Truth of a modest sort I can promise you, and also sincerity. That complete, praiseworthy sincerity which, while it delivers one into the hands of one’s enemies, is as likely as not to embroil one with one’s friends.
—Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) Polish-born British Novelist
If all hearts were open and all desires known—as they would be if people showed their souls—how many gapings, sighings, clenched fists, knotted brows, broad grins, and red eyes should we see in the market-place!
—Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) English Novelist, Poet
A ‘No’ uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
—Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948) Indian Hindu Political leader
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
—William Blake (1757–1827) English Poet, Painter, Printmaker
Nay, Madam, when you are declaiming, declaim; and when you are calculating, calculate.
—Samuel Johnson (1709–84) British Essayist
Earnestness is the devotion of all the faculties.—It is the cause of patience; gives endurance; overcomes pain; strengthens weakness; braves dangers; sustains hope; makes light of difficulties, and lessens the sense of weariness in overcoming them.
—Christian Nestell Bovee (1820–1904) American Writer, Aphorist
You know I say just what I think, and nothing more nor less.—I cannot say one thing and mean another.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–82) American Poet, Educator, Academic
If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his true friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the greatest highroad to his reason, and which when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause, if, indeed, that cause be really a just one. On the contrary, assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his action, or to make him as one to be shunned or despised, and he will retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and heart; and though your cause be naked truth itself, transformed to the heaviest lance, harder than steel and sharper than steel can be made, and though you throw it with more than Herculean force and precision, you shall be no more able to pierce him than to penetrate the hard shell of a tortoise with a rye straw.
—Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) American Head of State
Frank and explicit; that is the right line to take when you wish to conceal your own mind and to confuse the minds of others.
—Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) British Head of State
Sincerity is like traveling on a plain, beaten road, which commonly brings a man sooner to his journey’s end than by-ways, in which men often lose themselves.
It is often said it is no matter what a man believes if he is only sincere. But let a man sincerely believe that seed planted without ploughing is as good as with; that January is as favorable for seed-sowing as April; and that cockle seed will produce as good a harvest as wheat, and is it so?
—Henry Ward Beecher (1813–87) American Clergyman, Writer
Prayer needs a heart, not a tongue.
—Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948) Indian Hindu Political leader
Can there be greater foolishness than the respect you pay to people collectively when you despise them individually?
—Cicero (106BCE–43BCE) Roman Philosopher, Orator, Politician, Lawyer
The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world, is to be in reality what we would appear to be; and if we observe, we shall find, that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.
—Socrates (469BCE–399BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher
Be always sincere in your yea and your nay.
—The Talmud Sacred Text of the Jewish Faith
Examine what is said, not him who speaks.
Candor is a proof of both a just frame of mind, and of a good tone of breeding. It is a quality that belongs equally to the honest man and to the gentleman.
—James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) American Novelist
Weak people cannot be sincere.
—Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613–80) French Writer
It’s like those eerie stories nurses tell,
Of how some actor on a stage played Death,
With pasteboard crown, sham orb and tinselled dart,
And called himself the monarch of the world;
Then, going in the tire-room afterward,
Because the play was done, to shift himself,
Got touched upon the sleeve familiarly,
The moment he had shut the closet door,
By Death himself. Thus God might touch a Pope
At unawares, ask what his baubles mean,
And whose part he presumed to play just now.
Best be yourself, imperial, plain and true!
—Robert Browning (1812–89) English Poet
Sincerity gives wings to power.
You may tell a man thou art a fiend, but not your nose wants blowing; to him alone who can bear a thing of that kind, you may tell all.
—Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741–1801) Swiss Theologian, Poet
His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles; his love sincere, his thoughts immaculate; his tears, pure messengers sent from his heart; his heart as far from fraud, as heaven from earth.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
Sincerity is to speak as we think, to do as we pretend and profess, to perform what we promise, and really to be what we would seem and appear to be.
Not to expose your true feelings to an adult seems to be instinctive from the age of seven or eight onwards.
—George Orwell (1903–50) English Novelist, Journalist
The way I see it, it doesn’t matter what you believe just so you’re sincere.
—Charles M. Schulz (1922–2000) American Cartoonist, Writer, Artist
Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think.
—Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) French Essayist
I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) American Philosopher
Sincerity is not test of truth—no evidence of correctness of conduct. You may take poison sincerely believing it the needed medicine, but will it save your life?
—Tryon Edwards American Theologian
A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet, Playwright
What is earnest is not always true; on the contrary, error is often more earnest than truth.
—Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) American Political Leader, Inventor, Diplomat