Quotations about   moral character

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The poverty of goods is easily cured; the poverty of the soul is irreparable.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, Book 3, ch. 10 “Of Managing the Will” (1588) [tr. Cotton (1877)]
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Alt. trans.: "Poverty of possessions may easily be cured, but poverty of soul never."
Added on 1-Aug-17 | Last updated 1-Aug-17
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In self-examination, take no account of yourself by your thoughts and resolutions in the days of religion and solemnity; examine how it is with you in the days of ordinary conversation and in the circumstances of secular employment.

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) English cleric and author
(Attributed)
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Quoted in The Friends' Intelligencer (24 Jun 1882).
Added on 18-Jul-17 | Last updated 18-Jul-17
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We should not be too hasty in bestowing either our praise or censure on mankind, since we shall often find such a mixture of good and evil in the same character, that it may require a very accurate judgment and a very elaborate inquiry to determine on which side the balance turns.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) English novelist, dramatist, satirist
The Life and Death of Jonathan Wild, the Great, Vol. 5 (1743)
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Added on 31-Jan-17 | Last updated 31-Jan-17
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Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.

Henry Clay (1777-1853) American politician
Speech, Lexington, Kentucky (12 Jul 1827)
Added on 8-Nov-16 | Last updated 8-Nov-16
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The only guide to a man is his conscience, the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and the sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
Eulogy for Neville Chamberlain (1940)

In The Second World War, Vol. 2: Their Finest Hour (1949)
Added on 1-Nov-16 | Last updated 1-Nov-16
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Anybody who teaches a skill, which coaches do, is admirable. But sport doesn’t build character. Character is built pretty much by the time you’re six or seven. Sports reveals character. Sports heightens your perceptions. Let that be enough.

Heywood Hale Broun (1918-2001) American author, sportswriter, actor
In Ames Daily Tribune (16 Jan 1974)

Broun used a number of variations of this idea. It was more famously paraphrased in James Michener, Sports in America (1976), as "Sports do not build character. They reveal it." More discussion on this quote here.
Added on 18-Oct-16 | Last updated 18-Oct-16
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Europe … have totally mistaken our character. Accustomed to rise at a feather themselves, and to be always fighting, they will see in our conduct, fairly stated, that acquiescence under wrong, to a certain degree, is wisdom, and not pusillanimity; and that peace and happiness are preferable to that false honor which, by eternal wars, keeps their people in eternal labor, want, and wretchedness.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to James Madison (23 Mar 1815) [ME 14:290]
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Added on 24-Mar-15 | Last updated 24-Mar-15
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Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.

Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1965) American politician (US Senator, Maine)
Speech, Westbrook Junior College (7 Jun 1953)
Added on 7-Oct-08 | Last updated 14-Nov-17
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