W. Somerset Maugham
Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.
It wasn't until late in life that I discovered how easy it is to say 'I don't know'.
It is funny about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the very best you will very often get it.
An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.
We who are of mature age seldom suspect how unmercifully and yet with what insight the very young judge us.
Unfortunately sometimes one can't do what one thinks is right without making someone else unhappy.
I'm not only my spirit buy my body, and who can decide how much I, my individual self, am conditioned by the accident of my body? Would Byron have been Byron but for his club foot, or Dostoyevsky Dostoyevsky without his epilepsy?
Nothing in the world is permanent, and we're foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we're still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is of the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.
We didn't think much in the air corps of a fellow who wangled a cushy job out of his C.O. by buttering him up. It was hard for me to believe that God thought much of a man who tried to wangle salvation by fulsome flattery. I should have thought the worship most pleasing to him was to do your best according to your lights.
Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding.
She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit.
Life isn't long enough for love and art.
I don't think of the past. The only thing that matters is the everlasting present.
It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.
You are not angry with people when you laugh at them. Humor teaches them tolerance.
Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
A woman can forgive a man for the harm he does her...but she can never forgive him for the sacrifices he makes on her account.
Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem.
There is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.
When you have loved as she has loved, you grow old beautifully.
Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.
People ask for criticism, but they only want praise.
Genius is talent provided with ideals.
It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.
Art is merely the refuge which the ingenious have invented, when they were supplied with food and women, to escape the tediousness of life.
I do not confer praise or blame: I accept. I am the measure of all things. I am the centre of the world.
Men seek but one thing in life - their pleasure.
Money is like a sixth sense without which you cannot make a complete use of the other five.
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one's dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.
It is cruel to discover one's mediocrity only when it is too late.
There was an immeasurable distance between the quick and the dead: they did not seem to belong to the same species; and it was strange to think that but a little while before they had spoken and moved and eaten and laughed.
Life wouldn't be worth living if I worried over the future as well as the present.
When things are at their worst I find something always happens.
Follow your inclinations with due regard to the policeman round the corner.
I daresay one profits more by the mistakes one makes off one's own bat than by doing the right thing on somebody's else advice.
When I read a book I seem to read it with my eyes only, but now and then I come across a passage, perhaps only a phrase, which has a meaning for me, and it becomes part of me.
There's always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved.
The important thing was to love rather than to be loved.
It's asking a great deal that things should appeal to your reason as well as your sense of the aesthetic.
The rain fell alike upon the just and upon the unjust, and for nothing was there a why and a wherefore.
He had heard people speak contemptuously of money: he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it.
We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.
Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.
The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
You know, of course, that the Tasmanians, who never committed adultery, are now extinct.
At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.
Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.
Common-sense appears to be only another name for the thoughtlessness of the unthinking. It is made of the prejudices of childhood, the idiosyncrasies of individual character and the opinion of the newspapers.
I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't.
If nobody spoke unless he had something to say, the human race would very soon lose the use of speech.
One cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one's soul.
Women are often under the impression that men are much more madly in love with them than they really are.
As if a woman ever loved a man for his virtue.
One can be very much in love with a woman without wishing to spend the rest of one's life with her.
Charm and nothing but charm at last grows a little tiresome. It's a relief then to deal with a man who isn't quite so delightful but a little more sincere.
There is only one way to win hearts and that is to make oneself like unto those of whom one would be loved.
Tao. Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in God, some of us in whiskey and some in love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither.
I never spend more than one hour in a gallery. That is as long as one's power of appreciation persists.
You learn more quickly under the guidance of experienced teachers. You waste a lot of time going down blind alleys if you have no one to lead you.
When you're eighteen your emotions are violent, but they're not durable.
There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort.
The average American can get into the kingdom of heaven much more easily than he can get into the Boulevard St. Germain.
The dead look so terribly dead when they're dead.
A man ought to work. That's what he's here for. That's how he contributes to the welfare of the community.
People do tell a writer things that they don't tell others. I don't know why, unless it is that having read one or two of his books they feel on peculiarly intimate terms with him; or it may be that they dramatize themselves and, seeing themselves as it were as characters in a novel, are ready to be as open with him as they imagine the characters of his invention are.
It's a toss-up when you decide to leave the beaten track. Many are called, but few are chosen.
American women expect to find in their husbands a perfection that English women only hope to find in their butlers.
A mother only does her children harm if she makes them the only concern of her life.
Often the best way to overcome desire is to satisfy it.
It's always difficult to make conversation with a drunk, and there's no denying it, the sober are at a disadvantage with him.
You Europeans know nothing about America. Because we amass large fortunes you think we care for nothing but money. We are nothing for it; the moment we have it we spend it, sometimes well, sometimes ill, but we spend it. Money is nothing to us; it's merely the symbol of success. We are the greatest idealists in the world; I happen to think that we've set our ideal on the wrong objects; I happen to think that the greatest ideal man can set before himself is self-perfection.
A God that can be understood is no God. Who can explain the Infinite in words?
The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth.
I like manual labor. Whenever I've got waterlogged with study, I've taken a spell of it and found it spiritually invigorating.
Perhaps the most important use of money - It saves time. Life is so short, and there's so much to do, one can't afford to waste a minute; and just think how much you waste, for instance, in walking from place to place instead of going by bus and in going by bus instead of by taxi.
An author spends months writing a book, and maybe puts his heart's blood into it, and then it lies about unread till the reader has nothing else in the world to do.
There will always be one who loves, and one who lets himself be loved.
My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.
People ask you for criticism, but they only want praise.
To write simply is as difficult as to be good.
There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
When I was young I was amazed at Plutarch's statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer. Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.
It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded.
D'you call life a bad job? Never! We've had our ups and downs, we've had our struggles, we've always been poor, but it's been worth it, ay, worth it a hundred times I say when I look round at my children.
When I was young I had an elderly friend who used often to ask me to stay with him in the country. He was a religious man and he read prayers to the assembled household every morning. But he had crossed out in pencil all the passages that praised God. He said that there was nothing so vulgar as to praise people to their faces and, himself a gentleman, he could not believe that God was so ungentlemanly as to like it.
All important persons have about them someone in a subordinate position who has their ear. These dependents are very susceptible to slights, and, when they are not treated as they think they should be, will by well-directed shafts, constantly repeated, poison the minds of their patrons against those who have provoked their animosity. It is well to keep in with them.