Ambrose Gwinett Bierce Quotes on Life (9 Quotes)


    Embalm, v. To cheat vegetation by locking up the gases upon which it feeds. By embalming their dead and thereby deranging the natural balance between animal and vegetable life, the Egyptians made their once fertile and populous country barren and incapable of supporting more than a meagre crew. The modern metallic burial casket is a step in the same direction, and many a dead man who ought now to be ornamenting his neighbor's lawn as a tree, or enriching his table as a bunch of radishes, is doomed to a long inutility. We shall get him after awhile if we are spared, but in the meantime the violet and the rose are languishing for a nibble at his glutaeus maximus.

    AIM, n. The task we set our wishes to.Cheer up Have you no aim in life She tenderly inquired.An aim Well, no, I haven't, wife The fact is --I have fired. --G.J.

    FOREORDINATION, n. This looks like an easy word to define, but when I consider that pious and learned theologians have spent long lives in explaining it, and written libraries to explain their explanations when I remember the nations have been divided and bloody battles caused by the difference between foreordination and predestination, and that millions of treasure have been expended in the effort to prove and disprove its compatibility with freedom of the will and the efficacy of prayer, praise, and a religious life, --recalling these awful facts in the history of the word, I stand appalled before the mighty problem of its signification, abase my spiritual eyes, fearing to contemplate its portentous magnitude, reverently uncover and humbly refer it to His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons and His Grace Bishop Potter.

    DULLARD, n. A member of the reigning dynasty in letters and life. The Dullards came in with Adam, and being both numerous and sturdy have overrun the habitable world. The secret of their power is their insensibility to blows tickle them with a bludgeon and they laugh with a platitude. The Dullards came originally from Boeotia, whence they were driven by stress of starvation, their dullness having blighted the crops. For some centuries they infested Philistia, and many of them are called Philistines to this day. In the turbulent times of the Crusades they withdrew thence and gradually overspread all Europe, occupying most of the high places in politics, art, literature, science and theology. Since a detachment of Dullards came over with the Pilgrims in the Mayflower and made a favorable report of the country, their increase by birth, immigration, and conversion has been rapid and steady. According to the most trustworthy statistics the number of adult Dullards in the United States is but little short of thirty millions, including the statisticians. The intellectual centre of the race is somewhere about Peoria, Illinois, but the New England Dullard is the most shockingly moral.

    CURSE, v.t. Energetically to belabor with a verbal slap-stick. This is an operation which in literature, particularly in the drama, is commonly fatal to the victim. Nevertheless, the liability to a cursing is a risk that cuts but a small figure in fixing the rates of life insurance.


    JESTER, n. An officer formerly attached to a king's household, whose business it was to amuse the court by ludicrous actions and utterances, the absurdity being attested by his motley costume. The king himself being attired with dignity, it took the world some centuries to discover that his own conduct and decrees were sufficiently ridiculous for the amusement not only of his court but of all mankind. The jester was commonly called a fool, but the poets and romancers have ever delighted to represent him as a singularly wise and witty person. In the circus of to-day the melancholy ghost of the court fool effects the dejection of humbler audiences with the same jests wherewith in life he gloomed the marble hall, panged the patrician sense of humor and tapped the tank of royal tears. The widow-queen of Portugal Had an audacious jester Who entered the confessional Disguised, and there confessed her. Father, she said, thine ear bend down -- My sins are more than scarlet I love my fool --blaspheming clown, And common, base-born varlet. Daughter, the mimic priest replied, That sin, indeed, is awful The church's pardon is denied To love that is unlawful. But since thy stubborn heart will be For him forever pleading, Thou'dst better make him, by decree, A man of birth and breeding. She made the fool a duke, in hope With Heaven's taboo to palter Then told a priest, who told the Pope, Who damned her from the altar --Barel Dort.

    FRYING-PAN, n. One part of the penal apparatus employed in that punitive institution, a woman's kitchen. The frying-pan was invented by Calvin, and by him used in cooking span-long infants that had died without baptism and observing one day the horrible torment of a tramp who had incautiously pulled a fried babe from the waste-dump and devoured it, it occurred to the great divine to rob death of its terrors by introducing the frying-pan into every household in Geneva. Thence it spread to all corners of the world, and has been of invaluable assistance in the propagation of his sombre faith. The following lines (said to be from the pen of his Grace Bishop Potter) seem to imply that the usefulness of this utensil is not limited to this world but as the consequences of its employment in this life reach over into the life to come, so also itself may be found on the other side, rewarding its devoteesOld Nick was summoned to the skies. Said Peter Your intentions Are good, but you lack enterprise Concerning new inventions.Now, broiling in an ancient plan Of torment, but I hear it Reported that the frying-pan Sears best the wicked spirit.Go get one --fill it up with fat -- Fry sinners brown and good in't.I know a trick worth two o' that, Said Nick --I'll cook their food in't.

    PERSEVERANCE, n. A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success. Persevere, persevere cry the homilists all, Themselves, day and night, persevering to bawl. Remember the fable of tortoise and hare -- The one at the goal while the other is --where Why, back there in Dreamland, renewing his lease Of life, all his muscles preserving the peace, The goal and the rival forgotten alike, And the long fatigue of the needless hike. His spirit a-squat in the grass and the dew Of the dogless Land beyond the Stew, He sleeps, like a saint in a holy place, A winner of all that is good in a race. --Sukker Uffro.

    Age. That period of life in which we compound for the vices that remain by reviling those we have no longer the vigor to commit.


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