Quotations about   character

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It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Joanne "Jo" Rowling (b. 1965) British novelist [writes as J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith]
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [Dumbledore] (1998)
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Added on 29-Jun-22 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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Character is made by many acts; it may be lost by a single one.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Aristotle, but not found in his works. One of the earliest references is in J. A. Haigh, "Character," Great Thoughts from Master Minds (5 Oct 1907). Haigh does not present it as his own thought ("Character, it has been well said, is made up ..."). John Christensen notes that the sentiment of the quote is very non-Aristotelian, feeling more like a Christian teaching about sin than a philosophical commentary. Aristotle generally speaks about developing a habit toward virtue (1, 2, 3), not some sort of all-or-nothing moral imperative.
Added on 14-Jun-22 | Last updated 15-Jun-22
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People who hate cats tend to be proud of the fact, and brag about it as if it proved something honest and straightforward in their natures. Nobody brags about hating dogs. To hate dogs would be meanspirited and peculiarly unpatriotic; dogs are a very American concept, fraternal, hearty, and unpretentious, while cats are inscrutable like the wily Oriental and elitist like the European esthete. In advertising cats turn up selling perfume (wily) and expensive rugs and furniture (elitist) , while dogs sell such solid family values as station wagons, life insurance, and sporting goods.

Barbara Holland (1933-2010) American author
The Name of the Cat, ch. 3 (1988)
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‘Tis fear that proves souls base-born.

[Degeneres animos timor arguit.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 4, l. 13 (4.13) [Dido] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fairclough (1916)]
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Of the bravery shown in Aeneas' tale demonstrating what a great, if not even divine, man he is. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Fear ever argues a degenerate kind.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Fear argues a degenerate mind.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Fear proves a base-born soul.
[tr. Connington (1866)]

Fear shows degenerate souls.
[tr. Cranch (1872)]

Fear proves the vulgar spirit.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

For fear it is shows base-born souls.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Fear argues souls degenerate and base.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 2, l. 14]

'Tis cowardice
betrays the base-born soul.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Fear proves a bastard spirit.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Mean souls convict themselves by cowardice.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

For in the face of fear
the mean must fall.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971)]

Tell-tale fear
Betrays inferior souls.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), ll. 19-20]

If there is any baseness in a man, it shows as cowardice.
[tr. West (1990)]

Fear
Always gives away men of inferior birth.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

Fear exposes the lowborn man at once.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 16]

Fear shows up lesser men.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]
v
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It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.

Charles Francis Potter
Charles Francis Potter (1885-1962) American Unitarian minister, theologian, humanist, activist
Speech, Dayton, Ohio (Apr 1927)

Often misattributed to Oscar Wilde. More discussion here: What You Read When You Don’t Have To, Determines What You Will Be When You Can’t Help It – Quote Investigator
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Kiva considered that she might be developing a thing for Fundapellonan, which on one hand would be a very not-Kiva thing to do, but on the other hand who gave a fuck if it was “not-Kiva,” because she wasn’t some fucking fictional character destined to do whatever some goddamn hack wanted her to do.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
The Consuming Fire (2018)
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Added on 20-May-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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A man has more character in his face at forty than at twenty. He has suffered longer, and the more love, the more suffering, the more character.

Mae West (1892-1980) American film actress
Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It, ch. 21 (1959)
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To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man’s character one must judge it by the standards of his time, not ours. Judged by the standards of one century, the noblest characters of an earlier one lose much of their luster; judged by the standards of today, there is probably no illustrious man of four or five centuries ago whose character could meet the test at all points.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Joan of Arc, “Translator’s Preface” (1860)
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If it be a happiness to be of noble parentage, it is no less so to possess so much merit that nobody inquires whether we are noble or plebeian.

[S’il est heureux d’avoir de la naissance, il ne l’est pas moins d’être tel qu’on ne s’informe plus si vous en avez.]

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], “Of Personal Merit [Du mérite personnel],” Aphorism 21 (1688) [tr. Van Laun (1885)]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

If it is a Happiness to be nobly Descended, it is not less to have so much Merit, that no body enquires whether we are so or no.
[tr. Source (1752)]

It is fortunate to be of high birth, but it is no less so to be of such character that people do not care to know whether you are or not.

