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242 of 6,095 quotations related to Character, showing Abram to Fosdick

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Abram, Morris B.
A painting on a canvas of infinite size, worked on eternally, would be without focus, meaning and probably without beauty. A painting, as life, needs limits.

from a column in the Wall Street Journal
Acton, Lord John Emerich
Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.

Adams, Abigail
These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station, that great challenges are formed . . . great necessities call out great virtues.

Jan. 19, 1780 - from a letter to John Quincy Adams
Adams, John
All sober inquirers after truth, ancient and modern, pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue.

1776 - from Thoughts on Government
Public virtue cannot exist without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.

Apr. 16, 1776 - from a letter to Mercey Warren
Adams, John Quincy
Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have... a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean the characters and conduct of their rulers.

Adams, William
Faith is a continuation of reason.

Aeschylus
He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

from Agamemnon
It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.

Aesop
Yield to all and you will soon have nothing to yield.

c. 500 B.C. - from "The Man and His Two Wives" in Aesop's Fables



Allen, William R.
Certainly, it is a world of scarcity. But the scarcity is not confined to iron ore and arable land. The most constricting scarcities are those of character and personality.

Jan. 1993 - from "Bunnie Rabbit, Winnie, and the Grand Plan" published in California Political Review
Amiel, Henri Frederic
We are never more discontented with others than when we are discontented with ourselves. The consciousness of wrong-doing makes us irritable, and our heart in its cunning quarrels with what is outside it, in order that it may deafen the clamor within.

1872 - from Amiel's Journey
Antisthenes
As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion.

Aristotle
Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids.

Happiness is the exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope.

Arnold, Dr. Thomas
What we must look for here is, first, religious and moral principles; secondly, gentlemanly conduct; thirdly, intellectual ability.

from an address to the Rugby students, quoted in The MacMillan Dictionary of Quotations
Auden, W.H.
One of the troubles of our times is that we are all, I think, precocious as personalities and backward as characters.

Baden-Powell, Robert
An individual step in character training is to put responsibility on the individual.

Barzun, Jacques
A self is not found but made.

2000 - from From Dawn to Decadence



Beecher, Henry Ward
Happiness is not the end of life, character is.

1858 - from Life Thoughts
Bell, Daniel
Every society seeks to establish a set of meanings through which people can relate themselves to the world. These meanings specify a set of purposes or, like myth and ritual, explain the character of shared experiences, or deal with the transformations of nature through human powers of magic or techne. These meanings are embodied in religion, in culture, and in work.

1976 - from his book The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, New York, Basic Books
Bennett, William J.
...many bad ideas are being put into widespread circulation. It is said that private character has virtually no impact on governing character... that moral authority is defined solely by how well a president deals with public policy matters; ...that lies about sex, even under oath, don't really matter; that we shouldn't be 'judgmental'; that it is inappropriate to make preliminary judgments about the president's conduct because he [wasn't] found guilty in a court of law; and so forth. If these arguments... become the coin of the public realm we will have validated them, and we will come to rue the day we did. These arguments define us down; they assume a lower common denominator of behavior and leadership than we ... ought to accept. And if we do accept it, we will have committed an unthinking act of moral and intellectual disarmament. In the realm of ... ideals and the great tradition of public debate, the high ground will have been lost. ...the arguments invoked by Bill Clinton and his defenders represent an assault on American ideals.

Oct. 01, 1998 - from Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals
True courage is mixed with circumspection, the kind of healthy skepticism that asks, "Is this the best way to do this?" True cowardice is marked by chronic skepticism, which always says, "It can't be done."

1993 - from The Book of Virtues
Those who fight the good fight and win need to be brave only once. Those who lose must show courage twice. So we must steel ourselves for harder things than triumph.

1993 - from The Book of Virtues
... the character of the state is determined by the virtue of its individual citizens.

1993 - from The Book of Virtues
Some find it fashionable to ridicule [Alfred Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigage] as a glorification of war and apean to those who blindly, and stupidly, follow orders. But the fact is that there are times when obedient acts of self-sacrifice and courage merit both admiration and profound gratitude.

1993 - from The Book of Virtues
Others may try to feed our ego, but it is up to us to constrain it.

1993 - from The Book of Virtues
It is our character that supports the promise of our future - far more than particular government programs or policies.

Benson, Iain  
[Public education's current] subjective approach to teaching 'values' ignores the education system's role to assist parents and the wider community in forming the character of the next generation of citizens. ... current teaching methods which ignore concepts such as morality and character will prove to be detrimental to how young people view civic responsibility and, ultimately, democracy.




Berenson, Bernard
Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.

