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Quotations in Series

     Cogito Ergo Sum

     Lives of Desperation

     On the Shoulders of Giants

     That's Not What I Said!




It is rather to be chosen than great riches, unless I have omitted something from the quotation.
     Robert Benchley


The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him.
     Robert Benchley


Quotation, n. The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. The words erroneously repeated.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


"I hate quotations," Ralph Waldo Emerson said in three words. "I don't," I reply in two.
     Robert Byrne, The 1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said (1988)


Most people who put together collections of verse or epigrams resemble those who eat cherries or oysters: they begin by choosing the best and end by eating everything.
     Nicolas Chamfort, Maxims (1825)


A quotation, like a pun, should come unsought, and then be welcomed only for some propriety of felicity justifying the intrusion.
     Robert Chapman


It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.
     Sir Winston Churchill, My Early Life (1930)


Beware of the thinkers whose minds function only when fueled by a quotation.
     E. M. Cioran


Why are not more gems from our great authors scattered over the country . . . Let every bookworm, when in any fragrant, scarce, old tome he discovers a sentence, a story, an illustration, that does his heart good, hasten to give it.
     Samuel Taylor Coleridge


The point of quotations is that one can use another’s words to be insulting.
     Amanda Cross


Too much traffic with a quotation book begets a conviction of ignorance in a sensitive reader. Not only is there a mass of quotable stuff he never quotes, but an even vaster realm of which he has never seen.
     Robertson Davies, "Dangerous Jewels"
     (Toronto Daily Star, 01 October 1960)


One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings.


The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations.
     Benjamin Disraeli


Immortality. I notice that as soon as writers broach this question they begin to quote. I hate quotation. Tell me what you know.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals


By necessity, by proclivity, and be delight, we all quote. In fact it is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims (1876)
     "Quotation and Originality"


Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it. Many will read the book before one thinks of quoting a passage. As soon as he has done this, that line will be quoted east and west.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims (1876)
     "Quotation and Originality"


A writer expresses himself in words that have been used before because they give his meaning better than he can give it himself, or because they are beautiful or witty, or because he expects them to touch a chord of association in his reader, or because he wishes to show that he is learned and well read. Quotations due to the last motive are invariably ill-advised; the discerning reader detects it and is contemptuous; the undiscerning is perhaps impressed, but even then is at the same time repelled, pretentious quotations being the surest road to tedium.
     Henry Watson Fowler and Francis George Fowler,
     A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926)


When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.
     Anatole France


Stronger than an army is a quotation whose time has come.
     W. I. E. Gates


People are clever, but almost no one ever devises an optimal quip precisely at the needed moment. Therefore, virtually all great one-liners are later inventions — words that people wished they had spouted, but failed to manufacture at the truly opportune instant.
     Stephen Jay Gould, Dinosaur in a Haystack (1995)
     "The Celestial Mechanic and the Earthly Naturalist"


I improve on misquotation.
     Cary Grant


Have you ever observed that we pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted than when we read it in the original author?
     Philip G. Hamerton


A book of quotations . . . can never be complete.
     Robert M. Hamilton


Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.
     Samuel Johnson


As long as there have been quotes, there have been misquotes. As a general rule, Misquotes drive out real quotes. This is the Immutable Law of Misquotation. Misquotation takes three basic forms: (1) putting the wrong words in the right mouth; (2) putting the right words in the wrong mouth; and (3) putting the wrong words in the wrong mouth.
     Ralph Keyes, "Nice Guys Finish Last Seventh": False Phrases,
     Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations (1992)


In general it's an old tradition for political figures to borrow material wherever they find it. Politicians often complain about other people putting words in their mouths. More often it's the other way around. More often politicians put other people's words in their own mouths.
     Ralph Keyes, "Nice Guys Finish Last Seventh": False Phrases,
     Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations (1992)


He wrapped himself in quotations — as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of emperors.
     Rudyard Kipling, Many Inventions (1893)
     "The Finest Story in the World"


Be careful — with quotations, you can damn anything.
     Andre Malraux, anti-censorship address (12 November 1966)


The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
     W. Somerset Maugham


After all, all he did was string together a lot of old, well-known quotations.
     H. L. Mencken, "On Shakespeare"


I quote others only the better to express myself.
     Michel de Montaigne, Essays (1580)


I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things.
     Dorothy Parker, "The Little Hours" (1944)


Yes, well, let me tell you that if nobody had ever learned to quote, very few people would be in love with La Rochefoucauld. I bet you I don't know ten souls who read him without a middleman.
     Dorothy Parker, "The Little Hours" (1944)


An author should be delighted, not annoyed when he hears himself persistently misquoted. He could receive no higher compliment. It proves that the world has frequent and urgent need of his thoughts and will rather change the manner in which he expresses them than do without the things expressed.
     Hesketh Pearson


Misquotation is, in fact, the pride and privilege of the learned. A widely-read man never quotes accurately, for the rather obvious reason that he has read too widely.
     Hesketh Pearson, Common Misquotations (1934)


