German Playwright, Poet, Historian
"Every individual character is in the right that is in strict consistence with itself. Self-contradiction is the only wrong."
"Every man stamps his value on himself. The price we challenge for ourselves is given us by others. Man is made great or little by his own will."
"It is rascally to steal a purse, daring to steal a million, and proof of greatness to steal a crown. The blame diminishes as the guilt increases."
"Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily."
"The aim that comedy has in view is the same as that of the highest destiny of man, and this consists in liberating himself from the influence of violent passions, and taking a calm and lucid survey of all that surrounds him, and also of his own being, and of seeing everywhere occurrence rather than fate or hazard, and ultimately rather smiling at the absurdities than shedding tears and feeling anger at sight of the wickedness of man."
"A childlike mind, in its simplicity, practices that science of good to which the wise may be blind."
"Egotism erects its center in itself: love places it out of itself in the axis of the universal whole. Love aims at unity, egotism at solitude. Love is the citizen ruler of a flourishing public, egotism is a despot in a devastated creation. Egotism sows for gratitude, love for the ungrateful. Love gives, egotism lends; and love does this before the throne of judicial truth, indifferent if for the enjoyment of the following moment, or with the view of a martyr’s crown - indifferent whether the reward is tin this life or in the next."
"Even in a righteous cause force is a fearful thing; God only helps when men can help no more."
"If you wish to be like the gods on earth, to be free in the realms of the dead, pluck not the fruit from the garden! In appearance it may glisten to the eye; but the perishable pleasure of possession quickly avenges the curse of curiosity."
"A sublime soul can rise to all kind of greatness, but by an effort; it can tear itself from all bondage, to all that limits and constrains it, but only by strength of will. Consequently the sublime soul is only free by broken efforts."
"As long as man dwells in a state of pure nature (I mean pure and not coarse nature), all his being acts at once like a simple sensuous unity, like a harmonious whole. The senses and reason, the receptive faculty and the spontaneously active faculty, have not been as yet separated in their respective functions; a priori they are not yet in contradiction to each other. Then the feelings of man are not the formless play of chance; nor are his thoughts an empty play of imagination, without any value. His feelings proceed from the law of necessity, his thoughts from reality. But when man enters the state of civilization, and art has fashioned him, this sensuous harmony which was in him disappears, and henceforth he can only manifest himself as a moral unity, that is, as aspiring to unity. The harmony that existed as a fact in the former state, the harmony of feeling and thought, only exists in an ideal state. It is no longer in him, but out of him; it is a conception of thought which he must begin by realizing in himself; it is no longer a fact, a reality of his life."
"It is criminal to steal a purse, daring to steal a fortune, a mark of greatness to steal a crown. The blame diminishes as the guilt increases."
"It is only through the morning gate of the beautiful that you can penetrate into the realm of knowledge. That which we feel here as beauty we shall one day know as truth."
"Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays."
"Nature is for us nothing but existence in all its freedom; it is the constitution of things taken in themselves; it is existence itself according to its proper and immutable laws."
"Still thou knowest that in the ardor of pursuit men lose sight of the goal from which they start."
"The greatest happiness in life, I find, after all, to consist in the regular discharge of some mechanical duty."
"There is no such thing as chance; and what seems to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny."
"Time is a blooming field: nature is ever teeming with life; and all is seed, and all is fruit."
"Utility is the great idol of the age, to which all powers must do service and all talents swear allegiance."
"Whatever lives, lives to die in sorrow. We engage our hearts, and grasp after the things of this world, only to undergo the pang of losing them."
"Yet have I ever heard it said that spies and tale-bearers have done more mischief in this world than poisoned bowl or the assassin’s dagger."