.

About Samuel Johnson



Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer. Religiously, he was a devout Anglican, and politically a committed Tory. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography describes Johnson as arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history.  Wikipedia

References:   Encyclopaedia Britannica   |   BBC

  

Samuel Johnson (quotes)

 

Principles for living

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Industry and diligence

  • Few things are impossible to diligence and skill.
  • Exert your talents, and distinguish yourself, and don’t think of retiring from the world, until the world will be sorry that you retire.
  • What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.
  • All industry must be excited by hope.
  • Sorrow is the mere rust of the soul. Activity will cleanse and brighten it.
  • A mere literary man is a dull man; a man who is solely a man of business is a selfish man; but when literature and commerce are united, they make a respectable man.
  • As he that lives longest lives but a little while, every man may be certain that he has no time to waste. The duties of life are commensurate to its duration; and every day brings its task, which, if neglected, is doubled on the morrow.
  • As the mind must govern the hands, so in every society the man of intelligence must direct the man of labor.
  • Few enterprises of great labor or hazard would be undertaken if we had not the power of magnifying the advantages we expect from them.
  • Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified.
  • Our minds, like our bodies, are in continual flux; something is hourly lost, and something acquired…. Do not suffer life to stagnate; it will grow muddy for want of motion: commit yourself again to the current of the world.
  • Don’t think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or laziness drive into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl.  Let him come out as I do, and bark.
  • The poor and the busy have no leisure for sentimental sorrow.
  • It very seldom happens to a man that his business is his pleasure.
  • Prosperity’s right hand is industry and her left hand is frugality.
  • Such is the constitution of Man that labor may be said to be its own re-ward.
  • Few moments are more pleasing than those in which the mind is concerting measures for a new undertaking.
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Commerce

  • Commerce can never be at a stop while one man wants what another can supply; and credit will never be denied, while it is likely to be repaid with profit.
  • Commerce however we may please ourselves with the contrary opinion, is one of the daughters of fortune, inconstant and deceitful as her mother. She chooses her residence where she is least expected, and shifts her abode when her continuance is, in appearance, most firmly settled.
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Live life to the full

  • The love of life is necessary to the vigorous prosecution of any undertaking.
  • When making your choice in life, do not neglect to live.
  • It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.
  • A book should teach us to enjoy life, or to endure it.
  • Life must be filled up, and the man who is not capable of intellectual pleasures must content himself with such as his senses can afford.
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Move forwards

  • Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.
  • Life, to be worthy of a rational being, must be always in progression; we must always purpose to do more or better than in time past.
  • The business of life is to go forward; he who sees evil in prospect meets it in his way, and he who catches it by retrospection turns back to find it. That which is feared may sometimes be avoided, but that which is regretted to-day may be regretted again to-morrow.
  • There is certainly no greater happiness than to be able to look back on a life usefully and virtuously employed, to trace our own progress in existence, by such tokens as excite neither shame nor sorrow.
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Do it now without delay

  • Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
  • Never mind the use–do it!
  • To do something is in every man’s power.
  • He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything.
  • The hour of reformation is always delayed; every delay gives vice another opportunity of fortifying itself by habit.
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Journaling

  • A person loves to review his own mind. That is the use of a diary, or journal.
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Ideas

  • Words are daughters of earth but ideas are sons of heaven.
  • Words are but the signs of ideas.
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Valuing time

  • He that hopes to look back hereafter with satisfaction upon past years must learn to know the present value of single minutes, and endeavour to let no particle of time fall useless to the ground.
  • Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation how it shall be spent.
  • Life, however short, is made still shorter by waste of time.
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Great things take time

  • One of the most pernicious effects of haste is obscurity.
  • Nature never gives everything at once.
  • There is a frightful interval between the seed and the timber.
  • Whatever is formed for long duration arrives slowly to its maturity.
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Patience

  • In a contest between patience and power, bet on patience.
  • Patience and submission are very carefully to be distinguished from cowardice and indolence. We are not to repine, but we may lawfully struggle; for the calamities of life, like the necessities of Nature, are calls to labor and diligence.
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Perseverance

  • Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance. Those that walk with vigor, three hours a day, will pass in seven years a space equal to the circumference of the globe.
  • All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance.
  • I will be conquered; I will not capitulate.
  • Too much vigor in the beginning of an undertaking often intercepts and prevents the steadiness and perseverance always necessary in the conduct of a complicated scheme.
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Focus

  • He who attempts to do all will waste his life in doing little.
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Passion

  • Our senses, our appetite, and our passions are our lawful and faithful guides in things that relate solely to this life.
  • Love is only one of many passions.
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Do what you love

  • Those who have any intention of deviating from the beaten roads of life, and acquiring a reputation superior to names hourly swept away by time among the refuse of fame, should add to their reason and their spirit the power of persisting in their pur.
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Truth

  • Reason and truth will prevail at last.
  • Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it.
  • Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.
  • I know not any crime so great that a man could contrive to commit as poisoning the sources of eternal truth.
  • In order that all men might be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.
  • Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.
  • Power is not sufficient evidence of truth.
  • Truth has no gradations; nothing which admits of increase can be so much what it is, as truth is truth. There may be a strange thing, and a thing more strange. But if a proposition be true, there can be none more true.
  • Truth, such as is necessary to the reputation of life, is always found where it is honestly sought.
  • Truth allows no choice.
  • The most useful truths are always universal, and unconnected with accidents and customs.
  • Between falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so knowledge which cannot apply will make no man wise.
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Reason

  • Reason and truth will prevail at last.
  • We may take Fancy for a companion, but must follow Reason as our guide.
  • All power of fancy over reason is a degree of madness.
  • Reason will by degrees submit to absurdity, as the eye is in time accommodated to darkness.
  • Human reason borrowed many arts from the instinct of animals.
  • Reason elevates our thoughts as high as the stars, and leads us through the vast space of this mighty fabric; yet it comes far short of the real extent of our corporeal being.
  • Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument.
  • Some people wave their dogmatic thinking until their own reason is entangled.
  • All argument is against it; but all belief is for it.
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Wisdom

  • You can never be wise unless you love reading.
  • Celestial wisdom calms the mind.
  • Cunning differs from wisdom as twilight from open day.
  • To fix the thoughts by writing, and subject them to frequent examinations and reviews, is the best method of enabling the mind to detect its own sophisms, and keep it on guard against the fallacies which it practices on others.
  • Pointed axioms and acute replies fly loose about the world, and are assigned successively to those whom it may be the fashion to celebrate.
  • He that never thinks can never be wise.
  • There is no wisdom in useless and hopeless sorrow.
  • Allegories drawn to great length will always break.
  • From ignorance our comfort flows, the only wretched are the wise.
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Discernment

  • The supreme end of education is expert discernment in all things-the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and the genuine to the bad and the counterfeit.
  • Judgment is forced upon us by experience.
  • Scarcely any degree of judgment is sufficient to restrain the imagination from magnifying that on which it is long detained.
  • Sir, as a man advances in life, he gets what is better than admiration, – judgement, to estimate things at their true value.
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Knowledge

  • Books without the knowledge of life are useless.
  • A little knowledge is a dangerous thing – it only hastens fools to rush in where angels fear to tread.
  • Between falsehood and useless truth there is little difference. As gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so knowledge which cannot apply will make no man wise.
  • Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
  • Knowledge always desires increase; it is like fire, which must first be kindled by some external agent, but which will afterwards propagate itself.
  • Knowledge is more than equivalent to force.
  • That observation which is called knowledge of the world will be found much more frequently to make men cunning than good.
  • The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it.
  • Every human being whose mind is not debauched, will be willing to give all that he has to get knowledge.
  • The seeds of knowledge may be planted in solitude, but must be cultivated in public.
  • If useless thoughts could be expelled from the mind, all the valuable parts of our knowledge would more frequently recur.
  • No knowledge is useless, with the exception of heraldry.
  • Knowledge is more than equivalent to force. The master of mechanics laughs at strength.
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Learning

