Bernard Shaw Quotes
Bernard Shaw (he hated the "George" and never used it, either
personally or professionally) was born in 1856 in Dublin, in a lower-middle
class family of Scottish-Protestant ancestry. His father was a failed
corn-merchant, with a drinking problem and a squint (which Oscar Wilde's father,
a leading Dublin surgeon, tried unsuccessfully to correct); his mother was a
professional singer, the sole disciple of Vandeleur Lee, a voice teacher
claiming to have a unique and original approach to singing.
Shaw was just short of his sixteenth birthday, his mother left her husband and
son and moved with Vandeleur Lee to London, where the two set up a household,
along with Shaw's older sister Lucy (who later became a successful music hall
singer). Shaw remained in Dublin with his father, completing his schooling
(which he hated passionately), and working as a clerk for an estate office
(which he hated just as much as school).
may not be a accidental, then, that Shaw's plays, including Misalliance,
are filled with problematic parent-child relationships: with children who are
brought up in isolation from their parents; with foundlings, orphans, and
adopted heirs; and with parents who wrongly presume that they are entitled to
their children's obedience and affection.
1876, Shaw left Dublin and his father and moved to London, moving in with his
mother's menage. There he lived off of his mother and sister while
pursuing a career in journalism and writing. The first medium he tried as a
creative writer was prose, completing five novels (the first one appropriately
titled Immaturity) before any of them were published. He read
voraciously, in public libraries and in the British Museum reading room. And he
became involved in progressive politics. Standing on soapboxes, at Speaker's
Corner in Hyde Park and at socialist rallies, he learned to overcome his
stagefright and his stammer. And, to hold the attention of the crowd, he
developed an energetic and aggressive speaking style that is evident in all of
Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Shaw founded the Fabian Society, a socialist political
organization dedicated to transforming Britain into a socialist state, not by
revolution but by systematic progressive legislation, bolstered by persuasion
and mass education. The Fabian society would later be instrumental in founding
the London School of Economics and the Labour Party. Shaw lectured for the
Fabian Society, and wrote pamphlets on the progressive arts, including The
Perfect Wagnerite, an interpretation of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle, and The
Quintessence of Ibsenism, based on a series of lectures about the
progressive Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen. Meanwhile, as a journalist, Shaw
worked as an art critic, then as a music critic (writing under the pseudonym
"Corno di Bassetto"), and finally, from 1895 to 1898, as Theatre
Critic for the Saturday Review, where his reviews appeared over the
infamous initials "GBS."
1891, at the invitation of J.T. Grein, a merchant, theatre critic, and director
of a progressive private new-play society, The Independent Theatre, Shaw wrote
his first play, Widower's Houses. For the next twelve years, he wrote
close to a dozen plays, though he generally failed to persuade the managers of
the London Theatres to produce them. A few were produced abroad; one (Arms
and the Man) was produced under the auspices of an experimental management;
one (Mrs Warren's Profession) was censored by the Lord Chamberlain's
Examiner of Plays (the civil servant who, from 1737 until 1967, was empowered
with the prior censorship of all spoken drama in England); and several were
presented in single performances by private societies.
1898, after a serious illness, Shaw resigned as theatre critic, and moved out of
his mother's house (where he was still living) to marry Charlotte
Payne-Townsend, an Irish woman of independent means. Their marriage (quite
possibly sexually unconsummated) lasted until Charlotte's death in 1943.
1904, Harley Granville Barker, an actor, director and playwright twenty years
younger than Shaw who had appeared in a private theatre society's production of
Shaw's Candida, took over the management of the Court Theatre on Sloane
Square in Chelsea (outside of the "Theatreland" of the fashionable
West End) and set up it up as an experimental theatre specializing in new and
progressive drama. Over the next three seasons, Barker produced ten plays by
Shaw (with Barker officially listed as director, and with Shaw actually
directing his own plays), and Shaw began writing new plays with Barker's
management specifically in mind. Over the next ten years, all but one of Shaw's
plays (Pygmalion in 1914) was produced either by Barker or by Barker's
friends and colleagues in the other experimental theater managements around
England. With royalties from his plays, Shaw, who had become financially
independent on marrying, now became quite wealthy. Throughout the decade, he
remained active in the Fabian Society, in city government (he served as
vestryman for the London borough of St. Pancras), and on committees dedicated to
ending dramatic censorship, and to establishing a subsidized National Theatre.
