Greatness

[P]atient industry, plodding diligence, resolute work, unchanging purpose -- these are the qualities which achieve greatness.
~ William Henry ("W.H.") Davenport Adams, The Steady Aim; A Book of Examples And Encouragements From Modern Biography (1863). Chapter I. Prologue

You do not always have to understand greatness to know when you are in its presence; you may feel it, without quite knowing how or why.
~ William Foster Apthorp, from Musicians and Music-Lovers, and Other Essays (1894). Musicians and Music-Lovers

There are two great days in a person's life -- the day we are born and the day we discover why.
~ William Barclay

Great Men & Fools do often me Inspire
But the Greater Fool the Greater Liar.
~ William Blake, from The Rossetti Manuscript (aka MS. Book; c. 1793-1811). Satiric Verses and Epigrams. To Venetian Artists

The arts of peace are great,
And no less glorious than those of war,
Perhaps more glorious in the philosophic mind.
~ William Blake, from Poetical Sketches (1783). King Edward the Third

The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity, too great for the eye of man.
~ William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93). Proverbs of Hell

The greatness of a man's power is the measure of his surrender.
~ William Booth

Seek not great things for yourselves in this world, for if your garments be too long, they will make you stumble; and one staff helps a man in his journey, when many in his hands at once hinders him.
~ William Bridge, in The Works of the Rev. William Bridge, M.A., Volume I (1845 edition). Epistle Dedicatory

Chained in the market-place he stood,
A man of giant frame,
Amid the gathering multitude
That shrunk to hear his name.
~ William Cullen Bryant, from Poems (1832 edition). The African Chief. Stanza 1

Now only here and there a little star
Looks forth alone.
~ William Cullen Bryant, from Thirty Poems (1864). The Constellations

He was one of the greatest that ever rode. I would definitely put him in the top three and he was possibly the greatest to have ever ridden.
~ Willie Carson, BBC Sport (13 October 2003). Tributes to Shoemaker

He was the winning-most jockey until last year and he was just a great, great man. Not just a great jockey but a great man. He enjoyed life and was a great person to be with -- I can't say a single thing wrong about him. He was one of my heroes and he will always will be.
~ Willie Carson, attheraces Latest News (13 October 2003). Carson pays tribute to 'The Shoe'

The world is always full of brilliant youth which fades into grey and embittered middle age: the first flowering takes everything. The great men are those who have developed slowly, or who have been able to survive the glamour of their early florescence and to go on learning from life.
~ Willa Sibert Cather, Not Under Forty (1936).

A man is great as a man, be he where or what he may.
~ William Ellery Channing (D.D.), Address Introductory to the Franklin Lectures, Boston MA (September 1838). On Self-Culture

A man may spread his mind, his feelings, and opinions, through a great extent; but if his mind be a low one, he manifests no greatness.
~ William Ellery Channing (D.D.), Address Introductory to the Franklin Lectures, Boston MA (September 1838). On Self-Culture

Great minds are to make others great. Their superiority is to be used, not to break the multitude to intellectual vassalage, not to establish over them a spiritual tyranny, but to rouse them from lethargy, and to aid them to judge for themselves.
~ William Ellery Channing (D.D.), Lectures On The Elevation Of The Labouring Portion Of The Community (1840). Lecture II (delivered in Boston MA; 16 January 1840)

He who possesses the divine powers of the soul is a great being, be his place what it may. You may clothe him with rags, may immure him in a dungeon, may chain him to slavish tasks. But he is still great ...
~ William Ellery Channing (D.D.), Address Introductory to the Franklin Lectures, Boston MA (September 1838). On Self-Culture

Men are attracted by no quality so much as by sovereign greatness of will.
~ William Ellery Channing (D.D.), in The Perfect Life: In Twelve Discourses (1873). I. The Religious Principle In Human Nature

