation to ruin's brink is verging, / let us speak while there is time! / Now, when the padlocks for our lips are forging. / Silence is crime!

from "A Summons"



Too cheaply truths, once purchased dear, / Are made our own, / Too long the world has smiled to hear / Our boast of full corn in the ear / By others sown... But now the cross our worthies bore / On us is laid; / Profession's quiet sleep is o'er, / And in the scale of truth once more / Our faith is weighed.

from "Anniversary Poem"
The tale is one of an evil time, / When souls were fettered and thought was crime, / And heresy's whisper above its breath / Meant shameful scourging and bonds and death!

from "How the Women Went from Dover", a poem about persecution of Quakers
What asks our Father of his children, / save Justice and mercy and humility, / A reasonable service of good deeds, / Pure living, tenderness to human needs, / Reverence and trust, and prayer for light to see / The Master's footprints in our daily ways? / No knotted scourge nor sacrificial knife, / But the calm beauty of an ordered life / Whose very breathing is unworded praise!

from "Requirement"
I suffer with no vain pretence / Of triumph over flesh and sense...

1880 - from "My Trust"
I trace your lines of argument; / Your logic linked and strong / I weigh as one who dreads dissent, / And fears a doubt as wrong. / But still my human hands are weak / to hold your iron creeds; / Against the words ye bid me speak / My heart within me pleads.

from "Revelation"
The plot has exploded - we've found out the trick; / The bribe goes a-begging; the fusion won't stick. / When the Wide-awake lanterns are shining about, / The rogues stay at home, and the true men are out!

from "The Quakers Are Out"
Action, action, is the spirit's means of progress, its sole test of rectitude, its only source of happiness. And should not decided action follow our deep convictions...?

Sep. 1843 - from an address to the Liberty Party convention at New Bedford
In mercy or in judgment / He shall turn and overturn, / Till the heart shall be his temple / Where all of him shall learn.

1878 - from The Vision of Echard
So welcome I from every source / The tokens of that primal Force, / Older than heaven itself, yet new / As the young heart it reaches to, / Beneath whose steady impulse rolls / The tidal wave of human souls; / Guide, comforter, and inward word, / The eternal spirit of the lord!

1871 - from "Miriam"
Was this the promise of the free, / The great hope of our early time, / That slavery's poison vine should be / Upborne by Freedom's prayer-nursed tree

1844 - from "The Sentence of John Brown"



Of all we loved and honored, naught / Save power remains; / A fallen angel's pride of thought, / Still strong in chains. / All else is gone; from those great eyes / The soul has fled; / When faith is lost, when honor dies, / The man is dead!

from "Ichabod", a scathing poem about American Senator Daniel Webster, who went against widespread sentiment in his state of Massachusetts to abolish slavery in an attempt (some historians think) to avoid the Civil War which nevertheless occurred ten years later
Whitton, Charlotte  
There is a grave danger of the development, as a matter of course, of a general tendency to reliance on social aid that the inquiry regards with grave disquiet as destructive of personal effort, and self-dependence, and so disruptive of the very basis of initiative, enterprise, and strength of character that must be the greatest resource of any people.

1932 - quoted in Globalization and the Meaning of Canadian Life by William Watson (1998, U. of Toronto Press)
Whyte, Kenneth  
...people understand that the real threats to the integrity and dignity of Parliament are its elected members.

Dec. 04, 1998 - The National Post
Wicker, Tom
Government expands to absorb revenue - and then some.

Wicks, M.
Britain is a most unequal society. Currently income inequalities are certainly increasing and indications in other areas, while not always clear, show the remarkable stubbornness of inequality in Britain. This is a strong verdict for egalitarians and social reformers. The historical period that has witnessed the coming of the mass franchise, the rise of the Labour Party, the development of progressive taxation and the growth of the welfare state has not, in fact, made Britain a fairer society.

from "The decade of inequality", published in New Society No. 79
Widdecombe, Ann
People whose person or property is attacked should be able to defend themselves without fear of penalty from the law.

Apr. 24, 2000 - quoted in the London Daily Telegraph
Today the only thing which is not tolerated is intolerance.

