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Mankind is divisible into two great classes: hosts and guests.

MAX BEERBOHM, Hosts and Guests

The Nonconformist Conscience makes cowards of us all.

MAX BEERBOHM, King George the Fourth

The Socratic manner is not a game at which two can play.

MAX BEERBOHM, Zuleika Dobson

Men of genius are not quick judges of character.

MAX BEERBOHM, Quia Imperfectum

Has the gift of laughter been withdrawn from me? I protest that I do still, at the age of forty-seven, laugh often and loud and long. But not, I believe, so long and loud and often as in my less smiling youth. And I am proud, nowadays, of laughing, and grateful to any one who makes me laugh. That is a bad sign. I no longer take laughter as a matter of course.

MAX BEERBOHM, "Laughter", And Even Now

Most women are not so young as they are painted.

MAX BEERBOHM, A Defence of Cosmetics

It seems to be a law of nature that no man, unless he has some obvious physical deformity, ever is loth to sit for his portrait.

MAX BEERBOHM, Quia Imperfectum

I prefer that laughter shall take me unawares. Only so can it master and dissolve me.

MAX BEERBOHM, "Laughter", And Even Now

To say that a man is vain means merely that he is pleased with the effect he produces on other people. A conceited man is satisfied with the effect he produces on himself.

MAX BEERBOHM, Quia Imperfectum

There is laughter that goes so far as to lose all touch with its motive, and to exist only, grossly, in itself. This is laughter at its best. A man to whom such laughter has often been granted may happen to die in a work-house. No matter. I will not admit that he has failed in life. Another man, who has never laughed thus, may be buried in Westminster Abbey, leaving more than a million pounds overhead. What then? I regard him as a failure.

MAX BEERBOHM, "Laughter", And Even Now

Few, as I have said, are the humorists who can induce this state. To master and dissolve us, to give us the joy of being worn down and tired out with laughter, is a success to be won by no man save in virtue of a rare staying-power. Laughter becomes extreme only if it be consecutive. There must be no pauses for recovery. Touch-and-go humour, however happy, is not enough. The jester must be able to grapple his theme and hang on to it, twisting it this way and that, and making it yield magically all manner of strange and precious things.

MAX BEERBOHM, "Laughter", And Even Now

But to die of laughter--this, too, seems to me a great euthanasia.

MAX BEERBOHM, "Laughter", And Even Now

I have never regarded any theater as much more than the conclusion to a dinner or the prelude to a supper.

MAX BEERBOHM, attributed, 20,000 Quips & Quotes

Twenty years ago, ten years ago, I should have laughed, and have professed to you that I had merely smiled. A very young man is not content to be very young, nor even a young man to be young: he wants to share the dignity of his elders. There is no dignity in laughter, there is much of it in smiles. Laughter is but a joyous surrender, smiles give token of mature criticism. It may be that in the early ages of this world there was far more laughter than is to be heard now, and that aeons hence laughter will be obsolete, and smiles universal--every one, always, mildly, slightly, smiling. But it is less useful to speculate as to mankind's past and future than to observe men. And you will have observed with me in the club-room that young men at most times look solemn, whereas old men or men of middle age mostly smile; and also that those young men do often laugh loud and long among themselves, while we others--the gayest and best of us in the most favourable circumstances--seldom achieve more than our habitual act of smiling. Does the sound of that laughter jar on us? Do we liken it to the crackling of thorns under a pot? Let us do so. There is no cheerier sound. But let us not assume it to be the laughter of fools because we sit quiet. It is absurd to disapprove of what one envies, or to wish a good thing were no more because it has passed out of our possession.

MAX BEERBOHM, "Laughter", And Even Now


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