Louis L’Amour Books: Classic Western Fiction Quotations

Classic Western Fiction Quotations

From unforgettable author: Louis L’Amour

2nd Amendment

You will remember that we won our freedom because we were armed. We were not a simple peasantry unused to weapons. The men who wrote our Constitution knew our people would be safe as long as they were armed. (Lonesome Gods, 216)

Western Civilization

keyIf men are to survive upon the earth there must be law, and there must be justice, and all men must stand together against those who would strike at the roots of what men have so carefully built. (Lonesome Gods, 415)

Here in these western lands men were fighting again the age-old struggle for freedom and for civilization, which is one that always must be fought for. The weak and those unwilling to make the struggle, soon resign their liberties for the protection of powerful men or paid armies; they begin by being protected, they end by being subjected. ~ Louis L’Amour (Man Called Noon)

Appeasement

We have a saying that power corrupts.

It does. Such rulers begin by demanding a little and end by demanding all. Power not only corrupts he who  wields the power but those who submit to it. Those who grovel at the feet of power betray their fellows to hide themselves beyond the cloak of submission. It is an evil thing. (Haunted Mesa, 293)

You cannot submit to evil without allowing evil to grow. Each time the good are defeated, or each time they yield, they only cause the forces of evil to grow stronger. Greed feeds greed, and crime grows with success. Our giving up what is ours merely to escape trouble would only create greater trouble for someone else. (Man Called Noon)

LAmour-cherokee-trailThere’s pushy folks around this country, and if they start pushing you, you have to push back. If you don’t they’ll soon push you out of the country. (Taggart)

Character

They had never learned how to rationalize, and their world was a simple one where right and wrong were quite obvious. Where the Long Grass Grows, 145

To die is not so much, it is inevitable. The journey is what matters, and what one does along the way. (Ferguson Rifle, 97-98).

Pride can be a dangerous associate, and a thinking man should beware of it.  (Ferguson Rifle, 165)

We’re not talking about what’s fair or unfair. We’re talking realities. (Comstock Lode, 49)

Uncommonly shrewd? no. Possibly not shrewd at all. Perhaps only a man who moved into whatever opening appeared, taking every advantage. Often the man appears shrewd who is only ruthless and without scruples.  (Comstock Lode, 331)

But I am somebody. I am me. I like being me, and I need nobody to make me somebody. I need no setting. As for a home, I can build my own. As for position, each of us finds his own.  (Comstock Lode, 333)

Generations will follow who must themselves live from that land …It would not be enough to leave something for them; we must leave it all a little better than we found it. (Lonesome Gods, 373)

Hatred is an ugly thing, more destructive of the hater than the hated. (Lonesome Gods, 371)

All he would say was to ask me, “Do you think you did the right thing?”

A question like that sticks in a man’s mind, and after awhile I judged everything by it, deciding whether it was the right thing, and often if there was no other way. I expect it was a good lesson to learn, but a man in his life may have many teachers, some most unexpected. The question with the man himself: Will he learn from them? (Fast Draw)

For a man to be at peace with himself was important, Will said, not what people say. People are often wrong, and public opinion can change, and the hatreds of people are rarely reasonable things. I can hear him yet. He used to say there was no use a man wearing himself out with hatred and ill-feeling, and time proved it out. First Fast Draw, 27

Me, I was never likely to build anything. A no-account drifter like me leaves no more mark behind him

than you leave a hole in the water when you pull your finger out. Every man could leave something, or should. Well, maybe it wasn’t in me to build much, but I surely could keep the work of other men from being destroyed. Nobody had the right to take from them what they had built. (Ride the Dark Trail, 101)

The thing to remember when traveling is that the trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for. (Ride the Dark Trail, 53)

A man had to see, not just look. (The Quick and the Dead, 18)

It’s the way with women. [They] fall for a man, then set out to change him. Soon’s they got him changed they don’t like him no more. Never seen it to fail. (Outlaws of Mesquite, 32)

The man had charted his own course, followed his own trail. If it led to death … he had probably saved himself from a bullet or a noose, for he was headed for one or the other. When a man begins a life of violence, or when he decides to live by taking something away from others, he just naturally points himself toward one end. He can’t win—the odds are too much against him. (Mustang Man, 93)

Walking opens the mind to thought.

