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James Wood, comp. Dictionary of Quotations. 1899.


A genius is one who is endowed with an excess of nervous energy and sensibility.

A man does not represent a fraction, but a whole number; he is complete in himself.

A man must be well off who is irritated by trifles, for in misfortune trifles are not felt.

A man must wait for the right moment.

A man never feels the want of what it never occurs to him to ask for.

A man who claps his Pegasus into a harness, and urges on his muse with the whip, will have to pay to Nature the penalty of this trespass.

A man will love or hate solitude—that is, his own society—according as he is himself worthy or worthless.

A man’s friends belong no more to him than he to them.

Almost all our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people.

Authors may be divided into falling stars, planets, and fixed stars: the first have a momentary effect; the second, a much longer duration; and the third are unchangeable, possess their own light, and shine for all time.

Cheerfulness is the very flower of health.

Der gute Wille ist in der Moral alles; aber in der Kunst ist er nichts: da gilt, wie schon das Wort andeutet, allein Können—Goodwill is everything in morals, but in art it is nothing: in it, as the word indicates, only ability counts for aught.

Der Mensch ist im Grunde ein wildes, entsetzliches Thier—Man is at bottom a savage animal and an object of dread, as we may see (it is added) he still is when emancipated from all control.

Die monarchische Regierungsform ist die dem Menschen natürliche—Monarchy is the form of government that is natural to mankind.

Empirical sciences prosecuted simply for their own sake, and without a philosophic tendency, resemble a face without eyes.

Es giebt keine andre Offenbarung, als die Gedanken der Weisen—There is no other revelation than the thoughts of the wise among men.

Every child is to a certain extent a genius, and every genius is to a certain extent a child.

Every pleasure pre-supposes some sort of activity.

Everything that happens, happens of necessity.

Exercise the muscles well, but spare the nerves always.

Experience is a text to which reflection and knowledge supply the commentary.

Faith is like love; it does not admit of being forced.

Fame only reflects the estimate in which a man is held in comparison with others.

Friends and acquaintances are the surest passports to fortune.

Genius is to other gifts what the carbuncle is to the precious stones. It sends forth its own light, whereas other stones only reflect borrowed light.

Genuine morality depends on no religion, though every one sanctions it and thereby guarantees to it its support.

Gerechtigkeit ist mehr die mannliche. Menschenliebe mehr die weibliche Tugend—Justice is properly the virtue of the man, charity of the woman.

Good-will is everything in morals, but nothing in art; in art, capability alone is anything.

Great men are like eagles, and build their nest on some lofty solitude.

Happiness is a chimæra and suffering a reality.

He who breaks confidence has for ever forfeited it.

However varied the forms of destiny, the same elements are always present.

If cheerfulness knocks for admission, we should open our hearts wide to receive it, for it never comes inopportunely.

In action, a great heart is the chief qualification; in work, a great head.

In morals good-will is everything, but in art it is ability.

In such a world as this a man who is rich in himself is like a bright, warm, happy room at Christmastide, while without are the frost and snow of a December night.

In the good as well as in the evil of life, less depends upon what befalls us than upon the way in which we take it.

Individuality is of far more account than nationality.

It is a clear gain to sacrifice pleasure in order to avoid pain.

It is a great piece of folly to sacrifice the inner for the outer man.

It is exactly in the treatment of trifles that a man shows what he is.

It is his excess of sensibility that distinguishes man from other animals.

It is indeed only in old age that intellectual men attain their sublime expression.

It is natural to a man to believe what he wishes to be true, and to believe it because he wishes it.

It is not his own individual sins that the hero atones for, but original sin, i.e., the crime of existence.

It is not the face which deceives; it is we who deceive ourselves in reading in it what is not there.

It is only at the first encounter that a face makes its full impression upon us.

It is only in society that a man’s powers can have full play.

It is only time that possesses full reality, and our existence lies in it exclusively.