  • Nobody can be taught faster than he can learn.
  • The true art of memory is the art of attention.
  • The chief art of learning, as Locke has observed, is to attempt but little at a time. The widest excursions of the mind are made by short flights frequently repeated; the most lofty fabrics of science are formed by the continued accumulation of single propositions.
  • No man should attempt to teach others what he has never learned himself.
  • What is read twice is usually remembered more than what is once written.
  • If a man has a science to learn he must regularly and resolutely advance.
  • Other things may be seized by might, or purchased with money, but knowledge is to be gained only by study, and study to be prosecuted only in retirement.
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Worthwhile enquiry

  • The number of such as live without the ardour of inquiry is very small, though many content themselves with cheap amusements, and waste their lives in researches of no importance.
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Curiosity

  • Curiosity is the thirst of the soul.
  • A generous and elevated mind is distinguished by nothing more certainly than an eminent degree of curiosity.
  • Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect. Every advance into knowledge opens new prospects, and produces new incitements to farther progress.
  • Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.
  • Leisure and curiosity might soon make great advances in useful knowledge, were they not diverted by minute emulation and laborious trifles.
  • Read the book you do honestly feel a wish and curiosity to read.
  • Curiosity, like all other desires, produces pain as well as pleasure.
  • Where necessity ends, desire and curiosity begin; and no sooner are we supplied with everything nature can demand than we sit down to contrive artificial appetites.
  • The specualtist, who is not content with superficial views, harasses himself with fruitless curiosity; and still, as he inquires more, perceives only that he knows less.
  • The gratification of curiosity rather frees us from uneasiness than confers pleasure; we are more pained by ignorance than delighted by instruction. Curiosity is the thirst of the soul; it inflames and torments us, and makes us taste every thing with joy, however otherwise insipid, by which it may be quenched.
  • There are innumerable questions to which the inquisitive mind can in this state receive no answer: Why do you and I exist? Why was this world created? Since it was to be created, why was it not created sooner?
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Observation

  • Art and nature have stores inexhaustible by human intellects; and every moment produces something new to him who has quickened his faculties by diligent observation.
  • It is common to overlook what is near by keeping the eye fixed on something remote.
  • So scanty is our present allowance of happiness that in many situations life could scarcely be supported if hope were not allowed to relieve the present hour by pleasures borrowed from the future.
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Attention

  • The true art of memory is the art of attention.
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Excellence

  • Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price.
  • It is reasonable to have perfection in our eye that we may always advance toward it, though we know it can never be reached.
  • Those who attain any excellence commonly spend life in one pursuit; for excellence is not often granted upon easier terms.
  • What is easy is seldom excellent.
  • What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.
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Genius

  • A man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself.
  • Genius is that energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates.
  • The true genius is a mind of large general powers, accidentally determined to some particular direction.
  • Genius, that power which constitutes a poet; that quality without which judgment is cold, and knowledge is inert; that energy which collects, combines, amplifies and animates.
  • It is good sense applied with diligence to what was at first a mere accident, and which by great application grew to be called, by the generality of mankind, a particular genius.
  • Even those to whom Providence has allotted greater strength of understanding can expect only to improve a single science.
  • The truly strong and sound mind is the mind that can embrace equally great things and small.
  • No estimate is more in danger of erroneous calculations than those by which a man computes the force of his own genius.
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Greatness

  • There lurks, perhaps, in every human heart a desire of distinction, which inclines every man first to hope, and then to believe, that Nature has given him something peculiar to himself.
  • To love one that is great, is almost to be great one’s self.
  • Whatever is formed for long duration arrives slowly to its maturity.
  • Much is due to those who first broke the way to knowledge, and left only to their successors the task of smoothing it.
  • It seems to be remarkable that death increases our veneration for the good, and extenuates our hatred for the bad.
  • Merit rather enforces respect than attracts fondness.
  • The first step to greatness is to be honest.
  • The civilities of the great are never thrown away.
  • The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.
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Talent

  • There must always be some advantage on one side or the other, and it is better that advantage should be had by talents than by chance.
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Happiness

  • Occupation alone is happiness.
  • Deviation from Nature is deviation from happiness.
  • Hope is itself a species of happiness.
  • To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition.
  • No man can enjoy happiness without thinking that he enjoys it.
  • The happiest part of a man’s life is what he passes lying awake in bed in the morning.
  • The really happy woman is the one who can enjoy the scenery when she has to take a detour. Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but rather a manner of traveling.
  • There is certainly no greater happiness than to be able to look back on a life usefully and virtuously employed, to trace our own progress in existence, by such tokens as excite neither shame nor sorrow.
  • Of the blessings set before you make your choice, and be content.
  • There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.
  • The fountain of contentment must spring up in the mind.
  • There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.
  • To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labor tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution.
  • We are long before we are convinced that happiness is never to be found, and each believes it possessed by others, to keep alive the hope of obtaining it for himself.
  • Terrestrial happiness is of short duration. The brightness of the flame is wasting its fuel; the fragrant flower is passing away in its own odors.
  • We seldom require more to the happiness of the present hour than to surpass him that stands next before us.
  • Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness.
  • Human happiness has always its abatements; the brightest sunshine of success is not without a cloud.
  • Nothing is more idle than to inquire after happiness, which nature has kindly placed within our reach.
  • Few moments are more pleasing than those in which the mind is concerting measures for a new undertaking.
  • Good-humor is a state between gayety and unconcern,–the act or emanation of a mind at leisure to regard the gratification of another.
  • Happiness is enjoyed only in proportion as it is known; and such is the state or folly of man, that it is known only by experience of its contrary.
  • The fiction of happiness is propagated by every tongue and confirmed by every look till at last all profess the joy which they do not feel and consent to yield to the general delusion.
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Gratitude

  • Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people.
  • Gratitude is a species of justice.
  • When any calamity is suffered, the first thing to be remembered is, how much has been escaped.
  • The good of our present state is merely comparative, and the evil which every man feels will be sufficient to disturb and harass him if he does not know how much he escapes.
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Cheerfulness and good humor

  • The habit of looking on the bright side of every event is worth more than a thousand pounds a year.
  • Gayety is to good-humor as perfumes to vegetable fragrance: the one overpowers weak spirits; the other recreates and revives them.
  • Good-humor is a state between gayety and unconcern,–the act or emanation of a mind at leisure to regard the gratification of another.
  • I live in the crowd of jollity, not so much to enjoy company as to shun myself.
  • The great end of prudence is to give cheerfulness to those hours which splendor cannot gild, and acclamation cannot exhilarate.
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Purpose and enthusiasm

  • The hopes of zeal are not wholly groundless.
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Attitude

  • He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts.
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Anticipation and expectation

  • The pleasure of expecting enjoyment is often greater than that of obtaining it, and the completion of almost every wish is found a disappointment.
  • In all pleasures hope is a considerable part.
  • We go from anticipation to anticipation, not from satisfaction to satisfaction.
  • We love to expect, and when expectation is either disappointed or gratified, we want to be again expecting.
  • None are happy but by anticipation of change.
  • Expectation improperly indulged in must end in disappointment.
  • Such is the uncertainty of human affairs, that security and despair are equal follies; and as it is presumption and arrogance to anticipate triumphs, it is weakness and cowardice to prog-nosticate miscarriages.
  • Tomorrow is an old deceiver, and his cheat never grows stale.
  • Every period of life is obliged to borrow its happiness from time to come.
  • Few enterprises of great labor or hazard would be undertaken if we had not the power of magnifying the advantages we expect from them.
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Hope

  • Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords: but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulged must end in disappointment.
  • Hope is itself a species of happiness.
  • Hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, sickness, of captivity, would, without this comfort, be insupportable.
  • Hope itself is a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords; but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain.
  • In all pleasures hope is a considerable part.
  • The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure but from hope to hope.
  • Whatever enlarges hope will also exalt courage.
  • When there is no hope, there can be no endeavor.
  • Yet it is necessary to hope, though hope should always be deluded, for hope itself is happiness, and its frustrations, however frequent, are yet less dreadful than its extinction.
  • Hope is an amusement rather than a good, and adapted to none but very tranquil minds.
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Pleasure (and pain)