The greatest man is he who chooses the right with invincible resolution, who resists the sorest temptations from within and without, who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully, who is calmest in storms, and most fearless under menace and frowns, whose reliance on truth, on virtue, on God, is most unfaltering.
~ William Ellery Channing (D.D.), Address Introductory to the Franklin Lectures, Boston MA (September 1838). On Self-Culture

The truly great are to be found everywhere; nor is it easy to say, in what condition they spring up most plentifully. Real greatness has nothing to do with a man's sphere.
~ William Ellery Channing (D.D.), Address Introductory to the Franklin Lectures, Boston MA (September 1838). On Self-Culture

'Tis, alas! the poor prerogative
Of greatness, to be wretched and unpitied.
~ William Congreve, The Mourning Bride (1697). Act I, scene i

If my resolution to be a great man was half so strong as it is to despise the shame of being a little one ...
~ William Cowper, Letter (2 September 1762)

Some must be great. Great offices will have
Great talents. And God gives to every man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordain'd to fill.
~ William Cowper, The Task (1785). Book IV. The Winter Evening

With this small house, this garden large,
This little gold, this lovely mate,
With health in body, peace in heart--
Show me a man more great.
~ William Henry (W.H.) Davies, Nature Poems (1908). Truly Great

Some things have not changed since the dawn of history, and bid fair to last out time itself. One of these things is the capacity for greatness in man -- his capacity for being often the master of the event -- and sometimes even more -- the changer of the course of history itself. This capacity for greatness is a very precious gift, and we are under a danger in our day of stifling it.
~ William Clyde DeVane

When in the calm afterday of thought and struggle to racial peace we look back to pay tribute to those who helped most, we shall single out for highest praise those who made the world laugh; Bob Cole, Ernest Hogan, George Walker, and above all, Bert Williams. For this was not mere laughing: it was the smile that hovered above blood and tragedy; the light mask of happiness that hid breaking hearts and bitter souls. This is the top of bravery; the finest thing in service. May the world long honor the undying fame of Bert Williams as a great comedian, a great negro, a great man.
~ William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois, quoted in Bert Williams: Son of Laughter. A Symposium of Tribute to the Man and to his Work by his Friends and Associates (1923).

We all go to our graves unknown, worlds of unsuspected greatness.
~ Frederick William Faber

Bert Williams is the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew.
~ W.C. Fields

The only reason they come to see me is that I know that life is great -- and they know I know it.
~ (William) Clark Gable

Doubt my sanity -- but acknowledge my immortality.
~ William Lloyd Garrison, (1835).

Great organizations demand a high level of commitment by the people involved.
~ Bill Gates

Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world -- except for a nice MLT -- mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is lean and the tomato is ripe.
~ William Goldman, The Princess Bride ("Miracle Max" in the 1987 screenplay).

It has been said that all great cities of history have been built on bodies of water -- Rome on the Tiber, Paris on the Seine, London on the Thames, New York on the Hudson. If this is a criterion of a city's greatness, surely San Francisco ranks in the first magnitude among cities of the world. For never was a metropolis more dominated by any natural feature than San Francisco by its bay.
~ Harold Gilliam

Commitment to great causes makes great men.
~ Billy Graham, in Reader's Digest (July 1964). A Time for Moral Courage

There aren't any great men. There are just great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet.
~ Admiral William Frederick ("Bull") Halsey, Jr., Attributed

Great thoughts reduced to practice become great acts.
~ William Hazlitt, Table-Talk; or, Original Essays (1821-1822). Essay XI. On Thought and Action

Greatness is great power, producing great effects.
~ William Hazlitt, Table-Talk; or, Original Essays (1821-1822). Essay IX. The Indian Jugglers

He who comes up to his own idea of greatness must always have had a very low standard of it in his mind.
~ William Hazlitt, from The Plain Speaker, Volume I (1826). Essay XII. Whether Genius is Conscious of its Powers?

