283) Wisdom from Robert E. Lee

Quotes by Robert E. Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870); Commander of The Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War


Do your duty in all things.  You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.

I think it better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to incur the reproach of our consciences and posterity.

I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence expressed in me. I know too well my weakness, that our only hope is in God.

At present, I am not concerned with results.  God’s will ought to be our aim, and I am quite contented that His designs should be accomplished and not mine.

We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing.

Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or to keep one.

Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.

The education of a man is never completed until he dies.

The war… was an unnecessary condition of affairs, and might have been avoided if forebearance and wisdom had been practiced on both sides.

We must expect reverses, even defeats.  They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters.

What a cruel thing is war: to separate families and friends, and mar the purest joys God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors.

It is easier to make our wishes conform to our means than to make our means conform to our wishes.

I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.

I like whiskey.  I always did, and that is why I never drink it.

My trust is in the mercy and wisdom of a kind Providence, who ordereth all things for our good.

The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him.  He can not only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which imparts sufficient strength to let the past be put in the past.

The truth is this:  The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged.  It is history that teaches us to hope.

There is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man’s face and another behind his back.

You must study to be frank with the world:  frankness is the child of honesty and courage.  Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted that you mean to do right.

Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light.  It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret.

In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.

My chief concern is to try to be an humble, earnest Christian.

I can only say that I am nothing but a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone for salvation.


Colossians 3:16-17  —  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

James 1:2-5  —  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Philippians 4:8  —  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  —Book of Common Prayer