Rees's First Law of Quotations: When in doubt, ascribe all quotations to George Bernard Shaw.
     Nigel Rees


Rees's Second Law of Quotations: However sure you are that you have attributed a quotation correctly, an earlier source will be pointed out to you.
     Nigel Rees


I always have a quotation for everything — it saves original thinking.
     Dorothy Leigh Sayers


A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.
     Dorothy Leigh Sayers, Gaudy Night (1936)


I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
     George Bernard Shaw


Though collecting quotations could be considered as merely ironic mimetism — victimless collecting, as it were ... in a world that is well on its way to becoming one vast quarry, the collector becomes someone engaged in a pious work of salvage. The course of modern history having already sapped the traditions and shattered the living wholes in which precious objects once found their place, the collector may now in good conscience go about excavating the choicer, more emblamatic fragments.
     Susan Sontag, On Photography (1977)
     "Melancholy Objects"


... famous remarks are very seldom quoted correctly.
     Simeon Strunsky, No Mean City (1944)


That's as well said, as if I had said it myself.
     Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation (1738)


Quotations are for people who are not saying things worth quoting.


I have lifted this speech from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. If more people would acknowledge that they got their pearls of wisdom from that book instead of the original, it might clear the air.
     Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus (1990)


In the dying world I come from, quotation is a national vice.
     Evelyn Waugh


An epigram often flashes light into regions where reason shines but dimly.
     Edwin Percy Whipple


Now we sit through Shakespeare in order to recognize the quotations.
     Oscar Wilde


"I must claim the quoter's privilege of giving only as much of the text as will suit my purpose," said Tan-Chun. "If I told you how it went on, I should end up by contradicting myself!"
     Cao Zhan



Quotations in Series


Cogito Ergo Sum

Cogito, ergo sum. — I think, therefore I am.
     René Descartes, Le Discours de la Mèthode (1637)


Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum. — "I think that I think, therefore, I think that I am."
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Cogito sum, ergo sum cogito. — I think I am. Therefore, I am . . . I think.
     George Carlin


Cogito ergo dim sum. — Therefore I think these are pork buns.
     Robert Byrne


Sum ergo cogito. — I am, therefore I think.
     Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche


Bibo, ergo sum. — I drink, therefore I am.
     Fredirect Toyou


Cogito ergo singulum. — I think, therefore I'm single.
     Lizz Winstead


Cogito ergo spud. — I think, therefore I yam.


Cogito eggo sum. — I think, therefore I am a waffle.


I don't think, so, therefore I'm probably not.

I get mail; therefore I am.
     Dilbert in Scott Adams, Bring Me the Head of Willy the Mailboy! ("Dilbert," 1995)

I think, therefore I am. But I'm micromanaged, therefore I am not.
     Dilbert in Scott Adams, Casual Day Has Gone Too Far ("Dilbert," 1997)


Lives of Desperation

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)


Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation.
     James Thurber, Fables for Our Time (1943)


People used to live lives of quiet desperation — now they go on talk shows!
     Bob Thaves, "Frank and Ernest" (comic strip, July 21, 1993)



On the Shoulders of Giants

Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness on sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.
     John of Salisbury, Metalogicon (1159)


Dwarfs on the shoulders of giants see further than the giants themselves.
     Stella Didacus, Eximii verbi divini CONCIONATORIS
     ORDINNIS MINORUM Regularis Observantiae (1622)


A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself.
     Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621-1651)
     "Democritus to the Reader"


A dwarf on a giant's shoulders sees farther of the two.
     George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651)


If I have seen [a little] further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
     Isaac Newton, letter to Robert Hooke (5 February 1676)
     in H. W. Turnbull (ed.), Correspondence of Isaac Newton (1959)
     [Since Hooke was rather short, this may not have been intended as a compliment.]


Newton won the race in part because, as he put it, he had stood on the shoulders of giants and in part because he just happened to be the biggest giant of them all.
     Alan Cromer, Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science (1993)


In the sciences, we are now uniquely privileged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand.
     Gerald Holton


If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders.
     Hal Abelson



That's Not What I Said!

You can fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
     Abraham Lincoln attributed, but he probably never said it
     cf. Ralph Keyes, "Nice Guys Finish Last Seventh" (1992)


The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
     Socrates, attributed, but he never said this
     cf. Wesley D. Camp (ed.), What a Piece of Work Is Man! (1990)


Because that's where the money is.
     Willie Sutton, explaining why he robbed banks, but he never said it
     cf. Ralph Keyes, "Nice Guys Finish Last Seventh" (1992)


When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.
     Mark Twain, attributed, but highly doubtful,
     since Twain was 12 when his father died
     cf. Ralph Keyes, "Nice Guys Finish Last Seventh" (1992)


"'I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it' was his attitude now."
     Voltaire, attributed; this paraphrase of Voltaire's philosophy
     appears in a biography by Evelyn Beatrice Hall (S. G. Tallentyre,
     pseudonym), and is often attributed directly to Voltaire
     cf. Ralph Keyes, "Nice Guys Finish Last Seventh" (1992)