Humanities Information

To Quote or Not to Quote


"By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote." Quotation and Originality 1876 Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)American poet and essayist

Should we express our own thoughts in our own words? Or should we delight in repeating the sentiments of others? Disraeli, Johnson, Behan, Churchill, Wilde, and Emerson all voice their opinions in quotes on quotes. Even the book of Proverbs stakes out a position.

* "The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation." Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) British politician and statesman

* "Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world." Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English author, critic

* "A quotation in a speech, article or book is like a rifle in the hands of an infantryman. It speaks with authority." Brendan Francis Behan (1923-1964) Irish author and poet

* "It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations." Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman, soldier, and author

* "Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language." Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English author, critic

* "Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it." Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American poet and essayist

* "He is a benefactor of mankind who contracts the great rules of life into short sentences, that may be easily impressed on the memory, and so recur habitually to the mind." Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English author, critic

* "A man finds joy in giving an apt reply, and how good is a timely word." Proverbs 15:23

With all those persuasive pro-quote quotations, you might think the non-quote crowd would run up a white flag and admit their mistake. Not so fast. They've got their advocates too!

* "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish author and wit

Not only Oscar Wilde, but Emerson too. Yes, the same Ralph Waldo Emerson who praised quotes, also said: "I hate quotations, tell me what you know."

Still others find humor in quotes:

* "I often quote myself; it adds spice to my conversation." George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish playwright and critic

* "What's the use of a good quotation if you can't change it?" Doctor Who

So, where do you take your stand? All in all, I side with the Disraeli - Johnson pro-quote gang. Quotes, at their best, are either funny tidbits or juicy little morsels of wisdom or inspiration. Sample these witty quotes from Will Rogers, Mark Twain, and Oscar Wilde and try not to smile.

* "Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock." Will Rogers

* "He was a solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg who looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity." Mark Twain

* "As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied." Oscar Wilde

Would you like to discover the secrets of human nature? Antoninus, Bacon, Outlaw, Churchill, Colton, Publilius Syrus, and Barrie unlock the mystery with these insights and warnings:

* "Our life is what our thoughts make it." Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (188-217)

* "Chiefly the mold of a man's fortune is in his own hands." Frances Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, essayist, and statesman

* "Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."
Frank Outlaw

* "Success is going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm." Sir Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman, soldier, and author

* "No company is preferable to bad. We are more apt to catch the vices of others than virtues, as disease is far more contagious than health." Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832) Writer, author

* "Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so is he." Maxim 1073 Publilius Syrus (first century)

* "Life is a long lesson in humility." James M. Barrie (1860-1937) Scottish dramatist, novelist

Wilson Mizner (1876-1933) once said: "Life's a tough proposition, and the first hundred years are the hardest." Point well taken, Mizner. So perhaps a few "words to live by" quotes will make our burden a little lighter and guide us along the path. Churchill, Lombardi, Hazlitt, Jesus, Johnson, Proverbs, and Lincoln volunteer their advice.

* "Never, never, never, never give up." Sir Winston S. Churchill

* "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence." Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) American football coach

* "If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory." William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English essayist

* "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Matthew 7:12 Jesus Christ (c.6B.C.- c.A.D.30)

* "Whatever you have, spend less." Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English author

* "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else and not your own lips." Proverbs 27:2

* And Abraham Lincoln sums our best of the best wisdom quotes with: "Whatever you are, be a good one."

For fun, inspiration, or wisdom in a nutshell, it's hard to beat a good quote. Can your memorize one per day? Give it a try! Quotations just might become a lifelong love affair.

Mr. Boone is a sailor, author, webmaster, and cartoonist. His works include THE SAFETY LINE - EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, an apologetic study published 1998, and Victoria Station.us a popular joke, quote, cartoon web site. He is also a contri-butor to "Christian Living in the Mature Years" magazine, andauthor of the article "God's Billboards Invade Cyberspace."


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