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Montagu/e Quotes


This section contains quotes "on record". Although I quote literally in the timeline entries themselves, on this page I have not tried to make the quotes as literal as possible, but rather use contemporary English and in some cases merge phrases. Also, many of the names are "overloaded", that is, not all these Edwards and Charles, etc., are the same person...

There are a vast number of well-turned phrases in the material I have collected, and I am not capable of doing justice to them all. Since most, if not all, of these people studied Cicero in depth in the original, I have no doubt that many of these phrases were probably old centuries before Cicero (that's really old, over two millennia now...). If it seems like a phrase exemplified someone's philosophy or personality, or is a phrase that historians have associated with someone, I have tried to capture the essence of it...


If you are to love mankind, you must not expect too much from it. Charles E. Montague

Ideals that cannot be implemented cannot endure. And the challenge of today is to supplement reason with intelligence and abstract enthusiasm with concrete achievement. William P. Montague (italics in original)

The right to praise an ideal is a right that should be earned. William P. Montague

Never explain, never complain. Wallis Simpson

Muse, time has taught me that all metaphysical systems, even historical facts given as truths, are hardly that, so I amuse myself with more agreeable lies; I no longer read anything but novels. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu


It's in no way my interest (according to the common acceptance of that word) to convince the world of their errors; that is, I shall get nothing from it but the private satisfaction of having done good to mankind, and I know nobody that reckons that satisfaction any part of their interest. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Any wife will save you from purgatory, and a diligent one will secure heaven to you. Elizabeth Montagu

The one thing that reconciles me to the fact of being a woman is the reflection that it delivers me from the necessity of being married to one. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

This war should not be ended by the sword, for if it is so concluded, it will be an occasion of rising again or of a future quarrel; it would be better for the kingdom if it were ended by an accommodation. Edward Montagu

It is easy to begin a war, but no man knows when it will end, and a war is not the way to advance religion. Edward Montagu

I would rather the nation have a settled government though I and my whole family should suffer by it. Edward Mountagu

If man is to lose faith in himself and in the integrity of his own mind and will, then there is nothing of real value to remain. William P. Montague


The surplus of goods enjoyed by the rich and the deficit of goods suffered by the poor are not simple mathematical opposites, but qualitatively different conditions requiring qualitatively different treatments. William P. Montague

Therefore I will try, to win the war, not pretending meanwhile that I am obeying Christ, and after the war I will try harder than I did before to obey him in all the things in which I am sure that he was right. Meanwhile, may God give me credit for not seeking to be deceived, and pardon me if I mistake. Charles Montague

I have delighted in being an ornithologist from infancy, and, was I not bound by conjugal attachement, should like to ride my hobby to distant parts. George Montagu

I never invite idiots to my house. Elizabeth Montagu

A lot of our fellow liberals ... seem to me rather to doom themselves to futility in public affairs because the won't recognize that there's a zone of natural affection midway between the inner, or family one, and the outer, or all-humanity one. I suppose they are somehow short of a zone themselves and they seem to get vexed... The common man knows better, just as he'd know better if some philosopher told him he ought not to make invidious distinctions by feeding his own children in preference to others. But of course he can't explain; he just ... goes on feeding the kids. Charles E. Montague


These abridgments that have become common are one of the chief plagues of learning and educated men. They make men idle but opinionated and self-conceited. Whoever carries an outline in his pocket imagines mightily that he knows much, and yet is but an ignoramus. In a day he is taught, to little purpose, as much as others can learn in a whole year. Lately the world went mad this way, for systems, syntaxes, and synposis, and who knows what else, for all the Handmaids and Mistresses of Arts... Richard Mountagu (italics in original -- Sorry Richard for the extracts!)