Added on 4-Mar-22 | Last updated 4-Mar-22
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Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and more courage it contained. That so few dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty, ch. 3 (1859)
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Gross and obscure natures, however decorated, seem impure shambles; but character gives splendor to youth, and awe to wrinkled skin and gray hairs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Beauty,” The Conduct of Life (1860)
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“Yes,” he said. “But I wonder … I’ve a peculiar feeling that I may never see you again. It is as if I were one of those minor characters in a melodrama who gets shuffled offstage without ever learning how things turn out.”

“I can appreciate the feeling,” I said. “My own role sometimes makes me want to strangle the author. But look at it this way: inside stories seldom live up to one’s expectations. Usually they are grubby little things, reducing down to the basest of motives when all is known. Conjectures and illusions are often the better possessions.”

Roger Zelazny (1937-1995) American writer
Sign of the Unicorn (1972)
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Bill Roth speaking with Corwin.
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Though intelligence is powerless to modify character, it is a dab hand at finding euphemisms for its weaknesses.

Quentin Crisp (1908-1999) English writer and raconteur [b. Denis Pratt]
The Naked Civil Servant, ch. 29 (1968)
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The only way of really finding out a man’s true character is to play golf with him. In no other walk of life does the cloven hoof so quickly display itself.

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) Anglo-American humorist, playwright and lyricist [Pelham Grenville Wodehouse]
“Ordeal by Golf,” Collier’s Magazine (6 Dec 1919)
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Reprinted in The Clicking of Cuthbert, ch. 6 (1922).
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Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition, such as lifting weights, we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.

Stephen R Covey
Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012) American consultant, author
First Things First, ch. 15 (1994) [with Merrill & Merrill]
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My advice is: Do not think about your character. If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig.

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) US President (1913-20), educator, political scientist
Speech, YMCA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (24 Oct 1914)
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True character arises from a deeper well than religion. It is the internalization of moral principles of a society, augmented by those tenets personally chosen by the individual, strong enough to endure through trials of solitude and adversity. The principles are fitted together into what we call integrity, literally the integrated self, wherein personal decisions feel good and true. Character is in turn the enduring source of virtue. It stands by itself and excites admiration in others. It is not obedience to authority, and while it is often consistent with and reinforced by religious belief, it is not piety.

E. O. Wilson (1929-2021) American biologist, naturalist, writer [Edward Osborne Wilson]
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, ch. 11 “Ethics and Religion” (1998)
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It is only an error in judgment to make a mistake, but it argues an infirmity of character to stick to it.

Adela Rogers St Johns
Adela Rogers St. Johns (1894-1988) American journalist, novelist, screenwriter.
Some Are Born Great (1974)
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Precisely in trifles, wherein a man is off his guard, does he show his character, and then we are often able at our leisure to observe in small actions or mere mannerisms the boundless egoism which has not the slightest regard for others and in matters of importance does not afterwards deny itself, although it is disguised. We should never miss such an opportunity. If in the petty affairs and circumstances of everyday life, in the things to which the de minimis lex non curat applies, a man acts inconsiderately, seeking merely his own advantage or convenience to the disadvantage of others; if he appropriates that which exists for everybody; then we may be sure that there is no justice in his heart, but that he would be a scoundrel even on a large scale if his hands were not tied by law and authority; we should not trust him across our threshold. Indeed, whoever boldly breaks the laws of his own circle will also break those of the State whenever he can do so without risk.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, vol. 1, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life,” part 2 “Counsels and Maxims,” ch. C “Our Attitude toward Others,” sec. 29 (1851) [tr. Payne (1974)]
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The Latin means, "The law is not concerned with trifles." Alternate translations:

A man shows his character just in the way in which he deals with trifles, -- for then he is off his guard. This will often afford a good opportunity of observing the boundless egoism of man's nature, and his total lack of consideration for others; and if these defects show themselves in small things, or merely in his general demeanor, you will find that they also underlie his action in matters of importance, although he may disguise the fact. This is an opportunity which should not be missed. If in the little affairs of every day, -- the trifles of life, those matters to which the rule de minimis non applies, -- a man is inconsiderate and seeks only what is advantageous or convenient to himself, to the prejudice of others' rights; if he appropriates to himself that which belongs to all alike, you may be sure there is no justice in his heart, and that he would be a scoundrel on a wholesale scale, only that law and compulsion bind his hands. Do not trust him beyond your door. He who is not afraid to break the laws of his own private circle, will break those of the State when he can do so with impunity.
[tr. Saunders (1890), published separately as Schopenhauer, Counsels and Maxims, ch. 3 "Our Relation to Others," sec. 29]

Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard. It is in insignificant matters, and in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feeling of others, and denies nothing to itself.
[In Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts, "Character" (1891); this is the version quoted most often.]

