SMILES, Samuel Quotes
(1812-1904), English biographer
Biographies of great, but especially of good men, are most instructive and useful as helps, guides, and incentives to others. Some of the best are almost equivalent to gospels—teaching high living, high thinking, and energetic actions for their own and the world's good.
To be worth anything, character must be capable of standing firm upon its feet in the world of daily work, temptation, and trial; and able to bear the wear and tear of actual life. Cloistered virtues do not count for much.
Good character is human nature in its best form.—It is moral order embodied in the individual.—Men of character are not only the conscience of society, but in every well governed state they are its best motive power; for it is moral qualities which, in the main, rule the world.
The first step in debt is like the first step in falsehood, involving the necessity of going on in the same course, debt following debt, as lie follows lie.
It has been said of dogmatism, that it is only puppyism come to its full growth, and certainly the worst form this quality can assume is that of opinionativeness and arrogance.
The best school of discipline is home—family life is God's own method of training the young; and homes are very much what women make them.
To think we are able, is almost to be so; to determine on attainment, is frequently attainment itself.—Earnest resolution has often seemed to have about it almost a savor of omnipotence.
Example teaches better than precept. It is the best modeler of the character of men and women. To set a lofty example is the richest bequest a man can leave behind him.
It is a grand old name, that of gentleman, and has been recognized as a rank and power in all stages of society. To possess this character is a dignity of itself, commanding the instinctive homage of every generous mind, and those who will not bow to titular rank will yet do homage to the gentleman. His qualities depend not upon fashion or manners, but upon moral worth; not on personal possessions, but on personal qualities.
The great high road of human welfare and happiness lies along the highway of steadfast well-doing, and they who are the most persistent and work in the truest spirit, will invariably be the most successful.
Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.
Charles II hearing Vossius; a freethinker, repeating some incredible stories of the Chinese, turned to those about him and said, "This learned divine is a very strange man; he believes everything but the Bible."
The career of a great man remains an enduring monument of human energy.—The man dies and disappears, but his thoughts and acts survive and leave an indelible stamp upon his race.
The cheapest of all things is kindness, its exercise requiring the least possible trouble and self-sacrifice.
As steady application to work is the healthiest training for every individual, so is it the best discipline of a state. Honorable industry alway travels the same road with enjoyment and duty, and progress is altogether impossible without it.
Good manners, which give color to life, are of greater importance than laws, which are but one of their manifestations. The law touches us here and there, but manners are about us everywhere.
It will generally be found that men who are constantly lamenting their ill luck, are only reaping the consequences of their own neglect, mismanagement, and improvidence, or want of application.
We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success; we often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.
National progress is the sum of individual industry, energy, and uprightness, as national decay is of individual idleness, selfishness, and vice.
Necessity is always the first stimulus to industry, and those who conduct it with prudence, perseverance, and energy will rarely fail. Viewed in this light, the necessity of labor is not a chastisement, but a blessing,—the very root and spring of all that we call progress in individuals and civilization in nations.
It is the close observation of little things which is the secret of success in business, in art, in science, and in every pursuit in life. Human knowledge is but an accumulation of small facts, made by successive generations of men,—the little bits of knowledge and experience carefully treasured up and growing at length into a mighty pyramid.
It is not ease but effort,—not facility, but difficulty, that makes men. There is, perhaps, no station in life in which difficulties have not to be encountered and overcome before any decided measure, of success can be achieved.
The great high-road of human welfare lies along the highway of steadfast well-doing, and they who are the most persistent, and work in the truest spirit, will invariably be the most successful.
To think we are able is almost to be so; to determine upon attainment is frequently attainment itself; earnest resolution has often seemed to have about it almost a savor of omnipotence.
He who recognizes no higher logic than that of the shilling may become a very rich man, and yet remain a very poor creature, for riches are no proof of moral worth, and their glitter often serves only to draw attention to the worthlessness of their possessor, as the glowworm's light reveals the grub.
For want of self-restraint many men are engaged all their lives in fighting with difficulties of their own making, and rendering success impossible by their own cross-grained ungentleness; whilst others, it may be much less gifted, make their way and achieve success by simple patience, equanimity, and self-control.
The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual; and, exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the true source of national vigor and strength. Help from without is often enfeebling in its effects, but help from within invariably invigorates.
"Give me a standing place," said Archimedes, "and I will move the world"—Goethe has changed the postulate into the precept. "Make good thy standing place, and move the world."
Self-respect is the noblest garment with which a man may clothe himself,—the most elevating feeling with which the mind can be inspired. One of Pythagoras's wisest maxims is that in which lie enjoins the pupil to "reverence himself."
Snobs in high places assume great airs, and are pretentious in all they do, and the higher their elevation, the more conspicuous is the incongruity of their position.
The great high-road of human welfare lies along the old highway of steadfast well-doing; and they who are the most persistent, and work in the truest spirit, will invariably be the most successful; success treads on the heels of every right effort.
Though an inheritance of acres may be bequeathed, an inheritance of knowledge and wisdom cannot. The wealthy man may pay others for doing his work for him, but it is impossible to get his thinking done for him by another, or to purchase any kind of self-culture.
What a solemn and striking admonition to youth is that inscribed on the dial at All Souls, Oxford,—periunt et imputantur,—the hours perish, and are laid to our charge; for time, like life, can never be recalled.
Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever.