Quotations by Amiel, Henri-Frédéric


Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind!

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (16 Dec 1868) [tr. Ward (1897)]
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A belief is not true because it is useful.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Amiel’s Journey (1872)
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The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life and you must accept regret.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Amiel’s Journey (1872)
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Our true history is scarcely ever deciphered by others. The chief part of the drama is a monologue, or rather an intimate debate between God, our conscience, and ourselves. Tears, griefs, depressions, disappointments, irritations, good and evil thoughts, decisions, uncertainties, deliberations—all these belong to our secret, and are almost all incommunicable and intransmissible, even when we try to speak of them, and even when we write them down.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal Intime, entry for 27 Oct 1856 (1882)

trans. Mrs. Humphrey Ward (1892)
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Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary-line and adding to one’s liberty.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal Intime
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Self-interest is but the survival of the animal in us. Humanity only begins for man with self-surrender.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal Intime (17 Dec 1856)
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We are always making God our accomplice so that we may legalize our own inequities. Every successful massacre is consecrated by a Te Deum, and the clergy have never been wanting in benedictions for any victorious enormity.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal Intime (6 Oct. 1866)
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Mutual respect implies discretion and reserve even in love itself; it means preserving as much liberty as possible to those whose life we share. We must distrust our instinct of intervention, for the desire to make one’s own will prevail is often disguised under the mask of solicitude.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal Intime (7 Nov 1862)
Added on 26-Mar-08 | Last updated 26-Mar-08
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The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life, and you must accept regret.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal Intime, entry for 17 Dec 1856 (1882)

trans. by Mrs. Humphrey Ward (1892)
Added on 3-Mar-08 | Last updated 3-Mar-08
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Hurtful timidity, unprofitable conscientiousness, fatal slavery to detail!

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (1 Sep 1875) [tr. Ward (1887)]

On the causes of his failures.
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Our greatest illusion is to believe that we are what we think ourselves to be.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (10 Feb 1853) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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Mystery on all sides! And faith the only star in this darkness and uncertainty!

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (11 Jan 1867) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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Indecision has rendered all my faculties barren.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (14 Oct 1872) [tr. Ward (1887)]

Full text.
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Cleverness is serviceable for everything, sufficient for nothing.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (16 Feb 1868) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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Only evil grows of itself, while for goodness we want effort and courage.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (16 Nov 1864) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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To know how to suggest is the great art of teaching.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (16 Nov 1864) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man which it forms.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (17 Jun 1852) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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Every life is a profession of faith, and exercises an inevitable and silent propaganda.  As far as lies in its power, it tends to transform the universe and humanity into its own image.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (2 May 1852) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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A gloomy morning.  On all sides a depressing outlook, and within, disgust  with self.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (26 Apr 1968) [tr. Mrs. H. Ward (1887)]
Added on 17-Dec-09 | Last updated 17-Dec-09
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An error is the more dangerous in proportion to the degree of truth which it contains.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (26 Dec 1852) [tr. Mrs. H. Ward (1885)]
Added on 25-Nov-09 | Last updated 25-Nov-09
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There is only one way of not hating those who do us wrong, and that is by doing them good.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (27 Nov 1880) [tr. Ward (1887)]

See Matthew.
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Thought is sad without action, and action is sad without thought.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (2nd Ed.,1889)
    (Source)

Quoted in Cesare Lombroso, The Man of Genius (1896),
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There is no curing a sick man who believes himself in health.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (6 Feb 1877) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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Be what you wish others to become. Let yourself and not your words preach for you.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (7 Apr 1851) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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