George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
British writer and thinker
 

"Virtue is insufficient temptation."

"All great truths begin as blasphemies."

"Beware of the man whose God is in the skies."

"He who can, does. He who cannot teaches."

"I am a gentleman: I live by robbing the poor."

"Do not try to live forever. You will not succeed."

"What is virtue but the trades unionism of the married."

"To be in hell is to drift; to be in heaven is to steer."

"It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid."

"I often quote myself, it adds spice to my conversation."

"It is most unwise for people in love to marry."

"The 100% American is 99% an idiot."

"Life would be tolerable but for its amusements."

"A dramatic critic is a man who leaves no turn unstoned."

"The love of money is the root of all virtue."

"He who has never hoped can never despair."

"Liberty means responsibility. That is why most me dread it."

"The Golden Rule is that there are no Golden Rules."

"The liar's punishment ... is that he cannot believe anyone else."

"The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is."

"Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy."

"All professions are conspiracies against the laity."

"The perfect love affair is one which is conducted entirely by post."

"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance."

"Make money and the whole nation will conspire to call you a gentleman."

"Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life."

"A pessimist thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it."

"We should have had socialism already, but for the socialists."

"Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing."

"There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it."

"Man can climb to the highest summits, but he cannot dwell there long."

"Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted?"

"Whilst we have prisons it matters little who occupies the cells."

"We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience."

"The world is populated in the main by people who should not exist."

"Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability."

"Baseball has the great advantage over cricket of being sooner ended."

"Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children."

"There is no satisfaction in hanging a man who does not object to it."

"A man ought to be able to be fond of his wife without making a fool of himself about her."

"We have not lost faith, but we have transferred it from God to the medical profession."

"The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech."

"A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth."

"Americans adore me and will go on adoring me until I say something nice about them."

"Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else."

"The chief objection of playing wind instruments is that it prolongs the life of the player."

"The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it."

"Do not do unto others as you would they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same."

"A doctor's reputation is made by the number of eminent men who die under his care."

"If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they wouldn't reach any conclusion."

"Must then Christ perish in torment in every age to save those that have no imagination?"

"Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music."

"In order to fully realize how bad a popular play can be, it is necessary to see it twice."

"What God hath joined together no man shall put asunder: God will take care of that."

"There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it."

"To be clever enough to get a great deal of money, one must be stupid enough to want it."

"Home life as we understand it is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo."

"Nothing ever is done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done."

"Reviewing has one advantage over suicide: in suicide you take it out on yourself; in reviewing you take it out on other people."

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."

"When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport; when a tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity."

"I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize."

"What is the matter with the poor is poverty; what is the matter with the rich is uselessness."

"We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years and justify our existence...on pain of liquidation."

"I showed my appreciation of my native land in the usual Irish way by getting out of it as soon as I possibly could."

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh."

"Fashions are the only induced epidemics, proving that epidemics can be induced by tradesmen."

"The fickleness of the women whom I love is only equalled by the infernal constancy of the women who love me."

"Democracy: The substitution of election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few."

"All my life, affection has been showered upon me, and every forward step I have made has been taken in spite of it."

"I make a fortune from criticizing the policy of the government, and then hand it over to the government in taxes to keep it going."

"There are scores of thousands of human insects who are ready at a moment's notice to reveal the will of God on every possible subject."

"Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does."

"My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably."

"If more than ten percent of the population likes a painting it should be burned, for it must be bad."

"I've posed nude for a photographer in the manner of Rodin's Thinker, but I merely looked constipated."

"The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity."

"A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.

"Take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then say it with the utmost levity."

"I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake."

"The philosopher is Nature's pilot. And there you have our difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to steer."

"A man learns to skate by staggering about making a fool of himself; indeed, he progresses in all things by making a fool of himself."

"Like all young men, you greatly exaggerate the difference between one young woman and another."

"It is a woman's business to get married as soon as possible, and a man's to keep unmarried as long as he can."

"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not."

"I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me."

"If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience

"Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time."

"Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week."

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

"The longer I live the more I see that I am never wrong about anything, and that all the pains I have so humbly taken to verify my notions have only wasted my time."

"It took me twenty years of studied self-restraint, aided by the natural decay of my faculties, to make myself dull enough to be accepted as a serious person by the British public."

"The seven deadly sins ... Food, clothing, firing, rent, taxes, respectability and children. Nothing can lift those seven milestones from man's neck but money; and the spirit cannot soar until the milestones are lifted."

"Let a short Act of Parliament be passed, placing all street musicians outside the protection of the law, so that any citizen may assail them with stones, sticks, knives, pistols, or bombs without incurring any penalties."

"This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as I live it is my privilege - my *privilege* to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I love. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I've got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

Copyright: Kevin Harris 1995 (may be freely distributed with this acknowledgement)