Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Henry Ward Beecher

American Clergyman, Editor, Writer

"“I can forgive, but I cannot forget,” is only another way of saying “I will not forgive.” A forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note, torn in two and burned up, so that it never can be shown against the man."

"A helping word to one in trouble is often like a switch on a railroad tack - but one inch between wreck and smooth-rolling prosperity."

"A lie always needs a truth for a handle to it. The worst lies are those whose blade is false, but whose handle is true."

"A cunning man overreaches no one half as much as himself."

"A man’s religion is himself. If he is right-minded toward God, he is religious."

"A man has no more religion than he acts out in his life."

"A man is a fool who sits looking backward from himself in the past. Ah, what shallow, vain conceit there is in man! Forget the things that are behind. That is not where you live. Your roots are not there. They are in the present; and you should reach up into the other life."

"A man's character is the reality of himself. His reputation is the opinion others have formed of him. Character is in him; reputation is from other people - that is the substance, this is the shadow."

"A reputation for good judgment, for fair dealing, for truth, and for rectitude, is itself a fortune."

"A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself, and a mean man by one which is lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other, ambition. Ambition is the way in which a vulgar man aspires."

"At first babes feed on their mother’s bosom, but always on her heart."

"Cant is the twin sister of hypocrisy."

"All true religion must stand on true morality."

"Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation."

"An impure man is every good man's enemy."

"Conceit is the most incurable disease that is known to the human soul."

"Conceited men often seem a harmless kind of men, who, by an overweening self-respect, relieve others from the duty of respecting them at all."

"Do not be afraid of defeat. You are never so near to victory as when defeated in a good cause."

"Every one has conscience enough to hate; few have religion enough to love."

"Feeling does not become stronger in the religious life by waiting, but by using it."

"Conscience is the frame of character, and love is the covering for it."

"Find out what our temptations are, and you will find out largely what you are yourself."

"Every fresh act of benevolence is the herald of deeper satisfaction; every charitable act a stepping-stone towards heaven."

"Customs represent the experience of mankind."

"Defeat is a school in which truth always grows strong."

"Good-nature is worth more than knowledge, more than money, more than honor, to the persons who possess it, and certainly to everybody who dwells with them, in so far as mere happiness is concerned."

"Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength."

"Happiness is not the end of life: character is."

"Happy is the man who has that in his soul which acts upon the dejected as April airs upon violet roots. Gifts from the hand are silver and gold, but the heart gives that which neither silver nor gold can buy. To be full of goodness, full of cheerfulness, full of sympathy, full of helpful hope, causes a man to carry blessings of which he is himself as unconscious as a lamp is of its own shining. Such a one moves on human life as stars move on dark seas to bewildered mariners; as the sun wheels, bringing all the season with him from the south."

"He is greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own."

"In things pertaining to enthusiasm no man is sane who does not know how to be insane on proper occasions."

"In this world, it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich."

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself - and be lenient to everybody else."

"Heaven will be inherited by every man who has heaven in his soul."

"It is not enough that men shall know. They must be."

"It is impossible to indulge in habitual severity of opinion upon our fellow-men without injuring the tenderness and delicacy of our own feelings."

"It is one of the worst effect of prosperity to make a man a vortex instead of a fountain; so that, instead of throwing out, he learns only to draw in."

"It is not work that kills men, it is worry. Work is healthy, you can hardly put more upon a man than he can bear. Worry is rust upon the blade. It is not the revolution that destroys the machinery, but the friction. Fear secretes acids, but love and trust are sweet juices."

"Learning, to be of much use, must have a tendency to spread itself among the common people."

"Let parents who hate their offspring rear them to hate labor, and to inherit riches; an before long they will be stung by every vice, racked by its poison, and damned by its penalty."

"Life would be a perpetual flea-hunt if a man were obliged to run down al the innuendoes, inveracities, insinuations, and suspicions which are uttered against him."

"Love is more just than justice."

"Love cannot endure indifference. It needs to be wanted. Like a lamp, it needs to be fed out of the oil of another’s heart, or its flame burns low."

"Living is death; dying is life. We are not what we appear to be. On this side of the grave we are exiles, on that citizens; on this side orphans, on that children; on this side captives, on that freemen; on this side disguised, unknown, on that disclosed and proclaimed as the sons of God."

"Love without faith is as bad as faith without love."

"Morality is character and conduct, such as is required by the circle or community in which the man’s life happens to be placed."

"Love is the medicine of all moral evil. By it the world is to be cured of sin."

"Next to ingratitude, the most painful thing to bear is gratitude."

"No grace can save any man unless he helps himself."

"No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has."