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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. A fictional character is a person within some sort of story, or sometimes a virtual character or game character within a simulation or game, especially within video games or role-playing games.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hannibal, as he had mighty virtues, so had he many vices; * * * he had two distinct persons in him.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Democritus to the Reader.
  • Heroic, stoic Cato, the sententious,
    Who lent his lady to his friend Hortensius.
  • So well she acted all and every part
    By turns—with that vivacious versatility,
    Which many people take for want of heart.
    They err—'tis merely what is call'd mobility,
    A thing of temperament and not of art,
    Though seeming so, from its supposed facility;
    And false—though true; for surely they're sincerest
    Who are strongly acted on by what is nearest.
  • 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.
  • Every one is the son of his own works.
  • I can look sharp as well as another, and let me alone to keep the cobwebs out of my eyes.
  • Cada uno es come Dios le hijo, y aun peor muchas vezes.
  • Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.
    • Henry Clay, reported in The Clay Code, or Text-Book of Eloquence, a Collection of Axioms, Apothegms, Sentiments … Gathered from the Public Speeches of Henry Clay, ed. G. Vandenhoff (1844), p. 93.
  • 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.
  • Virtue and vice had boundaries in old time,
    Not to be pass'd.
  • A demd damp, moist, unpleasant body.
  • 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.
  • Character in important and less important matters is that a man should steadily pursue whatever course he feels to be within his capacity.
  • Our Garrick's a salad; for in him we see
    Oil, vinegar, sugar, and saltness agree.
  • Though equal to all things, for all things unfit;
    Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.
  • No doubt the reason is that character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
    • Helen Adams Keller (p. 60. Helen Keller's Journal: 1936-1937, Doubleday, Doran & company, inc., 1938).
  • 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.
  • A tender heart; a will inflexible.
  • So mild, so merciful, so strong, so good,
    So patient, peaceful, loyal, loving, pure.
  • Sensitive, swift to resent, but as swift in atoning for error.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • He that has light within his own clear breast
    May sit i' the centre, and enjoy bright day:
    But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts
    Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
    Himself his own dungeon.
  • Yet, where an equal poise of hope and fear
    Does arbitrate the event, my nature is
    That I incline to hope rather than fear,
    And gladly banish squint suspicion.
  • Quips and Cranks and wanton Wiles,
    Nods and Becks and wreathèd Smiles.
  • For contemplation he and valor formed,
    For softness she and sweet attractive grace.
  • Adam the goodliest man of men since born
    His sons, the fairest of her daughters, Eve.
  • Her virtue and the conscience of her worth,
    That would be wooed, and not unsought be won.
  • Character is what you are in the dark.
    • Dwight L. Moody, attributed by his son, William R. Moody, D. L. Moody (1930), chapter 66, p. 503.
  • 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.
  • With too much Quickness ever to be taught;
    With too much Thinking to have common Thought.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.
  • 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.
  • I know him a notorious liar,
    Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
    Yet these fix'd evils sit so fit in him,
    That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
    Look bleak i' the cold wind.
  • He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
    Ill-faced, worse-bodied, shapeless everywhere;
    Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
    Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
  • Though I am not splenitive and rash,
    Yet have I something in me dangerous.
  • O, he sits high in all the people's hearts:
    And that which would appear offence in us.
    His countenance, like richest alchemy,
    Will change to virtue and to worthiness.
  • Thou art most rich, being poor;
    Most choice, forsaken; and most lov'd, despis'd!
    Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon.
  • I do profess to be no less than I seem; to serve him truly that will put me in trust; to love him that is honest; to converse with him that is wise, and says little; to fear judgment; to fight when I cannot choose; and to eat no fish.
  • What thou wouldst highly,
    That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
    And yet wouldst wrongly win.
  • I grant him bloody,
    Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
    Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
    That has a name.
  • 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.
  • Why, now I see there's mettle in thee, and even from this instant do build on thee a better opinion than ever before.
  • 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.
  • His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles;
    His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate;
    * * * * * *
    His heart as far from fraud as heaven from earth.
  • I'm called away by particular business. But I leave my character behind me.
  • There are many counterfeits of character, but the genuine article is difficult to be mistaken.
    • Samuel Smiles, Character: The True Gentleman, Self-Help (1856), Ch 13.
  • Daniel Webster struck me much like a steam engine in trousers.
    • Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir (1855), Volume I, p. 267.
  • He [Macaulay] is like a book in breeches.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In brief, I don't stick to declare, Father Dick,
    So they call him for short, is a regular brick;
    A metaphor taken—I have not the page aright—
    From an ethical work by the Stagyrite.
