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Quotations for & about Curmudgeons

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Welcome to my Curmudgeonesque page! Here you will find both curmudgeonly quotes (quotations of sarcasm, cynicism, pessimism, misery, ennui, crankiness, apathy, melancholy, negativity, and those about misanthropy, complaining, etc., said by grumps, hermits, and other garden-variety and famous antisocial malcontents) as well as several quotes about curmudgeons or with the word "curmudgeon" in them. Usually I invite my readers to enjoy the quotes, but if you are cranky perhaps I should just nonchalantly wish you a thorough non-enjoyment of them. Awww shucks, I just can't. Here's a hug for you, my surly friend! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g

There are people who have an appetite for grief; pleasure is not strong enough and they crave pain. They have mithridatic stomachs which must be fed on poisoned bread, natures so doomed that no prosperity can sooth their ragged and dishevelled desolation. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is not a fragrant world. ~Raymond Chandler

You raise your eyes to heaven to invoke it, and a swallow's dung falls into them and dries them up... You are in the shadow of your garden, and you shout: "Oh! what a beautiful rose!" and the rose pricks you; "Oh, what a beautiful fruit!" there is a wasp on it, and the fruit bites you. ~Claude Tillier (1801–1844), My Uncle Benjamin: A Humorous, Satirical, and Philosophical Novel, 1843, translated from the French by Benjamin R. Tucker, 1890

Happiness lies in our destiny like a cloudless sky before the storms of tomorrow destroy the dreams of yesterday and last week! ~Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts, 1968  [Linus to Charlie Brown —tg]

I don't answer the phone. I get the feeling whenever I do that there will be someone on the other end. ~Fred Couples

I love mankind… it's people I can't stand!! ~Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts," 1959 (Linus)

Sometimes I wonder if the whole world is n't an idiot asylum for the castaways of happier planets. ~Malheureuse, "Four For a Cent," in The Overland Monthly, January 1893

Old Grumps had no sympathy with this feeling... the cheerfulness that seemed to pervade everybody and everything, only served to make still more wretched his gloomy and hard old heart. ~Archibald Campbell Knowles, "Old Grumps," c.1893

His mother asked him if he knew what is meant by a curmudgeon.
"Yes, a cross, selfish, miserly person."
"And can you guess from what the word is derived? It is a corruption of two French words, ill pronounced."
"Cur munching, say it quickly, and it will make curmudgeon. And a cur munching is cross and miserly, if you attempt to take his bone from him."
~Maria Edgeworth (1768–1849)  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

CURMU'DGEON. n. s. [It is a vitious manner of pronouncing cœur mechant, Fr. an unknown correspondent.] An avaritious churlish fellow; a miser; a niggard; a churl; a griper. Cu'rmudgeonly, adj. ~Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755

CURMUDG'EON (s. from the French cœur, unknown, and mechant, a correspondent) A miser, a churl, a griper. ~John Ash, The New and Complete Dictionary of the English Language, 1775  [Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary, gives the etymology of "curmudgeon" thus: "a vicious manner of pronouncing 'cœur mechant,' Fr. An unknown correspondent." The etymology was given in consequence of his having enquired in the Gentleman's Magazine after the derivation of this word, of which he was informed through the same channel by an "unknown correspondent." Every schoolboy knows, that "cœur méchant" signifies an evil-minded person: but Dr. Ash, author of "Grammatical Institutes," with a stupidity unparalleled in the history of literature, copies the word into his Dictionary thus: "Curmudgeon, from the French 'cœur' UNKNOWN, and 'mechant' a CORRESPONDENT!!!" ("Aristarchus" from Oxford, 1804) And later said to be derived from the word for "corn-hoarder." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness and death. ~Fran Lebowitz

There are some mortals who are never happy save when they have some hurt feelings to enjoy. ~Author unknown, from Dallas-Galveston News, c.1894

A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. ~Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, 1893

The pessimist stands beneath the tree of prosperity and growls when the fruit falls on his head. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1906, George Horace Lorimer, editor

I've always been interested in people, but I've never liked them. ~W. Somerset Maugham

And on passing his fortieth year, any man of the slightest power of mind — any man, that is, who has more than the sorry share of intellect with which Nature has endowed five-sixths of mankind — will hardly fail to show some trace of misanthropy. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "The Ages of Life," Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, translated by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891

[I] put the question directly to myself: "Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?" And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, "No!" ~John Stuart Mill, Autobiography, 1909

When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools.
~William Shakespeare, King Lear, c.1605  [IV, 6, Lear]

