“We are always making God our accomplice so that we may legalize our own inequities. Every successful massacre is consecrated by a Te Deum, and the clergy have never been wanting in benedictions for any victorious enormity.”
“A lively, disinterested, persistent liking for truth is extraordinarily rare. Action and faith enslave thought, both of them in order not to be troubled or inconvenienced by reflection, criticism or doubt.”
– Henri Frédéric Amiel
Henri Frédéric Amiel was a Swiss philosopher, poet and critic. Born in Geneva in 1821, he was descended from a Huguenot family driven to Switzerland by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
Losing his parents at an early age, Amiel travelled widely, became intimate with the intellectual leaders of Europe, and made a special study of German philosophy in Berlin. In 1849 he was appointed professor of aesthetics at the academy of Geneva, and in 1854 became professor of moral philosophy. These appointments, conferred by the democratic party, deprived him of the support of the aristocratic party, which comprised nearly all the culture of the city.
This isolation inspired the one book by which Amiel is still known, The Journal Intime, which, published after his death, obtained a European reputation. It was translated into English by Mary A. Ward.
Although second-rate as regards productive power, Amiel’s mind was of no inferior quality, and his Journal gained a sympathy that the author had failed to obtain in his life. In addition to the Journal, he produced several volumes of poetry and wrote studies on Erasmus, Madame de Stael and other writers. He died in Geneva in March 1881.
“Learn to limit yourself, to content yourself with some definite thing, and some definite work; dare to be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not and to believe in your own individuality. ”
“The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. ”
“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind! ”
“The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man that it forms. ”
“Analysis kills spontaneity. The grain once ground into flour springs and germinates no more.”
“Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence.”