  • If pleasure was not followed by pain, who would forbear it?
  • No man is a hypocrite in his pleasures.
  • Pleasure that is obtained by unreasonable and unsuitable cost, must always end in pain.
  • The equity of Providence has balanced peculiar sufferings with peculiar enjoyments.
  • True enjoyments also keep people from vice.
  • Ease, a neutral state between pain and pleasure … if it is not rising into pleasure will be falling towards pain.
  • Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks. The flowers which scatter their odours from time to time in the paths of life, grow up without culture from seeds scattered by chance.
  • Pleasure itself is not a vice.
  • Pain is less subject than pleasure to careless expression.
  • The public pleasures of far the greater part of mankind are counterfeit.
  • The mind is seldom quickened to very vigorous operations but by pain, or the dread of pain. We do not disturb ourselves with the detection of fallacies which do us no harm.
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Rest

  • Do not continue any day’s journey to fatigue.
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Peace and calmness

  • With an unquiet mind, neither exercise, nor diet, nor physick can be of much use.
  • Cast away all anxiety, and keep your mind easy.
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Manage the mind

  • To have the management of the mind is a great art, and it may be attained in a considerable degree by experience and habitual exercise.
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Virtue

  • The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
  • No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.
  • The vicious count their years; virtuous, their acts.
  • The wise man applauds he who he thinks most virtuous; the rest of the world applauds the wealthy.
  • Wickedness is always easier than virtue, for it takes a short cut to everything.
  • To dread no eye and to suspect no tongue is the great prerogative of innocence–an exemption granted only to invariable virtue.
  • Virtue is too often merely local.
  • A man who is good enough to go to heaven is good enough to be a clergyman.
  • Most men are more willing to indulge in easy vices than to practise laborious virtues.
  • Every man prefers virtue, when there is not some strong incitement to transgress its precepts.
  • It is to be steadily inculcated, that virtue is the highest proof of understanding, and the only solid basis of greatness.
  • The business of life summons us away from useless grief, and calls us to the exercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation.
  • It is dangerous for mortal beauty, or terrestrial virtue, to be examined by too strong a light. The torch of Truth shows much that we cannot, and all that we would not, see.
  • There is a certain degree of temptation which will overcome any virtue. Now, in so far as you approach temptation to a man, you do him an injury; and, if he is overcome, you share his guilt.
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Self-control

  • He that would be superior to external influences must first become superior to his own passions.
  • Man’s chief merit consists in resisting the impulses of his nature.
  • To have the management of the mind is a great art, and it may be attained in a considerable degree by experience and habitual exercise.
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Honesty

  • The first step to greatness is to be honest.
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Integrity

  • Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
  • There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.
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Doing what is right

  • Nothing can be truly great which is not right.
  • It is better to suffer wrong than to do it.
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Intention and motive

  • In the motive lies the good or ill.
  • Actions are visible, though motives are secret.
  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
  • The morality of an action depends on the motive from which we act. If I fling half a crown to a beggar with intention to break his head and he picks it up and buy victuals with it, the physical effect is good. But with respect to me the action is very wrong.
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Love

  • Love is only one of many passions.
  • Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.
  • Admiration and love are like being intoxicated with champagne; judgment and friendship are like being enlivened.
  • The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love, like being enlivened with champagne.
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Service

  • It is our first duty to serve society, and after we have done that, we may attend wholly to the salvation of our own souls.
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Make others happy

  • Let him that desires to see others happy, make haste to give while his gift can be enjoyed, and remember that every moment of delay takes away something from the value of his benefaction.
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Kindness

  • Always set high value on spontaneous kindness. He whose inclination prompts him to cultivate your friendship of his own accord will love you more than one whom you have been at pains to attach to you.
  • Getting money is not all a man’s business: to cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.
  • Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.
  • To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.
  • Beauty, without kindness, dies unenjoyed and undelighting.
  • I have found men to be more kind than I expected, and less just.
  • If we will have the kindness of others, we must endure their follies.
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Tenderness

  • Want of tenderness is want of parts, and is no less a proof of stupidity than depravity.
  • The longer we live the more we think and the higher the value we put on friendship and tenderness towards parents and friends.
  • The necessities of our condition require a thousand offices of tenderness, which mere regard for the species will never dictate.
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Forgiveness

  • A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.
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Compassion

  • Pity is not natural to man. Children are always cruel. Savages are always cruel. Pity is acquired and improved by the cultivation of reason. We may have uneasy sensations from seeing a creature in distress, without pity; for we have not pity unless we wish to relieve them.
  • Those who do not feel pain seldom think that it is felt.
  • The wretched have no compassion, they can do good only from strong principles of duty.
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Friendship and networking

  • Men become friends by a community of pleasures.
  • If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. A man should keep his friendships in constant repair.
  • No one is much pleased with a companion who does not increase, in some respect, their fondness for themselves.
  • A man, sir, should keep his friendship in a constant repair.
  • The most fatal disease of friendship is gradual decay, or dislike hourly increased by causes too slender for complaint, and too numerous for removal.
  • Friendship is not always the sequel of obligation.
  • Life has no pleasure higher or nobler than that of friendship.
  • The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love, like being enlivened with champagne.
  • The great effect of friendship is beneficence, yet by the first act of uncommon kindness it is endangered.
  • The longer we live the more we think and the higher the value we put on friendship and tenderness towards parents and friends.
  • Friends are often chosen for similitude of manners, and therefore each palliates the other’s failings because they are his own.
  • Friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions. What we have missed long enough to want it, we value more when it is regained; but that which has been lost till it is forgotten will be found at last with little gladness, and with still less if a substitute has supplied the place.
  • To those who have lived long together, everything heard and everything seen recalls some pleasure communicated, some benefit conferred, some petty quarrel or some slight endearment. Esteem of great powers, or amiable qualities newly discovered may embroider a day or a week, but a friendship of twenty years is interwoven with the texture of life.
  • Friendship may well deserve the sacrifice of pleasure, though not of conscience.
  • I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance.
  • The relief of enemies has a tendency to unite mankind in fraternal affection.
  • An old friend never can be found, and nature has provided that he cannot easily be lost.
  • Friendship, compounded of esteem and love, derives from one its tenderness and its permanence from the other.
  • We may have many acquaintances, but we can have but few friends; this made Aristotle say that he that hath many friends hath none.
  • Friendship is seldom lasting but between equals, or where the superiority on one side is reduced by some equivalent advantage on the other.
  • The friendship which is to be practised or expected by common mortals, must take its rise from mutual pleasure, and must end when the power ceases of delighting each other.
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Repentance and apology

  • As long as one lives he will have need of repentance.
  • Repentance, however difficult to be practiced, is, if it be explained without superstition, easily understood. Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice from the conviction that it has offended God.
  • Apologies are seldom of any use.
  • There are occasions on which all apology is rudeness.
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Admiration

  • Admiration begins where acquaintance ceases.
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Change

  • Such is the state of life, that none are happy but by the anticipation of change: the change itself is nothing; when we have made it, the next wish is to change again.
  • The general remedy of those who are uneasy without knowing the cause is change of place.
  • Change is not made without inconvenience.
  • A man used to vicissitudes is not easily dejected.
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Exercise

  • Exercise is labor without weariness.
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Order

  • Order is a lovely nymph, the child of Beauty and Wisdom; her attendants are Comfort, Neatness, and Activity; her abode is the valley of happiness: she is always to be found when sought for, and never appears so lovely as when contrasted with her opponent, Disorder.
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Mediocrity

  • Among many parallels which men of imagination have drawn between the natural and moral state of the world, it has been observed that happiness as well as virtue consists in mediocrity.
  • The maxim of Cleobulus, “Mediocrity is best,” has been long considered a universal principle, extending through the whole compass of life and nature. The experience of every age seems to have given it new confirmation, and to show that nothing, however specious or alluring, is pursued with propriety or enjoyed with safety beyond certain limits.
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Self-confidence

  • Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.
  • A man should cultivate his mind so as to have that confidence and readiness without wine, which wine gives.
  • Knock the ‘t’ off the ‘can’t.’
  • My dear friend, clear your mind of can’t.
  • Towering is the confidence of twenty-one.
  • All imposture weakens confidence and chills benevolence.
  • Confidence is a plant of slow growth; especially in an aged bosom.
  • It generally happens that assurance keeps an even pace with ability.
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Self-esteem

  • That kind of life is most happy which affords us most opportunities of gaining our own esteem.
  • Every man is of importance to himself.
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Process

  • The process is the reality.
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Brevity and conciseness

  • A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who, instead of aiming a single stone at an object, takes up a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit.
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Pleasing

  • Whatever professes to benefit by pleasing must please at once. The pleasures of the mind imply something sudden and unexpected; that which elevates must always surprise.
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Civility

  • When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.
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Courage

  • Courage is the greatest of all virtues, because if you haven’t courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others.
  • Whatever enlarges hope will also exalt courage.
  • Bravery has no place where it can avail nothing.
  • To excite opposition and inflame malevolence is the unhappy privilege of courage made arrogant by consciousness of strength.
  • Courage is a quality so necessary for maintaining virtue, that it is always respected, even when it is associated with vice.
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Variety

  • The joy of life is variety; the tenderest love requires to be rekindled by intervals of absence.
  • None are happy but by anticipation of change.
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Health

  • Health is certainly more valuable than money, because it is by health that money is procured.
  • To preserve health is a moral and religious duty: for health is the basis of all social virtues; and we can be useful no longer than while we are well.
  • He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.
  • Health is so necessary to all the duties, as well as pleasures of life, that the crime of squandering it is equal to the folly.
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The importance of the present

  • It may be observed in general that the future is purchased by the present. It is not possible to secure distant or permanent happiness but by the forbearance of some immediate gratification.
  • Life admits not of delays; when pleasure can be had, it is fit to catch it: every hour takes away part of the things that please us, and perhaps part of our disposition to be pleased.
  • No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring.
  • No mind is much employed upon the present: recollection and anticipation fill up almost all our moments.
  • The future is bought with the present.
  • The present is never a happy state to any human being.
  • In proportion as our cares are employed upon the future, they are abstracted from the present, from the only time which we can call our own, and of which, if we neglect the apparent duties to make provision against visionary attacks, we shall certainly counteract our own purpose.
  • Learn that the present hour alone is man’s.
  • Such is the emptiness of human enjoyment that we are always impatient of the present. Attainment is followed by neglect, and possession by disgust.
  • Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings.
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Laughter

  • Men have been wise in many different modes; but they have always laughed the same way.
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Abstinence

  • Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.
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Frugality and economy

  • Frugality may be termed the daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the parent of Liberty.
  • Prosperity’s right hand is industry and her left hand is frugality.
  • Resolve not to be poor: whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult.
  • Whatever you have, spend less.
  • Without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor.
  • All to whom want is terrible, upon whatever principle, ought to think themselves obliged to learn the sage maxims of our parsimonious ancestors, and attain the salutary arts of contracting expense; for without economy none can be rich, and with it few can be poor.
  • Economy is the parent of integrity, of liberty, and of ease, and the beauteous sister of temperance, of cheerfulness and health.
  • The mere power of saving what is already in our hands must be of easy acquisition to every mind; and as the example of Lord Bacon may show that the highest intellect cannot safely neglect it, a thousand instances every day prove that the humblest may practise it with success.
  • The prospect of penury in age is so gloomy and terrifying that every man who looks before him must resolve to avoid it; and it must be avoided generally by the science of sparing.
  • He who is extravagant will quickly become poor; and poverty will enforce dependence, and invite corruption.
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Think for yourself

  • Those who will not take the trouble to think for themselves, have always somebody that thinks for them; and the difficulty in writing is to please those from whom others learn to be pleased.
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Wonder

  • All wonder is the effect of novelty on ignorance.
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Travel

  • All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.
  • By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.
  • In travelling, a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge.
  • The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.
  • Ancient travelers guessed; modern travelers measure.
  • The world is not yet exhausted: let me see something tomorrow which I never saw before.
  • What I gained by being in France was learning to be better satisfied with my own country.
  • Let him go abroad to a distant country; let him go to some place where he is not known. Don’t let him go to the devil, where he is known.
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Community

  • There will always be a part, and always a very large part of every community, that have no care but for themselves, and whose care for themselves reaches little further than impatience of immediate pain, and eagerness for the nearest good
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Refinement

  • It is in refinement and elegance that the civilized man differs from the savage.
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Aspiration

  • Your aspirations are your possibilities.
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Transcending what can limit us

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Idleness and laziness

  • He that never labors may know the pains of idleness, but not the pleasures.
  • Idleness and timidity often despair without being overcome, and forbear attempts for fear of being defeated; and we may promote the invigoration of faint endeavors, by showing what has already been performed.
  • As peace is the end of war, so to be idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy.
  • Every man is, or hopes to be, an idler.
  • He that embarks on the voyage of life will always wish to advance rather by the impulse of the wind than the strokes of the oar; and many fold in their passage; while they lie waiting for the gale.
  • If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary be not idle.
  • It is the just doom of laziness and gluttony to be inactive without ease and drowsy without tranquility.
  • Perhaps man is the only being that can properly be called idle.
  • There is no kind of idleness by which we are so easily seduced as that which dignifies itself by the appearance of business.
  • Indolence is the devil’s cushion.
  • To do nothing is in everyone’s power.
  • All intellectual improvement arises from leisure.
  • Preserve me from unseasonable and immoderate sleep.
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Ignorance

  • Ignorance, when it is voluntary, is criminal; and he may be properly charged with evil who refused to learn how he might prevent it.
  • Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.
  • We are more pained by ignorance than delighted by instruction.
  • He that voluntarily continues in ignorance, is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces.
  • Ignorance cannot always be inferred from inaccuracy; knowledge is not always present.
  • The man who feels himself ignorant should, at least, be modest.
  • Ignorance, when it is voluntary, is criminal.
  • Art hath an enemy called ignorance.
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Criticism and rejection

  • Abuse is often of service. There is nothing so dangerous to an author as silence.
  • All truth is valuable, and satirical criticism may be considered as useful when it rectifies error and improves judgment; he that refines the public taste is a public benefactor.
  • An author places himself uncalled before the tribunal of criticism and solicits fame at the hazard of disgrace.
  • Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at very small expense. He whom nature has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet support his vanity by the name of a critic.
  • Criticism, though dignified from the earliest ages by the labours of men eminent for knowledge and sagacity, has not yet attained the certainty and stability of science.
  • Critics, like the rest of mankind, are very frequently misled by interest.
  • I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works.
  • It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.
  • It is better a man should be abused than forgotten.
  • It is easy for a man who sits idle at home, and has nobody to please but himself, to ridicule or censure the common practices of mankind.
  • Nothing has more retarded the advancement of learning than the disposition of vulgar minds to ridicule and vilify what they cannot comprehend.
  • Sir, there is no end of negative criticism.
  • The duty of criticism is neither to depreciate nor dignify by partial representations, but to hold out the light of reason, whatever it may discover; and to promulgate the determinations of truth, whatever she shall dictate.
  • The man who is asked by an author what he thinks of his work is put to the torture and is not obliged to speak the truth.
  • The purpose of a writer is to be read, and the criticism which would destroy the power of pleasing must be blown aside.
  • Whatever is proposed, it is much easier to find reasons for rejecting than embracing.
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Desire

  • Some desire is necessary to keep life in motion, and he whose real wants are supplied must admit those of fancy.
  • Such are the vicissitudes of the world, through all its parts, that day and night, labor and rest, hurry and retirement, endear each other; such are the changes that keep the mind in action: we desire, we pursue, we obtain, we are satiated; we desire something else and begin a new pursuit.
  • Every desire is a viper in the bosom, who while he was chill was harmless; but when warmth gave him strength, exerted it in poison.
  • The desires of man increase with his acquisitions.
  • Such is the emptiness of human enjoyment that we are always impatient of the present. Attainment is followed by neglect, and possession by disgust.
  • It is very common for us to desire most what we are least qualified to obtain.
  • I have already enjoyed too much; give me something to desire.
  • The disturbers of our happiness, in this world, are our desires, our griefs, and our fears.
  • Our desires always increase with our possessions. The knowledge that something remains yet unenjoyed impairs our enjoyment of the good before us.
  • It is not the desire of new acquisitions, but the glory of conquests, that fires the soldier’s breast; as indeed the town is seldom worth much, when it has suffered the devastations of a siege.
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Imitation

  • Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those who we cannot resemble.
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Bad habits

  • The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
  • The hour of reformation is always delayed; every delay gives vice another opportunity of fortifying itself by habit.
  • Long customs are not easily broken; he that attempts to change the course of his own life very often labors in vain; and how shall we do that for others, which we are seldom able to do for ourselves.
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Cruelty

  • An infallible characteristic of meanness is cruelty.
  • Pity is not natural to man. Children always are cruel. Savages are always cruel.
  • Of all the grief’s that harass the distressed; sure the most bitter is a scornful jest.
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Corruption

  • He that is already corrupt is naturally suspicious, and he that becomes suspicious will quickly become corrupt.
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Approval seeking

  • Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep.
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Rivalry

  • Such seems to be the disposition of man, that whatever makes a distinction produces rivalry.
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Uncertainty and excessive caution

  • Such is the uncertainty of human affairs, that security and despair are equal follies; and as it is presumption and arrogance to anticipate triumphs, it is weakness and cowardice to prog-nosticate miscarriages.
  • Prudence is an attitude that keeps life safe, but does not often make it happy.
  • Security will produce danger.
  • He is no wise man who will quit a certainty for an uncertainty.
  • Since life itself is uncertain, nothing which has life for its basis can boast much stability.
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Melancholy and unhappiness

  • Employment and hardships prevent melancholy.
  • Human happiness has always its abatements; the brightest sunshine of success is not without a cloud.
  • Man alone is born crying, lives complaining, and dies disappointed.
  • I would consent to have a limb amputated to recover my spirits.
  • Melancholy, indeed, should be diverted by every means but drinking.
  • Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul, which every new idea contributes in its passage to scour away. It is the putrefaction of stagnant life, and is remedied by exercise and motion.
  • Sorrow is the mere rust of the soul. Activity will cleanse and brighten it.
  • The misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continually repeated.
  • The safe and general antidote against sorrow is employment. It is commonly observed, that among soldiers and seamen, though there is much kindness, there is little grief; they see their friend fall without any of that lamentation which is indulged in security and idleness, because they have no leisure to spare from the care of themselves; and whoever shall keep his thoughts equally busy will find himself equally unaffected with irretrievable losses.
  • While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.
  • I inherited a vile melancholy from my father, which has made me mad all my life, at least not sober.
  • Of the present state, whatever it be, we feel and are forced to confess the misery; yet when the same state is again at a distance, imagination paints it as desirable.
  • The present is never a happy state to any human being.
  • Sorrow is properly that state of the mind in which our desires are fixed upon the past without looking forward to the future.
  • Misery and shame are nearly allied.
  • Tears are often to be found where there is little sorrow, and the deepest sorrow without any tears.
  • Social sorrow loses half its pain.
  • Grief is a species of idleness.
  • Many of our miseries are merely comparative: we are often made unhappy, not by the presence of any real evil, but by the absence of some fictitious good; of something which is not required by any real want of nature, which has not in itself any power of gratification, and which neither reason nor fancy would have prompted us to wish, did we not see it in the possession of others.
  • Sir, sorrow is inherent in humanity. As you cannot judge two and two to be either five, or three, but certainly four, so, when comparing a worse present state with a better which is past, you cannot but feel sorrow. It is not cured by reason, but by the incursion of present objects, which bear out the past.
  • We never do anything consciously for the last time without sadness of heart.
  • The cure for the greatest part of human miseries is not radical, but palliative.
  • Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed.
  • The gloomy and the resentful are always found among those who have nothing to do or who do nothing.
  • Every man may be observed to have a certain strain of lamentation, some peculiar theme of complaint on which he dwells in his moments of dejection.
  • When any anxiety or gloom of the mind takes hold of you, make it a rule not to publish it by complaining; but exert yourselves to hide it, and by endeavoring to hide it you drive it away.
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Adversity and difficulty

  • Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties.
  • Where there is no difficulty there is no praise.
  • Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.
  • Frequent discontent must proceed from frequent hardships.
  • To strive with difficulties, and to conquer them, is the highest human felicity; the next is, to strive, and deserve to conquer: but he whose life has passed without a contest, and who can boast neither success nor merit, can survey himself only as a useless filler of existence; ad if he is content with his own character, must owe his satisfaction to insensibility.
  • The heroes of literary history have been no less remarkable for what they have suffered than for what they have achieved.
  • Misfortunes should always be expected.
  • Adversity leads us to think properly of our state, and so is most beneficial to us.
  • When any calamity is suffered, the first thing to be remembered is, how much has been escaped.
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Complaining

  • To hear complaints is wearisome to the wretched and the happy alike.
  • When any fit of gloominess, or perversion of mind, lays hold upon you, make it a rule not to publish it by complaints.
  • In the bottle discontent seeks for comfort, cowardice for courage, and bashfulness for confidence.
  • Man alone is born crying, lives complaining, and dies disappointed.
  • The usual fortune of complaint is to excite contempt more than pity.
  • To hear complaints with patience, even when complaints are vain, is one of the duties of friendship.
  • Complaints are vain; we will try to. do better another time. To-morrow and to-morrow. A few designs and a few failures, and the time of designing is past.
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Resentment

  • When a man feel the reprehension of a friend seconded by his own heart, he is easily heated into resentment.
  • Resentment gratifies him who intended an injury, and pains him unjustly who did not intend it.
  • Resentment is a union of sorrow with malignity; a combination of a passion which all endeavor to avoid with a passion which all concur to detest.
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Disappointment

  • Disappointment, when it involves neither shame nor loss, is as good as success; for it supplies as many images to the mind, and as many topics to the tongue.
  • He who expects much will be often disappointed; yet disappointment seldom cures us of expectation, or has any other effect than that of producing a moral sentence or peevish exclamation.
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Guilt

  • Guilt once harbored in the conscious breast, intimidates the brave, degrades the great.
  • Rash oaths, whether kept or broken, frequently produce guilt.
  • Guilt has always its horrors and solicitudes; and, to make it yet more shameful and detestable, it is doomed often to stand in awe of those to whom nothing could give influence or weight but their power of betraying.
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Perfectionism

  • Faults and defects every work of man must have.
  • Man is a transitory being, and his designs must partake of the imperfections their author.
  • Shakespeare never had more than 6 lines together without a fault.
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Distrust and suspicion

  • A certain amount of distrust is wholesome, but not so much of others as of ourselves; neither vanity or conceit can exist in the same atmosphere with it.
  • It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.
  • Whoever commits a fraud is guilty not only of the particular injury to him who he deceives, but of the diminution of that confidence which constitutes not only the ease but the existence of society.
  • Suspicion is very often a useless pain.
  • When desperate ills demand a speedy cure, Distrust is cowardice, and prudence folly.
  • Suspicion is most often useless pain.
  • Men do not suspect faults which they do not commit.
  • He that is already corrupt is naturally suspicious, and he that becomes suspicious will quickly become corrupt.
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Inequality

  • It is better that some should be unhappy rather than that none should be happy, which would be the case in a general state of equality.
  • It is not true that people are naturally equal for no two people can be together for even a half an hour without one acquiring an evident superiority over the other.
  • Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.
  • Power is gradually stealing away from the many to the few, because the few are more vigilant and consistent.
  • So far is it from being true that men are naturally equal, that no two people can be half an hour together, but one shall acquire an evident superiority over the other.
  • Subordination tends greatly to human happiness. Were we all upon an equality, we should have no other enjoyment than mere animal pleasure.
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Pleasing others

