Archive for October, 2012



I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908)



We haven’t all had the good fortune to be ladies; we haven’t all been generals, or poets, or statesmen; but when the toast works down to the babies, we stand on common ground.

Mark Twain, answering a toast, “To the Babies,” at a banquet in honor of General U.S. Grant (1879)



Civilization, as we know it, is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbour.

Arnold J. Toynbee, Civilization on Trial (1948)



Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will—whatever we may think.

Lawrence Durrell, Bitter Lemons (1957)


so small a number

It may be doubted whether so small a number of men ever employed so short a space of time with greater and more lasting effects upon the history of the world.

George Otto Trevelyan, The American Revolution, vol. 2 (1905)*

*The three-volume set was published in 1905; Volume 2 may have been published earlier on its own.


the best sailor

He is the best sailor who can steer within the fewest points of the wind, and extract a motive power out of the greatest obstacles.

Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849)



The gods we worship write their names on our faces, be sure of that. And we will worship something—have no doubt of that either. We may think that our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of the heart—but that will out. That which dominates our imagination and our thoughts will determine our life and character. Therefore it behooves us to be careful what we are worshiping, for what we are worshiping we are becoming.

Author Unknown, unsourced

N.B.: This quote is generally attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I did a fair amount of research and could not find it in any of his writings.



…I want / to think again of dangerous and noble things. / I want to be light and frolicsome. / I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, / as though I had wings.

Mary Oliver, “Starlings in Winter” in Owls and Other Fantasies (2003)



He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.

Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)


holding the universe together

She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.

J.D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew” (1948)



Before it’s too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late.

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake (2004)


ships at a distance

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)



I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.

Eric Roth (screenwriter), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The film is based on the story by F. Scott. Fitzgerald; the quote is from the film, not the book. (2008)



Traffic was like a bad dog. It wasn’t important to look both ways when crossing the street; it was important to not show fear.

P. J. O’Rourke, All the Trouble in the World (1994)

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