No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history.
~ William Hazlitt, Table-Talk; or, Original Essays (1821-1822). Essay IX. The Indian Jugglers

No truly great man ever thought himself so.
~ William Hazlitt, in Literary Examiner (London, September - December 1823). Common Places

The Great are life's fools -- dupes of the splendid shadows that surround them, and wedded to the very mockeries of opinion.
~ William Hazlitt, from The Round Table, Volume I (1817). On the Love of Life

The greatest grossness sometimes accompanies the greatest refinement, as a natural relief.
~ William Hazlitt, Table-Talk, or Original Essays on Men and Manners, 2nd series (1824). On the Knowledge of Character

Those only deserve a monument who do not need one; that is, who have raised themselves a monument in the minds and memories of men.
~ William Hazlitt, Characteristics: in the Manner of Rochefoucault's Maxims (1837 edition).

Those people who are always improving, never become great. Greatness is an eminence, the ascent to which is steep and lofty, and which a man must seize on at once by natural boldness and vigour, and not by patient, wary steps.
~ William Hazlitt, Characteristics: in the Manner of Rochefoucault's Maxims (1837 edition).

[T]o be assaulted by the presence of greatness is not to take it in; a mountain makes no immediate impression of vastness -- it conspires with the illusion of distance to conceal its proportions, and we only know them through the journey and the climb.
~ William Ernest (W.E.) Hocking, Thoughts on Life and Death (1937).

In a word, it is quantity that adds greatness to grace.
~ William Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty (1753). Chapter VI: Of Quantity

[I] am against all big organizations as such, national ones first and foremost; against all big successes and big results; and in favor of the eternal forces of truth which always work in the individual and immediately unsuccessful way, under-dogs always, til history comes, after they are long dead, and puts them on the top.
~ William James, in The Letters of William James, Vol. 2 (1920). Chapter XII. 1893-1899 (Continued). Letter to Mrs. Henry Whitman, 7 June 1899

Let me repeat once more that a man's vision is the great fact about him.
~ William James, A Pluralistic Universe (1909). I. The Types of Philosophic Thinking

If I am asked, who is the greatest man? I answer, the best; and if I am required to say, who is the best? I reply, he that has deserved most of his fellow-creatures.
~ Sir William Jones, Latin Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry (1774).

The secret of all true greatness is simplicity.
~ William George Jordan, The Kingship of Self-Control: Individual Problems and Possibilities (1899). VI: The Greatness of Simplicity

The greatest thing since they reinvented unsliced bread.
~ William Keegan

The great man never falls.
He lives, he towers aloft, he stands sublime:
They fall who give him not
The honor here that suits his future name, --
They die and are forgot.
~ William Wilberforce (W.W.) Lord, from Poems (1845). On the Defeat of a Great Man

[A]s if it were not the masterful will ... that forces a life-thought into a pregnant word or phrase, and sends it ringing through the ages!
~ William Mathews, Getting on in the World: Or, Hints on Success in Life (1872). Chapter VI. Self-Reliance

Many a person misses of being a great man by splitting into two middling ones.
~ William Mathews, Getting on in the World: Or, Hints on Success in Life (1872). Chapter V: Concentration, Or Oneness of Aim

For a brief spell I savor the pleasure of the seafaring life. It occurs to me that this explains in part the enigmatic affability which the great occasionally display. They have a sudden vision of life as a whole, and for one brief instant they become human, and smile.
~ William McFee, in The Atlantic Monthly (September 1919). The Crusaders

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay!
With your numerous arches and pillars in so grand array
And your central girders, which seem to the eye
To be almost towering to the sky.
~ William Topaz McGonagall, from Poetic Gems (1890). The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay

The greater the truth, the greater libel.
~ William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (Lord Mansfield) (c. 1770)

Within every man the will must reign supreme, and therefore the will must show its supremacy.
~ William Charles Edmund (W.C.E.) Newbolt, Counsels of Faith and Practice: Being Sermons Preached on Various Occasions (1883). Sermon XXI. Fasting

All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity.
~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (1885-86). Preface

The devotion of the greatest is to encounter risk and danger, and play dice for death.
~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

The great man fights the elements in his time that hinder his own greatness, in other words his own freedom and sincerity.
~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

To do great things is difficult, but to command great things is more difficult.
~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

The greatest events are not our noisiest, but our stillest hours.
~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra (1885).

