ADDISON, Joseph Quotes
(1672-1719), English essayist
Admiration is a very short-lived passion that decays on growing familiar with its object unless it be still fed with fresh discoveries and kept alive by perpetual miracles rising up to its view.
The great art in writing advertisements is the finding out of a proper method to catch the reader's eye; without which, a good thing may pass over unobserved, or lost among commissions of bankrupt.
When a man has been guilty of any vice of folly, the best atonement he can make for it is to warn others not to fall into the like.
He who would pass his declining years with honor and comfort, should, when young, consider that he may one day become old, and remember when he is old, that he has once been young.
Allegories, when well chosen, are like so many tracks of light in a discourse, that make everything about them clear and beautiful.
Title and ancestry render a good man more illustrious, but an ill one more contemptible.
Man's first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart, and next to escape the censures of the world.—If the last interfere with the first it should be entirely neglected.—But if not, there cannot be a greater satisfaction to an honest mind than to see its own approbation seconded by the applauses of the public.
To be an atheist requires an infinitely greater measure of faith than to receive all the great truths which atheism would deny.
Nothing is more gratifying to the mind of man than power or dominion.
A man who is furnished with arguments from the mint, will convince his antagonist much sooner than one who draws them from reason and philosophy.—Gold is a wonderful clearer of the understanding; it dissipates every doubt and scruple in an instant; accommodates itself to the meanest capacities; silences the loud and clamorous, and cringes over the most obstinate and inflexible.— Philip of Macedon was a man of most invincible reason this way. He refuted by it all the wisdom of Athens; confounded their statesmen; struck their orators dumb; and at length argued them out of all their liberties.
A man must be both stupid and uncharitable who believes there is no virtue or truth but on his own side.
Books are the legacies that genius leaves to mankind, to be delivered down from generation to generation, as presents to those that are yet unborn.
It is very wonderful to see persons of the best sense passing hours together in shuffling and dividing a pack of cards with no conversation but what is made up of a few game-phrases, and no other ideas but those of black or red spots ranged together in different figures. Would not a man laugh to hear any one of his species complaining that life is short?
It is folly for an eminent person to think of escaping censure, and a weakness to be affected by it.—All the illustrious persons of antiquity, and indeed of every age, have passed through this fiery persecution.—There is no defence against reproach but obscurity; it is a kind of concomitant to greatness, as satires and invectives were an essential part of a Roman triumph.
A cheerful temper joined with innocence will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful, and wit good-natured. It will lighten sickness, poverty, and affliction; convert ignorance into an amiable simplicity, and render deformity itself agreeable.
I have always preferred cheerfulness to mirth. The former is an act, the latter a habit of the mind. Mirth is short and transient; cheerfulness, fixed and permanent. Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment. Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, filling it with a steady and perpetual serenity.
Beauty commonly produces love, but cleanliness preserves it.—Age itself is not unamiable while it is preserved clean and unsullied—like a piece of metal constantly kept smooth and bright, which we look on with more pleasure than on a new vessel cankered with rust.
I am wonderfully delighted to see a body of men thriving in their own fortunes, and at the same time promoting the public stock; or, in other words, raising estates for their own families by bringing into their country whatever is wanting, and carrying out of it whatever is superfluous.
A well regulated commerce is not like law, physic, or divinity, to be overstocked with hands; but, on the contrary, flourishes by multitudes, and gives employment to all its professors.
Complaisance renders a superior amiable, an equal agreeable, and an inferior acceptable. It smooths distinction, sweetens conversation, and makes every one in the company pleased with himself. It produces good nature and mutual benevolence, encourages the timorous, soothes the turbulent, humanizes the fierce, and distinguishes a society of civilized persons from a confusion of savages.
Complaisance, though in itself it be scarce reckoned in the number of moral virtues, is that which gives a luster to every talent a man can be possessed of.—I would advise every man of learning, who would not appear a mere scholar or philosopher, to make himself master of this social virtue.
A good conscience is to the soul what health is to the body; it preserves constant ease and serenity within us, and more than countervails all the calamities and afflictions which can befall us without.
Conspiracies no sooner should be formed than executed.
Without constancy there is neither love, friendship, nor virtue in the world.
A contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world; and if, in the present life, his happiness arises from the subduing of his desires, it will arise in the next from the gratification of them.
Contentment produces, in some measure, all those effects which the alchymist ascribes to what he calls the philosopher's stone; and if it does not bring riches, it docs the same thing by banishing the desire of them. If it cannot remove the disquietudes arising from a man's mind, body, or fortune, it makes him easy under them.
Content has a kindly influence on the soul of man, in respect of every being to whom he stands related. It extinguishes all murmuring, repining, and ingratitude toward that Being who has allotted us our part to act in the world. It destroys all inordinate ambition; gives sweetness to the conversation, and serenity to all the thoughts; and if it does not bring riches, it does the same thing by banishing the desire of them.
In private conversation between intimate friends the wisest men very often talk like the weakest; for, indeed, the talking with a friend is nothing else but thinking aloud.
One would think that the larger the company is, the greater variety of thoughts and subjects would be started in discourse; but instead of this, we find that conversation is never so much straitened and confined as in large assemblies.
Courage that grows from constitution, often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; courage which arises from a sense of duty, acts in a uniform manner.
The pleasantest part of a man's life is generally that which passes in courtship, provided his passion be sincere, and the party beloved, kind, with discretion. Love, desire, hope, all the pleasing motions of the soul, rise in the pursuit.
Nature has sometimes made a fool; but a coxcomb is always of a man's own making.
It is ridiculous for any man to criticise the works of another if he has not distinguished himself by his own performances.
Cunning is only the mimic of discretion, and may pass upon weak men, as vivacity is often mistaken for wit, and gravity for wisdom.
It should be an indispensable rule in life to contract our desires to our present condition, and whatever may be our expectations to live within the compass of what we actually possess.—It will be time enough to enjoy an estate when it comes into our hands; but if we anticipate our good fortune we shall lose the pleasure of it when it arrives, and may possibly never possess what we have so foolishly counted on.
It is odd to consider the connection between despotism and barbarity, and how the making one person more than man makes the rest less.
It is of the utmost importance to season the passions of the young with devotion, which seldom dies in the mind that has received an early tincture of it. Though it may seem extinguished for a while by the cares of the world, the heats of youth, or the allurements of vice, it generally breaks out and discovers itself again as soon as discretion, consideration, age, or misfortunes have brought the man to himself. The fire may be covered and overlaid but cannot be entirely quenched and smothered.
If men would consider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feeling in the world.
A good disposition is more valuable than gold; for the latter is the gift of fortune, but the former is the dower of nature.
Had Cicero himself pronounced one of his orations with a blanket about his shoulders, more people would have laughed at his dress than admired his eloquence.
A fine coat is but a livery when the person who wears it discovers no higher sense than that of a footman.
The man who will live above his present circumstances, is in great danger of soon living much beneath them; or as the Italian proverb says, "The man that lives by hope, will die by despair."
What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the human soul. The philosopher, the saint, the hero, the wise, and the good, or the great, very often lie hid and concealed in a plebeian, which a proper education might have disinterred and brought to light.
It is folly for an eminent man to think of escaping censure, and a weakness for him to be affected by it.—All the illustrious persons of antiquity, and indeed of every age in the world, have passed through this fiery persecution.
Plutarch has written an essay on the benefits which a man may receive from his enemies; and among the good fruits of enmity, mentions this in particular, that by the reproaches which it casts upon us we see the worst side of ourselves.
The chief ingredients in the composition of those qualities that gain esteem and praise, are good nature, truth, good sense, and good breeding.
Eternity, thou pleasing dreadful thought! through what variety of untried being! through what new scenes and changes must we pass! The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before me; but shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
As it is the chief concern of wise men to retrench the evils of life by the reasonings of philosophy, it is the employment of fools to multiply them by the sentiments of superstition.
That fine part of our constitution, the eye, seems as much the receptacle and seat of our passions, appetites, and inclinations, as the mind itself; at least it is the outward portal to introduce them to the house within, or rather the common thoroughfare to let our affections pass in and out. Love, anger, pride, and avarice, all visibly move in those little orbs.