LAmour-western2We have to earn our place, just like all the others. There’s no special sun that shines on any man, regardless of religion, philosophy, or the color of his skin. There’s no reason why any man should expect a special dispensation from pope or president. In this country, more than any other, you have to make your mark. You’re not going to be treated like something special until you are.

Some men become outlaws. They can’t make a living honestly, so they try to do it by force and strength.

That is the hardest question of history, the question people have asked in every age, in every time. Many men want what other men have. Men are often greedy, jealous, and vindictive. Or they look across the fence at what they think is greener grass.(Dry Side)

LAmour-brionneThe wood with which we work has strength, it has beauty, it has resilience! If it is treated well, it will last many, many years! If you build, build well. No job must be slackly done, no good material used badly. There is beauty in building, but build to last, so that generations yet to come will see the pride with which you worked. (Rivers West, 113)

Remember this. If you stop pushing on, you lose. It is always a little further to the top than you think. (Reilly’s Luck, 17)

Riding the wild country gives a man time to think, and Will Reilly had encouraged thinking. “You have to be objective,” he had said. “Each problem must be taken by itself, and you have to leave emotion out of it. Be stern with yourself. Don’t pamper yourself.” (Reilly’s Luck, 94)

Think nothing of treasure and stories of treasure. You will have in this world just what you earn … and save. Remember that. Do not waste your life in a vain search for treasure that may not exist. (Rivers West, 64)

A mill does not turn upon water that is past, nor does a ship sail with the winds of yesterday. (Rivers West, 5)

LAmour-skibbereenI am a poor man, and no fortune will come to me unless I earn it with me two hands. The hands and the will, they’re all I have. (Man from Skibbereen, 39)

“I could come to hate them!”

“Don’t. Isn’t worth it, Molly. I don’t hate anybody and never have. A man does what he has to do, and sometimes it’s not what I believe he should do. There’s no reason to use up energy hating him for it.

“If a man comes at me, I defend myself. If he hunts me, I figure I can hunt some myself.” (Milo Talon, 156)

There was something else, too, that was not generally recognized—that just as the maternal instinct is the strongest a woman has, just so the instinct to protect is the strongest for a man. (Mountain Valley War, 10)

They know who they are, they know what they believe in, and their kind will last. Other kinds of people will come and go. The glib and confident, the whiners and complainers, and the people without loyalty, they will disappear, but these people will still be here plowing the land, planting crops, doing the hard work of the world because it is here to be done. (Mountain Valley War, 12)

LAmour-ben-shafterYou’ve a good mind, too. Don’t let it go to seed. A brain is only as good as you give it a chance to be. (Mountain Valley War, 65)

There was a cold, bitter anger within him. For a moment he looked back, felt the weight of the guns at his hips, and remembered the contempt of Cub Hale, the arrogance of his father. No … now was not the time. Jody was gone, and Wilson too, but what they had fought for must not be lost. The surest way to make Hale pay was not to kill him but to destroy him and what he had done, to win so the rest of them could keep their homes. (Mountain Valley War, 130)

Sometimes a man’s ego gets so inflated that other people … are to be brushed aside. Well, he destroyed himself … when he brushed a man aside the other day who will haunt him the rest of his life. (Mountain Valley War, 141)

Do not let yourself be bothered by the inconsequential. One has only so much time in this world, so devote it to the work and the people most important to you, to those you love and things that matter. One can waste half a lifetime with people one doesn’t really like, or doing things when one would be better off somewhere else.” (Ride the River, 35)

Courage

LAmour-westernDo not be afraid. A little fear can make one cautious. Too much fear can rob you of initiative. Respect fear, but use it for an incentive, do not let it bind you or tie you down. (Lonesome Gods, 218-219)

They had come upon me in a mob, too cowardly to face me alone, and no man deserves to be beaten and hammered by a mob, and the men who make up a mob are cowards. First Fast Draw, 36

They had mobbed me, beaten me, and for no reason. Yet they had declared war, I had not. First Fast Draw, 38

There’s some who will remember you and be afraid, and men try to destroy anybody they are scared of.  First Fast Draw, 45

Only a fool takes chances. That isn’t bravery, not one bit. The good fightin’ man never takes chances he can avoid. You have to take plenty you can’t help, and only a fool would go to gambling with his life.