  • Studious to please, yet not ashamed to fail.
  • He who endeavors to please must appear pleased.
  • What is good only because it pleases cannot be pronounced good till it has been found to please.
  • Those authors who would find many readers, must endeavour to please while they instruct.
  • We all live upon the hope of pleasing somebody, and the pleasure of pleasing ought to be greatest, and at last always will be greatest, when our endeavours are exerted in consequence of our duty.
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Worry

  • The worst evils are those that never arrive.
  • None but a fool worries about things he cannot influence.
  • Do not hope wholly to reason away your troubles; do not feed them with attention, and they will die imperceptibly away. Fix your thoughts upon your business, fill your intervals with company, and sunshine will again break in upon your mind.
  • We suffer equal pain from the pertinacious adhesion of unwelcome images, as from the evanescence of those which are pleasing and useful.
  • There is little peace or comfort in life if we are always anxious as to future events. He that worries himself with the dread of possible contingencies will never be at rest.
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Tardiness

  • To buried merit rise the tardy bust.
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Envy

  • Whoever envies another confesses his superiority.
  • All envy is proportionate to desire; we are uneasy at the attainments of another, according as we think our own happiness would be advanced by the addition of that which he withholds from us.
  • All envy would be extinguished, if it were universally known that there are none to be envied.
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Risk

  • The dangers gather as the treasures rise.
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Haste

  • One of the most pernicious effects of haste is obscurity.
  • As pride sometimes is hid under humility, idleness if often covered by turbulence and hurry.
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Busyness

  • He that has too much to do will do something wrong.
  • He who attempts to do all will waste his life in doing little.
  • As peace is the end of war, so to be idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy.
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Revenge

  • Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice. Injuries are revenged; crimes are avenged.
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Debt

  • Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience; you will find it a calamity.
  • Small debts are like small shot; they are rattling on every side, and can scarcely be escaped without a wound: great debts are like cannon; of loud noise, but little danger.
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Contempt

  • Contempt is a kind of gangrene which, if it seizes one part of a character, corrupts all the rest by degrees.
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Impatience

  • In all evils which admit a remedy, impatience is to be avoided, because it wastes that time and attention in complaints, that, if properly applied might remove the cause.
  • The mental disease of the present generation is impatience of study, contempt of the great masters of ancient wisdom, and a disposition to rely wholly upon unassisted genius and natural sagacity.
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Deceit and falsehood

  • Deceit and falsehood, whatever conveniences they may for a time promise or produce, are, in the sum of life, obstacles to happiness. Those who profit by the cheat distrust the deceiver; and the act by which kindness was sought puts an end to confidence.
  • Don’t tell me of deception; a lie is a lie, whether it be a lie to the eye or a lie to the ear.
  • Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it.
  • I have always considered it as treason against the great republic of human nature, to make any man’s virtues the means of deceiving him.
  • It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentionally lying that there is so much falsehood in the world.
  • Large offers and sturdy rejections are among the most common topics of falsehood.
  • There is no crime more infamous than the violation of truth. It is apparent that men can be social beings no longer than they believe each other. When speech is employed only as the vehicle of falsehood, every man must disunite himself from others, inhabit his own cave and seek prey only for himself.
  • Falsehood always endeavors to copy the mien and attitude of truth.
  • I have always considered it as treason against the great republic of human nature, to make any man’s virtues the means of deceiving him.
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Vice

  • Most vices may be committed very genteelly: a man may debauch his friend’s wife genteelly: he may cheat at cards genteelly.
  • Though the wisdom or virtue of one can very rarely make many happy, the folly or vice of one man often make many miserable.
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Judgement

  • As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly.
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Narrow mindedness

  • A man’s mind grows narrow in a narrow place.
  • As any action or posture long continued will distort and disfigure the limbs; so the mind likewise is crippled and contracted by perpetual application to the same set of ideas.
  • I wish there were some cure, like the lover’s leap, for all heads of which some single idea has obtained an unreasonable and irregular possession.
  • Most minds are the slaves of external circumstances, and conform to any hand that undertakes to mould them.
  • What a strange narrowness of mind now is that, to think the things we have not known are better than the things we have known.
  • That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one.
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Ambition

  • A wise man is cured of ambition by ambition itself; his aim is so exalted that riches, office, fortune and favour cannot satisfy him.
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Hypocrisy

  • Hypocrisy is the necessary burden of villainy.
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Fear

  • Fear naturally quickens the flight of guilt.
  • Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil but its duty, like that of other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it. It should not be suffered to tyrannize in the imagination, to raise phantoms of horror, or to beset life with supernumerary distresses.
  • O, how vain and vile a passion is this fear! What base, uncomely things it makes men do.
  • Shame arises from the fear of men, conscience from the fear of God.
  • The disturbers of our happiness, in this world, are our desires, our griefs, and our fears.
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Insult and rudeness

  • What ever the motive for the insult, it is always best to overlook it; for folly doesn’t deserve resentment, and malice is punished by neglect.
  • A man has no more right to say an uncivil thing than to act one; no more right to say a rude thing to another than to knock him down.
  • Politeness is fictitious benevolence. Depend upon it, the want of it never fails to produce something disagreeable to one or other.
  • The true effect of genuine politeness seems to be rather ease than pleasure.
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Prejudice

  • Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument.
  • There are in every age new errors to be rectified and new prejudices to be opposed.
  • To be prejudiced is always to be weak; yet there are prejudices so near to laudable that they have been often praised and are always pardoned.
  • Prejudice is a great time-saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.
  • Few men survey themselves with so much severity as not to admit prejudices in their own favor.
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Tediousness

  • Tediousness is the most fatal of all faults.
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Avarice

  • Avarice is always poor.
  • You despise a man for avarice; but you do not hate him.
  • The lust of gold succeeds the rage of conquest; The lust of gold, unfeeling and remorseless! The last corruption of degenerate man.
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Bashfulness

  • Bashfulness may sometimes exclude pleasure, but seldom opens any avenue to sorrow or remorse.
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Gossip

  • Never speak of a man in his own presence. It is always indelicate, and may be offensive .
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Regret

  • That what cannot be repaired is not to be regretted.
  • Sorrow is properly that state of the mind in which our desires are fixed upon the past without looking forward to the future.
  • It is a most mortifying reflection for a man to consider what he has done, compared to what he might have done.
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Vanity and pride

  • No man sympathizes with the sorrows of vanity.
  • No cause more frequently produces bashfulness than too high an opinion of our own importance. He that imagines an assembly filled with his merit, panting with expectation, and hushed with attention, easily terrifies himself with the dread of disappointing them, and strains his imagination in pursuit of something that may vindicate the veracity of fame, and show that his reputation was not gained by chance.
  • Pride is a vice, which pride itself inclines every man to find in others, and to overlook in himself.
  • Pride is seldom delicate, it will please itself with very mean advantages; and envy feels not its own happiness, but when it may be compared with the misery of others.
  • Every man is prompted by the love of himself to imagine that he possesses some qualities superior, either in kind or degree, to those which he sees allotted to the rest of the world.
  • No man sympathizes with the sorrows of vanity.
  • The greatest human virtue bears no proportion to human vanity. We always think ourselves better than we are, and are generally desirous that others should think us still better than we think ourselves. To praise us for actions or dispositions which deserve praise is not to confer a benefit, but to pay a tribute. We have always pretensions to fame which, in our own hearts, we know to be disputable, and which we are desirous to strengthen by a new suffrage; we have always hopes which we suspect to be fallacious, and of which we eagerly snatch at every confirmation.
  • We have always pretensions to fame which, in our own hearts, we know to be disputable.
  • Where there is emulation, there will be vanity; where there is vanity, there will be folly.
  • We seldom require more to the happiness of the present hour than to surpass him that stands next before us.
  • There are few so free from vanity as not to dictate to those who will hear their instructions with a visible sense of their own beneficence.
  • Self-love is often rather arrogant than blind; it does not hide our faults from ourselves, but persuades us that they escape the notice of others.
  • Vanity is so frequently the apparent motive of advice, that we, for the most part, summon our powers to oppose it without any very accurate inquiry whether it is right.
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Generalisation

  • A man may be so much of everything that he is nothing of anything.
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Ambition

