Character Quotes

We have collected and put the best character quotes in the following categories. Enjoy reading these insights and feel free to share this page on your social media to inspire others.

May these character quotes on many subjects inspire you to never give up and keep working towards your goals. Who knows—success could be just around the corner.

Character (Greek χαρακτήρ [kharaktêr], a “branding mark” on products; an engraved or stamped mark on coins or seals) is a word which may refer to any symbol or artificial sign, and often refers to human moral character involving assessments of mental qualities and moral virtues, or lack of them. Character structure is the pattern of relatively permanent traits manifest in specific ways in which an individual relates to and reacts to others, to various kinds of stimuli, and to the environment.

See also: Moral Character, Morality Quotes, Good Character and Morality Quotes, Life, Human Character, and Virtue Quotes, Character And Success, and Positive Human Characteristics Of Wisdom

Character Quotes

Character Quotes

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. – Helen Keller

Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. – J. C. Watts

Character is not cut in marble – it is not something solid and unalterable. It is something living and changing, and may become diseased as our bodies do. – George Eliot

Character is not something that you buy; it is not a commodity that can be bartered for; it is not a quality suited for only the rich and famous; rather, character is built upon the foundational commitment of love, honesty, and compassion for others. – Byron R. Pulsifer

Character is one of the greatest motive powers in the world. In its noblest embodiments, it exemplifies human nature in its highest forms, for it exhibits man at his best. – Samuel Smiles

Character is simply habit long continued. – Plutarch

Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. – Helen Gahagan Douglas

Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones. – Les Brown

Character, communication, competence and ‘chemistry’ are the measures that we employ to identify the man or woman who is genuine. – Les Norman

Character, not circumstance, makes the person. – Booker T. Washington

A man is known by the books he reads, by the company he keeps, by the praise he gives, by his dress, by his tastes, by his distastes, by the stories he tells, by his gait, by the notion of his eye, by the look of his house, of his chamber; for nothing on earth is solitary but every thing hath affinities infinite. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A person that remains successful over the long run has to have certain qualities within their character. One of the biggest qualities of such a person is their ability to do things whether they feel like it or not. – Peter Jenner

A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. – Romans 5:4 (NLT)

Another excellent character trait is persistence. No matter whom you are or where you serve or work, persistence will pay off in many ways. – Joe Allen and David Donaldson

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving. – Dale Carnegie

At the beginning of this new century the pace of change and the scope of the challenge to human life will make a Christian ethic founded on good character more important than ever before. – David W. Gill

Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character. – Author Unknown

Beauty has a lot to do with character. – Kevyn Aucoin

Before we determine character from behavior, we must consider the context. – Dr. Stephen Lennox

Before you give out lofty titles to men, take a moment to consider that we are all flesh and blood; we succeed, by the grace and help of the Holy Spirit, and must reflect integrity and true character in every stage of life. – Ron A. Bishop

Better to be a man of character than a man of means. – Irish Proverbs

Christian character isn’t born overnight! If we want souls that are strong and noble, beautiful in their reflection of the image of God, we must expect them to grow that way only through our personal search and lengthy pondering. – Al Bryant

Develop your character so that you are a person of integrity. – Peter Cain

Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for ‘bad company corrupts good character.’ 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLT)

Dreams are the touchstones of our character. – Henry David Thoreau

Education commences at the mother’s knee, and every word spoken within hearsay of little children tends toward the formation of character. – Hosea Ballou

Every one person who trusts you will spread the word of that trust to at least a few of their associates, and word of your character will spread like wildfire. The value of the trust others have in you is far beyond anything that can be measured. – Kevin Allen

First, committing to something higher gives you the chance to cultivate a character of selflessness. When you commit to something higher than yourself, you learn to appreciate others. – Pastor J.A. Clarkson

From His nature of awesome love flow all the qualities and dimensions of the character of God. – G B Woodcock

