Pity denotes a tender or sometimes a slightly contemptuous sorrow or empathy for the fates of people or other living things in states of misery, pain, poverty and other forms of distress or deprivation, which often engenders an inclination to acts of mercy.
- If you wish me well, do not stand pitying me, but lend me some succour as fast as you can; for pity is but cold comfort when one is up to the chin in water, and within a hair's breadth of starving or drowning.
- Pity makes the world
Soft to the weak and noble for the strong.
- Sir Edwin Arnold, The Light of Asia (1879), Book the Fifth.
- Pity and need
Make all flesh kin. There is no caste in blood.
- Sir Edwin Arnold, The Light of Asia (1879), Book the Sixth.
- [P]ity comes
To those that pity.
- Sir Edwin Arnold, The Voyage of Ithobal (London: John Murray, 1901), The First Day, p. 33.
- Pity would be no more,
If we did not make somebody Poor.
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we.
- William Blake, "The Human Abstract", line 1, in Songs of Experience (1794).
- Friends should be very delicate and careful in administering pity as medicine, when enemies use the same article as poison.
- J. F. Boyes, Life and Books (London: Bell and Daldy, 1859), p. 151.
- To share the suffering
of them we pity ranks above redress.
- Robert Bridges, Palicio (London: Edward Bumpus, 1890), Act II, scene iii, p. 47.
- Pity in woman is a great beautifier.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Alice, or The Mysteries (1838), Ch. IV. (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1873, p. 149)
- Plurumque in summo periculo timor misericordiam non recipit.
- As a rule in extreme peril fear admits no sense of pity.
- Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico (58–49 BC), Book VII, §26.
- Anon hire herte hath pite of his wo,
And with that pite love com in also.
- Geoffrey Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women (c. 1386–1388), line 1078.
- For pitee renneth soone in gentil herte.
- Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Knight's Tale", line 1761, in The Canterbury Tales (c. 1387–1400).
- When foes insult, and prudent friends dispense,
In pity's strains, the worst of insolence,
Oft with thee, Lloyd, I steal an hour from grief,
And in thy social converse find relief.
- Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she won't suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow. But when the person looks back — and at some point everyone looks back — she will hear her heart, saying, "What have you done with the miracles that God planted in your days? What have you done with the talents God bestowed on you? You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful of losing these talents. So this is your heritage: the certainty that you wasted your life."
Pitiful are the people who must realize this. Because when they are finally able to believe in miracles, their life's magic moments will have already passed them by.
- Ô! qu'il est doux de plaindre
Le sort d'un ennemi, quand il n'est plus à craindre!
- Oh, how sweet it is to pity the fate of an enemy, when we have no longer anything to fear from him!
- Pierre Corneille, La Mort de Pompée (1643), Act V, scene i.
- Pity speaks to grief
More sweetly than a band of instruments.
- Barry Cornwall, "The Florentine Party", in Essays and Tales in Prose, Vol. II (Boston: Ticknor, Read, and Fields, 1852), p. 247.
- But they that han't pity, why I pities they.
- Charles Dibdin, "True Courage", line 4, in Songs Naval and National (London: John Murray, 1841), p. 128.
- With downcast looks the joyless victor sate,
Revolving in his alter'd soul
The various turns of chance below;
And, now and then, a sigh he, stole,
And tears began to flow
The mighty master smiled to see
That Love was in the next degree,
'Twas but a kindred sound to move:
For Pity melts the mind to Love.
- More helpful than all wisdom is one draught of simple human pity that will not forsake us.
- George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1860), Book VII, Ch. I.
- For purest pity is the eye of love
Melting at sight of sorrow.
- George Eliot, "A Minor Prophet", line 202, in The Legend of Jubal and Other Poems (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1874), p. 199.
- Of all the paths [that] lead to a woman's love,
Pity's the straightest.
- Pity, some say, 's the parent
Of future love.
- Yet, let it not be thought that I would exclude pity from the human mind. There are scarcely any that are not, to some degree, possessed of this pleasing softness; but it is at best but a short-lived passion, and seldom affords distress more than transitory assistance; with some it scarce lasts from the first impulse till the hand can be put into the pocket…
- Oliver Goldsmith, in "On the Use of Language" in The Bee, No. 3, (20 October 1759).
