COLTON, Caleb C. Quotes
(1780-1832), English clergyman
That which we acquire with most difficulty we retain the longest; as those who have earned a fortune are commonly more careful of it than those by whom it may have been inherited.
Deliberate with caution, but act with decision; and yield with graciousness, or oppose with firmness.
A man who knows the world will not only make the most of everything he does know, but of many things he does not know; and will gain more credit by his adroit mode of hiding his ignorance, than the pedant by his awkward attempt to exhibit his erudition.
It is not until we have passed through the furnace that we are made to know how much dross there is in our composition.
Afflictions sent by providence melt the constancy of the noble minded, but confirm the obduracy of the vile, as the same furnace that liquifies the gold, hardens the clay.
Ambition is the avarice of power; and happiness herself is soon sacrified to that very lust of dominion which was first encouraged only as the best means of obtaining it.
Ambition makes the same mistake concerning power, that avarice makes as to wealth. She begins by accumulating it as a means to happiness, and finishes by continuing to accumulate it as an end.
Good blood—descent from the great and good, is a high honor and privilege. —He that lives worthily of it is deserving of the highest esteem; he that does not, of the deeper disgrace.
It is with antiquity as with ancestry, nations are proud of the one, and individuals of the other; but if they are nothing in themselves, that which is their pride ought to be their humiliation.
The inheritance of a distinguished and noble name is a proud inheritance to him who lives worthily of it.
Analogy, although it is not infallible, is yet that telescope of the mind by which it is marvelously assisted in the discovery of both physical and moral truth.
The intoxication of anger, like that of the grape, shows us to others, but hides us from ourselves.—We injure our own cause in the opinion of the world when we too passionately defend it.
Antiquity is enjoyed not by the ancients who lived in the infancy of things, but by us who live in their maturity.
Applause is the spur of noble minds; the end and aim of weak ones.
When the million applaud you, seriously ask what harm you have done; when they censure you, what good!
Great minds had rather deserve contemporaneous applause without obtaining it, than obtain without deserving it.—If it follow them it is well, but they will not deviate to follow it.
Contemporaries appreciate the man rather than the merit; but posterity will regard the merit rather than the man.
Men's arguments often prove nothing but their wishes.
The soundest argument will produce no more conviction in an empty head than the most superficial declamation; a feather and a guinea fall with equal velocity in a vacuum.
No company is far preferable to bad, because we are more apt to catch the vices of others than their virtues, as disease is more contagious than health.
In all societies it is advisable to associate if possible with the highest; not that they are always the best, but because, if disgusted there, we can always descend; but if we begin with the lowest to ascend is impossible.
The three great apostles of practical atheism that make converts without persecuting, and retain them without preaching, are health, wealth, and power.
There are three difficulties in authorship:—to write anything worth publishing—to find honest men to publish it—and to get sensible men to read it.
It is doubtful whether mankind are most indebted to those who like Bacon and Butler dig the gold from the mine of literature, or to those who, like Paley, purify it, stamp it, fix its real value, and give it currency and utility.
Baseness of character or conduct not only sears the conscience, but deranges the intellect.—Right conduct is connected with right views of truth.
The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late.
He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend, must have a very long head or a very short creed.
They that are loudest in their threats are the weakest in the execution of them.—It is probable that he who is killed by lightning hears no noise; but the thunder-clap which follows, and which most alarms the ignorant, is the surest proof of their safety.
Bigotry murders religion to frighten fools with her ghost.
The society of dead authors has this advantage over that of the living: they never flatter us to our faces, nor slander us behind our backs, nor intrude upon our privacy, nor quit their shelves until we take them down.
Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them. Those works, therefore, are the most valuable, that set our thinking faculties in the fullest operation.
Calumny crosses oceans, scales mountains, and traverses deserts with greater ease than the Scythian Abaris, and, like him, rides upon a poisoned arrow.
The upright man, if he suffer calumny to move him, fears the tongue of man more than the eye of God.
The Due de Chartres used to say, that no man could less value character than himself, and yet he would gladly give twenty thousand pounds for a good character, because, he could, at once, make double that sum by it.
Posthumous charities are the very essence of selfishness when bequeathed by those who, even alive, would part with nothing.
Public charities and benevolent associations for the gratuitous relief of every species of distress, are peculiar to Christianity; no other system of civil or religious policy has originated them; they form its highest praise and characteristic feature.
Life often presents us with a choice of evils rather than of good.
If you would know and not be known, live in a city.
The ease, the luxury, and the abundance of the highest state of civilization, are as productive of selfishness as the difficulties, the privations, and the sterilities of the lowest.
Commerce may well be termed the younger sister, for, in all emergencies, she looks to agriculture both for defence and for supply.
No company is preferable to bad, because we are more apt to catch the vices of others than their virtues, as disease is far more contagious than health.
Murmur at nothing: if our ills are irreparable, it is ungrateful; if remediless, it is vain. A Christian builds his fortitude on a better foundation than stoicism; he is pleased with everything that happens, because he knows it could not happen unless it had first pleased God and that which pleases Him must be the best.
None are so seldom found alone, or are so soon tired of their own company, as those coxcombs who are on the best terms with themselves.
When young, we trust ourselves too much; and we trust others too little when old.—Rashness is the error of youth; timid caution of age.—Manhood is the isthmus between the two extremes—the ripe and fertile season of action when, only, we can hope to find the head to contrive, united with the hand to execute.
True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander.
When in the company of sensible men, we ought to be doubly cautious of talking too much, lest we lose two good things—their good opinion and our own improvement; for what we have to say we know, but what they have to say we know not.
If you would be known and not know, vegetate in a village.—If you would know and not be known, live in a city.
Physical courage which despises all danger, will make a man brave in one way; and moral courage, which despises all opinion, will make a man brave in another.—The former would seem most necessary for the camp; the latter for the council; but to constitute a great man both are necessary.
If you cannot inspire a woman with love of yourself, fill her above the brim with love of herself; all that runs over will be yours.
After hypocrites, the greatest dupes the devil has are those who exhaust an anxious existence in the disappointments and vexations of business, and live miserably and meanly only to die magnificently and rich.—They serve the devil without receiving his wages, and for the empty foolery of dying rich, pay down their health, happiness, and integrity.
A coxcomb begins by determining that his own profession is the first; and he finishes by deciding that he is the first in his profession.
None are so seldom found alone, and are so soon tired of their own company as those coxcombs who are on the best terms with themselves.
It is a curious paradox that precisely in proportion to our own intellectual weakness, will be our credulity as to the mysterious powers assumed by others.
In politics, as in religion, we have less charity for those who believe the half of our creed, than for those who deny the whole of it.
To be a mere verbal critic is what no man of genius would be if he could; but to be a critic of true taste and feeling, is what no man without genius could be if he would.
Custom is the law of one description of fools, and fashion of another; but the two parties often clash, for precedent is the legislator of the first, and novelty of the last.
It is better to meet danger than to wait for it.—He that is on a lee shore, and foresees a hurricane, stands out to sea and encounters a storm to avoid a shipwreck.
