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Quotations about Superstition
FRIDAY THE 13TH,
We are full of superstitions. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am well-educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "Notes from Underground," translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett, 1918
Nothing clings to the world like a superstition. ~Lemuel K. Washburn, Is the Bible Worth Reading and Other Essays, 1911
Poor Charlotte Guise, superstitious by nature and education, was seized with a perfect acme of terror... ~Ellen Price Wood, "The Master of Greylands," 1872
The preachers who preach the beauty of truth, honesty and a useful, helpful life, I am with, head, heart and hand. The preachers who declare that there can be no such thing as a beautiful life unless it will accept superstition, I am against, tooth, claw, club, tongue and pen. ~Elbert Hubbard
...for he was singularly invulnerable to all modes of superstition, all nonsense, except his own. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Septimius Felton, 1871
It's like superstition, you know, which is what other people believe. ~W. Somerset Maugham, Lady Frederick, 1907
As darkness encourages the growth of reptiles, so, in an inverse manner, do the creatures of superstition promote the growth of darkness. ~Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington
SUPERSTITION: 1. Scrambled science flavored with fear. 2. Ossified metaphor. ~Elbert Hubbard, The Roycroft Dictionary
No itch is more infectious than superstition. ~Saying
Of all the plagues to which man is subject, none is more pestilent than superstition. ~Saying
I reject the superstitions of ages, and believe nothing. I don't even believe that I don't believe, curse me if I do! ~Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, 1844
After all... there are certain mysteries in our nature, certain inscrutable impulses and influences, which warrant one in being superstitious. ~Washington Irving
Superstition is as deep rooted as the world is old... Down through the path of time has stalked a majestic figure, a contemptuous smile on his lips, a pointing finger of scorn directed ahead. It is superstition! The scoffer at superstition is but the man who keeps his own particular skeleton hidden carefully in the closet. ~"Are You Superstitious?," The Mixer & Server, 1914
In New-York near the eastern shore of the Hudson, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. This sequestered glen has long been known by the name of SLEEPY HOLLOW. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere... They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs... The whole neighbourhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions. ~Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (Found Among the Papers of the Late Diedrich Knickerbocker), The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Vol. II, 1820
Man's brain-sick superstition... ~James Montgomery
Curst Superstition! madly blind,
That will not even look behind;
Lest stars should fall from out the sky,
Or thine own shadow terrify;
Curst be the pow'r that veils from man,
All that in nature's works we scan!
That dwindles reason from our sight,
And rears up phantoms to affright;
Gives tongues to winds; and from the skies,
Frightens our souls with prophecies!
Enthusiastic mad-brain'd sprite,
That lov'st to read thy spells by night;
To tear up graves, and from the earth
To give thine horrid fancies birth;
Daughter of Ignorance! thy breast
Is of no beating heart possess'd!...
~John William Smith, Terrors of Imagination and Other Poems, 1814
Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy, the foolish daughter of a wise mother. These two daughters however have for a long time governed this world with uncontrollable sway. ~Voltaire, translated from the French by T. Smollett, T. Franklin, et al., 1764
Ignorance is not only the mother of superstition, but the foster-parent of knavery. ~T. C. Henley
Superstition is the child of fear, and fear is the child of ignorance. ~Charles Kingsley
What misery comes from the womb of Ignorance! Disordered imaginations, the changing and inclement skies of superstition, entail distress and wretchedness upon human nature. ~Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), The Fountain, 1870
A philosophic mind is not haunted by the ghosts of tradition or superstition, neither does it shrink from the most profound contemplation of the future. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882
Touch wood, it's sure to come good. ~Old saying
Who answers when you knock on wood? ~J. Drummond, People, 1969
If man were relieved of all superstition, and all prejudice, and had replaced these with a keen sensitivity to his real environment, and moreover had achieved a level of communication so simplified that one syllable could express his every thought, then he would have achieved the level of intelligence already achieved by his dog. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, when men think they do best if they go farthest from the superstition, — by which means they often take away the good as well as the bad. ~Francis Bacon
Superstition is the poetry of life... Superstition does not harm the poet, for he knows how to make its half-truths... ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Superstition and Poetry," 1823
Some sudden thrill of superstitious fear moved Gaspard to make the sign of the cross and mutter an "Ave"... ~Marie Corelli, The Secret Power, 1921
