For some reason, I was thinking recently about commonly used quotes that, when read in their original context, mean something quite different -- sometimes nearly the opposite -- of what many modern quoters use them to mean. For example, "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet" is usually used to suggest that two cultures are ultimately irreconcilable; but the full quote is very different:
OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,Likewise, some people defend antitrust law by quoting Adam Smith's line "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." But Smith actually said:
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice.Hardly a ringing defense of antitrust law.
Similarly, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," from Shakespeare's Henry VI, part 2, is said by a revolutionary who is not portrayed as a particular sensible character; shortly afterwards, Dick (who said the line) and Cade (who agreed with it) move on to condemn anyone who can write.
So my question: What other such quotes can people come up with? Again, I'm looking for quotes that (1) are pretty famous and (2) are often used to mean one thing, but where (3) the original work is saying nearly the exact opposite (either because the original line was facetious, or was followed by something of a "Yes, but," as in the Kipling or in the Smith quotes).
Please post your suggestions in the comments, and please stick within these three rules.