Our admiration of a famous man lessens upon our nearer acquaintance with him; and we seldom hear of a celebrated person without a catalogue of some of his weaknesses and infirmities.
Good fame is like fire; when you have kindled you may easily preserve it; but if you extinguish it, you will not easily kindle it again.
Fame—a few words upon a tombstone, and the truth of those not to be depended on.
There is not in the world so toilsome a trade as the pursuit of fame: life concludes before you have so much as sketched your work.
A man who cannot win fame in his own age, will have a very small chance of winning it from posterity.—There may be some half dozen exceptions to this truth among myriads that attest it; but what man of common sense would invest any large amount of hope in so unpromising a lottery?
Fame is no sure test of merit, but only a probability of such, it is an accident, not a property of man.
It often happens that those of whom we speak least on earth are best known in heaven.
It is the penalty of fame that a man must ever keep rising.—"Get a reputation, and then go to bed," is the absurdest of all maxims.—"Keep up a reputation or go to bed," would be nearer the truth.
Those who despise fame seldom deserve it.—We are apt to undervalue the purchase we cannot reach, to conceal our poverty the better.—It is a spark that kindles upon the best fuel, and bums brightest in the bravest breast.
Of present fame think little, and of future less; the praises that we receive after we are buried, like the flowers that are strewed over our grave, may be gratifying to the living, but they are nothing to the dead; the dead are gone, either to a place where they hear them not, or where, if they do, they will despise them.
Fame is an undertaker that pays but little attention to the living, but bedizens the dead, furnishes out their funerals, and follows them to the grave.
Milton neither aspired to present fame, nor even expected it.—His high ambition was (to use his own words), "To leave something so written, to after ages, that they should not willingly let it die."—And Cato finally observed, he would much rather posterity should ask why no statues were erected to him, than why they were.
Worldly fame is but a breath of wind that blows now this way, and now that, and changes name as it changes direction.
Fame, like the river, is narrowest where it is bred, and broadest afar off.
Fame, to the ambitious, is like salt water to the thirsty—the more one gets, the more he wants.
An earthly immortality belongs to a great and good character.—History embalms it; it lives in its moral influence, in its authority, in its example, in the memory of its words and deeds.
Men think highly of those who rise rapidly in the world, whereas nothing rises quicker than dust, straw, and feathers.
The temple of fame stands upon the grave; the flame upon its altars is kindled from the ashes of the dead.
Few people make much noise after their deaths who did not do so while living.
He that pursues fame with just claims, trusts his happiness to the winds; but he that endeavors after it by false merit, has to fear, not only the violence of the storm, but the leaks of his vessel.
To get a name can happen but to few: it is one of the few things that cannot be bought.—It is the free gift of mankind, which must be deserved before it will be granted, and is at last unwillingly bestowed.
That fame is the universal passion is by nothing more discovered than by epitaphs. The generality of mankind are not content to sink ingloriously into the grave, but wish to be paid that tribute after their deaths, which in many cases may not be due to the virtues of their lives.
As the pearl ripens in the obscurity of its shell, so ripens in the tomb all the fame that is truly precious.
It is an indiscreet and troublesome ambition that cares so much about fame; about what the world says of us; to be always looking in the faces of others for approval; to be always anxious about the effect of what we do or say; to be always shouting to hear the echoes of our own voices.
Time has a doomsday book, on whose pages he is continually recording illustrious names.—But as often as a new name is written there, an old one disappears.—Only a few stand in illuminated characters never to be effaced.
Fame is a revenue payable only to our ghosts; and to deny ourselves all present satisfaction, or to expose ourselves to so much hazard for this, were as great madness as to starve ourselves or fight desperately for food to be laid on our tombs after our death.
I courted fame but as a spur to brave and honest deeds; who despises fame wil soon renounce the virtues that deserve it.
If fame is only to come after death, I am in no hurry for it.
Fame is a flower upon a dead man's heart.
Common fame is the only liar that deserves to have some respect.—Though she tells many an untruth, she often hits right, and most especially when she speaks ill of men.
Of all the possessions of this life fame is the noblest: when the body has sunk into the dust the great name still lives.
Let us satisfy our own consciences, and trouble not ourselves by looking for fame. If we deserve it, we shall attain it: if we deserve it not we cannot force it. The praise bad actions obtain dies soon away; if good deeds are at first unworthily received, they are afterward more properly appreciated.
I am not covetous for gold; but if it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive.
Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.
Only the actions of the just smell sweet and blossom in the dust.
He who would acquire fame must not show himself afraid of censure.—The dread of censure is the death of genius.
Fame is the perfume of heroic deeds.
What is fame?—The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little.
Human life is too short to recompense the cares which attend the most private condition: therefore it is, that our souls are made, as it were, too big for it; and extend themselves in the prospect of a longer existence, in good fame, and memory of worthy actions, after our decease.
The way to fame is like the way to heaven, through much tribulation.
No true and permanent fame can be founded except in labors which promote the happiness of mankind.
Even the best things are not equal to their fame.
Men's fame is like their hair, which grows after they are dead, and with just as little use to them.
What a heavy burden is a name that has too soon become famous.
Much of reputation depends on the period in which it rises.—In dark periods, when talents appear, they shine like the sun through a small hole in the window-shutter, and the strong beam dazzles amid the surrounding gloom.—open the shutter, and the general diffusion of light attracts no notice.
Suppose your candidate for fame pursues unremittingly the object of his love, through every difficulty and over every obstacle, till at last he overtakes her ladyship, and is permitted to kiss the hem of her garment on mount immortality, what will the dear-bought damsel boot him? If he take her to his bosom, she has no flesh and blood to warm it. If he taste of her lip, there is no more nectar in it than there are sunbeams in a cucumber.—Every rascal who has been bold and fearless enough, Nimrod, Cataline, and Tom Paine, all have had a smack at her before him: They have all more or less become famous, and will be remembered much longer than better men.
In fame's temple there is always to be found a niche for rich dunces, importunate scoundrels, or successful butchers of the human race.