Added on 17-Dec-21 | Last updated 25-Apr-22
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Never does a man portray his own character more vividly than in his manner of portraying another’s.

Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825) German novelist, art historian, aesthetician [Johann Paul Friedrich Richter; pseud. Jean Paul]
Titan: A Romance, Jubilee 28, cycle 110 (1803) [tr. Brooks (1864)]
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Alternate translation: "A man never reveals his character more vividly than when portraying the character of another."
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Think of all the smart people who are made stupid by flaws of character. The finest watch isn’t fine long when used as a hammer.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, #19 (Spring 1999)
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It is an error to suppose that no man understands his own character. Most persons know even their failings very well, only they persist in giving them names different from those usually assigned by the rest of the world; and they compensate for this mistake by naming, at first sight, with singular accuracy, those very same failings in others.

Arthur Helps (1813-1875) English writer and bureaucrat
Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd (1835)
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I’d write a story once in a while, but I wouldn’t pester editors with it. I’d write of people and places like I knew, and I’d make my characters talk everyday English; and I’d let the sun rise and set in the usual quiet way without much fuss over the fact. If I had to have villains at all, I’d give them a chance, Anne — I’d give them a chance. There are some terrible bad men in the world, I suppose, but you’d have to go a long piece to find them — though Mrs. Lynde believes we’re all bad. But most of us have got a little decency somewhere in us.

Lucy Maud Montgomery
Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) Canadian author
Anne of the Island, ch. 12 [Mr. Harrison] (1915)
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A person who has no genuine sense of pity for the weak is missing a basic source of strength, for one of the prime moral forces that comprise greatness and strength of character is a feeling of mercy. The ruthless man, au fond, is always a weak and frightened man.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
“Strictly Personal” column (5 Apr 1962)
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Reprinted in On the Contrary (1964).
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Emotion doesn’t travel in a straight line. Like water, our feelings trickle down through cracks and crevices, seeking out the little pockets of neediness and neglect, the hairline fractures in our character usually hidden from public view.

Sue Grafton
Sue Grafton (1940-2017) American novelist, screenwriter
“I” is for Innocent (1992)
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When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Japanese proverb
Added on 5-Oct-21 | Last updated 5-Oct-21
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No real belief, however trifling and fragmentary it may seem, is ever truly insignificant; it prepares us to receive more of its like, confirms those which resembled it before, and weakens others; and so gradually it lays a stealthy train in our inmost thoughts, which may someday explode into overt action, and leave its stamp upon our character for ever.

William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) English mathematician and philosopher
“The Ethics of Belief,” Part 1 “The Duty of Inquiry,” Lecture, London (11 Apr 1876)
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We cannot judge either of the feelings or of the character of men with perfect accuracy, from their actions or their appearances in public; it is from their careless conversation, their half-finished sentences that we may hope with the greatest probability of success to discover their real character.

Maria Edgeworth
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) Anglo-Irish writer, novelist
Castle Rackrent, Preface (1800)
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No man knows his true character until he has run out of gas, purchased something on the installment plan, and raised an adolescent.

No picture available
Marcelene Cox (contemp.) American writer
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal
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We repeat: strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one’s balance in spite of them. Even with the violence of emotion, judgment and principle must still function like a ship’s compass, which records the slightest variations however rough the sea.

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 1, ch. 3 “On Military Genius” (1832) [tr. Howard/Paret (1976)]
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Alternate translation:

We, therefore, say once more a strong mind is not one that is merely susceptible of strong excitement, but one which can maintain its serenity under the most powerful excitement; so that, in spite of the storm in the breast, the perception and judgment can act with perfect freedom, like the needle of the compass in the storm-tossed ship.
[tr. Graham (1873), "The Genius for War"]
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Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
Discourses on the Beatitudes, ch. 2 “The Blessing of the the Mourners” (1853)
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Preaching on Matthew 5:4. Frequently misattributed to Kahlil Gibran, after it was incorrectly included in The Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran (1995).
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Golf puts a man’s character on the anvil and his richest qualities — patience, poise, restraint — to the flame. Golf doesn’t build character, it only reveals it.

