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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


The art of scorn has fallen sadly into disrepute in these later days. Scorn fares hardly in an age of doubt and democracy. I can rarely feel it myself; but as it came rolling out of the old Cap'n that morning, I'll admit there was something grand about it. ~David Grayson, Hempfield, 1915


In those persons who move the profoundest pity, tragedy seems to consist in temperament, not in events. There are people who have an appetite for grief, pleasure is not strong enough and they crave pain, mithridatic stomachs which must be fed on poisoned bread, natures so doomed that no prosperity can sooth their ragged and dishevelled desolation. Thy mis-hear and mis-behold, they suspect and dread. They handle every nettle and ivy in the hedge, and tread on every snake in the meadow. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


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 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 or 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


What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing. ~Oscar Wilde


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


      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


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, as quoted in A. E. Hotchner, The Good Life According to Hemingway, 2008


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


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


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


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]


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


[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


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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


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


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


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]


I'm like King Midas in reverse, here. Everything I touch turns to [$h¡t]. ~The Sopranos, "Isabella," 1999, written by Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess  [S1, E12, Tony Soprano —tg]


I have a feeling that you're riding for some kind of a terrible, terrible fall. But I don't honestly know what kind... It may be the kind where, at the age of thirty, you sit in some bar hating everybody who comes in looking as if he might have played football in college. Then again, you may pick up just enough education to hate people who say, "It's a secret between he and I." Or you may end up in some business office, throwing paper clips at the nearest stenographer. I just don't know. ~J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, 1951  [Mr. Antolini —tg]


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



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