Samuel Smiles Quotes


"A place for everything, and everything in its place."

"It is idleness that is the curse of man--not labour."

"Enthusiasm... the sustaining power of all great action."

"Character is property. It is the noblest of possessions."

"He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery."

"HOME is the first and most important school of character."

"Life will always be to a large extent what we ourselves make it."

"The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at once."

"Nations are not to be judged by their size any more than individuals:"

"Although genius always commands admiration, character most secures respect."

"The mechanical law, that action and reaction are equal, holds true also in morals."

"The apprenticeship of difficulty is one which the greatest of men have had to serve."

"I'm as happy a man as any in the world, for the whole world seems to smile upon me!"

"Work is the law of our being--the living principle that carries men and nations onward."

"Labor is still, and ever will be, the inevitable price set upon everything which is valuable."

"Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us."

"It is true, there are men who die of overwork; but many more die of selfishness, indulgence, and idleness."

"No laws, however stringent, can make the idle industrious, the thriftless provident, or the drunken sober."

"The best-regulated home is always that in which the discipline is the most perfect, and yet where it is the least felt."

"Hope... is the companion of power, and the mother of success; for who so hopes has within him the gift of miracles."

"The great leader attracts to himself men of kindred character, drawing them towards him as the loadstone draws iron."

"Character is formed by a variety of minute circumstances, more or less under the regulation and control of the individual."

"If a man would get through life honourably and peaceably, he must necessarily learn to practise self-denial in small things as well as great."

"Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever."

"The duty of industry applies to all classes and conditions of society. All have their work to do in the irrespective conditions of life--the rich as well as the poor."

"Men must necessarily be the active agents of their own well-being and well-doing they themselves must in the very nature of things be their own best helpers."

"Progress however, of the best kind, is comparatively slow. Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step."

"The very greatest things - great thoughts, discoveries, inventions - have usually been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length established with difficulty."

"Labour may be a burden and a chastisement, but it is also an honour and a glory. Without it, nothing can be accomplished. All that is great in man comes through work; and civilisation is its product."

"It is energy - the central element of which is will - that produces the miracle that is enthusiasm in all ages. Everywhere it is what is called force of character and the sustaining power of all great action."

"It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they much oftener succeed through failures. Precept, study, advice, and example could never have taught them so well as failure has done."

"Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience. Precepts and instruction are useful so far as they go, but, without the discipline of real life, they remain of the nature of theory only."

"The most influential of all the virtues are those which are the most in request for daily use. They wear the best, and last the longest. Superfine virtues, which are above the standard of common men, may only be sources of temptation and danger."

"The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved."

"Character is formed by a variety of minute circumstances, more or less under the regulation and control of the individual. Not a day passes without its discipline, whether for good or for evil. There is no act, however trivial, but has its train of consequences, as there is no hair so small but casts its shadow."

"Heaven helps those who help themselves" is a well tired maxim, embodying in a small compass the results of a vast human experience. The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual; and, exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the true source of national vigour and strength."

"Intellectual culture has no necessary relation to purity or excellence of character. In the New Testament, appeals are constantly made to the heart of man and to "the spirit we are of," whilst allusions to the intellect are of very rare occurrence. "A handful of good life," says George Herbert, "is worth a bushel of learning."

"Self-control is only courage under another form. It may almost be regarded as the primary essence of character. It is in virtue of this quality that Shakspeare defines man as a being "looking before and after." It forms the chief distinction between man and the mere animal; and, indeed, there can be no true manhood without it."

"Thus duty rounds the whole of life, from our entrance into it until our exit from it--duty to superiors, duty to inferiors, and duty to equals--duty to man, and duty to God. Wherever there is power to use or to direct, there is duty. For we are but as stewards, appointed to employ the means entrusted to us for our own and for others' good."

"The best support of character will always be found in habit, which, according as the will is directed rightly or wrongly, as the case may be, will prove either a benignant ruler or a cruel despot. We may be its willing subject on the one hand, or its servile slave on the other. It may help us on the road to good, or it may hurry us on the road to ruin."

"Although genius always commands admiration, character most secures respect. The former is more the product of brain-power, the latter of heart-power; and in the long run it is the heart that rules in life. Men of genius stand to society in the relation of its intellect, as men of character of its conscience; and while the former are admired, the latter are followed."

"Thus character exhibits itself in self-control of speech as much as in anything else. The wise and forbearant man will restrain his desire to say a smart or severe thing at the expense of another's feelings; while the fool blurts out what he thinks, and will sacrifice his friend rather than his joke. "The mouth of a wise man," said Solomon, "is in his heart; the heart of a fool is in his mouth."

"It has been truly said, that to desire to possess, without being burdened with the trouble of acquiring, is as much a sign of weakness, as to recognise that everything worth having is only to be got by paying its price, is the prime secret of practical strength. Even leisure cannot be enjoyed unless it is won by effort. If it have not been earned by work, the price has not been paid for it."

"The best-regulated home is always that in which the discipline is the most perfect, and yet where it is the least felt. Moral discipline acts with the force of a law of nature. Those subject to it yield themselves to it unconsciously; and though it shapes and forms the whole character, until the life becomes crystallized in habit, the influence thus exercised is for the most part unseen and almost unfelt."

"Indolence is equally degrading to individuals as to nations. Sloth never made its mark in the world, and never will. Sloth never climbed a hill, nor overcame a difficulty that it could avoid. Indolence always failed in life, and always will. It is in the nature of things that it should not succeed in anything. It is a burden, an incumbrance, and a nuisance--always useless, complaining, melancholy, and miserable."

"In the Bible praise is given, not to the strong man who "taketh a city," but to the stronger man who "ruleth his own spirit." This stronger man is he who, by discipline, exercises a constant control over his thoughts, his speech, and his acts. Nine-tenths of the vicious desires that degrade society, and which, when indulged, swell into the crimes that disgrace it, would shrink into insignificance before the advance of valiant self-discipline, self-respect, and self-control. By the watchful exercise of these virtues, purity of heart and mind become habitual, and the character is built up in chastity, virtue, and temperance."

Compiled by Thomas George