Black, Conrad Moffat  
The greatest lesson I learned from my school days was admiration for those who endured and persevered with quiet dignity in a system that was unfriendly or even unjust to them. The heroes of school days were not those who excelled at what came easily to them, even less those who rebelled, the group of which I was merely a notorious exemplar. The heroes were those who tried, who survived adversity, and who by trying and surviving strngthened their characters. It took me some years to appreciate this.

1993 - from A Life in Progress
Boetcker, William
You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.

1916 - from "Ten Cannots"
Brooks, William  
...one of the most striking characteristics of our progressive education system is the obscurity of its aims and objectives.

1975 - from "Some Reflections on Canadian Education", published in the History and Social Science Teacher
Browning, Robert
... a man's reach should exceed his grasp

1855 - from "Andrea del Sarto" in Men and Women
Buck, Tim  
You can't cross a chasm in two leaps.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
Buckley, William F.
I profoundly believe it takes a lot of practice to become a moral slob.

The gravamen of the liberals' case against America has always had to do with the free-market society's disposition to let people make out on their own. We are preached to, cajoled, and thundered at concerning the care we must take for those who do not learn to read and write, or to refuse drugs, or to resist criminal temptation, or to engage in libertine sex. Is it a special responsibility of conservatives to adopt correlative attitudes toward failures of a certain character?

Nov. 01, 1997 - from a speech delivered to the International Conservative Congress, as quoted in National Review Magazine
Burke, Edmund
Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there is without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.




Custom reconciles us to everything.

1756 - from On the Sublime and Beautiful
It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tell me I ought to do.

Mar. 22, 1775 - from his second speech on conciliation with America
Well is it known that ambition can creep as well as soar.

from Letters on a Regicide Peace
Bush, George W.
... times of plenty, like times of crisis, are tests of ... character.

Aug. 3, 2000 - from his speech accepting the nomination of the Republican Party for President of the U.S.
We must give our children a spirit of moral courage, because their character is our destiny. ... Our schools must support the ideals of parents, elevating character and abstinence from afterthoughts to urgent goals.

Aug. 3, 2000 - from his speech accepting the nomination of the Republican Party for President of the U.S.
Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats, it is a call to conscience. And though it requires sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment. We find the fullness of life not only in options, but in commitments.

Jan. 20, 2001 - from his Inaugural Address
Our public interest depends on private character, on civic duty and family bonds and basic fairness, on uncounted, unhonored acts of decency which give direction to our freedom.

Jan. 20, 2001 - from his Inaugural Address
Butler, Samuel
A virtue to be serviceable must, like gold, be alloyed with some commoner but more durable metal.

1903 - from The Way of All Flesh
Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.

from The Way of All Flesh
Carlyle, Thomas
He that has done nothing has known nothing.

1832 - from Corn-Law Rhymes



Carver, George Washington
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.

Chambers, Whittaker
... each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself.

1952 - from the forward to his book Witness
Channing, William Ellery
Grandeur of character lies wholly in force of soul -- that is, in the force of thought, moral principle, and love; and this may be found in the humblest condition of life.

Chapin, Edwin Hubbel
Neutral men are the devil's allies.

Chartier, Emile-August
Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.

Chesterfield, Lord Philip
Firmness of purpose is one of the most necessary sinews of character, and one of the best instruments of success. Without it genius wastes its efforts in a maze of inconsistencies.

Chesterton, Gilbert K.
Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell.

1909 - from Tremendous Trifles
Churchill, Charles
The danger chiefly lies in acting well, no crime's so great as daring to excel.

from Epistle to William Hogarth
Cicero, Marcus Tullius
The existence of virtue depends entirely upon its use.

51 B.C. - from De Re Publica
Clinton, William Jefferson
Undeniably, character does count for our citizens, our communities, and our nation, and this week we celebrate the importance of character in our individual lives ... core ethical values of trustworthiness, fairness, responsibility, caring, respect, and citizenship form the foundation of our democracy, our economy, and our society. Instilling sound character in our children is essential to maintaining the strength of our nation into the 21st century.

Oct. 17, 1997 - from his speech for "National Character Counts Week"



Cobbett, William
From a very early age I had imbibed the opinion that it was every man's duty to do all that lay in his power to leave his country as good as he had found it.

Dec. 22, 1832 - from an essay in the Political Register, quoted in The MacMillan Dictionary of Quotations
Colson, Charles
What the experts have shown is that crime is caused by the lack of moral training during the morally formative years. There has to be a moral solution, a transformation of the individual. [Colson claims that a prisoner support program he runs reduces the recidivism rate to five percent from a national average of over 40 percent.]

