Goodness

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Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. … Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger — according to the way you react to it. ~ C. S. Lewis

Good, or Goodness, are terms designating desired, healthy or proper qualites, in contrast with undesired bad, harmful or evil qualites.

Quotes[edit]

I expect to pass through this world but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I will not pass this way again. ~ Quaker saying, usually attributed to Stephen Grellet
  • Some good we all can do; and if we do all that is in our power, however little that power may be, we have performed our part, and may be as near perfection as those whose influence extends over kingdoms, and whose good actions are felt and applauded by thousands.
  • Goodness is always an asset. A man who is straight, friendly and useful may never be famous, but he is respected and liked by all who know him. He has laid a sound foundation for success and he will have a worthwhile life.
  • Can one desire too much of a good thing?
    • Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-15), Part I, Book I, Chapter VI. As You Like It, Act IV, scene 1, line 123
  • I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.
    • Attributed to Stephen Grellet , variants of this have been been widely circulated as a Quaker saying since at least 1869, and attributed Grellet since at least 1893. W. Gurney Benham in Benham's Book of Quotations, Proverbs, and Household Words (1907) states that though sometimes attributed to others, "there seems to be some authority in favor of Stephen Grellet being the author, but the passage does not appear in any of his printed works." It appears to have been published as an anonymous proverb at least as early as 1859, when it appeared in Household Words : A Weekly Journal.
  • Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
  • Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger — according to the way you react to it.
  • We care so little of other people that even Christianity urges us to do good for the love of God.
  • He that does good for good's sake seeks neither praise nor reward, though sure of both at last.
    • William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude in Reflections and Maxims (1682) no. 441
  • Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.
  • Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
  • I judge things from an evolutionary perspective — "How does this serve and contribute to the process of our own evolution?" — rather than think of good and evil in moral terms. I see the triumph of good over evil as a manifestation of the error-correcting process of evolution.
    • Jonas Salk, in Academy of Achievement interview, in San Diego, California (16 May 1991)
  • For he that is a good man, is three quarters of his way towards the being a good Christian, wheresoever he lives, or whatsoever he is called.
  • Most people are bad; if they are strong they take from the weak. The good people are all weak; they are good because they are not strong enough to be bad.
  • The touchstone of goodness is to own one's defeat even to inferiors.
  • What good is that goodness if it does not return good even to those who cause evil?
    • Tiruvalluvar, Tirukkural: 787
  • One may slain every goodness and yet escape, but no escape for one who slain gratitude.
    • Tiruvalluvar, Tirukkural: 110
  • People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.
  • What is good looking, as Horace Smith remarks, but looking good? Be good, be womanly, be gentle, — generous in your sympathies, heedful of the well-being of all around you; and, my word for it, you will not lack kind words of admiration.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 326-29.
  • Whatever any one does or says, I must be good.
  • What good I see humbly I seek to do,
    And live obedient to the law, in trust
    That what will come, and must come, shall come well.
  • Because indeed there was never law, or sect, or opinion, did so much magnify goodness, as the Christian religion doth.
  • For the cause that lacks assistance,
    The wrong that needs resistance,
    For the future in the distance,
    And the good that I can do.
  • The good he scorned
    Stalked off reluctant, like an ill-used ghost,
    Not to return; or if it did, in visits
    Like those of angels, short and far between.
  • One may not doubt that, somehow Good
    Shall come of Water and of Mud;
    And sure, the reverent eye must see
    A purpose in Liquidity.
  • There shall never be one lost good! What was shall live as before;
    The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;
    What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
    On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven a perfect round.
  • No good Book, or good thing of any sort, shows its best face at first.
  • Ergo hoc proprium est animi bene constituti, et lætari bonis rebus, et dolere contrariis.
    • This is a proof of a well-trained mind, to rejoice in what is good and to grieve at the opposite.
    • Cicero, De Amicitia, XIII
  • Homines ad deos nulla re propius accedunt, quam salutem hominibus dando.
    • Men in no way approach so nearly to the gods as in doing good to men.
    • Cicero, Oratio Pro Quinto Ligario, XII
  • Cui bono?
    • What's the good of it? for whose advantage?
    • Cicero, Oratio Pro Sextio Roscio Amerino, XXX. Quoted from Lucius Cassius—Second Philippic. ("Qui bono fueret.") See Life of Cicero, II. 292. Note
  • That good diffused may more abundant grow.
  • Doing good,
    Disinterested good, is not our trade.
  • Now, at a certain time, in pleasant mood,
    He tried the luxury of doing good.
  • Who soweth good seed shall surely reap;
    The year grows rich as it groweth old,
    And life's latest sands are its sands of gold!
  • Look around the habitable world, how few
    Know their own good, or knowing it, pursue.
  • If you wish to be good, first believe that you are bad.
  • For all their luxury was doing good.
  • Ein guter Mensch, in seinem dunkeln Drange,
    Ist sich des rechten Weges wohl bewusst.
  • And learn the luxury of doing good.
