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Quotations From HERMAN MELVILLE


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  • To be called one thing, is oftentimes to be another.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 89, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
  • There seems no reason why patriotism and narrowness should go together, or why intellectual fairmindedness should be confounded with political trimming, or why serviceable truth should keep cloistered because not partisan.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Supplement." "Battle-Pieces" (1866), p. 461, Collected Poems of Herman Melville, ed. Howard P. Vincent (1947). Referring to political debate.

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  • We should, if possible, prove a teacher to posterity, instead of being the pupil of by-gone generations. More shall come after us than have gone before; the world is not yet middle-aged.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 36, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).

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  • Ladies are like creeds; if you cannot speak well of them, say nothing.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 51, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
  • You know nothing till you know all; which is the reason we never know any thing.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 26, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
  • That greatest real miracle of all religions, the Sermon on the Mount.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. XIV, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
  • Toil is man's allotment; toil of brain, or toil of hands, or a grief that's more than either, the grief and sin of idleness.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi: and a Voyage Thither, ch. 63 (1849).

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  • The American, who up to the present day, has evinced, in Literature, the largest brain with the largest heart, that man is Nathaniel Hawthorne.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Hawthorne and His Mosses" (1850), The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces 1839-1860, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 9, eds. Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1987).

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  • beauty is like piety—you cannot run and read it; tranquility and constancy, with, now-a-days, an easy chair, are needed.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "The Piazza" (1856), The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces 1839-1860, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 9, eds. Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1987).

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  • A true military officer is in one particular like a true monk. Not with more self-abnegation will the latter keep his vows of monastic obedience than the former his vows of allegiance to martial duty.
    Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Billy Budd, Sailor (c. 1889), ch. 21, eds. Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. (1962).
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