Death is like thunder in two particulars: we are alarmed at the sound of it, and it is formidable only from that which preceded it.
Death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release; the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure; the comforter of him whom time cannot console.
He that has no real esteem for any of the virtues, can best assume the appearance of them all.
Deformity of heart I call the worst deformity of all; for what is form, or face, but the soul's index, or its case?
We strive as hard to hide our hearts from ourselves as from others, and always with more success; for in deciding upon our own case we are both judge, jury, and executioner, and where sophistry cannot overcome the first, or flattery the second, self-love is always ready to defeat the sentence by bribing the third.
Despotism can no more exist in a nation until the liberty of the press be destroyed, than the night can happen before the sun is set.
It is a mortifying truth, and ought to teach the wisest of us humility, that many of the most valuable discoveries have been the result of chance rather than of contemplation, and of accident rather than of design.
Reply with wit to gravity, and with gravity to wit.—Make a full concession to your adversary; give him every credit for the arguments you know you can answer, and slur over those you feel you cannot.—But above all, if lie have the privilege of making his reply, take especial care that the strongest thing you have to urge be the last.
It is with disease of the mind, as with those of the body; we are half dead before we understand our disorder, and half cured when we do.
The man who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own dispositions, will waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the griefs which he proposes to remove.
Doubt is the vestibule which all must pass before they can enter the temple of wisdom.—When we are in doubt and puzzle out the truth by our own exertions, we have gained something that will stay by us and will serve us again.—But if to avoid the trouble of the search we avail ourselves of the superior information of a friend, such knowledge will not remain with us; we have not bought, but borrowed it.
It is not every man that can afford to wear a shabby coat; and worldly wisdom dictates the propriety of dressing somewhat beyond one's means, but of living within them, for every one sees how we dress, but none see how we live unless we choose to let them.
Drunkenness is the vice of a good constitution, or a bad memory; of a constitution so treacherously good, that it never bends till it breaks, or of a memory that recollects the pleasures of getting intoxicated, but forgets the pains, of getting sober.
Early rising not only gives us more life in the same number of years, but adds, likewise, to their number; and not only enables us to enjoy more of existence in the same time, but increases also the measure.
Emulation has been termed a spur to virtue, and assumes to be a spur of gold.—But it is a spur composed of baser materials, and if tried in the furnace will be found wanting.
Make no enemies.—He is insignificant indeed who can do thee no harm.
If you want enemies, excel others; if friends, let others excel you.
The victims of ennui paralyze all the grosser feelings by excess, and torpify all the finer by disuse and inactivity. Disgusted with this world and indifferent about another, they at last lay violent hands upon themselves, and assume no small credit for the sangfroid with which they meet death. But alas! such beings can scarcely be said to die, for they have never truly lived.
As gout seems privileged to attack the bodies of the wealthy, so ennui seems to exert a similar prerogative over their minds.
Emulation looks out for merits, that she may exalt herself by a victory; envy spies out blemishes, that she may lower another by a defeat.
Envy ought to have no place allowed it in the heart of man; for the goods of this present world are so vile and low that they are beneath it; and those of the future world are so vast and exalted that they are above it.
The envious praise only that which they can surpass; that which surpasses them they censure.
Envy, if surrounded on all sides by the brightness of another's prosperity, like the scorpion confined within a circle of fire, will sting itself to death.
The benevolent have the advantage of the envious, even in this present life; for the envious man is tormented not only by all the ill that befalls himself, but by all the good that happens to another; whereas the benevolent man is the better prepared to bear his own calamities unruffled, from the complacency and serenity he has secured from contemplating the prosperity of all around him.
Kings and their subjects, masters and slaves, find a common level in two places—at the foot of the cross and in the grave.
It is almost as difficult to make a man unlearn his errors as his knowledge. Malinformation is more hopeless than non-information; for error is always more busy than ignorance. Ignorance is a blank sheet, on which we may write; but error is a scribbled one, from which we must first erase. Ignorance is contented to stand still with her back to the truth; but error is more presumptuous, and proceeds in the wrong direction. Ignorance has no light, but error follows a false one. The consequence is, that error, when she retraces her steps, has farther to go before she can arrive at truth, than ignorance.
He that will often put eternity and the world before him, and will dare to look steadfastly at both of them, will find that the more he contemplates them, the former will grow greater and the latter less.
There is this good in real evils,—they deliver us, while they last, from the petty despotism of all that were imaginary.
Evils in the journey of life are like the hills which alarm travelers on their road.—Both appear great at a distance, but when we approach them we find they are far less insurmountable than we had conceived.
There are three modes of bearing the ills of life: by indifference, which is the most common; by philosophy, which is the most ostentatious; and by religion, which is the most effectual.
The excesses of our youth are drafts upon our old age, payable with interest, about thirty years after date.
All excess brings on its own punishment, even here.—By certain fixed, settled, and established laws of him who is the God of nature, excess of every kind destroys that constitution which temperance would preserve.—The debauchee offers up his body a living sacrifice to sin.
That extremes beget extremes, is an apothegm built on the most profound observation of the human mind.
Men are born with two eyes, but only one tongue, in order that they should see twice as much as they say.
Faith and works are as necessary to our spiritual life as Christians, as soul and body are to our life as men; for faith is the soul of religion, and works, the body.
Falsehood is never so successful as when she baits her hook with truth, and no opinions so fatally mislead us, as those that are not wholly wrong; as no watches so effectually deceive the wearer as those that are sometimes right.
Of present fame think little, and of future less; the praises that we receive after we are buried, like the flowers that are strewed over our grave, may be gratifying to the living, but they are nothing to the dead; the dead are gone, either to a place where they hear them not, or where, if they do, they will despise them.
Fame is an undertaker that pays but little attention to the living, but bedizens the dead, furnishes out their funerals, and follows them to the grave.
Milton neither aspired to present fame, nor even expected it.—His high ambition was (to use his own words), "To leave something so written, to after ages, that they should not willingly let it die."—And Cato finally observed, he would much rather posterity should ask why no statues were erected to him, than why they were.
To be happy is of far less consequence to the worshippers of fashion than to appear so; even pleasure itself they sacrifice to parade, and enjoyment to ostentation.
Custom is the law of one description of fools, and fashion of another; but the two parties often clash, for precedent is the legislator of the first, and novelty of the last!
Faults of the head are punished in this world, those of the heart in another; but as most of our vices are compound, so also is their punishment.
We often pretend to fear what we really despise, and more often to despise what we really fear.
Some there are who profess to despise all flattery, but even these are, nevertheless, to be flattered, by being told that they do despise it.
Adroit observers will find that some who affect to dislike flattery may yet be flattered indirectly by a well-seasoned abuse and ridicule of their rivals.
Flattery is often a traffic of mutual meanness, where, although both parties intend deception, neither are deceived.
The wise man has his follies no less than the fool; but herein lies the difference—the follies of the fool are known to the world, but are hidden from himself; the follies of the wise man are known to himself, but hidden from the world.
Human foresight often leaves its proudest possessor only a choice of evils.
