WILLMOTT, Robert Aris Quotes
(1809-1863), English author
Occasionally a single anecdote opens a character; biography has its comparative anatomy, and a saying or a sentiment enables the skillful hand to construct the skeleton.
Amusement is the waking sleep of labor. When it absorbs thought, patience, and strength that might have been seriously employed, it loses its distinctive character and becomes the taskmaster of idleness.
Attention makes the genius; all learning, fancy, science, and skill depend upon it.—Newton traced his great discoveries to it.—It builds bridges, opens new worlds, heals diseases, carries on the business of the world.—Without it taste is useless, and the beauties of literature unobserved.
Biography is the personal and home aspect of history.
There is wisdom in the saying of Feltham, that the whole creation is kept in order by discord, and that vicissitude maintains the world.—Many evils bring many blessings.—Manna drops in the wilderness.—Corn grows in Canaan.
Joy and grief are never far apart.—In the same street the shutters of one house are closed, while the curtains of the next are brushed by the shadows of the dance. —A wedding party returns from the church; and a funeral winds to its door.—The smiles and sadness of life are the tragi-comedy of Shakespeare.—Gladness and sighs brighten and dim the mirror he beholds.
It is supposable that in the eyes of angels, a struggle down a dark lane and a battle of Leipsic differ in nothing but in degree of wickedness.
There is no moral power in doubt, or in the denial of truth, and any human soul that tries to live on it will die, both morally and spiritually.—It is negative, and there is no life in it.
Education is the apprenticeship of life.
Only the astrologer and the empyric never fail.
Fiction allures to the severe task by a gayer preface.—Embellished truths are the illuminated alphabet of larger children.
Genius finds its own road, and carries its own lamp.
History presents the pleasantest features of poetry and fiction—the majesty of the epic, the moving accidents of the drama, and the surprises and moral of the romance.
We imitate only what we believe and admire.
The amplest knowledge has the largest faith.—Ignorance is always incredulous.
Of many large volumes the index is the best portion and the most useful.—A glance through the casement gives whatever knowledge of the interior is needful.—An epitome is only a book shortened; and as a general rule, the worth increases as the size lessens.
A little knowledge leads the mind from God. Unripe thinkers use their learning to authenticate their doubts. While unbelief has its own dogma, more peremptory than the inquisitor's, patient meditation brings the scholar back to humbleness. He learns that the grandest truths appear slowly.
Mere learning is only a compiler, and manages the pen as the compositor picks out the types—each sets up a book with the hand.—Stone masons collected the dome of St. Paul's, but Wren hung it in the air.
The gloomy recess of an ecclesiastical library is like a harbor, into which a far-traveling curiosity has sailed with its freight, and cast anchor. The ponderous tomes are bales of the mind's merchandise. Odors of distant countries and times steal from the red leaves, the swelling ridges of vellum, and the titles in tarnished gold.
The importance of the romantic element does not rest upon conjecture. Pleasing testimonies abound. Hannah More traced her earliest impressions of virtue to works of fiction; and Adam Clark gives a list of tales that won his boyish admiration. Books of entertainment led him to believe in a spiritual world; and he felt sure that he would have been a coward, but for romances. He declared that he had learned more of his duty to God, his neighbor, and himself, from Robinson Crusoe than from all the books, except the Bible, that were known to his youth.
Philosophical studies are beset by one peril, that a person easily brings himself to think that he thinks; and a smattering of science encourages conceit. Moreover, the vain man is generally a doubter. It is Newton who sees himself in a child on the seashore, and his discoveries in the colored shells.
A discursive student is almost certain to fall into bad company. Homes of entertainment, scientific and romantic, are always open to a man who is trying to escape from his thoughts. But a shelter from the tempest is dearly bought in the house of the plague. Ten minutes with a French novel or a German rationalist have sent a reader away with a fever for life.
There is no reason why the brown hand of labor should not hold Thomson as well as the sickle. Ornamental reading shelters and even strengthens the growth of what is merely useful. A cornfield never returns a poorer crop because a few wildflowers bloom in the hedge. The refinement of the poor is the triumph of Christian civilization.
The advice of a scholar, whose piles of learning were set on fire by imagination, is never to be forgotten. Proportion an hour's reflection to an hour's reading, and so dispirit the book into the student.
Viewed in its happiest form satire has one defect which seems to be incurable,—its uniformity of censure. Bitterness scarcely admits those fine transitions which make the harmony of a composition. Aquafortis bites a plate all over alike. The satirist is met by the difficulty of the etcher.
How deep is the magic of sound may be learned by breaking some sweet verses into prose. The operation has been compared to gathering dew-drops, which shine like jewels upon the flower, but run into water in the hand. The elements remain, but the sparkle is gone.
The exhibition of real strength is never grotesque. Distortion is the agony of weakness. It is the dislocated mind whose movements are spasmodic.
Whatever is pure is also simple; it does not keep the eye on itself.—The observer forgets the window in the landscape it displays.—A fine style gives the view of fancy—of its figures, its trees, its palaces without a spot.
Talents, to strike the eye of posterity, should be concentrated. Rays, powerless while they are scattered, burn in a point.
Taste is often one of the aspects of fashion. Folly borrows its mask, and walks out with wisdom arm in arm. Like virtues of greater dignity, it is assumed.
Taste is not stationary. It grows every day, and is improved by cultivation, as a good temper is refined by religion.
Even the most refined and polished of men seldom conceal any of the sacrifices they make, or what it costs to make them. This is reserved for women, and is one of the many proofs they give of their superiority in all matters of affection and delicacy.