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Quotes of the day: Benjamin Disraeli

Published Saturday, December 21, 2013 @ 12:00 AM EST
Dec 21 2013

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, KG, PC, FRS, (December 21, 1804 - April 19, 1881) was a British Prime Minister, parliamentarian, Conservative statesman and literary figure. He served in government for 40 years, twice as Prime Minister of Great Britain. He played a central role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party after the Corn Laws schism of 1846. In the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century, the concept of one-nation conservatism associated with him, with its emphasis on obligations to all classes, was highly influential in Britain. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy.

A consistent soul believes in destiny, a capricious one in chance.

A majority is always better than the best repartee.

A man's fate is his own temper.

A precedent embalms a principle.

A realist is a man who insists on making the same mistakes his grandfather did.

A university should be a place of light, of liberty, and of learning.

Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.

All is mystery; but he is a slave who will not struggle to penetrate the dark veil.

All of us encounter, at least once in our life, some individual who utters words that make us think forever. There are men whose phrases are oracles; who can condense in one sentence the secrets of life; who blurt out an aphorism that forms a character, or illustrates an existence.

Almost everything that is great has been done by youth.

An insular country, subject to fogs, and with a powerful middle class, requires grave statesmen.

An obedient wife commands her husband.

As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

Assassination has never changed the history of the world.

At present the peace of the world has been preserved, not by statesmen, but by capitalists.

Be amusing: never tell unkind stories; above all, never tell long ones.

Beware of endeavoring to become a great man in a hurry. One such attempt in ten thousand may succeed: These are fearful odds.

Books are fatal: they are the curse of the human race. Nine-tenths of existing books are nonsense, and the clever books are the refutation of that nonsense. The greatest misfortune that ever befell man was the invention of printing.

But this principle of race is unfortunately one of the reasons why I fear war may always exist; because race implies difference, difference implies superiority, and superiority leads to predominance.

Characters do not change. Opinions alter, but characters are only developed.

Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education, and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them.

Coalitions though successful have always found this, that their triumph has been brief.

Conservatism discards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows Progress; having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present, and makes no preparation for the future.

Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.

Debt is the prolific mother of folly and of crime.

Demagogues and agitators are very unpleasant, they are incidental to a free and constitutional country, and you must put up with these inconveniences or do without many important advantages.

Despair is the conclusion of fools.

Desperation is sometimes as powerful an inspirer as genius.

Duty cannot exist without faith.

Every great decision creates ripples- like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge, rebound off the banks in unforseeable ways. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences.

Every man has a right to be conceited until he is successful.

Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel.

Everything comes if a man will only wait.

Experience is the child of Thought, and Thought is the child of Action. We can not learn men from books.

Fear makes us feel our humanity.

Frank and explicit; that is the right line to take when you wish to conceal your own mind and confuse the minds of others.

Great countries are those that produce great people.

Great services are not canceled by one act or by one single error.

Grief is the agony of an instant; the indulgence of Grief the blunder of a life.

He is a self-made man, very much in love with his creator.

How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.

I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a Radical to remove all that is bad. I seek to preserve property and to respect order, and I equally decry the appeal to the passions of the many or the prejudices of the few.

I am prepared for the worst, but hope the best.

I feel a very unusual sensation. If it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.

I have always thought that every woman should marry, and no man.

I have brought myself, by long meditation, to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will that will stake even existence for its fulfilment.

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?

I never deny, I never contradict. I sometimes forget.

I repeat that all power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise; that from the people, and for the people all springs, and all must exist.

I suppose, to use our national motto, something will turn up.

I think the author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.

I will not go down to posterity talking bad grammar.

I will sit down now, but the time will come when you will hear me.

If a man be gloomy let him keep to himself. No one has the right to go croaking about society, or what is worse, looking as if he stifled grief.

If you are not very clever, you should be conciliatory.

Ignorance never settles a question.

In a progressive country change is constant; and the great question is not whether you should resist change which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws and the traditions of a people, or whether it should be carried out in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines.

There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honor.

In politics, nothing is contemptible.

Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilizers of man.

It destroys one's nerves to be amiable every day to the same human being.

It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.

It is knowledge that influences and equalizes the social condition of man; that gives to all, however different their political position, passions which are in common, and enjoyments which are universal.

