Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Cunning

"Cunning pays no regard to virtue, and is but the low mimic of reason." - Henry St John, Lord Bolingbroke, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke

"Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life; cunning is a kind of instinct, that only looks after our immediate interests and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understanding; cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Wisdom and truth, the offspring of the sky, are immortal; while cunning and deception, the meteors of the earth, after glittering for a moment, must pass away." - Robert Hall

"Cunning pays no regard to virtue, and is but the low mimic of wisdom." - Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke

"Money never can be well managed if sought solely through the greed of money for its own sake. In all meanness there is a defect of intellect as well as of heart. And event he cleverness of avarice is but the cunning of imbecility." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories." - Thomas Jefferson

"Every man wishes to be wise, and they who cannot be wise are almost always cunning." -

"What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? ... Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us... Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you." - Abraham Lincoln

"Cunning is the ape of wisdom." - John Locke

"Every man of action has a strong dose of egotism, pride, hardness, and cunning. But all those things will be forgiven him, indeed, they will be regarded as high qualities, if he can make of them the means to achieve great ends." - Charles de Gaulle, fully Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle

"It is as if a divine cunning operated in human history, using our instincts as pretexts for the attainment of goals which are universally valid, a scheme to harness man’s lower forces in the service of higher ends." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"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

"The problem with capitalism is that it best rewards the worst part of us: the ruthless, competitive, cunning, opportunistic, acquisitive drives, giving little reward and often much punishment – or at least much handicap – to honesty, compassion, fair play, many forms of hard work, love of justice, and a concern for those in need." - Michael Parenti

"Sincerity is an opening of the heart; we find it in very few persons; and that which we see ordinarily is only a cunning deceit to attract the confidence of others." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise." - Francis Bacon

"Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not." - Francis Bacon

"Be calm in argument; for fierceness makes error a fault, and truth discourtesy. Why should I feel another man’s mistakes more than his sicknesses or poverty? In love I should: but anger is not love, nor wisdom either; therefore gently move. Calmness is great advantage; he that lets another chafe may warm him at his fire, mark all his wand’rings and enjoy his frets, as cunning fencers suffer heat to tire." - George Herbert

"A cunning man overreaches no one half as much as himself." - Henry Ward Beecher

"Cunning is only the mimic of discretion, and may pass upon weak men, as vivacity is often mistaken for wit, and gravity for wisdom." - Joseph Addison

"And all knowledge, when separated from justice and virtue, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom; wherefore make this your first and last and constant and all-absorbing aim, to exceed, if possible, not only us but all your ancestors in virtue; and know that to excel you in virtue only brings us shame, but that to be excelled by you is a source of happiness to us." - Plato NULL

"Knowledge without justice ought to be called cunning rather than wisdom." - Plato NULL

"Nature is sanitive, refining, elevating. How cunning she hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew! Every inch; of the mountains is scarred by unimaginable convulsions, yet the new day is purpose with the bloom of youth and joy." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now history has many cunning passages, contrived corridors and issues, deceives with whispering ambitions, guides us by vanities. Think now she gives when our attention is distracted and what she gives, gives with such supple confusions that the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late what’s not believed in, or if still believed, in memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with till the refusal propagates a fear. Think neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices are fathered by our heroism. Virtues are forced upon us by our impudent crimes. These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree. " - T. S. Eliot, fully Thomas Sterns Eliot

"Man’s unhappiness, as I construe, comes of his greatness; it is because there is an infinite in him, which with all his cunning he cannot quite bury under the finite." - Thomas Carlyle

"False wit is a fatiguing search after cunning traits, an affectation of saying in enigmas what others have already said naturally, to hang together ideas which are incompatible, to divide that which ought to be united, of seizing false relations." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"Cunning is the dwarf of wisdom." - William Rounseville Alger

"Drop the mind and the divine. God is not an object, it is a merger. The mind resists a merger, the mind is against surrender; the mind is very cunning and calculating." - Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh NULL

"The art of using deceit and cunning grow continually weaker and less effective to the user." - John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury

"If the believer has his troubles with evil, the atheist has more and graver difficulties to contend with. Reality stumps him altogether, leaving him baffled not by one consideration but by many, from the existence of natural law through the instinctual cunning of the insect to the brain of the genius and the heart of the prophet. This then is the intellectual reason for believing in God: That, though this belief is not free from difficulties, it stands out, head and shoulders, as the best answer to the riddle of the universe." - Milton Steinberg

"I believe that cunning is not only morally wrong but also politically inexpedient, and have therefore always discountenanced its use even from the practical standpoint." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"Is it not a fact that a learned physician is better equipped to diagnose and to cure an illness than a layman or the medicine-man of a primitive society? Is it not a fact that epidemics and dangerous individual diseases have disappeared only with the beginning of modern medicine? Must we not admit that technology has made tremendous advances since the rise of modern science? And are not the moon-shots a most and undeniable proof of its excellence? These are some of the questions which are thrown at the impudent wretch who dares to criticize the special positions of the sciences. The questions reach there polemical aim only if one assumes that the results of science which no one will deny have arisen without any help from non-scientific elements, and that they cannot be improved by an admixture of such elements either. "Unscientific" procedures such as the herbal lore of witches and cunning men, the astronomy of mystics, the treatment of the ill in primitive societies are totally without merit. Science alone gives us a useful astronomy, an effective medicine, a trustworthy technology. One must also assume that science owes its success to the correct method and not merely to a lucky accident. It was not a fortunate cosmological guess that led to progress, but the correct and cosmologically neutral handling of data. These are the assumptions we must make to give the questions of the polemical force they are supposed to have. Not a single one of them stands up to a closer examination." - Paul Feyerabend, fully Paul Karl Feyerabend