When I was a kid they told me I was scared for not walkin’ a small log over a high canyon. The other kids all did it, but not me. Now if there had been something on the other side I wanted, I would have gone over after it if there was no other way to get it. I never did see any sense in taking chances that weren’t necessary. There’s a sight of difference between being brave and being a dang fool. (Rustlers of West Fork, 131)

Trouble? All my life there’s been trouble, and where man is there will be trouble to the end of time, if not of one kind, then another. But I take my trouble as it comes. (Showdown at Yellow Butte, 86)

Culture

Men destroy what they do not understand, as they destroyed the son of God when he chose to walk among them. (Lonesome Gods, 512)

LAmour-quick-n-deadIs it to be a place where only business is done? Simply a marketplace, or is it to be a place of beauty? The great cities, the remembered cities, are the cities known for their beauty. (Lonesome Gods, 218)

Because a custom is old is no reason for junking it. (Long grass, 56)

The empty people, they wanted nothing more; they chafed at bonds because they were not mature enough for discipline, the kind of discipline one gives himself. He had seen too many of them, sad, misguided people, railing at institutions and ideas they were too juvenile to accept. The important thing in life called for maturity, for responsibility. Too many fled from it, wanting to be back in childhood when somebody else coped with the problems. Long Grass, 86

I had no grudge against any man, nor did I know what it meant to hate. To be wary, yes, for I knew there were hating folks about, but for myself, I hated no man. Only there was a point beyond which I’d not be pushed. First Fast Draw,15

The good people …made less noise and attracted less attention. (Rustlers of West Fork, 211)

Defend Right and Truth

LAmour-utah-blaineYou have to fight for most of the things worth having … or somebody does. (The Quick and the Dead, 116)

A man can get killed taking things for granted. (Ride the Dark Trail, 52)

Me, I was never likely to build anything. A no-account drifter like me leaves no more mark behind him than you leave a hole in the water when you pull your finger out. Every man could leave something, or should. Well, maybe it wasn’t in me to build much, but I surely could keep the work of other men from being destroyed. Nobody had the right to take from them what they had built. (Ride the Dark Trail, 101)

Education

He who ceases to learn is already a half-dead man. And do not be like an oyster who rests on the sea bottom waiting for the good things to come by. Search for them, find them. (Lonesome Gods, 39)

Family

There’s nothing better than two, a man and woman, who walk together. When they walk right together there’s no way too long, no night too dark. (Ride the Dark Trail, 49)

Long ago we had come from England and Wales, but the family feeling within us was older still, old as the ancient Celtic clans I’d heard spoken of. It was something deep in the grain, but something that should belong to all families …everywhere. I did not envy those who lacked it. (Ride the Dark Trail, 65)

“Her? Really? But she’s nobody. She’s just a broken-down nester’s daughter.”

“Everybody is somebody to me.” (Ride the Dark Trail, 202)

Government

There is no greater role for a man to play than to assist in the government of a people, nor anyone lower than he who misuses that power. (Lonesome Gods, 373

LAmour-flintA man is only king as long as folks let him be. (Ride the Dark Trail, 87)

You’ve got to make a stand somewhere. We are making a decision here today whether this community is to be ruled by justice and by law or by force and crime. (Law of Desert Born. 218)

What we have most to fear, I believe, are those within our own borders who think less of country than of themselves, who are ambitious for money, for power, for land. Some of these men would subvert anything, anything at all, for their own profit. They would even twist the laws of their own country in their desire to acquire wealth or power. Such men are always prepared to listen to a smooth-talking man with a proposal. (Rivers West, 27)

You must remember that if we leave the governing to others, then others will govern, and possibly not as we would like. In a country such as this, none of us is free of responsibility. Good government is everybody’s business. ~ Louis L’Amour (Rivers West, 29)