    • Richard Harris Barham, Brothers of Birchington, Nicomachean Ethics, section I, records Aristotle's definition of a happy man, a four cornered, perfectly rectangular man, a faultless cube. ("A perfect brick.").
  • Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • No, when the fight begins within himself,
    A man's worth something.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It is in general more profitable to reckon up our defects than to boast of our attainments.
  • It can be said of him, When he departed he took a Man's life with him. No sounder piece of British manhood was put together in that eighteenth century of Time.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Sir Walter Scott, London and Westminster Review (1838).
  • He was a verray perfight gentil knight.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • He's tough, ma'am,—tough is J. B.; tough and de-vilish sly.
  • O Mrs. Higden, Mrs. Higden, you was a woman and a mother, and a mangler in a million million.
  • I know their tricks and their manners.
  • Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.
  • Thus all below is strength, and all above is grace.
  • Plain without pomp, and rich without a show.
  • 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.
  • Character is higher than intellect. * * * A great soul will be strong to live, as well as to think.
  • No change of circumstances can repair a defect of 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.
  • Human improvement is from within outwards.
  • Our thoughts and our conduct are our own.
  • Every one of us, whatever our speculative opinions, knows better than he practices, and recognizes a better law than he obeys.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Aufrichtig zu sein kann ich versprechen; unparteiisch zu sein aber nicht.
  • 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.
  • Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed,
    Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kein Talent, doch ein Charakter.
  • 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.
  • He was worse than provincial—he was parochial.
  • Officious, innocent, sincere,
    Of every friendless name the friend.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Our Pilgrim stock wuz pethed with hardihood.
  • Soft-heartedness, in times like these,
    Shows sof'ness in the upper story.
  • Endurance is the crowning quality,
    And patience all the passion of great hearts.
  • For she was jes' the quiet kind
    Whose naturs never vary,
    Like streams that keep a summer mind
    Snowhid in Jenooary.
  • 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.
  • It is by presence of mind in untried emergencies that the native metal of a man is tested.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sae true his heart, sae smooth his speech,
    His breath like caller air,
    His very foot has music in 't,
    As he comes up the stair.
    • William Julius Mickle, Ballad of Cumnor Hall, Mariner's Wife. Attributed also to Jean Adam, evidence in favor of Mickle. Claimed also for McPherson as a Manuscript copy was found among his papers after his death.
  • In men whom men condemn as ill
    I find so much of goodness still,
    In men whom men pronounce divine
    I find so much of sin and blot
    I do not dare to draw a line
    Between the two, where God has not.
    • Joaquin Miller, Byron, Stanza 1. (Bear ed. 1909, changes "I hesitate" to "I do not dare.").
  • Les hommes, fripons en détail, sont en gros de très-honnêtes gens.
    • Men, who are rogues individually, are in the mass very honorable people.
    • Charles de Montesquieu, De l'Esprit, XXV. C. 2.
  • Good at a fight, but better at a play;
    Godlike in giving, but the devil to pay.
  • To those who know thee not, no words can paint;
    And those who know thee, know all words are faint!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Of Manners gentle, of Affections mild;
    In Wit a man; Simplicity, a child.
  • Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
    Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.
  • 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.
  • So much his courage and his mercy strive,
    He wounds to cure, and conquers to forgive.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Worth, courage, honor, these indeed
    Your sustenance and birthright are.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • High characters (cries one), and he would see
    Things that ne'er were, nor are, nor e'er will be.
  • 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.
  • A man should endeavor to be as pliant as a reed, yet as hard as cedar-wood.
  • 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.
  • The hearts that dare are quick to feel;
    The hands that wound are soft to heal.
  • 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.
  • And one man is as good as another—and a great dale betther, as the Irish philosopher said.
  • 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.
  • Just men, by whom impartial laws were given,
    And saints, who taught and led the way to heaven!
  • Nor e'er was to the bowers of bliss conveyed
    A fairer spirit, or more welcome shade.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • One that would peep and botanize
    Upon his mother's grave.
  • 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.
  • Whom neither shape of danger can dismay,
    Nor thought of tender happiness betray.
  • The reason firm, the temperate will,
    Endurance, foresight, strength and skill.
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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Men and brethren, a simple trust in God is the most essential ingredient in moral sublimity of character.
  • Our character is but the stamp on our souls of the free choice
    of good or evil we have made through life.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I have learned by experience that no man's character can be eventually injured but by his own acts.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Only what we have wrought into our character during life can we take away with us.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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