Quotes on life & death, civil rights, religion, atheism, science, evolution, the media, stupidity and more
category list
home page
current politics and stuff
Feb 2012

webmaster [at] capecodhistory.us


     Here is a collection of quotes that I like, from many sources. They are semi-organized by topic, and partially by author. Some are funny, some inspirational, some appalling, some thought provoking. In general, I think they are a defense of freedom of expression, civil rights, and rationality.

    A British co-worker told me that Brits are taught that Americans speak in cliches. I don't doubt it, but just wonder if that's less true of Europeans. And who collected Bartlett's Quotations, anyway?

"Throughout his service in the Navy, Stephen had observed the steady, almost mechanical, and as it were obligatory facetiousness that pervaded the various gunrooms and wardrooms he had known; the stream of small merriment, long-established jokes, proverbial sayings and more or less droll allusions that made up so large a part of his shipmates' daily intercourse." - Patrick O'Brian, Desolation Island, p.294

    There are lots of misattributions on the web - this has gone on for centuries in print, but now the click of a mouse spreads them. Please tell me when I seem to have done that, and suggest sources for the Unknowns. I've probably mixed up attributions to Ambrose Beirce and H.L. Mencken, and haven't made time to sort them out.

    Ben Franklin and Abraham Lincoln were old favorite American default attributions when the real source was unknown, and I've seen that this is still happening. Also, it's very common now to ascribe quotes, even recent ones, to favorite ethnic groups (e.g. "old Chinese saying"). I noticed many misattributions or wholly imaginary quotes ascribed to political pariahs (eg Stalin, Boss Tweed) after the Supreme Court elected Bush Lite.

    Quotes and last words are often fabricated by friends and enemies. Religious zealots, in particular, fabricate deathbed confessions and/or recantations of heresy when they can't coerce them. The imaginary confession of Charles Darwin is an infamous example, and I've seen Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram letters-to-the-editor that cited it as "proof of the fallacy of evolution." (As if someone changing his mind changes the facts.)

This page has Current Events, Quotes on Quotes, and Sources. Other topics are on separate pages.
quotes on quotes, quote sources

history, advice on life, and death, criticism
men vs women, kids
rights and responsibilities,
superstition and reason,
nut cases and jingoism,
separation of church and state,
science, computers and education
news media, Worcester fishwrap and nutters
stupidity, bumper stickers & one-liners

quotable people

Ambrose Bierce, Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, Aldo Leopold, Abraham Lincoln, H.L. Mencken, Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde

Please send helpful and polite comments. Other comments are subject to posting and their authors to ridicule.

recent events:
The 2012 election campaign has already been full of stupid and horrid crap from the Rethuglicans, but I haven't organized it yet.

Mencken"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their  heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron" - H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

    Reading the columnists about the election, it seems that the famous exit-polling question abut "moral values" was badly phrased. It works for Mrs Grundy  an inarticulate response in favor of the status quo, or a roll-back to the 1950s (or for some of them, back to the 1650s.) After all, everyone is in favor of "moral values"  they just disagree on what that means and which ones are most important. When I think about it in those terms: It's immoral to keep a conspicuously  ignorant, flagrantly lying, arrogantly superstitious fascist in a position of power.

Peace may be signed between two nations
But for protection of your rights
My friend it's always battle stations

    - James Keelaghan, Small Rebellions

Why, of course the people don't want to go to war, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders... All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country. - Herman Goering, at the Nuremburg trials 1

Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency... Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real. - General Douglas MacArthur

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. - James Madison

quotes on quotes
John Bartlett

I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers,
and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own. - John Bartlett

There's an old proverb that says just about whatever you want to say.

It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive. - Mark TwainFollowing the Equator

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. - Shakespeare

A witty saying proves nothing. - Voltaire

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

I often quote myself; it adds spice to my conversation. - G. B. Shaw

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

Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another. - Ambrose Bierce

A proverb is the wisdom of many and the wit of one. - John Russell

Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something. - Pancho Villa (1877-1923), last words

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur. (Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.)

Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.  - Groucho Marx

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 J. Hamerton

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. - Winston Churchill

If we read the words and attitudes of the past through the pompous "wisdom" of the considered moral judgments of the present, we will find nothing but error. - Mark Twain

Samuel Beckett once said: 'Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.'On the other hand, he SAID it. - Art Spiegelman


Sites come and go, so there are no guarantees these links work. Last checked Feb 2012

1. quoted by John R MacArthur, Boston Globe, 3/9/2003

3. Bilderburg meeting. Unbeknownst to Kissinger, his speech was taped by a Swiss delegate to the meeting.
also: East Timor- Kissinger and Ford visited Jakarta in early December, 1975. Less than 48 hours after they left, Indonesia invaded East Timor, beginning a genocidal campaign that would claim the lives of over 200,000 East Timorese. Philip Liechty, the CIA desk officer in Jakarta, said, "They came and gave Suharto the green light. We were ordered to give the Indonesian military everything they wanted. I saw all the hard intelligence; the place was a free-fire zone. Women and children were herded into school buildings that were set alight - and all because we didn't want some little country being neutral or leftist at the United Nations."


Humanists of Utah quotes  - an excellent set

infidels.org - a large organized site
Aphorisms Galore
Generation Terrorists
Quotes for the Godless
Regan's quotes
Faisal - good collection
Thinking Quotes- big interesting freethought site
http://www.kudo4you.com/ alphabetically listed!
Bartlett's quotations
Rack Jite - an enormous, interesting but self righteous liberal political site
http://www.mineun.com/pages/quoteunquote.htm - repeats and some misquotes, but good overall
http://www.io.com/~gibbonsb/mencken.html great links to epigrams and books
BrainyQuote large interesting collection
Pharyngula's Infidel Quotes
The Last Word, by Gordon Haff

There are dozens or even hundreds of "Murphy's Laws" sites with mostly the same crap, (including a few posted here.)

Some quotes I've actually typed in come from:

A Sand County Almanac
The Grim Reaper's Book of Days
Shrub. The short but happy political life of George W. Bush
Science Fictionisms. William Rotsler. Salt Lake City: Gibbs-Smith. 1995
Rights of Man. Thomas Paine. 1791-1792
A Diary in America, with remarks on its institutions
. 1838. Frederick Marryat
Free Inquiry. the journal of the Council for Secular Humanism

 A bad source is quotes.com - a jumble of submitted stuff and misattributions.