Generosity of character is important. It builds confidence by reminding you that you are a decent human being, and that you deserve any good things which might come your way. – John Franz

Good, honest, hardheaded character is a function of the home. If the proper seed is sown there and properly nourished for a few years, it will not be easy for that plant to be uprooted. – George A. Dorsey

Great and good character is often formed by imitation. And if we would shine in any sphere of life, we must consider some examples of illustrious men who have preceded us. – Samuel Davies

Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character. – William Arthur Ward

Having a happiness that is built into your character helps you to gain confidence. – Steven Spencer

How we behave toward and around our children has much more influence on their character than if we only tell them about how they should or should not behave. – Russell Kolts

I can not, and will not judge, by what my eyes may see. For the skin on a man shall not reveal his true identity. – Robert M. Hensel

I have no regrets in my life. I think that everything happens to you for a reason. The hard times that you go through build character, making you a much stronger person. – Rita Mero

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. – Abraham Lincoln

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. – Martin Luther King, Jr

If we are truly honest with ourselves, we can see that we each have many characteristic flaws. Especially when we are tired or hungry; these are the times that our character is tested. – Sean PI

If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. – J.K. Rowling

In order to persevere, a person often needs other character attributes such as open-mindedness. – Rohen Phoenix

In the end, it is the person you become, not the things you achieve, that is most important. – Les Brown

Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King Jr.

It can be said that any one person’s overall character and demeanor is but a reflection of the sum total of his or her thoughts. – Beau Norton

It’s wonderful to have so many opportunities to work on ourselves. It’s not just the number of character defects that can keep us busy, it’s also the endless facets that each presents. – Anne Wilson Schaef

Leadership rests not only upon ability, not only upon capacity; having the capacity to lead is not enough. The leader must be willing to use it. His leadership is then based on truth and character. – Vince Lombardi

Leave your character with God; it is safe there. Men may throw mud at it, but it will never stick long on a true believer; it shall soon come off and you shall be the more glorious for men’s slander. – Charles Spurgeon

May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God. – Philippians 1:11 (NLT)

Men who have had to struggle with an unfavorable environment, to fight cold, to buffet the storm, to blast the rock or wring a livelihood from a niggardly soil, have won character by their pains. – L.B. Cowman

Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind – you could call it character in action. – Vince Lombardi

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. – Abraham Lincoln

Never does a man portray his character more vividly than when proclaiming the character of another. – Winston Churchill

No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

No individual, organization, or society comes to character without struggle. – Gus Lee

No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character. – John Morley

No matter what the job is, its description focuses on two things: what the employee needs to know, and what the employee needs to do. Knowledge and skill are essential qualities in any employee. But are they enough? Isn’t there another aspect of a job candidate’s profile that is at least as important as knowledge and skill – namely, that person’s character? – Bruce Weinstein

One test of a person’s character is this: Will you lie? – E. Stanley Jones

Our attitude can be seen in our character, how we approach things, what our beliefs are, our perspective on issues, how we approach life, our position on topics, basically our view on life. – Catherine Pulsifer

Our character is a composite of people we have watched, experiences we have had, but completely relies on the decisions that we make. – Scott Schwab

Our character is our personal marking or social impression, one that lasts far longer than any single act. – Jennifer Freed

Our characters are refined and tried by fire and when we have gone through the furnace, we emerge as pure gold and silver. – Edward Dunedin

Over time, for better or worse, most leaders exhibit consistent sistent patterns of leadership behavior. The pattern shapes their reputation (how they are known and perceived by others), is considered sidered a reflection of their character, and largely determines their standing and status with others. – Gene Klann

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands. – Anne Frank

Patience is not simply one thing. It is a concept that transcends many areas of our personal makeup and affects nearly every characteristic and behavior we possess or act on. – James O’Donnell

Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel. – Napoleon Hill

Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open. – Elmer G. Letterman

Placing the blame is a bad habit, but taking the blame is a sure builder of character. – Dr. O. A. Battista