- Taught by that Power that pities me,
I learn to pity them.
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Hermit: A Ballad (1765), line 23.
- Careless their merits, or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village (1770), line 161.
- He that woll maister be,
He mot [must] be servant to pite.
- John Gower, Confessio Amantis (1390), Book II, line 3299.
- When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity — that was a quality God's image carried with it. When you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate. Hate was just a failure of imagination.
- A common pity does not love express;
Pity is love when grown into excess.
- Sir Robert Howard, The Vestal Virgin (1665), Act IV, scene i, in The Dramatic Works of Sir Robert Howard (London: J. Tonson, 1722), p. 269.
- I find a pity hangs upon his heart
Like gentle dew, that cools all cruel passions.
- Pity is not natural to man. Children are always cruel. Savages are always cruel. Pity is acquired and improved by the cultivation of reason.
I pitied him in his blindness:
But can I boast "I see"?
Perhaps there walks a spirit
Close by, who pities me,—
A spirit who hears me tapping
The five-sensed cane of mind
Amid such unguessed glories
That I am worse than blind.
- Harry Kemp, in "Blind", in Theosophical Outlook (1918), Vol. 3, p. 263.
- Is there a spot where Pity’s foot,
Although unsandalled, fears to tread,
A silence where her voice is mute,
Where tears, and only tears, are shed?
It is the desolated home
Where Hope was yet a recent guest,
Where Hope again may never come,
Or come, and only speak of rest.
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1835 (1834), 'To Olinthus Gregory, L.L.D.,F.R.A.S., &c.' - “The following lines allude to Dr. Gregory’s late domestic calamity. Mr. Boswell Gregory, his eldest son, was drowned by the boat's upsetting as he was returning home by water to his father's house at Woolwich.”
- Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
- Matthew 18:33 (King James Version).
- La plaincte et la commiseration sont meslees à quelque estimation de la chose qu'on plaind.
- Pity and commiseration are mixed with some regard for the thing which one pities.
- Michel de Montaigne, Essays (1580), Book I, Chapter L: "Of Democritus and Heraclitus".
- To show pity is felt as a sign of contempt because one has clearly ceased to be an object of fear as soon as one is pitied.
- Die Griechen haben ein eigenes Wort für die Empörung über das Unglück des andern: dieser Affekt war unter christlichen Völkern unstatthaft und hat sich wenig entwickelt, und so fehlt ihnen auch der Name für diesen männlicheren Bruder des Mitleidens.
- The Greeks have a word for indignation at another’s unhappiness: this affect was inadmissible among Christian peoples and failed to develop, so they also lack a name for this more manly brother of pity.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak (1881), § 78
- Pity should cover both sin and woe.
- Hume Nisbet, "October: A Monologue", line 40, in The Matador and Other Recitative Pieces (London: Hutchinson, 1893), p. 119.
- Pity is not enough better than indifference to benefit materially either agent or recipient.
- Charles H. Parkhurst, "The Good Samaritan", in The Pattern in the Mount and Other Sermons (New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company, 1885), p. 180.
- At length some pity warm'd the master's breast
('Twas then, his threshold first receiv'd a guest),
Slow creaking turns the door with jealous care,
And half he welcomes in the shivering pair.
- Thomas Parnell, "The Hermit", line 97, in Poems on Several Occasions (London: B. Lintot, 1722), p. 170.
- O God, show compassion on the wicked.
The virtuous have already been blessed by Thee in being virtuous.
- Prayer of a Persian Dervish, reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 598.
- How different is […] the ready hand, tearful eye, and soothing voice, from the ostentatious appearance which is called pity!
- Jane Porter, in Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney; with Remarks by Miss Porter (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1807), Vol. I, p. 114.
- He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
- Proverbs 19:17 (King James Version).
- Pity is an emotion equally unpleasant to the bestower as to the recipient.
- Pity is the most useless article in the world. [...] It's the reverse side of gloating, you ought to know that.
- We pity in others only those evils which we have ourselves experienced.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile: Or, On Education (1762).
- Piety to mankind must be three-fourths pity.
- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Vol. III: Reason and Religion (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905), Ch. X: "Piety", p. 189.
