Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Pity

"It is easy to condemn; it is better to pity." - Francis Ellington Abbot

"Honesty rare as a man without self-pity, kinders as large and plain as a prairie wind." - Stephen Vincent Benét

"It is when we detect our own weaknesses that we come to pity or despise mankind. The human nature from which we then turn away is the human nature we have discovered in the depths of our own being. The evil is so well screened, the secret so universally kept, that in this case each individual is the dupe of all: however severely we may profess to judge other men, at bottom we think them better than ourselves. On this happy illusion much of our social life is grounded." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"Pity is not natural to man. Children are always cruel. Savages are always cruel. Pity is acquired and improved by the cultivation of reason." - James Boswell

"Let us pity the wicked man; for it is very sad to seek happiness where it does not exist. Let our compassion express itself in efforts to bring him gently back to sacred principle, and if he persist, let us pity him the more for a blindness so fatal to himself." - François Ignace Dunod De Charnage

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

"There is nothing to do with men but to love them; to contemplate their virtues with admiration, their faults with pity and forbearance, and their injuries with forgiveness." - Orville Dewey

"A tender-hearted and compassionate disposition, which inclines men to pity and feel the misfortunes of others, and which is, even for its own sake, incapable of involving any man in ruin and misery, is of all tempers of mind the most amiable; and though it seldom receives much honor, is worthy of the highest." - Henry Fielding

"Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere. Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world - making the most of one's best." - Harry Emerson Fosdick

"The first virtue of all really great men is that they are sincere. They eradicate hypocrisy from their hearts. They bravely unveil their weaknesses, their doubts, their defects. They are courageous. They boldly ride a-tilt against prejudices. They love their fellow-men profoundly. They are generous. They allow their hearts to expand. They have compassion for all forms of suffering. Pity is the very foundation-stone of Genius." - Anatole France, pen name of Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault

"Resentment is, in every stage of the passion, painful, but it is not disagreeable, unless in excess; pity is always painful, yet always agreeable; vanity, on the contrary, is always pleasant, yet always disagreeable." - Henry Home, Lord Kames

"Pity is not natural to man. Children and savages are always cruel. Pity is acquired and improved by the cultivation of reason. We may have uneasy sensations from seeing a creature in distress, without pity; but we have not pity unless we wish to relieve him." -

"Pity may represent little more than impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one's soul." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Our sympathy is never very deep unless founded on our own feelings. We pity, but do not enter in to the grief which we have never felt." - Letitia Elizabeth Landon

"We need to suffer that we may learn to pity." - Letitia Elizabeth Landon

"Heaven arms with pity those whom it would not see destroyed." -

"Here are my three treasures. Guard and keep them! The first is pity, the second frugality, the third refusal to be foremost of all things under heaven." -

"When your fear touches someone’s pain it becomes pity; when your love touches someone’s pain, it becomes compassion." - Stephen Levine

"We can never be despised as much as we deserve. Pity and commiseration are mingled with some esteem for the thing we pity; the things we laugh at we consider worthless. I do not think there is as much unhappiness in us as vanity, nor as much malice as stupidity. We are not so full of evil as of inanity; we are not as wretched as we are worthless." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Men in excess of happiness or misery are equally inclined to severity. Witness conquerors and monks! It is mediocrity alone, and a mixture of prosperous and adverse fortune that inspire us with lenity and pity." - Baron de Montesquieu, fully Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind... the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be." -

"Self-pity deprives us of the beauty of the past; fear deprives us of the beauty of the future; and jealousy deprives us of the beauty of the moment." - Shantananda Saraswathi, fully Swami Shantananda Saraswathi, born Chandrashekar

"We see how much a man has, and therefore we envy him; did we see how little he enjoys, we should rather pity him." - Jeremiah Seed

"Fear arises from impotence of mind, and therefore is of no service to reason nor is pity, although it seems to present an appearance of piety." -

"The world has no sympathy with any but positive griefs. It will pity you for what you lose; never for what you lack." - Madame Swetchine, fully Anne Sophie Swetchine née Sophia Petrovna Soïmonov or Soymanof

"He who thinks no man above him but for his virtue, and none below him but for his vice, can never be obsequious or assuming in a wrong place, but will frequently emulate men in rank below him, and pity those above him." -