It is only when a man is alone that he is really free.

It is the possession of a great heart or a great head, and not the mere fame of it, which is of worth and conducive to happiness.

Journalists are like little dogs; whenever anything stirs they immediately begin to bark.

Joy is a guest who generally comes uninvited.

Knowledge that a thing is false is a truth.

Life is given us not to enjoy, but to overcome.

Limiting of one’s life always conduces to happiness.

Man’s life is never anything but an ever-vanishing present.

Many sacrifices have been made just to enjoy the feeling of vengeance, without any intention of causing an amount of injury equivalent to what one has suffered.

Men are happy in proportion as their range of vision, their sphere of action, and their points of contact with the world are restricted and circumscribed.

Money is human happiness in the abstract; he, then, who is no longer capable of enjoying human happiness in the concrete, devotes his heart entirely to money.

Naked truth is out of place before the eyes of the profane vulgar; it can only make its appearance thickly veiled.

Natürlicher Verstand kann fast jeden Grad von Bildung ersetzen, aber keine Bildung den natürlichen Verstand—Natural intelligence may make up almost every step in culture, but no culture make up for natural intelligence.

Natural abilities can almost make up for the want of every kind of cultivation, but no cultivation for want of natural abilities.

Neid zu fühlen, ist menschlich; Schadenfreude zu geniessen, teuflisch—To feel envy is human; to joy in mischief is devilish.

No man can transcend his own individuality.

No one can be in perfect accord with any one but himself.

Not fame, but that which it merits, is what a man should esteem.

Nothing at bottom is interesting to the majority of men but themselves.

Nothing contributes so much to cheerfulness as health, or so little as riches.

Novels for most part instil into young minds false views of life.

Obstinacy is the result of the will’s forcing itself into the place of the intellect.

One must be careful in announcing great happiness.

Ordinary people think merely of spending time; a man with any brains, of using it.

Our first ideas of life are generally taken from fiction rather than fact.

Our happiness should not be laid on a too broad foundation.

Our stomach for good fortune is bottomless, but the entrance to it is narrow.

Pain is the positive element in life, and pleasure its negation.

Reading is thinking with another’s head instead of one’s own.

Religionen sind Kinder der Unwissenheit, die ihre Mutter nicht lange überleben—Religions are the children of Ignorance, and they do not long outlive their mother.

Satisfaction consists in freedom from pain, which is the positive element of existence.

Sleep is to a man what winding up is to a clock.

Stupid people move like lay-figures, while every joint of an intelligent man is eloquent.

Style is the physiognomy of the mind.

Suffering which falls to our lot in the course of nature, or by chance or fate, does not, “ceteris paribus,” seem so painful as suffering which is inflicted on us by the arbitrary will of another.

The alchemists in their search for gold discovered other things of greater value.

The characteristic mark of minds (Geister) of the first order is the directness (Unmittelbarkeit) of all their judgments. All that they bring forth (vorbringen) is the result of their own thinking.

The difficulty is to teach the multitude that something can be both true and untrue at the same time.

The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind, the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity.

The face of man gives us fuller and more interesting information than his tongue; for his face is the compendium of all he will ever say, as it is the one record of all he has thought and endeavoured.

The faculty for remembering is not diminished in proportion to what one has learnt, just as little as the number of moulds in which you cast sand lessens its capacity for being cast in new moulds.

The first glass of a wine is the one which gives us its true taste.

The fruit of life is experience, not happiness, and its fruition to accustom ourselves, and to be content, to exchange hope for insight.

The great mass of people have eyes and ears, but not much more, especially little power of judgment, and even memory.

The greater and more various any one’s knowledge, the longer he takes to find out anything that may suddenly be asked him; because he is like a shopkeeper who has to get the article wanted from a large and multifarious store.

The greatest achievements of the human mind are generally received at first with distrust.

The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health for any other advantage.

The highest elevation attainable by man is a heroic life.

