quotations about reform
To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself.
THOMAS CARLYLE, Signs of the Times
Unless the reformer can invent something which substitutes attractive virtues for attractive vices, he will fail.
WALTER LIPPMANN, A Preface to Politics
We must reform society before we can reform ourselves.
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, preface, Misalliance
Reform, to be useful and durable, must be gradual and cautious.
HORACE SMITH, attributed, Day's Collacon
Every reform was once a private opinion.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Essays
Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be carried to an excess, which will itself need reforming.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, Biographia Literaria
Most reformers, like a pair of trousers on a windy clothesline, go through a vast deal of vehement motion, but stay in the same place.
AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought
Many of the great reforms of society do not come from the upper levels, but from the upheavals of the lower strata.
LEWIS F. KORNS, Thoughts
Whatever statesman or sage will effect reforms upon a gigantic or godlike scale must begin with the young.
HORACE MANN, Thoughts
We talk much of reform, meaning thereby a change of mud in our mud-bath.
ABRAHAM MILLER, Unmoral Maxims
Every man is a reformer until reform tramps on his toes.
EDGAR WATSON HOWE, Country Town Sayings
Reform is a good, replete with paradox; it is a cathartic which our political quacks, like our medical, recommend to others, but will not take themselves; it is admired by all who cannot effect it, and abused by all who can; it is thought pregnant with danger, for all time that is present, but would have been extremely profitable for that which is past, and will be highly salutary for that which is to come; therefore it has been thought expedient for all administrations which have been, or that will be, but by any particular one which is, it is considered, like Scotch grapes, to be very seldom ripe, and by the time it is so, to be quite out of season.
CHARLES CALEB COLTON, Lacon
Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation.
SUSAN B. ANTHONY, On the Campaign for Divorce Law Reform, 1860
ON ANOTHER occasion I met a group of reformers. The atmosphere seemed rarified. The talk was of high things. We fairly bathed in spirituality. Soon, however, the situation changed. The reformers became involved in an argument. They grew vehement, angry. Each tried to keep the others from talking that he might talk himself. And I saw that they were all animated with fury, because they believed they were fighting for the right. The fact was, of course, that each was fighting for his opinion, asserting himself, beating down the others so that his view might prevail. It was a painful scene, yet comic. No opinions were changed. There was great damage to feelings. One remark struck me as particularly illuminating. But it wasn't merely a remark. It was a roar, directed by one reformer at another reformer. "I guess you haven't got the truth yet!"
JOHN DANIEL BARRY, "Reformers", Intimations
The voice of great events is proclaiming to us, Reform, that you may preserve.
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY, speech on parliamentary reform, March 2, 1831
Mere reformation differs as much from regeneration, as whitewashing an old rotten house differs from taking it down and building a new one.
A. M. TOPLADY, attributed, Day's Collacon
If you want a man to succeed in the reform of his affairs which are in a deadlock and mess, you must self-evidently first of all tell him how to reform the instrument with which he has to carry out that reform--the instrument, viz, the man himself.
CONFUCIUS, The Universal Order: Or, Conduct of Life, a Confucian Catechism
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."
G. K. CHESTERTON, The Thing: Why I am a Catholic
The only way a woman can ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life.
OSCAR WILDE, The Picture of Dorian Gray
They were apt vociferously to demand "reform" as if it were some concrete substance, like cake, which could be handed out at will, in tangible masses, if only the demand were urgent enough. These parlor reformers made up for inefficiency in action by zeal in criticising; and they delighted in criticising the men who really were doing the things which they said ought to be done, but which they lacked the sinewy power to do. They often upheld ideals which were not merely impossible but highly undesirable, and thereby played into the hands of the very politicians to whom they professed to be most hostile. Moreover, if they believed their own interests, individually or as a class, were jeoparded, they were apt to show no higher standards than did the men they usually denounced.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT, An Autobiography