Charles Dudley Warner

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What small potatoes we all are, compared with what we might be!

Charles Dudley Warner (September 12, 1829October 20, 1900) was an American essayist and novelist.


  • It is fortunate that each generation does not comprehend its own ignorance. We are thus enabled to call our ancestors barbarous.
    • Backlog Studies, "Second Study” (1873)
  • There was never a nation great until it came to the knowledge that it had nowhere in the world to go for help.
    • Studies in the South and West with Comments on Canada (1889)
  • A well known American writer said once that, while everybody talked about the weather, nobody seemed to do anything about it.
    • Editorial, Hartford Courant (August 27, 1897)

My Summer in a Garden (1870)

  • To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds and watch, their renewal of life, this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do.
    • Preliminary
  • Let us celebrate the soil. Most men toil that they may own a piece of it; they measure their success in life by their ability to buy it.
    • Preliminary
  • No man but feels more of a man in the world if he have a bit of ground that he can call his own. However small it is on the surface, it is four thousand miles deep; and that is a very handsome property.
    • Preliminary
  • Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts. So long as we are dirty, we are pure.
    • Preliminary
  • What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back,—with a hinge in it.
    • Third Week
  • Lettuce is like conversation: it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.
    • Ninth Week
  • The toad, without which no garden would be complete.
    • Thirteenth Week
  • Politics makes strange bedfellows.
    • Fifteenth Week
  • What small potatoes we all are, compared with what we might be!
    • Fifteenth Week
  • Public opinion is stronger than the legislature, and nearly as strong as the Ten Commandments.
    • Sixteenth Week
  • The thing generally raised on city land is taxes.
    • Sixteenth Week


  • Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
    • Also credited to Mark Twain
  • Goodness comes out of people who bask in the sun, as it does out of a sweet apple roasted before the fire.
  • Happy is said to be the family which can eat onions together. They are, for the time being, separate, from the world, and have a harmony of aspiration.
  • I am convinced that the majority of people would be generous from selfish motives, if they had the opportunity.
  • One of the best things in the world to be is a boy; it requires no experience, but needs some practice to be a good one.
  • People always overdo the matter when they attempt deception.
  • Regrets are idle; yet history is one long regret. Everything might have turned out so differently.
  • There is nothing that disgusts a man like getting beaten at chess by a woman.
  • We are half ruined by conformity, but we should be wholly ruined without it.


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