The longer a man’s fame is likely to last, the later it will be in coming.

The man who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience.

The more a man has in himself, the less he will want from other people—the less, indeed, other people can be to him.

The most essential fact about a man is the constitution of his consciousness.

The most finished man of the world is he who is never irresolute and never in a hurry.

The mother of the useful arts is necessity; that of the fine arts is luxury. For father, the former has intellect; the latter, genius, which itself is a kind of luxury.

The negation of will and desire is the only road to deliverance.

The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the slower it is in attaining maturity.

The only satisfaction of the will is that it encounters with no resistance.

The ordinary man places life’s happiness in things external to him; his centre of gravity is not in himself.

The pain of an unfilled wish is small in comparison with that of repentance; for the one stands in presence of the vast open future, whilst the other has the irrevocable past closed behind it.

The present is the only reality and the only certainty.

The rich man is seldom in his own halls, because it bores him to be there, and still he returns thither, because he is no better off outside.

The strongest arm is impotent to impart momentum to a feather.

The tongue tells the thought of one man only, whereas the face expresses a thought of nature itself; so that every one is worth attentive observation, even though every one may not be worth talking to.

The two foes of human happiness are pain and ennui.

The upper classes and people of wealth suffer most from ennui.

The will appears without its mask only in the affections and the passions.

The wise have all ever said the same thing, and the fools, who are always in the majority, have always done just the opposite.

The world is glorious to look at, but dreadful in reality; it is one thing as a drama to a spectator, quite another thing to the actors in the plot, for in it the will is thwarted at every turn.

The world seldom offers us any choice between solitude on the one hand and vulgarity on the other.

There are three classes of authors—those who write without thinking, those who think while writing, and those who think before writing.

There is no other revelation than the thoughts of the wise.

There is only one mendacious being in the world, and that is man.

Thoughts are not always at our beck; we must wait till they come.

To a dog the choicest thing in the world is a doe: to an ox, an ox; to an ass, an ass; and to a sow, a sow.

To affect a quality is just to confess that you have not got it.

To an ill-conditioned being all pleasure is like delicate wine in a mouth embittered with gall.

To be always lamenting and always complaining without raising and nerving one’s self to resignation, is to lose at once both earth and heaven, and have nothing over but a watery sentimentalism.

To dwell alone is the fate of all great souls.

To find out your real opinion of any one, observe the impression made upon you by the first sight of a letter from him.

To forgive and forget is to throw away dearly-bought experience.

To free a man from error is to give, and not to take away.

To get general ideas first and make particular observations last is to invert the process of education.

To have all one’s wants satisfied is something intolerable.

To have no pain, and not be bored, is the utmost happiness possible to man on earth.

To imitate the style of another is said to be wearing a mask. However beautiful it may be, it is through its lifelessness insipid and intolerable, so that even the most ugly living face is more engaging.

To live happily only means to live tolerably.

To make elaborate preparations for life is one of the greatest and commonest of human follies.

To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence.

To secure and promote the feeling of cheerfulness should be the supreme aim of all our endeavours after happiness.

To-day comes only once, and never again returns.

Trifles unconsciously bias us for or against a person from the very beginning.

Vain people are loquacious; and proud, taciturn.

Vengeance taken will often tear the heart and torment the conscience.

We are instinctively more inclined to hope than to fear; just as our eyes turn of themselves towards light rather than darkness.

We deceive and flatter no one by such delicate artifices as we do ourselves.

We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.

We long in vain to undo what has been done.

What a man is contributes much more to his happiness than what he has or how others regard him.

Wicked thoughts and worthless efforts gradually set their mark upon the face, especially the eyes.

Will minus intellect constitutes vulgarity.

With the possession or certain expectation of good things our demand rises, and increases our capacity for further possession and larger expectations.

You often understand the true connection of important events in your life not while they are going on, nor soon after they are past, but only a considerable time afterwards.