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Quotes of the day: William Ralph Inge

Published Friday, June 05, 2015 @ 8:55 AM EDT
Jun 05 2015

William Ralph Inge KCVO (June 6, 1860 – February 26, 1954) was an English author, Anglican priest, professor of divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, which provided the appellation by which he was widely known, Dean Inge. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A man may build himself a throne of bayonets, but he cannot sit on it.

A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by a common hatred of its neighbours.

Civilization is a disease which is almost invariably fatal.

Consciousness is a phase of mental life which arises in connection with the formation of new habits. When habit is formed, consciousness only interferes to spoil our performance.

Events in the past may be roughly divided into those which probably never happened and those which do not matter. This is what makes the trade of historian so attractive.

Experience is a good teacher, but her fees are very high.

I think middle-age is the best time, if we can escape the fatty degeneration of the conscience which often sets in at about fifty.

It is astonishing with how little wisdom mankind can be governed, when that little wisdom is its own.

It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.

Many people believe that they are attracted by God, or by Nature, when they are only repelled by man.

Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true.

Originality is undetected plagiarism.

Patriotism varies, from a noble devotion to a moral lunacy.

Perhaps the most lasting pleasure in life is that of not going to church.

Public opinion, a vulgar, impertinent, anonymous tyrant who deliberately makes life unpleasant for anyone who is not content to be the average man.

So the pendulum swings, now violently, now slowly; and every institution not only carries within it the seeds of its own dissolution, but prepares the way for its most hated rival.

The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values.

The church is only a secular institution in which the half-educated speak to the half-converted.

The enemies of freedom do not argue; they shout and they shoot.

The fruit of the tree of knowledge, always drives man from some paradise or other.

The happiest people seem to be those who have no particular cause for being happy except that they are so.

Theater is, of course, a reflection of life. Maybe we have to improve life before we can hope to improve theater.

There are no rewards or punishments- only consequences.

There are two kinds of fools: one says, 'This is old, therefore it is good'; the other says, 'This is new, therefore it is better.'

To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy.

True faith is belief in the reality of absolute values.

We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.

What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.


(June 6 is also the birthday of Mignon McLaughlin and Thomas Mann.)

Categories: Quotes of the day, William Ralph Inge


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