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Quotes of the day: Herman Melville

Published Friday, July 31, 2015 @ 10:23 AM EDT
Jul 31 2015

Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, writer of short stories, and poet from the American Renaissance period. Most of his writings were published between 1846 and 1857. Best known for his sea adventure Typee (1846) and his whaling novel Moby-Dick (1851), he was almost forgotten during the last thirty years of his life. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.

A smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities.

All Profound things, and emotions of things are preceded and attended by Silence.

An utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward.

Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.

Familiarity with danger makes a brave man braver, but less daring.

Friendship at first sight, like love at first sight, is said to be the only truth.

Genius all over the world stands hand in hand, and one shock of recognition runs the whole circle round.

He who has never failed somewhere, that man cannot be great.

Heaven have mercy on us all- Presbyterians and Pagans alike- for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.

Hope is the struggle of the soul, breaking loose from what is perishable, and attesting her eternity.

In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers.

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

Life is a voyage that's homeward-bound!

Many sensible things banished from high life find an asylum among the mob.

Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.

Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like death.

The island was on no map. No true place ever is.

There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes his whole universe for a vast practical joke.

There are some persons in this world, who, unable to give better proof of being wise, take a strange delight in showing what they think they have sagaciously read in mankind by uncharitable suspicions of them.

There are times when even the most potent governor must wink at transgression, in order to preserve the laws inviolate for the future.

There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rags; and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals.

They talk of the dignity of work. The dignity is in leisure.

To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.

To scale great heights, we must come out of the lowest depths. The way to heaven is through hell.

Truth is in things, and not in words.


(August 1 is also the birthday of Jerry Garcia.)

Categories: Herman Melville, Quotes of the day


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