Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Gotthold Ephraim

German Dramatist and Playwright, Court Librarian, known as the "Fatehr of German Criticism"

Author Quotes

Better counsel comes overnight.

I, who ne'er went for myself a begging, go a borrowing, and that for others. Borrowing's much the same as begging; just as lending upon usury is much the same as thieving.

Nature intended that woman should be her masterpiece.

That is, this portion of the human race was come so far in the exercise of its reason, as to need, and to be able to make use of nobler and worthier motives of moral action than temporal rewards and punishments, which had hitherto been its guides.

The worst of superstitions is to think one's own most bearable.

Why yes; a man indeed had furnished us with more occasions to be useful to him. God knows how readily we should have seized them. But then he would have nothing—wanted nothing - was in himself wrapped up, and self-sufficient, as angels are.

Better still the proverb says that monks and women are the devil's clutches; and I'm tossed to-day from one to th' other.

If some things don’t make you lose your sense of reason, then you have none to lose.

Nature meant woman to be her masterpiece.

That which Education is to the Individual, Revelation is to the Race. Education is Revelation coming to the Individual Man; and Revelation is Education which has come, and is yet coming, to the Human Race.

The worst superstition is to consider our own tolerable.

With the most cheerful demeanor she said the most melancholy things, and on the other hand uttered the most laughable jests with an air of deep distress. She has taken to books for refuge, which I fear will be her ruin.

Borrowing is not much better than begging.

If the advice of a fool for once happens to be good, it requires a wise man to carry it out.

No, you have been always docile. See now, a forehead vaulted thus, or thus - a nose bow'd one way rather than another - eye-brows with straighter, or with sharper curve - a line, a mole, a wrinkle, a mere nothing I' th' countenance of an European savage - and thou—art saved, in Asia, from the fire. Ask ye for signs and wonders after that? What need of calling angels into play?

The Child of Education begins with slow yet sure footsteps; it is late in overtaking many a more happily organized child of nature; but it does overtake it; and thenceforth can never be distanced by it again.

Thou art mine, too cheap at any price. Oh, thou enchanting work of art! Do I then possess thee? But who shall possess thyself, thou still more beautiful masterpiece of nature?

Would that we could at once paint with the eyes! In the long way from the eye through the arm to the pencil, how much is lost!

But how many moments are already past! Ah! who thinks of those that are past?

It is infinitely difficult to know when and where one should stop, and for all but one in thousands the goal of their thinking is the point at which they have become tired of thinking.

Nothing under the sun is accidental, least of all that of which the intention is so clearly evident.

The child, sent abroad, saw other children who knew more, who lived more becomingly, and asked itself, in confusion, "Why do I not know that too? Why do I not live so too? Ought I not to have been taught and admonished of all this in my father's house?"

Tis a long hundred leagues to Babylon; and to get in one's debts is no employment, that speeds a traveler.

Yesterday I lived, today I suffer, tomorrow I die; but I still think fondly, today and tomorrow, of yesterday.

Dead surely not—for God rewards the good done here below, here too. Go; but remember how easier far devout enthusiasm is than a good action; and how willingly our indolence takes up with pious rapture, tho' at the time unconscious of its end, only to save the toil of useful deeds.

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Gotthold Ephraim
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German Dramatist and Playwright, Court Librarian, known as the "Fatehr of German Criticism"