He crossed himself somewhat nervously as he spoke... He forgot that he belonged to an age which professes to despise the supernatural and to mock at all belief in God or devil; he was as keenly superstitious at that second as any of his dead-and-gone ancestry could have been... He lost all his fashionable scepticism as he cowered... he acknowledged a belief in Satan and his hell; he tried to remember certain boyish prayers; he cried, trembling, on his patron saint. The modern man had gone to pieces — only the throw-back remained. ~Alice and Claude Askew, Eve — and the Law, 1905
The best preventive of superstition is Wisdom. ~Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), The Great Harmonia, 1859
Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition... ~Adam Smith
Science has wonders far transcending those of superstition... ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation VI: A Quarry among the Hills," 1850
Thus, through the ages, Science brushes away the cobwebs of superstition, and lays bare the walls of being... ~Jean Giraudoux, The Enchanted: A Comedy in Three Acts, 1933, adapted by Maurice Valency, English Acting Edition, 1950
Superstitions, errors, and prejudices are cobwebs continually woven in shallow brains. ~J. De Finod
The stories which affrighted my young imagination gave me a tendency to superstition which I could never effectually shake off. ~Washington Irving [a little altered —tg]
He was in a panic of superstitious fear... ~Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897
Reading and reverie were by no means the only methods adopted by my shipmates in whiling away the long, tedious hours in harbour. Many slept; some stitched elaborate shirts; some polished their brass or steel bright-work. Some excelled in tattooing or pricking, as it is called in a man-of-war. Each pricker had a small box full of tools and colouring matter. They would prick you to order a palm-tree, or an anchor, a crucifix, a lady, a lion, an eagle, or anything else you might want.
The Roman Catholic sailors on board had at least the crucifix pricked on their arms, so that if they chanced to die in a Catholic land, they would be sure of a decent burial in consecrated ground. And many sailors not Catholics were anxious to have the crucifix painted on them, owing to a curious superstition that if you have that mark tattooed upon all four limbs, you might fall overboard among seven hundred and seventy-five thousand white sharks, all dinnerless, and not one of them would so much as dare to smell your little finger. ~Herman Melville, White-Jacket
"I love superstition," said Mr. Paravel. "Alas! the Reformation killed our superstition, and at the same time it killed our art." ~Rosa Murray-Prior Praed (1851–1935), The Scourge-Stick, 1898
Ye men of church and ritual, guard your tongues
From too impetuous fervors of defence.
Remember that the Christ ye so adore
Was guiltless both of spleen and arrogance!...
Remember Newton and Copernicus
Killed superstition with the sword of truth;
They did not scare it dead with rhetoric.
Hysteria never framed a syllogism,
And logic murders like a gentleman.
...it may interest those who wish to marry to know that the luckiest day and month for marriages is by superstitious people held to be the thirty-first of December. ~"All the Year Round: December," All the Year Round: A Weekly Journal Conducted by Charles Dickens, 1887
There's an old superstition that it's bad luck to be married in May; why not include the other eleven months? ~Helen Rowland, Reflections of a Bachelor Girl, 1909
We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were early implanted in his imagination; no matter how utterly his reason may reject them, he will still feel as the famous woman did about ghosts, Je n'y crois pas, mais je les crains, — "I don't believe in them, but I am afraid of them, nevertheless." ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us. Ideas of the Stone Age exist side by side with the latest scientific thought. Only a fraction of mankind has emerged from the Dark Ages, and in the most lucid brains, as Logan Pearsall Smith has said, we come upon "nests of woolly caterpillars." Seemingly sane men entrust their wealth to stargazers and their health to witch doctors. Giant planes throb through the stratosphere, but half their passengers are wearing magic amulets and are protected from harm by voodoo incantations. Hotels boast of express elevators and a telephone in every room, but omit thirteen from all floor and room numbers lest their guests be ill at ease. We function on a dozen different levels of intelligence. Earnest suburbanites in sack suits go in their automobiles to celebrate the ancient rites of Attis and Mithra, theophagous in grape juice. On the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox we dye eggs, according to immemorial custom, and seven days before the end of the year worship the pine tree, as did our neolithic forebears. Matter and impertinency are inextricably mixed. One of our greatest universities employs its vast endowment to furnish "scientific proof" of clairvoyance, while, at another, a Nobel prize winner in physics, finding Truth to be incomprehensible, decides that the incomprehensible must be true. The discoveries of the telescope, the spectroscope, and the interferometer are daily news, but the paper that carries them probably has an astrologer on its staff and would sooner omit the headlines than the horoscope. ~Bergen Evans, "Adam's Navel," The Natural History of Nonsense, 1946
Dull, superstitious readers they deceive,
Who pin their easy faith on critic's sleeve,
And knowing nothing, everything believe!