The governmental regulation of capital, which is fascism, no less than the governmental ownership of capital, which is socialism, cannot succeed by halfway measures. In either case there must be regimentation and tyrannous control of individual rights and liberties; in short, dictatorship. William P. Montague

My religion exactly! I follow the laws of nature. But what sly devils you preachers are, encouraging us sinners in the ways of the flesh. Sidney Montagu

If we beat the king 99 times he is still king, and so will his posterity be after him; but if the king beats us once, we shall be all hanged, and our posterity be made slaves. Edward Montagu

This country must be governed by combinations of people. John Montagu

War is a thing first to be avoided by every honorable means and then to be won by every honorable means. Charles Montague


Our collection of men is very antique, they stand in my list thus: A man of sense, a little rusty, a beau a good deal the worse for wearing, a coxcomb extremely shattered, a pretty gentleman very insipid, a baronet very solemn, a squire very fat, a fop much affected, a barrister learned in Coke upon Littleton, but who knows nothing of `long ways for marry as will', an heir apparent, very awkward; which of these will cast a favourable eye upon me I don't know. Elizabeth Montagu

To each according to his abilities and his luck; and from each according to his need for a job. For better or for worse, it is the system to which all capitalistic countries are committed. William P. Montague

I can never tell you what it is; but I will try to tell you what it is not. In conversation, it is not wit; in manners, it is not politeness; in behavior, it is not address; but it is a little like them all. Elizabeth Montagu

We have the melancholy dilemma of not being in a state to make peace or to prosecute war. George Montagu

... that one art of the theatre which really lives, with the full vehemence of life, in England; its shows are crowded because people like them, and not because somebody else does, nor because they think they ought to like them, or that if they can stand them for some time they may yet come to like them. Charles E. Montague

A great power house with its highly technical complexities is no more suited to the democratic methods of town meeting and parliament than is a ship in a storm or an army in a battle. William P. Montague


We shall not erect temples to heathen gods, build proud bridges over humble rivulets, or do any of the marvellous things suggested by caprice, and indulged by the wantonness of wealth. Elizabeth Montagu

The technocrats are enthusiasts, and though they claim to speak with the authority of engineers and on the basis of data carefully gathered and scientifically analyzed, yet there can be little doubt that their claims are wildly exaggerated. They have magnified the practical possibilities of efficiency in a system of directed industrial production. William P. Montague

But joy is a very transitory thing; therefore I am willing to seize on the first occasion; and as I imagine you are glad you are going to be married, I wish you joy of that gladness; for whether you will be glad after you are married, is more than mortal wight can determine; and having prepared myself to rejoice with you, I should be loath to defer writing till, perhaps, you were become sorrowful; I must therefore in prudence prevent your espousals. Elizabeth Montagu

One high certainty that is quite philosophy's own: Ideals are eternal things, and the life that incarnates them attains an absolute value that time alone could not create and that their death is powerless to destroy. William P. Montague

For a gallant spirit there can never be defeat. Wallis Simpson

Fight the good fight; and always call to mind that it is not you who are mortal, but this body of ours. For your true being is not discerned by perceiving your physical appearance. But 'what a man's mind is, that is what he is' not that individual human shape that we identify through our senses. Samuel Pepys (this is a `direct' quote from Cicero; Pepys used it as his motto, some thinking it was Pepys' criticized him for it, which he richly enjoyed).

Fear not death too much, nor fear death too little. Not too much, least you fail in your hopes. Not too little, least you die presumptuously. Henry Montagu/e


Smallpox, so fatal and common among us, is entirely harmless here, by the invention of engrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women, who make it their business to perform the operation every autumn... There is no example of anyone that has died of it, and you may believe that I am well satisfied of the safety of this experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Few people know anything of the English history but what they learn from Shakespear; for our story is rather a tissue of personal adventures and catastrophes than a series of political events Elizabeth Montagu

I am becoming a very Capulet, and will change my name with the first man I meet, if he has a permit from the Chief Justice. George Montagu

We are so overwhelmed today by the evils of capitalism as it is that we tend to forget the advantages of capitalism as it might be. William P. Montague