Positive character traits are something you can and should develop. There is a core group of character traits that every member of the human family needs to have. People don’t always agree on which six or ten core traits these are. But most experts include traits like love or caring, respect for life, honesty or trustworthiness, responsibility, justice, and fairness. – Barbara A. Lewis

Power really is a test of character. In the hands of a person of integrity, it is of tremendous benefit; in the hands of a tyrant, it causes terrible destruction. – John Maxwell

Primary greatness is on the inside. It’s about character. – Stephen Covey

Profound sincerity is the only basis of talent as of character. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reputation is what men and women think of us. Character is what God and the angels know of us. – Thomas Paine

Some are blessed with physical and mental facility, but none are more prized than the one who has developed true character. – Greg Henry Quinn

Sometimes refinement of character happens naturally as we grow older, but for many people that growth is fostered by spiritual practices adopted and followed in a disciplined way. – Rachel Cowan

Sow an act and you reap a habit.
Sow a habit and you reap a character.
Sow a character and you reap a destiny. – Charles Reade

Take on God’s character of Love and learn to love and forgive ourselves. – Dawna Hetzler

That’s the way character is formed – doing callisthenic feats with obstacles and adversities. I tell you the hard knocks are the nest eggs of our fortunes. – Martin Dasko

The beauty of the character of God is that every one of His attributes complements each other. – Jimmy Che

The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back. – Abigail Van Buren

The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves. – Leonardo da Vinci

The development and contributing factors to good character is the continual process of understanding the components and actions of love. It is these components that provide the guidance for compassion, integrity, behaviors and actions that transcend living only for self. – Byron R. Pulsifer

The Lord cares about a leader’s lifestyle and character, not just his gifts and anointing. While the gifts of the Spirit are given freely, character development comes only with time, at great personal effort. This is why God invests time into His leaders, disciplining them, stretching them, and developing in them the character they need to become vessels of honor for His use. – Frank Damazio

The reality is that the more God reveals to us of His character and ways, the more we realize how little we really know and how much we have yet to learn. – Bill Vincent

The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character. – T. Alan Armstrong

The way a man plays a game shows some of his character. The way he loses shows all of it. – Author Unknown

The winds of life – the conflicts, pressures, changes – will bend us but if we have resiliency of the spirit they cannot break us. To courageously straighten up again after our heads have been bowed by defeat, disappointment and suffering is a supreme test of character. – Wilfred Peterson

There are limits to what we can or should do to please another. We are not asking for full-on character changes. We are asking for modifications that will smooth out our frustrations with each other. – Linda Drevenstedt

Those who truly believe in their potential and know they can succeed have always pushed on forward, which basically reveals a strong character and the desire to be successful. – Stephen Steel

Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny. – Tyron Edwards

To understand personality it is necessary to study character formation. – Margaret Mead

Tolerance is a fundamental character trait of great people and a part of the attitudes and practices of those we admire and respect. People without tolerance are diminished and poor. – John K. Carmack

We aim to develop physique, mentality and character in our students; but because the first two are menaces without the third, the greatest of these is character. – Joseph Dana Allen

We are not just products of our past; people in our present also influence us and help mold our character. – David Packer

We can depend on what other people think to determine our values. The problem is, the world often values the wrong things. For instance, the world emphasizes beauty over character, or tells us to pursue whatever feels good, or declares that whoever has the most possessions wins. – Rick Warren

We live in a culture that teaches us to promote and advertise ourselves and to master the skills required for success, but that gives little encouragement to humility, sympathy, and honest self-confrontation, which are necessary for building character. – David Brooks

What a man’s mind can create, man’s character should control. – Thomas Edison

What is character discernment? It is simply being able to tell the “sheep from the goats” in your life, evaluating who is good for you, and who isn’t. And those who are good for us we call “safe people,” those individuals who truly make us better people by their presence in our lives. – Henry Cloud