outbreak of war in 1914 changed Shaw's life. For Shaw, the war represented the
bankruptcy of the capitalist system, the last desperate gasps of the
nineteenth-century empires, and a tragic waste of young lives, all under the
guise of patriotism. He expressed his opinions in a series of newspaper articles
under the title Common Sense About the War. These articles proved to be a
disaster for Shaw's public stature: he was treated as an outcast in his adopted
country, and there was even talk of his being tried for treason. His dramatic
output ground to a halt, and he succeeded in writing only one major play during
the war years, Heartbreak House, into which he projected his bitterness
and despair about British politics and society.
the war, Shaw found his dramatic voice again and rebuilt his reputation, first
with a series of five plays about "creative evolution," Back to
Methuselah, and then, in 1923, with Saint Joan. In 1925 he was
awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. (Not needing the money, he donated the
cash award towards an English edition of the Swedish playwright August
Strindberg, who had never been recognized with a Nobel prize by the Swedish
Academy). Shaw's plays were regularly produced and revived in London. Several
theatre companies in the United States began producing his plays, old and new,
on a regular basis (most notably the Theatre Guild in New York, and the Hedgerow
Theatre, in Rose Valley, PA, which became internationally known for its advocacy
of the plays of Shaw and the Irish playwright Sean O'Casey). In the late 1920s,
a Shaw festival was established in England (in a town, coincidentally, named
lived the rest of his life as an international celebrity, travelling the world,
continually involved in local and international politics. (He visited the Soviet
Union at the invitation of Stalin; and he came briefly to the United States at
the invitation of William Randolph Hearst, stepping on shore only twice, for a
lecture at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and for lunch at Hearst's
castle in San Simeon in California). And he continued to write thousands of
letters and over a dozen more plays.
In 1950, Shaw fell off a ladder while trimming a tree on his property at Ayot St. Lawrence in Hertfordshire, outside of London, and died a few days later of complications from the injury, at age 94. He had been at work on yet another play (Why She Would Not). In his will, he left a large part of his estate to a project to revamp the English alphabet. (Only one volume was published with the new "Shaw Alphabet": a parallel text edition of Shaw's Androcles and the Lion). After that project failed, the estate was divided among the other beneficiaries in his will: the National Gallery of Ireland, the British Museum, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Royalties from Shaw's plays (and from the musical My Fair Lady, based on Shaw's Pygmalion) have helped to balance the budgets of these institutions ever since.
A broken heart is a very pleasant complaint for a man in
London if he has a comfortable income.
A drama critic is a man who leaves no turn unstoned.
A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.
A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.
A genius can't be forced; nor can you make an ape an alderman.
A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
little learning is a dangerous thing, but we must take that risk because a
little is as much as our biggest heads can hold.
A man never tells you anything until you contradict him.
A man of great common sense and good taste - meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.
A mind of the calibre of mine cannot derive its nutriment from cows.
A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected
A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell.
Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.
All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
All great truths begin as blasphemies.
All my life affection has been showered upon me, and every forward step I have made has been taken in spite of it.
Am reserving two tickets for you for my premiere. Come and bring a friend - if you have one.
Americans adore me and will go on adoring me until I say something nice about them.
An asylum for the sane would be empty in America.
An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.
An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only uncomfortable.
An index is a great leveller.
Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends.
man who is not a communist at the age of twenty is a fool. Any man who is still
a communist at the age of thirty is an even bigger fool.
As well consult a butcher on the value of vegetarianism as a doctor on the worth of vaccination.
Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.—The Rejected Statement -- Part I, The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet, 1911
At present, intelligent people do not have their children vaccinated, nor does the law now compel them to. The result is not, as the Jennerians prophesied, the extermination of the human race by smallpox; on the contrary more people are now killed by vaccination than by smallpox.
