Quotes by: William Godwin
My temper is of a recluse and contemplative cast; had it been otherwise, I should, perhaps, on some former occasions, have entered into the active concerns of the world and not have been connected with it merely as a writer of books.
The admission of one man, either hereditarily or for life only, into the place of chief of a country, is an evidence of the infirmity of man. Nature has set up no difference between a king and other men; a king, therefore, is purely the creation of our own hands.
There is a class of persons whose souls are essentially non-conductors to the electricity of sentiment, and whose minds seem to be filled with their own train of thinking, convictions, and purposes to the exclusion of everything else.
Study with desire is real activity; without desire it is but the semblance and mockery of activity.
I am now in the full maturity of my age and vigor of my mind. Persons of various descriptions have repeatedly solicited me to turn my mind to dramatical composition. It was, indeed, the first amusement of my thoughts in my school-boy cell.
A just and a brave man acts fearlessly and with explicitness; he does not shun, but court, the scrutiny of mankind; he lives in the face of day, and the whole world confesses the clearness of his spirit and the rectitude of his conduct.
Perhaps the majority of human beings never think of standing by themselves, and choosing their own employments, till the sentence has been regularly promulgated to them, 'It is time for you to take care of yourself.'
Social man regards all those by whom he is surrounded as enemies, or beings who may become such. He is ever on his guard lest his plain speaking should be willfully perverted, or should assume a meaning he never thought of, through the animosity or prejudice of the individual that hears him.
Was ever a great discovery prosecuted or an important benefit conferred upon the human race by him who was incapable of standing and thinking and feeling alone?
There is nothing that human imagination can figure brilliant and enviable that human genius and skill do not aspire to realize.
Soundness of understanding is connected with freedom of enquiry; consequently, opinion should, as far as public security will admit, be exempted from restraint.
Till 1782, I believed in the doctrine of Calvin: that is, that the majority of mankind were objects of divine condemnation and that their punishment would be everlasting. The 'Systeme de la Nature,' read about the beginning of that year, changed my opinion and made me a Deist.
I know nothing worth the living for but usefulness and the service of my fellow-creatures. The only object I pursue is to increase, as far as lies in my power, the quantity of their knowledge and goodness and happiness.
There can be no passion, and by consequence no love, where there is not imagination.
Innocence is not virtue. Virtue demands the active employment of an ardent mind in the promotion of the general good. No man can be eminently virtuous who is not accustomed to an extensive range of reflection.
In the two novels I have published, it was my fortune at different times, and from different persons, to hear the most unqualified censure long before it was possible for me to hear the voice of the public. But my temper was not altered, nor my courage subdued.
No one can display or can cultivate a fervent zeal in the mere repetition of a form.
The execution of any thing considerable implies in the first place previous persevering meditation.
The value of a man is in his intrinsic qualities: in that of which power cannot strip him and which adverse fortune cannot take away. That for which he is indebted to circumstances is mere trapping and tinsel.
Men who do not contend in earnest can have little warmth and fervor in what they undertake, and are more than half prepared to betray the cause, in the vindication of which they have engaged their services.
Woe to the man who is always busy - hurried in a turmoil of engagements, from occupation to occupation, and with no seasons interposed of recollection, contemplation and repose! Such a man must inevitably be gross and vulgar, and hard and indelicate - the sort of man with whom no generous spirit would desire to hold intercourse.