Moral character or character is an evaluation of a person's moral and mental qualities. Such an evaluation is subjective — one person may evaluate someone's character on the basis of their virtue, another may consider their fortitude, courage, loyalty, honesty, or piety.
- Our characters are the result of our conduct.
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (c. 335 B.C).
- Zealous, yet modest; innocent, though free;
Patient of toil; serene amidst alarms;
Inflexible in faith; invincible in arms.
- James Beattie, The Minstrel (1771), Book I, Stanza 11.
- Our stability is but balance, and conduct lies
In masterful administration of the unforseen.
- Robert Bridges, The Testament of Beauty (1929), Book I, line 6.
- Hannibal, as he had mighty virtues, so had he many vices; * * * he had two distinct persons in him.
- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Democritus to the Reader.
- Heroic, stoic Cato, the sententious,
Who lent his lady to his friend Hortensius.
- So well she acted all and every part
By turns—with that vivacious versatility,
Which many people take for want of heart.
They err—'tis merely what is call'd mobility,
A thing of temperament and not of art,
Though seeming so, from its supposed facility;
And false—though true; for surely they're sincerest
Who are strongly acted on by what is nearest.
- Thou art a cat, and rat, and a coward to boot.
- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-15), Part I, Book III, Chapter VIII.
- Every one is the son of his own works.
- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-15), Part I, Book IV, Chapter XX.
- I can look sharp as well as another, and let me alone to keep the cobwebs out of my eyes.
- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-15), Part II, Chapter XXXIII.
- Cada uno es come Dios le hijo, y aun peor muchas vezes.
- Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.
- Henry Clay, reported in The Clay Code, or Text-Book of Eloquence, a Collection of Axioms, Apothegms, Sentiments … Gathered from the Public Speeches of Henry Clay, ed. G. Vandenhoff (1844), p. 93.
- Elegant as simplicity, and warm
- William Cowper, Table Talk (1782), line 588.
- Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time,
Not to be pass'd.
- William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book III, line 75.
- A demd damp, moist, unpleasant body.
- Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39), Chapter XXXIV.
- Men of light and leading.
- A man so various, that he seem'd to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome;
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
But in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.
- John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681), Part I, line 545.
- So over violent, or over civil,
That every man with him was God or Devil.
- John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681), Part I, line 557.
- For every inch that is not fool, is rogue.
- John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681), Part II, line 463.
- Our Garrick's a salad; for in him we see
Oil, vinegar, sugar, and saltness agree.
- Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation (1774), line 11.
- Though equal to all things, for all things unfit;
Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit.
- Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation (1774), line 37.
- We must have a weak spot or two in a character before we can love it much. People that do not laugh or cry, or take more of anything than is good for them, or use anything but dictionary-words, are admirable subjects for biographies. But we don't care most for those flat pattern flowers that press best in the herbarium.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1859), Chapter III. Iris.
- Whatever comes from the brain carries the hue of the place it came from, and whatever comes from the heart carries the heat and color of its birthplace.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1859), Chapter VI.
- If he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.
- No doubt the reason is that character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
- Helen Adams Keller (p. 60. Helen Keller's Journal: 1936-1937, Doubleday, Doran & company, inc., 1938).
- A tender heart; a will inflexible.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Christus (1872), Part III. The New England Tragedies. John Endicott, Act III, scene 2.
- So mild, so merciful, so strong, so good,
So patient, peaceful, loyal, loving, pure.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Christus, The Golden Legend (1872), Part V, line 319.
- Sensitive, swift to resent, but as swift in atoning for error.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), Part IX. The Wedding Day.
- In this world a man must either be anvil or hammer.
- We hardly know any instance of the strength and weakness of human nature so striking and so grotesque as the character of this haughty, vigilant, resolute, sagacious blue-stocking, half Mithridates and half Trissotin, bearing up against a world in arms, with an ounce of poison in one pocket and a quire of bad verses in the other.
- Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, Frederick the Great (1842).
- And the chief-justice was rich, quiet, and infamous.
- Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, Warren Hastings (1841).
- Now will I show myself to have more of the serpent than the dove; that is—more knave than fool.
- Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta (c. 1592), Act II, scene 3.
- He that has light within his own clear breast
May sit i' the centre, and enjoy bright day:
But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
Himself his own dungeon.
- Yet, where an equal poise of hope and fear
Does arbitrate the event, my nature is
That I incline to hope rather than fear,
And gladly banish squint suspicion.
- Quips and Cranks and wanton Wiles,
Nods and Becks and wreathèd Smiles.
- John Milton, L'Allegro (1631), line 27.
- Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
- For contemplation he and valor formed,
For softness she and sweet attractive grace.
- Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons, the fairest of her daughters, Eve.
- Her virtue and the conscience of her worth,
That would be wooed, and not unsought be won.
- Character is what you are in the dark.
- Dwight L. Moody, attributed by his son, William R. Moody, D. L. Moody (1930), chapter 66, p. 503.
- 'Tis from high Life high Characters are drawn;
A Saint in Crape is twice a Saint in Lawn:
A Judge is just, a Chanc'llor juster still;
A Gownman learn'd; a Bishop what you will;
Wise if a minister; but if a King,
More wise, more learn'd, more just, more ev'rything.
- Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle I, Part II.
- With too much Quickness ever to be taught;
With too much Thinking to have common Thought.
- Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle II, line 97.
- From loveless youth to unrespected age,
No passion gratified, except her rage,
So much the fury still outran the wit,
That pleasure miss'd her, and the scandal hit.
- Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle II, line 125.
- In men we various ruling passions find;
In women two almost divide the kind;
Those only fixed, they first or last obey,
The love of pleasure, and the love of sway.
- Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle II, line 207.
- What then remains, but well our power to use,
And keep good-humor still whate'er we lose?
And trust me, dear, good-humor can prevail,
When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail.
- Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (1712), Canto V, line 29.
- Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.
- Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (1712), Canto V, line 34.
- I know him a notorious liar,
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
Yet these fix'd evils sit so fit in him,
That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
Look bleak i' the cold wind.
- He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-faced, worse-bodied, shapeless everywhere;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
- William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Act IV, scene 2, line 19.
- Though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I something in me dangerous.
- There's neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee.
- I am no proud Jack, like Falstaff; but a
Corinthian, glad of mettle, a good boy.
- What a frosty-spirited rogue is this!
- O, he sits high in all the people's hearts:
And that which would appear offence in us.
His countenance, like richest alchemy,
Will change to virtue and to worthiness.
- Thou art most rich, being poor;
Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd!
Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon.
- I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly that will put me in trust; to love him that is honest; to converse with him that is wise, and says little; to fear judgment; to fight when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish.
- What thou wouldst highly,
That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
And yet wouldst wrongly win.
- I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
That has a name.
- There is a kind of character in thy life,
That to the observer doth thy history
- Nature hath fram'd strange fellows in her time:
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes,
And laugh, like parrots, at a bagpiper:
And other of such vinegar aspect
That they'll not show their teeth in way of smile,
Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.
- When he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.
- You are thought here to be the most senseless and fit man for the constable of the watch; therefore bear you the lantern.
- Why, now I see there's mettle in thee, and even from this instant do build on thee a better opinion than ever before.
- He hath a daily beauty in his life
That makes me ugly.
- O do not slander him, for he is kind.
Right; as snow in harvest.
- Now do I play the touch,
To try if thou be current gold indeed.
- How this grace
Speaks his own standing! what a mental power
This eye shoots forth! How big imagination
Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture
One might interpret.
- The trick of singularity.
- He wants wit that wants resolved will.
- His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles;
His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate;
* * * * * *
His heart as far from fraud as heaven from earth.
- As headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile.
- Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Rivals (1775), Act III, Stanza 3.
- I'm called away by particular business. But I leave my character behind me.
- Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School far Scandal (1777), Act II, scene 2.
- There are many counterfeits of character, but the genuine article is difficult to be mistaken.
- Samuel Smiles, Character: The True Gentleman, Self-Help (1856), Ch 13.
- Daniel Webster struck me much like a steam engine in trousers.
- Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir (1855), Volume I, p. 267.
- He [Macaulay] is like a book in breeches.
- Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir (1855), Chapter IX.
- A bold bad man!
- Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book I, Canto I, Stanza 37.
- Inerat tamen simplicitas ac liberalitas, quæ, nisi adsit modus in exitium vertuntur.
- He possessed simplicity and liberality, qualities which beyond a certain limit lead to ruin.
- Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), III. 86.
- In turbas et discordias pessimo euique plurima vis: pax et quies bonis artibus indigent.
- In seasons of tumult and discord bad men have most power; mental and moral excellence require peace and quietness.
- Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), IV. 1.
- He makes no friend who never made a foe.
- Just because you are a character doesn't mean you have character.
- The man that makes a character, makes foes.
- Edward Young, Epistles to Mr. Pope (1830), Epistle I, line 28.
- The man who consecrates his hours
By vig'rous effort and an honest aim,
At once he draws the sting of life and death;
He walks with nature and her paths are peace.
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night II, line 187.
- Character is not created with a single act, no matter how brilliant or bold. It is forged in the smallest of struggles, the product of a thousand, thousand strokes. Your tool for carving your character’s template lies, in the words of the poet Robert Lowell, within your “peculiar power to choose.” Ultimately, it is the choice of the fundamental over the frivolous, preferring what is true over what’s accepted, the choosing of what is right over what is easy.
- Gary Brochu, Commencement Speech. What's In A Name? President, Berlin, Conn., Board of Education, Berlin High School, Berlin, Conn., June 17, 2012
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 97-106.
- There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it ill behoves any of us
To find fault with the rest of us.
- Sometimes quoted "To talk about the rest of us." Author not found. Attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson, not found. Lloyd Osborne, his literary executor, states he did not write it. Claimed for Governor Hoch of Kansas, in The Reader (Sept. 7, 1907), but authorship denied by him. Accredited to Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, who denies writing it. Claimed also for Elbert Hubbard.
- They love, they hate, but cannot do without him.
- In brief, I don't stick to declare, Father Dick,
So they call him for short, is a regular brick;
A metaphor taken—I have not the page aright—
From an ethical work by the Stagyrite.
- Richard Harris Barham, Brothers of Birchington, Nicomachean Ethics, section I, records Aristotle's definition of a happy man, a four cornered, perfectly rectangular man, a faultless cube. ("A perfect brick.").
- Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche.
- Knight without fear and without reproach.
- Applied to Chevalier Bayard.
