Elbert Hubbard

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There is one thing that matters—to set a chime of words tinkling in the minds of a few fastidious people.
Logan Pearsall Smith
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I believe in my own divinity — and yours.
I believe in salvation through economic, social, and spiritual freedom.

Elbert Green Hubbard (19 June 1856 - 7 May 1915) was an American writer and editor.


A Message to Garcia (1899)

"A Message to Garcia", first published 22 February 1899, in the March 1899 issue of Philistine
  • By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing—"Carry a message to Garcia!"
  • If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their effort is for all?
  • Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have; but when all the world has gone a-slumming I wish to speak a word of sympathy for the man who succeeds—the man who, against great odds, has directed the efforts of others, and having succeeded, finds there's nothing in it: nothing but bare board and clothes. I have carried a dinner pail and worked for day's wages, and I have also been an employer of labor, and I know there is something to be said on both sides. There is no excellence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; and all employers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous. My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the "boss" is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly takes the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid off" nor has to go on a strike for higher wages.
  • Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals.
    Anything such a man asks shall be granted. He is wanted in every city, town and village—in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such: he is needed and needed badly—the man who can "Carry a Message to Garcia."
  • Every man should have a college education in order to show him how little the thing is really worth.

Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great (1916)

Full text online
  • There have always existed three ways of keeping the people loving and loyal. One is to leave them alone, to trust them and not to interfere. This plan, however, has very seldom been practised, because the politicians regard the public as a cow to be milked, and something must be done to make it stand quiet.
    So they try Plan Number Two, which consists in hypnotizing the public by means of shows, festivals, parades, prizes and many paid speeches, sermons and editorials, wherein and whereby the public is told how much is being done for it, and how fortunate it is in being protected and wisely cared for by its divinely appointed guardians. Then the band strikes up, the flags are waved, three passes are made, one to the right and two to the left; and we, being completely under the hypnosis, hurrah ourselves hoarse.
    Plan Number Three is a very ancient one and is always held back to be used in case Number Two fails. It is for the benefit of the people who do not pass readily under hypnotic control. If there are too many of these, they have been known to pluck up courage and answer back to the speeches, sermons and editorials. Sometimes they refuse to hurrah when the bass-drum plays, in which case they have occasionally been arrested for contumacy and contravention by stocky men, in wide-awake hats, who lead the strenuous life. This Plan Number Three provides for an armed force that shall overawe, if necessary, all who are not hypnotized. The army is used for two purposes—to coerce disturbers at home, and to get up a war at a distance, and thus distract attention from the troubles near at hand. Napoleon used to say that the only sure cure for internal dissension was a foreign war: this would draw the disturbers away, on the plea of patriotism, so they would win enough outside loot to satisfy them, or else they would all get killed, it really didn't matter much; and as for loot, if it was taken from foreigners, there was no sin.
    A careful analyst might here say that Plan Number Three is only a variation of Plan Number Two—the end being gained by hypnotic effects in either event, for the army is conscripted from the people to use against the people, just as you turn steam from a boiler into the fire-box to increase the draft. ...

The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard (1927)

The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard: Mottoes, Epigrams, Short Essays, Passages, Orphic Sayings and Preachments (1927)
  • Academic education is the act of memorizing things read in books, and things told by college professors who got their education mostly by memorizing things read in books. [Pg. 160.]
  • A pessimist is a man who has been compelled to live with an optimist.
  • Do not dump your woes upon people—keep the sad story of your life to yourself. Troubles grow by recounting them. [Pg. 156.]
  • Do not go out of your way to do good whenever it comes your way. Men who make a business of doing good to others are apt to hate others in the same occupation. Simply be filled with the thought of good, and it will radiate—you do not have to bother about it, any more than you need trouble about your digestion. [Pg. 71.]
  • I am not sure just what the unpardonable sin is, but I believe it is a disposition to evade the payment of small bills. [Pg. 146.]
  • I have no perfect panacea for human ills. And even if I had I would not attempt to present a system of philosophy between the soup and fish, but this much I will say: The distinctively modern custom of marital bundling is the doom of chivalry and death of passion. It wears all tender sentiment to a napless warp, and no wonder is it that the novelist, without he has a seared and bitter heart, hesitates to follow the couple beyond the church door. There is no greater reproach to our civilization than the sight of men joking the boy whose heart is pierced by the first rays of a life-giving sun, or of our expecting a girl to blush because she is twice God's child today she was yesterday. [Pg. 57.]
  • It is only life and love that give love and life. [Pg. 40.]
  • Life without absorbing occupation is hell—joy consists in forgetting life.
  • Literature is the noblest of all the arts. Music dies on the air, or at best exists only as a memory; oratory ceases with the effort; the painter's colors fade and the canvas rots; the marble is dragged from its pedestal and is broken into fragments. [Pg. 170.]
  • Making men live in three worlds at once—past, present and future has been the chief harm organized religion has done.
  • Men who marry for gratification, propagation or the matter of buttons or socks, must expect to cope with and deal in a certain amount of quibble, subterfuge, concealments, and double, deep-dyed prevarication. [Pg. 159.]
  • Our admiration is so given to dead martyrs that we have little time for living heroes.
  • Perfume; Any smell that is used to drown a worse one
  • Respectability is the dickey on the bosom of civilization.
  • There is no such thing as success in a bad business.
  • The great Big Black Things that have loomed against the horizon of my life, threatening to devour me, simply loomed and nothing more. The things that have really made me miss my train have always been sweet, soft, pretty, pleasant things of which I was not in the least afraid. [Pg. 61.]
  • The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.
  • The ineffable joy of forgiving and being forgiven forms an ecstasy that might well arouse the envy of the gods.
  • The newspapers print what the people want, and thus does the savage still swing his club and flourish his spear. [Pg. 142.]
  • The way to learn to earn a living is to go at it and earn a living.
  • To remain on earth you must be useful, otherwise Nature regards you as old metal, and is only watching for a chance to melt you over.
  • To supply a thought is mental massage; but to evolve a thought of your own is an achievement. Thinking is a brain exercise—and no faculty grows save as it is exercised. [Pg. 64.]
  • When you see a tomcat with his whiskers full of feathers, do not say "Canary!"—he'll take offense. [Pg. 159.]
  • Why not be a top-notcher? A top-notcher is simply an individual who works for the institution of which he is a part, not against it.
  • Woman's inaptitude for reasoning has not prevented her from arriving at truth; nor has man's ability to reason prevented him from floundering in absurdity.
  • Young women with ambitions should be very crafty and cautious, lest mayhap they be caught in the soft, silken mesh of a happy marriage, and go down to oblivion, dead to the world.


