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Virtue Quotations

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.  —ღ Terri, March 2021

Seek virtue rather than riches. You may be sure to acquire the first; but cannot promise for the latter. No one can rob you of the first without your consent; you may be deprived of the latter a hundred ways. ~James Burgh, The Dignity of Human Nature: Book III. Of Virtue, 1754

Piety and corruption go together like hot dogs and mustard. They have to. No one can fulfill the demands of piety; as a daily demand, it is inhuman. So it inspires the opposite—just for the sheer health of the body, if not the soul. ~Norman Mailer, "Primitive Man, Art and Science, Evil and Judgment," The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing, 2003

Be father to virtue, but father-in-law to vice. ~Proverb

Virtue is an angel, but she is a blind one, and must ask Knowledge to show her the pathway that leads to her goal.  ~Horace Mann, "Thoughts for a Young Man," 1859

Don't expect immortal virtues of mortals. Angels do not dwell on this planet. ~Minna Thomas Antrim (1861–1950), Don'ts for Girls, 1902

Virtue, as understood by the world, is a constant struggle against the laws of nature. ~J. De Finod

We are double-edged blades, and every time we whet our virtue the return stroke strops our vice.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Blushing is the color of virtue.  ~Diogenes

Virtue is praised, but hated.  People run from it, for it is ice-cold and in this world you have to keep your feet warm.  ~Denis Diderot, Rameau's Nephew, 1762

All bow to virtue — and then walk away. ~J. De Finod

It would seem that Nature has prescribed to every one from the moment of his birth certain limits for virtue and vice. ~François VI de la Rochefoucault (1613–1680)

We bow with resignation beneath the tempestuous storms of life; but a daily vexation, like a moth eating a garment, consumes our virtue. ~Anonymous, Aphorisms; or, A Glance at Human Nature, in Original Maxims, 1820

Virtue is insufficient temptation.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Beware of making your moral staple consist of the negative virtues.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Do not be too moral.  You may cheat yourself out of much life so.  Aim above morality.  Be not simply good; be good for something.  ~Henry David Thoreau

If you are Good, for Goodness' Sake be grateful
And mind your Manners! — Don't make Virtue hateful.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Courtesy," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

He that has energy enough to root out a vice should go further, and try to plant a virtue in its place.  ~Charles Caleb Colton

Modesty and unselfishness - these are virtues which men praise - and pass by.  ~André Maurois, Ariel, 1924

Virtues are dangerous as vices insofar as they are allowed to rule over one as authorities and not as qualities one develops oneself.  ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Virtue is its own revenge.  ~E.Y. Harburn

All of us are experts at practicing virtue at a distance.  ~Theodore M. Hesburgh

The imperfections of a man, his frailties, his faults, are just as important as his virtues.  You can't separate them.  They're wedded.  ~Henry Miller

Virtue would not travel so far if vanity did not keep her company. ~François VI de la Rochefoucault (1613–1680)

A man hasn't got a corner on virtue just because his shoes are shined.  ~Anne Petry

What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy.  ~Voltaire

Virtue's the paint that can make wrinkles shine... ~Edward Young

Sin is commitable in thought, word or deed; so is virtue. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

To many people virtue consists chiefly in repenting faults, not in avoiding them. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials of his art. ~Oscar Wilde, Preface to Dorian Gray, 1890

Many consent to be virtuous, only on condition that everybody will give them credit for it. ~J. De Finod

But if Virtue was to be rewarded with Wealth it would not be Virtue. If Virtue was to be rewarded with Fame, it would not be Virtue of the sublimest Kind. Who would not rather be Fabricius than Caesar? Who would not rather be Aristides, than even William the 3rd? Who? ~John Adams, 1778

Any of us can achieve virtue, if by virtue we merely mean the avoidance of the vices that do not attract us.  ~Robert S. Lynd

The excess of virtue is a vice. ~Greek proverb

Our honesty, we free spirits—let us be careful lest it become our vanity, our ornament and ostentation, our limitation, our stupidity! Every virtue inclines to stupidity, every stupidity to virtue; "stupid to the point of sanctity," they say in Russia,—let us be careful lest out of pure honesty we do not eventually become saints and bores! Is not life a hundred times too short for us—to bore ourselves? ~Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), "Our Virtues," Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, translated from German by Helen Zimmern, 1907  [There's also translation out there somewhere with the wording "too short for us to stifle ourselves." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Unless I accept my faults I will most certainly doubt my virtues.  ~Hugh Prather

They who disbelieve in virtue because man has never been found perfect, might as reasonably deny a sun because it is not always day.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Water which is too pure has no fish.  ~Ts'ai Ken T'an

      Enthusiasm for what is great lies at the basis of our nature, and never makes itself so keenly felt as in childhood. It is the flower and the poetry of virtue that fills the imagination of children and enchants them. Later the flower falls to give place to the fruit, poetry becomes prose. The fair dreams of virtue resemble those high mountains whose bold shapes attract our gaze, and to the summit of which imagination raises itself without effort. But when it comes to climbing them in reality, slowly and laboriously, we are soon discouraged. Life is not spent on the heights where grand and sublime actions are accomplished; virtue is composed of a long and uninterrupted series of small sacrifices, and requires that firm and tranquil resolution which does not run after duty, but holds itself ready for whatever God shall impose.
      The soul is soon satiated with what is untrue, and then disgust is proportioned to enthusiasm.
      Enthusiasm corresponds with the infinite; but sometimes it addresses itself really to the infinite, and sometimes it cheats its own wants, and deceives its own principles, in lending to finite objects the character and privileges of the infinite.
      ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)

On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.  ~George Orwell

Do not be troubled because you have not great virtues. God made a million spears of grass where He made one tree. The earth is fringed and carpeted, not with forests, but with grasses. Only have enough of little virtues and common fidelities, and you need not mourn because you are neither a hero or a saint. ~Henry Ward Beecher

It is hardly respectable to be good nowadays.  ~Edith Sitwell

Some folks wear their halos much too tight.  ~Author Unknown

What, after all, is a halo?  It's only one more thing to keep clean.  ~Christopher Fry

We would frequently be ashamed of our good deeds if people saw all of the motives that produced them. ~François VI de la Rochefoucault (1613–1680)

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Last saved 2021 Jul 24 Sat 09:44 PDT

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