Henry Adams Quotations

Henry Adams

Absolute liberty is absence of restraint; responsibility is restraint; therefore, the ideally free individual is responsible to himself.

A senator is like a begonia -- showy but useless.

At the utmost, the active-minded young man should ask of his teacher only mastery of his tools. Once acquired, the tools and models may be thrown away.

Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.

I had rather starve and rot and keep the privilege of speaking the truth than of holding all the offices that capital has to give, from the presidency downward.

It is impossible to underrate human intelligence -- beginning with one's own.

I want to look like an American Voltaire or Gibbon, but am slowly settling down to be a third-rate Boswell hunting for a Dr. Johnson.

Man is an imperceptible atom always trying to become one with God.

No man, however strong, can serve ten years as schoolmaster, priest, or Senator, and remain fit for anything else.

No man likes to have his intelligence or good faith questioned, especially if he has doubts about it himself.

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.

Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.

One friend in a lifetime is much; two are many; three are hardly possible. Friendship needs a certain parallelism of life, a community of thought, a rivalry of aim.

Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.

They know enough who know how to learn.

What one knows is, in youth, of little moment; they know enough who know how to learn.