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Ambrose Gwinett Bierce Quotes (242 Quotes)


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  • HALO, n. Properly, a luminous ring encircling an astronomical body, but not infrequently confounded with aureola, or nimbus, a somewhat similar phenomenon worn as a head-dress by divinities and saints. The halo is a purely optical illusion, produced by moisture in the air, in the manner of a rainbow but the aureola is conferred as a sign of superior sanctity, in the same way as a bishop's mitre, or the Pope's tiara. In the painting of the Nativity, by Szedgkin, a pious artist of Pesth, not only do the Virgin and the Child wear the nimbus, but an ass nibbling hay from the sacred manger is similarly decorated and, to his lasting honor be it said, appears to bear his unaccustomed dignity with a truly saintly grace.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • CANONICALS, n. The motley worm by Jesters of the Court of Heaven.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • ADVICE, n. The smallest current coin. The man was in such deep distress, Said Tom, that I could do no less Than give him good advice. Said Jim: If less could have been done for him I know you well enough, my son, To know that's what you would have done. --Jebel Jocordy.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • ALTAR, n. The place whereupon the priest formerly raveled out the small intestine of the sacrificial victim for purposes of divination and cooked its flesh for the gods. The word is now seldom used, except with reference to the sacrifice of their liberty and peace by a male and a female tool.They stood before the altar and supplied The fire themselves in which their fat was fried. In vain the sacrifice --no god will claim An offering burnt with an unholy flame. --M.P. Nopput
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • SENATE, n. A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)


  • CLIO, n. One of the nine Muses. Clio's function was to preside over history --which she did with great dignity, many of the prominent citizens of Athens occupying seats on the platform, the meetings being addressed by Messrs. Xenophon, Herodotus and other
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • CUPID, n. The so-called god of love. This bastard creation of a barbarous fancy was no doubt inflicted upon mythology for the sins of its deities. Of all unbeautiful and inappropriate conceptions this is the most reasonless and offensive. The notion of symbolizing sexual love by a semisexless babe, and comparing the pains of passion to the wounds of an arrow --of introducing this pudgy homunculus into art grossly to materialize the subtle spirit and suggestion of the work --this is eminently worthy of the age that, giving it birth, laid it on the doorstep of prosperity.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • PALM, n. A species of tree having several varieties, of which the familiar itching palm (Palma hominis) is most widely distributed and sedulously cultivated. This noble vegetable exudes a kind of invisible gum, which may be detected by applying to the bark a piece of gold or silver. The metal will adhere with remarkable tenacity. The fruit of the itching palm is so bitter and unsatisfying that a considerable percentage of it is sometimes given away in what are known as benefactions.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • Consult. To seek another's approval of a course already decided on.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • ABSTAINER, n. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.Said a man to a crapulent youth I thought You a total abstainer, my son.So I am, so I am, said the scrapgrace caught --But not, sir, a bigoted one. --G.J.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • FROG, n. A reptile with edible legs. The first mention of frogs in profane literature is in Homer's narrative of the war between them and the mice. Skeptical persons have doubted Homer's authorship of the work, but the learned, ingenious and industrious Dr. Schliemann has set the question forever at rest by uncovering the bones of the slain frogs. One of the forms of moral suasion by which Pharaoh was besought to favor the Israelities was a plague of frogs, but Pharaoh, who liked them fricasees, remarked, with truly oriental stoicism, that he could stand it as long as the frogs and the Jews could so the programme was changed. The frog is a diligent songster, having a good voice but no ear. The libretto of his favorite opera, as written by Aristophanes, is brief, simple and effective --brekekex-koax the music is apparently by that eminent composer, Richard Wagner. Horses have a frog in each hoof --a thoughtful provision of nature, enabling them to shine in a hurdle race.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • PATRIOTISM, n. Combustible rubbish read to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • SANDLOTTER, n. A vertebrate mammal holding the political views of Denis Kearney, a notorious demagogue of San Francisco, whose audiences gathered in the open spaces (sandlots) of the town. True to the traditions of his species, this leader of the proletariat was finally bought off by his law-and-order enemies, living prosperously silent and dying impenitently rich. But before his treason he imposed upon California a constitution that was a confection of sin in a diction of solecisms. The similarity between the words sandlotter and sansculotte is problematically significant, but indubitably suggestive.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • Religions are conclusions for which the facts of nature supply no major premises
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)

  • BIGAMY, n. A mistake in taste for which the wisdom of the future will adjudge a punishment called trigamy.
    (Ambrose Gwinett Bierce)


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