Lord Vetinari:
A Collection of Quotations

Being a collection of quotations by and about His Lordship, the Patrician, for the reader's enjoyment and edification.

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[Sourcery] [Guards! Guards!] [Moving Pictures] [Reaper Man] [Men At Arms]
[Interesting Times] [Feet of Clay] [Soul Music] [Jingo] [The Fifth Elephant] [The Truth]
And, his Lordship's unpublished manuscript, The Servant



About His Lordship:

'And is he a fair and just ruler?'
Carding thought about it. The Patrician's spy network was said to be superb. 'I would say,' he said carefully, 'that he is unfair and unjust, but scrupulously even-handed. He is unfair and unjust to everyone, without fear or favour.'

He didn't administer a reign of terror, just the occasional light shower.

Like Death, which some of the city's less fortunate citizens considered he intimately resembled, the Patrician never got angry until he had time to think about it. But sometimes he thought very quickly.

His Lordship:

Upon hearing that the wizards planned upon ruling Ankh-Morpork:
'Then all truly wise men would prefer the safety of a nice deep dungeon.'

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Guards! Guards!

About His Lordship:

The Patrician was not a man you shook a finger at unless you wanted to end up being able to count only to nine.

The man had eyes everywhere, none of them so terrifying as the icy blue ones just above his nose.

You had to hand it to the Patrician, he [the President of the Thieves' Guild] admitted grudgingly. If you didn't, he sent men to come and take it away.

You need a special kind of mind to rule a city like Ankh-Morpork, and Lord Vetinari had it. But then, he was a special kind of person.

It was said that he would tolerate absolutely anything apart from anything that threatened the city [footnote: And mime artists. It was a strange aversion, but there you are. Anyone in baggy trousers and a white face who tried to ply their art anywhere within Ankh's crumbling walls would very quickly find themselves in a scorpion pit, on one wall of which was painted the advice: Learn The Words.]

And when the Patrician was unhappy, he became very democratic. He found intricate and painful ways of spreading that unhappiness as far as possible.

It never had been what you might call a select palace. The Patrician had always felt that if you made people comfortable they might want to stay.

The ... Patrician had never been a gloater, you could say that for him. If he wanted you dead, you never even heard about it.

A sense of terrifying admiration overcame him.
He wondered what it was like in the Patrician's mind. All cold and shiny, he thought, all blued steel and icicles and little wheels clicking along like a huge clock. The kind of mind that would carefully consider its own downfall and turn it to advantage.

His Lordship:

'I shall deal with the matter momentarily,' he said. It was a good word. It always made people hesitate. They were never quite sure whether he meant he'd deal with it now, or just deal with it briefly. And no-one ever dared ask.

Crime was always with us, he reasoned, and therefore, if you were going to have crime, it at least should be organized crime.

I know who you are, he said. I know where you live. I know what kind of horse you ride. I know where your wife has her hair done. I know where your lovely children, how old are they now, my doesn't time fly, I know where they play. So you won't forget about what we agreed, will you? And he smiled.
So did they, after a fashion.

Never build a dungeon you couldn't get out of.

'And they are said to be silver tongued,' said Wonse. The Patrician leaned back in his chair.
'Only silver?' he said.

'Never build a dungeon you wouldn't be happy to spend the night in yourself,' said the Patrician, laying out the food on the cloth. 'The world would be a happier place if more people remembered that.'

'Never trust any ruler who puts his faith in tunnels and bunkers and escape routes. The chances are that his heart isn't in the job.'

'I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.'

'Every evil tyrant has a plan to rule the world. The good people don't seem to have the knack.'

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Moving Pictures

About His Lordship:

The Patrician's stare had him pinned. It was a good stare, and one of the things it was good at was making people go on talking when they thought they had finished.

He had not got where he was today by bothering how things worked. It was how people worked that intrigued him.

His Lordship:

Yes, it was fascinating. You could become famous just for being, well, famous. It occurred to him that this was an extremely dangerous thing and he might probably have to have someone killed one day, although it would be with extreme reluctance. [footnote: On his part, that is. Their reluctance probably goes without saying.]

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Reaper Man

About His Lordship:

Thin, pale, and clad all in dusty black, the Patrician always put Ridcully in mind of a predatory flamingo, if you could find a flamingo that was black and had the patience of a rock.

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Men At Arms

About His Lordship:

'Everyone knows the Assassins have set his fee at a million dollars,' said Lady Selachii. 'That's how much it would cost to have him killed.'
'One can't help feeling,' said Lord Rust, 'that it would cost a lot more than that to make sure he stayed dead.'