It is more easy to forgive the weak who have injured us, than the powerful whom we have injured. That conduct will be continued by our fears which commenced in our resentment. He that has gone so far as to cut the claws of the lion will not feel himself quite secure until he has also drawn his teeth.
The sun should not set on our anger; neither should it rise on our confidence.—We should forgive freely, but forget rarely.—I will not be revenged; this I owe to my enemy.—I will remember; this I owe to myself.
The more gross the fraud the more glibly will it go down, and the more greedily be swallowed, since folly will always find faith where impostors will find impudence.
The firmest friendships have been formed in mutual adversity; as iron is most strongly united by the fiercest flame.
Gambling is the child of avarice, but the parent of prodigality.
The gamester, if he die a martyr to his profession, is doubly ruined; he adds his soul to every other loss, and by the act of suicide renounces earth to forfeit heaven.
The greatest genius is never so great as when it is chastised and subdued by the highest reason.
The drafts which true genius draws upon posterity, although they may not always be honored so soon as they are due, are sure to be paid with compound interest in the end.
He that can enjoy the intimacy of the great, and on no occasion disgust them by familiarity, or disgrace himself by servility, proves that he is as perfect a gentleman by nature, as his companions are by rank.
Two things ought to teach us to think but meanly of human glory—that the very best have had their calumniators, and the very worst their panegyrists.
There are two metals, one of which is omnipotent in the cabinet, and the other in the camp,—gold and iron. He that knows how to apply them both, may indeed attain the highest station, but he must know something more to keep it.
They who worship gold in a world so corrupt as this, have at least one thing to plead in defence of their idolatry—the power of their idol.—This idol can boast of two peculiarities; it is worshipped in all climates, without a single temple, and by all classes, without a single hypocrite.
No metaphysician ever felt the deficiency of language so much as the grateful.
Great men often obtain their ends by means beyond the grasp of vulgar intellect, and even by methods diametrically opposite to those which the multitude would pursue. But, to effect this, bespeaks as profound a knowledge of mind as that philosopher evinced of matter, who first produced ice by the agency of heat.
In life we shall find many men that are great, and some men that are good, but very few men that are both great and good.
Subtract from the great man all that he owes to opportunity, all that he owes to chance, and all that he has gained by the wisdom of his friends and the folly of his enemies, and the giant will often be seen to be a pigmy.
The reason why great men meet with so little pity or attachment in adversity, would seem to be this: the friends of a great man were made by his fortune, his enemies by himself, and revenge is a much more punctual paymaster than gratitude.
Times of general calamity and collusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the lightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.
The truly great consider first, how they may gain the approbation of God; and secondly, that of their own conscience; having done this, they would then willingly conciliate the good opinion of their fellowmen.
A great mind may change its objects, but it cannot relinquish them; it must have something to pursue; variety is its relaxation, and amusement its repose.
Speaking generally, no man appears great to his contemporaries, for the same reason that no man is great to his servants—both know too much of him.
Great minds must be ready not only to take opportunities, but to make them.
There is this difference between happiness and wisdom, that he that thinks himself the happiest man, really is so; but he that thinks himself the wisest, is generally the greatest fool.
No two things differ more than hurry and despatch. Hurry is the mark of a weak mind; despatch of a strong one.
Hurry and cunning are the two apprentices of despatch and skill, but neither of them ever learns the master's trade.
We hate some persons because we do not know them; and we will not know them because we hate them.
There is this difference between the two temporal blessings—health and money; money is the most envied, but the least enjoyed; health is the most enjoyed, but the least envied; and this superiority of the latter is still more obvious when we reflect that the poorest man would not part with health for money, but that the richest would gladly part with all his money for health.
Anguish of mind has driven thousands to suicide; anguish of body, none. This proves that the health of the mind is of far more consequence to our happiness than the health of the body, although both are deserving of much more attention than either receives.
We cannot think, too highly of our nature, nor too humbly of ourselves. When we see the martyr to virtue, subject as he is to the infirmities of a man, yet suffering the tortures of a demon, and bearing them with the magnanimity of a God, do we not behold a heroism that angels may indeed surpass, but which they cannot imitate, and must admire.
The more we know of history, the less shall we esteem the subjects of it; and to despise our species is the price we must too often pay for our knowledge of it.
Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity than straightforward and simple integrity in another. A knave would rather quarrel with a brother-knave than with a fool, but he would rather avoid a quarrel with one honest man than with both. He can combat a fool by management and address, and he can conquer a knave by temptations. But the honest man is neither to be bamboozled nor bribed.
Honesty is not only the deepest policy, but the highest wisdom, since however difficult it may be for integrity to get on, it is a thousand times more difficult for knavery to get off; and no error is more fatal than that of those who think that virtue has no other reward because they have heard that she is her own.
Honor is unstable, and seldom netthe same; for she feeds upon opinion, and is as fickle as her food. She builds a lofty structure on the sandy foundation of the esteem of those who are of all beings the most subject to change.
Hope is a prodigal young heir, and experience is his banker, but his drafts are seldom honored since there is often a heavy balance against him, because he draws largely on a small capital and is not yet in possession.
Honor is most capricious in her rewards.—She feeds us with air, and often pulls down our house to build our monument.
He that places himself neither higher or lower than he ought to do, exercises the truest humility.
If the devil ever laughs, it must be at hypocrites; they are the greatest dupes he has; they serve him better than any others, but receive no wages; nay, what is still more extraordinary, they submit to greater mortifications to go to hell, than the sincerest Christian to go to heaven.
The hypocrite shows the excellence of virtue by the necessity he thinks himself under of seeming to be virtuous.
From its very inaction, idleness ultimately becomes the most active cause of evil; as a palsy is more to be dreaded than a fever. The Turks have a proverb, which says, that the devil tempts all other men, but that idle men tempt the devil.
Ignorance lies at the bottom of all human knowledge, and the deeper we penetrate the nearer we come to it.—For what do we truly know, or what can we clearly affirm of any one of those important things upon which all our reasonings must of necessity be built—time and space, life and death, matter and mind.
It is with nations as with individuals, those who know the least of others think the highest of themselves; for the whole family of pride and ignorance are incestuous, and mutually beget each other.
Where we cannot invent, we may at least improve; we may give somewhat of novelty to that which was old, condensation to that which was diffuse, perspicuity to that which was obscure, and currency to that which was recondite.
Let any of those who renounce Christianity, write fairly down in a book all the absurdities they believe instead of it, and they will find it requires more faith to reject Christianity than to embrace it.
Brutes leave ingratitude to man.
It is more easy to forgive the weak who have injured us, than the powerful whom we have injured. That conduct will be continued by our fears, which commenced in our resentment.
The public has more interest in the punishment of an injury than the one who receives it.
Though reason is progressive, instinct is stationary. Five thousand years have added no improvement to the hive of the bee, or the house of the beaver.
Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity, than straightforward and simple integrity in another.
Tlimes of general calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.
Some men of a secluded and studious life have sent forth from their closet or cloister rays of intellectual light that have agitated courts and revolutionized kingdoms; like the moon which, though far removed from the ocean and shining upon it with a serene and sober light, is the chief cause of all those ebbings and flowings which incessantly disturb that restless world of waters.
