17+ quotes from The Book of Merlyn by T.H. White

Quotes from The Book of Merlyn

T.H. White ·  160 pages

Rating: (7.7K votes)


“We find that at present the human race is divided into one wise man, nine knaves, and ninety fools out of every hundred. That is, by an optimistic observer. The nine knaves assemble themselves under the banner of the most knavish among them, and become 'politicians'; the wise man stands out, because he knows himself to be hopelessly outnumbered, and devotes himself to poetry, mathematics, or philosophy; while the ninety fools plod off under the banners of the nine villains, according to fancy, into the labyrinths of chicanery, malice and warfare. It is pleasant to have command, observes Sancho Panza, even over a flock of sheep, and that is why the politicians raise their banners. It is, moreover, the same thing for the sheep whatever the banner. If it is democracy, then the nine knaves will become members of parliament; if fascism, they will become party leaders; if communism, commissars. Nothing will be different, except the name. The fools will be still fools, the knaves still leaders, the results still exploitation. As for the wise man, his lot will be much the same under any ideology. Under democracy he will be encouraged to starve to death in a garret, under fascism he will be put in a concentration camp, under communism he will be liquidated.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“I can imagine nothing more terrifying than an Eternity filled with men who were all the same. The only thing which has made life bearable…has been the diversity of creatures on the surface of the globe.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“It is a pity that there are no big creatures to prey on humanity. If there were enough dragons and rocs, perhaps mankind would turn its might against them. Unfortunately man is preyed upon by microbes, which are too small to be appreciated.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“I am an anarchist, like any other sensible person.
~ Merlyn”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“He caught a glimpse of that extraordinary faculty in man, that strange, altruistic, rare, and obstinate decency which will make writers or scientists maintain their truths at the risk of death. Eppur si muove, Galileo was to say; it moves all the same. They were to be in a position to burn him if he would go on with it, with his preposterous nonsense about the earth moving round the sun, but he was to continue with the sublime assertion because there was something which he valued more than himself. The Truth. To recognize and to acknowledge What Is. That was the thing which man could do, which his English could do, his beloved, his sleeping, his now defenceless English. They might be stupid, ferocious, unpolitical, almost hopeless. But here and there, oh so seldome, oh so rare, oh so glorious, there were those all the same who would face the rack, the executioner, and even utter extinction, in the cause of something greater than themselves. Truth, that strange thing, the jest of Pilate's. Many stupid young men had thought they were dying for it, and many would continue to die for it, perhaps for a thousand years. They did not have to be right about their truth, as Galileo was to be. It was enough that they, the few and martyred, should establish a greatness, a thing above the sum of all they ignorantly had.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“Neither force, nor argument, nor opinion," said Merlyn with the deepest sincerity, "are thinking. Argument is only a display of mental force, a sort of fencing with points in order to gain a victory, not for truth. Opinions are the blind alleys of lazy or of stupid men, who are unable to think. If ever a true politician really thinks a subject out dispassionately, even Homo stultus will be compelled to accept his findings in the end. Opinion can never stand beside truth. At present, however, Homo impoliticus is content either to argue with opinions or to fight with his fists, instead of waiting for the truth in his head. It will take a million years, before the mass of men can be called political animals.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“But they woke him with words, their cruel bright weapons.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“Guenever never cared for God. She was a good theologian, but that was all. The truth was that she was old and wise: she knew that Lancelot did care for God most passionately, that it was essential he should turn in that direction. So, for his sake, to make it easier for him, the great queen now renounced what she had fought for all her life, now set the example, and stood to her choice. She had stepped out of the picture.

Lancelot guessed a good deal of this, and, when she refused to see him, he climbed the convent wall with Gallic, ageing gallantry. He waylaid her to expostulate, but she was adamant and brave. Something about Mordred seems to have broken her lust for life. They parted, never to meet on earth.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“I see what you think you mean," said the magician, "but you are wrong. There is no excuse for war, none whatever, and whatever wrong which your nation might be doing to mine-short of war-my nation would be in the wrong if I started a war so as to redress it. A murderer, for instance, is not allowed to plead that his victim was rich and oppresing hhim, so why should a nation be allowed to? Wrongs have to be redressed by reason, not force.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“To disbelieve in original sin, does not mean that you must believe in original virtue. It only means that you must not believe that people are utterly wicked.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“Grown-ups have developed an unpleasant habit of comforting themselves for their degradation by pretending that children are childish.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“he began to see why Merlyn had always clowned on purpose. It had been a means of helping people to learn in a happy way.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“Nobody can be saved from anything, unless they save themselves.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“In the course of a long experience of the human race, I have learned that you can never make them understand anything, unless you rub it in.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“People are dupes, and wicked too. That is what makes it interesting to get them better.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“Neither force, nor argument, nor opinion,” said Merlyn with the deepest sincerity, “are thinking. Argument is only a display of mental force, a sort of fencing with points in order to gain a victory, not for truth. Opinions are the blind alleys of lazy or of stupid men, who are unable to think.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


“One more try,' he asked, 'We are not quite done.' 'What is the use of trying?' 'It is a thing which people do.”
― T.H. White, quote from The Book of Merlyn


About the author

T.H. White
Born place: in Bombay, India
Born date May 29, 1906
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“Love is the anesthetic applied by Nature to extract babies.”
― David Mitchell, quote from The Bone Clocks


“A shrewd person would one day start a religion based on coincidence, if he hasn't already, and make a million.”
― Don DeLillo, quote from Libra


“I have it in my head that when we’re born, God writes things down on our hearts. See, on some people’s hearts he writes “happy” and on some people’s hearts he writes “sad” and on some people’s hearts he writes “crazy” and on some people’s hearts he writes “genius” and on some people’s hearts he writes “angry” and on some people’s hearts he writes “winner” and on some people’s hearts he writes “loser.”

I keep seeing a newspaper being tossed around in the wind. And then a strong gust comes along and the newspaper is thrown against a barbed wire fence and it gets ripped to shreds in an instant. That’s how I feel. I think God is the wind. It’s all like a game to him. Him. God. And it’s all pretty much random. He takes out his pen and starts writing on our blank hearts. When it came to my turn, he wrote “sad.” I don’t like God very much. Apparently, he doesn’t like me very much either.”
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, quote from Last Night I Sang to the Monster


“saving them money and helping them out. “Dad?” she said. “Could you stay”
― Kristin Hannah, quote from True Colors


“Yes, sometimes we must lose something...someone...before we realize its worth.”
― Julie Klassen, quote from The Apothecary's Daughter


Interesting books

Seven Types of Ambiguity
(4.1K)
Seven Types of Ambig...
by Elliot Perlman
Emily's Quest
(14.6K)
Emily's Quest
by L.M. Montgomery
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
(3.6K)
I Don't Have Enough...
by Norman L. Geisler
Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation
(3.5K)
Playing the Enemy: N...
by John Carlin
Sashenka
(3.3K)
Sashenka
by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Letter to a Christian Nation
(28.9K)
Letter to a Christia...
by Sam Harris

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2018, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.