Quotations about   restraint

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O sacred hunger of ambitious minds
And impotent desire of men to reign,
Whom neither dread of God, that devils bindes,
Nor lawes of men, that commonweales containe,
Nor bands of nature, that wilde beastes restraine,
Can keepe from outrage and from doing wrong,
Where they may hope a kingdome to obtaine.
No faith so firme, no trust can be so strong,
No love so lasting then, that may endure long.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 5, Canto 12, st. 1 (1589-96)
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Added on 3-Aug-20 | Last updated 3-Aug-20
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Was none who would be foremost
To lead such dire attack;
But those behind cried “Forward!”
And those before cried “Back!”

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) English writer and politician
“Horatius,” st. 50, Lays of Ancient Rome (1842)
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Added on 12-Mar-20 | Last updated 12-Mar-20
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Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations. There were people who said, “You can’t go into space. You can’t go to the moon.” If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out. Yes, you can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.

Mae Jemison (b. 1956) American engineer, physician, astronaut
Interview, Chicago Sun-Times (May 1994)
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Added on 14-Feb-20 | Last updated 14-Feb-20
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Nations are most commonly saved by the worst men in them. The virtuous are too scrupulous to go to the lengths which are necessary to rouse the people against their tyrants.

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) English novelist, letter writer
Memoirs of the Reign of King George III, Vol. 1, ch. 12 (1859)
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Variants:
  • "The adventurer's career suggests the reflection that nations are usually saved by their worse men, since the virtuous are too scrupulous to go to the lengths needed to rouse the people against their tyrants." (Source)
  • "The virtuous are too scrupulous to go to the lengths that are necessary to rouse the people against their tyrants."
  • Modern paraphrase: "No great country was ever saved by good men because good men will not go to the lengths necessary to save it."
  • Modern paraphrase: "No great country was ever saved by good men, because good men may not go to the lengths that may be necessary."
Added on 7-Jan-20 | Last updated 7-Jan-20
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Anger as soon as fed is dead —
‘Tis starving makes it fat.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) American poet
Poem #1509 (c. 1881)
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Added on 24-Mar-19 | Last updated 24-Mar-19
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A man who cannot get angry is like a stream that cannot overflow, that is always turbid. Sometimes indignation is as good as a thunder-storm in summer, clearing and cooling the air.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, “Man” (1887)
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Added on 3-Aug-18 | Last updated 3-Aug-18
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In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Annual Message to Congress (1 Dec 1862)
Added on 22-Mar-17 | Last updated 12-Feb-20
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All of your scholarship, all your study of Shakespeare and Wordsworth would be vain if at the same time you did not build your character and attain mastery over your thoughts and your actions.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
Speech to students, Agra, in Young India (19 Sep 1929)
Added on 7-Feb-17 | Last updated 9-Feb-17
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During the greater part of the nineteenth century the significance of the opposition between the two principles of individual rights and social functions was masked by the doctrine of the inevitable harmony between private interests and public good. Competition, it was argued, was an effective substitute for honesty. Today … few now would profess adherence to the compound of economic optimism and moral bankruptcy which led a nineteenth century economist to say: “Greed is held in check by greed, and the desire for gain sets limits to itself.”

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 3 “The Acquisitive Society” (1920)
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Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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Terror is the most effective political instrument. I shall not permit myself to be robbed of it simply because a lot of stupid, bourgeois mollycoddles choose to be offended by it.

Adolph Hitler (1889-1945) German leader
Table talk (1933)

Quoted in Hermann Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction, ch. 6 (1940). Note: I don't actually wish I'd said this, but it's a useful quotation for those who similarly think torture and terror are legitimate political tools to consider who their bedfellow is.
Added on 26-Dec-16 | Last updated 26-Dec-16
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Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) American lawyer, politician, US President (1925-29)
Foundations of the Republic (1926)
Added on 13-Dec-16 | Last updated 13-Dec-16
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Ambition is like hunger; it obeys no law but its appetite.

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
(Attributed)
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Attributed in Frank Jenners Wilstach, A Dictionary of Similes (1916).
Added on 11-Mar-15 | Last updated 31-May-17
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Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
Notebooks: 1942-1951, Notebook 4
Added on 12-Jan-15 | Last updated 12-Jan-15
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The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.

Orson Welles (1915-1985) American writer, director, actor
Comment to Henry Jaglom

Quoted by Jaglom in his essay "The Independent Filmmaker" in Jason E. Quire, ed. The Movie Business Book (1992). See here for more information. Sometimes paraphrased in reverse ("The absence of limitations is the enemy of art").
Added on 8-Jan-15 | Last updated 8-Jan-15
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The greatest strength and wealth is self-control.

Pythagoras (c.570 BC - c.495 BC) Greek mathematician and philosopher
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Hobart Huson, Pythagoras (1947).
Added on 25-Mar-14 | Last updated 25-Mar-14
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What lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics, 3.5 [tr. Thomson (1953)]
Added on 14-Jan-14 | Last updated 14-Jan-14
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If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

Other Authors and Sources
Chinese proverb
Added on 14-Jun-13 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Equality (1931)

Sometimes cited an English proverb, or attributed to Isaiah Berlin.
Added on 11-Jan-13 | Last updated 4-Sep-16
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Once killing starts, it is difficult to draw the line.

Tacitus (c.56-c.120) Roman historian, orator, politician [Publius or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus]
Histories, Book I, ch. 39 (AD 100-110)
Added on 19-Mar-10 | Last updated 4-May-15
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In the midst of great joy, do not promise anyone anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer anyone’s letter.

Other Authors and Sources
Chinese proverb
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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Miss Manners’ meager arsenal consists only of the withering look, the insistent and repeated request, the cold voice, the report up the chain of command, and the tilted nose. Also the ability to dismiss inferior behavior from her mind as coming from inferior people. You will perhaps point out that she will never know the joy of delivering a well-deserved sock in the chops. True — but she will never inspire one either.

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
“Miss Manners,” syndicated column (18 May 1980)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-Mar-17
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