Jerome K. Jerome
- It is always the best policy to speak the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.
- There are two kinds of clocks. There is the clock that is always wrong, and that knows it is wrong, and glories in it; and there is the clock that is always right — except when you rely upon it, and then it is more wrong than you would think a clock could be in a civilized country.
- There are the goods; if you want them, you can have them. If you do not want them, they would almost rather that you did not come and talk about them.
- Nothing—so it seems to me...is more beautiful than the love that has weathered the storms of life. ... The love of the young for the young, that is the beginning of life. But the love of the old for the old, that is the beginning of—of things longer.
- "The Passing of the Third Floor Back" (1908)
- I want a house that has got over all its troubles; I don't want to spend the rest of my life bringing up a young and inexperienced house.
- They and I (1909), Ch. 2
- It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen.
- "On Being Idle"
- I attribute the quarrelsome nature of the Middle Ages young men entirely to the want of the soothing weed.
- "On Being Idle"
- Love is like the measles; we all have to go through it. Also like the measles, we take it only once...No, we never sicken with love twice. Cupid spends no second arrow on the same heart.
- "On Being in Love"
- A boy's love comes from a full heart; a man's is more often the result of a full stomach. Indeed, a man's sluggish current may not be called love, compared with the rushing fountain that wells up when a boy's heart is struck with the heavenly rod. If you would taste love, drink of the pure stream that youth pours out at your feet. Do not wait till it has become a muddy river before you stoop to catch its waves.
- "On Being in Love"
- There have been a good many funny things said and written about hardupishness, but the reality is not funny, for all that. It is not funny to have to haggle over pennies. It isn't funny to be thought mean and stingy. It isn't funny to be shabby and to be ashamed of your address. No, there is nothing at all funny in poverty — to the poor.
- "On Being Hard Up"
- It is easy enough to say that poverty is no crime. No; if it were men wouldn't be ashamed of it. It is a blunder, though, and is punished as such. A poor man is despised the whole world over.
- "On Being Hard Up"
- All is vanity and everybody's vain. Women are terribly vain. So are men — more so, if possible.
- "On Vanity and Vanities"
- It is in our faults and failings, not in our virtues, that we touch each other, and find sympathy. It is in our follies that we are one.
- "On Vanity and Vanities"
- We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the Universe.
- "On Getting on in the World"
- Contented, unambitious people are all very well in their way. They form a neat, useful background for great portraits to be painted against, and they make a respectable, if not particularly intelligent, audience for the active spirits of the age to play before. I have not a word to say against contented people so long as they keep quiet.
- "On Getting On in the World"
- It always is wretched weather according to us. The weather is like the government — always in the wrong. In summer-time we say it is stifling; in winter that it is killing; in spring and autumn we find fault with it for being neither one thing nor the other and wish it would make up its mind...We shall never be content until each man makes his own weather and keeps it to himself.
- "On the Weather"
- Swearing relieves the feelings—that is what swearing does. I explained this to my aunt on one occasion, but it didn't answer with her. She said I had no business to have such feelings.
- "On Cats and Dogs"
- Conceit is the finest armor that a man can wear. Upon its smooth, impenetrable surface the puny dagger-thrusts of spite and envy glance harmlessly aside. Without that breast-plate the sword of talent cannot force its way through the battle of life, for blows have to be borne as well as dealt.
- "On Being Shy"
- There are various methods by which you may achieve ignominy and shame. By murdering a large and respected family in cold blood and afterward depositing their bodies in the water companies' reservoir, you will gain much unpopularity in the neighborhood of your crime, and even robbing a church will get you cordially disliked, especially by the vicar. But if you desire to drain to the dregs the fullest cup of scorn and hatred that a fellow human creature can pour out for you, let a young mother hear you call dear baby "it."
- "On Babies"
- Foolish people — when I say "foolish people" in this contemptuous way I mean people who entertain different opinions to mine. If there is one person I do despise more than another, it is the man who does not think exactly the same on all topics as I do.
