Truth is the only merit that gives dignity and worth to history.

Equality does not seem to take the same form in acts of justice and in friendship; for in acts of justice what is equal in the primary sense is that which is in proportion to merit, while quantitative equality is secondary, but in friendship quantitative equality is primary and proportion to merit secondary.

Some of the virtues are intellectual and others moral, philosophic wisdom and understanding and practical wisdom being intellectual, liberality and temperance moral. For in speaking about a man’s character we do not say that he is wise or has understanding but that he is good-tempered or temperate; yet we praise the wise man also with respect to his state of mind; and of states of mind we call those which merit praise virtues.

Contemporaries appreciate the man rather than the merit; posterity will regard the merit rather than the man.

For all the practical purposes of life, truth might as well be in a prison as in the folio of a schoolman; and those who release her from her cow-webbed shelf and teach her to live with men have the merit of liberating, if not of discovering, her.

Contemporaries appreciate the man rather than his merit; posterity will regard the merit rather than the man.

There is no cruelty so inexorable and unrelenting as that which proceeds from a bigoted and presumptuous supposition of doing service to God. The victim of the fanatical persecutor will find that the stronger the motives he can urge for mercy are, the weaker will be his chance for obtaining it, for the merit of his destruction will be supposed to rise in value in proportion as it is effected at the expense of every feeling both of justice and of humanity.

Works of true merit are seldom very popular in their own day; for knowledge is on the march and men of genius are the videttes that are far in advance of their comrades. They are not with them, not in the camp, but beyond it.

Works of true merit are seldom very popular in their own day; for knowledge is on the march and men of genius are the videttes that are far in advance of their comrades. They are not with them, but before them; not in the camp, but beyond it.

To exhibit superior merit is not the way to win men's hearts. To exhibit inferior merit is the way.

Moderation must not claim the merit of combating and conquering ambition; for they can never exist in the same subject. Moderation is the languor and sloth of the soul; ambition its activity and ardor.

There is a kind of greatness which does not depend upon fortune; it is a certain manner that distinguishes us, and which seems to destine us for great things; it is the value we insensibly set upon ourselves; it is by this quality that we gain the deference of other men, and it is this which commonly raises us more above them, than birth, rank, or even merit itself.

To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman.

Praise in the beginning is agreeable enough; and we receive it as a favor; but when it comes in great quantities, we regard it only as a debt, which nothing but our merit could extort.

The painter will produce pictures of little merit if he takes the works of others as his standard.

Great merit or great failings will make you respected or despised; but trifles, little attentions, mere nothings, either done or neglected, will make you either liked or disliked, in the general run of the world. Examine yourself, why you like such and such people and dislike such and such others; and you will find that those different sentiments proceed from very slight causes.

Real merit of any kind cannot long be concealed; it will be discovered, and nothing can depreciate it, but a man’s exhibiting it himself. It may not always be rewarded as it ought; but it will always be known.