  • A wise man is cured of ambition by ambition itself; his aim is so exalted that riches, office, fortune and favor cannot satisfy him.
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Disease

  • Disease generally begins that equality which death completes.
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Dreaming without action

  • Such is the pleasure of projecting that many content themselves with a succession of visionary schemes, and wear out their allotted time in the calm amusement of contriving what they never attempt or hope to execute.
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Opinions

  • The majority have no other reason for their opinions than that they are the fashion.
  • We have less reason to be surprised or offended when we find others differ from us in opinion, because we very often differ from ourselves.
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Cowardice

  • Cowardice encroaches fast upon such as spend their lives in company of persons higher than themselves.
  • Slander is the revenge of a coward, and dissimulation of his defense.
  • Dishonor waits on perfidy. A man should blush to think a falsehood; it is the crime of cowards.
  • It is thus that mutual cowardice keeps us in peace. Were one half of mankind brave and one cowards, the brave would be always beating the cowards. Were all brave, they would lead a very uneasy life; all would be continually fighting; but being all cowards, we go on very well.
  • Mutual cowardice keeps us in peace.
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Hate

  • Men hate more steadily than they love.
  • No man hates him at whom he can laugh.
  • I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.
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Evil

  • No evil is insupportable but that which is accompanied with consciousness of wrong.
  • Still we love the evil we do, until we suffer it.
  • Some have little power to do good, and have likewise little strength to resist evil.
  • As the greatest liar tells more truths than falsehoods, so may it be said of the worst man, that he does more good than evil.
  • Almost all the moral good which is left among us is the apparent effect of physical evil.
  • Our minds should not be empty because if they are not preoccupied by good, evil will break in upon them.
  • Men are most powerfully affected by those evils which themselves feel, or which appear before their own eyes.
  • Evil is uncertain in the same degree as good, and for the reason that we ought not to hope too securely, we ought not to fear with to much dejection.
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Contempt

  • Contempt is a kind of gangrene which, if it seizes one part of a character, corrupts all the rest by degrees.
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Praise and flattery

  • He who praises everybody, praises nobody.
  • It is generally agreed, that few men are made better by affluence or exaltation.
  • It is scarcely credible to what degree discernment may be dazzled by the mist of pride, and wisdom infatuated by the intoxication of flattery.
  • It requires but little acquaintance with the heart to know that woman’s first wish is to be handsome; and that, consequently, the readiest method of obtaining her kindness is to praise her beauty.
  • He that is much flattered soon learns to flatter himself.
  • Just praise is only a debt, but flattery is a present.
  • Where there is no difficulty there is no praise.
  • None can be pleased without praise, and few can be praised without falsehood.
  • The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.
  • Men who stand in the highest ranks of society seldom hear of their faults; if by any accident an opprobrious clamour reaches their ears, flattery is always at hand to pour in her opiates, to quiet conviction and obtund remorse.
  • Cautious age suspects the flattering form, and only credits what experience tells.
  • He that applauds him who does not deserve praise, is endeavoring to deceive the public; he that hisses in malice or sport, is an oppressor and a robber.
  • Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity. It becomes cheap as it becomes vulgar, and will no longer raise expectation or animate enterprise.
  • Applause abates diligence.
  • In order that all men may be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it; for no species of falsehood is more frequent than flattery, to which the coward is betrayed by fear, the dependent by interest, and the friend by tenderness: those who are neither servile nor timorous are yet desirous to bestow pleasure; and, while unjust demands of praise continue to be made, there will always be some whom hope, fear, or kindness will dispose to pay them.
  • Madam, before you flatter a man so grossly to his face, you should consider whether or not your flattery is worth his having.
  • Patron: One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is repaid in flattery.
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Thoughts on…

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Life

  • Life consists not of a series of illustrious actions or elegant enjoyments. The greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures; and we are well or ill at ease, as the main stream of life glides on smoothly, or is ruffled by small obstacles and frequent interruption.
  • The business of life summons us away from useless grief, and calls us to the exercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation.
  • Whoever shall review his life, will find that the whole tenor of his conduct has been determined by some accident of no apparent moment.
  • The main of life is composed of small incidents and petty occurrences; of wishes for objects not remote, and grief for disappointments of no fatal consequence.
  • Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding.
  • Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.
  • Surely a long life must be somewhat tedious, since we are forced to call in so many trifling things to help rid us of our time, which will never return.
  • Life is surely given us for higher purposes than to gather what our ancestors have wisely thrown away, and to learn what is of no value but because it has been forgotten.
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Writing

  • By writing, you learn to write.
  • If you want to be a writer, then write. Write every day!
  • Read over your compositions and whenever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.
  • A man will turn over half a library to make one book.
  • A writer who obtains his full purpose loses himself in his own lustre.
  • Composition is for the most part an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.
  • The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.
  • The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading in order to write. A man will turn over half a library to make a book.
  • No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.
  • A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it.
  • The only end of writing is to enable readers better to enjoy life or better to endure it.
  • There is nothing more dreadful to an author than neglect; compared with which reproach, hatred, and opposition are names of happiness; yet this worst, this meanest fate, every one who dares to write has reason to fear.
  • There is scarcely any writer who has not celebrated the happiness of rural privacy, and delighted himself and his reader with the melody of birds, the whisper of groves, and the murmur of rivulets.
  • Those authors who would find many readers, must endeavour to please while they instruct.
  • To write is, indeed, no unpleasing employment, when one sentiment readily produces another, and both ideas and expressions present themselves at the first summons; but such happiness, the greatest genius does not always obtain; and common writers know it only to such a degree, as to credit its possibility. Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.
  • What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.
  • While an author is yet living, we estimate his powers by his worst performance; and when he is dead, we rate him by his best.
  • You need a good editor because every writer thinks he can write a War and Peace, but by the time he gets it on paper, it’s not War and Peace anymore; it’s comic-book stuff. Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
  • People may be taken in once, who imagine that an author is greater in private life than other men.
  • It is much easier not to write like a man than to write like a woman.
  • The best part of every author is in general to be found in his book, I assure you.
  • Those writers who lie on the watch for novelty can have little hope of greatness; for great things cannot have escaped former observation.
  • The work of a correct and regular writer is a garden accurately formed and diligently planted, varied with shades, and scented with flowers.
  • It is indeed not easy to distinguish affectation from habit; he that has once studiously developed a style, rarely writes afterwards with complete ease.
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Bibliography

  • History can be formed from permanent monuments and records; but lives can only be written from personal knowledge, which is growing every day less, and in a short time is lost forever.
  • The business of the biographer is often to pass slightly over those performances and incidents which produce vulgar greatness, to lead the thoughts into domestic privacies, and display the minute details of daily life, were exterior appendages are cast aside, and men excel each other only by prudence and virtue.
  • The parallel circumstances and kindred images to which we readily conform our minds are, above all other writings, to be found in the lives of particular persons, and therefore no species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than biography.
  • This is my history; like all other histories, a narrative of misery.
  • Nobody can write the life of a man but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.
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Dictionaries

  • To make dictionaries is dull work.
  • Dictionaries are like watches, the worst is better than none and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.
  • A lexicographer, a writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge.
  • I look upon this as I did upon the Dictionary: it is all work, and my inducement to it is not love or desire of fame, but the want of money, which is the only motive to writing that I know of.
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Poetry

  • Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.
  • Words too familiar, or too remote, defeat the purpose of a poet.
  • The end of writing is to instruct; the end of poetry is to instruct by pleasing.
  • Poetry cannot be translation.
  • To a poet nothing can be useless.
  • The business of a poet is to examine not the individual but the species; to remark general properties and large appearances.
  • Sir, what is poetry? Why, Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is; but it is not easy to tell what it is.
  • To tell of disappointment and misery, to thicken the darkness of futurity, and perplex the labyrinth of uncertainty, has been always a delicious employment of the poets.
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Reading

