Christopher Morley quotes:

  • There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way.

  • Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water.

  • There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning.

  • In every man's heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.

  • Beauty is ever to the lonely mind a shadow fleeting; she is never plain. She is a visitor who leaves behind the gift of grief, the souvenir of pain.

  • High heels were invented by a woman who had been kissed on the forehead.

  • New York, the nation's thyroid gland.

  • No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.

  • Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.

  • People like to imagine that because all our mechanical equipment moves so much faster, that we are thinking faster, too.

  • A man who has never made a woman angry is a failure in life.

  • We've had bad luck with our kids - they've all grown up.

  • It is unfair to blame man too fiercely for being pugnacious; he learned the habit from Nature.

  • Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it.

  • No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention.

  • A human being: an ingenious assembly of portable plumbing.

  • Why do they put the Gideon bibles only in the bedrooms, where it's usually too late?

  • God made man merely to hear some praise of what he'd done on those Five Days.

  • Animal crackers, and cocoa to drink That is the finest of suppers, I think When I'm grown up and can have what I please, I think I shall always insist upon these.

  • All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful: but the beauty is grim.

  • Dancing is a wonderful training for girls, it's the first way you learn to guess what a man is going to do before he does it.

  • There is only one rule for being a good talker - learn to listen.

  • The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking.

  • If we discovered that we only had five minutes left to say all that we wanted to say, every telephone booth would be occupied by people calling other people to stammer that they loved them.

  • I had a million questions to ask God: but when I met Him, they all fled my mind; and it didn't seem to matter.

  • The enemies of the future are always the very nicest people.

  • A good book ought to have something simple about it. And, like Eve, it ought to come from somewhere near the third rib: there ought to be a heart beating in it. A story that's all forehead doesn't amount to much.

  • From now until the end of time no one else will ever see life with my eyes, and I mean to make the best of my chance.

  • We call a child's mind 'small' simply by habit; perhaps it is larger than ours is, for it can take in almost anything without effort.

  • Books are the immortality of the race, the father and mother of most that is worth while cherishing in our hearts. To spread good books about, to sow them on fertile minds, to propagate understanding and a carefulness of life and beauty, isn't that high enough mission for a man?

  • There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love.

  • I wish there could be an international peace conference of booksellers, for (you will smile at this) my own conviction is that the future happiness of the world depends in no small measure on them and on the librarians.

  • Any man worth his salt has by the time he is forty-five accumulated a crown of thorns, and the problem is to learn to wear it over one ear.

  • Men talk of "finding God," but no wonder it is difficult; He is hidden in that darkest hiding-place, your heart. You yourself are a part of Him.

  • When you sell a man a book, you don't sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life.

  • Printer's ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.

  • Truth is what every man sees lurking at the bottom of his own soul, like the oyster shell housewives put in the kitchen kettle to collect the lime from the water. By and by each man's iridescent oyster shell of Truth becomes coated with the lime of prejudice and hearsay.

  • It's a good thing to turn your mind upside down now and then, like an hour-glass, to let the particles run the other way.

  • When you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.

  • Truth, like milk, arrives in the dark But even so, wise dogs don't bark. Only mongrels make it hard For the milkman to come up the yard.

  • The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.

  • New York is Babylon : Brooklyn is the truly Holy City. New York is the city of envy, office work, and hustle; Brooklyn is the region of homes and happiness.... There is no hope for New Yorkers, for their glory in Their skyscraping sins; but in Brooklyn there is the wisdom of the lowly.

  • Continually one faces the horrible matter of making decisions. The solution is, as far as possible, to avoid conscious rational decisions and choices; simply to do what you find yourself doing; to float in the great current of life with as little friction as possible; to allow things to settle themselves, as indeed they do with the most infallible certainty.

  • If you have to keep reminding yourself of a thing, perhaps it isn't so.

  • Truth is the ricochet of a prejudice bouncing off a fact.

  • The human mind appears suddenly and inexplicably out of some unknown and unimaginable void. It passes half its known life in the mental chaos of sleep. Even when awake it is a victim of its own ill-adjustment, of disease, of age, of external suggestion, of nature's compulsions; it doubts its own sensations and trusts only in instruments and averages.

  • Very often human beings don't become available for the purposes of art until they have shaken off some of their dogged, self-preserving sanity.

  • My prayer is that what we have gone through [World War One] will startle the world into some new realization of the sanctity of life, animal as well as human.

  • Blessed is the satirist; and blessed the ironist; blessed the witty scoffer, and blessed the sentimentalist; for each, having seen one spoke of the wheel, thinks to have seen all, and is content.

  • Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting.

  • Words are a commodity in which there is never any slump.

  • My theology, briefly, is that the universe was dictated but not signed.

  • The little Plumpuppets are fairies of beds; They have nothing to do but watch sleepyheads; They turn down the sheets and they tuck you in tight, And dance on your pillow to wish you good night!

  • April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go.

  • The trouble with wedlock is that there's not enough wed and too much lock.

  • Lots of times you have to pretend to join a parade in which you're not really interested in order to get where you're going.

  • Act like you expect to get into the end zone.

  • Humor is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective: an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs.

  • Man, an ingenious assembly of portable plumbing.

  • What is the virtue and service of a book? Only to help me live less gingerly and shabbily.

  • The censure of a dog is something no man can stand.

  • Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking.

  • There is indeed a heaven on this earth, a heaven which we inhabit when we read a good book.

