Temperance is the practice of moderation. It was one of the four "cardinal" virtues held to be vital to society in Hellenic culture, and considered central to Christian behavior by the Catholic Church and is an important tenet of the moral codes of other world religions—for example, it is one of the Five Precepts of Buddhism.


  • These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:
    1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  • Drink not the third glass, which thou canst not tame,
    When once it is within thee; but before
    Mayst rule it, as thou list: and pour the shame,
    Which it would pour on thee, upon the floor.
    It is most just to throw that on the ground,
    Which would throw me there, if I keep the round.
    • George Herbert, The Temple (1633), The Church Porch, Perirrhanterium, Stanza 5.
  • My experience through life has convinced me that, while moderation and temperance in all things are commendable and beneficial, abstinence from spiritous liquors is the best safeguard of morals and health.
    • Robert E. Lee, letter to a "Friends of Temperance" society (9 December 1869); as quoted in Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee (1875) by John William Jones, p. 170.
  • If all the world
    Should in a pet of temp'rance, feed on pulse,
    Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but frieze,
    Th' All-giver would be unthank'd, would be unprais'd.
  • Impostor; do not charge most innocent Nature,
    As if she would her children should be riotous
    With her abundance; she, good cateress,
    Means her provision only to the good,
    That live according to her sober laws,
    And holy dictate of spare temperance.
  • * Well observe
    The rule of Not too much, by temperance taught
    In what thou eat'st and drink'st.
  • O madness to think use of strongest wines
    And strongest drinks our chief support of health,
    When God with these forbidden made choice to rear
    His mighty champion, strong above compare,
    Whose drink was only from the liquid brook.
  • Drinking water neither makes a man sick, nor in debt, nor his wife a widow.
    • John Neal, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 576.
  • Moses … takes one form of desire, that one whose field of activity is the belly, and admonishes and disciplines it as the first step, holding that the other forms will cease to run riot as before and will be restrained by having learnt that their senior and as it were the leader of their company is obedient to the laws of temperance.
    • Philo, On The Special Laws, Part IV, p. 77.
  • Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of Sense,
    Lie in three words, Health, Peace, and Competence.
    But Health consists with Temperance alone,
    And Peace, oh Virtue! Peace is all thy own.
  • The whole duty of man is embraced in the two principles of abstinence and patience: temperance in prosperity, and courage in adversity.
    • Seneca the Younger, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 576.
  • Chastity is a monkish and evangelical superstition, a greater foe to natural temperance even than unintellectual sensuality; it strikes at the root of all domestic happiness, and consigns more than half the human race to misery.
  • If a workman can conveniently spare those three halfpence, he buys a pot of porter. If he cannot, he contents himself with a pint, and, as a penny saved is a penny got, he thus gains a farthing by his temperance.
  • Temperance is reason's girdle and passion's bridle, the strength of the soul, and the foundation of virtue.
    • Jeremy Taylor, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 576.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922)

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 783-84.

  • And he that will to bed go sober,
    Falls with the leaf still in October.
  • Of a nature so mild and benign and proportioned to the human constitution as to warm without heating, to cheer but not inebriate. [Tar Water.]
    • Bishop Berkeley, Siris, Par. 217.
  • Call'd to the temple of impure delight
    He that abstains, and he alone, does right.
    If a wish wander that way, call it home;
    He cannot long be safe whose wishes roam.
  • Temp'rate in every place, abroad, at home,
    Thence will applause, and hence will profit come;
    And health from either,
    he in time prepares
    For sickness, age, and their attendant cares.
  • Abstinence is whereby a man refraineth from any thyng which he may lawfully take.
    • T. Elyot, Governour, Book III. Chapter XVI.
  • Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.
  • Of my merit
    On that pint you yourself may jedge:
    All is, I never drink no sperit,
    Nor I haint never signed no pledge.

See also

AltruismAsceticismBeneficenceBenevolenceBraveryCarefulnessCharityCheerfulnessCleanlinessCommon senseCompassionConstancyCourageDignityDiligenceDiscretionEarnestnessFaithFidelityForethoughtForgivenessFriendshipFrugalityGentlenessGoodnessGraceGratitudeHolinessHonestyHonorHopeHospitalityHumanityHumilityIntegrityIntelligenceJusticeKindnessLoveLoyaltyMercyModerationModestyOptimismPatiencePhilanthropyPietyPrudencePunctualityPovertyPuritySelf-controlSimplicitySinceritySobrietySympathyTemperanceTolerance

AggressionAngerApathyArroganceBigotryContemptCowardiceCrueltyDishonestyDrunkennessEgotismEnvyEvil speakingGluttonyGreedHatredHypocrisyIdlenessIgnoranceImpatienceImpenitenceIngratitudeInhumanityIntemperanceJealousyLazinessLustMaliceNeglectObstinacyPhilistinismPrejudicePretensionPrideRecklessnessSelf-righteousnessSelfishnessSuperficialityTryphéUnkindnessUsuryVanityWorldliness

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