From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Women and elephants never forget an injury.

Saki (18 December 187013 November 1916) was the pen name of British author Hector Hugh Munro, whose witty and sometimes macabre stories satirised Edwardian society and culture.


People talk vaguely about the innocence of a little child, but they take mighty good care not to let it out of their sight for twenty minutes.
  • We all know that Prime Ministers are wedded to the truth, but like other married couples they sometimes live apart.
    • The Unbearable Bassington (1912), Ch. 13
  • Put that bloody cigarette out!
    • His last words, before being shot by a German sniper who'd heard the remark, as reported in The Square Egg (1924), p. 102

Reginald (1904)[edit]

  • Reginald in his wildest lapses into veracity never admits to being more than twenty-two.
    • "Reginald"
  • I found everyone talking nervously and feverishly of the weather and the war in South Africa, except Reginald, who was reclining in a comfortable chair with the dreamy, far-away look that a volcano might wear just after it had desolated entire villages.
    • "Reginald"
  • It is an admitted fact that the ordinary tomtit of commerce has a sounder aesthetic taste than the average female relative in the country.
    • "Reginald on Christmas Presents"
  • I am not collecting copies of the cheaper editions of Omar Khayyám. I gave the last four that I received to the lift-boy, and I like to think of him reading them, with FitzGerald's notes, to his aged mother. Lift-boys always have aged mothers; shows such nice feeling on their part, I think.
    • "Reginald on Christmas Presents"
  • To die before being painted by Sargent is to go to Heaven prematurely.
    • "Reginald on the Academy"
  • You can't expect the fatted calf to share the enthusiasm of the angels over the prodigal's return.
    • "Reginald on the Academy"
  • "To have reached thirty," said Reginald, "is to have failed in life."
    • "Reginald on the Academy"
  • The fashion just now is a Roman Catholic frame of mind with an Agnostic conscience: you get the mediaeval picturesqueness of the one with the modern conveniences of the other.
    • "Reginald at the Theatre"
  • "Which reminds me of the man I read of in some sacred book who was given a choice of what he most desired. And because he didn't ask for titles and honours and dignities, but only for immense wealth, these other things came to him also."
    "I am sure you didn't read about him in any sacred book."
    "Yes; I fancy you will find him in Debrett."
    • "Reginald at the Theatre"
  • Mother, may I go and maffick,
    Tear around and hinder traffic?
    • "Reginald's Peace Poem"
  • And the sleeper, eye unlidding,
    Heard a voice for ever bidding
    Much farewell to Dolly Gray;
    Turning weary on his truckle-
    Bed he heard the honey-suckle
    Lauded in apiarian lay.
    • "Reginald's Peace Poem"
  • Reginald, in his way, was a pioneer.
    None of the rest of his family had anything approaching Titian hair or a sense of humour, and they used primroses as a table decoration.
    It follows that they never understood Reginald, who came down late to breakfast, and nibbled toast, and said disrespectful things about the universe. The family ate porridge, and believed in everything, even the weather forecast.
    • "Reginald's Choir Treat"
  • And like every woman who has ever preached repentance to unregenerate youth, she dwelt on the sin of an empty life, which always seems so much more scandalous in the country, where people rise early to see if a new strawberry has happened during the night.
    • "Reginald's Choir Treat"
  • I always say beauty is only sin deep.
    • "Reginald's Choir Treat"
  • I think she must have been very strictly brought up, she's so desperately anxious to do the wrong thing correctly.
    • "Reginald on Worries"
  • And they tried to rag me in the smoking room about not being able to hit a bird at five yards, a sort of bovine ragging that suggested cows buzzing round a gadfly and thinking they were teasing it. So I got up the next morning at early dawn – I know it was dawn, because there were lark-noises in the sky, and the grass looked as if it had been left out all night.
    • "Reginald on House-Parties"
  • Think how many blameless lives are brightened by the blazing indiscretions of other people.
    • "Reginald at the Carlton"
  • The revenge of an elder sister may be long in coming, but, like a South-Eastern express, it arrives in its own good time.
    • "Reginald on Besetting Sins"
  • Children are given us to discourage our better emotions.
    • "Reginald on Besetting Sins"
  • Madame was not best pleased at being contradicted on a professional matter, and when Madame lost her temper you usually found it afterwards in the bill.
    • "Reginald on Besetting Sins"
  • The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go she went.
    • "Reginald on Besetting Sins"
  • Women and elephants never forget an injury.
    • "Reginald on Besetting Sins"
  • Reginald closed his eyes with the elaborate weariness of one who has rather nice eyelashes and thinks it useless to conceal the fact.
    • "Reginald's Drama"
  • It occurred to me that I would like to be a poet. The chief qualification, I understand is that you must be born. Well, I hunted up my birth certificate, and found that I was all right on that score.
    • "Reginald's Rubaiyat"
  • People talk vaguely about the innocence of a little child, but they take mighty good care not to let it out of their sight for twenty minutes.
    • "The Innocence of Reginald"
  • I might have been a goldfish in a glass bowl for all the privacy I got.
    • "The Innocence of Reginald"

Reginald in Russia (1910)[edit]

  • Reginald sat in a corner of the Princess's salon and tried to forgive the furniture, which started out with an obvious intention of being Louis Quinze, but relapsed at frequent intervals into Wilhelm II.
    • "Reginald in Russia"
  • Temptations came to him, in middle age, tentatively and without insistence, like a neglected butcher-boy who asks for a Christmas box in February for no more hopeful reason than that he didn't get one in December.
    • "The Reticence of Lady Anne"
  • The Western custom of one wife and hardly any mistress.
    • "A Young Turkish Catastrophe"
  • The death of John Pennington had left his widow in circumstances which were more straitened than ever, and the Park had receded even from her notepaper, where it had long been retained as a courtesy title on the principle that addresses are given to us to conceal our whereabouts.
    • "Cross Currents"
  • But, good gracious, you've got to educate him first. You can't expect a boy to be vicious till he's been to a good school.