When people grow in character, they grow in the ability to set and receive boundaries in their marriages, and they mature. – Henry Cloud

When virtue shrinks to only “my team” or “my tribe,” then we start our walk down the slippery slope. We best mitigate risk when we take into account the widest possible concern. This does not mean that I will never fire someone, lay someone off, or sue someone. It does mean that I will strive to respect everyone to the best of my imperfect ability. – Peter J. Rea

When you tried to realistically assess your faults, you were looking primarily at the character defects which stood in the way of getting what you want. This means that, even if it was on a subconscious level, you have had some semblance of an idea regarding your true goals all along. – Rohen Phoenix

You are your most important critic and your conscience your most important judge of character. – Denis Waitley

You can not dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one. – James A. Froude

You mould your character and your future by your thoughts and acts. – Wilferd Peterson

Your (Thomas Jefferson) character in history may easily be foreseen. Your administration will be quoted by philosophers as a model of profound wisdom; by politicians, as weak, superficial, and shortsighted. John Adams, letter to Jefferson, July 1813

Your character defines who you are by the actions you take. – Catherine Pulsifer

Your character is formed by the challenges you face and overcome. – Nick Vujicic

Your character is so much more important than your looks. – Scott Sanford

Your reputation is determined by your character, how you act, commitments you keep, honesty you display. – Catherine Pulsifer

Your reputation is in the hands of others. That’s what a reputation is. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is your character. – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Character Quotes 

Character Quotes

Quotes From Wikiquote

  • Our characters are the result of our conduct.
    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 3, chapter 5, section 12 (c. 335 BC).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    • Lord Byron, Don Juan (1818-24), Canto VI, Stanza 7.
  • 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.

    • Lord Byron, Don Juan (1818-24), Canto XVI, Stanza 97.
  • We moved from what cultural historians call a culture of character to a culture of personality. During the culture of character, what was important was the good deeds that you performed when nobody was looking. … But at the turn of the (20th) century, when we moved into this culture of personality, suddenly what was admired was to be magnetic and charismatic.
    • Susan Cain (2012) “Quiet, Please: Unleashing ‘The Power Of Introverts’,” NPR, January 30, 2012.
  • 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.
    • Every one is as God made him, and often a great deal worse.
    • Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-15), XI. 5.
  • 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.
  • The Master [Confucius] said, ‘In his errors a man is true to type. Observe the errors and you will know the man.’
    • Confucius, The Analects (475 BC – 221 BC), IV, 7.
  • A man’s character is formed by the Odes, developed by the Rites and perfected by music.
    • Confucius, The Analects . Quoted from Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage.
  • Elegant as simplicity, and warm
    As ecstasy.

    • 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.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil (1845), Book V, Chapter I. Also in Burke—Reflections on the Revolution in France, p. 419. (Ed. 1834).
  • 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.
  • The clearest indication of character is what people find laughable.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections (1833), translated by Elisabeth Stopp (Penguin, 1998), Maxim 12.
  • Character in important and less important matters is that a man should steadily pursue whatever course he feels to be within his capacity.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections (1833), translated by Elisabeth Stopp (Penguin, 1998), Maxim 839.
  • 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.
    • Samuel Johnson, reported in James Boswell, Life of Johnson (1763).
  • A very unclubable man.
    • Samuel Johnson, reported in James Boswell, Life of Johnson (1764), note.
  • 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).
  • If you wish to know someone, you need only observe that on which he bestows his care, and what sides of his own nature he cultivates.
    • John Kessel, Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance (2009) in Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan (eds.) The New Space Opera 2 (mass market paperback edition, ISBN 978-0-06-156236-5), p. 93
  • Those about whom you inquire have moulded with their bones into dust. Nothing but their words remain. When the hour of the great man has struck he rises to leadership; but before his time has come he is hampered in all that he attempts. I have heard that the successful merchant carefully conceals his wealth, and acts as though he had nothing—that the great man, though abounding in achievements, is simple in his manners and appearance. Get rid of your pride and your many ambitions, your affectation and your extravagant aims. Your character gains nothing for all these. This is my advice to you.
    • Attributed to Laozi. Laozi speaking to Confucius. Quoted in James Legge, Texts of Taoism, 34; Quoted from Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage.
  • 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, ChristusThe 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.
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion (1839), Book IV, Chapter VI.
  • 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).
  • Our character is our will; for what we will we are.
    • Henry Edward Manning, Towards Evening: Extracts from the Writings of Cardinal Manning, compiled by A. M. W., 2nd edition (1889). London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., p. 136.
  • 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.