Intemperance is a dangerous companion.—It throws people off their guard, betrays them to a great many indecencies, to ruinous passions, to disadvantages in fortune; makes them discover secrets, drive foolish bargains, engage in gambling, and often stagger from the tavern to the stews.
Where we cannot invent, we may at least improve; we may give somewhat of novelty to that which was old, condensation to that which was diffuse, perspicuity to that which was obscure, and currency to that which was recondite.
Of all the passions, jealousy is that which exacts the hardest service, and pays the bitterest wages. Its service is, to watch the success of our enemy; its wages to be sure of it.
To judge by the event, is an error all abuse and all commit; for in every instance, courage, if crowned with success, is heroism; if clouded by defeat, temerity.
The profoundly wise do not declaim against superficial knowledge in others, so much as the profoundly ignorant; on the contrary, they would rather assist it with their advice than overwhelm it with their contempt; for they know that there was a period when even a Bacon or a Newton were superficial, and that he who has a little knowledge is far more likely to get more than he that has none.
A law overcharged with severity, like a blunderbuss overcharged with powder, will each of them grow rusty by disuse, and neither will be resorted to, from the shock and recoil that must inevitably follow their explosion.
The science of legislation is like that of medicine in one respect, viz.: that it is far more easy to point out what will do harm, than what will do good.
In civil jurisprudence it too often happens that there is so much law, that there is no room for justice, and that the claimant expires of wrong in the midst of right, as mariners die of thirst in the midst of water.
Law and equity are two things that God hath joined together, but which man has put asunder.
Pettifoggers in law, and empirics in medicine, whether their patients lose or save their property or their lives, take care to be, in either case, equally remunerated; they profit by both horns of the dilemma, and press defeat no less than success into their service. They hold, from time immemorial, the fee simple of a vast estate, subject to no alienation, diminution, revolution, or tax—the folly and ignorance of mankind.
Death and the cross are the two great levellers; kings and their subjects, masters and slaves, find a common level in two places—at the foot of the cross, and in the silence of the grave.
Liberty will not descend to a people; a people must raise themselves to liberty; it is a blessing that must be earned before it can be enjoyed.
Next to acquiring good friends, the best acquisition is that of good books.
How small a portion of our life it is that we really enjoy! In youth we are looking forward to things that are to come; in old age we are looking backward to things that are gone past; in manhood, although we appear indeed to be more occupied in things that are present, yet even that is too often absorbed in vague determinations to be vastly happy on some future day when we have time.
Life is the jailer of the soul in this filthy prison, and its only deliverer is death.—What we call life is a journey to death, and what we call death is a passport to life.
Literature has her quacks no less than medicine, and they are divided into two classes; those who have erudition without genius, and those who have volubility without depth; we get second-hand sense from the one, and original nonsense from the other.
Literature has now become a game in which the booksellers are the kings; the critics, the knaves; the public, the pack; and the poor author, the mere table or thing played upon.
Logic and metaphysics make use of more tools than all the rest of the sciences put together, and they do the least work.
Logic is a large drawer, containing some needful instruments, and many more that are superfluous.—A wise man will look into it for two purposes, to avail himself of those instruments that are really useful, and to admire the ingenuity with which those that are not so are assorted and arranged.
The plainest man that can convince a woman that he is really in love with her, has done more to make her in love with him than the handsomest man, if he can produce no such conviction. For the love of woman is a shoot, not a seed, and flourishes most vigorously only when ingrafted on that love which is rooted in the breast of another.
Love is an alliance of friendship and animalism; if the former predominate it is a passion exalted and refined; if the latter, gross and sensual.
Corporeal charms may indeed gain admirers, but there must be mental ones to retain them.
It is in love as in war, we are often more indebted for success to the weakness of the defence, than to the energy of the attack; for mere idleness has ruined more women than passion; vanity more than idleness, and credulity more than either.
To despise our own species is the price we must often pay for a knowledge of it.
That alliance may be said to have a double tie, where the minds are united as well as the body, and the union will have all its strength, when both the links are in perfection together.
He that dies a martyr proves that he was not a knave, but by no means that he was not a fool; since the most absurd doctrines are not without such evidence as martyrdom can produce. A martyr, therefore, by the mere act of suffering, can prove nothing but his own faith.
Two things are necessary to a modern martyr,—some to pity, and some to persecute, some to regret, and some to roast him. If martyrdom is now on the decline, it is not because martyrs are less zealous, but because martyr-mongers are more wise.
Some men possess means that are great, but fritter them away in the execution of conceptions that are little; others, who can form great conceptions, attempt to carry them into execution with little means. These two descriptions of men might succeed if united, but kept asunder, both fail. It is a rare thing to find a combination of great means and of great conceptions in one mind.
There are circumstances of peculiar difficulty and danger, where a mediocrity of talent is the most fatal quality that a man can possibly possess. Had Charles the First, and Louis the Sixteenth, been more wise or more weak, more firm or more yielding, in either case they had both of them saved their heads.
Of all the faculties of the mind, memory is the first that flourishes, and the first that dies.
Memory is the friend of wit, but the treacherous ally of invention; there are many books that owe their success to two things,—the good memory of those who write them, and the bad memory of those who read them.
Men, by associating in large masses, as in camps and cities, improve their talents but impair their virtues; and strengthen their minds, but weaken their morals; thus a retrocession in the one, is too often the price they pay for a refinement of the other.
Contemporaries appreciate the man rather than his merit; posterity will regard the merit rather than the man.
Metaphysicians have been learning their lesson for the last four thousand years; and it is now high time that they should begin to teach us something: Can any of the tribe inform us why all the operations of the mind are carried on with undiminished strength and activity in dreams, except the judgment, which alone is suspended and dormant?
We may doubt the existence of matter, if we please, and like Berkeley deny it, without subjecting ourselves to the shame of a very conclusive confutation; but there is this remarkable difference between matter and mind, that he that doubts the existence of mind, by doubting proves it.
He that has no resources of mind, is more to be pitied than he who is in want of necessaries for the body; to be obliged to beg our daily happiness from others, bespeaks a more lamentable poverty than that of him who begs his daily bread.
It is with diseases of the mind as with diseases of the body, we are half dead before we understand our disorder, and half cured when we do.
Anguish of mind has driven thousands to suicide; anguish of body, none. This proves that the health of the mind is of far more consequence to our happiness than the health of the body, although both are deserving of much more attention than either of them receives.
Mental pleasures never clog;—unlike those of the body, they are increased by repetition, approved of by reflection, and strengthened by enjoyment.
In pulpit eloquence, the grand difficulty is, to give the subject all the dignity it deserves without attaching any importance to ourselves.
To cure us of our immoderate love of gain, we should seriously consider how many goods, there are that money will not purchase, and these the best; and how many evils there are that money will not remedy, and these the worst.
Small miseries, like small debts, hit us in so many places, and meet us at so many turns and corners, that what they want, in weight, they make up in number, and render it less hazardous to stand the fire of one cannon ball, than a volley composed of such a shower of bullets.
Rats and conquerors must expect no mercy in misfortune.