Something in Dumphie's earnestness must have penetrated the rhinoceros hide of the "curmudgeon," and reached his heart.... Dumphie rose in favour with the "curmudgeon," who, indeed, ceased to be a curmudgeon at all as far as he was concerned... ~Mrs. R.S. de Courcy Laffan, Louis Draycott, 1889

Man walketh through the streets of the city in the pride and glory of his manhood and slippeth on the banana peel of misfortune and unjointeth his neck. ~John Collins, "Man," in The Medical Brief, October 1896

Curmudgeons and cats usually get along famously because we have a mutual disdain for foolishness. ~Richard E. Turner (1937–2011), The Grammar Curmudgeon, a.k.a. "The Mudge," "Animal People," 2004

Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumour of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more.
~William Cowper

Now old Grumps usually never gave a rap for people's opinions, or people's criticism, but somehow or other, this time as he hurried away, the words kept ringing in his ears, "The old curmudgeon! The old curmudgeon! Grumps, the old curmudgeon!" ~Archibald Campbell Knowles, "Old Grumps," c.1893

Life is one long process of getting tired. ~Samuel Butler

Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own. ~Jonathan Swift, The Battle of the Books, 1704

Satire is merely pointing out that roses have thorns — and that we can't avoid pricks. ~Terri Guillemets

Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved. ~Mark Twain

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. ~George Bernard Shaw

Nothing is more miserable than man,
Of all upon the earth that breathes and creeps.
~Homer, Iliad

O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
~William Shakespeare, Hamlet, c.1600  [I, 2, Hamlet]

I hate to be near the sea, and to hear it raging and roaring like a wild beast in its den. It puts me in mind of the everlasting efforts of the human mind, struggling to be free and ending just where it began. ~William Hazlitt

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people. ~G.K. Chesterton

We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs. ~Kenneth Clark

Men hate to be misunderstood, and to be understood makes them furious. ~Edgar Saltus

Things are not as bad as they seem. They are worse. ~Bill Press

I advise you to go on living solely to enrage those who are paying your annuities. It is the only pleasure I have left. ~Voltaire

      An article in the February 12, 2006, issue of Time, bearing the title "Happiness Isn't Normal," reports on a book by psychologist Steven Hayes in which he advances the idea that, as you might have guessed, happiness isn't normal....
      It's a great relief to learn that happiness is abnormal. I have always been suspicious of people who seemed to be perpetually chipper about virtually everything, who smiled constantly, who apparently didn't have a grouchy bone in their bodies. In fact, they annoyed me, and I avoided them as much as possible – while, of course, secretly believing that there must be something wrong with me. Consequently, I have had to hang out mostly with people who admitted to being at least moderately unhappy some of the time or with those who accept me as a curmudgeon by birth and therefore incapable of running about proclaiming how he has a bluebird on his shoulder, life is just a bowl of cherries, and all those other tiresome clichés. So, paradoxically, I am quite happy to learn that at least one psychologist believes that happiness isn't normal.
      ~Richard E. Turner (1937–2011), The Grammar Curmudgeon, a.k.a. "The Mudge," "Happiness Isn't Normal," 2006

Nothing begins, and nothing ends,
That is not paid with moan;
For we are born in others' pain,
And perish in our own.
~Francis Thompson

He had the uneasy manner of a man who is not among his own kind, and who has not seen enough of the world to feel that all people are in some sense his own kind. ~Willa Cather

Fate wou'd have it that I should fall amongst a Gang of those People who are call'd Gipsies, who strole from Province to Province, and employ 'emselves in telling o' Fortunes, and sometimes in many other things. Arriving at this Town, a young Gentlemen saw me, and.... He discover'd his Passion to the People whose Hands I was in, and found them dispos'd to resign me to him, on payment of a certain Sum: But the Mischief of the Affair was, that my Spark was in that Condition which we very often observe the Generality of Sons are, that is to say, he was a little bare of Mony. He has a Father, who, tho' he is rich, is an arrant Curmudgeon, a most sordid Mortal. Stay, can't I remember his Name? Heh! help me out a little. Can't you name me a Person in this Town who is noted for being avaricious to the utmost Degree? ~Molière, Les Fourberies de Scapin, Comédie, 1671 (Zerbinetta)

Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. ~Ernest Hemingway (Thanks, Schanna)

Sometimes you wake up in the morning and wish your parents had never met. ~Bill Fitch

The dignity of man lies in his ability to face reality in all its meaninglessness. ~Martin Esslin

[T]he army of wrongness rampant in the world might as well march over me. ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1958

