One murder makes a villain; millions, a hero; numbers sanctify the crime.
—Beilby Porteus (1731–1809) English Anglican Reformer, Abolitionist
One to destroy, is murder by the law; to murder thousands takes a specious name — war’s glorious art, and gives immortal fame.
—Edward Young (1683–1765) English Poet,
If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.
—Thomas de Quincey (1785–1859) English Essayist, Writer, Author, Scholar
A murderer is regarded by the conventional world as something almost monstrous, but a murderer to himself is only an ordinary man. It is only if the murderer is a good man that he can be regarded as monstrous.
—Graham Greene (1904–91) British Novelist, Playwright, Short Story Writer
You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.
—Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977) Russian-born American Novelist
Murders are exciting and lift people into a heart-beating awe as religion is supposed to do, after seeing one in the street young couples will go back to bed and make love, people will cross themselves and thank God for the gift of their stuporous lives, old folks will talk to each other over cups of hot water with lemon because murders are enlivened sermons to be analyzed and considered and relished, they speak to the timid of the dangers of rebellion, murders are perceived as momentary descents of God and so provide joy and hope and righteous satisfaction to parishioners, who will talk about them for years afterward to anyone who will listen.
—E. L. Doctorow (b.1931) American Writer, Editor, Academic