Baseball has the great advantage over cricket of being sooner ended.
Beauty is a short-lived tyranny.
Beauty is all very well at first sight; but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?
Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
Beware of the man who does not return your blow: he neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself.
Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self interest backed by force.
Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.
Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men's imperfections, and conceal your own.
Clever and attractive women do not want to vote; they are willing to let men govern as long as they govern men.
Crude classifications and false generalizations are the curse of organized life.
Cruelty would be delicious if one could only find some sort of cruelty that didn't really hurt.
Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.
Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
Disobedience, the rarest and most courageous of the virtues, is seldom distinguished from neglect, the laziest and commonest of the vices.
Do not do unto others as you expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.
Do not try to live forever. You will not succeed.
Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty; what is the matter with the rich is Uselessness.
Don't order any black things. Rejoice in his memory; and be radiant: leave grief to the children. Wear violet and purple... Be patient with the poor people who will snivel: they don't know; and they think they will live for ever, which makes death a division instead of a bond.
Dying is a troublesome business: there is pain to be suffered, and it wrings one's heart; but death is a splendid thing - a warfare accomplished, a beginning all over again, a triumph. You can always see that in their faces.
England and America are two countries divided by the same language.
Every man over forty is a
Every person who has mastered a profession is a skeptic concerning it.
Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.
Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.
Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics.
Fashions are the only induced epidemics, proving that epidemics can be induced by tradesmen.
Few of us have vitality enough to make any of our instincts imperious.
Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.
Find enough clever things to say, and you're a Prime Minister; write them down and you're a Shakespeare.
First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.
about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done.
This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.
Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature!
General consultant to mankind.
Give a man health and a course to steer, and he'll never stop to trouble about whether he's happy or not.
Go anywhere in England where there are natural wholesome, contented and really nice English people; and what do you find? That the stables are the real centre of the household.
Go on writing plays, my boy, One of these days one of these London producers will go into his office and say to his secretary, Is there a play from Shaw this morning? and when she says, No, he will say, Well, then we'll have to start on the rubbish. And that's your chance, my boy.
Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated.
He didn't dare to, because his father had a weak heart and habitually threatened to drop dead if anybody hurt his feelings. You may have noticed that people with weak hearts are the tyrants of English married life.
He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.
He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
He's a man of great common sense and good taste - meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.
Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.
Hell is full of musical amateurs.
Here there is no hope, and consequently no duty, no work, nothing to be gained by praying, nothing to be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in short, is a place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself.
Home life is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo.
How can what an Englishman believes be hearsay? It is a contradiction in terms.
absolutely forbid any such outrage.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.
I believe in Michelangelo, Velasquez, and Rembrandt; in the might of design, the mystery of color, the redemption of all things by Beauty everlasting, and the message of Art that has made these hands blessed. Amen. Amen.
I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.
I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.
I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.
I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one's business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in his courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.
I enjoy convalescence. It is the part that makes the illness worth while.
I hate performers who debase great works of art; I long for their annihilation.
I hope you have lost your good looks, for while they last any fool can adore you, and the adoration of fools is bad for the soul. No, give me a ruined complexion and a lost figure and sixteen chins on a farmyard of Crow's feet and an obvious wig. Then you shall see me coming out strong.
I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.
I never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from people.
I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
I want to be all used up when I die.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake.
I'm an atheist and I thank God for it.
I'm not a teacher: only a fellow-traveller of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead - ahead of myself as well as you.
I'm only a beer teetotaller, not a champagne teetotaller.
I've posed nude for a photographer in the manner of Rodin's Thinker, but I merely looked constipated.
If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.
If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience
If parents would only realize how they bore their children!
If Pygmalion is not good enough for your friends with its own verbal music, their talent must be altogether extraordinary.
If you can say a thing with one stroke, unanswerably you have style; if not, you are at best a marchande de plaisir; a decorative litt' rateur, or a musical confectioner, or a painter of fans with cupids and cocottes. Handel had power.
If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance.
If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
If you injure your neighbour, better not do it by halves.
If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example.
If you strike a child take care that you strike it in anger, even at the risk of maiming it for life. A blow in cold blood neither can nor should be forgiven.
