Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Cowardice

"Courage enlarges, cowardice diminishes resources. In desperate straits the fears of the timid aggravate the dangers that imperil the brave. For cowards the road of desertion should be left open. They will carry over to the enemy nothing but their fears. The poltroon, like the scabbard, is an encumbrance when once the sword is drawn." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"The mean of true valor lies between the extremes of cowardice and rashness." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

"Optimism and self-pity are the positive and negative poles of modern cowardice." - Cyril Connolly, fully Cyril Vernon Connolly

"Probably the most distinctive characteristic of the successful politician is selective cowardice." - Richard Harris

"He that will do anything for his pleasure, must engage himself to suffer all the pains annexed to it; and these pains, are the natural punishments of those actions, which are the beginning of more harm than good. And hereby it comes to pass that intemperance is naturally punished with diseases; rashness with mischances; injustice with the violence of enemies: Pride, with ruin; cowardice, with oppression; negligent government of princes, with rebellion; and rebellion, with slaughter." - Thomas Hobbes

"In every mind where there is a strong tendency to fear there is a strong capacity to hate. Those who dwell in fear dwell next door to hate; and I think it is the cowardice of women which makes them such intense haters." - Anna Jameson

"Exert your talents and distinguish yourself, and don’t think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark." -

"Habitual cowardice usurps the soul." -

"A man who protects and hoards his life may lose it anyhow. Perhaps to protect it is to lose it in the most real sense of the word, for cowardice means spiritual death." - Sherman E. Johnson

"Compromise does not mean cowardice... Let us never negotiate out of fear; but let us never fear to negotiate." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"Dishonesty, cowardice and duplicity are never impulsive." - George Raymond Knight

"Moaning over what cannot be helped is a confession of futility and fear, of emotional stagnation - in fact, of selfishness and cowardice. The best way to "snap out of it" is to stop thinking about yourself, and start thinking about other people. You can lighten your own load by doing something for someone else. By the simple device of doing an outward, unselfish act today, you can make the past recede. The present and future will again take on their true challenge and perspective." - Frederick Loomis, fully Sir Frederick Oscar Warren Loomis

"The greatest of almsgivers is cowardice." -

"No one ever became immortal through cowardice." - Sallust, full name Carus Valerius Sailustius Crispus NULL

"There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice." - Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

"The lie of fear is the refuge of cowardice, and the lie of fraud, the device of the cheat. The inequalities of men and the lust of acquisition are a constant premium of lying." - Edward Bellamy

"At the bottom of a good deal of bravery that appears in the world there lurks a miserable cowardice. Men will face powder and steel because they cannot face public opinion." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"It is this unquiet self-love that renders us so sensitive. The sick man, who sleeps ill, thinks the night long. We exaggerate, from cowardice, all the evils which we encounter; they are great, but our sensibility increases them. The true way to bear them is to yield ourselves up with confidence to God." - François Fénelon, fully Francois de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon

"Fear has its use, but cowardice has none. I may not put my finger into the jaws of a snake, but the very sight of the snake need not strike terror into me." -

"Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice." -

"Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the function of the imagination." - Ernest Hemingway, fully Ernest Miller Hemingway

"If suicide be supposed a crime, it is only cowardice can impel us to it. If it be no crime, both prudence and courage should engage us to rid ourselves at once of existence when it becomes a burden." - David Hume

"Dreamers are the architects of greatness. Their brains have wrought all human miracles... only cowardice and lack of faith can keep the seeker from his chosen goal; but if his heart be strong and if he dream enough and dream it hard enough, he can attain, no matter where men failed before." - Herbert Kaufman

"Coercion created slavery, the cowardice of the slaves perpetuated it." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Force made the first slaves, and their cowardice perpetuated the condition." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"I have always thought it rather interesting to follow the involuntary movements of fear in clever people. Fools coarsely display their cowardice in all its nakedness, but the others are able to cover it with a veil so delicate, so daintily woven with small plausible lies, that there is some pleasure to be found in contemplating this ingenious work of the human intelligence." - Alexis de Tocqueville, fully Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville

"Let us be clear: censorship is cowardice… It masks corruption. It is a school of torture: its teaches, and accustoms one to the use of force against an idea, to submit thought to an alien “other.” But worst still, censorship destroys criticism, which is the essential ingredient of culture." - Pablo Antonio Cuadra

"Everything is in our own hands; only through sheer cowardice will it slip through our fingers." -

"Fear has its use, but cowardice has none. I may not put my finger into the jaws of a snake, but the very sight of the snake need not strike terror into me." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not of cowardice." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"Retreat is often a plan of resistance and may be a precursor of great bravery and sacrifice. Every retreat is not cowardice which implies fear to die." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"Mutual cowardice keeps us in peace." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Those words, “temperate and moderate,” are words either of political cowardice, or of cunning, or seduction. A thing moderately good, if not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is a species of vice." - Thomas Paine

"Ignorance is not a simple lack of knowledge but an active aversion to knowledge, the refusal to know, issuing from cowardice, pride or laziness of mind." -

"Petition and complaint are the language of imbecility and cowardice – the evidences of that puerile fear which extinguishes the soul." - Albery Allson Whitman

"Nonconformity is an empty goal and rebellion against prevailing opinion merely because it is prevailing should no more be praised than acquiescence to it. Indeed, it is often a mask for cowardice, and few are more pathetic than those who flaunt outer differences to expiate their inner surrender." - William H. Whyte, Jr., fully William Hollingsworth "Holly" Whyte

"Bravery is knowledge of the cowardice in the enemy." -

"To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice." - Confucius, aka Kong Qiu, Zhongni, K'ung Fu-tzu or Kong Fuzi NULL

"Military service produces moral imbecility, ferocity and cowardice." - George Bernard Shaw

"Falsehood is cowardice." - Hosea Ballou

"What is in reality cowardice and faithlessness, we call charity, and consider it the part of benevolence sometimes to forgive men’s evil practice for the sake of their accurate faith, and sometimes to forgive their confessed heresy for the sake of their admirable practice." - John Ruskin

"I abstain from the people who consider insolence bravery and tenderness cowardice. And I abstain from those who consider chatter wisdom and silence ignorance." - Kahlil Gibran

"We believe that humanness consists in what we call conscience, in that courage, if you wish, which we have shown on one single occasion rather than in the cowardice which on many occasions has counseled prudence." - Luigi Pirandello

"Cliques… are like dry rot in the administration… Every clique is a refuge for incompetence. It fosters corruption and disloyalty, it begets cowardice, and consequently is a burden upon and a drawback to the progress of the country. Its instincts and actions are those of the pack." -

"Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character." - Margaret Chase Smith

"Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness: ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any." - Thucydides NULL

"Cowardice is not synonymous with prudence. It often happens that the better part of discretion is valour." - William Hazlitt

"Despair swallows up cowardice." - William Hazlitt