    • John Milton, Comus (1637), line 381.
  • 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.

    • John Milton, Comus (1637), line 410.
  • Quips and Cranks and wanton Wiles,
    Nods and Becks and wreathèd Smiles.

    • John Milton, L’Allegro (1631), line 27.
  • Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved.
    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667; 1674), Book II, line 185.
  • Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667; 1674), Book III, line 99.
  • For contemplation he and valor formed,
    For softness she and sweet attractive grace.

    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667; 1674), Book IV, line 297.
  • Adam the goodliest man of men since born
    His sons, the fairest of her daughters, Eve.

    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667; 1674), Book IV, line 323.
  • Her virtue and the conscience of her worth,
    That would be wooed, and not unsought be won.

    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667; 1674), Book VIII, line 502.
  • 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.
  • Any character, from the best to the worst, from the most ignorant to the most enlightened, may be given to any community, even to the world at large, by applying certain means; which are to a great extent at the command and under the controul, or easily made so, of those who possess the government of nations.
    • Robert Owen, A New View of Society (London: Cadell and Davies, 1813), p. 9. This quote is also used as the epigraph on the title page (p. i).
  • ‘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.
  • Our character is our spiritual constitution. It is not made for us, as the Owenites said: it is daily being made and modified by us, by means of our daily human acts. Countless tiny shellfish build up a coral-reef, or a chalk cliff; and countless acts make in time a character. Little acts come and go unnoticed; the result endures; and in the end we are surprised at its magnitude and permanence. Our daily acts, then, must be well done, excellently well done, at least with such excellence as is within our reach.
    • Joseph Rickaby, S.J., Four-Square, or The Cardinal Virtues (New York: Joseph F. Wagner, 1908), p. 36.
    • The Owenites were followers of Robert Owen, who was widely quoted as saying, “Man’s character is made for and not by him.”
  • When you start making a movie, you never know which will be the break out characters, the stars of the movie. That happened to us with Scrat (the saber toothed squirrel in Ice Age. We didn’t know that Scrat was going to be a superstar. Scrat doesn’t diminish the central Ice Age characters, Manny, Sid and Diego.
    • Carlos Saldhana, in Elaine Lipworth, “Interview with Director of Rio 2, Carlos Saldanha” (3 April 2014),
  • 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.

    • William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well (1600s), Act I, scene 1, line 111.
  • 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.

    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act V, scene 1, line 285.
  • There’s neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee.
    • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I (c. 1597), Act I, scene 2, line 154.
  • I am no proud Jack, like Falstaff; but a
    Corinthian, glad of mettle, a good boy.

    • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I (c. 1597), Act II, scene 4, line 12.
  • What a frosty-spirited rogue is this!
    • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I (c. 1597), Act II, scene 3, line 21.
  • This bold bad man.
    • William Shakespeare, Henry VIII (c. 1613), Act II, scene 2.
  • 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.

    • William Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar (1599), Act I, scene 3, line 157.
  • Thou art most rich, being poor;
    Most choice, forsaken; and most lov’d, despis’d!
    Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon.

    • William Shakespeare, King Lear (1608), Act I, scene 1, line 252.
  • 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.
    • William Shakespeare, King Lear (1608), Act I, scene 4, line 14.
  • What thou wouldst highly,
    That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
    And yet wouldst wrongly win.

