A compliment is something like a kiss through a veil.
A creditor is worse than a slave-owner; for the master owns only your person, but a creditor owns your dignity, and can command it.
A faith is a necessity to a man. Woe to him who believes in nothing.
A great artist is a great man in a great child.
A library implies an act of faith.
A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.
A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.
A war between Europeans is a civil war.
Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.
All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.
Almost all our desires, when examined, contain something too shameful to reveal.
Amnesty is as good for those who give it as for those who receive it. It has the admirable quality of bestowing mercy on both sides.
An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.
An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.
Architecture has recorded the great ideas of the human race. Not only every religious symbol, but every human thought has its page in that vast book.
As a means of contrast with the sublime, the grotesque is, in our view, the richest source that nature can offer.
As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.
Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.
Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.
Because one doesn’t like the way things are is no reason to be unjust towards God.
Blessed be Providence which has given to each his toy: the doll to the child, the child to the woman, the woman to the man, the man to the devil!
But when ill indeed, Even dismissing the doctor don’t always succeed.
By putting forward the hands of the clock you shall not advance the hour.
Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.
Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.
Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn’t every war fought between men, between brothers?
Close by the Rights of Man, at the least set beside them, are the Rights of the Spirit.
Common sense is in spite of, not as the result of education.
Concision in style, precision in thought, decision in life.
Conscience is God present in man.
Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.
Dear God! how beauty varies in nature and art. In a woman the flesh must be like marble; in a statue the marble must be like flesh.
Despotism is a long crime.
Do not let it be your aim to be something, but to be someone.
Doing nothing is happiness for children and misery for old men.
Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet.
Everything being a constant carnival, there is no carnival left.
Evil. Mistrust those who rejoice at it even more than those who do it.
Fashions have done more harm than revolutions.
Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.
Freedom in art, freedom in society, this is the double goal towards which all consistent and logical minds must strive.
Genius is a promontory jutting out into the infinite.
Genius: the superhuman in man.
Great perils have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers.
Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.
Habit is the nursery of errors.
Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.
He who is not capable of enduring poverty is not capable of being free.
He who opens a school door, closes a prison.
He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.
Hell is an outrage on humanity. When you tell me that your deity made you in his image, I reply that he must have been very ugly.
Hope is the word which God has written on the brow of every man.
How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.
I am a soul. I know well that what I shall render up to the grave is not myself. That which is myself will go elsewhere. Earth, thou art not my abyss!
I am an intelligent river which has reflected successively all the banks before which it has flowed by meditating only on the images offered by those changing shores.
I don’t mind what Congress does, as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.
I love all men who think, even those who think otherwise than myself.
I met in the street a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat worn, his cloak was out at the elbows, the water passed through his shoes, – and the stars through his soul.
I put a Phrygian cap on the old dictionary.
Idleness is the heaviest of all oppressions.
I’m religiously opposed to religion.
Indigestion is charged by God with enforcing morality on the stomach.
Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.
Intelligence is the wife, imagination is the mistress, memory is the servant.
It is by suffering that human beings become angels.
It is from books that wise people derive consolation in the troubles of life.
It is most pleasant to commit a just action which is disagreeable to someone whom one does not like.
It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.
It is often necessary to know how to obey a woman in order sometimes to have the right to command her.
It is the end. But of what? The end of France? No. The end of kings? Yes.
Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. From that divine tear and from that human smile is derived the grace of present civilization.
Joy’s smile is much closer to tears than laughter.
Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.
Liberation is not deliverance.
Life is the flower for which love is the honey.
Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.
Love is a portion of the soul itself, and it is of the same nature as the celestial breathing of the atmosphere of paradise.
Mankind is not a circle with a single center but an ellipse with two focal points of which facts are one and ideas the other.
Many great actions are committed in small struggles.
Men become accustomed to poison by degrees.
Men like me are impossible until the day when they become necessary.
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
My tastes are aristocratic, my actions democratic.
Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.
Nature has made a pebble and a female. The lapidary makes the diamond, and the lover makes the woman.
Never laugh at those who suffer; suffer sometimes those who laugh.
No one can keep a secret better than a child.
No one ever keeps a secret so well as a child.
No one knows like a woman how to say things which are at once gentle and deep.
Nothing else in the world… not all the armies… is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.
One believes others will do what he will do to himself.
One can resist the invasion of an army but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.
One is not idle because one is absorbed. There is both visible and invisible labor. To contemplate is to toil, to think is to do. The crossed arms work, the clasped hands act. The eyes upturned to Heaven are an act of creation.
One of the hardest tasks is to extract continually from one’s soul an almost inexhaustible ill will.
One sees qualities at a distance and defects at close range.
One sometimes says: ‘He killed himself because he was bored with life.’ One ought rather to say: ‘He killed himself because he was bored by lack of life.’
Our acts make or mar us, we are the children of our own deeds.