I see it all perfectly: there are two possibilities, one can either do this or do that. My honest opinion and friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it, you will regret both. ~Søren Kierkegaard

A man is also known by the company he dodges. ~Poems and Paragraphs by Robert Elliott Gonzales, 1918

In fact, the author would seem affected with a chronic nausea of mankind... ~"Spiritual Jugglery: The Story of 'Perversion'" (critique of William John Conybeare's Perversion: or, The Causes and Consequences of Infidelity: A Tale for the Times, 1856), in Titan: A Monthly Magazine (conjoined series, continuation of Hogg's Instructor) (James Hogg), Vol. XXIII, September 1856

Comfort, or revelation: God owes us one of these, but surely not both. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Janie's a pretty typical teenager — angry, insecure, confused. I wish I could tell her that's all going to pass, but I don't want to lie to her. ~Alan Ball, American Beauty, 1999

I really do not know why man so clings to life. What does he find that is so agreeable in this insipid succession of nights and days, of winter and spring? Always the same sky, the same sun.... If this is the best that God could do, he is a sorry workman, and the scene-shifter at the Grand Opera is cleverer than he.... What is it to live? To rise, to go to bed, to breakfast, to dine, and begin again to‑morrow.... Men resemble spectators, some sitting on velvet, others on bare boards, but the greater number standing, who witness the same drama every evening, and yawn every one of them till they nearly split their jaws. All agree that it is mortally tiresome, that they would be much better off in their beds, and yet no one is willing to give up his place. ~Claude Tillier (1801–1844), My Uncle Benjamin: A Humorous, Satirical, and Philosophical Novel, 1843, translated from the French by Benjamin R. Tucker, 1890

I like long walks, especially when they're taken by people who annoy me. ~Fred Allen

My pessimism extends to the point of even suspecting the sincerity of the pessimists. ~Jean Rostand

You're obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretenses of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world. ~Octave Mirbeau, Torture Garden

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old Age a regret. ~Benjamin Disraeli, Coningsby

Fate stalks us with depressing monotony from womb to tomb, and, when we are least expecting it, deals us a series of crushing blows from behind. ~Hesketh Pearson, The Whispering Gallery

I would ask something more of this world, if it had something more. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Happy endings are only stories that haven't finished yet. ~Simon Kinberg, Mr. & Mrs. Smith

It must be admitted that there are some parts of the soul which we must entirely paralyze before we can live happily in this world. ~Nicolas Chamfort

He seems
To have seen better days, as who has not
Who has seen yesterday?
~George Gordon Byron

I like people. I just prefer it when they're not around. ~Zoo, "First Blood" (season 1, episode 1), original airdate 2015 June 30th, spoken by Mitch Morgan [writing credits: Appelbaum, Nemec, Pinkner, Rosenberg, Patterson, Ledwidge]

The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself. ~Ernest Hemingway

O, could I clamber to the frozen moon,
And cut away my ladder!
~George H. Boker, The Betrothal: A Play, 1850 (Pulti)

I do not believe in revealed religion — I will have nothing to do with your immortality; we are miserable enough in this life, without speculating on another. ~Lord Byron, 1778-1824, letter to Rev. Francis Hodgson, 1811

[M]an is a machine made expressly for sorrow; he has only five senses with which to receive pleasure, and suffering comes to him through the whole surface of his body.... The man who does not suffer is an ill-made machine, an imperfect creature... ~Claude Tillier (1801–1844), My Uncle Benjamin: A Humorous, Satirical, and Philosophical Novel, 1843, translated from the French by Benjamin R. Tucker, 1890

Many of us go through life feeling as an actor might feel who does not like his part, and does not believe in the play. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Go by, go by, with all your din,
      Your dust, your greed, your guile,
      Your pomp, your gold; you cannot win
      From her one smile....
Outlawed? Then hills and glens and streams
      Are outlawed, too.
      Proud world, from our immortal dreams,
      We banish you.
~Alfred Noyes, "The Outlaw," The Century Magazine, January 1912

Sorrow hides behind all your pleasures; you are gluttonous rats which it attracts with a bit of savory bacon. ~Claude Tillier (1801–1844), My Uncle Benjamin: A Humorous, Satirical, and Philosophical Novel, 1843, translated from the French by Benjamin R. Tucker, 1890

If there be a hell upon earth, it is to be found in a melancholy man's heart. ~Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

The enthusiastic, to those who are not, are always something of a trial. ~Alban Goodier

All our lives we are putting pennies — our most golden pennies — into penny-in-the-slot machines that are almost always empty. ~Logan Pearsall Smith