  • Impell'd with steps unceasing to pursue
    Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view,
    That, like the circle bounding earth and skies,
    Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies.
  • If goodness leade him not, yet wearinesse
    May tosse him to my breast.
  • Vir bonus est quis?
    Qui consulta patrum, qui leges juraque servat.
    • Who is a good man? He who keeps the decrees of the fathers, and both human and divine laws.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 16. 40
  • God whose gifts in gracious flood
    Unto all who seek are sent,
    Only asks you to be good
    And is content.
  • He was so good he would pour rose-water on a toad.
  • Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?
    • John. I. 46
  • How near to good is what is fair!
  • Rari quippe boni: numero vix sunt totidem quot
    Thebarum portæ, vel divitis ostia Nili.
    • The good, alas! are few: they are scarcely as many as the gates of Thebes or the mouths of the Nile.
    • Juvenal, Satires, XIII. 26
  • Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;
    Do noble things, not dream them all day long;
    And so make life, death, and that vast forever
    One grand, sweet song.
  • Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever;
    Do lovely things, not dream them, all day long;
    And so make Life, and Death, and that For Ever,
    One grand sweet song.
    • Charles Kingsley, Farewell. Version in ed. of 1889. Also in Life. Ed. by his wife, Volume I, p. 487, with line: "And so make Life, Death, and that vast For Ever"
  • Weiss
    Dass alle Länder gute Menschen tragen.
  • Segnius homines bona quam mala sentiunt.
    • Men have less lively perception of the good than of the bad.
    • Livy, Annales, XXX. 21
  • The soil out of which such men as he are made is good to be born on, good to live on, good to die for and to be buried in.
  • Si veris magna paratur
    Fama bonis, et si successu nuda remoto
    Inspicitur virtus, quicquid laudamus in ullo
    Majorum, fortuna fuit.
    • If honest fame awaits the truly good; if setting aside the ultimate success of excellence alone is to be considered, then was his fortune as proud as any to be found in the records of our ancestry.
    • Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Pharsalia, IX. 593
  • The crest and crowning of all good,
    Life's final star, is Brotherhood.
  • None
    But such as are good men can give good things,
    And that which is not good, is not delicious
    To a well-governed and wise appetite.
  • * * his providence
    Out of our evil seek to bring forth good.
  • A glass is good, and a lass is good,
    And a pipe to smoke in cold weather;
    The world is good, and the people are good,
    And we're all good fellows together.
  • I know and love the good, yet ah! the worst pursue.
    • Petrarch, To Laura in Life, Canzone XXI
  • Itidemque ut sæpe jam in multis locis,
    Plus insciens quis fecit quam prodens boni.
    • And so it happens oft in many instances; more good is done without our knowledge than by us intended.
    • Plautus, Captivi Prologue, XLIV
  • Bono ingenio me esse ornatam, quam auro multo mavolo.
    Aurum fortuna invenitur, natura ingenium donum.
    Bonam ego, quam beatam me esse nimio dici mavolo.
    • A good disposition I far prefer to gold; for gold is the gift of fortune; goodness of disposition is the gift of nature. I prefer much rather to be called good than fortunate.
    • Plautus, Phœnulus, I. 2. 90
  • Gute Menschen können sich leichter in schlimme hineindenken als diese injene.
    • Good men can more easily see through bad men than the latter can the former.
    • Jean Paul Richter, Hesperus, IV
  • You're good for Madge or good for Cis
    Or good for Kate, maybe:
    But what's to me the good of this
    While you're not good for me?
  • Esse quam videri bonus malebat.
    • He preferred to be good, rather than to seem so.
    • Sallust, Catlina, LIV
  • What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon also be beautiful.
  • Bonitas non est pessimis esse meliorem.
    • It is not goodness to be better than the very worst.
    • Seneca, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium
  • There lives within the very flame of love
    A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it;
    And nothing is at a like goodness still;
    For goodness, growing to a pleurisy,
    Dies in his own too much.
  • There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
    Would men observingly distil it out.
  • I am in this earthly world; where to do harm,
    Is often laudable, to do good sometime
    Accounted dangerous folly.
  • For the Lord Jesus Christ's sake,
    Do all the good you can,
    To all the people you can,
    In all the ways you can,
    As long as ever you can.
    • Tombstone inscription in Shrewsbury, England. Favorite of Mr. Moody
  • For who is there but you? who not only claim to be a good man and a gentleman, for many are this, and yet have not the power of making others good. Whereas you are not only good yourself, but also the cause of goodness in others.
  • How pleasant is Saturday night,
    When I've tried all the week to be good,
    Not spoken a word that is bad,
    And obliged every one that I could.
  • One person I have to make good: myself. But my duty to my neighbor is much more nearly expressed by saying that I have to make him happy—if I may.
  • She has more goodness in her little finger than he has in his whole body.
  • O, yet we trust that somehow good
    Will be the final goal of ill,
    To pangs of nature, sins of will
    Defects of doubt and taints of blood.
  • 'Tis only noble to be good.
    • Alfred Tennyson, Lady Clara Vere de Vere. Same in Juvenal, Satires, VIII. 24
  • From seeming evil still educing good.
  • Man should be ever better than he seems.
  • Roaming in thought over the Universe, I saw the little that is
    Good steadily hastening towards immortality,
    And the vast all that is called Evil I saw hastening to merge itself and become lost and dead.
  • Bene facere et male audire regium est.
    • To do good and be evil spoken of, is kingly.
    • On the Town Hall of Zittau, Saxony. Noted in Carlyle, Frederick the Great, XV. 13