Most of our misfortunes are more supportable than the comments of our friends upon them.
The young fancy that their follies are mistaken by the old for happiness; and the old fancy that their gravity is mistaken by the young for wisdom.
The mob is a monster, with the hand of Briareus, but the head of Polyphemus, strong to execute, but blind to perceive.
It is an easy and vulgar thing to please the mob, and not a very arduous task to astonish them; but to benefit and improve them is a work fraught with difficulty, and teeming with danger.
Moderation is the inseparable companion of wisdom, but with it genius has not even a nodding acquaintance.
Our incomes are like our shoes; if too small, they gall and pinch us; but if too large, they cause us to stumble and to trip.
The true motives of our actions, like the real pipes of an organ, are usually concealed; but the gilded and hollow pretext is pompously placed in the front for show.
Mystery magnifies danger, as a fog the sun; the hand that warned Belshazzar derived its horrifying influence from the want of a body.
We injure mysteries, which are matters of faith, by any attempt at explanation, in order to make them matters of reason. Could they be explained, they would cease to be mysteries; and it has been well said that a thing is not necessarily against reason, because it happens to be above it.
Neutrality is no favorite with Providence, for we are so formed that it is scarcely possible for us to stand neuter in our hearts, although we may deem it prudent to appear so in our actions.
Nobility is a river that sets with a constant and undeviating current directly into the great Pacific Ocean of time; but, unlike all other rivers, it is more grand at its source than at its termination.
Novels may teach us as wholesome a moral as the pulpit. There are "sermons in stones," in healthy books, and "good in everything."
Observation made in the cloister or in the desert, will generally be as obscure as the one and as barren as the other; but he that would paint with his pencil must study originals, and not be over fearful of a little dust.
Opinions, like showers, are generated in high places, but they invariably descend into lower ones, and ultimately flow down to the people, as rain unto the sea.
It has been shrewdly said that when men abuse us, we should suspect ourselves, and when they praise us, them. It is a rare instance of virtue to despise censure which we do not deserve, and still more rare to despise praise, which we do. But that integrity that lives only on opinion would starve without it.
The masses procure their opinions ready made in open market.
When the Roman people had listened to the diffuse and polished discourses of Cicero, they departed, saying one to another, "What a splendid speech our orator has made!" But when the Athenians heard Demosthenes, he so filled them with the subject-matter of his oration that they quite forgot the orator, and left him at the finish of his harangue, breathing revenge, and exclaiming, "Let us go and fight against Philip!"
Oratory is the huffing and blustering spoiled child of a semi-barbarous age.—The press is the foe of rhetoric, but the friend of reason; and the art of declamation has been sinking in value from the moment that speakers were foolish enough to publish, and readers wise enough to read.
If we can advance propositions both true and new, these are our own by right of discovery; and if we can repeat what is old, more briefly and brightly than others, this also becomes our own, by right of conquest.
Men of strong minds and who think for themselves, should not be discouraged on finding occasionally that some of their best ideas have been anticipated by former writers; they will neither anathematize others nor despair themselves. They will rather go on discovering things before discovered, until they are rewarded with a land hitherto unknown, an empire indisputably their own, both by right of conquest and of discovery.
Pain may be said to follow pleasure, as its shadow; but the misfortune is, that the substance belongs to the shadow, and the emptiness to its cause.
He that aspires to be the head of a party will find it more difficult to please his friends than to perplex his foes. He must often act from false reasons which are weak, because he dares not avow the true reasons which are strong.
Princes rule the people; and their own passions rule princes; but Providence can overrule the whole, and draw the instruments of his inscrutable purpose from the vices, no less than from the virtues of kings.
Patience is the support of weakness; impatience is the ruin of strength.
Peace is the evening star of the soul, as virtue is its sun; and the two are never far apart.
Pedantiy prides herself on being wrong by rules; while common sense is contented to be right without them. The former would rather stumble in following the dead, than walk upright by the profane assistance of the living.
Pedantry crams our heads with learned lumber, and takes out our brains to make room for it.
In all places, and in all times, those religionists who have believed too much, have been more inclined to violence and persecution than those who have believed too little.
Philosophy is a bully that talks very loud, when the danger is at a distance; but the moment she is hard pressed by the enemy, she is not to be found at her post, but leaves the brunt of the battle to be borne by her humbler but steadier comrade, religion.
Philosophy is to poetry, what old age is to youth; and the stern truths of philosophy are as fatal to the fictions of the one, as the chilling testimonies of experience are to the hopes of the other.
Philosophy is a goddess, whose head indeed is in heaven, but whose feet are upon earth; she attempts more than she accomplishes, and promises more than she performs.
Pickpockets and beggars are the best practical physiognomists, without having read a line of Lavater, who, it is notorious, mistook a philosopher for a highwayman.
If we steal thoughts from the moderns, it will be cried down as plagiarism; if from the ancients, it will be cried up as erudition.—But in this respect every author is a Spartan, more ashamed of the discovery than of the depredation.
Most plagiarists, like the drone, have not the taste to select, the industry to acquire, nor the skill to improve, but impudently pilfer the honey ready prepared, from the hive.
Pleasure is to woman what the sun is to the flower; if moderately enjoyed, it beautifies, refreshes and improves; but if immoderately, it withers, deteriorates and destroys.
The seeds of repentance are sown in youth by pleasure, but the harvest is reaped in age by suffering.
The man of pleasure should more properly be termed the man of pain; like Diogenes, he purchases repentance at the highest price, and sells the richest reversion for the poorest reality.
Mental pleasures never cloy; unlike those of the body, they are increased by repetition, approved by reflection, and strengthened by enjoyment.
All poets pretend to write for immortality, but the whole tribe have no objection to present pay and present praise. Lord Burleigh is not the only statesman who has thought one hundred pounds too much for a song, though sung by Spenser; although Oliver Goldsmith is the only poet who ever considered himself to have been overpaid.
A few drops of oil will set the political machine at work, when a ton of vinegar would only corrode the wheels and canker the movements.
It is not so difficult a task to plant new truths as to root out old errors; for there is this paradox in men,—they run after that which is new, but are prejudiced in favor of that which is old.
With respect to the authority of great names, it should be remembered, that he alone deserves to have any weight or influence with posterity, who has shown himself superior to the particular and predominant error of his own times.
The drafts which true genius draws upon posterity although they may not always be honored so soon as they are due are sure to be paid with compound interest in the end.
In proportion as nations get more corrupt, more disgrace will attach to poverty, and more respect to wealth. There are two questions that would completely reverse this order of things: "What keeps some persons poor? and what has made some others rich?" The true answer to these queries would often make the poor man more proud of his poverty than the rich man is of his wealth, and the rich man more justly ashamed of his wealth, than the poor man unjustly is of his poverty.
If rich, it is easy enough to conceal our wealth; but if poor, it is not quite so easy to conceal our poverty. We shall find that it is less difficult to hide a thousand guineas than one hole in our coat.
Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, nor good enough, to be trusted with unlimited power.
