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A collection of quotes and sayings by William Godwin on books, philosophy, anarchism, integrity, soul, education, principle, sentiment, love, reason, etc.

141 Meaningful Quotes By William Godwin That Will Lighten Up Your Life

Quick Facts

Famous As: Journalist

Born On: March 3, 1756

Died On: April 7, 1836

Born In: Wisbech

Died At Age: 80

William Godwin was a famed English political philosopher, journalist, and novelist. He is regarded as one of the foremost proponents of utilitarianism and also the foremost modern exponent of anarchism. He is renowned for books namely, ‘Things as They Are; or The Adventures of Caleb Williams’ that condemns aristocratic prerogatives and ‘An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice’ that criticizes political institutions. With the success of these books, he conspicuously featured in the radical circles of London. Throughout his lifetime he wrote in the genres of demography, novels, and history. Following is a corpus of quotes and sayings by the eminent philosopher, which have been collected from his works, thoughts, writings, books, novels, journals and life. Read through the interesting quotes and thoughts by William Godwin.

He that loves reading has everything within his reach.

William Godwin

No man knows the value of innocence and integrity but he who has lost them.

William Godwin

The extent of our progress in the cultivation of knowledge is unlimited.

William Godwin

When the calamity we feared is already arrived, or when the expectation of it is so certain as to shut out hope, there seems to be a principle within us by which we look with misanthropic composure on the state to which we are reduced, and the heart sullenly contracts and accommodates itself to what it most abhorred.

William Godwin

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.

William Godwin

Man is the only creature we know, that, when the term of his natural life is ended, leaves the memory of himself behind him.

William Godwin

In contemplation and reverie, one thought introduces another perpetually; and it is by similarity, or the hooking of one upon the other, that the process of thinking is carried on.

William Godwin

If he who employs coercion against me could mould me to his purposes by argument, no doubt he would. He pretends to punish me because his argument is strong; but he really punishes me because his argument is weak.

William Godwin

There can be no passion, and by consequence no love, where there is not imagination.

William Godwin

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.

William Godwin

The diligent scholar is he that loves himself, and desires to have reason to applaud and love himself.

William Godwin

Give energy, and mental exertion will always have attraction enough.

William Godwin

Love conquers all difficulties, surmounts all obstacles, and effects what to any other power would be impossible.

William Godwin

With respect to my religious sentiments, I have the firmest assurance and tranquillity. I have faithfully endeavoured to improve the faculties and opportunities God has given me, and I am perfectly easy about the consequences.

William Godwin

Make men wise, and by that very operation you make them free. Civil liberty follows as a consequence of this; no usurped power can stand against the artillery of opinion.

William Godwin

What is there so offensive to which habit has not the power to reconcile us?

William Godwin

Revolutions are the produce of passion, not of sober and tranquil reason.

William Godwin

As the true object of education is not to render the pupil the mere copy of his preceptor, it is rather to be rejoiced in, than lamented, that various reading should lead him into new trains of thinking.

William Godwin

We cannot perform our tasks to the best of our power, unless we think well of our own capacity.

William Godwin

Human depravity originates in the vices of political constitution.

William Godwin

The most desirable state of mankind is that which maintains general security with the smallest encroachment upon individual independence.

William Godwin

The evils that arise to us from the structure of the material universe are neither trivial nor few, yet the history of political society sufficiently shows that man is, of all other beings, the most formidable enemy to man.

William Godwin

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.

William Godwin

What can be more clear and sound in explanation, than the love of a parent to his child?

William Godwin

Man is a being of a mixed nature; and, as there is no integrity without its flaws, so is there no man so knavish but that in some things he may be trusted.

William Godwin

Great changes cannot take place in the minds of generations of men without a corresponding change in their external symbols. There must be a harmony between the inner and the outward condition of human beings, and the progress of the one must keep pace with the progress of the other.

William Godwin

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?

William Godwin

Perseverance is an active principle, and cannot continue to operate but under the influence of desire.

William Godwin

Harshness and unkindness are relative. The appearance of them may be the fruits of the greatest kindness.

William Godwin

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.

William Godwin

Tenderness is the name for a lover's most exquisite sensation; protection is implied in his most generous and heart-thrilling impulse.