- Many men are mere warehouses full of merchandise—the head, the heart, are stuffed with goods. * * * There are apartments in their souls which were once tenanted by taste, and love, and joy, and worship, but they are all deserted now, and the rooms are filled with earthy and material things.
- Henry Ward Beecher, Life Thoughts.
- Many men build as cathedrals were built, the part nearest the ground finished; but that part which soars toward heaven, the turrets and the spires, forever incomplete.
- Henry Ward Beecher, Life Thoughts.
- Most men are bad.
- Attributed to Bias of Priene.
- Une grande incapacité inconnue.
- A great unrecognized incapacity.
- Otto von Bismarck, of Napoleon III., while Minister to Paris in 1862.
- I look upon you as a gem of the old rock.
- Sir Thomas Browne, Dedication to Urn Burial.
- No, when the fight begins within himself,
A man's worth something.
- Robert Browning, Men and Women, Bishop Blougram's Apology.
- Your father used to come home to my mother, and why may not I be a chippe of the same block out of which you two were cutte?
- Bullen's Old Plays, II. 60, Dick of Devonshire.
- Are you a bromide?
- Gelett Burgess, title of essay, first published in Smart Set (April, 1906).
- All men that are ruined, are ruined on the side of their natural propensities.
- Edmund Burke, Letters, Letter I, On a Regicide Peace.
- He was not merely a chip of the old Block, but the old Block itself.
- Edmund Burke, About William Pitt—Wraxall's Memoirs, Volume II, p. 342.
- From their folded mates they wander far,
Their ways seem harsh and wild:
They follow the beck of a baleful star,
Their paths are dream-beguiled.
- Robert Burton, Black Sheep.
- With more capacity for love than earth
Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth,
His early dreams of good out-stripp'd the truth,
And troubled manhood follow'd baffled youth.
- Lord Byron, Lara, A Tale (1814), Canto I, Stanza 18.
- Genteel in personage,
Conduct, and equipage;
Noble by heritage,
Generous and free.
- Henry Carey, The Contrivances, Act I, scene 2, line 22.
- Clever men are good, but they are not the best.
- Thomas Carlyle, Goethe, Edinburgh Review (1828).
- We are firm believers in the maxim that, for all right judgment of any man or thing, it is useful, nay, essential, to see his good qualities before pronouncing on his bad.
- Thomas Carlyle, Essays, Goethe.
- It is in general more profitable to reckon up our defects than to boast of our attainments.
- Thomas Carlyle, Essays, Signs of the Times.
- It can be said of him, When he departed he took a Man's life with him. No sounder piece of British manhood was put together in that eighteenth century of Time.
- Thomas Carlyle, Sir Walter Scott, London and Westminster Review (1838).
- He was a verray perfight gentil knight.
- Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Prologue, line 72.
- The nation looked upon him as a deserter, and he shrunk into insignificancy and an Earldom.
- Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Character of Pulteney (1763).
- Importunitas autem, et inhumanitas omni ætati molesta est.
- But a perverse temper and fretful disposition make any state of life unhappy.
- Cicero, De Senectute, III.
- Ut ignis in aquam conjectus, continuo restinguitur et refrigeratur, sic refervens falsum crimen in purissimam et castissimam vitam collatum, statim concidit et extinguitur.
- As fire when thrown into water is cooled down and put out, so also a false accusation when brought against a man of the purest and holiest character, boils over and is at once dissipated, and vanishes.
- Cicero, Oratio Pro Quinto Roscio Comædo, VI.
- What was said of Cinna might well be applied to him. He [Hampden] had a head to contrive, a tongue to persuade, and a hand to execute, any mischief.
- Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon, History of the Rebellion, Volume III, Book VII.
- In numbers warmly pure, and sweetly strong.
- Richard Collins, Ode to Simplicity.
- Not to think of men above that which is written.
- I. Corinthians, IV. 6.
- An honest man, close-button'd to the chin,
Broadcloth without, and a warm heart within.
- William Cowper, Epistle to Joseph Hill.
- He cannot drink five bottles, bilk the score,
Then kill a constable, and drink five more;
But he can draw a pattern, make a tart,
And has ladies' etiquette by heart.
- William Cowper, Progress of Error, line 191.
- He's tough, ma'am,—tough is J. B.; tough and de-vilish sly.
- Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son, Chapter VII.
- O Mrs. Higden, Mrs. Higden, you was a woman and a mother, and a mangler in a million million.
- Charles Dickens, Mutual Friend, Chapter IX.
- I know their tricks and their manners.
- Charles Dickens, Mutual Friend, Book II, Chapter I.
- Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.
- John Dryden, Elegy on Mrs. Killigrew, line 70.
- Thus all below is strength, and all above is grace.
- John Dryden, Epistle to Congreve, line 19.
- Plain without pomp, and rich without a show.
- John Dryden, The Flower and the Leaf, line 187.
- There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms.
- George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, Book III, Chapter XXIV.
- She was and is (what can there more be said?)
On earth the first, in heaven the second maid.
- Tribute to Queen Elizabeth. Manuscript 4712, in British Museum. Atscough's Catalogue.
- A trip-hammer, with an Æolian attachment.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, of John Carlyle, after meeting him in 1848.
- Character is higher than intellect. * * * A great soul will be strong to live, as well as to think.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Scholar.
- No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essay, On Character.