Power, like the diamond, dazzles the beholder, and also the wearer; it dignifies meanness; it magnifies littleness; to what is contemptible, it gives authority; to what is low, exaltation.
To know the pains of power, we must go to those who have it; to know its pleasures, we must go to those who are seeking it.—The pains of power are real; its pleasures imaginary.
Expect not praise without envy until you are dead. Honors bestowed on the illustrious dead have in them no admixture of envy; for the living pity the dead; and pity and envy, like oil and vinegar, assimilate not.
We should not be too niggardly in our praise, for men will do more to support a character than to raise one.
We should pray with as much earnestness as those who expect everything from God; and should act with as much energy as those who expect everything from themselves.
In pulpit eloquence, the grand difficulty lies here; to give the subject all the dignity it so fully deserves, without attaching any importance to ourselves. The Christian messenger cannot think too highly of his Prince, or too humbly of himself.
It was observed of the Jesuits, that they constantly inculcated a thorough contempt of worldly things in their doctrines, but eagerly grasped at them in their lives. They were wise in their generation, for they cried down worldly things, because they wanted to obtain them, and cried up spiritual things, because they wanted to dispose of them.
Men spend their lives in anticipations, in determining to be vastly happy at some period when they have time. But the present time has one advantage over every other—it is our own. Past opportunities are gone, future are not come. We may lay in a stock of pleasures, as we would lay in a stock of wine; but if we defer the tasting of them too long, we shall find that both are soured by age.
The press is the foe of rhetoric, but the friend of reason.
An enslaved press is doubly fatal; it not only takes away the true light, for in that case we might stand still, but it sets up a false one that decoys us to our destruction.
Pride, like the magnet, constantly points to one object, self; but unlike the magnet, it has no attractive pole, but at all points repels.
There is a diabolical trio existing in the natural man, implacable, inextinguishable, cooperative and consentaneous, pride, envy, and hate; pride that makes us fancy we deserve all the goods that others possess; envy that some should be admired while we are overlooked; and hate, because all that is bestowed on others, diminishes the sum we think due to ourselves.
There is this paradox in pride—it makes some men ridiculous, but prevents others from becoming so.
Of all marvellous things, perhaps there is nothing that angels behold with such supreme astonishment as a proud man.
Infidelity, alas! is not always built upon doubt, for this is diffident, nor philosophy always upon wisdom, for this is meek; but pride is neither.
Pride either finds a desert or makes one; submission cannot tame its ferocity, nor satiety fill its voracity, and it requires very costly food—its keeper's happiness.
It is with nations as with individuals, those who know the least of others think the highest of themselves; for the whole family of pride and ignorance are incestuous, and mutually beget each other.
Tomorrow! It is a period nowhere to be found in all the hoary registers of time, unless, perchance, in the fool's calendar.—Wisdom disclaims the word, nor holds society with those who own it.
Let us not be too prodigal when we are young, nor too parsimonious when we are old. Otherwise we shall fall into the common error of those, who, when they had the power to enjoy, had not the prudence to acquire; and when they had the prudence to acquire, had no longer the power to enjoy.
The wisest man may be wiser today than he was yesterday, and tomorrow than he is today. Total freedom from change would imply total freedom from error; but this is the prerogative of Omniscience alone.
Who are they that would have all mankind look backward instead of forward, and regulate their conduct by things that have been done? those who are the most ignorant as to all things that are doing. Bacon said, time is the greatest of innovators; he might also have said the greatest of improvers.
We ought not to be over-anxious to encourage innovation, in cases of doubtful improvement, for an old system must ever have two advantages over a new one; it is established and it is understood.
He that is good, will infallibly become better, and he that is bad, will as certainly become worse; for vice, virtue, and time, are three things that never stand still.
Works of true merit are seldom very popular in their own day; for knowledge is on the march and men of genius are the videttes that are far in advance of their comrades. They are not with them, but before them; not in the camp, but beyond it.
Deliberate with caution, but act with decision and promptness.
He that swells in prosperity will be sure to shrink in adversity.
There is nothing more imprudent than excessive prudence.
Faults of the head are punished in this world; those of the heart in another; but as most of our vices are compound, so is their punishment.
God is on the side of virtue; for whoever dreads punishment suffers it, and whoever deserves it dreads it.
There are many things that are thorns to our hopes until we have attained them, and envenomed arrows to our hearts when we have.
Pettifoggers in law and quacks in medicine have held from time immemorial the fee simple of a vast estate, subject to no alienation, diminution, revolution, nor tax—the folly and ignorance of mankind.
In most quarrels there is a fault on both sides. A quarrel may be compared to a spark, which cannot be produced without a flint as well as steel. Either of them may hammer on wood forever; no fire will follow.
If you cannot avoid a quarrel with a blackguard, let your lawyer manage it rather than yourself. No man sweeps his own chimney, but employs a chimney-sweeper who has no objection to dirty work because it is his trade.
Two things, well considered, would prevent many quarrels; first to have it well ascertained whether we are not disputing about terms rather than things; and secondly, to examine whether that on which we differ is worth contending about.
I have somewhere seen it observed that we should make the same use of a book that the bee does of a flower; she steals sweets from it, but does not injure it.
That smiling daughter of the storm.
When in reading we meet with any maxim that may be of use, we should take it for our own, and make an immediate application of it, as we would of the advice of a friend whom we have purposely consulted.
By reading, we enjoy the dead; by conversation, the living; and by contemplation, ourselves. Reading enriches the memory; conversation polishes the wit; and contemplation improves the judgment. Of these, reading is the most important, as it furnishes both the others.
Some read to think, these are rare; some to write, these are common; some to talk, and these are the great majority.—The first page of an author frequently suffices all the purposes of this latter class, of whom it has been said, they treat books, as some do lords, inform themselves of their titles, and then boast of an intimate acquaintance.
The soundest argument will produce no more conviction in an empty head, than the most superficial declamation; a feather and a guinea fall with equal velocity in a vacuum.
Nothing mere completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity, than straightforward and simple integrity in another.
Charles Fox said that restorations were the most bloody of all revolutions; and he might have added that reformations are the best mode of preventing the necessity of either.
He that has energy enough to root out a vice, should go further, and try to plant a virtue in its place; otherwise he will have his labor to renew.—A strong soil that has produced weeds may be made to produce wheat.
Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but live for it.
Where true religion has prevented one crime, false religions have afforded a pretext for a thousand.
Repartee is perfect, when it effects its purpose with a double edge. Repartee is the highest order of wit, as it bespeaks the coolest yet quickest exercise of genius at a moment when the passions are roused.
The slightest sorrow for sin is sufficient if it produce amendment, and the greatest insufficient if it do not.
There are two modes of establishing our reputation: to be praised by honest men, and to be abused by rogues.—It is best, however, to secure the former, because it will invariably be accompanied by the latter.
The two most precious things this side the grave are our reputation and our life. But it is to be lamented that the most contemptible whisper may deprive us of the one, and the weakest weapon of the other. A wise man, therefore, will be more anxious to deserve a fair name than to possess it, and this will teach him so to live, as not to be afraid to die.
See that your character is right, and in the long run your reputation will be right.