Billy Casper
Billy Casper (1931-2015) American professional golfer
(Attibuted)
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Sport strips away personality, letting the white bone of character shine through. Sport gives players an opportunity to know and test themselves.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Sudden Death (1983)
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I agree as to the doubtful value of competitive examination. The qualities which you really want, viz., self-control, self-reliance, habits of accurate thought, integrity and what you generally call trustworthiness, are not decided by competitive examination, which test little else than the memory.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) English social reformer, statistician, founder of modern nursing
Letter to Lord Edward Geoffrey Stanley (17 May 1857)
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Regarding selection processes for military officers. This was undergoing reform during the period, including the radical proposal to prevent people from buying their way into lower officer ranks.
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Much misconstruction of character arises out of our habit of assigning a motive for every action — whereas a good many of our acts are performed without any motive.

Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) American epigrammatist, writer, publisher
Intuitions and Summaries of Thought, Vol. 2 (1862)
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Something of a person’s character may be discovered by observing when and how he smiles. Some people never smile; they grin.

Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) American epigrammatist, writer, publisher
Intuitions and Summaries of Thought, vol. 2 (1862)
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These are times in which a Genious would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. Would Cicero have shone so distinguished an orater, if he had not been roused, kindled and enflamed by the Tyranny of Catiline, Millo, Verres and Mark Anthony. The Habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All History will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruits of experience, not the Lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the Heart, then those qualities which would otherways lay dormant, wake into Life, and form the Character of the Hero and the Statesman.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to John Quincy Adams (19 Jan 1780)
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Written when John Quincy was twelve, in Paris with his father for the peace negotiations with Britain.
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Character is that which reveals moral purpose, showing what kind of things a man chooses or avoid.

[ἔστιν δὲ ἦθος μὲν τὸ τοιοῦτον ὃ δηλοῖ τὴν προαίρεσιν, ὁποία τις ἐν οἷς οὐκ ἔστι δῆλον ἢ προαιρεῖται ἢ φεύγει διόπερ οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἦθος τῶν λόγων ἐν οἷς μηδ᾽ ὅλως ἔστιν ὅ τι προαιρεῖται ἢ φεύγει ὁ λέγων.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics [Περὶ ποιητικῆς, De Poetica], ch. 6, sec. 17 / 1450b.9 (c. 335 BC) [tr. Butcher (1895)]
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Original Greek. The key word êthos [ἦθος] is generally given here as "character." Alternate translations:

  • "Character in a play is that which reveals the moral purpose of the agents, i.e. the sort of thing they seek or avoid, where that is not obvious." [tr. Bywater (1909)]
  • "Psychology in the sense of "an index to the quality of the purpose" has for its sphere places where the ulterior purposes of an immediate resolve (positive or negative) is naturally obscure." [tr. Margoliouth (1911)]
  • "Character is that which reveals choice, shows what sort of thing a man chooses or avoids in circumstances where the choice is not obvious." [tr. Fyfe (1932)]
  • "Character is that which reveals decision, of whatever sort." [tr. Janko (1987), sec. 3.1.3]
  • "Moral character is what reveals the nature of people's fundamental options." [tr. Kenny (2013)]
Added on 14-May-21 | Last updated 26-Jul-22
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A man does as he is when he can do what he wants.

(Other Authors and Sources)
English proverb
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Be your character what it will, it will be known; and nobody will take it up on your own word. Never imagine that anything you can say yourself will varnish your defects or add lustre to your perfections! but, on the contrary, it may, and nine times in ten will, make the former more glaring, and the latter obscure.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (19 Oct 1748)
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The case against intellect is founded upon a set of fictional and wholly abstract antagonisms. Intellect is pitted against feeling, on the ground it is somehow inconsistent with warm emotion. It is pitted against character, because it is widely believed that intellect stands for mere cleverness, which transmutes easily into the sly or the diabolical. It is pitted against practicality, since theory is held to be opposed to practice, and the “purely” theoretical mind is so much disesteemed. It is pitted against democracy, since intellect is felt to be a form of distinction that defies egalitarianism. Once the validity of these antagonisms is accepted, then the case for intellect, and by extension for the intellectual, is lost. Who cares to risk sacrificing warmth of emotion, solidity of character, practical capacity, or democratic sentiment in order to pay deference to a type of man who at best is deemed to be merely clever and at worst may even be dangerous?