- A great character, founded on the living rock of principle, is, in fact, not a solitary phenomenon, to be at once perceived, limited, and described. It is a dispensation of Providence, designed to have not merely an immediate, but a continuous, progressive, and never-ending agency. It survives the man who possessed it; survives his age,—perhaps his country, his language.
- Edward Everett, speech, The Youth of Washington (July 4, 1835).
- Human improvement is from within outwards.
- James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, Divus Cæsar.
- Our thoughts and our conduct are our own.
- James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, Education.
- Every one of us, whatever our speculative opinions, knows better than he practices, and recognizes a better law than he obeys.
- James Anthony Froude, Short Studies on Great Subjects, On Progress, Part II.
- Weak and beggarly elements.
- Galatians, IV. 9.
- In every deed of mischief, he [Andronicus Comnenus] had a heart to resolve, a head to contrive, and a hand to execute.
- Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume IX, p. 94.
- That man may last, but never lives,
Who much receives, but nothing gives;
Whom none can love, whom none can thank,—
Creation's blot, creation's blank.
- Thomas Gibbons, When Jesus Dwelt.
- A man not perfect, but of heart
So high, of such heroic rage,
That even his hopes became a part
Of earth's eternal heritage.
- R. W. Gilder, At the President's Grave, epitaph for President Garfield (September 19, 1881).
- To be engaged in opposing wrong affords, under the conditions of our mental constitution, but a slender guarantee for being right.
- William Ewart Gladstone, Time and Place of Homer, Introduction.
- Aufrichtig zu sein kann ich versprechen; unparteiisch zu sein aber nicht.
- I can promise to be upright, but not to be without bias.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Sprüche in Prosa, III.
- Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille,
Sich ein Charakter in dem Strom der Welt.
- Talent is nurtured in solitude; character is formed in the stormy billows of the world.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Torquato Tasso, I, 2, 66.
- Welch' höher Geist in einer engen Brust.
- What a mighty spirit in a narrow bosom.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Torquato Tasso, II. 3. 199.
- Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
- Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard, Stanza 12.
- He were n't no saint—but at jedgment
I'd run my chance with Jim.
'Longside of some pious gentlemen
That wouldn't shook hands with him.
He seen his duty, a dead-sure thing—
And went for it thar and then;
And Christ ain't a-going to be too hard
On a man that died for men.
- John Hay, Jim Bludso.
- Anyone must be mainly ignorant or thoughtless, who is surprised at everything he sees; or wonderfully conceited who expects everything to conform to his standard of propriety.
- William Hazlitt, Lectures on the English Comic Writers. On Wit and Humour.
- Kein Talent, doch ein Charakter.
- No talent, but yet a character.
- Heinrich Heine, Atta Troll, Caput 24.
- O Dowglas, O Dowglas!
Tendir and trewe.
- Sir Richard Holland, The Buke of the Howlat, Stanza XXXI. First printed in appendix to Pinkerton's Collection of Scottish Poems (Ed. 1792), III, p. 146.
- In death a hero, as in life a friend!
- Homer, The Iliad, Book XVII, line 758. Pope's translation.
- Wise to resolve, and patient to perform.
- Homer, The Odyssey, Book IV, line 372. Pope's translation.
- Gentle of speech, beneficent of mind.
- Homer, The Odyssey, Book IV, line 917. Pope's translation.
- But he whose inborn worth his acts commend,
Of gentle soul, to human race a friend.
- Homer, The Odyssey, Book XIX, line 383. Pope's translation.
- Integer vitæ scelerisque purus
Non eget Mauris incidis neque arcu
Nec venenatis gravida sagittis
- If whole in life, and free from sin,
Man needs no Moorish bow, nor dart
Nor quiver, carrying death within
By poison's art.
- Horace, Carmina, I. 22. 1. Gladstone's translation.
- If whole in life, and free from sin,
- Paullum sepultæ distat inertiæ
- Excellence when concealed, differs but little from buried worthlessness.
- Horace, Carmina, IV. 9. 29.
- Argilla quidvis imitaberis uda.
- Thou canst mould him into any shape like soft clay.
- Horace, Epistles, II. 2. 8.
- A Soul of power, a well of lofty Thought
A chastened Hope that ever points to Heaven.
- John Hunter, Sonnet, A Replication of Rhymes.
- He was worse than provincial—he was parochial.
- Henry James, Jr., of Thoreau, A Critical Life of Hawthorne.
- Officious, innocent, sincere,
Of every friendless name the friend.
- Samuel Johnson, Verses on the Death of Mr. Robert Levet, Stanza 2.
- The heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, or the hand to execute.
- Junius, City Address and the King's Answer, Letter XXXVII. March 19, 1770.
- Nemo repente venit turpissimus.
- No one ever became thoroughly bad all at once.
- Juvenal, Satires, II. 33.
- He is truly great that is little in himself, and that maketh no account of any height of honors.
- Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chapter III.
- E'en as he trod that day to God,
So walked he from his birth,
In simpleness, and gentleness and honor
And clean mirth.
- Rudyard Kipling, Barrack Room Ballads, Dedication to Wolcott Balestier. (Adaptation of an earlier one).
- Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet
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!
- Rudyard Kipling, Barrack-Room Ballads, Ballad of East and West.
- La physionomie n'est pas une règle qui nous soit donnée pour juger des hommes; elle nous peut servir de conjecture.
- Physiognomy is not a guide that has been given us by which to judge of the character of men: it may only serve us for conjecture.
- Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères, XII.
- Incivility is not a Vice of the Soul, but the effect of several Vices; of Vanity, Ignorance of Duty, Laziness, Stupidity, Distraction, Contempt of others, and Jealousy.
- Jean de La Bruyère, The Characters or Manners of the Present Age (1688), Volume II, Chapter XI.
- On n'est jamais si ridicule par les qualités que l'on a que par celles que l'on affecte d'avoir.
- The qualities we have do not make us so ridiculous as those which we affect to have.
- François de La Rochefoucauld, Maximes, 134.
- Famæ ac fidei damna majora sunt quam quæ æstimari possunt.
- The injury done to character is greater than can be estimated.
- Livy, Annales, III. 72.
- Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Poets.
- For me Fate gave, whate'er she else denied,
A nature sloping to the southern side;
I thank her for it, though when clouds arise
Such natures double-darken gloomy skies.
- James Russell Lowell, An Epistle to George William Curtis, postscript 1887, line 53.
- All that hath been majestical
In life or death, since time began,
Is native in the simple heart of all,
The angel heart of man.
- James Russell Lowell, An Incident in a Railroad Car, Stanza 10.
- Our Pilgrim stock wuz pethed with hardihood.
- James Russell Lowell, Biglow Papers, Second Series. No. 6, line 38.
- Soft-heartedness, in times like these,
Shows sof'ness in the upper story.
- James Russell Lowell, Biglow Papers, Second Series. No. 7, line 119.
- Endurance is the crowning quality,
And patience all the passion of great hearts.
- James Russell Lowell, Columbus, line 237.
- For she was jes' the quiet kind
Whose naturs never vary,
Like streams that keep a summer mind
Snowhid in Jenooary.
- James Russell Lowell, The Courtin', Stanza 22.
- His Nature's a glass of champagne with the foam on 't,
As tender as Fletcher, as witty as Beaumont;
So his best things are done in the flash of the moment.
- James Russell Lowell, Fable for Critics, line 834.
- It is by presence of mind in untried emergencies that the native metal of a man is tested.
- James Russell Lowell, My Study Windows, Abraham Lincoln.
- A nature wise
With finding in itself the types of all,—
With watching from the dim verge of the time
What things to be are visible in the gleams
Thrown forward on them from the luminous past,—
Wise with the history of its own frail heart,
With reverence and sorrow, and with love,
Broad as the world, for freedom and for man.
- James Russell Lowell, Prometheus, line 216.
- Eripitur persona, manet res.
- The mask is torn off, while the reality remains.
- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, III. 58.
- Men look to the East for the dawning things, for the light of a rising sun
But they look to the West, to the crimson West, for the things that are done, are done.
- Douglas Malloch, East and West.
- Au demeurant, le meilleur fils du monde.
- In other respecte the best fellow in the world.
- Clement Marot, letter to Francis I.
- In all thy humours, whether grave or mellow,
Thou'rt such a touchy, testy, pleasant fellow;
Hast so much wit, and mirth, and spleen about thee,
That there's no living with thee, or without thee.
- Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book XII, Epistle 47. Translation by Addison. Spectator. No. 68.
- And, but herself, admits no parallel.
- Philip Massinger, Duke of Milan, Act IV, scene 3.
- Hereafter he will make me know,
And I shall surely find.
He was too wise to err, and O,
Too good to be unkind.
- Medley, Hymn. Claimed for Rev. Thomas East, but not found.
- Who knows nothing base,
Fears nothing known.
- Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), A Great Man, Stanza 8.
- Sae true his heart, sae smooth his speech,
His breath like caller air,
His very foot has music in 't,
As he comes up the stair.
- William Julius Mickle, Ballad of Cumnor Hall, Mariner's Wife. Attributed also to Jean Adam, evidence in favor of Mickle. Claimed also for McPherson as a Manuscript copy was found among his papers after his death.
- In men whom men condemn as ill
I find so much of goodness still,
In men whom men pronounce divine
I find so much of sin and blot
I do not dare to draw a line
Between the two, where God has not.
- Joaquin Miller, Byron, Stanza 1. (Bear ed. 1909, changes "I hesitate" to "I do not dare.").
- Les hommes, fripons en détail, sont en gros de très-honnêtes gens.
- Men, who are rogues individually, are in the mass very honorable people.
- Charles de Montesquieu, De l'Esprit, XXV. C. 2.
- Good at a fight, but better at a play;
Godlike in giving, but the devil to pay.
- Thomas Moore, On a Cast of Sheridan's Hand.
- To those who know thee not, no words can paint;
And those who know thee, know all words are faint!
- Hannah More, Sensibility.
- To set the Cause above renown,
To love the game beyond the prize,
To honour, while you strike him down,
The foe that comes with fearless eyes;
To count the life of battle good,
And dear the land that gave you birth;
And dearer yet the brotherhood
That binds the brave of all the earth.
- Henry J. Newbolt, The Island Race, Clifton Chapel.
- Video meliora proboque,
- Every man has at times in his mind the ideal of what he should be, but is not. This ideal may be high and complete, or it may be quite low and insufficient; yet in all men that really seek to improve, it is better than the actual character. * * * Man never falls so low that he can see nothing higher than himself.
- Theodore Parker, Critical and Miscellaneous Writings, Essay I, A Lesson for the Day.