At a Fourth of July celebration, it is wonderful how many great men there are and how they swarm on the speaker's platform.
~ (Edgar Wilson) "Bill" Nye

The great minds, the great works transcend all limitations of time, of language, and of race, and the scholar can never feel initiated into the company of the elect until he can approach all of life's problems from the cosmopolitan standpoint.
~ William Osler, Farewell address given to American and Canadian Medical students, McGill University (1892). The Student Life

A long train of these practices has at length unwillingly convinced me that there is something behind the throne greater than the King himself.
~ William Pitt (1st Earl of Chatham), in Chatham Correspondence (1838). Speech, 2 March 1770

It is the old lesson, -- a worthy purpose, patient energy for its accomplishment, a resoluteness that is undaunted by difficulties, and, in ordinary circumstances, success.
~ William Morley (W.M.) Punshon, Life Thoughts (1863). The Secret of True Greatness

You are different from the really great man in only one thing: The great man, at one time, also was a very little man but he developed one important ability: he learned to see where he was small in his thinking and actions. Under the pressure of some task, which was dear to him, he learned better and better to sense the threat that came from his smallness nod pettiness. The great man, then, knows when and in what he is a little man. The Little Man does not know that he is little, and he is afraid of knowing it.
~ Wilhelm Reich, Listen, Little Man! (1946; published 1948).

It's great to be great, but its greater to be human.
~ Will Rogers, Daily Telegrams (28 February 1930).

No man is great if he thinks he is.
~ Will Rogers, Daily Telegrams (1 March 1928).

You must judge a man's greatness by how much he will be missed.
~ Will Rogers, Weekly Articles (9 August 1925).

Human greatness is a rather difficult thing to account for, and more often than not one is mistaken in one's hunches about somebody one has met.
~ William Saroyan, I Used to Believe I Had Forever, Now I'm Not So Sure (1968).

A substitute shines brightly as a king,
Until a king be by.
~ William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice. Act V, scene i

Ay, every inch a king!
~ William Shakespeare, King Lear. Act IV, scene vi

Be great in act, as you have been in thought.
~ William Shakespeare, King John. Act V, scene i

Be it known that we, the greatest, are misthought
For things that others do; and when we fall
We answer others' merits in our name.
~ William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra. Act V, scene ii

Commend me to thy lady.
~ William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. Act III, scene iii

Fishes live in the sea, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones.
~ William Shakespeare, Pericles. Act II, scene i

For greatest scandal waits on greatest state.
~ William Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece

Greatness knows itself.
~ William Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part I. Act IV, scene iii

I have touch'd the highest point of all my greatness,
And from that full meridian of my glory
I haste now to my setting: I shall fall
Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
And no man see me more.
~ William Shakespeare, King Henry VIII. Act III, scene ii

In my stars I am above thee, but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
~ William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. Act II, scene v

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Act III, scene i

My crown is in my heart, not on my head.
~ William Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part III. Act III, scene i

My actions are as noble as my thoughts.
~ William Shakespeare, Pericles. Act II, scene v

[O]ur great captain's captain.
~ William Shakespeare, Othello. Act II, scene i

The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.
~ William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar. Act I, scene iii

[T]here's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half a year.
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet. Act III, scene ii

We were not born to sue, but to command.
~ William Shakespeare, King Richard II. Act I, scene i

Why, I pray you, is not pig great? the pig, or the great, or the mighty, or the huge, or the magnanimous, are all one reckonings, save the phrase is a little variations.
~ William Shakespeare, King Henry V. Act IV, scene vii

Our distinctions do not lie in the places which we occupy, but in the grace and dignity with which we fill them.
~ William Gilmore Simms, Egeria: Or, Voices of Thought and Counsel for the Woods and Wayside (1853).