The Chronicles of Clovis (1911)[edit]

  • Poverty keeps together more homes than it breaks up.
  • You needn't tell me that a man who doesn't love oysters and asparagus and good wines has got a soul, or a stomach either. He's simply got the instinct for being unhappy highly developed.
  • "I think oysters are more beautiful than any religion," [Clovis] resumed presently. "They not only forgive our unkindness to them; they justify it, they incite us to go on being perfectly horrid to them. Once they arrive at the supper-table they seem to enter thoroughly into the spirit of the thing. There's nothing in Christianity or Buddhism that quite matches the sympathetic unselfishness of an oyster."
    • "The Match-Maker"
  • All decent people live beyond their incomes nowadays, and those who aren't respectable live beyond other people's. A few gifted individuals manage to do both.
    • "The Match Maker"
  • You evidently feel that brevity is the soul of widowhood.
    • "The Match Maker"
  • Eleanor hated boys, and she would have liked to have whipped this one long and often. It was perhaps the yearning of a woman who had no children of her own.
  • The people of Crete unfortunately make more history than they can consume locally.
    • "The Jesting of Arlington Stringham"
  • Sredni Vashtar went forth,
    His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white.
    His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death.
    Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful.
  • I love Americans, but not when they try to talk French. What a blessing it is that they never try to talk English.
  • By insisting on having your bottle pointing to the north when the cork is being drawn, and calling the waiter Max, you may induce an impression on your guests which hours of laboured boasting might be powerless to achieve. For this purpose, however, the guests must be chosen as carefully as the wine.
  • Whenever a massacre of Armenians is reported from Asia Minor, every one assumes that it has been carried out "under orders" from somewhere or another; no one seems to think that there are people who might like to kill their neighbours now and then.
  • His socks compelled one's attention without losing one's respect.
    • "Ministers of Grace"
  • I came here to get freedom from the inane interruptions of the mentally deficient, but it seems I asked too much of fate.

Beasts and Super-Beasts (1914)[edit]

  • Romance at short notice was her speciality.
    • "The Open Window"
  • A beautifully constructed borsch, such as you are going to experience presently, ought not only to banish conversation but almost to annihilate thought.
    • "The Blind Spot"
  • Sophie Chattel-Monkheim was a Socialist by conviction and a Chattel-Monkheim by marriage.
    • "The Byzantine Omelette"
  • Waldo is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death.
    • "The Feast of Nemesis"
  • Cyprian was a boy who carried with him through early life the wondering look of a dreamer, the eyes of one who sees things that are not visible to ordinary mortals, and invests the commonplace things of this world with qualities unsuspected by plainer folk – the eyes of a poet or a house agent.
    • "The Dreamer"
  • The sacrifices of friendship were beautiful in her eyes as long as she was not asked to make them.
    • "Fur"
  • To be among people who are smothered in furs when one hasn't any oneself makes one want to break most of the Commandments.
    • "Fur"

The Square Egg (1924)[edit]

The cat of the slums and alleys, starved, outcast, harried, still keeps amid the prowlings of its adversity the bold, free, panther-tread with which it paced of yore the temple courts of Thebes, still displays the self-reliant watchfulness which man has never taught it to lay aside.
  • The animal which the Egyptians worshipped as divine, which the Romans venerated as a symbol of liberty, which Europeans in the ignorant Middle Ages anathematised as an agent of demonology, has displayed to all ages two closely blended characteristics — courage and self-respect. No matter how unfavourable the circumstances, both qualities are always to the fore. Confront a child, a puppy, and a kitten with a sudden danger; the child will turn instinctively for assistance, the puppy will grovel in abject submission to the impending visitation, the kitten will brace its tiny body for a frantic resistance. And disassociate the luxury-loving cat from the atmosphere of social comfort in which it usually contrives to move, and observe it critically under the adverse conditions of civilisation — that civilisation which can impel a man to the degradation of clothing himself in tawdry ribald garments and capering mountebank dances in the streets for the earning of the few coins that keep him on the respectable, or non-criminal, side of society. The cat of the slums and alleys, starved, outcast, harried, still keeps amid the prowlings of its adversity the bold, free, panther-tread with which it paced of yore the temple courts of Thebes, still displays the self-reliant watchfulness which man has never taught it to lay aside.
    • "The Achievement of the Cat"

Quotes about Saki[edit]

  • If only Saki – the pen name of Hector Hugh Munro – were still alive. The age of Trump needs his brutal dismantling of human stupidities. Despite a coterie of literary fans, Saki’s icy, perfectly constructed short stories have been relatively little read over the past 50 years – years of smug belief in endless progress — but his tales, by turns malevolent and macabre, may be due a revival in our new age of exigency. … He was a glorious pyromaniac let loose in the genteel upper-middle-class Edwardian world he knew so well. In many of his stories, stuffy authority figures are set against forces of nature – polecats, hyenas, tigers. Even if they are not eaten, the humans rarely have the best of it.

External links[edit]