Feb. 8, 2001 - quoted in "Charity is not the government's job" by Larry Elder, Creator's Syndicate Ind.
Confucius
Rotten wood cannot be sculpted.

from Analects 5.10
If leaders are courteous, their people will not dare to be disrespectful. If leaders are just, people will not dare to be intractable. If leaders are trustworthy, people will not dare to be dishonest.

from Analects 13:4
Exemplary people concern themselves with virtue, small people concern themselves with territory.

from Analects 4.11
Those who have virtue have something to say, but those who have something to say do not necessarily have virtue.

from Analects 14.5
Cultivated people seek from themselves; small people seek from others.

from Analects 15.17
To be extravagant is presumptuous; to be frugal is stiffness. It is better to be stiff than presumptuous.

from Analects 7.35
Cultivated people are ashamed to say more than they can do.

from Analects 14.29
Coolidge, Calvin
Duty is not collective; it is personal.




The measure of success is not merchandise but character.

1919 - from a speech to the Amherst Alumni Association
The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or resolve. Government cannot relieve from toil. It can provide no substitute for the rewards of service. It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit. The normal must care for themselves. Self-government means self-support.

Jan. 7, 1914 - from a speech delivered to the Massachusetts Senate when he became its president
We do not need more knowledge, we need more character!

Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil; our great hope lies in developing what is good.

Character is the only secure foundation of the state.

de Gaulle, Charles
A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty, since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities.

Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back upon himself.

Didion, Joan
The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs.

Drucker, Peter
Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.

Edison, Thomas Alva
What a man's mind can create, man's character can control.




Eggers, William D.
The public school system is characterized by two important features. First, it is politically controlled. Second it is a virtual monopoly. Like most politically controlled monopolies, government-run schools tend to produce low-quality, high-cost outcomes.

1995 - from Revolution at the Roots (with John O'Leary)
Einstein, Albert
Perfection of means and confusion of ends seem to characterize our age.

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

The satisfaction of physical needs is indeed the indispensable precondition of a satisfactory existence, but in itself is not enough. In order to be content men must also have the possibility of developing their intellectual and artistic powers to whatever extent accord with their personal characteristics and abilities.

Eisenhower, Dwight D.
What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog.

1958 - from a speech to the Republican National Committee
Eliot, George
Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.

1859 - from Adam Bede
Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving in words evidence of the fact.

from Impressions of Theophrastus Such
Eliot, Thomas Stearns
It seems to me that in a healthy society, there will be a gradation of types between thought and action; at one extreme the detached contemplative, the critical mind which is concerned with the discovery of truth, not with its promulgation and still less with its translation into action, and at the other extreme, the N.C.O. of politics, the man who in spite of relative indifference to general ideas, is equipped with native good sense, right feeling and character, supported by discipline and education. Between these two extremes there is room for several varieties and several kinds of political thinking; but there should be no breach of continuity between them.

from his lecture "The Literature of Politics"
Emerson, Ralph Waldo
The less government we have the better - the fewer laws and the less confided power. The antidote to this abuse of formal government is the influence of private character, the growth of the individual.

We shall one day see that the most private is the most public energy, that quality atones for quantity, and grandeur of character acts in the dark, and succors them who never saw it.

1844 - from "Character", published in Essays: Second Series



The true test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of cities, nor the crops - no, but the kind of man the country turns out. Our people are slow to learn the wisdom of sending character instead of talent to Congress. Again and again they have sent a man of great acuteness, a fine scholar, a fine forensic orator, and some master of the brawls has crunched him up in his hands like a bit of paper.

The characteristic of a genuine heroism is its persistency. All men have wandering impulses, fits and starts of generosity. But when you have resolved to be great, abide by yourself, and do not weakly try to reconcile yourself with the world. The heroic cannot be common, nor the common heroic.

1841 - from "Heroism" in Essays
The hero is a mind of such balance that no disturbances can shake his will, but pleasantly, and, as it were, merrily, he advances to his own music, alike in frightful alarms and in the tipsy mirth of universal dissoluteness.

1841 - from "Heroism" in Essays
Self-trust is the essence of heroism. It is the state of the soul at war, and its ultimate objects are the last defiance of falsehood and wrong, and the power to bear all that can be inflicted by evil agents. It speaks the truth, and it is just, generous, hospitable, temperate, scornful of petty calculations, and scornful of being scorned. It persists; it is of an undaunted boldness, and of a fortitude not to be wearied out. Its jest is the littleness of common life.

1841 - from "Heroism" in Essays
So nigh is grandeur to our dust, So near to God is man, When Duty whispers low, Thou must, The youth replies, I can.

from Voluntaries
Epictetus
No man is free who is not a master of himself.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Either you think - or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.

1934 - from Tender is the Night
Forbes, Malcom S.
When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could be worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better.

Ford, Henry
... the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure, help us in our marching onward.

Fosdick, Harry Emerson
Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.