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
In a battle all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it's more dangerous to lose than to win.
In heaven an angel is nobody in particular.
In this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it.
In your Salvation shelter I saw poverty, misery, cold and hunger. You gave them bread and treacle and dreams of heaven. I give from thirty shillings a week to twelve thousand a year. They find their own dreams; but I look after the drainage.
Independence? That's middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.
It is a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and the beginning of peace.
It is a noteworthy fact that kicking and beating have played so considerable a part in the habits which necessity has imposed on mankind in past ages that the only way of preventing civilized men from beating and kicking their wives is to organize games in which they can kick and beat balls.
It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.
It is fortunate to come of distinguished ancestry. - It is not less so to be such that people do not care to inquire whether you are of high descent or not.
It is most unwise for people in love to marry.
It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics.
It was from Handel that I learned that style consists in force of assertion.
It's so hard to know what to do when one wishes earnestly to do right.
Lack of money is the root of all evil.
Let a short Act of Parliament be passed, placing all street musicians outside the protection of the law, so that any citizen may assail them with stones, sticks, knives, pistols or bombs without incurring any penalties.
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart's desire; the other is to get it.
Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.
Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.
Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
Life levels all men. Death reveals the eminent.
Life on board a pleasure steamer violates every moral and physical condition of healthy life except fresh air... It is a guzzling, lounging, gambling, dog's life. The only alternative to excitement is irritability.
is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else.
Man can climb to the highest summits, but he cannot dwell there long.
Man gives every reason for his conduct save one, every excuse for his crimes save one, every plea for his safety save one; and that one is his cowardice.
are more important than laws and upon them, to a great deal, the law depends....
Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can't sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can't sleep with the window open.
When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most
delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they
will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously
until death do them part.
Martyrdom: The only way a man can become famous without ability.
Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.
Men have to do some awfully mean things to keep up their respectability.
Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles.
Money is the most important thing in the world. It represents health, strength, honor, generosity and beauty as conspicuously as the want of it represents illness, weakness, disgrace, meanness and ugliness.
Most people do not pray; they only beg.
My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably.
My reputation grows with every failure.
Never fret for an only son, the idea of failure will never occur to him.
Never waste jealousy on a real man: it is the imaginary man that supplants us all in the long run.
New opinions often appear first as jokes and fancies, then as blasphemies and treason, then as questions open to discussion, and finally as established truths.
No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.
No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.
No man who is occupied in doing a very difficult thing, and doing it very well, ever loses his self-respect.
No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.
Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done.
Nothing is worth doing unless the consequences may be serious.
Oh, the tiger will love you. There is no sincerer love than the love of food.
Only Lawyers and mental defectives are automatically exempt for jury duty.
Only on paper has humanity yet achieved glory, beauty, truth, knowledge, virtue, and abiding love.
Orchestras only need to be sworn at, and a German is consequently at an advantage with them, as English profanity, except in America, has not gone beyond a limited technology of perdition.
Parentage is a very important profession, but no test of fitness for it is ever imposed in the interest of the children.
is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because
you were born in it.
Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.
are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in
circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and
look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family.
Political necessities sometime turn out to be political mistakes.
Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.
Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.
Property is organized robbery.
Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman, but believing what he read made him mad.
Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.
Science never solves a problem without creating ten more.
Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.
She had lost the art of conversation but not, unfortunately, the power of speech.
Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.
Socialism is the same as Communism, only better English
Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?
Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive.
Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.
Syllables govern the world.
Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.
The American Constitution, one of the few modern political documents drawn up by men who were forced by the sternest circumstances to think out what they really had to face, instead of chopping logic in a university classroom.
The art of government is the organisation of idolatry.
The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for
The British soldier can stand up to anything except the British War Office.
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
The faults of the burglar are the qualities of the financier.
The fickleness of the women I love is only equalled by the infernal constancy of the women who love me.
The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.
The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.
The great advantage of a hotel is that it is a refuge from home life.
The great danger of conversion in all ages has been that when the religion of the high mind is offered to the lower mind, the lower mind, feeling its fascination without understanding it, and being incapable of rising to it, drags it down to its level by degrading it.