A beautiful eye makes silence eloquent; a kind eye makes contradiction an assent; an enraged eye makes beauty deformed.—This little member gives life to every other part about us.
The intelligence of affection is carried on by the eye only.—Good breeding has made the tongue falsify the heart and act a part of continued restraint, while Nature has preserved the eyes to herself, that she may not be disguised or misrepresented.
Fables take off from the severity of instruction, and enforce at the same time that they conceal it.
The virtue which we gather from a fable or an allegory, is like the health we get by hunting, as we are engaged in an agreeable pursuit that draws us on with pleasure, and makes us insensible of the fatigues that accompany it.
Our admiration of a famous man lessens upon our nearer acquaintance with him; and we seldom hear of a celebrated person without a catalogue of some of his weaknesses and infirmities.
When a man becomes familiar with his goddess, she quickly sinks into a woman.
When I behold a fashionable table set out in all its magnificence, I fancy that I see gouts and dropsies, fevers and lethargies, with other innumerable distempers, lying in ambuscade among the dishes. Nature delights in the most plain and simple diet. Every animal but man, keeps to one dish. Herbs are the food of this species, fish of that, and flesh of a third. Man falls upon everything that comes in his way; not the smallest fruit or excrescence of the earth, scarce a berry or a mushroom can escape him.
The most skilful flattery is to let a person talk on, and be a listener.
True fortitude is seen in great exploits that justice warrants and that wisdom guides.
Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joy, and dividing our grief.
The friendships of the world are oft confederacies in vice, or leagues of pleasure.
Why will any man be so impertinently officious as to tell me all prospect of a future state is only fancy and delusion? Is there any merit in being the messenger of ill news? If it is a dream, let me enjoy it, since it makes me both the happier and better man.
It is the divinity that stirs within us.—'Tis heaven itself that points out an hereafter, and intimates eternity to man.
As to be perfectly just is an attribute of the divine nature, to be so to the utmost of our abilities is the glory of man.
There is something very sublime, though very fanciful in Plato's description of God—"That truth is his body, and light his shadow."
Good-breeding shows itself most, where to an ordinary eye it appears the least.
One may know a man that never conversed in the world, by his excess of good-breeding.
Good nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty.—It shows virtue in the fairest light; takes off, in some measure, from the deformity of vice; and makes even folly and impertinence supportable.
To an honest mind, the best perquisites of a place are the advantages it gives for doing good.
Few consider how much we are indebted to government, because few can represent how wretched mankind would be without it.
When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies within me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out.
A contemplation of God's works, a generous concern for the good of mankind, and the unfeigned exercise of humility—these only, denominate men great and glorious.
Gymnastics open the chest, exercise the limbs, and give a man all the pleasure of boxing, without the blows. I could wish that learned men would lay out the time they employ in controversies and disputes about nothing, in this method of fighting with their own shadows. It might conduce very much to evaporate the spleen, which makes them uneasy to the public as well as to themselves.
The true happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise; it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one's self; and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions; it loves shade and solitude, and naturally haunts groves and fountains, fields and meadows; in short, it feels everything it wants within itself, and receives no addition from multitudes of witnesses and spectators. On the contrary, false happiness loves to be in a crowd, and to draw the eyes of the world upon her. She does not receive satisfaction from the applauses which she gives herself, but from the admiration which she raises in others. She flourishes in courts and palaces, theatres and assemblies, and has no existence but when she is looked upon.
Unbounded courage and compassion joined proclaim him good and great, and make the hero and the man complete.
It must be a prospect pleasing to God to see his creatures forever drawing nearer to him by greater degrees of resemblance.
Honor's a sacred tie,—the noble mind's distinguishing perfection, that aids and strengthens virtue where it meets her, and imitates her actions, where she is not.
Better to die ten thousand deaths than wound my honor.
When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway, the post of honor is a private station.
Hope calculates its schemes for a long and durable life; presses forward to imaginary points of bliss; and grasps at impossibilities; and consequently very often ensnares men into beggary, ruin, and dishonor.
These poor gentlemen endeavor to gain themselves the reputation of wits and humorists by such monstrous conceits as almost qualify them for bedlam; not considering that humor should always lie under the check of reason, and that it requires the direction of the nicest Judgment, by so much the more as it indulges itself in the most boundless freedoms.
