Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Elegance

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony." - William Ellery Channing

"Good breeding consists in having no particular mark of any profession, but a general elegance of manners." -

"The natural progress of the works of men is from rudeness to convenience, from convenience to elegance, and from elegance to nicety." -

"To attain excellence in society, an assemblage of qualification is requisite: disciplined intellect, to think clearly, and to clothe thought with propriety and elegance; knowledge of human nature, to suit subject to character; true politeness, to prevent giving pain; a deep sense of morality, to preserve the dignity of speech; and a spirit of benevolence, to neutralize its asperities, and sanctify its powers." - Lydia Sigourney, fully Lydia Huntley Sigourney, née Lydia Howard Huntley

"Elegance of language may not be in the power of all of us; but simplicity and straight forwardness are. Write much as you would speak; speak as you think. If with your inferior, speak no coarser than usual; if with your superiors, no finer. Be what you say; and, within the rules of prudence, say what you are." - Vittorio Alfieri

"If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor." - Albert Einstein

"Beauty too often sacrifices to fashion. The spirit of fashion is not the beautiful, but the willful; not the graceful, but the fantastic; not the superior in the abstract, but the superior in the worst of all concretes - the vulgar. The high point of taste and elegance is to be sought for, not in the most fashionable circles, but in the best-bred, and such as can dispense with the eternal necessity of never being twice the same." - James Henry Leigh Hunt

"It is to labor, and to labor only, that man owes everything possessed of exchangeable value. Labor is the talisman that has raised him from the condition of the savage; that has changed the desert and the forest into cultivated fields; that has covered the earth with cities, and the ocean with ships that has give us plenty, comfort, and elegance, instead of want, misery, and barbarism." - William M’Culloch

"The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it." - Diana Vreeland, born Diana Dalziel

"In spite of the fact that religion looks backward to revealed truth while science looks forward to new vistas and discoveries, both activities produce a sense of awe and a curious mixture of humility and arrogance in practitioners. All great scientists are inspired by the subtlety and beauty of the natural world that they are seeking to understand. Each new subatomic particle, every unexpected object, produces delight and wonderment. In constructing their theories, physicists are frequently guided by arcane concepts of elegance in the belief that the universe is intrinsically beautiful." - Paul Davies

"Elegance is inferior to virtue." -

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. This is to be my symphony." - William Henry Channing

"Teach us that wealth is not elegance, that profusion is not magnificence, that splendor is not beauty." - Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield

"Taste and elegance, though they are reckoned only among the small and secondary morals, yet are of no mean importance in the regulation of life. A moral taste is not of force to turn vice into virtue; but it recommends virtue with something like the blandishments of pleasure." - Edmund Burke

"True elegance becomes the more so as it approaches simplicity." - Henry Ward Beecher

"In temperance there is ever cleanliness and elegance." - Joseph Joubert

"Knowledge, wisdom, erudition, arts, and elegance, what are they, but the mere trappings of the mind, if they do not serve to increase the happiness of the possessor? A mind rightly instituted in the school of philosophy, acquires at once the stability of the oak, and the flexibility of the osier. Philosophy can add to our happiness in no other manner but by diminishing our misery; it should not pretend to increase our present stock, but make us economists of what we are possessed of. Happy were we all born philosophers; all born with a talent of thus dissipating our own cares by spreading them upon all mankind." - Oliver Goldsmith

"Knowledge is the only elegance." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"What is it indeed that gives us the feeling of elegance in a solution, in a demonstration? It is the harmony of the diverse parts, their symmetry, their happy balance; in a word it is all that introduces order, all that gives unity, that permits us to see clearly and to comprehend at once both the ensemble and the details." - Henri Poincaré, fully Jules Henri Poincaré

"That words, indeed, are not otherwise valuable than as subservient to things, must surely be acknowledged by every liberal mind, and will alone be disputed by him who has spent the prime of his life, and consumed the vigour of his understanding, in verbal criticisms and grammatical trifles. And, if this is the case, every lover of truth will only study a language for the purpose of procuring the wisdom it contains; and will doubtless wish to make his native language the vehicle of it to others. For, since all truth is eternal, its nature can never be altered by transposition, though by this means its dress may be varied, and become less elegant and refined. Perhaps even this inconvenience may be remedied by sedulous cultivation; at least, the particular inability of some, ought not to discourage the well-meant endeavours of others. Whoever reads the lives of the ancient Heroes of Philosophy, must be convinced that they studied things more than words, and that Truth alone was the ultimate object of their search; and he who wishes to emulate their glory and participate their wisdom, will study their doctrines more than their language, and value the depth of their understandings far beyond the elegance of their composition. The native charms of Truth will ever be sufficient to allure the truly philosophic mind; and he who has once discovered her retreats will surely endeavour to fix a mark by which they may be detected by others." - Plotinus NULL

"Grace is in a great measure a natural gift; elegance implies cultivation; or something of more artificial character. A rustic, uneducated girl may be graceful, but an elegant woman must be accomplished and well trained. It is the same with things as with persons; we talk of a graceful tree, but of an elegant house or other building. Animals may be graceful, but they cannot be elegant. The movements of a kitten or a young fawn are full of grace; but to call them elegant animals would be absurd." - Richard Whately

"I am not able to instruct you. I can only tell that I have chosen wrong. I have passed my time in study without experience; in the attainment of sciences which can, for the most part, be but remotely useful to mankind. I have purchased knowledge at the expense of all the common comforts of life: I have missed the endearing elegance of female friendship, and the happy commerce of domestic tenderness." - Robertson Davies

"It is indeed at home that every man must be known by those who would make a just estimate either of his virtue or felicity; for smiles and embroidery are alike occasional, and the mind is often dressed for show in painted honor and fictitious benevolence." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"God made bees, and bees made honey, God made man, and man made money, Pride made the devil, and the devil made sin; So God made a cole-pit to put the devil in." - William Cowper

"We all like people who do things, even if we only see their faces on a cigar-box lid." - Willa Cather, fully Willa Sibert Cather

"Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter? Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?" - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"I have often had occasion to remark the fortitude with which women sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those disasters which break down the spirit of a man and prostrate him in the dust seem to call forth all the energies of the softer sex, and give such intrepidity and elevation to their character, that at times it approaches to sublimity." - Washington Irving

"The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair." - Walker Percy

"I always thought it was better like a lot for one person, a little for everyone." - Vita Sackville-West, fully The Hon Victoria Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson

"If it were now to die, 'twere now to be most happy." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"Truths begin by a conflict with the police - and end by calling them in." - Emil M. Cioran