  • The greatest poem ever known Is one all poets have outgrown: The poetry, innate, untold, Of being only four years old.

  • The courage of the poet is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness.

  • There are a lot of people who must have the table laid in the usual fashion or they will not enjoy the dinner.

  • Being in a hurry seems so fiercely important when you yourself are the hurrier and so comically ludicrous when it is someone else.

  • We visit bookshops not so often to buy any one special book, but rather to rediscover, in the happier and more expressive words of others, our own encumbered soul.

  • Truth and Beauty (perhaps Keats was wrong in identifying them: perhaps they have the relation of Wit and Humour, or Rain and Rainbow) are of interest only to hungry people. There are several kinds of hunger. If Socrates, Spinoza, and Santayana had had free access to a midnight icebox we would never have heard of them. Shall I be ashamed of my little mewing truths?... I ask to be forgiven: they are such tiny ones.

  • Perhaps this is an age when men think bravely of the human spirit; for surely they have a strange lust to lay it bare.

  • The evening papers print what they do and get away with it because by afternoon the human mind is ruined anyhow.

  • The man who never in his life Has washed the dishes with his wife Or polished up the silver plate - He still is largely celibate.

  • America is still a government of the naive, for the naive, and by the naive. He who does not know this, nor relish it, has no inkling of the nature of his country.

  • Blessed is he who has never been tempted; for he knows not the frailty of his rectitude.

  • Be prepared for truth at all hours and in the most fantastic disguises. This is the only safety.

  • The world, in its sheer exuberance of kindness, will try to bury the poet with warm and lovely human trivialities. It will even ask him to autograph books.

  • When Abraham Lincoln was murdered The one thing that interested Matthew Arnold Was that the assassin shouted in Latin As he lept on the stage This convinced Matthew There was still hope for America.

  • Happiness is surely the best teacher of good manners: only the unhappy are churlish in deportment.

  • The most interesting persons are always those who have nothing special to do: children, nurses, policemen and actors at 11 o'clock in the morning.

  • One of the penalties of being a human being is other human beings.

  • A critic is a gong at a railroad crossing clanging loudly and vainly as the train goes by.

  • There are certain people whom one feels almost inclined to urge to hurry up and die so that their letters can be published.

  • Man makes a great fuss about this planet which is only a ballbearing in the hub of the universe.

  • Religion is an attempt, a noble attempt, to suggest in human terms more-than-human realities.

  • There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love, and like that colossal adventure it is an experience of great social import. Even as the tranced swain, the booklover yearns to tell others of his bliss. He writes letters about it, adds it to the postscript of all manner of communications, intrudes it into telephone messages, and insists on his friends writing down the title of the find. Like the simple-hearted betrothed, once certain of his conquest

  • Never write up your diary on the day itself, for it takes longer than that to know what happened.

  • There is an innate decorum in man, and it is not fair to thrust Truth upon people when they don't expect it. Only the very generous are ready for Truth impromptu.

  • Beware of the conversationalist who adds "in other words." He is merely starting afresh.

  • The unluckiest insolvent in the world is the man whose expenditure of speech is too great for his income of ideas.

  • The plural of spouse is spice.

  • Poetry comes with anger, hunger and dismay; it does not often visit groups of citizens sitting down to be literary together, and would appal them if it did.

  • A doctor is advertised by the bodies he cures. My business is advertised by the minds I stimulate. And let me tell you that the book business is different from other trades. People don't know they want books. I can see just by looking at you that your mind is ill for lack of books but you are blissfully unaware of it!

  • Living in a bookshop is like living in a warehouse of explosives. Those shelves are ranked with the most furious combustibles in the world--the brains of men.

  • A mind too proud to unbend over the small ridiculosa of life is as painful as a library with no trash in it.

  • Fifty percent of the world are women, yet they always seem a novelty.

  • They go in [to the library] not because they need any certain volume but because they feel that there may be some book that needs them.

  • Friendships do not grow up in any carefully tended and contemplated fashion.... They begin haphazard.

  • The world has been printing books for 450 years, and yet gunpowder still has a wider circulation. Never mind! Printer's ink is the greater explosive: it will win.

  • Between ourselves, there is no such thing, abstractly, as a 'good' book. A book is 'good' only when it meets some human hunger or refutes some human error.

  • That's what this country needs -- more books!

  • How womanly it is to ask the unanswerable at the moment impossible.

  • The everlasting lure of round-the-corner, how fascinating it is.

  • The misfortunes hardest to bear are these which never came.

  • Only the sinner has the right to preach.

  • Man is unconquerable because he can make even his helplessness so entertaining. His motto seems to be "Even though He slay me, yet will I make fun of Him!

  • It will be a shock to men when they realize that thoughts that were fast enough for today are not fast enough for tomorrow. But thinking tomorrow's thoughts today is one kind of future life.

  • Everybody thinks of others as being excessively human, with all the frailties and crotchets appertaining to that curious condition. But each of us also seems to regard himself as existing on a detached plane of observation, exempt (save in moments of avid crisis) from the strange whims of humanity en masse.

  • Standing by the crib of one's own baby, with that world - old pang of compassion and protectiveness toward this so little creature that has all its course to run, the heart flies back in yearning and gratitude to those who felt just so toward one's self. Then for the first time one understands the homely succession of sacrifices and pains by which life is transmitted and fostered down the stumbling generations of men.

  • Mr. Gilbert had the earnest mania for self-improvement which has blighted the lives of so many young men.

  • All students can learn.