It is well-known what a middleman is: he is a man who bamboozles one party and plunders the other.

Justice is truth in action.

Life is too short to be small.

Like all great travelers I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.

Little things affect little minds.

Man is a being born to believe. And if no church comes forward with its title-deeds of truth to guide him, he will find altars and idols in his own heart and his own imagination.

Man is not a rational animal. He is only truly good or great when he acts from passion.

Man is not the creature of circumstances, circumstances are the creatures of men. We are free agents, and man is more powerful than matter.

Moderation is the centre wherein all philosophies, both human and divine, meet.

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

Most people die with their music still locked up inside them.

My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me.

Nationality is the miracle of political independence; race is the principle of physical analogy.

Nature has given us two ears but only one mouth.

Nature is more powerful than education; time will develop everything.

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for truth.

Never complain and never explain.

Never have fools for friends; they are no use.

News is that which comes from the North, East, West and South, and if it comes from only one point on the compass, then it is a class publication and not news.

Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forego an advantage.

No government can be long secure without formidable opposition.

No success in public life can compensate for failure in the home.

Nobody is forgotten, when it is convenient to remember him.

Nothing can resist the human will that will stake even its existence on its stated purpose.

Nowadays, manners are easy and life is hard.

Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.

Nurture your minds with great thoughts, to believe in the heroic makes heroes.

O Music! Miraculous art! A blast of thy trumpet and millions rush forward to die; a peal of thy organ and uncounted nations sink down to pray.

One of the hardest things in this world is to admit you are wrong. And nothing is more helpful in resolving a situation than its frank admission.

Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius.

Protection is not a principle, but an expedient.

Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.

Real politics are the possession and distribution of power.

Something unpleasant is coming when men are anxious to tell the truth.

Success is the child of audacity.

Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours.

The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it.

The difference between a misfortune and a calamity? If Gladstone fell into the Thames, it would be a misfortune. But if someone dragged him out again, it would be a calamity.

The fool wonders, the wise man asks.

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.

The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a state depend.

The Jews are a nervous people. Nineteen centuries of Christian love have taken a toll.

The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.

The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can ever end.

The more you are talked about the less powerful you are.

The pursuit of science leads only to the insoluble.

The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.

The sense of existence is the greatest happiness.

The Services in war time are fit only for desperadoes but, in peace, are fit only for fools.

The world is governed by far different personages than what is imagined by those not behind the scenes.

The world is weary of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians.

There can be no economy where there is no efficiency.

There is an art of reading, as well as an art of thinking, and an art of writing.

There is moderation even in excess.

There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honor.

There is no education like adversity.

There is no index of character so sure as the voice.

There is no waste of time in life like that of making explanations.

Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.

Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.

Time is the great physician.

To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.

To govern men, you must either excel them in their accomplishments, or despise them.

To tax the community for the advantage of a class is not protection: it is plunder.

Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends.

Variety is the mother of Enjoyment.

We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.

We are indeed a nation of shopkeepers.

We live in an age when to be young and indifferent can no longer be synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the Future are represented by suffering millions; and the Youth of a Nation are the trustees of Posterity.

We make our own fortunes and we call them fate.

What is crime amongst the multitude, is only vice among the few.

What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.

When a man fell into his anecdotage it was a sign for him to retire from the world.

When I want to read a novel, I write one.

When little is done, little is said; silence is the mother of truth.

When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken.

Whenever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to ensure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.

Where knowledge ends, religion begins.

With words we govern men.

Without publicity there can be no public support, and without public support every nation must decay.

Without tact you can learn nothing.

Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.

You have heard me accused me of being a flatterer. It is true. I am a flatterer. I have found it useful. Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel.

You know who critics are? The men who have failed in literature and art.

You must possess, at the same time, the habit of communicating and the habit of listening. The union is rather rare, but irresistible.

You will find as you grow older that courage is the rarest of all qualities to be found in public men.

You will in due season have wars entered into from passion and not from reason; and you will in due season submit to peace ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained, which will diminish your authority and perhaps endanger your independence. You will in due season find your property is less valuable, and your freedom less complete.

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old Age a regret.

Categories: Benjamin Disraeli, Quotes of the day


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