Ideas in the mind are the transcript of the world; words are the transcript of ideas; and writing and printing are the transcript of words.
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us; 'tis heaven itself that points out an hereafter and intimates eternity to man.
What an absurd thing it is to pass over all the valuable parts of a man, and fix our attention on his infirmities.
Mutability of temper and inconsistency with ourselves is the greatest weakness of human nature.
Nothing that is not a real crime makes a man appear so contemptible and little in the eyes of the world as inconstancy, especially when it regards religion or party. In either of these cases, though a man perhaps does but his duty in changing his side, he not only makes himself hated by those he left, but is seldom heartily esteemed by those he comes over to.
An indiscreet man is more hurtful than an ill-natured one; for the latter will only attack his enemies, and those he wishes ill to; the other injures indifferently both friends and foes.
There is not, in my opinion, anything more mysterious in nature than this instinct in animals, which thus rise above reason, and yet fall infinitely short of it.
Irresolution on the schemes of life which offer themselves to our choice, and inconstancy in pursuing them, are the greatest causes of all our unhappiness.
Man is the merriest, the most joyous of all the species of creation.—Above and below him all are serious.
To be perfectly just is an attribute of the divine nature; to be so to the utmost of our abilities, is the glory of man.
Justice discards party, friendship, and kindred, and is therefore represented as blind.
Half the misery of human life might be extinguished if men would alleviate the general curse they lie under by mutual offices of compassion, benevolence, and humanity.
A great deal of knowledge, which is not capable of making a man wise, has natural tendency to make him vain and arrogant.
If we consider the frequent reliefs we receive from laughter, and how often it breaks the gloom which is apt to depress the mind, one would take carp not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life.
Though laughter is looked upon by philosophers as the property of reason, the excess of it has always been considered the mark of folly.
What is life? It is not to stalk about, and draw fresh air, or gaze upon the sun; it is to be free.
A day, an hour of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity of bondage.
Though we seem grieved at the shortness of life in general, we are wishing every period of it at an end. The minor longs to be at age, then to be a man of business; then to make up an estate, then to arrive at honors, then to retire.
'Tis not my talent to conceal my thoughts, or carry smiles and sunshine in my face, when discontent sits heavy at my heart.
Certain it is that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as the love of a father to a daughter. He beholds her both with and without regard to her sex.—In love to our wives, there is desire; to our sons, there is ambition; but in that to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express.
I never knew an early-rising, hard-working, prudent man, careful of his earnings, and strictly honest, who complained of bad luck. A good character, good habits, and iron industry are impregnable to the assaults of all the ill-luck that fools ever dreamed of.
Falsehood and fraud grow up in every soil, the product of all climes.
Truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out; it is always near at hand, sits upon our lips, and is ready to drop out before we are aware; a lie is troublesome, and sets a man's invention upon the rack, and one trick needs a great many more to make it good. It is like building upon a false foundation, which continually stands in need of props to shore it up, and proves at last more chargeable than to have raised a substantial building at first upon a true and solid foundation.
The true art of being agreeable is to appear well pleased with all the company, and rather to seem well entertained with them than to bring entertainment to them. A man thus disposed may have not much learning, nor any wit; but if he has common sense, and something friendly in his behavior, it conciliates men's minds more than the brightest parts without this disposition.
One may now know a man that never conversed in the world, by his excess of good breeding. A polite country esquire shall make you as many bows in half an hour, as would serve a courtier for a week.
Complaisance renders a superior amiable, an equal agreeable, and an inferior acceptable. It smoothes distinction, sweetens conversation, and makes every one in the company pleased with himself. It produces good nature and mutual benevolence, encourages the timorous, soothes the turbulent, humanizes the fierce, and distinguishes a society of civilized persons from a confusion of savages.
Good breeding shows itself most, where to an ordinary eye it appears least.
Two persons who have chosen each other out of all the species, with the design to be each other's mutual comfort and entertainment, have, in that action, bound themselves to be good-humored, affable, discreet, forgiving, patient, and joyful, with respect to each other's frailties and perfections, to the end of their lives.
