Quotes About Authorship


Authorship and Writing

The pen is the tongue of the mind. - Cervantes


But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
_Don Juan, Canto III_. LORD BYRON.

Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
Till authors hear at length one general cry
Tickle and entertain us, or we die!
_Retirement_. W. COWPER.

The unhappy man, who once has trailed a pen,
Lives not to please himself, but other men;
Is always drudging, wastes his life and blood,
Yet only eats and drinks what you think good.
_Prologue to Lee's Csar Borgia_. J. DRYDEN.

Lest men suspect your tale untrue
Keep probability in view.
The traveller leaping o'er those bounds,
The credit of his book confounds.
_The Painter who pleased Nobody and Everybody_. J. GAY.

Immodest words admit of no defence.
For want of decency is want of sense.

* * * * *

But foul descriptions are offensive still,
Either for being like or being ill.
_Essay on Translated Verse_. EARL OF BOSCOMMON.

Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigued I said,
Tie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The Dog-star rages! nay, 't is past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
_Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot: Prologue to the Satires_. A. POPE.

Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
Dipped me in ink,--my parents', or my own!
_Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot: Prologue to the Satires_. A. POPE.

An author wh speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children. - Disreali

And so I penned
It down, until at last it came to be.
For length and breadth, the highness which you see.
_Pilgrim's Progress: Apology for his Book_. J. BUNYAN.

None but an author knows an author's cares,
Or Fancy's fondness for the child she bears.
_The Progress of Error_. W. COWPER.

Whether the charmer sinner it, or saint it,
If folly grow romantic. I must paint it.
_Moral Essays, Epistle II_. A. POPE.

"You write with ease, to show your breeding,
But easy writing's curst hard reading."
_Olio's Protest_. R.B. SHERIDAN.

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'T is not enough no harshness gives offence;
The sound must seem an echo to the sense.
Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore.
The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar.
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw
The line too labors, and the words move slow;
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main.

* * * * *

Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song.
That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.
_Essay on Criticism, Part II_. A. POPE.

Abstruse and mystic thought you must express
With painful care, but seeming easiness;
For truth shines brightest thro' the plainest dress.
_Essay on Translated Verse_. W. DILLON.

It may be glorious to write
Thoughts that shall glad the two or three
High souls, like those far stars that come in sight
Once in a century.
_Incident in a Railroad Car_. J.R. LOWELL.

E'en copious Dryden wanted, or forgot,
The last and greatest art--the art to blot.
_Horace, Bk. II. Epistle I_. A. POPE.

Whatever hath been written shall remain,
Nor be erased nor written o'er again;
The unwritten only still belongs to thee:
Take heed, and ponder well, what that shall be.
_Morituri Salutamus_. H.W. LONGFELLOW.

Authors.—Choose an author as you choose a friend.—Earl of Roscommon.

The motives and purposes of authors are not always so pure and high, as, in the enthusiasm of youth, we sometimes imagine. To many the trumpet of fame is nothing but a tin horn to call them home, like laborers from the field, at dinner-time, and they think themselves lucky to get the dinner.—Longfellow.

It is a doubt whether mankind are most indebted to those who, like Bacon and Butler, dig the gold from the mine of literature, or to those who, like Paley, purify it, stamp it, fix its real value, and give it currency and utility.—Colton.

Twenty to one offend more in writing too much than too little.—Roger Ascham.

He who proposes to be an author should first be a student.—Dryden.

[Pg 21]Nothing is so beneficial to a young author as the advice of a man whose judgment stands constitutionally at the freezing-point.—Douglas Jerrold.

No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self-deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.—Cervantes.

There are three difficulties in authorship—to write anything worth the publishing, to find honest men to publish it, and to get sensible men to read it.—Colton.

An author! 'Tis a venerable name!
How few deserve it, and what numbers claim!
Unblest with sense above their peers refin'd,
Who shall stand up, dictators to mankind?
Nay, who dare shine, if not in virtue's cause?
That sole proprietor of just applause.

Never write on a subject without having first read yourself full on it; and never read on a subject till you have thought yourself hungry on it.—Richter.

How many great ones may remember'd be,
Which in their days most famously did flourish,
Of whom no word we hear, nor sign now see,
But as things wip'd out with a sponge do perish,
Because the living cared not to cherish
No gentle wits, through pride or covetize,
Which might their names for ever memorize!

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.—Thackeray.

To write well is to think well, to feel well, and to render well; it is to possess at once intellect, soul and taste.—Buffon.

Young authors give their brains much exercise and little food.—Joubert.[Pg 22]


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