WHATELY, Richard Quotes
(1787-1863), Archbishop of Dublin
The happiest lot for a man, as far as birth is concerned, is that it should be such as to give him but little occasion to think much about it.
Neither human applause nor human censure is to be taken as the test of truth; but either should set us upon testing ourselves.
Never argue at the dinner table, for the one who is not hungry always gets the best of the argument.
It is generally true that all that is required to make men unmindful of what they owe to God for any blessing, is, that they should receive that blessing often and regularly.
Some persons follow the dictates of their conscience, only in the same sense in which a coachman may be said to follow the horses he is driving.
Curiosity is as much the parent of attention, as attention is of memory.
He that is not open to conviction, is not qualified for discussion.
Misgive, that you may not mistake.
It is never worth while to suggest doubts in order to show how cleverly we can answer them.
Eloquence is relative.—One can no more pronounce on the eloquence of any composition, than on the wholesomeness of a medicine without knowing for whom it is intended.
Those who get through the world without enemies are commonly of three classes: the supple, the adroit, the phlegmatic. The leaden rule surmounts obstacles by yielding to them; the oiled wheel escapes friction; the cotton sack escapes damage by its impenetrable elasticity.
Half the truth will very often amount to absolute falsehood.
It is seldom that a man labors well in his minor department unless he over-rates it.—It is lucky for us that the bee does not look upon the honeycomb in the same light we do.
That is suitable to a man, in point of ornamental expense, not which he can afford to have, but which he can afford to lose.
He only is exempt from failures who makes no efforts.
As the flower is before the fruit, so is faith before good works.
Falsehood, like the dry rot, flourishes the more in proportion as air and light are excluded.
Falsehood, like poison, will generally be rejected when administered alone; but when blended with wholesome ingredients, may be swallowed unperceived.
Fancy, when once brought into religion, knows not where to stop.—it is like one of those fiends in old stories which any one could raise, but which, when raised, could never be kept within the magic circle.
Ten thousand of the greatest faults in our neighbors are of less consequence to us than one of the smallest in ourselves.
Those who delight in the study of human nature, may improve in the knowledge of it, and in the profitable application of it by the perusal of the best selected fictions.
All frauds, like the wall daubed with untempered mortar, with which men think to buttress up an edifice, always tend to the decay of what they are devised to support.
All gaming, since it implies a desire to profit at the expense of others, involves a breach of the tenth commandment.
Historians give us the extraordinary events, and omit just what we want, the everyday life of each particular time and country.
"Honesty is the best policy"; but he who acts only on that principle is not an honest man.—No one is habitually guided by it in practice.—An honest man is always before it, and a knave is generally behind it.
Too much attention cannot be bestowed on that important, yet much neglected branch of learning, the knowledge of man's ignorance.
He that is not aware of his ignorance will be only misled by his knowledge.
In our judgment of human transactions, the law of optics is reversed; we see the most indistinctly the objects which are close around us.
The judgment is like a pair of scales, and evidences like the weights; but the will holds the balances in its hand; and even a slight jerk will be sufficient, in many cases, to make the lighter scale appear the heavier.
The dangers of knowledge are not to be compared with the dangers of ignorance. Man is more likely to miss his way in darkness than in twilight; in twilight than in full sun.
The word knowledge, strictly employed, implies three things, viz., truth, proof, and conviction.
Every instance of a man's suffering the penalty of the law, is an instance of the failure of that penalty in effecting its purpose, which is to deter from transgression.
"A little learning is a dangerous thing," and yet it is what all must attain before they can arrive at great learning; it is the utmost acquisition of those who know the most in comparison of what they do not know.
The liberality of some men is but indifference clad in the garb of candor.
The over-formal often impede, and sometimes frustrate business by a dilatory, tedious, circuitous, and fussy way of conducting the simplest transactions. They have been compared to a dog which cannot lie down till he has made three circuits round the spot.
To be always thinking about your manners is not the way to make them good; the very perfection of manners is not to think about yourself.