  • Anyone who idolizes you is going to hate you when he discovers that you are fallible. He never forgives. He has deceived himself, and he blames you for it.
    • From an American Bible by Alice Hubbard, (1946)

Personal "Credo"

  • I believe in the Motherhood of God.
  • I believe in the Blessed Trinity of Father, Mother and Child.
  • I believe that God is here, and that we are as near Him now as ever we shall be.
  • I do not believe He started this world-a going and went away and left it to run by itself.
  • I believe in the sacredness of the human body, this transient dwelling place of a living soul,
    • And so I deem it the duty of every man and every woman to keep his or her body beautiful through right thinking and right living.
  • I believe that the love of man for woman, and the love of woman for man is holy;
    • And that this love in all its promptings is as much an emanation of the Divine Spirit as man's love for God, or the most daring hazards of the human mind.
  • I believe in salvation through economic, social, and spiritual freedom.
  • I believe John Ruskin, William Morris, Henry Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Leo Tolstoy to be Prophets of God, who should rank in mental reach and spiritual insight with Elijah, Hosea, Ezekiel, and Isaiah.
  • I believe that men are inspired to-day as much as ever men were.
  • I believe we are now living in Eternity as much as ever we shall.
  • I believe that the best way to prepare fore for a Future Life is to be kind, live one day at a time, and do the work you can do best, doing it as well as you can.
  • I believe we should remember the Week-day, to keep it holy.
  • I believe there is no devil but fear.
  • I believe that no one can harm you but yourself.
  • I believe in my own divinity - and yours.
  • I believe that we are all sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.
  • I believe the only way we can reach the Kingdom of Heaven is to have the Kingdom of Heaven in our hearts.
  • I believe in every man minding his own business.
  • I believe in sunshine, fresh air, friendship, calm sleep, beautiful thoughts.
  • I believe in the paradox of success through failure.
  • I believe in the purifying process of sorrow, and I believe that death is a manifestation of life.
  • I believe the Universe is planned for good.
  • I believe it is possible that I shall make other creeds, and change this one, or add to it, from time to time, as new light may come to me.

Business "Credo"

  • I believe in myself.
  • I believe in the goods I sell.
  • I believe in the firm for whom I work.
  • I believe in my colleagues and helpers.
  • I believe in American business methods.
  • I believe in producers, creaters, manufacturers, distributors, and in all industrial workers of the world who have a job, and hold it down.
  • I believe that Truth is an asset.
  • I believe in good cheer and in good health, and I recognize the fact that the first requisite in success is not to achieve the dollar, but to confer a benefit, and that the reward will come automatically, and usually as a matter of course.
  • I believe in sunshine, fresh air, spinach, applesauce, laughter, buttermilk, babies, bombazine and chiffon, always remembering that the greatest word in the English language is "Sufficiency."
  • I believe that when I make a sale I make a friend.
  • And I believe that when I part with a man I must do it in such a way that when he sees me again he will be glad - and so will I.
  • I believe in hands that work, brains that think, and hearts that love.
    Amen, and Amen.

Attributed (1896)

  • An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.
  • Art is not a thing; it is a way
  • A failure is a man who has blundered but is not capable of cashing in on the experience.
  • A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.
  • A man is as good as he has to be, and a woman as bad as she dares.
  • A retentative memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness.
  • College football is a sport that bears the same relation to education that bullfighting does to agriculture.
  • Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.
  • Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.
  • Folks who never do any more than they are paid for will never get paid for any more than they do.
  • Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.
  • Get happiness out of your work or you may never know what happiness is.
  • God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.
  • He who doesn't understand your silence will probably not understand your words.
  • How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success?
  • If you suffer, thank God! - it is a sure sign that you are alive.
  • Intelligence is not to make no mistakes, but quickly to see how to make them good.
  • It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.
  • I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to have things I am not able to appreciate.
  • Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal.
  • Life is just one damned thing after another.
  • Never explain - your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.
  • Never get married in college; it's hard to get a start if a prospective employer finds you've already made one mistake.
  • No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.
  • No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?
  • No one ever gets far unless he accomplishes the impossible at least once a day.
  • One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary person.
  • Polygamy: An endeavour to get more out of life than there is in it.
  • Positive anything is better than negative nothing
  • The love we give away is the only love we keep.
  • The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.
  • The supernatural is the natural not yet understood.
  • The vintage of wisdom is to know that rest is rust and that life is love, laughter, and work.
  • The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.
  • To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
  • Victory; a matter of staying power
  • We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them.
  • We work to become, not to acquire.
  • You can lead a boy to college, but you can't make him think.
  • Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you.

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