William Godwin

A book is a dead man, a sort of mummy, embowelled and embalmed, but that once had flesh, and motion, and a boundless variety of determinations and actions.

William Godwin

It has an unhappy effect upon the human understanding and temper, for a man to be compelled in his gravest investigation of an argument, to consider, not what is true, but what is convenient.

William Godwin

No one can display or can cultivate a fervent zeal in the mere repetition of a form.

William Godwin

Extraordinary circumstances often bring along with them extraordinary strength. No man knows, till the experiment, what he is capable of effecting.

William Godwin

Sure I arn't a cabbage, that if you pull it out of the ground it must die.

William Godwin

If admiration were not generally deemed the exclusive property of the rich, and contempt the constant lackey of poverty, the love of gain would cease to be an universal problem.

William Godwin

There is scarcely an instant that passes over our heads that may not have its freight of infamy. How ought we to watch over our thoughts, that we may not so much as imagine any enormity!

William Godwin

It is indeed specially characteristic of the passion of love that it has the faculty of giving a perpetual flow to the interchange of sentiments and reflections in conversation.

William Godwin

There is an indescribable something that ties us to life. For this purpose, it is not necessary that we should be happy. Though our life be almost without enjoyment, we do not consent to part with it.

William Godwin

Everything in the world is conducted by gradual process. This seems to be the great principle of harmony in the universe.

William Godwin

To diminish the cases in which the assistance of others is felt absolutely necessary is the only genuine road to independence.

William Godwin

It is necessary for him who would endure existence with patience that he should conceive himself to be something - that he should be persuaded he is not a cipher in the muster-roll of man.

William Godwin

There is nothing that human imagination can figure brilliant and enviable that human genius and skill do not aspire to realize.

William Godwin

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.

William Godwin

Law is made for man and not man for the law. Wherever we can be sure that the most valuable interests of a nation require that we should decide one way, that way we ought to decide.

William Godwin

We cannot do justice to the deeds of former times if we do not in some degree remove ourselves from the circumstances in which we stand and substitute those by which the real actors were surrounded.

William Godwin

How nations and races of men are to be so governed as may be most conducive to the improvement and happiness of all is one of the most interesting questions that can be offered to our consideration.

William Godwin

The soul of man is one of those subtle and evanescent substances that, as long as they remain still, the organ of sight does not remark; it must become agitated to become visible.

William Godwin

There are so many ways in which the heart of man conceals itself from man!

William Godwin

Enthusiasm is always an interesting spectacle. When it expresses itself with an honest and artless eloquence, it is difficult to listen to it and not, in some degree, to catch the flame.

William Godwin

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.'

William Godwin

Let no man despise the oracles of books! A book is a dead man, a sort of mummy, embowelled and embalmed, but that once had flesh and motion and a boundless variety of determinations and actions.

William Godwin

Every boy learns more in his hours of play than in his hours of labor. In school, he lays in the materials of thinking, but in his sports, he actually thinks: he whets his faculties, and he opens his eyes.

William Godwin

The man who plays his part upon the theatre of life almost always maintains what may be called an artificial character.

William Godwin

The Italian character in general is full of animation, and the natives enter into the interests and welfare of the stranger before them with a fervor that forbids all doubt of its sincerity and that is truly surprising.

William Godwin

Occupation - pressing occupation that will not be said nay - is a sovereign remedy for grief.

William Godwin

It is one of the oldest maxims of moral prudence: Do not, by aspiring to what is impracticable, lose the opportunity of doing the good you can effect!

William Godwin

What is high birth to him to whom high birth has never been the theme of his contemplation? What is a throne to him who has never dreamed of a throne?

William Godwin

Invisible things are the only realities; invisible things alone are the things that shall remain.

William Godwin

I know not how it is: there are some businesses for which dullness seems to be a qualification.

William Godwin

We covet experience; we have a secret desire to learn, not from cold prohibition, but from trial, whether those things, which are not without a semblance of good, are really so ill as they are described to us.

William Godwin

How different a creature is man in society and man in solitude!

William Godwin

The world is all alike. Those that seem better than their neighbours are only more artful. They mean the same thing, though they take a different road.

William Godwin

Act up to the magnitude of your destiny.

