Great Throughts Treasury

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

Joseph Joubert

French Essayist, Moralist

"All that is good in man lies in youthful feeling and mature thought."

"Avoid singularity. There may often be less vanity in following the new modes than in adhering to the old ones. It is true that the foolish invent them, but the wise may conform to, instead of contradicting, them."

"All are born to observe order, but few are born to establish it."

"Fate and necessity are unconquerable."

"All luxury corrupts either the morals or the taste."

"Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them."

"He who exhibits no faults is a fool or a hypocrite whom we should distrust."

"Fear loves the idea of danger."

"Imagination is the eye of the soul."

"He is not harmless who harms himself."

"In temperance there is ever cleanliness and elegance."

"Justice is truth in action."

"Know that morality is a curb, not a spur."

"Politeness is a kind of anesthetic which envelops the asperities of our character so that other people be not wounded by them. We should never be without it, even when we contend with the rude."

"Lenity is a part of justice; but she must not speak too loud for fear of waking justice."

"Politeness is the flower of humanity."

"Politeness smoothes wrinkles."

"Politeness is to goodness what words are to thought. It tells not only on the manners, but on the mind and the heart; it renders the feelings, the opinions, the words, moderate and gentle."

"Remorse is the punishment of crime; repentance, its expiation. The former appertains to a tormented conscience; the later to a soul changed for the better."

"Religion is fire which example keeps alive, and which goes out if not communicated."

"Slander is the solace of malignity."

"Tenderness is the repose of passion."

"Taste has never been corrupted by simplicity."

"The mind's direction is more important than its progress."

"There is in the soul a taste for the good, just as there is in the body an appetite for enjoyment."

"Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth."

"To the liberal ideas of the age must be opposed the moral ideas of all ages."

"Virtue is the health of the soul. It gives a flavor to the smallest leaves of life."

"We may convince others by our arguments, but we can only persuade them by their own."

"Virtue by calculation is the virtue of vice."

"We should always keep a corner of our heads open and free, that we may make room for the opinions of our friends. Let us have heart and head hospitality."

"A maxim is the exact and noble expression of an important and unquestionable truth."

"Good maxims are the germs of all excellence."

"Children have more need of models than critics."

"Genuine witticisms surprise those who say them as much as those who listen to them; they arise in us in spite of us, or, at least, without our participation - like everything inspired."

"How many people become abstract as a way of appearing profound!"

"History needs distance, perspective. Facts and events which are too well attested cease, n some sort, to be malleable."

"Imitate time; it destroys everything slowly; it undermines, it wears away, it detaches, it does not wrench."

"Illusion and wisdom combined are the charm of life and art."

"Justice is the truth in action."

"Living requires but little life; doing requires much!"

"Never cut what you can untie."

"Maxims are to the intellect what laws are to actions; they do not enlighten, but they guide and direct, and, although themselves blind, are protective."

"Old age takes from the man of intellect no qualities save those which are useless to wisdom."

"One man finds in religion his literature and his science, another finds in it his joy and his duty."

"Order is to arrangement what the soul is to the body, and what mind is to matter."

"Poetry is to be found nowhere unless we carry it within us."

"Proverbs may be said to be the abridgments of wisdom."

"Questions show the mind's range, and answers its subtlety."

"Space is the stature of God."