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, Part 1, ch. 2 “On the Unpopularity of Intellect” (1962)
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As a novelist, I cannot occupy myself with “characters,” or at any rate central ones, who lack panache, in one or another sense, who would be incapable of a major action or a major passion, or who have not a touch of the ambiguity, the ultimate unaccountability, the enlarging mistiness of persons “in history.” History, as more austerely I now know it, is not romantic. But I am.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) Irish author
Pictures and Conversations, ch. 1 (1975)
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Added on 10-Aug-20 | Last updated 10-Aug-20
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True is, that whilome that good poet sayd,
The gentle minde by gentle deeds is knowne:
For a man by nothing is so well bewrayd,
As by his manners.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 6, Canto 3, st. 1 (1589-96)
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Spender is referencing Chaucer's "Wife of Bath's Tale" in the Canterbury Tales: "he is gentil that doth gentil dedis."
Added on 29-Jun-20 | Last updated 29-Jun-20
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Continuous association with base men increases a disposition to crime.

[Φαύλων ὁμιλίη συνεχὴς ἕξιν κακίης συναύξει.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 184 (Diels) [tr. Freeman (1948)]
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Cited in Diels as "184. (194 N.)"; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium II, 31, 90.

Alternate translations:

  • "Frequent association with the wicked increases a disposition to vice." [tr. Barnes (1987)]
  • "Associating with scoundrels frequently increases the possession of wickedness." [tr. @sententiq (2020), Fr. 234]
  • "By associating with scoundrels, you will turn out a scoundrel"
  • "Continuous association with the wicked increases bad character."
Added on 26-Jun-20 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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I make this distinkshun between charakter and reputashun — reputashun iz what the world thinks ov us, charakter is what the world knows of us.

[I make this distinction between character and reputation — reputation is what the world thinks of us, character is what the world knows of us.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Lobstir Sallad” (1874)
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Added on 2-Apr-20 | Last updated 2-Apr-20
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I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.

Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) Belgian-English actress
“Hepburn Heart,” Interview with Dominick Dunne, Vanity Fair (May 1991)
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We’re like a rich father who wishes he knew how to give his son the hardships that made the father such a man.

Robert Frost (1874-1963) American poet
Comment, “Meet the Press” (22 Mar 1959)

When asked by Ernest Lindley whether American civilization had improved or declined in his lifetime. Often misquoted as "Americans are like a rich father who wishes he knew how to give his son the hardships that made him rich."
Added on 13-Mar-19 | Last updated 13-Mar-19
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Most of us stand poised at the edge of brilliance, haunted by the knowledge of our proximity, yet still demonstrably on the wrong side of the line, our dealings with reality undermined by a range of minor yet critical psychological flaws (a little too much optimism, an unprocessed rebelliousness, a fatal impatience or sentimentality). We are like an exquisite high-speed aircraft which for lack of a tiny part is left stranded beside the runway, rendered slower than a tractor or bicycle.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, ch. 4 (2009)
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Perhaps the condition of women affords, in all countries, the best criterion by which to judge the character of men.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
Views of Society and Manners in America, Letter 23, Mar. 1820 (1821)
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For the whole thing about matrimony is this: We fall in love with a personality, but we must live with a character. Behind the pretty wallpaper and the brightly painted plaster lurk the yards of tangled wire and twisted pipes, ready to run a short or spring a leak on us without a word of warning.

Peter De Vries (1910-1993) American editor, novelist, satirist
Mrs. Wallop (1970)
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Often misquoted as "The difficulty with marriage is that ..."
Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 1-Aug-18
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Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

John Wooden (1910-2010) American basketball player and coach
They Call Me Coach, ch. 9, epigram (1972)
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Added on 31-Jul-18 | Last updated 31-Jul-18
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Still I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an honest man.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to Alexander Hamilton (28 Aug 1788)
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Added on 3-Apr-18 | Last updated 3-Apr-18
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There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher. There is a nobler character than that which is merely incorruptible. It is the character which acts as an antidote and preventive of corruption.

Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) American clergyman and writer
“Salt,” Baccalaureate Sermon, Harvard University (19 Jun 1898)
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We do not judge men by what they are in themselves, but by what they are relatively to us.

Anne Sophie Swetchine (1782-1857) Russian-French author and salonist [Madame Swetchine]
The Writings of Madame Swetchine, “Airelles”, #25 (1869) [ed. Count de Falloux, tr. Preston]
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Added on 22-Nov-17 | Last updated 22-Nov-17
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One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.

Stendhal (1783-1842) French writer [pen name of Marie-Henri Beyle]
On Love, Book 3 “Fragments” (1822)
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Added on 14-Nov-17 | Last updated 14-Nov-17
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