- The entire world would perish, if pity were not to limit anger.
- Seneca the Elder, Controversiae (c. 30–40 CE), Book I, Chapter I, §6
- My pity hath been balm to heal their wounds,
My mildness hath allay'd their swelling griefs.
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking-off;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubins, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind.
- Villain, thou know'st no law of God nor man
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.
- My friend, I spy some pity in thy looks;
O, if thine eye be not a flatterer,
Come thou on my side, and entreat for me,
As you would beg, were you in my distress:
A begging prince what beggar pities not?
- Tear-falling pity dwells not in his eye.
- I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;
And if I die, no soul shall pity me:
Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself?
- Is there no pity sitting in the clouds,
That sees into the bottom of my grief?
- But, I perceive,
Men must learn now with pity to dispense;
For policy sits above conscience.
- Pity is the virtue of the law,
And none but tyrants use it cruelly.
- Soft pity never leaves the gentle breast
Where love has been received a welcome guest.
- Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Duenna (1775), Act II.
- In the just and generous heart, the humble and the weak inspire compassion, and call for pity and forbearance.
- William Davis Shipman, as quoted in the Worcester Aegis and Transcript; December 7, 1861; pg. 1, col. 6.
- Now, pity is the touch of God
In human hearts.
- Walter C. Smith, Hilda among the Broken Gods (Glasgow: James Maclehose, 1878), p. 108.
- Pity's akin to love; and every thought
Of that soft kind is welcome to my soul.
- Thomas Southerne, Oroonoko: A Tragedy (1695), Act II, scene 2, line 64.
- No obligation to justice does force a man to be cruel, or to use the sharpest sentence. A just man does justice to every man and to every thing; and then, if he be also wise, be knows there is a debt of mercy and compassion due to the infirmities of man's nature; and that is to be paid: and he that is cruel and ungentle to a sinning person, and does the worst to him, dies in his debt and is unjust. Pity, and forbearance, and long-sufferance, and fair interpretation, and excusing our brother, and taking in the best sense, and passing the gentlest sentence, are as certainly our duty, and owing to every person that does offend and can repent, as calling to account can be owing to the law, and are first to be paid; and he that does not so is an unjust person.
- Jeremy Taylor, as quoted in The Saturday Magazine (18 July 1835).
- The world is full of love and pity, I say. Had there been less suffering, there would have been less kindness.
- William Makepeace Thackeray, The Adventures of Philip (1862), Ch. XXV.
- With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly....Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.
- Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart.
- So great was her sorrow, as the Music unfolded, that her song turned to lamentation long before its end, and the sound of mourning was woven into the themes of the World before it began. But she does not weep for herself; and those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, about Nienna, a goddess of sorrow, in The Silmarillion (1977), "Valaquenta".
- To love with the spirit is to pity, and he who pities most loves most.
- Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life (1912), Ch. VII. (London: Macmillan, 1921, p. 136)
- Pity essentially depends on clarity of vision.
- Gerald Vann, The Divine Pity (1945), Ch. VII. (London: Fontana Books, 1956, p. 128)
- O, brother man! fold to thy heart thy brother;
Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.
- John Greenleaf Whittier, in "Worship", published in The Opal (1847).
- When beauty in distress appears,
An irresistless charm it bears;
In every breast does pity move,
Pity, the tenderest part of love.
- Thomas Yalden, "To His Friend Captain Chamberlain", line 19; in The Poetical Works of Thomas Yalden (London: William Mark Clark, 1833), p. 24.
- A pity beyond all telling
Is hid in the heart of love.
- William Butler Yeats, "The Pity of Love", line 1, in The Rose (1893).
- There are two kinds of pity. One, the weak and sentimental kind, which is really no more than the heart's impatience to be rid as quickly as possible of the painful emotions aroused by the sight of another's unhappiness, that pity which is not compassion, but only an instinctive desire to fortify one's own soul against the sufferings of another; and the other, the only kind that counts, the unsentimental but creative kind, which knows what it is about, and is determined to hold out, in patience and forbearance, to the very limit of its strength and even beyond.
- Stefan Zweig, Beware of Pity (1939), trans. Phyllis and Trevor Blewitt (London: Cassell and Co Ltd, 1939), "Author's Note", p. vi.