Vimes' meeting with the Patrician ended as all such meetings did, with the guest going away in possession of an unfocused yet nagging suspicion that he'd only just escaped with his life.

'...he doesn't wear a crown or sit on a throne and he doesn't tell you it's right that he should rule,' said Vimes. 'I hate the bastard. But he's honest. Honest like a corkscrew.

...the Patrician rather liked the gardens [which had been designed by Bloody Stupid Johnson], in a quiet kind of way. He had certain views about the mentality of most of mankind, and the gardens made him feel fully justified.
[For a description of the Gardens, go

'The Patrician gets really shirty about ethnic trouble,' said Sergeant Colon moodily. 'He gets really sarcastic about it.'

'It's bad enough barging into Guild property, but we'll get into really serious trouble if we shoot anyone. Lord Vetinari won't stop at sarcasm. He might use' -Colon swallowed- 'irony.'

The Patrician steepled his fingers and looked at Carrot over the top of them. It was a mannerism that had unnerved many.

His Lordship:

'I have always had a great belief in the effectiveness of examples. So I am sure you'll be able to sort this out with minimum inconvenience all round.'

'Dismantling a person is sometimes necessary.'

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Interesting Times

His Lordship:

'Six thousand miles? By magic? Do you know how hard that is?'
'I cherish my ignorance on the subject,' said Lord Vetinari.

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Feet of Clay

About His Lordship:

You didn't knock on the Patrician's door. He summoned you in the certain knowledge that you would be there.

His Lordship:

Lord Vetinari had always said that punctuality was the politeness of princes.

'They think they want good government and justice for all, Vimes, yet what is it they really crave, deep in their hearts? Only that things go on as normal and tomorrow is pretty much like today.'

The tincture of night began to suffuse the soup of the afternoon.
Lord Vetinari considered the sentence, and found it good. He liked 'tincture' particularly. Tincture. Tincture. It was a distinguished word, and pleasantly countered by the flatness of 'soup.' The soup of the afternoon. Yes. In which may well be found the croutons of teatime.
He was aware that he was a little light-headed. He'd never have thought a sentence like that in a normal frame of mind.

To Commander Vimes:
'It seems I've only got to be unwell for a few days and you manage to upset everyone of any importance in this city.'

'I'm not completely heartless, you know.'

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Soul Music

About His Lordship:

'Oh, I am sorry,' he said. 'I'm sure I can find someone to give you a cool refreshing drink...'
Foul Ole Ron coughed. It had sounded like a perfectly sincere offer, but, somehow, he was suddenly not at all thirsty.

His Lordship:

'Ah, Drumknott,' said Lord Vetinari, 'just go and tell the head of the Musicians' Guild he wants a word with me, will you?'

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About His Lordship:

Commander Vimes: 'Captain, I expect if you'd done it in a cellar at midnight his lordship would have said "Wasn't it rather dark down there?" next morning.'

Leonard of Quirm: 'I'm very sorry about this, but his lordship has explained to me at great length how the needs of society as a whole may have to overrule the rights of a particular individual.'

The Patrician was against printing because if people knew too much it would only bother them.

[Sergeant Colon:] He and Nobby Nobbs, the bold warriors, were venturing forth in hostile territory. Unfortunately, he knew they were doing it because Lord Vetinari was sittin in the Boat and would raise his eyebrows in no uncertain manner if they refused.

His Lordship:

'For some reason the slaughter of thousands of people tends to stick in the memory.'

'The problem with mercenaries,' said the Patrician, 'is that they need to be paid to start fighting. And, unless you are very lucky, you end up paying them even more to stop.'

'Taxation, gentlemen, is very much like dairy farming. The task is to extract the maximum amount of milk with the minimum of moo. And I am afraid to say that these days all I get is moo.'

'Let's have no fighting, please. This is, after all, a council of war.'

'Strange as it may seem, Sir Samuel, I am occaisionall capable of governing this city for minutes at a time without seeking your advice and guidance.'

'I do like negotiating with people after the faculty of Unseen University have enteratined them to lunch. They tend not to move about much and they'll agree to practically anything if they think there's a chance of a stomach powder and a small glass sof water.'

'If you say "Sir?" again in that stupid voice, Vimes, I swear there will be trouble.'

'Simple men to see the simple truth.'

'A week is a long time in politics.'

'An so once again peace spreads her tranquil blanket.'

'It is in the nature of people to turn on their leaders when they fail to be lucky.'

'...history changes all the time. It is constantly being re-examined and re-evaluated, otherwise how would we be able to keep historians occupied? We can't possibly allow people with their sort of minds to walk around with time on their hands.'