~Charles Churchill (1731–1764), "The Apology"
Now these old superstitions sometimes prove to have a germ of truth in them, which some philosopher has doubtless long ago, in forgotten ages, discovered and made known; but in process of time his learned memory passes away, but the truth, undiscovered, survives him, and the people get hold of it, and make it the nucleus of all sorts of folly. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Septimius Felton, 1871
But what are these to tales of earlier times,
When blinded ignorance misled the mind;
And monkish superstition spread a cloud
Of gloom o'er faith... grim Terror soon became
Religion's handmaid, and the crafty priest
Confirm'd the idle tales of gossip wives.
~John William Smith, Terrors of Imagination and Other Poems, 1814
If one were inclined to be superstitious... he might call this an omen. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe
Thou taintest all thou lookest upon! ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Superstition"
People will often pay to custom or superstition, what they will not pay to duty or to God. ~William Benton Clulow, Horæ Otiosæ, 1833
Life is a superstition. But superstitions are not without their value. The snail's shell is a superstition, slugs have no shells and thrive just as well. But a snail without a shell would not be a slug unless it had also the slug's indifference to a shell. ~Samuel Butler (1835–1902), Note-Books, selections arranged and edited by Henry Festing Jones (1851–1928)
A rabbit's foot may bring good luck to you, but it brought none to the rabbit. ~Ambrose Bierce
Tortur'd by superstition into signs
Of future happiness or adverse fate.
~John William Smith, Terrors of Imagination and Other Poems, 1814
By the absence of an irreverent press, Europe for a thousand years has existed merely for the advantage of half a dozen seventh-rate families called Monarchs, and some hundreds of riffraff sarcastically called Nobles. Our papers have one peculiarity — it is American — it exists nowhere else — their irreverence. May they never lose and never modify it. They are irreverent toward pretty much everything, but where they laugh one good king to death, they laugh a thousand cruel and infamous shams and superstitions into the grave, and the account is squared. Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense. ~Mark Twain
For wheresoe'er thy light resplendent streams,
Lo! Ignorance retreats before thy beams,
Pale Superstition trembles with dismay,
Freedom expands, and Tyranny gives way.
~Henry Heavisides (1791–1870), "To the Press"
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg proves to be of a fitful temperament: on one page the hypochondriac, on the next the optimist, now as practical as Franklin, now as whimsical as Lamb, here dwelling devoutly on the sombre music of the Psalms, there as gravely speculating what the mean reading of the barometer may be in Paradise; sceptical, superstitious, cynical and sentimental by turns. ~Norman Alliston, The Reflections of Lichtenberg, 1908
I am extremely superstitious, but I am not in the least ashamed of it — any more than I am ashamed of believing that the earth does not move. It is the substance of my philosophy, and I only thank God that He has given me a soul able to correct the tendency. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"
One of the most remarkable traits of my character is without doubt the extraordinary superstition which makes me see signs in every conceivable affair, and in a single day turn hundreds of things into an oracle.... Every crawling insect provides me with an answer to some question or other concerning my fate.... But the tendency is perhaps rooted in human nature, and has only in my case taken a monstrous form... ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"
I am superstitious enough, thank God, to believe that not a stone or a handful of mud gravitates into its place without the will of God; that it was ordained, ages since, into what particular spot each grain of gold should be washed down from an Australian quartz reef, that a certain man might find it at a certain moment and crisis of his life. ~Charles Kingsley
You are like one that superstitiously
Doth swear to the gods that winter kills the flies...
Now, then,— you'll say, perhaps, I'm superstitious.