I don't know what my calling is, but I want to be here for a bigger reason. I strive to be like the greatest people who have ever lived.
~ Will Smith

Wit, and Virtue, ne'er decay,
Ador'd below, and bless'd above.
~ William Somervile, from Occasional Poems, Translations, Fables, Tales, Etc. (1727). To a Discarded Toast

The higher you climb the plainer you are seen.
~ William A. "Billy" Sunday, from "Billy" Sunday, The Man and His Message (1914). Chapter XXVII. A Wonderful Day at a Great University

The greatest pleasure of life is love; the greatest treasure is contentment; the greatest possession is health; the greatest ease is sleep; and the greatest medicine is a true friend.
~ Sir William Temple, 1st Baronet, in The Works of Sir William Temple, Bart., Vol. I (1720). Miscellanea, Part III. Heads, Designed For An Essay Upon The Different Conditions Of Life And Fortune

Great lies are as great as great truths, and prevail constantly, and day after day.
~ William Makepeace Thackeray, Roundabout Papers (1863). On A Hundred Years Hence

Note what the great men admired; they admired great things: narrow spirits admire basely, and worship meanly.
~ William Makepeace Thackeray, from The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century: A Series of Lectures (1853). Lecture the Fourth

To endure is greater than to dare; to tire out hostile fortune; to be daunted by no difficulty; to keep heart when all have lost it; to go through intrigue spotless; to forgo even ambition when the end is gained -- who can say this is not greatness?
~ William Makepeace Thackeray, The Virginians: A Tale of the Last Century (1859). Chapter XCII. Under Vine and Fig-Tree

Moral worth and intelligence alone form the basis of true greatness.
~ William Unsworth, The Brotherhood Of Men: Its Laws And Lessons (1872).

Every great person has first learned how to obey, whom to obey, and when to obey.
~ William Arthur Ward

Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character.
~ William Arthur Ward

So sweet, so great, so true.
~ William Watson, from Wordworth's Grave and Other Poems (1890). Dedication

Greatness, generally speaking, is an unusual quantity of a usual quality grafted upon a common man.
~ William Allen White, from Masks in a Pageant (1928).

Things great have small beginnings. Every downpour is just a raindrop; every fire is just a spark; every harvest is just a seed; every journey is just a step because without that step there will be no journey; without that raindrop there can be no shower; without that seed there can be no harvest.
~ William Wilberforce

Love, that outreaches to the humblest things;
Work that is glad, in what it does and brings;
And faith that soars upon unwearied wings.

Divine the Powers that on this trio wait.
Supreme their conquest, over Time and Fate.
Love, Work, and Faith -- these three alone are great.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox, from New Thought Pastels (1906). Three Things

The question is whether Marilyn is a person at all or one of the greatest DuPont products ever invented. She has breasts like granite; she defies gravity; and has a brain like Swiss cheese -- full of holes.
~ Billy Wilder

A man who is not obsessed cannot be great.
~ Colin Henry Wilson, Religion and the Rebel (1957).

Great sex, like great anything, requires a little learning.
~ Robert Charles Wilson, A Bridge Of Years (1991).

Greatness, in any period and under any circumstances, has always been rare.
~ William Winter, Oration Delivered Before the Goethe Society, New York City (28 January 1889). The Press and the Stage, Section VIII

But he is risen, a later star of dawn.
~ William Wordsworth, A Morning Exercise (1828).

Great is the glory, for the strife is hard!
~ William Wordsworth, in The Champion (4 February 1816). To B.R. Haydon.

Great men have been among us; hands that penned
And tongues that uttered wisdom.
~ William Wordsworth, from Poems in Two Volumes, Volume I (1807). Part II. Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty. XIV. London, 1802

Through love, through hope, and faith's transcendent dower,
We feel that we are greater than we know.
~ William Wordsworth, The River Duddon, A Series of Sonnets; Vaudracour and Julia: and Other Poems (1820). Afterthought

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A Collection of Quotes Based on the Name William