1998 - from the introduction to the Inner Temple Year Book
In 1967 the abortion laws in [England] were liberalised and we were all assured that this would not lead to abortion on demand or a decline in respect for unborn life or pressure on medical staff to become involved in abortion against their conscience. Five million abortions later those claims look hollow. It was the same with the divorce laws in 1969. We were told liberalisation would not lead to the breakdown of the institution of marriage or to widespread divorce and now forty per cent of marriages end in divorce. ... The issue here is not whether one thinks it a good or bad thing that these have been the effects of those laws; rather the issue is that quite undeniably the effects were not foreseen. For that reason l believe that if we were to legalise voluntary euthanasia then, no matter how tightly the law was framed, in ten years time no Granny would be safe.

1998 - from the introduction to the Inner Temple Year Book
Wiesel, Elie
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

1994 - quoted in Webster's Electronic Quotebase, edited by Keith Mohler
There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.

quoted by Harry Stein in New Choices



Wiggins, A.J.
A newspaper cannot really congratulate itself on having got at the facts impartially when it has quoted at length from two uninformed idiots on opposing sides of an issue.

Wilde, Oscar
I have found that all ugly things are made by those who strive to make something beautiful and that all beautiful things are made by those who strive to make something useful.

It is always with the best intentions that the worst work is done.

1891 - from The Critic as Artist
Man can believe the impossible, but man can never believe the improbable.

1891 - from The Decay of Lying
A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one's neighbour that he should think in the same way.

1895 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
In America the president reigns for four years, and journalism governs for ever and ever.

1895 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking other people to live as one wishes to live.

All great ideas are dangerous.

1905 - from De Profundis
He thinks like a Tory and talks like a Radical, and that's so important now-a-days.

1892 - from Lady Windermere's Fan
Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.

1895 - from The Importance of Being Earnest



The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

1895 - from The Importance of Being Earnest, Act I
What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

1892 - from Lady Windermere's Fan Act III
Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

It is often said that force is no argument. That, however, depends entirely on what one wants to prove.

To be good is to be in harmony with oneself. Discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others.

Every effect that one produces gives one an enemy. To be popular, one must be a mediocrity.

In the old days men had the rack, now they have the Press.

Instead of monopolizing the seat of judgement, journalism should be apologizing in the dock.

To know everything about oneself one must know all about others.

You can't make people good by Act of Parliament.




If one tells the truth one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.

1894 - from Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young
Formerly we used to canonize our heroes. The modern method is to vulgarize them. Cheap editons of great books may be delightful, but cheap editions of great men are absolutely detestable.

1891 - from The Critic as Artist
The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.

1895 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
Modern journalism... by giving us the opinions of the un-educated, keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.

1891 - from The Critic as Artist
... Journalism... justifies its own existence by the great Darwinian principle of the survival of the vulgarest.

1891 - from The Critic as Artist
There is hardly a single person in the House of Commons worth painting; though many of them would be better for a little whitewashing.

1890 - from The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wherever there is a man who exercises authority, there is a man who resists authority!

1891 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
What we want are unpractical people who see beyond the moment and think beyond the day. Those who try to lead the people can only do so by following the mob. It is through the voice crying in the wilderness that the ways of the gods must be prepared.

1891 - from The Critic as Artist
Nothing is impossible in Russia but reform.

1883 - from Vera
It is to be regretted that a portion of our community should be practically in slavery, but to propose to solve the problem by enslaving the entire community is childish.

1891 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism



Agitators are a set of interfering meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary.

1891 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
Socialism annihilates family life, for instance. With the abolition of private property, marriage in its present form must disappear.

1891 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
A Russian who lives happily under the present system of government in Russia must either believe that man has no soul, or that, if he has, it is not worth developing.

1891 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
Only people who look dull ever get into the House of Commons, and only people who are dull ever succeed there.

1895 - from An Ideal Husband
He pretends to be devoted to the people, and lives in a palace, preaches socialism, and draws a salary that would support a province.

1883 - from Vera, or the Nihilists
While to the claims of charity a man may yield and yet be free, to the claims of conformity no man may yield and remain free at all.

1891 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
All authority is quite degrading. It degrades those who exercise it, and it degrades those over whom it is exercised.

1891 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
Whenever a community ... or a government of any kind attempts to dictate to the artist what he is to do, art either entirely vanishes or becomes stereotyped, or degenerates into a low and ignoble form of craft.

1891 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism
... the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

1892 - from Lady Windermere's Fan