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)[edit]

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Goodness consists not in the outward things we do, but in the inward thing we are. To be is the great thing.
  • How many people would like to be good, if only they might be good without taking trouble about it! They do not like goodness well enough to hunger and thirst after it, or to sell all that they have that they may buy it; they will not batter at the gate of the kingdom of heaven; but they look with pleasure on this or that aerial castle of righteousness, and think it would be rather nice to live in it.
  • Great hearts alone understand how much glory there is in being good.
  • Be good my child, and let who will be clever;
    Do noble deeds, not dream them all day long;
    And so make life, death, and that vast forever
    One grand, sweet song.
  • No good thing is ever lost. Nothing dies, not even life which gives up one form only to resume another. No good action, no good example dies. It lives forever in our race. While the frame moulders and disappears, the deed leaves an indelible stamp, and moulds the very thought and will of future generations.
  • For ever and ever, my darling, yes—
    Goodness and love are undying;
    Only the troubles and cares of earth
    Are winged from the first for flying.
    Our way we plough
    In the furrow "now;"
    But after the tilling and growing the sheaf;
    Soil for the root, but the sun for the leaf—
    And God keepeth watch forever.
  • Nothing that man ever invents will absolve him from the universal necessity of being good as God is good, righteous as God is righteous, and holy as God is holy.
  • He who believes in goodness has the essence of all faith. He is a man "of cheerful yesterdays and confident to-morrows."
  • We cannot rekindle the morning beams of childhood; we cannot recall the noontide glory of youth; we cannot bring back the perfect day of maturity; we cannot fix the evening rays of age in the shadowy horizon; but we can cherish that goodness which is the sweetness of childhood, the joy of youth, the strength of maturity, the honor of old age, and the bliss of saints.

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