Lord Byron (1788–1824)
Quotations


But hatred is a much more delightful passion & never cloys; it will make us all happy for the rest of our lives.

A true voluptuary will never abandon his mind to the grossness of reality. It is by exalting the earthly, the material, the physique of our pleasures, by veiling these ideas, by forgetting them altogether, or, at least, never naming them hardly to one’s self, that we alone can prevent them from disgusting.

I cannot help thinking that the menace of Hell makes as many devils as the severe penal codes of inhuman humanity make villains.

The place is very well & quiet & the children only scream in a low voice.

But what is Hope? Nothing but the paint on the face of Existence; the least touch of truth rubs it off, and then we see what a hollow-cheeked harlot we have got hold of.

Man is born passionate of body, but with an innate though secret tendency to the love of Good in his main-spring of Mind. But God help us all! It is at present a sad jar of atoms.

A Turkish bath—that marble paradise of sherbert and sodomy.

It has been said that the immortality of the soul is a “grand peut-être”—but still it is a grand one. Everybody clings to it—the stupidest, and dullest, and wickedest of human bipeds is still persuaded that he is immortal.

It will be difficult for me not to make sport for the Philistines by pulling down a house or two, since when I once take pen in hand, I must say what comes uppermost, or fling it away.

The way to be immortal (I mean not to die at all) is to have me for your heir. I recommend you to put me in your will and you will see that (as long as I live at least) you will never even catch cold.

I am sure of nothing so little as my own intentions.

There is, in fact, no law or government at all; and it is wonderful how well things go on without them.

A material resurrection seems strange and even absurd except for purposes of punishment, and all punishment which is to revenge rather than correct must be morally wrong, and when the World is at an end, what moral or warning purpose can eternal tortures answer?

Such writing is a sort of mental masturbation. . . . I don’t mean that he [John Keats] is indecent but viciously soliciting his own ideas into a state which is neither poetry nor anything else but a Bedlam vision produced by raw pork and opium.

With just enough of learning to misquote.

It is not one man nor a million, but the spirit of liberty that must be preserved. The waves which dash upon the shore are, one by one, broken, but the ocean conquers nevertheless. It overwhelms the Armada, it wears out the rock. In like manner, whatever the struggle of individuals, the great cause will gather strength.

When one subtracts from life infancy (which is vegetation), sleep, eating and swilling, buttoning and unbuttoning—how much remains of downright existence? The summer of a dormouse.

If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad. As to that regular, uninterrupted love of writing . . . I do not understand it. I feel it as a torture, which I must get rid of, but never as a pleasure. On the contrary, I think composition a great pain.

My turn of mind is so given to taking things in the absurd point of view, that it breaks out in spite of me every now and then.

I am acquainted with no immaterial sensuality so delightful as good acting.

And yet a little tumult, now and then, is an agreeable quickener of sensation; such as a revolution, a battle, or an adventure of any lively description.

It is odd but agitation or contest of any kind gives a rebound to my spirits and sets me up for a time.

Is there anything beyond?—who knows? He that can’t tell. Who tells there is? He who don’t know. And when shall he know? Perhaps, when he don’t expect it, and generally when he don’t wish it. In this last respect, however, all are not alike; it depends a good deal upon education, something upon nerves and habits—but most upon digestion.

It was one of the deadliest and heaviest feelings of my life to feel that I was no longer a boy. From that moment I began to grow old in my own esteem—and in my esteem age is not estimable.

I shall soon be six-and-twenty. Is there anything in the future that can possibly console us for not being always twenty-five?

My time has been passed viciously and agreeably; at thirty-one so few years months days hours or minutes remain that “Carpe Diem” is not enough. I have been obliged to crop even the seconds—for who can trust to tomorrow?

I always looked to about thirty as the barrier of any real or fierce delight in the passions, and determined to work them out in the younger ore and better veins of the mine—and I flatter myself (perhaps) that I have pretty well done so—and now the dross is coming.

There is something Pagan in me that I cannot shake off. In short, I deny nothing, but doubt everything.

What makes a regiment of soldiers a more noble object of view than the same mass of mob? Their arms, their dresses, their banners, and the art and artificial symmetry of their position and movements.

I see not much difference between ourselves & the Turks, save that we have foreskins and they none, that they have long dresses and we short, and that we talk much and they little. In England the vices in fashion are whoring & drinking, in Turkey, sodomy and smoking.

A bargain is in its very essence a hostile transaction . . . do not all men try to abate the price of all they buy? I contend that a bargain even between brethren is a declaration of war.

All are inclined to believe what they covet, from a lottery-ticket up to a passport to Paradise.

