Virtuous Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 168 quotes )
As soon as a woman's primary social value could no longer be defined as the attainment of virtuous domesticity, the beauty myth redefined it as the attainment of virtuous beauty. It did so to substitute both a new consumer imperative and a new justification for economic unfairness in the workplace where the old ones had lost their hold over newly liberated women.
Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm. For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased and I turned away with disgust and loathing.
The novel should tell the truth, as I see the truth, or as the novelist persuades me to see it. And one more demand: I expect the novelist to aspire to improve the world. ... As a novelist, I want to be more than one more dog barking at the other dogs barking at me. Not out of any foolish hope that one novelist, or all virtuous novelists in chorus, can make much of a difference for good, except in the long run, but out of the need to prevent the human world from relaxing into something worse. To maintain the tension between truth and falsity, beauty and ugliness, good and evil. ... I believe the highest duty of the serious novelist is, whatever the means or technique, to be a critic of his society, to hold society to its own ideals, or if these ideals are unworthy, to suggest better ideals.
A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.
It's interesting to speculate on the reasons that make men so anxious to debase themselves. As in that idea of feeling small before nature. It's not a bromide, it's practically an institution. Have you noticed how self-righteous a man sounds when he tells you about it? Look, he seems to say, I'm so glad to be a pygmy, that's how virtuous I am. Have you heard with what delight people quote some great celebrity who's proclaimed that he's not so great when he looks at Niagara Falls? It's as if they were smacking their lips in sheer glee that their best is dust before the brute force of an earthquake. As if they were sprawling on all fours, rubbing their foreheads in the mud to the majesty of a hurricane. But that's not the spirit that leashed fire, steam, electricity, that crossed oceans in sailing sloops, that built airplanes and dams...and skyscrapers. What is it they fear? What is they hate so much, those who love to crawl? And why?
There is, I believe, no such thing as unconditional self-acceptance. Those who say so are promulgating a pernicious lie. One must first live a decent, honorable and productive life. Only then do you get to feel good about yourself. Seeking to heedlessly gratify your desires or impulses of the moment to do things (or fail to do things) your conscience knows to be contrary to your standards of right, worthy and virtuous behavior is, in a mental, emotional and spiritual sense, akin to spending capital that you have not earned, and therefore will eventually cause you to feel very negatively? about who and what you are. You cannot in the long run have your cake and eat it too. The longer? you behave in certain ways, the more it comes to define you, not only to others, but also to yourself.
As virtuous men pass mildly away, And whisper to their souls to go, Whilst some of their sad friends do say, "The breath goes now," and some say, "No,"So let us melt, and make no noise, No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;'Twere profanation of our joys To tell the laity our love. Moving of the earth brings harms and fears, Men reckon what it did and meant; But trepidation of the spheres, Though greater far, is innocent. Dull sublunary lovers' love (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit. Absence, because it doth remove Those things which elemented it. But we, by a love so much refined That our selves know not what it is, Inter-assured of the mind, Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss. Our two souls therefore, which are one, Though I must go, endure not yet. A breach, but an expansion. Like gold to airy thinness beat. If they be two, they are two so As stiff twin compasses are two: Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show To move, but doth, if the other do; And though it in the center sit, Yet when the other far doth roam, It leans, and hearkens after it, And grows erect, as that comes home. Such wilt thou be to me, who must, Like the other foot, obliquely run; Thy firmness makes my circle just, And makes me end where I begun.
I have spent considerable of my leisure time in this past year in the improvement of my mind but I find that much of it has been spent extremely foolish and that walking in the pasture at dusk with virtuous, amiable and genteel young ladies I experience none but swineish passions. I commenced to read Russell’s Modern Europe sometime last summer.
As for myself, I can only exhort you to look on Friendship as the most valuable of all human possessions, no other being equally suited to the moral nature of man, or so applicable to every state and circumstance, whether of prosperity or adversity, in which he can possibly be placed. But at the same time I lay it down as a fundamental axiom that "true Friendship can only subsist between those who are animated by the strictest principles of honour and virtue." When I say this, I would not be thought to adopt the sentiments of those speculative moralists who pretend that no man can justly be deemed virtuous who is not arrived at that state of absolute perfection which constitutes, according to their ideas, the character of genuine wisdom. This opinion may appear true, perhaps, in theory, but is altogether inapplicable to any useful purpose of society, as it supposes a degree of virtue to which no mortal was ever capable of rising.
Be calm! I entreat you to hear me before you give vent to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine, my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.
Are you in earnest resolved never to barter your liberty for the lordly servitude of a court, but to live free, fearless, and independent? There seems to be one way to continue in that virtuous resolution; and perhaps but one. Never enter the place from whence so few have been able to return; never come within the circle of ambition; nor ever bring yourself into comparison with those masters of the earth who have already engrossed the attention of half mankind before you.
