Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

George Stillman Hillard

American Lawyer, Orator, Politician, Man of Letters

"A vacant mind invites dangerous inmates, as a deserted mansion tempts wandering outcasts to enter and take up their abode n its desolate apartments."

"A great man is a gift, in some measure of a revelation of God. A great man, living for high ends, is the divinest thing that can be seen on earth. The value and interest of history are derived chiefly from the lives and services of the eminent men whom it commemorates."

"A statesman makes the occasion, but the occasion makes the politician."

"Many persons feel art, some understand it; but few both feel and understand it."

"Occupation is the armor of the soul."

"The shadow of human life is traced upon a golden ground of immortal hope."

"Wealth brings noble opportunities, and competence is a proper object of pursuit; but wealth, and even competence, may be bought at too high a price. Wealth itself has no moral attribute. It is not money, but the love of money, which is the root of all evil. It is the relation between wealth and the mind and the character of its possessor which is the essential thing."

"Nothing is more binding than the friendship of companions-in-arms."

"The instinctive and universal taste of mankind selects flowers for the expression of its finest sympathies, their beauty and their fleetingness serving to make them the most fitting symbols of those delicate sentiments for which language itself seems almost too gross a medium."

"Ambition is not a weakness unless it be disproportioned to the capacity. To have more ambition than ability is to be at once weak and unhappy."

"Artists will sometimes speak of Rome with disparagement or indifference while it is before them; but no artist ewer lived in Rome and then left it, without sighing to return."

"Great men are among the best gifts which God bestows upon a people."

"If liberty with law is fire on the hearth, liberty without law is fire on the floor."

"Man is an animal that cannot long be left in safety without occupation; the growth of his fallow nature is apt to run into weeds."

"It may be too much to expect that nations should be governed in their relations towards each other by the precepts of Christian morality, but surely it is not too much to ask that they should conform to the code of courtesy and good breeding recognized among gentlemen in the intercourse of social life."

"For my boyhood's friend hath fallen, the pillar of my trust, the true, the wise, the beautiful, is sleeping in the dust."

"A sluggish, dawdling, and dilatory man may have spasms of activity, but he never acts continuously and consecutively with energetic quickness."

"Anger may be kindled in the noblest breasts; but in these the slow droppings of an unforgiving temper never take the shape and consistency of enduring hatred."

"Excellence in art is to be attained only by active effort, and not by passive impressions; by the manly overcoming of difficulties, by patient struggle against adverse circumstance, by the thrifty use of moderate opportunities. The great artists were not rocked and dandled into eminence, but they attained to it by that course of labor and discipline which no man need go to Rome or Paris or London to enter upon."

"Misfortunes have their dignity and their redeeming power."

"Strategy is the most important department of the art of war, and strategical skill is the highest and rarest function of military genius."

"Our fathers brought with them from England two priceless possessions--the common law and King James' Bible--the former a vital organism, not of symmetrical form and graceful outline, but full of the vigorous sap of liberty and drawing its growth from the soil of the popular heart; the latter, apart from its transcendent claims as the revelation of God to man, in a purely intellectual aspect the most precious treasure that any modern nation enjoys, preserving as it does our noble language at its best point of growth--just between antique ruggedness and modern refinement--embalming immortal truths in words simple, strong, and sweet, that charm the child at the mother's knee, that nerve and calm the soldier in the dread half hour before the shock of battle, that comfort and sustain the soul that is entering upon the valley of the shadow of death. The progress of our country is not traced by the camp, the cafe, the theater, and the prison, but by the meeting house, the school house, the court house, and the ballot box--all the legitimate fruits of the Bible and the common law."

"One might feel indignant at the injustice which deals out what is called fame with so unequal a hand, were it not for the reflection that men who are competent to add to the intellectual wealth of the world, and enlarge the domain of knowledge, have learned to take popular applause at its true value, and to find in the faithful discharge of honorable duty a satisfaction which is its own reward."

"Sunsets in themselves are generally superior to sunrises; but with the sunset we appreciate images drawn from departed peace and faded glory."

"The malignity that never forgets or forgives is found only in base and ignoble natures, whose aims are selfish, and whose means are indirect, cowardly, and treacherous."

"The force of selfishness is as inevitable and as calculable as the force of gravitation."

"The theory that a great man is merely the product of his age, is rejected by the common sense and common observation of mankind. - The power that guides large masses of men, and shapes the channels in which the energies of a great people flow, is something more than a mere aggregate of derivative forces. It is a compound product, in which the genius of the man is one element, and the sphere opened to him by the character of his age and the institutions of his country, is another."

"The ruin of most men dates from some idle moment."

"The venom that chills and curdles the warm current of life in man is secreted only in creeping and cold-blooded creatures; and the inveterate malignity that never forgets or forgives is found only in base and ignoble natures, whose aims are selfish, whose means are indirect, cowardly, and treacherous."

"There are pictures by Titian so steeped in golden splendors, that they look as if they would light up a dark room like a solar lamp."

"There are no eyes so sharp as the eyes of hatred."