Timeless Truths

“Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before.”
– “On Lying in Bed,” Tremendous Trifles

“A change of opinions is almost unknown in an elderly military man.”
– Lord Kitchener

“The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.”
– “A Defense of Humilities,” The Defendant

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”
– “The Five Deaths of the Faith,” The Everlasting Man

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” Click To Tweet

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”
– Illustrated London News, April 19, 1930

“Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance.”
– The Speaker, Dec. 15, 1900

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.”
– “On Running After Ones Hat,” All Things Considered

“What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism.”
– “On Bright Old Things and Other Things,” Sidelights on New London and Newer New York

“He is a [sane] man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head.”
– “The Travellers in State,” Tremendous Trifles

“Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.”
– “The Miser and His Friends,” A Miscellany of Men

“Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.”
– “The Six Philosophers,”The Man Who was Thursday

“The simplification of anything is always sensational.”
– “Tolstoy and the Cult of Simplicity,” Varied Types

“Customs are generally unselfish. Habits are nearly always selfish.”
– Illustrated London NewsJan. 11, 1908

“I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.”
– Illustrated London News, June 3, 1922

“The center of every man’s existence is a dream. Death, disease, insanity, are merely material accidents, like a toothache or a twisted ankle. That these brutal forces always besiege and often capture the citadel does not prove that they are the citadel.”
– “Sir Walter Scott,” Twelve Types

“The person who is really in revolt is the optimist, who generally lives and dies in a desperate and suicidal effort to persuade other people how good they are.”
– Introduction to The Defendant

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”
– “The War of the Usurpers,” A Short History of England

“All the exaggerations are right, if they exaggerate the right thing.”
– “On Gargoyles,” Alarms and Discursions

“The comedy of man survives the tragedy of man.”
– Illustrated London News, Feb. 10, 1906

“We have had no good comic operas of late, because the real world has been more comic than any possible opera.”
– Illustrated London News, Jan. 17, 1931

“When learned men begin to use their reason, then I generally discover that they haven’t got any.”
– Illustrated London News, Nov. 7, 1908

“The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.”
– Broadcast talk, June 11, 1935

“Aesthetes never do anything but what they are told.”
– “The Love of Lead,” Lunacy and Letters

“The aesthete aims at harmony rather than beauty. If his hair does not match the mauve sunset against which he is standing, he hurriedly dyes his hair another shade of mauve. If his wife does not go with the wall-paper, he gets a divorce.”
– Illustrated London News,  Dec. 25, 1909

“The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.” – Illustrated London News, Oct. 28, 1922

“Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of ‘touching’ a man’s heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it.” – “Charles II,” Twelve Types

“Man is always something worse or something better than an animal; and a mere argument from animal perfection never touches him at all. Thus, in sex no animal is either chivalrous or obscene. And thus no animal invented anything so bad as drunkeness – or so good as drink.”
– “Wine When it is Red,” All Things Considered

“When we step into the family, by the act of being born, we do step into a world which is incalculable, into a world which has its own strange laws, into a world which could do without us, into a world we have not made. In other words, when we step into the family we step into a fairy-tale.”
– “On Certain Modern Writers and the Institution of the Family,” Heretics

“A strange fanaticism fills our time: the fanatical hatred of morality, especially of Christian morality.”
– “The Moral Philosophy of Meredith,” A Handful of Authors

“A strange fanaticism fills our time: the fanatical hatred of morality, especially of Christian morality.” Click To Tweet

“A fad or heresy is the exaltation of something which even if true, is secondary or temporary in its nature against those things which are essential and eternal, those things which always prove themselves true in the long run. In short, it is the setting up of the mood against the mind.”
– William Blake

“The sort of man who admires Italian art while despising Italian religion is a tourist and a cad.”
– Roman Converts, Dublin Review, Jan-Mar. 1925

“I might inform those humanitarians who have a nightmare of new and needless babies (for some humanitarians have that sort of horror of humanity) that if the recent decline in the birth-rate were continued for a certain time, it might end in there being no babies at all; which would console them very much.”
– Illustrated London News, May 24, 1930