'Putting up a statue to someone who tried to stop a war is not very, um, statuesque. Of course, if you had butchered five hundred of your own men out of arrogant carelessness, we'd be melting the bronze already.'

The Patrician flashed one of those sharp, fleeting smiles to say that something that wasn't very funny had nevertheless amused him. 'Veni, vici...Vetinari.'

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The Fifth Elephant

About His Lordship:

Vetinari never did anything without a reason.

A really keen and paranoid listener would have reflected that anything Lord Vetinari said aloud even while he was alone might not be totally worth believing. Not, certainly, if your life depended on it.

He found it difficult to talk to Frederick Colon. He dealt on a daily basis with people who treated conversation as a complex game, and with Colon he had to keep on adjusting his mind in case he overshot.

'Your excelency, if you persist in this attitude, a complaint will go to your Lord Vetinari!'
'He does so look forward to them.'

His Lordship:

Where you got policement, as Lord Vetinari was wont to remark, you got crime.

[Vetinari] always suspected the poetiddc description of Time like an ever-rolling stream. Time, in his experience, moved more like rocks ... sliding, pressing, building up force underground and then, with one jerk that shakes the crockery, a whole field of turnips mysteriously slips sideways by six feet.

'But, my lord, they will know what you are thinking!'
Vetinari patted him on the shoulder. 'No, Leonard. They will merely know what is in my messages.'

'Not natural, in my view, sah. Not in favor of unnatural things.'
Vetinari looked perplexed. 'You mean, you eat your meat raw and sleep in a tree?'

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The Servant

The Servant is first mentioned in Feet of Clay, but not by name. It is a compendium of advice and precepts to a young man setting out to govern a fictional city (identified in the MS only as AM). Most of the ensuing quotations are gathered from The Discworld Companion, an invaluble guide for the discerning discworld traveller, and an absolute delight to read.

Chapter Eight, he read unsteadily, The Rites of Man.
Ah, yes...
'Concerning Truth,' he wrote, 'that which May be Spoken as Events Dictate, but should be Heard on Every Ocasfion...'

Where there are clearly sides to a question, make haste to see that these rapidly become two hundred.

If it continues long enough, even a reign of terror may become a fondly remembered period. People believe they want justice and wise government but, in fact, what they really want is an assurance that tomorrow will be very much like today.

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The Truth

About His Lordship:

Lord Vetinari was said not to like [printing], because too many words only upset people.

'From what I hear he mostly doesn't do a -ing thing!' [Mr Tulip] complained.
'Yeah,' said Mr Pin smoothly. 'One of the hardest things to do properly, in politics.'

'Vetinari dead would be more dangerous than Vetinari alive.'

Lord Vetinari by habit rose so early that bedtime was merely an excuse to change his clothes.

'Der Patrician will see you now,' said the troll.
'I don't have an appointment with Lord Vetinari!'
'Ah, well,' said the troll, 'you'd be amazed at how many people has appointments wid der Patrician an' dey don't know it.'

'Lord Vetinari eats pet food?'
'He doesn't eat much of anything from what I hear. No, I delivers for his dog. Finest stuff. Prime.'

'You did say it was finest steak. Lord Vetinari is kind to his dog.'

Lord Vetinari was supposed to have tried to kill someone, and that didn't make sense, if only because the person he had tried to kill was apparently still alive.

'I know, I know, it's just that I think that if Lord Vetinari wanted to kill someone they'd be dead.'

His Lordship:

'Flexibility and understanding have always been my watchwords.'

'I'm sure no one could call me a despot, your reverence.'

'It'll end in trouble, my lord,' said Ridcully...
Lord Vetinari sighed. 'In my experience, practically everything does,' he said. 'That is the nature of things. All we can do is sing as we go.'

'When one has been ruler of this city as long as I have, one gets to know with a sad certainty that whenever some well-meaning soul begins a novel enterprise they always, with some kind of uncanny foresight, site it at the point where it will do maximum harm to the fabric of reality.'

'Ah. You feel that I am being unfair? Ruthlessly despotic, perhaps?'

'I have certainly noticed that groups of clever and intelligent people are capable of really stupid ideas.'

He gave William a look which said 'I can read your mind, even the small print.'

'Things that are back to front are often easier to comprehend if they are upside down as well, in life as in politics.'

'Bribed? My dear sir, seeing what you're capable of for nothing, I'd hesitate to press even a penny in your hand.'

'I'm sure we can pull together, sir.'
Lord Vetinari raised his eyebrows. 'Oh, I do hope not, I really do hope not. Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.' He smiled. 'It's the only way to make progress. That and, of course, moving with the times.'

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This page last futzed with: 12/19/00