To look back to antiquity is one thing; to go back to it another. If we look back to it, it should be as those who are running a race, only to press forward the faster, and to leave the beaten way still further behind.
It is far more easy to pull down than to build up, and to destroy than to preserve. Revolutions have on this account been falsely supposed to be fertile of great talent; as the dregs rise to the top during a fermentation, and the lightest things are carried highest by the whirlwind.
The greatest and the most amiable privilege which the rich enjoy over the poor is that which they exercise the least,—the privilege of making others happy.
Agur said, "Give me neither poverty nor riches"; and this will ever be the prayer of the wise. Our incomes should be like our shoes: if too small, they will gall and pinch us, but if too large, they will cause us to stumble and to trip. But wealth, after all, is a relative thing, since he that has little, and wants less, is richer than he that has much, but wants more. True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander.
A man who succeeds to his father's reputation must be greater than him, to be considered as great; but he that succeeds to his father's riches, will have to encounter no such deduction. The popular opinion adds to our means, but diminishes our merits; and it is not an unsafe rule to believe less than you hear with respect to a man's fortune, and more than you hear with respect to his fame.
Some are cursed with the fulness of satiety; and how can they bear the ills of life, when its very pleasures fatigue them!
The sceptic, in a vain attempt to be wise beyond what is permitted to man, plunges into a darkness more deplorable, and a blindness more incurable than that of the common herd, whom he despises, and would fain instruct. When he plunges into the depths of infidelity, like the miser who leaps from the shipwreck, he will find that the treasures he bears about him will only sink him the deeper in the abyss.
Secrecy has been well termed the soul of all great designs. Perhaps more has been effected by concealing our own intentions, than by discovering those of our enemy. But great men succeed in both.
None are so fond of secrets as those who do not mean to keep them. Such persons covet secrets as spendthrifts do money, for the purpose of circulation.
We follow the world in approving others; we go far before it in approving ourselves.
The proportion of those who think is extremely small; yet every individual flatters himself that he is one of the number.
There are too many who reverse both the principles and the practice of the apostle; they become all things to all men, not to serve others, but themselves; and they try all things only to hold fast that which is bad.
Heroism, magnanimity, and self-denial, in all instances in which they do not spring from a principle of religion, are but splendid altars on which we sacrifice one kind of self-love to another.
He that knows himself, knows others; and he that is ignorant of himself, could not write a very profound lecture on other men's heads.
Self-love is too apt to draw some consolation even from so bitter a source as the calamities of others.—The sting of our pains is diminished by the assurance that they are common to all; and from feelings equally egotistical, it unfortunately happens that the zest and relish of our pleasures is heightened by the contrary consideration, namely, that they are confined to ourselves. This conviction it is that tickles the palate of the epicure, that inflames the ardor of the lover, that lends to ambition her ladder, and extracts the thorns from a crown.
Sensibility would be a good portress, if she had but one hand; with her right she opens the door to pleasure, but with her left to pain.
If sensuality be our only happiness, we ought to envy the brutes; for instinct is a surer, shorter, safer guide to such happiness than reason.
No improvement that takes place in either of the sexes, can be confined to itself; each is a universal mirror to each; and the respective refinement of the one, will be in reciprocal proportion to the polish of the other.
A man's profundity may keep him from opening on a first interview, and his caution on a second; but I should suspect his emptiness, if he carried on his reserve to a third.
Let those who would affect singularity with success, first determine to be very virtuous, and they will be sure to be very singular.
Slander cannot make the subject of it either better or worse.—It may represent us in a false light, or place a likeness of us in a bad one, but we are always the same.—Not so the slanderer, for calumny always makes the calumniator worse, but the calumniated never.
Sleep, the type of death, is also, like that which it typifies, restricted to the earth.—It flies from hell, and is excluded from heaven.
Sloth, if it has prevented many crimes, has also smothered many virtues.
No company is preferable to bad, because we are more apt to catch the vices of others than their virtues, as disease is far more contagious than health.
It is curious that we pay statesmen for what they say, not for what they do, and judge them from what they do, not from what they say.—Hence they have one code of maxims for professions, and another for practice, and make up their consciences as the Neapolitans do their beds, with one set of furniture for show, and another for use.
Bacon has compared those who move in higher spheres to those heavenly bodies in the firmament, which have much admiration, but little rest; and it is not necessary to invest a wise man with power, to convince him that it is a garment bedizzened with gold, which dazzles the beholder by its splendor, but oppresses the wearer by its weight.
He that studies only men, will get the body of knowledge without the soul; and he that studies only books, the soul without the body. He that to what he sees, adds observation, and to what he reads, reflection, is in the right road to knowledge, provided that in scrutinizing the hearts of others, he neglects not his own.
Nothing is so difficult as the apparent ease of a clear and flowing style.—Those graces which, from their presumed facility, encourage all to attempt to imitate them, are usually the most inimitable.
Antithesis may be the blossom of wit, but it will never arrive at maturity unless sound sense be the trunk, and truth the root.
Perhaps that is nearly the perfection of good writing which effects that for knowledge which the lens effects for the sunbeam when it condenses its brightness in order to increase its force.
Subtlety will sometimes give safety, no less than strength; and minuteness has sometimes escaped, where magnitude would have been crushed. The little animal that kills the boa is formidable chiefly from its insignificance, which is incompressible by the folds of its antagonist.
To know a man, observe how he wins his object, rather than how he loses it; for when we fail, our pride supports; when we succeed, it betrays us.
He that has never known adversity, is but half acquainted with others, or with himself. Constant success shows us but one side of the world. For, as it surrounds us with friends, who will tell us only our merits, so it silences those enemies from whom alone we can learn our defects.
Suicide sometimes proceeds from cowardice, but not always; for cowardice sometimes prevents it; since as many live because they are afraid to die, as die because they are afraid to live.
He that sympathizes in all the happiness of others, perhaps himself enjoys the safest happiness; and he that is warned by the folly of others has perhaps attained the soundest wisdom.
Never join with your friend when he abuses his horse or his wife, unless the one is to be sold, and the other to be buried.
Men may have the gifts both of talent and of wit, but unless they have also prudence and judgment to dictate when, where, and the how those gifts are to be exerted, the possessors of them will conquer only where nothing is to be gained, and be defeated where everything is to be lost; they will be outdone by men of less brilliant, but more convertible qualifications, and whose strength, in one point, is not counterbalanced by any disproportion in another.
It has been well observed, that the tongue discovers the state of the mind no less than that of the body; but, in either case, before the philosopher or the physician can judge, the patient must open his mouth.
Those who have finished by making all others think with them, have usually been those who began by daring to think for themselves.
Those that are the loudest in their threats are the weakest in the execution of them.
Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time, which every day produces, and which most men throw away, but which nevertheless will make at the end of it no small deduction from the life of man.
Time, the cradle of hope, but the grave of ambition, is the stern corrector of fools, but the salutary counsellor of the wise, bringing all they dread to the one, and all they desire to the other; it warns us with a voice that even the sagest discredit too long, and the silliest believe too late. Wisdom walks before it, opportunity with it, and repentance behind it; he that has made it his friend will have little to fear from his enemies, but he that has made it his enemy will have little to hope from his friends.
Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future has not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like the flash of the lightning, at once exists and expires.
Those who visit foreign nations, but associate only with their own countrymen, change their climate, but not their customs.—They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with travelled bodies, but untravelled minds.
The interests of society often render it expedient not to utter the whole truth, the interests of science never: for in this field we have much more to fear from the deficiency of truth, than from its abundance.
The greatest friend of truth is time; her greatest enemy is prejudice; and her constant companion is humility.
No bad man ever wished that his breast was made of glass, or that others could read his thoughts. But the misery is, that the duplicities, the temptations, and the infirmities that surround us, have rendered the truth, and nothing but the truth, as hazardous and contraband a commodity as a man can possibly deal in.
What is earthly happiness? that phantom of which we hear so much and see so little; whose promises are constantly given and constantly broken, but as constantly believed; that cheats us with the sound instead of the substance, and with the blossom instead of the fruit.
Ladies of fashion starve their happiness to feed their vanity, and. their love to feed their pride.
If you cannot inspire a woman with love of you, fill her above the brim with love of herself; all that runs over will be yours.
There is more jealousy between rival wits than rival beauties, for vanity has no sex. But in both cases there must be pretensions, or there will be no jealousy.
Vice stings us even in our pleasures, but virtue consoles us even in our pains.
He that has energy enough in his constitution to root out a vice should go a little farther, and try to plant a virtue in its place, otherwise he will have his labor to renew; a strong soil that has produced weeds, may be made to produce wheat with far less difficulty than it would cost to make it produce nothing.
The good make a better bargain, and the bad a worse, than is usually supposed; for the rewards of the one, and the punishments of the other not unfrequently begin on this side of the grave; for vice has more martyrs than virtue; and it often happens that men suffer more to be damned than to be saved.
Great examples to virtue, or to vice, are not so productive of imitation as might at first sight be supposed. There are hundreds that want energy, for one that wants ambition; and sloth has prevented as many vices in some minds as virtue in others. Idleness is the grand Pacific Ocean of life, and in that stagnant abyss, the most salutary things produce no good, the most noxious no evil. Vice, indeed, abstractedly considered, may be, and often is, engendered in idleness, but the moment it becomes efficiently vice, it must quit its cradle and cease to be idle.
When Mandeville maintained that private vices were public benefits, he did not calculate the widely destructive influence of bad example. To affirm that a vicious man is only his own enemy is about as wise as to affirm that a virtuous man is only his own friend.
A society composed of none but the wicked could not exist; it contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction, and, without a flood, would be swept away from the earth by the deluge of its own iniquity. The moral cement of all society is virtue; it unite and preserves, while vice separates and destroys. The good may well be termed the salt of the earth, for where there is no integrity there can be no confidence; and where there is no confidence there can be no unanimity.
The martyrs to vice far exceed the martyrs to virtue, both in endurance and in number. So blinded are we by our passions that we suffer more to be damned than to be saved.
Villainy that is vigilant will be an overmatch for virtue, if she slumber at her post.
There is but one pursuit in life which it is in the power of all to follow, and of all to attain. It is subject to no disappointments, since he that perseveres makes every difficulty an advancement, and every conquest a victory and this is the pursuit of virtue. Sincerely to aspire after virtue is to gain her; and zealously to labor after her ways is to receive them.
Virtue without talent is a coat of mail without a sword; it may indeed defend the wearer, but will not enable him to protect his friend.
No man can purchase his virtue too dear, for it is the only thing whose value must ever increase with the price it has cost us. Our integrity is never worth so much as when we have parted with our all to keep it.
He that is good will infallibly become better, and he that is bad will as certainly become worse; for vice, virtue, and time are three things that never stand still.
Virtue is uniform and fixed, because she looks for approbation only from Him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
There are two things that declare, as with a voice from heaven, that he that fills that eternal throne must be on the side of virtue, and that which he befriends must finally prosper and prevail. The first is that the bad are never completely happy and at ease, although possessed of everything that this world can bestow; and that the good are never completely miserable, although deprived of everything that this world can take away. The second is that we are so framed and constituted that the most vicious cannot but pay a secret though unwilling homage to virtue, inasmuch as the worst men cannot bring themselves thoroughly to esteem a bad man, although he may be their dearest friend, nor can they thoroughly despise a good man, although he may be their bitterest enemy.
We are ruined, not by what we really want, but by what we think we do; therefore, never go abroad in search of your wants: for if they be real wants they will come in search of you. He that buys what he does not want, will soon want what he cannot buy.
Our wealth is often a snare to ourselves, and always a temptation to others.
Men pursue riches under the idea that their possession will set them at ease and above the world. But the law of association often makes those who begin by loving gold as a servant, finish by becoming its slaves; and independence without wealth is at least as common as wealth without independence.
He that will not permit his wealth to do any good to others while he is living, prevents it from doing any good to himself when he is dead; and by an egotism that is suicidal and has a double edge, cuts himself off from the truest pleasure here and the highest happiness hereafter.
In proportion as nations become more corrupt, more disgrace will attach to poverty and more respect to wealth.
Wealth, after all, is a relative thing, since he that has little, and wants less, is richer than he that has much, and wants more.
It is only when the rich are sick that they fully feel the impotence of wealth.
Gross and vulgar minds will always pay a higher respect to wealth than to talent; for wealth, although it be a far less efficient source of power than talent, happens to be far more intelligible.
It is far more easy to acquire a fortune like a knave than to expend it like a gentleman.
To commit the execution of a purpose to one who disapproves of the plan of it is to employ but one-third of the man; his heart and his head are against you, you have commanded only his hands.
Posthumous charities are the very essence of selfishness, when bequeathed by those who, when alive, would part with nothing.
He that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool.
Most females will forgive a liberty, rather than a slight; and if any woman were to hang a man for stealing her picture, although it were set in gold, it would be a new case in law; but if he carried off the setting, and left the portrait, I would not answer for his safety.
Recreation or pleasure is to a woman what the sun is to the flower; if moderately enjoyed, it beautifies, it refreshes, and improves; if immoderately, it withers, deteriorates, and destroys. But the duties of domestic life, exercised, as they must be, in retirement, and calling forth all the sensibilities of the female, are, perhaps, as necessary to the full development of her charms, as the shades and shadows are to the rose; confirming its beauty, and increasing its fragrance.
Women do not transgress the bounds of decorum so often as men; but when they do they go greater lengths.
Women that are the least bashful are not unfrequently the most modest; and we are never more deceived than when we would infer any laxity of principle from that freedom of demeanor which often arises from a total ignorance of vice.
Words are but the signs and counters of knowledge, and their currency should be strictly regulated by the capital which they represent.
There are many that despise half the world; but if there be any that despise the whole of it, it is because the other half despises them.
It would be most lamentable if the good things of this world were rendered either more valuable or more lasting; for, despicable as they already are, too many are found eager to purchase them, even at the price of their souls!
The excesses of our youth are drafts upon our old age, payable with interest, about thirty years after date.