Our life dreams the Utopia. Our death achieves the Ideal.
Pain is as diverse as man. One suffers as one can.
Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime.
People do not lack strength; they lack will.
Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.
Prayer is an august avowal of ignorance.
Puns are the droppings of soaring wits.
Reaction – a boat which is going against the current but which does not prevent the river from flowing on.
Religions do a useful thing: they narrow God to the limits of man. Philosophy replies by doing a necessary thing: it elevates man to the plane of God.
Rhyme, that enslaved queen, that supreme charm of our poetry, that creator of our meter.
Scepticism, that dry caries of the intelligence.
Short as life is, we make it still shorter by the careless waste of time.
Smallness in a great man seems smaller by its disproportion with all the rest.
Society is a republic. When an individual tries to lift themselves above others, they are dragged down by the mass, either by ridicule or slander.
Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all the affections, as there is room in heaven for all the stars.
Sorrow is a fruit. God does not make it grow on limbs too weak to bear it.
Strange to say, the luminous world is the invisible world; the luminous world is that which we do not see. Our eyes of flesh see only night.
Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.
Stupidity talks, vanity acts.
Style is the substance of the subject called unceasingly to the surface.
Sublime upon sublime scarcely presents a contrast, and we need a little rest from everything, even the beautiful.
Taste is the common sense of genius.
The animal is ignorant of the fact that he knows. The man is aware of the fact that he is ignorant.
The beautiful has but one type, the ugly has a thousand.
The brutalities of progress are called revolutions. When they are over we realize this: that the human race has been roughly handled, but that it has advanced.
The drama is complete poetry. The ode and the epic contain it only in germ; it contains both of them in a state of high development, and epitomizes both.
The first symptom of love in a young man is timidity; in a girl boldness.
The flesh is the surface of the unknown.
The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.
The human soul has still greater need of the ideal than of the real. It is by the real that we exist; it is by the ideal that we live.
The ideal and the beautiful are identical; the ideal corresponds to the idea, and beauty to form; hence idea and substance are cognate.
The last resort of kings, the cannonball. The last resort of the people, the paving stone.
The learned man knows that he is ignorant.
The little people must be sacred to the big ones, and it is from the rights of the weak that the duty of the strong is comprised.
The man who does not know other languages, unless he is a man of genius, necessarily has deficiencies in his ideas.
The most powerful symptom of love is a tenderness which becomes at times almost insupportable.
The mountains, the forest, and the sea, render men savage; they develop the fierce, but yet do not destroy the human.
The ode lives upon the ideal, the epic upon the grandiose, the drama upon the real.
The omnipotence of evil has never resulted in anything but fruitless efforts. Our thoughts always escape from whoever tries to smother them.
The ox suffers, the cart complains.
The soul has illusions as the bird has wings: it is supported by them.
The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather in spite of ourselves.
The three great problems of this century; the degradation of man in the proletariat, the subjection of women through hunger, the atrophy of the child by darkness.
The wicked envy and hate; it is their way of admiring.
The wise man does not grow old, but ripens.
The word is the Verb, and the Verb is God.
There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson.
There are thoughts which are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees.
There have been in this century only one great man and one great thing: Napoleon and liberty. For want of the great man, let us have the great thing.
There is a sacred horror about everything grand. It is easy to admire mediocrity and hills; but whatever is too lofty, a genius as well as a mountain, an assembly as well as a masterpiece, seen too near, is appalling.
There is no such thing as a little country. The greatness of a people is no more determined by their numbers than the greatness of a man is by his height.
There is nothing like a dream to create the future.
There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.
There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time as come.
Those who live are those who fight.
Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.
To be perfectly happy it does not suffice to possess happiness, it is necessary to have deserved it.
To contemplate is to look at shadows.
To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.
To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.
To love another person is to see the face of God.
To love beauty is to see light.
To love is to act.
To rise from error to truth is rare and beautiful.
To think is of itself to be useful; it is always and in all cases a striving toward God.
To think of shadows is a serious thing.
Toleration is the best religion.
Try as you will, you cannot annihilate that eternal relic of the human heart, love.
Virtue has a veil, vice a mask.
We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.
We see past time in a telescope and present time in a microscope. Hence the apparent enormities of the present.
Well, for us, in history where goodness is a rare pearl, he who was good almost takes precedence over he who was great.
What a grand thing, to be loved! What a grander thing still, to love!
What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.
What would be ugly in a garden constitutes beauty in a mountain.
When a man is out of sight, it is not too long before he is out of mind.
When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.
When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.
When God desires to destroy a thing, he entrusts its destruction to the thing itself. Every bad institution of this world ends by suicide.
When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.
When liberty returns, I will return.
Whenever a man’s friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old.
Wisdom is a sacred communion.
Without vanity, without coquetry, without curiosity, in a word, without the fall, woman would not be woman. Much of her grace is in her frailty.