"Ostensibly polite, you nourish the cunning of the fox in the hollowness of your heart. " - Periander, aka Periander The Great NULL

"Malice, in its false witness, promotes its tale with so cunning a confusion, so mingles truths with falsehoods, surmises with certainties, causes of no moment with matters capital, that the accused can absolutely neither grant nor deny, plead innocent." -

"Malice, in its false witness, promotes its tale with so cunning a confusion; so mingles truths with falsehoods, surmises with certainties, causes of no moment with matters capital, that the accused can absolutely neither grant nor deny, plead innocence nor confess guilt." -

"The easiest way to be cheated is to believe yourself to be more cunning than others." - Pierre Charron

"He who devises evil for another falls at last into his own pit, and the most cunning finds himself caught by what he had prepared for another. But virtue without guile, erect like the lofty palm, rises with greater vigour when it is oppressed. " - Pietro Metastasio, aka Metastasio, pseudonymn for Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi

"A great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy, nor discipline for the mind, nor curb for the passions, and which, under the pretext of freedom and human dignity, would bring back to the world the reign of legalized cunning and force, the oppression of the weak, and of those who toil and suffer." - Pope Pius X, aka Saint Pope Pius X and Pope of the Eucharist, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto NULL

"The great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy, neither discipline for the mind, nor curb for the passions, and which, under the pretext of freedom and human dignity, would bring back to the world (if such a Church could overcome) the reign of legalized cunning and force, and the oppression of the weak, and of all those who toil and suffer… Indeed, the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries, nor innovators: they are traditionalists." - Pope Pius X, aka Saint Pope Pius X and Pope of the Eucharist, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto NULL

"It is a remarkable circumstance in reference to cunning persons that they are often deficient not only in comprehensive, far-sighted wisdom, but even in prudent, cautious circumspection." - Richard Whately

"My breast I am smiting, My own sins indicting. How then canst Thou draw me To strife and thus awe me, And bring Me to judgment? My branch hangeth ailing, My eyelid is failing, My aims to derision Are turned by the vision Of Thee bringing judgment. The creditor calleth, The dread decree falleth, The awful day breaking God’s creatures sets quaking In fear of His judgment. Through Thy attributes preaching, Almighty, and teaching, O weigh aberration In the scale of salvation, Nor bring us to judgment. In Thy merciful fashion Award us compassion, That man who but dust is May handle with justice The haters of judgment. Like a vapour evanished, Man is melted and banished, His birth is coëval With a harvest of evil, ’Tis Thou must bring judgment. We await—O behold us— Thy love to enfold us. Did Thy warning not hasten Our impulse to chasten? For the Lord loveth judgment." - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"Unworthy am I of all the mercies and all the truth Which Thou hast wrought for Thy servant. Verily, O Lord my God, will I thank Thee For that Thou hast given me a holy soul, Though by my deeds I have defiled it, Polluted and profaned it with my evil inclination. But I know that if I wrought wickedly, I harmed but myself, never Thee. In sooth, at my right hand my fierce inclination As an adversary standeth, Allowing me no breathing-space to establish my tranquillity. Oft have I purposed with double bridle to lead him, From the sea of his lusts to dry land to restore him, But I could not prevail. My devices he baulked, made profanities flow from my lips. I think thoughts of simplicity, he fabricates guile and iniquity, I am for peace, and he is for war, To the point that he made me his footstool, And even in peace-time shed the blood of war. How oft have I sallied forth to combat against him, And set in battle-array My camp of service and repentance, And placed the host of Thy mercies beside me for auxiliary, For I said, if my evil inclination Shall come to one camp and shall smite it, Then the camp that is left shall escape. As I thought, so it was. For temptation has routed me and scattered my forces, So that there is nothing left me but the camp of Thy mercies. But yet I know that by these I shall overcome it, And they shall be unto me better than a city of refuge. Peradventure I shall prevail and smite it and drive it away." - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"Study me as much as you like, you will not know me, for I differ in a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see." - Rumi, fully Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rumi NULL

"The slower you go; the farther you will be" - Russian Proverbs

"And never was as formidable as after spending days in his chair, lost in his improvisations and his old books." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"Like the sun's rays passing through a crack and lighting up the house, show up even the finest dust, the fear of the Lord on entering the heart of a man show up all his sins." - John Climacus, fully Saint John Climacus, aka John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites

"It is of little use for us to pay lip-loyalty to the mighty men of the past unless we sincerely endeavor to apply to the problems of the present precisely the qualities which in other crises enabled the men of that day to meet those crises." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so after his day’s work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"The tremendous and highly complex industrial development which went on with ever accelerated rapidity during the latter half of the nineteenth century brings us face to face, at the beginning of the twentieth, with very serious social problems. The old laws, and the old customs which had almost the binding force of law, were once quite sufficient to regulate the accumulation and distribution of wealth. Since the industrial changes which have so enormously increased the productive power of mankind, they are no longer sufficient." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"We know that self-government is difficult. We know that no people needs such high traits of character as that people which seeks to govern its affairs aright through the freely expressed will of the freemen who compose it. But we have faith that we shall not prove false to the memories of the men of the mighty past. They did their work, they left us the splendid heritage we now enjoy. We in our turn have an assured confidence that we shall be able to leave this heritage unwasted and enlarged to our children and our children's children. To do so we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"Sarcasm is the language of the devil, for which reason I have long since as good as renounced it." - Thomas Carlyle