Here lies interred in the eternity of the past, from whence there is no resurrection for the days—whatever there may be for the dust—the thirty-third year of an ill-spent life, which, after a lingering disease of many months sank into a lethargy, and expired, January 22d, 1821, A.D. leaving a successor inconsolable for the very loss which occasioned its existence.

I really am the meekest and mildest of men since Moses (though the public and mine “excellent wife” cannot find it out).

It is by far the most elegant worship, hardly excepting the Greek mythology. What with incense, pictures, statues, altars, shrines, relics, and the real presence, confession, absolution,—there is something sensible to grasp at. Besides, it leaves no possibility of doubt; for those who swallow their Deity, really and truly, in transubstantiation, can hardly find anything else otherwise than easy of digestion.

The lapse of ages changes all things—time, language, the earth, the bounds of the sea, the stars of the sky, and everything “about, around, and underneath” man, except man himself.

Out of chaos God made a world, and out of high passions comes a people.

I have a great mind to believe in Christianity for the mere pleasure of fancying I may be damned.

Her great merit is finding out mine—there is nothing so amiable as discernment.

What an antithetical mind!—tenderness, roughness—delicacy, coarseness—sentiment, sensuality—soaring and grovelling, dirt and deity—all mixed up in that one compound of inspired clay!

Why I came here, I know not; where I shall go it is useless to enquire—in the midst of myriads of the living & the dead worlds, stars, systems, infinity, why should I be anxious about an atom?

The French courage proceeds from vanity—the German from phlegm—the Turkish from fanaticism & opium—the Spanish from pride—the English from coolness—the Dutch from obstinacy—the Russian from insensibility—but the Italian from anger.

Reviews and magazines are at best ephemeral & superficial reading. Who thinks of the grand article of last year in any given review?

I have seen a thousand graves opened, and always perceived that whatever was gone, the teeth and hair remained of those who had died with them. Is not this odd? They go the very first things in youth & yet last the longest in the dust.

It is very iniquitous to make me pay my debts—you have no idea of the pain it gives one.

This journal is a relief. When I am tired . . . out comes this, and down goes everything. But I can’t read it over—and God knows what contradictions it may contain. If I am sincere with myself (but I fear one lies more to one’s self than to any one else) every page should confute, refute, and utterly abjure its predecessor.

I am about to be married, and am of course in all the misery of a man in pursuit of happiness.

Cool, and quite English, imperturbable.

I am sure my bones would not rest in an English grave, or my clay mix with the earth of that country. I believe the thought would drive me mad on my death-bed could I suppose that any of my friends would be base enough to convey my carcass back to her soil. I would not even feed her worms if I could help it.

There is no freedom in Europe—that’s certain—it is besides a worn out portion of the globe.

Your letter of excuses has arrived. I receive the letter but do not admit the excuses except in courtesy, as when a man treads on your toes and begs your pardon—the pardon is granted, but the joint aches, especially if there is a corn upon it.

It is useless to tell one not to reason but to believe—you might as well tell a man not to wake but sleep.

My great comfort is, that the temporary celebrity I have wrung from the world has been in the very teeth of all opinions and prejudices. I have flattered no ruling powers; I have never concealed a single thought that tempted me.

All farewells should be sudden, when forever.

But I hate things all fiction . . . there should always be some foundation of fact for the most airy fabric—and pure invention is but the talent of a liar.

Romances I ne’er read like those I have seen.

Constancy . . . that small change of love, which people exact so rigidly, receive in such counterfeit coin, and repay in baser metal.

The reason that adulation is not displeasing is that, though untrue, it shows one to be of consequence enough, in one way or other, to induce people to lie.

We have progressively improved into a less spiritual species of tenderness—but the seal is not yet fixed though the wax is preparing for the impression.

A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and Champagne, the only true feminine & becoming viands.

I have had, and may have still, a thousand friends, as they are called, in life, who are like one’s partners in the waltz of this world—not much remembered when the ball is over.

Friendship is Love without his wings!

A mistress never is nor can be a friend. While you agree, you are lovers; and when it is over, anything but friends.

I have always laid it down as a maxim—and found it justified by experience—that a man and a woman make far better friendships than can exist between two of the same sex—but then with the condition that they never have made or are to make love to each other.

I have a notion that gamblers are as happy as most people, being always excited; women, wine, fame, the table, even ambition, sate now & then, but every turn of the card & cast of the dice keeps the gambler alive—besides one can game ten times longer than one can do anything else.

I really cannot know whether I am or am not the Genius you are pleased to call me, but I am very willing to put up with the mistake, if it be one. It is a title dearly enough bought by most men, to render it endurable, even when not quite clearly made out, which it never can be till the Posterity, whose decisions are merely dreams to ourselves, has sanctioned or denied it, while it can touch us no further.

I do detest everything which is not perfectly mutual.



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