The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another.
The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.
The longer I live the more I see that I am never wrong about anything, and that all the pains that I have so humbly taken to verify my notions have only wasted my time.
The love of economy is the root of all virtue.
The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time.
The man with a toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. The poverty-stricken man makes the same mistake about the rich man.
The minority is sometimes right; the majority always wrong.
The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.
The natural term of the affection of the human animal for its offspring is six years.
The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor; he took my measurement anew every time he saw me, while all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.
The only secrets are the secrets that keep themselves.
The only service a friend can really render is to keep up your courage by holding up to you a mirror in which you can see a noble image of yourself.
The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.
The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can't find them, make them.
The perfect love affair is one which is conducted entirely by post.
The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
The real Brahms is nothing more than a sentimental voluptuary. rather tiresomely addicted to dressing himself up as Handel or Beethoven and making a prolonged and intolerable noise.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are
happy or not. The cure for it is occupation.
The seven deadly sins... food, clothing, firing, rent, taxes,respectability and children. Nothing can lift those seven millstones from man's neck but money; and the spirit cannot soar until the millstones are lifted.
single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place
The test of a man or woman's breeding is how they behave in a quarrel.
The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.
The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech.
The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.
The true joy of life is being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown to the scrap heap being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish clod of ailments and grievances.
The truth is, hardly any of us have ethical energy enough for more than one really inflexible point of honor.
The utmost I can bear for myself in my best days is that I was one of the hundred best playwrights in the world, which is hardly a supreme distinction.
The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
There are only two classes in good society in England: the equestrian classes and the neurotic classes.
There are some experiences in life which should not be demanded twice from any man, and one of them is listening to the Brahms Requiem.
There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.
There is no satisfaction in hanging a man who does not object to it.
There is no sincerer love than the love of food.
is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.
Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.
To withhold deserved praise lest it should make its object conceited is as dishonest as to withhold payment of a just debt lest your creditor should spend the money badly.
Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out. That is what it is for. Spend all you have before you die; do not outlive yourself.
Very few people can afford to be poor.
Virtue is insufficient temptation.
Vivisection is a social evil because if it advances human knowledge, it does so at the expense of human character.
We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.
We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.
We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume
wealth without producing it.
We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.
We must always think about things, and we must think about things as they are, not as they are said to be.
already established what you are, ma'am. Now we're just haggling over the price.
What Englishman will give his mind to politics as long as he can afford to keep a motor car?
What is the most precious, the most exciting smell awaiting you in the house when you return to it after a dozen years or so? The smell of roses, you think? No, moldering books.
What is virtue but the Trade Unionism of the married?
What is wrong with priests and popes is that instead of being apostles and saints, they are nothing but empirics who say I know instead of I am learning, and pray for credulity and inertia as wise men pray for skepticism and activity.
What we call education and culture is for the most part nothing but the substitution of reading for experience, of literature for life, of the obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real.
What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.
When a man says money can do anything, that settles it: he hasn't got any.
When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport; when the tiger wants to murder him, he calls it ferocity. The distinction between crime and justice is no greater.
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.
When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them. But when they are away, we console ourselves for their absence by dwelling on their vices.
When the military man approaches, the world locks up its spoons and packs off its womankind.
When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal and exhausting condition until death do them part.
When your eyes are fixed in the stare of unconsciousness, and your throat coughs the last gasping breath - as one dragged in the dark to a great precipice - what assistance are a wife and child?
Which painting in the National Gallery would I save if there was a fire? The one nearest the door of course.
Why, except as a means of livelihood, a man should desire to act on the stage when he has the whole world to act in, is not clear to me.
Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't!
Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.
are going to let the fear of poverty govern you life and your reward will be
that you will eat, but you will not live.
You can always tell an old soldier by the inside of his holsters and cartridge boxes. The young ones carry pistols and cartridges; the old ones, grub.
You cannot be a hero without being a coward.
You have to choose between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the government. And, with due respect to these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.
You see things; and you say Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say Why not?
You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.
Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.
Youth is wasted on the young.