Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Johann Kaspar Lavater

Swiss-born German Theologian, Poet, Physiognomist

"True philosophy is that which makes us to ourselves and to all about us, better; and at the same time, more content, patient, calm, and more ready for all decent and pure enjoyment."

"True philosophy is that which renders us to ourselves, and all others who surround us, better, and at the same time more content, more patient, more calm, and more ready for all decent and pure enjoyment."

"True worth is as inevitably discovered by the facial expression, as its opposite is sure to be clearly represented there. The human face is nature’s tablet, the truth is certainly written thereon."

"Trust him with little who, without proofs, trusts you with everything, or, when he has proved you, with nothing."

"Truth, wisdom, love, seek reasons; malice only seeks causes."

"Weaknesses, so called, are nothing more nor less than vice in disguise!"

"What is the elevation of the soul? A prompt, delicate, certain feeling for all that is beautiful, all that is grand; a quick resolution to do the greatest good by the smallest means; a great benevolence joined to a great strength and great humility."

"If you wish to appear agreeable in society, you must consent to be taught many things which you already know."

"The prudent see only the difficulties, the bold only the advantages, of a great enterprise; the hero sees both; diminishes the former and makes the latter preponderate, and so conquers."

"He alone is an acute observer, who can observe minutely without being observed."

"When the most insignificant person tells us we are in error, we should listen, and examine ourselves, ands see if it is so. To believe it possible we may be in error, is the first step toward getting out of it."

"Trust him little who praises all; him less who censures all; and him least who is indifferent to all."

"Volatility of words is carelessness in actions; words are the wings of actions."

"Where there is much pretension, much has been borrowed; nature never pretends."

"Who makes quick use of the moment, is a genius of prudence."

"Who, in the midst of just provocation to anger, instantly finds the fit word which settles all around him in silence is more than wise or just; he is, were he a beggar, of more than royal blood, he is of celestial descent."

"Wisdom is the repose of the mind."

"Wishes run over in loquacious impotence; will presses on with laconic energy."

"Words are the wings of actions."

"What do I owe to my times, to my country, to my neighbors, to my friends? Such are the questions which a virtuous man ought often to ask himself."

"What knowledge is there of which man is capable that is not founded on the exterior, the relation that exists between visible and invisible, the perceptible and imperceptible?"

"You are not very good if you are not better than your best friends imagine you to be."

"Act well at the moment, and you have performed a good action for all eternity."

"Mistrust the man who finds everything good, the man who finds everything evil and still more the man who is indifferent to everything."

"He who seldom speaks, and with one calm well-timed word can strike dumb the loquacious, is a genius or a hero."