I never knew whether to pity or congratulate a man on coming to his senses. ~William Makepeace Thackeray

But ah! disasters have their use;
And life might e'en be too sunshiny...
~Charles Stuart Calverley, "Disaster," Fly Leaves, 1872

Ever get the feeling that sometime early in your life there must have been a briefing that you missed? ~Robert Brault,

Nine-tenths of the people were created so you would want to be with the other tenth. ~Horace Walpole

Perhaps if we saw what was ahead of us, and glimpsed the crimes, follies, and misfortunes that would befall us later on, we would all stay in our mother's wombs, and then there would be nobody in the world but a great number of very fat, very irritated women. ~Lemony Snicket

I grieve for life's bright promise, just shown and then withdrawn. ~William Cullen Bryant

Semyón Semyónovich Medvedénko: "Why do you always wear black?"
Máshenka: "I'm in mourning for my life...."
~Anton Chekhov, The Seagull

There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing. ~Maya Angelou, PBS, 1988 March 28th

A satirist is a man who discovers unpleasant things about himself and then says them about other people. ~Peter McArthur

Inasmuch as a curmudgeon can do so, I try to take annoyances in stride. I'll permit myself a short tirade and then try to accept that the world will not adapt to me. I must adapt to it. ~Richard E. Turner (1937–2011), The Grammar Curmudgeon, a.k.a. "The Mudge," "Frustrations," The Mudgelog, 2008 December 9th

I am beginning to think that my persona as a curmudgeon is wearing down. I am still a grumbler, still enjoy the facetious comment (especially when it's witty as well), and still am alternately annoyed and amused by the foibles of my fellow human beings. However, I have lost, or am losing, my passion for the negative. Though I still feel that there's much to be negative about (I do, after all, read the newspaper), I guess when one is 70 years old, there doesn't seem to be much point in getting into twit over matters that one can't control. I might as well take everything more lightly, for I haven't that much time left. The world and humanity will outlive me – and may, with luck, outlive my children and grandchildren. ~Richard E. Turner (1937–2011), The Grammar Curmudgeon, a.k.a. "The Mudge," The Mudgelog, 2007 May 15th

God made everything out of nothing. But the nothingness shows through. ~Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres, 1942

Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation. ~James Thurber, Further Fables for Our Time, 1956

This world is gradually becoming a place
Where I do not care to be any more.
~John Berryman

Oftentimes, when people are miserable, they will want to make other people miserable, too. But it never helps. ~Lemony Snicket

Thus he went on with Elocution,
T' excite a lib'ral Contribution:
Who cou'd refrain from laughing loud,
To see the ign'rant silly Croud,
So eager to be cross'd that they,
Till he came down wou'd hardly stay:
There was not any one Curmudgeon,
Who did not now become a Gudgeon.
'Twas like unto St. Peter's Haul,
For ev'ry Cross he got a Paul,
And feigning thus to be mistaken,
He sav'd most cleverly his Bacon.
~A Country Curate, "The Popish Impostor: A Narrative, Faithfully Translated from the Original Manuscript, Setting forth the Frauds and Artifices of the Romish Clergy, to impose upon the Laity, With Explanatory Notes," c.1735  ["It may be necessary to inform some of my Readers, that a Paul Giulio is an Italian Coin, in Value equal to Six-pence." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs. ~Charles de Gaulle

All my joys to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as melancholy.
~Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1651

You have come into a hard world. I know of only one easy place in it, and that is the grave. ~Henry Ward Beecher

It's just life — wake up and smell the thorns. ~From the movie Meet Joe Black

Then they Kiss and Complement the Country-Milliners, to trust them with Sword-knots, and clean Gloves, Ribbons for their Sleeves, to hang streaming down, and to dangle their Canes in; and thus set out, they go a sutoring to some young Gentlewoman or another. But she you saw had sixteen thousand Crowns for her Portion; her Mother was dead; she read Romances (Romances I think you call 'em) and Plays, and was counted to have a notable Wit as any, let the other be who she would, in a great way of her. Her Father's an old curmudgeonly Cur, and would never let her go to Angela our chief City, nor would he give her any of her Portion till he died, or she married to his liking; but yet he never look'd out for a Husband for her. ~Secret Memoirs and Manners Of several Persons of Quality of Both Sexes, from the New Atalantis, an Island in the Mediterranean, Written Originally in Italian, Vol. I, 1720

I had a lover's quarrel with the world. ~Robert Frost, The Lesson for Today, 1942

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