- Il ne se déboutonna jamais.
- He never unbuttons himself.
- Said of Sir Robert Peel, according to Croker.
- Udum et molle lutum es: nunc, nunc properandus et acri
Fingendus sine fine rota.
- Thou art moist and soft clay; thou must instantly be shaped by the glowing wheel.
- Persius, Satires, III. 23.
- Tecum habita, et noris quam sit tibi curta supellex.
- Retire within thyself, and thou will discover how small a stock is there.
- Persius, Satires, IV. 52.
- Grand, gloomy and peculiar, he sat upon the throne, a sceptred hermit, wrapped in the solitude of his awful originality.
- Charles Phillips, Character of Napoleon I.
- Optimum et emendatissimum existimo, qui ceteris ita ignoscit, tanquam ipse quotidie peccet; ita peccatis abstinet, tanquam nemini ignoscat.
- The highest of characters, in my estimation, is his, who is as ready to pardon the moral errors of mankind, as if he were every day guilty of some himself; and at the same time as cautious of committing a fault as if he never forgave one.
- Pliny the Younger, Epistles, VIII.
- Good-humor only teaches charms to last,
Still makes new conquests and maintains the past.
- Alexander Pope, Epistle to Miss Blount, With the Works of Voiture.
- Of Manners gentle, of Affections mild;
In Wit a man; Simplicity, a child.
- Alexander Pope, Epitaph XI.
- Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.
- Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires, line 332.
- No man's defects sought they to know;
So never made themselves a foe.
No man's good deeds did they commend;
So never rais'd themselves a friend.
- Matthew Prior, Epitaph.
- So much his courage and his mercy strive,
He wounds to cure, and conquers to forgive.
- Matthew Prior, Ode in Imitation of Horace, Book III. Ode II.
- He that sweareth
Till no man trust him.
He that lieth
Till no man believe him;
He that borroweth
Till no man will lend him;
Let him go where
No man knoweth him.
- Hugh Rhodes, Cautions.
- Nie zeichnet der Mensch den eignen Charakter schärfer als in seiner Manier, einen Fremden zu zeichnen.
- A man never shows his own character so plainly as by his manner of portraying another's.
- Jean Paul Richter, Titan, Zykel 110.
- Devout yet cheerful, active yet resigned.
- Samuel Rogers, Pleasures of Memory.
- Was never eie did see that face,
Was never eare did heare that tong,
Was never minde did minde his grace,
That ever thought the travell long,
But eies and eares and ev'ry thought
Were with his sweete perfections caught.
- Mathew Royden, An Elegie, On the Death of Sir Philip Sidney.
- It is of the utmost importance that a nation should have a correct standard by which to weigh the character of its rulers.
- Lord John Russell, Introduction to the 3rd Volume of the Correspondence of the Duke of Bedford.
- Da krabbeln sie num, wie die Ratten auf der Keule des Hercules.
- They [the present generation] are like rats crawling about the club of Hercules.
- Friedrich Schiller, Die Räuber, I. 2.
- Gemeine Naturen
Zahlen mit dem, was sie thun, edle mit dem, was sie sind.
- Common natures pay with what they do, noble ones with what they are.
- Friedrich Schiller, Unterschied der Stände.
- Quæris Alcidæ parem?
Nemo est nisi ipse.
- Do you seek Alcides' equal? None is, except himself.
- Seneca, Hercules Furens, I. 1. 84.
- Messieurs, nous avons un maître, ce jeune homme fait tout, peut tout, et veut tout.
- Gentlemen, we have a master; this young man does everything, can do everything and will do everything.
- Attributed to Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, who speaks of Bonaparte.
- It is energy—the central element of which is will—that produces the miracles of enthusiasm in all ages. Everywhere it is the main-spring of what is called force of character, and the sustaining power of all great action.
- Samuel Smiles, Character, Chapter V.
- Lax in their gaiters, laxer in their gait.
- Horace and James Smith, Rejected Addresses, The Theatre.
- There is no man suddenly either excellently good or extremely evil.
- Sydney Smith, Arcadia, Book I.
- Worth, courage, honor, these indeed
Your sustenance and birthright are.
- Edmund Clarence Stedman, Beyond the Portals, Part 10.
- Yet though her mien carries much more invitation than command, to behold her is an immediate check to loose behaviour; and to love her is a liberal education.
- Richard Steele, Tatler. No. 49. (of Lady Elizabeth Hastings).
- It's the bad that's in the best of us
Leaves the saint so like the rest of us!
It's the good in the darkest-curst of us
Redeems and saves the worst of us!
It's the muddle of hope and madness;
It's the tangle of good and badness;
It's the lunacy linked with sanity
Makes up, and mocks, humanity!
- Arthur Stringer, Humanity.
- High characters (cries one), and he would see
Things that ne'er were, nor are, nor e'er will be.
- Sir John Suckling, The Goblin's Epilogue.
- The true greatness of nations is in those qualities which constitute the greatness of the individual.
- Charles Sumner—Oration on the True Grandeur of Nations.
- His own character is the arbiter of every one's fortune.
- Syrus, Maxims, 286.
- A man should endeavor to be as pliant as a reed, yet as hard as cedar-wood.
- Talmud, Taanith. 20.
- Brama assai, poco spera e nulla chiede.
- He, full of bashfulness and truth, loved much, hoped little, and desired naught.