Marriage enlarges the scene of our happiness and of our miseries.—A marriage of love is pleasant—of interest, easy, and where both meet, happy.—A happy marriage has in it all the pleasures of friendship, all the enjoyments of sense and reason, and, indeed, all the sweets of life.
God discovers the martyr and confessor without the trial of flames and tortures, and will thereafter entitle many to the reward of actions which they never had the opportunity of performing.
Physic is, for the most part, only a substitute for temperance and exercise.
Melancholy is a kind of demon that haunts our island, and often conveys herself to us in an easterly wind.
People of gloomy, uncheerful imaginations, will discover their natural tincture of mind in all their thoughts, words, and actions. As the finest wines have often the taste of the soil, so even the most religious thoughts often draw something that is peculiar from the constitution of the mind in which they arise. When folly or superstition strikes in with this natural depravity of temper, it is not in the power, even of religion itself, to preserve the character from appearing highly absurd and ridiculous.
Mere bashfulness without merit, is awkward; and merit without modesty, insolent. But modest merit has a double claim to acceptance, and generally meets with as many patrons as beholders.
Irregularity and want of method are only supportable in men of great learning or genius, who are often too full to be exact, and therefore choose to throw down their pearls in heaps before the reader, rather than be at the pains of stringing them.
Man is the merriest species of the creation; all above or below him are serious.
A misery is not to be measured from the nature of the evil, but from the temper of the sufferer.
The humor of turning every misfortune into a judgment, proceeds from wrong notions of religion, which, in its own nature, produces good will toward men, and puts the mildest construction upon every accident that befalls them. In this case, therefore, it is not religion that sours a man's temper, but it is his temper that sours his religion.
A soul exasperated by its ills, falls out with everything, with its friend and itself.
The first of all virtues is innocence; the next is modesty. If we banish modesty out of the world, she carries away with her half the virtue that is in it.
A just and reasonable modesty does not only recommend eloquence, but sets off every great talent which a man can be possessed of. It heightens all the virtues which it accompanies; like the shades in paintings, it raises and rounds every figure, and makes the colors more beautiful, though not so glaring as they would be without it.
True modesty avoids everything that is criminal; false modesty everything that is unfashionable.
Modesty is not only an ornament, but also a guard to virtue.
Discourses on morality and reflection on human nature, are the best means we can make use of to improve our minds, gain a true knowledge of ourselves, and recover our souls out of the vice, ignorance, and prejudice which naturally cleave to them.
The fear of death often proves mortal, and sets people on methods, to save their lives, which infallibly destroy them. This is a reflection made upon observing that there are more thousands killed in a flight, than in a battle; and may be applied to those multitudes of imaginary sick persons that break their constitutions by physic, and throw themselves into the arms of death, by endeavoring to escape it.
Music can noble hints impart, engender fury, kindle love, with unsuspected eloquence can move and manage all the man with secret art.
Music is the only sensual gratification in which mankind may indulge to excess without injury to their moral or religious feelings.
Music wakes the soul, and lifts it high, and wings it with sublime desires, and fits it to bespeak the Deity.
Hudibras has defined nonsense, as Cowley does wit, by negatives. Nonsense, says he, is that which is neither true nor false. These two great properties of nonsense, which are essential to it, give it such a peculiar advantage over all other writings, that it is incapable of being either answered or contradicted. If it affirms anything, you cannot lay hold of it; or if it denies, you cannot refute it. In a word, there are greater depths and obscurities, greater intricacies and perplexities in an elaborate and well-written piece of nonsense, than in the most abstruse and profound tract of school divinity.
There is no defence against reproach but obscurity; it is a kind of concomitant to greatness, as satires and invectives were an essential part of a Roman triumph.
Most of the trades, professions, and ways of living among mankind, take their original either from the love of pleasure, or the fear of want. The former, when it becomes too violent, degenerates into luxury, and the latter into avarice.
An ostentatious man will rather relate a blunder or an absurdity he has committed, than be debarred from talking of his own dear person.
Fain would I Raphael's god-like art rehearse, where, from the mingled strength of shade and light, a new creation rises to my sight; such heavenly figures from his pencil flow, so warrn with life his blended colors glow.
Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments; but let us have patience, and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.
A man who has been brought up among books, and is able to talk of nothing else, is a very indifferent companion, and what we call a pedant. But we should enlarge the title, and give it to every one that does not know how to think out of his profession and particular way of life.
When I see a man with a sour, shriveled face, I cannot forbear pitying his wife; and when I meet with an open, ingenuous countenance, I think on the happiness of his friends, his family, and his relations.
To an honest mind the best perquisites of a place are the advantages it gives a man of doing good.
The man of pleasure little knows the perfect joy he loses for the disappointing gratifications which he pursues.
Poverty palls the most generous spirits; it cows industry, and casts resolution itself into despair.
Every one that has been long dead has a due proportion of praise allotted him, in which, whilst he lived, his friends were too profuse and his enemies too sparing.
Prejudice and self-sufficiency, naturally proceed from inexperience of the world, and ignorance of mankind.
The voice of reason is more to be regarded than the bent of any present inclination; since inclination will at length come over to reason, though we can never force reason to comply with inclination.
Those who make religion to consist in the contempt of this world and its enjoyments, are under a very fatal and dangerous mistake. As life is the gift of heaven, it is religion to enjoy it. He, therefore, who can be happy in himself, and who contributes all in his power toward the happiness of others, answers most effectually the ends of his creation, is an honor to his nature, and a pattern to mankind.
The moral virtues, without religion, are but cold, lifeless, and insipid; it is only religion which opens the mind to great conceptions, fills it with the most sublime ideas, and warns the soul with more than sensual pleasures.
True religion and virtue give a cheerful and happy turn to the mind; admit of all true pleasures, and even procure for us the highest.
Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice from the conviction that it has offended God.—Sorrow, fear, and anxiety are properly not parts, but adjuncts of repentance, yet they are too closely connected with it to be separated.
Riches are apt to betray a man into arrogance.
The talent of turning men into ridicule, and exposing to laughter those one converses with, is the gratification of little minds and ungenerous tempers. A young man with this cast of mind cuts himself off from all manner of improvement.
Ridicule is generally made use of to laugh men out of virtue and good sense, by attaching everything praiseworthy in human life.
It is the privilege of posterity to sat matters right between those antagonists who, by their rivalry for greatness, divided a whole age.
A satire should expose nothing but what is corrigible, and should make a due discrimination between those that are, and those that are not the proper objects of it.
Lampoons and satires, that are written with wit and spirit, are like poisoned darts, which not only inflict a wound, but make it incurable.
A man's first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart; his next, to escape the censures of the world. If the last interferes with the former, it ought to be entirely neglected; but otherwise there cannot be a greater satisfaction to an honest mind, than to see those approbations which it gives itself, seconded by the applauses of the public. A man is more sure of his conduct, when the verdict which he passes upon his own behavior is thus warranted and confirmed by the opinion of all that know him.
One of the most important, but one of the most difficult things for a powerful mind is, to be its own master. A pond may lie quiet in a plain; but a lake wants mountains to compass and hold it in.
Quick sensitiveness is inseparable from a ready understanding.
Silence never shows itself to so great an advantage as when it is made the reply to calumny and defamation.
When a man is made wholly of the dove, without the least grain of the serpent in his composition, he becomes ridiculous in many circumstances, and often discredits his best actions.
Singularity is laudable, when in contradiction to a multitude, it adheres to the dictates of morality and honor. In concerns of this kind it is to be looked upon as heroic bravery, in which a man leaves the species only as he soars above it.
There is nobody so weak of invention that he cannot make up some little stories to vilify his enemy.
There is a sort of economy in Providence that one shall excel where another is defective, in order to make them more useful to each other, and mix them in society.
From social intercourse are derived some of the highest enjoyments of life; where there is a free interchange of sentiments the mind acquires new ideas, and by a frequent exercise of its powers, the understanding gains fresh vigor.
To be exempt from the passions with which others are tormented, is the only pleasing solitude.
The soul, considered with its Creator, is like one of those mathematical lines that may draw nearer to another for all eternity without a possibility of touching it; and can there be a thought so transporting as to consider ourselves in these perpetual approaches to Him, who is not only the standard of perfection, but of happiness?