William Godwin

When we look on the roses and gaiety of youth, the mournful idea of mortality is altogether alien to our thoughts. We have heard of it as a speculation and a tale, but nothing but experience can bring it home to us.

William Godwin

Soundness of understanding is connected with freedom of enquiry; consequently, opinion should, as far as public security will admit, be exempted from restraint.

William Godwin

Duty is that mode of action which constitutes the best application of the capacity of the individual to the general advantage.

William Godwin

Government was intended to suppress injustice, but its effect has been to embody and perpetuate it.

William Godwin

Government, as it was forced upon mankind by their vices, so has it commonly been the creature of their ignorance and mistake.

William Godwin

The true object of moral and political disquisition is pleasure or happiness.

William Godwin

We cannot, any of us, do all the things of which mankind stand in need; we must have fellow-labourers.

William Godwin

We have, all of us, our duties. Every action of our lives, and every word that we utter, will either conduce to or detract from the discharge of our duty.

William Godwin

The four principal oral instructors to whom I feel my mind indebted for improvement were Joseph Fawcet, Thomas Holcroft, George Dyson, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

William Godwin

I was famous in our college for calm and impassionate discussion; for one whole summer, I rose at five and went to bed at midnight, that I might have sufficient time for theology and metaphysics.

William Godwin

I was brought up in great tenderness, and though my mind was proud to independence, I was never led to much independence of feeling.

William Godwin

England has been called, with great felicity of conception, 'the land of liberty and good sense.' We have preserved many of the advantages of a free people, which the nations of the Continent have long since lost.

William Godwin

The love of independence and dislike of unjust treatment is the source of a thousand virtues.

William Godwin

I am an enemy to revolutions. I abhor, both from temper and from the clearest judgment I am able to form, all violent convulsions in the affairs of men.

William Godwin

Superior virtue must be the fruit of superior intelligence.

William Godwin

A world of derived beings, an immense, wide creation, requires an extended scale with various ranks and orders of existence.

William Godwin

Every man has a certain sphere of discretion which he has a right to expect shall not be infringed by his neighbours. This right flows from the very nature of man.

William Godwin

He has no right to his life when his duty calls him to resign it. Other men are bound... to deprive him of life or liberty, if that should appear in any case to be indispensably necessary to prevent a greater evil.

William Godwin

The real or supposed rights of man are of two kinds, active and passive; the right in certain cases to do as we list; and the right we possess to the forbearance or assistance of other men.

William Godwin

Revolution is engendered by an indignation with tyranny, yet is itself pregnant with tyranny.

William Godwin

One of the prerogatives by which man is eminently distinguished from all other living beings inhabiting this globe of earth, consists in the gift of reason.

William Godwin

Justice is the sum of all moral duty.

William Godwin

The cause of justice is the cause of humanity. Its advocates should overflow with universal good will. We should love this cause, for it conduces to the general happiness of mankind.

William Godwin

My thoughts will be taken up with the future or the past, with what is to come or what has been. Of the present there is necessarily no image.

William Godwin

The lessons of their early youth regulated the conduct of their riper years.

William Godwin

What indeed is life, unless so far as it is enjoyed? It does not merit the name.

William Godwin

Learning is the ally, not the adversary of genius... he who reads in a proper spirit, can scarcely read too much.

William Godwin

There is reverence that we owe to everything in human shape.

William Godwin

Everything understood by the term co-operation is in some sense an evil.

William Godwin

If a thing be really good, it can be shown to be such.

William Godwin

Let us not, in the eagerness of our haste to educate, forget all the ends of education.

William Godwin

Government will not fail to employ education, to strengthen its hands, and perpetuate its institutions.

William Godwin

Study with desire is real activity; without desire it is but the semblance and mockery of activity.

William Godwin

The execution of any thing considerable implies in the first place previous persevering meditation.

William Godwin

The proper method for hastening the decay of error is by teaching every man to think for himself.

William Godwin

The great model of the affection of love in human beings is the sentiment which subsists between parents and children.

William Godwin

It is probable that there is no one thing that it is of eminent importance for a child to learn.

William Godwin

Above all we should not forget that government is an evil, a usurpation upon the private judgement and individual conscience of mankind.

William Godwin

There must be room for the imagination to exercise its powers; we must conceive and apprehend a thousand things which we do not actually witness.

William Godwin