- Torquato Tasso, Gerusalemme, II. 16.
- Fame is what you have taken,
Character's what you give;
When to this truth you waken,
Then you begin to live.
- Bayard Taylor, Improvisations, Stanza XI.
- The hearts that dare are quick to feel;
The hands that wound are soft to heal.
- Bayard Taylor, Soldiers of Peace.
- Such souls,
Whose sudden visitations daze the world,
Vanish like lightning, but they leave behind
A voice that in the distance far away
Wakens the slumbering ages.
- Henry Taylor, Philip Van Artevelde, Part I, Act I, scene 7.
- Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control.
- Alfred Tennyson, Œnone.
- And one man is as good as another—and a great dale betther, as the Irish philosopher said.
- William Makepeace Thackeray, Roundabout Papers, On Ribbons.
- None but himself can be his parallel.
- Lewis Theobald, The Double Falsehood. Quoted by Alexander Pope, The Dunciad, II. 272. Taken probably from the inscription under the portrait of Col. Strangeways, as quoted by Dodd—Epigrammatists, p. 533. (Shee can bee immytated by none, nor paralleld by anie but by herselfe. S.R.N.I. Votivæ Anglicæ. (1624).
- Whoe'er amidst the sons
Of reason, valor, liberty and virtue,
Displays distinguished merit, is a noble
Of Nature's own creating.
- James Thomson, Coriolanus, Act III, scene 3.
- Just men, by whom impartial laws were given,
And saints, who taught and led the way to heaven!
- Thomas Tickell, On the Death of Mr. Addison, line 41.
- Nor e'er was to the bowers of bliss conveyed
A fairer spirit, or more welcome shade.
- Thomas Tickell, On the Death of Mr. Addison, line 45.
- Quantum instar in ipso est.
- Uni odiisque viro telisque frequentibus instant.
Ille velut rupes vastum quæ prodit in æquor,
Obvia ventorum furiis, expostaque ponto,
Vim cunctam atque minas perfert cœlique marisque,
Ipsa immota manens.
- They attack this one man with their hate and their shower of weapons. But he is like some rock which stretches into the vast sea and which, exposed to the fury of the winds and beaten against by the waves, endures all the violence and threats of heaven and sea, himself standing unmoved.
- Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), X. 692.
- Accipe nunc Danaum insidias, et crimine ab uno
- Il [le Chevalier de Belle-Isle] était capable de tout imaginer, de tout arranger, et de tout faire.
- He (the Chevalier de Belle-Isle) was capable of imagining all, of arranging all, and of doing everything.
- Voltaire, Siècle de Louis XV, Works, XXI, p. 67.
- Lord of the golden tongue and smiting eyes;
Great out of season and untimely wise:
A man whose virtue, genius, grandeur, worth,
Wrought deadlier ill than ages can undo.
- William Watson, The Political Luminary.
- I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good as belongs to you.
- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, I.
- Formed on the good old plan,
A true and brave and downright honest man!
He blew no trumpet in the market-place,
Nor in the church with hypocritic face
Supplied with cant the lack of Christian grace;
Loathing pretence, he did with cheerful will
What others talked of while their hands were still.
- John Greenleaf Whittier, Daniel Neall, II.
- One that would peep and botanize
Upon his mother's grave.
- William Wordsworth, A Poet's Epitaph, Stanza 5.
- But who, if he be called upon to face
Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
Great issues, good or bad for humankind,
Is happy as a lover.
- William Wordsworth, Character of a Happy Warrior, line 48.
- Whom neither shape of danger can dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray.
- William Wordsworth, Character of a Happy Warrior, line 72.
- The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength and skill.
- William Wordsworth, She was a Phantom of Delight.
The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904)
- Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 25-26.
- I think there should be no occasion on which it is absolutely, as a point or rule of law, impossible for a man to redeem his character.
- John Duke Coleridge, C.J., In re Brandreth (1891), L. J. 60 Q. B. D. 504.
- To rake into the whole course of a man's life is very hard.
- Jeffries, L.C.J., Hampden's Case (1684), 9 How. St. Tr. 1103.
- An accused man should have the benefit of the presumption of integrity which arises from the virtue of a lifetime.
- Lord O'Hagan, Symington v. Symington (1875), L. R. 2 Sc. & D. 428.
- We would not suffer any raking into men's course of life, to pick up evidence that they cannot be prepared to answer.
- Withins, J., Hampden's Case (1684), 9 How. St. Tr. 1103.
- You have no right, for the purpose of justifying a libel, to inquire into a man's life and opinions.
- Pollock, C.B., Derby v. Ouseley (1856), 4 W. R. 464.
- There is in many, if not in all men, a constant inward struggle between the principles of good and evil; and because a man has grossly fallen, and at the time of his fall added the guilt of hypocrisy to another sort of immorality, it is not necessary, therefore, to believe that his whole life has been false, or that all the good which he ever professed was insincere or unreal.
- Lord Selborne, Symington v. Symington (1875), L. R. 2 Sc. & D. 428.
- In my opinion the best character is generally that which is the least talked about.
- Erie, C. J., The Queen v. Rowton (1865), 34 L. J. M. C. 63.
- Means of knowledge is the foundation of the general inference of character.
- Erie, C.J., Reg. v. Rowton (1865), 10 Cox, C. C. 34.