To look upon the soul as going on from strength to strength, to consider that she is to shine forever with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity; that she will be still adding virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge,—carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to that ambition which is natural to the mind of man.
'Tis pride, rank pride, and haughtiness of soul; I think the Romans call it stoicism.
Our delight in any particular study, art, or science rises and improves in proportion to the application which we bestow upon it. Thus, what was at first an exercise becomes at length an entertainment.
It is not in mortals to command success, but we will do more, we will deserve it.
If you wish success in life, make per severance your bosom friend, experience your wise counsellor, caution your elder brother and hope your guardian genius.
It has been said in praise of some men, that they could talk whole hours together upon anything; but it must be owned to the honor of the other sex, that there are many among them who can talk whole hours together upon nothing.
I think I may define taste to be that faculty of the soul which discerns the beauties of an author with pleasure, and the imperfections with dislike.
A cheerful temper, joined with innocence, will make beauty attractive, knowledge delightful, and wit good-natured. It will lighten sickness, poverty, and affliction; convert ignorance into an amiable simplicity, and render deformity itself agreeable.
Temperance gives nature her full play, and enables her to exert herself in all her force and vigor.
The hours of a wise man are lengthened by his ideas, as those of a fool are by his passions. The time of the one is long, because he does not know what to do with it; so is that of the other, because he distinguishes every moment of it with useful or amusing thoughts; or, in other words, because the one is always wishing it away, and the other always enjoying it.
Nothing lies on our hands with such uneasiness as time. Wretched and thoughtless creatures! In the only place where covetousness were a virtue we turn prodigals.
Title and ancestry render a good man more illustrious, but an ill one more contemptible. Vice is infamous, though in a prince; and virtue honorable, though in a peasant.
Tradition is an important help to history, but its statements should be carefully scrutinized before we rely on them.
Men may change their climate, but they cannot change their nature.—A man that goes out a fool cannot ride or sail himself into common sense.
Is there not some chosen curse, some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven, red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man who owes his greatness to his country's ruin!
In the school of Pythagoras it was a point of discipline, that if among the probationers, there were any who grew weary of studying to be useful, and returned to an idle life, they were to regard them as dead; and, upon their departing, to perform their obsequies, and raise them tombs with inscriptions, to warn others of the like mortality, and quicken them to refine their souls above that wretched state.
A money-lender. He serves you in the present tense; he lends you in the conditional mood; keeps you in the subjunctive; and ruins you in the future!
Vanity is the weakness of the ambitious man, which exposes him to the secret scorn and derision of those he converses with, and ruins the character he is so industrious to advance by it.
Every man is ready to give in a long catalogue of those virtues and good qualities he expects to find in the person of a friend; but very few of us are careful to cultivate them in ourselves.
It very seldom happens that a man is slow enough in assuming the character of a husband, or a woman quick enough in condescending to that of a wife.
Wine heightens indifference into love, love into jealousy, and jealousy into madness. It often turns the good-natured man into an idiot, and the choleric into an assassin. It gives bitterness to resentment, it makes vanity insupportable, and displays every little spot of the soul in its utmost deformity.
The wise man endeavors to shine in himself; the fool to outshine others. The first is humbled by the sense of his own infirmities, the last is lifted up by the discovery of those which he observes in other men. The wise man considers what he wants, and the fool what he abounds in. The wise man is happy when he gains his own approbation, and the fool when he recommends himself to the applause of those about him.
When a man is made up wholly of the dove, without the least grain of the serpent in his composition, he becomes ridiculous in many circumstances of life, and very often discredits his best actions.
Punning is a conceit arising from the use of two words that agree in the sound, but differ in the sense. The only way, therefore, to try a piece of wit, is to translate it into a different language; if it bears the test, you may pronounce it true; but if it vanishes in the experiment, you may conclude it to have been a pun.
Women's thoughts are ever turned apon appearing amiable to the other sex; they talk and move and smile with a design upon us; every feature of their faces, every part of their dress, is filled with snares and allurements. There would be no such animals as prudes or coquettes in the world were there not such an animal as man.
If our zeal were true and genuine, we should be more angry with a sinner than with a heretic.