You know, Jack, there’s a clause in the Constitution that says the right of an American to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged. The man who put that clause there had just completed a war that they won simply because seven out of every ten Americans had their own rifles and knew how to use them. They wanted a man to always be armed to defend his home or his country. Right now there is a man in this area who is trying to take away that liberty and freedom from some men. (Mountain Valley War, 13)

One could not yield to the lawless and the ruthless, or soon there would be no freedom. It was among men as it was among nations. (Mountain Valley War, 85)

Davy was said to be a sort of Robin Hood bandit who took from the rich to give to the poor. If he was like most of those Robin Hood bandits I’d heard tell of, the poor he gave to was himself or over the bar in the nearest tavern. (Ride the River, 59)

History

All history is important to us. From each we learn a little about survival, a little about what causes peoples to decay and nations to die. We try to learn from others so we shall not make the same mistakes, but many of us learn simply for the love of knowing. (Haunted Mesa, 159)

LAmour-ride-riverMen needed stories to lead them to create, to build, to conquer, even to survive, and without them the human race would have vanished long ago. (Lonesome Gods, 142)

Not until 1818 had a firm boundary been established between the United States and Canada along the forty-ninth parallel from the Rainy Lake to the Rockies.

Only recently had the treaty been signed with Spain ceding Florida to the United States and defining the western border of the Louisiana Purchase at the forty-second parallel. The Untied States had renounced claims to Texas, and rights to many parts of this great new land were openly disputed.

The changing status of the slave trade had caused a number of slave traders to abandon the sea. In 1808 a law had been passed forbidding the importation of slaves into the United States, and even now a bill was before Congress that would make foreign slave trade an act of piracy punishable by death. Although the smuggling of slaves would almost certainly continue, many of those traders who wished to take no chances were leaving the trade and looking for a fresh area for their talents. (Rivers West, 39-40)

“I cannot believe this is happening to me. I cannot believe that those men would be as brutal as you say.”

“Nobody ever believes it until it is too late. Everyone has the same idea: that it could not happen to them. It is always happening to somebody else, and you see it in the papers and don’t credit it.”

~Louis L’Amour (Man from Skibbereen, 48)

Liberty

Are you prepared to lose all this? To have someone else reap where you have sown? You must fight or be enslaved. (Haunted Mesa, 270)

You will remember that we won our freedom because we were armed. We were not a simple peasantry unused to weapons. The men who wrote our Constitution knew our people would be safe as long as they were armed. (Lonesome Gods, 216)

He had breathed the free air of a free country too long and had the average American’s fierce resentment of tyranny. (Desert Born, 201)

LAmour-westward-tideMobs must be anonymous. Most men who make up mobs act under influence of the crowd. Singled out and suddenly alone, they become uncertain and uneasy. Deliberately, he let them know that he knew them. Deliberately, he walked among them, making each man feel known, cut off. He must break their shell of mob thinking and force each man to think of his own plight and the consequences to himself. He must make each man sure he was recognized, known. As a mass, thinking with one mind, they were dangerous, but if each began to worry …(Desert Born, 226-228)

Any man can run a town with killings, if he is fast enough. To clean up a tough town without killing, that takes a man!” (Desert Born, 232)

They were God-fearing, stern, and fierce to resent any intrusion on their personal liberty. It was such men as these who had destroyed Major Patrick Ferguson and his command at King’s Mountain. Not understanding what manner of men he dealt with, Ferguson had threatened them with fire and hanging, and they had responded by coming down from the mountains with their long Kentucky rifles. These were the sort of men who had been the backbone of the early American armies.

They were like Ethan Allen, Daniel Boone, the Green Mountain boys, Kit Carson, and Jim Bridger. There was also a fierce resentment for those who abused their power. (Mountain Valley War, 19-20)

Propaganda

They believe too hard. Men will give up anything rather than what they want to believe. And hate you for telling them there’s nothing to believe. And even if you prove it to them, they’ll continue to believe, and hate you for proving them foolish. ~Louis L’Amour

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