Johann Kaspar Lavater

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Let none turn over books, or roam the stars in quest of God, who sees him not in man.

Johann Kaspar Lavater (15 November 17412 January 1801) was a Swiss poet, writer, philosopher and theologian.

Quotes[edit]

Act well at the moment, and you have performed a good action to all eternity.
  • Act well at the moment, and you have performed a good action to all eternity.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 4
  • Happy the heart to whom God has given enough strength and courage to suffer for Him, to find happiness in simplicity and the happiness of others.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 246
  • Never tell evil of a man, if you do not know it for certainty, and if you know it for a certainty, then ask yourself, 'Why should I tell it?'
    • As quoted in What Billingsgate Thought: A Country Gentleman's Views on Snobbery (1919) by William Alexander Newman Dorland

Aphorisms on Man (1788)[edit]

Aphorisms on Man, translated by Henry Fuseli (London: J. Johnson, 1788)
If you mean to know yourself, interline such of these aphorisms as affect you agreeably in reading, and set a mark to such as left a sense of uneasiness with you; and then show your copy to whom you please.
  • Who in the same given time can produce more than others has vigor; who can produce more and better, has talents; who can produce what none else can, has genius.
    • No. 23
  • All affectation is the vain and ridiculous attempt of poverty to appear rich.
    • No. 53
  • You may tell a man, thou art a fiend, but not, your nose wants blowing. To him alone who can bear a thing of that kind, you may tell all.
    • No. 84
  • Who makes quick use of the moment is a genius of prudence.
    • No. 91
  • The discovery of truth by slow progressive meditation is wisdom. Intuition of truth, not preceded by perceptible meditation, is genius.
    • No. 93
  • Who seldom speaks, and with one calm well-timed word can strike dumb the loquacious, is a genius among those who study nature.
    • No. 126
  • Say not you know another entirely, till you have divided an inheritance with him.
    • No. 157
  • I am prejudiced in favour of him who can solicit boldly, without imprudence. He has faith in humanity — he has faith in himself. No one who is not accustomed to give grandly can ask nobly and with boldness.
    • No. 170
  • Too much gravity argues a shallow mind.
    • No. 183
  • He who makes too much or too little of himself has a false measure for everything.
    • No. 188
  • He who has no taste for order will be often wrong in his judgements, and seldom considerate or conscientious in his actions.
    • No. 189
  • The more honesty a man has, the less he affects the air of a saint — the affectation of sanctity is a blotch on the face of piety.
    • No. 200
  • The craftiest wiles are too short and ragged a cloak to cover a bad heart.
    • No. 259
  • Have you ever seen a pedant with a warm heart?
    • No. 270
  • If you see one cold and vehement at the same time, set him down for a fanatic.
    • No. 292
  • He who, when called upon to speak a disagreeable truth, tells it boldly and has done, is both bolder and milder than he who nibbles in a low voice, and never ceases nibbling.
    • No. 302
  • Him, who incessantly laughs in the street, you may commonly hear grumbling in his closet.
    • No. 315
  • Superstition always inspires littleness, religion grandeur of mind: the superstitious raises beings inferior to himself to deities.
    • No. 342
  • The jealous is possessed by a "fine mad devil" and a dull spirit at once.
    • No. 345
    • In William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 5, sc. 1, Falstaff says that Mistress Ford's husband has "the finest mad devil of jealousy in him".
  • Good may be done by the bad — but the good alone can be good.
    • No. 362
  • There are but three classes of men — the retrograde, the stationary, the progressive.
    • No. 371
  • The prudent sees only the difficulties, the bold only the advantages, of a great enterprise; the hero sees both, diminishes those, makes these preponderate, and conquers.
    • No. 390
  • Let none turn over books, or roam the stars in quest of God, who sees him not in man.
    • No. 408
  • Trust not him with your secrets, who, when left alone in your room, turns over your papers.
    • No. 449
  • A woman whose ruling passion is not vanity, is superior to any man of equal faculties.
    • No. 450
  • Trust him little who praises all, him less who censures all, and him least of all who is indifferent about all.
    • No. 491
  • You are not very good if you are not better than your best friends imagine you to be.
    • No. 536
  • Where there is much pretension, much has been borrowed — nature never pretends.
    • No. 556
  • Neatness begets order; but from order to taste there is the same difference as from taste to genius, or from love to friendship.
    • No. 594
  • The public seldom forgive twice.
    • No. 606
  • He submits to be seen through a microscope, who suffers himself to be caught in a fit of passion.
    • No. 608
  • Venerate four characters: the sanguine, who has checked volatility and the rage for pleasure; the choleric, who has subdued passion and pride; the phlegmatic, emerged from indolence; and the melancholy, who has dismissed avarice, suspicion and asperity.
    • No. 609
  • All great minds sympathize.
    • No. 610
  • Actions, looks, words, steps, form the alphabet by which you may spell characters.
    • No. 637
  • If you mean to know yourself, interline such of these aphorisms as affect you agreeably in reading, and set a mark to such as left a sense of uneasiness with you; and then show your copy to whom you please.
    • No. 643

External links[edit]

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