- "On Eating and Drinking"
- They say — people who ought to be ashamed of themselves do — that the consciousness of being well dressed imparts a blissfulness to the human heart that religion is powerless to bestow. I am afraid these cynical persons are sometimes correct.
- "On Dress and Deportment"
- That is just the way with Memory; nothing that she brings to us is complete. She is a willful child; all her toys are broken. I remember tumbling into a huge dust-hole when a very small boy, but I have not the faintest recollection of ever getting out again; and if memory were all we had to trust to, I should be compelled to believe I was there still.
- "On Memory"
Three Men in a Boat (1889)
- It is a most extraordinary thing, but I never read a patent medicine advertisement without being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with in its most virulent form.
- Ch. 1
- Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.
- Ch. 3
- It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions.
- Ch. 10
- It always does seem to me that I am doing more work than I should do. It is not that I object to the work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.
- Ch. 15
- The most extraordinary dream I ever had was one in which I fancied that, as I was going into a theater, the cloak-room attendant stopped me in the lobby and insisted on my leaving my legs behind me.
- I dreamed once that I was going to be hanged; but I was not at all surprised about it. Nobody was. My relations came to see me off, I thought, and to wish me "Good-by!" They all came, and were all very pleasant; but they were not in the least astonished—not one of them. Everybody appeared to regard the coming tragedy as one of the most-naturally-to-be-expected things in the world.
- It is only in sleep that true imagination ever stirs within us. Awake, we never imagine anything; we merely alter, vary, or transpose. We give another twist to the kaleidoscope of the things we see around us, and obtain another pattern; but not one of us has ever added one tiniest piece of new glass to the toy.
- Too much of anything is a mistake, as the man said when his wife presented him with four new healthy children in one day. We should practice moderation in all matters.
- Human thought is not a firework, ever shooting off fresh forms and shapes as it burns; it is a tree, growing very slowly — you can watch it long and see no movement — very silently, unnoticed. It was planted in the world many thousand years ago, a tiny, sickly plant. And men guarded it and tended it, and gave up life and fame to aid its growth. In the hot days of their youth, they came to the gate of the garden and knocked, begging to be let in, and to be counted among the gardeners. And their young companions without called to them to come back, and play the man with bow and spear, and win sweet smiles from rosy lips, and take their part amid the feast, and dance, not stoop with wrinkled brows, at weaklings' work. And the passers by mocked them and called shame, and others cried out to stone them. And still they stayed there laboring, that the tree might grow a little, and they died and were forgotten.
And the tree grew fair and strong. The storms of ignorance passed over it, and harmed it not. The fierce fires of superstition soared around it; but men leaped into the flames and beat them back, perishing, and the tree grew. With the sweat of their brow have men nourished its green leaves. Their tears have moistened the earth about it. With their blood they have watered its roots.
The seasons have come and passed, and the tree has grown and flourished. And its branches have spread far and high, and ever fresh shoots are bursting forth, and ever new leaves unfolding to the light. But they are all part of the one tree — the tree that was planted on the first birthday of the human race. The stem that bears them springs from the gnarled old trunk that was green and soft when white-haired Time was a little child; the sap that feeds them is drawn up through the roots that twine and twist about the bones of the ages that are dead.
- The human mind can no more produce an original thought than a tree can bear an original fruit. As well might one cry for an original note in music as expect an original idea from a human brain.
One wishes our friends, the critics, would grasp this simple truth, and leave off clamoring for the impossible, and being shocked because they do not get it.
- How dull, how impossible life would be without dreams — waking dreams, I mean — the dreams that we call "castles in the air," built by the kindly hands of Hope! Were it not for the mirage of the oasis, drawing his footsteps ever onward, the weary traveler would lie down in the desert sand and die. It is the mirage of distant success, of happiness that, like the bunch of carrots fastened an inch beyond the donkey's nose, seems always just within our reach, if only we will gallop fast enough, that makes us run so eagerly along the road of Life.
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- Once we discover how to appreciate the timeless values in our daily experiences, we can enjoy the best things in life.
- Harry Pepner, as quoted in Chicken Soup for the Soul : Stories for a Better World (2005) by Jack Canfield, p. 2