Tithes are due by divine right. Richard Montagu/e

One success to a thousand failures, but that one destined to initiate a new epoch. It is a priceless thing, this freedom. William P. Montague

Truly I am so far from being dead I never was so lively, because freed from the mortal vexations of these horrid times. To amend them it is not in my poor power; to be witness to the daily progress of the hateful junto would exceed my patience. I hang not up my harp upon the mournful willow, but touch its tenderest mournfullest string when I get an intelligent and courteous hearer, and make my daily orisons before the pictures of John Hampden and Algernon Sidney, with my hours of Magna Carta in my hand. George Montague

All this was mine; but I was a long time learning that wisdom and experience are things apart; that to taste life is not to be confused with understanding what life is really all about. The shared experiences, the wisdom so freely proffered by others, in words and in example, rarely swayed me for long. Came another day and the import was gone, and only the echo of the laughter remained. Experience was a revolving sun in the warmth of which I was content to bask. Wallis Simpson


You will find many a creature by earth, air, and water, that is more beautiful than a woman Elizabeth Montagu

For a nation so favored by commerce and the arts and sciences, we would sincerely like to predict a revolution leading to a better future. Edward Montagu

I never ask any man's opinion but go by my own. John Montagu

I often think that those people are the happiest who know nothing at all of the world, and sitting in the little empire of the fireside, where there is no contention or cabal, think we are in a golden age of existance. Elizabeth Montagu

Run foul of me and be damned; neither you nor any man in the world shall come between me and my enemy. William Montagu

Wit in women is apt to have had consequences; like a sword without a scabbard, it wounds the wearer and provokes assailants. I am sorry to say the generality of women who have excelled in wit have failed in chastity. Elizabeth Montagu

The most romantic region of every country is that where the mountains unite themselves with the plains or lowlands. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

The office of Treasurer of England is worth thousands of pounds to someone who would go instantly to heaven, twice as much to someone who would go to Purgatory, and nobody knows how much to someone who would adventure to a worse place. Henry Montagu


I do find it a little perplexing that one can't cast out Satan except with his own instruments. But all the more because of the moral puzzle, I feel very keen on keeping to the cleanest methods. Charles Montague

Diffusion of power means diffusion of responsibility, and diffusion of political responsibility in a capitalistic world has as its all but inevitable consequence either a paralyzing inefficiency or a creeping corruption - or indeed, both of these together. William P. Montague

So it works round to this - the delights of one place or another reside rather more in ourselves than they do in the place. ... all places, when properly looked at, illuminate or set off one another: they do not fight for crowns of beauty in your esteem; members one of another, while ministering also to your sense of effective contrast, they join to lead you on towards conscious possessorship of your whole visible world as a single estate, wholly yours now and the whole of it always implied in any one of its parts that you may happen to see. Attain to that and you carry the centre of things about in your mind, and the right place is wherever you are. Charles E. Montague

Some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time are capable of rising to heights of unselfish service, and of doing even harder work for the love of comrades than for the love of self. But most of the people most of the time, pursuing their dull routine jobs and no longer lifted out of themselves by the heroic enthusiasm of war or revolution, tend to lapse into an indifference that is wasteful and perhaps corrupt. William P. Montague (italics in original)

The only thing one can do one day one did not do the day before is to die. Elizabeth Montagu

We need to experiment so as to preserve and apply to the needs of our own tragic time the institutions which our ancestors have fought through the centuries to attain. If not, a cultural inheritance that is of irreplaceable value will be utterly and irretrievably lost. William P. Montague

Still, we may win. The multitude of men who think of nothing but serving hard may carry the world into safety and a new life. Hundreds and thousands of them will die more painfully than on a Cross. Our hope is that in them a worse world may die into a better and mankind be ennobled by losing its noblest men - the old mystery of the Cross and of evolution. Charles Montague

It has all been most interesting. Lady Mary Wortly Mountagu

And so to bed. Samuel Pepys

Family Research and History Section Maintained by Bruce R. Montague:
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