- In a doubtful case, a good character will have some weight with the Court, but in a clear conviction, it can be of no avail.
- Willes, J., R. v. Bembridge (1783), 22 How. St. Tr. 160.
Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
- Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
- There never has been a great and beautiful character, which has not become so by filling well the ordinary and smaller offices appointed of God.
- Horace Bushnell, p. 45.
- Men and brethren, a simple trust in God is the most essential ingredient in moral sublimity of character.
- Richard Fuller, p. 45.
- Our character is but the stamp on our souls of the free choice
of good or evil we have made through life.
- John Cunningham Geikie, p. 46.
- The materials of the first temple were made ready in solitude. Those of the last also must be shaped in retirement; in the silence of the heart; in the quietness of home; in the practice of unostentatious duty.
- Henry Giles, p. 45.
- A man is what he is, not what men say he is. His character no man can touch. His character is what he is before his God and his Judge; and only himself can damage that. His reputation is what men say he is. That can be damaged; but reputation is for time, character is for eternity.
- John Bartholomew Gough, p. 46.
- When the captain throws out his sheet-anchor, and the ship "rides at anchor," as it is called, there is a great strain on every link of that chain; and if one bad link breaks, off goes the anchor, and the ship is driven before the winds, and may be destroyed. Now, our character is very much like the chain; one bad piece vitiates and spoils it. So we must have a pure character.
- John Hall, p. 44.
- I have learned by experience that no man's character can be eventually injured but by his own acts.
- Rowland Hill, p. 45.
- Man can have strength of character only as he is capable of controlling his faculties; of choosing a rational end; and, in its pursuit, of holding fast to his integrity against al! the might of external nature.
- Mark Hopkins, p. 45.
- Whatever capacities there may be for enjoyment or for suffering in this strange being of ours, and God only knows what they are, they will be drawn out wholly in accordance with character.
- Mark Hopkins, p. 45.
- Only what we have wrought into our character during life can we take away with us.
- Wilhelm von Humboldt, p. 44.
- Character is the product of daily, hourly actions, and words, and thoughts; daily forgivenesses, unselfishness, kindnesses, sympathies, charities, sacrifices for the good of others, struggles against temptation, submissiveness under trial. Oh, it is these, like the blending colors in a picture, or the blending notes of music, which constitute the man.
- John Rose Macduff, p. 46.
- A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you when forget-me-nots are withered. Carve your name on hearts, 'and not on marble.
- Charles Spurgeon, p. 44.
- Modern engineers, after having erected a viaduct, insist upon subjecting it to a severe strain by a formal trial trip, before allowing it to be opened for public traffic; and it would almost seem that God, in employing moral agents for the carrying out of His purposes, secures that they shall be tested by some dreadful ordeal, before He fully commits to them the work which He wishes them to perform.
- William Mackergo Taylor, p. 44.
- If you lose money, you lose nothing, If you lose time, you lose some thing, If you lose character you lose every thing.
- Who hasn't despised a grand realization only because it didn't stamp your own name there on the first line? Who of us didn't feel disdain about the good and the beauty only because they seemed to be far, apparently far from our reach? How many of us haven't given up the production only because the harvest wouldn't be ours, and how many of us haven't chosen the low quality of acts and words only because it would be the other ones who were going to be served and who were going to listen to us? Who hasn't stolen, who hasn't misused, or hurt, or cursed, who hasn't gotten even in someone else the frustration that's overdue only by you? Who hasn't tasted the strength and weakness of someone else and in both cases felt yourself humiliated or presumptuous without paying attention of the own value? Who hasn't hurt or offended someone when being offended or hurt? But who has eased someone else's pain when the own heart is fulfilled with the personal joy? Who has chosen to stay beside the foreign pain when the own heart is full of fleeting and individualistic happiness? How many of us haven't chosen the weight in the conscience instead of the freedom that lives in the loyalty and in the truth?
- Patricky Field
- Wherever a man goes to dwell his character goes with him. Every man's character is good in his own eyes.
- Character is destiny.
- A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another's.
- Even polished brass will pass upon more people than rough gold.
- Earl of Chesterfield
- There's no question that character counts. Character counts today, it counted a century ago and it will count a century from now. It's absolutely critical because you're reflecting some basic beliefs of honor, integrity, and those different elements of life that will aid you in progressing and frankly, [you'll get] in trouble if you don't believe in 'em.
- Milton Ward
- Character is the ability to carry out a worthy decision after the emotion of making that decision has passed.
- I believe people who are in a position of visibility and leadership affect the character of young people and individuals who look to them as leaders. And in some respects, just as important as their policies and positions is their character and their substance. What for me makes people like Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt and John Adams and George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan such extraordinary leaders is that they had integrity through and through. What they were on the inside and what they said on the outside was harmonious. There a lot of people like that. I think that if people try to live a very different personal life not consistent with the role they've assumed as a governor or senator or president, we lose something as a nation.
- Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, in the September 2005 The Atlantic.
- Character does count. For too long we have gotten by in a society that says the only thing right is to get by and the only thing wrong is to get caught. Character is doing what's right when nobody is looking...
- Oklahoma Congressman J. C. Watts, speech at the Republican National Convention (August 13, 1996).
- " Knowledge will give you power, but character, respect."
- No man knows of what stuff he is made until prosperity and ease try him.
- A. P. Gouthey
- " Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing; only character endures."