"A man is seldom more manly than when he is what you called unmanned - the source of his emotion is championship, pity, and courage; the instinctive desire to cherish those who are innocent and unhappy, and defend those who are tender and weak." - William Makepeace Thackeray

"Dependence is a perpetual call upon humanity, and a greater incitement to tenderness and pity than any other motive whatever." - William Makepeace Thackeray

"Love, Gratitude, and Pity wept at once." - Edward Thomson

"Envy deserves pity more than anger for it hurts nobody so much as itself. It is a distemper rather than a vice: for nobody would feel envy if he could help it. Whoever envies another, secretly allows that person's superiority." - Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Oxford

"Too many follow example rather than precept; but it is safer to learn rather from precept than example. Man a wise teacher does not follow his own teaching; for it is easier to say, do this, than to do it. If then I see good doctrine with an evil life, though I pity the last, I will follow the first. Good sayings belong to all; evil actions only to their authors." - Arthur Warwick

"The hardest sentiment to tolerate is pity, especially when it's deserved. Hatred is a tonic, it vitalizes us, it inspires vengeance, but pity deadens, it makes our weakness weaker." - Honoré de Balzac

"Recipe for success: Be polite, prepare yourself for whatever you are asked to do, keep yourself tidy, be cheerful, don't be envious, be honest with yourself so you will be honest with others, be helpful, interest yourself in your job, don't pity yourself, be quick to praise, be loyal to your friends, avoid prejudices, be independent, interest yourself in politics, and read the newspapers." - Bernard Baruch, fully Bernard Mannes Baruch

"People have generally three epochs in their confidence in man. In the first they believe him to be everything that is good, and they are lavish with their friendship and confidence. In the next, they have had experience, which has smitten down their confidence, and they; then have to be careful not to mistrust every one, and to put the worst construction upon everything. Later in life, they learn that the greater number of men have much; more good in them than bad, and that even when there is cause to blame, there is more reason to pity than condemn; and then a spirit of confidence again awakens within them." - Frederika Bremer

"In these days half our diseases come from neglect of the body, and the over work of the brain. In this railway age the wear and tear of labor and intellect go on without pause or self-pity. We live longer than our forefathers; but we suffer more, from a thousand artificial anxieties and cares. They fatigued only the muscles; we exhaust the finer strength of the nerves." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"In extreme danger fear feels no pity." -

"As full ears load and lay down corn, so does too much fortune bend and break the mind. It deserves to be considered, too, as another disadvantage, that affliction moves pity, and reconciles our very enemies, but prosperity provokes envy, and loses us our very friends." - Pierre Charron

"The artist (in literature) appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition - and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain." - Joseph Conrad, born Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski

"Don’t let us rejoice in punishment, even when the hand of God alone inflicts it. The best of us are but poor wretches, just saved from shipwreck. Can we feel anything but awe and pity when we see a fellow-passenger swallowed by the waves?" - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"More helpful than all wisdom or counsel is one draught of simple human pity that will not forsake us." - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"Pity and forbearance should characterize all acts of justice." - Benjamin Franklin

"God pity the man of science who believes in nothing but what he can prove by scientific methods; for if ever a human being needed divine pity he does." -

"Be willing to pity the misery of the stranger! Thou givest to-day thy bread to the poor; to-morrow the poor may give it to thee." - Johann Benjamin Michaelis

"Pity me that the heart is slow to learn what the swift mind beholds at every turn." - Edna St. Vincent Millay

"What a pity human beings can't exchange problems. Everyone knows exactly how to solve the other fellow's." - Olin Miller

"Anyone who pities the dead he must also pity the yet unborn." -

"The world has no sympathy with any but positive griefs; it will pity you for what you lose, but never for what you lack." - Madame Swetchine, fully Anne Sophie Swetchine née Sophia Petrovna Soïmonov or Soymanof

"The greed of gain has no time or limit to its capaciousness. Its one object is to produce and consume. It has pity neither for beautiful nature nor for living human beings. It is ruthlessly ready without a moment's hesitation to crush beauty and life out of them, molding them into money." -

"Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead." -