The Smallest Good Deed Is Better Than the Grandest Good Intention

Oscar Wilde? Jacques Joseph Duguet? Claude Joseph Dorat? Henry Ward Beecher? Gaspard Dughet? H. Jackson Brown? John Burroughs? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Hoping and dreaming are not enough; taking action is crucial. Here are two pertinent statements:

  • The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.
  • The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.

Would you please examine this family of sayings?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in 1863 within the French journal “Le Magasin Pittoresque” (“The Picturesque Store”) . A filler item stated the following. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Ne préférez jamais une grande bonne intention à une petite bonne action. UN AUTEUR ANGLAIS.

Here is one possible translation into English:

Never prefer a great good intention to a small good action.

The attribution did not specify the name of the English author, and QI would label the source anonymous based on current knowledge.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Smallest Good Deed Is Better Than the Grandest Good Intention


  1. 1863, Le Magasin Pittoresque (The Picturesque Store), Volume 31, (Filler item), Quote Page 396, Column 1, Aux Bureaux D’Abonnement et de Vente, Paris, France. (Google Books Full View) link