But am I?… Have I ever looked for signs?…
You know me; and you know I'm no old woman
Who squints in a cup of tea-leaves for a portent.
But this I swear, and this I'll swear till doomsday,—
More things go on about us on this earth
Than flesh can know of. Trees have devils in them,
Ghosts go walking out on the waves of the air
And sing in the belfry when the bells are tolling...
No, I'm not superstitious, more than any...
~Conrad Aiken, "Two Old Men Who Remembered Punch"
We sporting men are apt to be rather superstitious... ~Edward J. Goodman
I often think of that wish of De Quincey's, that a prayer might have the pursuing power which old-fashioned superstition assigned to a curse, and might follow its mark and reach it always. In such case, I should send a prayer to you, to reach you through whatever counter-influences, and bring you health, and repose, and happiness. ~Rosa Murray-Prior Praed (1851–1935), The Scourge-Stick, 1898
Security is mostly a superstition. ~Helen Keller, Let Us Have Faith, 1940
When too much Zeal doth fire Devotion,
Love is not Love, but Superstition...
~Richard Corbet (1582–1635), "R. C."
Knowledge leads us progressively to the summits of immensity — to the mounts of truth; ignorance leads into the vales of superstition — into the deepest pandemonium of doubt and gloom! ~Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), The Present Age and Inner Life, 1853
Thou oughtest to be nice, even to Superstition, in keeping thy Promises; and therefore thou shouldest be equally cautious in making them. ~Directions, Counsels, and Cautions, tending to prudent Management of Affairs in Common Life, collected by Thomas Fuller
But, this evening, an old superstition had strangely recurred to her. It used to be said, in her younger days, that, if anything were amiss with a corpse, if only the ruff were not smooth, or the cap did not set right, the corpse, in the coffin and beneath the clods, would strive to put up its cold hands and arrange it. The bare thought made her nervous. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Ambitious Guest"
Through such leaks it is superstition comes soaking back into the laboriously bailed-out minds of men. ~H. G. Wells, The Undying Fire, 1919
Antiquity is a poor authority, being characteristically shrouded in the winding-sheet of error, superstition, and misapprehensions of the commonest facts. ~Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), The Great Harmonia, 1859
While nature melted, superstition raved! ~Edward Young
To such enormous wrongs could superstition persuade! ~Lucretius
Giant Error, darkly grand,
Grasp'd the globe with iron hand.
~Samuel Rogers (1763–1855), "Ode to Superstition"
Let us guard against every enemy threatening the perpetuity of free republican institutions. If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's, but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other. ~Ulysses S. Grant, 1875
In fact, before you can begin to think about politics at all you have to abandon the notion that there is a war between good men and bad men. That is one of the great American superstitions. More than any other fetish it has ruined our sense of political values... ~Walter Lippmann, "Routineer and Inventor," A Preface to Politics, 1913
Let there be many windows to your soul,
That all the glory of the universe
May beautify it. Not the narrow pane
Of one poor creed can catch the radiant rays
That shine from countless sources. Tear away
The blinds of superstition; let the light
Pour through fair windows broad as Truth itself...
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox, "Progress," Poems of Passion, 1883
"This poor old world works hard and gets no richer: thinks hard and gets no wiser: worries much and gets no happier. It casts off old errors to take on new ones: laughs at ancient superstitions and shivers over modern ones. It is at best but a Garden of Folly, whose chattering gardeners move a moment among the flowers, waiting for the sunset." (Confucius — or Tutankhamen — I forget which) ~Stephen Leacock, The Garden of Folly, 1924
All men, however highly educated, retain some superstitious inklings. The feeling that is called "eerie" came upon him. ~H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man
...and the old superstition
Creeps over me again!—A childish fancy!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It is but a legend, I know,—
A fable, a phantom, a show
Of the ancient Rabbinical lore;
Yet the old mediæval tradition,
The beautiful, strange superstition,
But haunts me and holds me the more.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sickness and sorrows come and go, but a superstitious soul hath no rest. ~Robert Burton (Cicero)
Grim Superstition, with an haggard eye... ~Michael Wodhull, "The Equality of Mankind," 1700s
Doubts, horrors, superstitious fears,
Saddened and dimmed descending years...
Old customs, habits, superstitions, fears,
All that lies buried under fifty years.