In private life do we not see hypocrisy, servility, selfishness, folly, and impudence succeed, while modesty shrinks from the encounter, and merit is trodden under foot? How often is 'the rose plucked from the forehead of a virtuous love to plant a blister there!' What chance is there of the success of real passion? What certainty of its continuance? Seeing all this as I do, and unravelling the web of human life into its various threads of meanness, spite, cowardice, want of feeling, and want of understanding, of indifference towards others, and ignorance of ourselves,? seeing custom prevail over all excellence, itself giving way to infamy? mistaken as I have been in my public and private hopes, calculating others from myself, and calculating wrong; always disappointed where I placed most reliance; the dupe of friendship, and the fool of love;? have I not reason to hate and to despise myself? Indeed I do; and chiefly for not having hated and despised the world enough.
Oh, there are plenty of people," the Duc used to observe, "who never misbehave save when passion spurs them to ill; later, the fire gone out of them, their now calm spirit peacefully returns to the path of virtue and, thus passing their life going from strife to error and from error to remorse, they end their days in such a way there is no telling just what roles they have enacted on earth. Such persons," he would continue, "must surely be miserable: forever drifting, continually undecided, their entire life is spent detesting in the morning what they did the evening before. Certain to repent of the pleasures they taste, they take their delight in quaking, in such sort they become at once virtuous in crime and criminal in virtue.
If you yield yourself up to His divine working, the Lord will alter your nature; He will subdue the old nature, and breathe new life into you. Put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will take the stony heart out of your flesh, and He will give you a heart of flesh. Where everything was hard, everything shall be tender; where everything was vicious, everything shall be virtuous: where everything tended downward, everything shall rise upward with impetuous force. The lion of anger shall give place to the lamb of meekness; the raven of uncleanness shall fly before the dove of purity; the vile serpent of deceit shall be trodden under the heel of truth.
You have a hierarchy of values; pleasure is at the bottom of the ladder, and you speak with a little thrill of self-satisfaction, of duty, charity, and truthfulness. You think pleasure is only of the senses; the wretched slaves who manufactured your morality despised a satisfaction which they had small means of enjoying. You would not be so frightened if I had spoken of happiness instead of pleasure: it sounds less shocking, and your mind wonders from the sty of Epicurus to his garden. But I will speak of pleasure, for I see that men aim at that, and I do not know that they aim at happiness. It is pleasure that lurks in the practice of every one of your virtues. Man performs actions because they are good for him, and when they are good for other people as well they are thought virtuous: if he finds pleasure in giving alms he is charitable; if he finds pleasure in helping others he is benevolent; if he finds pleasure in working for society he is public-spirited; but it is for your private pleasure that you give twopence to a beggar as much as it is for my private pleasure that I drink another whiskey and soda. I, less of a humbug than you, neither applaud myself for my pleasure nor demand your admiration.
No justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous. Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat’, than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers.
I haven’t been here long, but, nevertheless, all the same, what I’ve managed to observe and verify here arouses the indignation of my Tartar blood. By God, I don’t want such virtues! I managed to make a seven-mile tour here yesterday. Well, it’s exactly the same as in those moralizing little German picture books: everywhere here each house has its Vater, terribly virtuous and extraordinarily honest. So honest it’s even frightening to go near him. I can’t stand honest people whom it’s frightening to go near. Each such Vater has a family, and in the evening they all read edifying books aloud. Over their little house, elms and chestnuts rustle. A sunset, a stork on the roof, and all of it extraordinarily poetic and touching…
Reformation of the world begins with reformation of self. We cannot hope to influence others in the direction of moral virtue unless we live lives of virtue. The example of our virtuous living will carry a greater influence than will all the preaching, postulating, and theorizing in which we might indulge. We cannot expect to lift others unless we are standing on higher ground.
…the extent to which a society focuses on the needs of its lowest common denominator is the extent to which that society’ll be mired in mediocrity. Whereas, if we would aim the bulk of our support at the brightest, most talented, most virtuous instead, then they would have the wherewithal to solve a lot of our problems, to uplift the whole culture, enlighten it or something, so that eventually there wouldn’t be so many losers and weaklings impeding evolution and dragging the whole species down…. Martyrs…just perpetuate human misery by catering to it…. Individuals have to take responsibility for their own lives and accept the consequences of their choices.
She always said that the one feature in his proposal which overcame her hesitation was the obvious purity and straightforwardness of his intentions. He showed himself to be so virtuous and kind: he treated her with a respect to which she had never before been accustomed; and she was braced to the obvious risks of the voyage by her confidence in him.
If she did not wish to lead a virtuous life, at least she desired to enjoy a character for virtue, and we know that no lady in the genteel world can possess this desideratum, until she has put on a train and feathers and has been presented to her Sovereign at Court. From that august interview they come out stamped as honest women. The Lord Chamberlain gives them a certificate of virtue.