The heathen mythology not only was not true, but it was not even supported as true; it not only deserved no faith, but it demanded none.—The very pretension to truth, the very demand of faith, were characteristics of Christianity.
A confident expectation that no argument will be adduced that will change our opinions is very different from a resolution that none ever shall. We may print but not stereotype our opinions.
Those who are ambitious of originality, and aim at it, are necessarily led by others, since they seek to be different from them.
The tendency of party-spirit has ever been to disguise, and propagate, and support error.
Persecution is not wrong because it is cruel, but cruel because it is wrong.
Positive views of truth and duty are those that impress the mind and lead to action; negation dwells mostly in cavil and denial.
Many a meandering discourse one hears, in which the preacher aims at nothing, and—hits it.
Most precepts that are given are so general that they cannot be applied, except by an exercise of as much discretion as would be sufficient to frame them.
Proverbs are somewhat analogous to those medical formulas which, being in frequent use, are kept ready made up in the chemists' shops, and which often save the framing of a distinct prescription.
That is, in a great degree, true of all men, which was said of the Athenians, that they were like sheep, of which a flock is more easily driven than a single one.
Reason can no more influence the will, and operate as a motive, than the eyes which show a man his road can enable him to move from place to place, or than a ship provided with a compass can sail without a wind.
If our religion is not true, we are bound to change it; if it is true, we are bound to propagate it.
The heathen mythology not only was not true, but was not even supported as true; it not only deserved no faith, but it demanded none.—The very pretension to truth, the very demand of faith, were characteristic distinctions of Christianity.
Some men's reputation seems like seed-wheat, which thrives best when brought from a distance.
The best security against revolution is in constant correction of abuses and the introduction of needed improvements. It is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.
The larger the income, the harder it is to live within it.
Nothing but the right can ever be expedient, since that can never be true expediency which would sacrifice a greater good to a less.
Do you want to know the man against whom you have most reason to guard yourself? Your looking-glass will give you a very fair likeness of his face.
Though not always called upon to condemn ourselves, it is always safe to suspect ourselves.
A man is called selfish, not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor's.
It is observed by Homer that a man loses half his virtue the day he becomes a slave; he might have added, with truth, that he is likely to lose more than half when he becomes a slave-master.
Sophistry is like a window curtain—it pleases as an ornament, but its true use is to keep out the light.
Superstition is not, as has been defined, an excess of religious feeling, but a misdirection of it, an exhausting of it on vanities of man's devising.
Tradition, as held by the Romanists, is subordinate to Scripture and dependent on it, about as some parasite plants are on the tree that supports them. The former cling to the latter, and rest upon it; then gradually overspread it with their own foliage, till, by little and little, they weaken, and then smother it.
To follow imperfect, uncertain, or corrupted traditions, in order to avoid erring in our own judgment, is but to exchange one danger for another.
The power of duly appreciating little things belongs to a great mind; a narrow-minded man has it not, for to him they are great things.
Every one wishes to have truth on his side, but it is not every one that sincerely wishes to be on the side of truth.
As one may bring himself to believe almost anything he is inclined to believe, it makes all the difference whether we begin or end with inquiry, "What is truth?"
Vices and frailties correct each other, like acids and alkalies. If each vicious man had but one vice, I do not know how the world could go on.
The relief that is afforded to mere want, as want, tends to increase that want.
I will undertake to explain to any one the final condemnation of the wicked, if he will explain to me the existence of the wicked—if he will explain why God does not cause all those to die in the cradle of whom he foresees that, when they grow up, they will lead a sinful life.
It may be said, almost without qualification, that true wisdom consists in the ready and accurate perception of analogies. Without the former quality, knowledge of the past is uninstructive; without the latter, it is deceptive.
Woman is like the reed which bends to every breeze, but breaks not in the tempest.
Not in books only, nor yet in oral discourse, but often also in words there are boundless stores of moral and historic truth, and no less of passion and imagination laid up, from which lessons of infinite worth may be derived.