~John Greenleaf Whittier
Man develops complex superstitions about perfect numbers and imperfect numbers, about threes and sevens and the like... How large a part numerical and geometrical magic, numerical and geometrical philosophy has played in the history of the mind. ~H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia, 1905 [a little altered —tg]
...one profound student of nature will put to flight ten thousand priests whose only strength consists in their ecclesiastical organizations, and in the superstitious ignorance of their devotees. ~Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), The Great Harmonia, 1852
The cry for censorship arose with renewed fury, and there was no stopping the superstition that all human wickedness was somehow due to this new devil. ~Rupert Hughes, Souls for Sale, 1922
Superstition is a senseless fear of the gods; religion is pious worship of the gods. ~Cicero
Superstition is but the fear of belief: religion is the confidence. ~Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington
...silly, sickly superstition... ~Lemuel K. Washburn, Is the Bible Worth Reading and Other Essays, 1911
I consider it a great compliment to RELIGION that there are only 3 good substitutes for it; EMOTION, SUPERSTITION and HYPOCRISY. ~Josh Billings, revised by H. Montague, 1913
I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool... ~Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897
Better be dumb than superstitious... ~Ben Jonson
Septimius... was sufficiently common-sensible, and invulnerable to superstitious influences on every point except that to which he had surrendered himself... ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Septimius Felton, 1871
"Don't think me superstitious," said the Colonel, laughing, "but there is a wise hand in all this, rest assured..." ~Alwyn M. Thurber, The Hidden Faith, 1895
I'm not superstitious, but I'm a little stitious. ~Internet meme
I'm not superstitious, but it's just as well to have superstition on your side as to go against it. ~Frank H. Angier, "The Love-Test," 1880
I'm not superstitious, but I've got a feeling in my bones... ~Valma Clark, "The Tact of Monsieur Pithou," 1927
I am not superstitious...
And yet I tremble...
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I'm not superstitious, but I have an illogical reverence for other people's superstitions... ~Rosa Murray-Prior Praed (1851–1935), Christina Chard, 1894
I'm not superstitious, but it's an awfully funny thing how often one finds old legends come true. ~Cyril Bennett, "The Black Ghost," 1889
Jewels aren't like any other kind of property, and everybody who has much to do with them knows it. I'm not superstitious, but you don't have to be superstitious to believe that a sort of curse attends the possession of most really valuable gems whenever they're not in the right hands. ~Grant M. Overton, Mermaid, 1920
I'm not superstitious but I believe it is hard luck being without money. ~Red Skelton
Abroad in the sunshine I'm not superstitious;
But there in the darkness I fancied some vicious
Hobgoblin, or other, was after me surely;
And I tried to think what place would hide me securely.
~Author unknown, mid-1800s
I'm not superstitious, but, really, the mysterious aspect of everything to-night has a strong effect on my mind. ~R. M. Ballantyne
I am not superstitious, but it seems to me that a cloud is rising somewhere, with which I am to struggle, though I can not grasp it. Have you never felt this irrational foreboding? ~John Esten Cooke, Bonnybel Vane: Embracing the History of Henry St. John, Gentleman, 1859
I'm not superstitious, but I always feel there must be something in superstitions. ~Margaret Macnamara, The Witch, 1920
I am sure that I am not superstitious, but as I am deeply conscious of the omniscience and omnipresence of God, I can never believe that he is an idle spectator of the thoughts, words, actions, and accidents of his creatures. In what manner he interferes with any or with all of these is beyond my comprehension, but that he does sometimes rule them I am compelled to believe... ~James Montgomery, 1806
I'm not superstitious; but there may be something in it. I don't know! There are lots of things in this existence, fourth dimension, perhaps, that men, puny and blunt of intelligence, may not comprehend. ~Norman Way, "The Story of Red Gold," The Moccasins of Gold, 1912
By Jove... I am not superstitious, but I have knowledge that you do not understand... ~H. Rider Haggard, Dawn, 1884
I'm not superstitious, but it may be that 'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio' — you know the rest. ~Peyton Wrey, "The Charmed Ring," 1907
That's your superstition. ~William Shakespeare
published 1999 Feb 15
revised 2023 Jan 13
last saved 2023 Jan 15