    • William Shakespeare, Macbeth (1605), Act I, scene 5, line 21.
  • I grant him bloody,
    Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
    Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
    That has a name.

    • William Shakespeare, Macbeth (1605), Act IV, scene 3, line 57.
  • There is a kind of character in thy life,
    That to the observer doth thy history
    Fully unfold.

    • William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure (1603), Act I, scene 1, line 28.
  • 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.

    • William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (late 1590s), Act I, scene 1, line 51.
  • When he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.
    • William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (late 1590s), Act I, scene 2, line 94.
  • You are thought here to be the most senseless and fit man for the constable of the watch; therefore bear you the lantern.
    • William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing (1598-99), Act III, scene 3, line 20.
  • Why, now I see there’s mettle in thee, and even from this instant do build on thee a better opinion than ever before.
    • William Shakespeare, Othello (c. 1603), Act IV, scene 2, line 205.
  • He hath a daily beauty in his life
    That makes me ugly.

    • William Shakespeare, Othello (c. 1603), Act V, scene 1, line 19.
  • O do not slander him, for he is kind.
    Right; as snow in harvest.

    • William Shakespeare, Richard III (c. 1591), Act I, scene 4, line 240.
  • Now do I play the touch,
    To try if thou be current gold indeed.

    • William Shakespeare, Richard III (c. 1591), Act IV, scene 2, line 9.
  • 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.

    • William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens (date uncertain, published 1623), Act I, scene 1, line 30.
  • The trick of singularity.
    • William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (c. 1601-02), Act II, scene 5, line 164.
  • He wants wit that wants resolved will.
    • William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1590s), Act II, scene 6, line 12.
  • His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles;
    His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate;
    * * * * * *
    His heart as far from fraud as heaven from earth.

    • William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1590s), Act II, scene 7, line 75.
  • 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 GentlemanSelf-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.
    • Alfred Tennyson, Idylls of the King (published 1859-1885), Launcelot and Elaine, line 1109.
  • Just because you are a character doesn’t mean you have character.
    • Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction (1994), by Winston Wolfe (a character played by Harvey Keitel in the film).
  • 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.

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.
    • Aristophanes, see Plutarch, Life of Alcibiades. Langhorne’s translation.
  • 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 BirchingtonNicomachean 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 WomenBishop 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, GoetheEdinburgh 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, EssaysGoethe.
  • 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 ScottLondon 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, Pro Roscio Comodeo Oratio, 17.
  • 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 (1876), 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, EssayOn 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.
  • ἦθος ἀνθρώπῳ δαίμων
    • Character is destiny.
    • Heraclitus Fragment 119
    • Variant translations:
      Character is fate.
      Man’s character is his fate.
      A man’s character is his fate.
      A man’s character is his guardian divinity.
      One’s bearing shapes one’s fate.
  • 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
    Fusce pharetra.

    • 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.
  • Paullum sepultæ distat inertiæ
    Celata virtus.

    • 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 (early 2nd century), 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 (1848), 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 WindowsAbraham 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.
  • There thou beholdest the walls of Sparta, and every man a brick.
    • Lycurgus, according to Plutarch.
  • 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 HallMariner’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 RaceClifton Chapel.
  • Video meliora proboque,
    Deteriora sequor.

    • I see and approve better things, I follow the worse.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, VII. 20. Same in Petrarch, To Laura in Life, XXI.
  • 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 ElegieOn 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 the Younger, 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 PapersOn 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.
    • None but himself can be his parallel.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), VI, line 865. He [Cæsar] was equal only to himself. Sir William Temple. As quoted by Granger—Biographical History. Found in Dodd, Epigrammatists.
  • 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
    Disce omnes.

    • Learn now of the treachery of the Greeks, and from one example the character of the nation may be known.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), II. 65.
  • 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.
    • Sir Frederick Pollock, 1st Baronet, 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.

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