  • Books like friends, should be few and well-chosen.
  • I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.
  • You can never be wise unless you love reading.
  • A book should teach us to enjoy life, or to endure it.
  • A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good.
  • A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.
  • Books have always a secret influence on the understanding.
  • If a man begins to read in the middle of a book, and feels an inclination to go on, let him not quit it to go to the beginning. He may perhaps not feel again the inclination.
  • In this work are exhibited, in a very high degree, the two most engaging powers of an author. New things are made familiar, and familiar things are made new.
  • Many useful and valuable books lie buried in shops and libraries, unknown and unexamined, unless some lucky compiler opens them by chance, and finds an easy spoil of wit and learning.
  • Modern writers are the moons of literature; they shine with reflected light, with light borrowed from the ancients.
  • Those authors are to be read at schools that supply most axioms of prudence.
  • No man reads a book of science from pure inclination. The books that we do read with pleasure are light compositions, which contain a quick succession of events.
  • Books that you may carry to the fire, and hold readily in your hand, are the most useful after all.
  • In my early years I read very hard. It is a sad reflection, but a true one, that I knew almost as much at eighteen as I do now.
  • One of the amusements of idleness is reading without fatigue of close attention; and the world, therefore, swarms with writers whose wish is not to be studied, but to be read.
  • It is strange that there should be so little reading in the world, and so much writing. People in general do not willingly read, if they can have any thing else to amuse them.
  • Books have always a secret influence on the understanding; we cannot at pleasure obliterate ideas; he that reads books of science, thogh without any fixed desire of improvement, will grow more knowing.
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Scholarship

  • To read, write, and converse in due proportions, is, therefore, the business of a man of letters.
  • To talk in public, to think in solitude, to read and to hear, to inquire and answer inquiries, is the business of the scholar.
  • Study requires solitude, and solitude is a state dangerous to those who are too much accustomed to sink into themselves.
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Conversation

  • That is the happiest conversation where there is no competition, no vanity, but a calm, quiet interchange of sentiments…
  • Every man has some favorite topic of conversation, on which, by a feigned seriousness of attention, he may be drawn to expatiate without end.
  • Unconstraint is the grace of conversation.
  • Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen.
  • Sir, you have but two topics, yourself and me. I am sick of both.
  • I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.
  • There is in this world no real delight (excepting those of sensuality), but exchange of ideas in conversation.
  • Silence propagates itself, and the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find anything to say.
  • The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered, but a general effect of pleasing impression.
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Quotations

  • Quotation is a good thing, there is a community of thought in it.
  • Quotation is the highest compliment you can pay an author.
  • Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.
  • Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of language.
  • When I first collected these authorities, I was desirous that every quotation should be useful to some other end than the illustration of a word; I therefore extracted from philosophers principles of science; from historians remarkable facts; from chemists complete processes; from divines striking exhortations; and from poets beautiful descriptions.
  • The excellence of aphorisms consists not so much in the expression of some rare or abstruse sentiment, as in the comprehension of some useful truth in a few words.
  • He is a benefactor of mankind who contracts the great rules of life into the short sentences, that may be easily impressed on the memory, and so recur habitually to the mind.
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Advice

  • Advice is seldom welcome. Those who need it most, like it least.
  • Advice, as it always gives a temporary appearance of superiority, can never be very grateful, even when it is most necessary or most judicious; but, for the same reason, every one is eager to instruct his neighbors.
  • The advice that is wanted is commonly not welcome and that which is not wanted, evidently an effrontery.
  • Advice is offensive, it shows us that we are known to others as well as to ourselves.
  • Few things are so liberally bestowed, or squandered with so little effect, as good advice.
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Youth

  • Youth enters the world with very happy prejudices in her own favour.
  • Towering is the confidence of twenty-one.
  • The first years of man must make provision for the last.
  • Among other pleasing errors of young minds is the opinion of their own importance. He that has not yet remarked, how little attention his contemporaries can spare from themselves, conceives all eyes turned upon himself, and imagines everyone that approaches him to be an enemy or a follower, an admirer or a spy.
  • Age looks with anger on the temerity of youth, and youth with contempt on the scrupulosity of age.
  • In youth, it is common to measure right and wrong by the opinion of the world, and in age, to act without any measure but interest, and to lose shame without substituting virtue.
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Fame

  • The blaze of reputation cannot be blown out, but it often dies in the socket; a very few names may be considered as perpetual lamps that shine unconsumed.
  • The love of fame is a passion natural and universal, which no man, however high or mean, however wise or ignorant, was yet able to despise.
  • None of the projects or designs which exercise the mind of man are equally subject to obstructions and disappointments with the pursuit of fame.
  • Time quickly puts an end to artificial and accidental fame.
  • Every man has a lurking wish to appear considerable in his native place.
  • We have always pretensions to fame which, in our own hearts, we know to be disputable.
  • Men have solicitude about fame; and the greater share they have of it, the more afraid they are of losing it.
  • A successful author is equally in danger of the diminution of his fame, whether he continues or ceases to write.
  • There are, indeed, few kinds of composition from which an author, however learned or ingenious, can hope a long continuance of fame.
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Religion

  • Fanatical religion driven to a certain point is almost as bad as none at all, but not quite.
  • The peculiar doctrine of Christianity is that of a universal sacrifice and perpetual propitiation.
  • The duties of religion, sincerely and regularly performed, will always be sufficient to exalt the meanest and to exercise the highest understanding.
  • Christianity is the highest perfection of humanity.
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Tea

  • I am a hardened and shameless tea drinker, who has, for twenty years, diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and, with tea, welcomes the morning.
  • Sir, I did not count your glasses of wine, why should you number up my cups of tea?
  • Tea’s proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence.
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Alcohol and intoxication

  • This is one of the disadvantages of wine: it makes a man mistake words for thought.
  • Wine gives a man nothing… it only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost.
  • Wine gives great pleasure; and every pleasure is of itself a good. It is a good, unless counterbalanced by evil.
  • Wine makes a man more pleased with himself, I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others.
  • Before dinner men meet with great inequality of understanding; and those who are conscious of their inferiority have the modesty not to talk; when they have drunk wine, every man feels himself happy, and loses that modesty, and grows impudent and vociferous; but he is not improved; he is only not sensible of his defects.
  • Whisky making is the art of making poison pleasant.
  • He who aspires to be a serious wine drinker must drink claret.
  • Melancholy, indeed, should be diverted by every means but drinking.
  • A man who exposes himself when he is intoxicated, has not the art of getting drunk.
  • Claret is the liquor for boys; port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.
  • I also admit, that there are some sluggish men who are improved by drinking; as there are fruits which are not good till they are rotten.
  • He said that few people had intellectual resources sufficient to forgo the pleasures of wine. They could not otherwise contrive how to fill the interval between dinner and supper.
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Ageing

  • It is a hopeless endeavour to unite the contrarieties of spring and winter; it is unjust to claim the privileges of age, and retain the play-things of childhood.
  • At seventy-seven it is time to be in earnest.
  • Life protracted is protracted woe.
  • Every old man complains of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation.
  • The vicious count their years; virtuous, their acts.
  • My diseases are an asthma and a dropsy and, what is less curable, seventy-five.
  • It is man’s own fault, it is from want of use, if his mind grows torpid in old age.
  • When I was as you are now, towering in the confidence of twenty-one, little did I suspect that I should be at forty-nine, what I now am.
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Poverty

  • A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.
  • All the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil show it evidently to be a great evil.
  • Liberty is, to the lowest rank of every nation, little more than the choice of working or starving.
  • To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches, and therefore every man endeavors with his utmost care to hide his poverty from others, and his idleness from himself.
  • The whole world is put in motion by the wish for riches and the dread of poverty.
  • All this wealth excludes but one evil, poverty.
  • The inevitable consequence of poverty is dependence.
  • A man guilty of poverty easily believes himself suspected.
  • He that thinks he can afford to be negligent is not far from being poor.
  • There is no being so poor and so contemptible, who does not think there is somebody still poorer, and still more contemptible.
  • He that pines with hunger, is in little care how others shall be fed. The poor man is seldom studious to make his grandson rich.
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Language

  • Language is only the instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas: I wish, however, that the instrument might be less apt to decay, and that signs might be permanent, like the things they denote.
  • Languages are the pedigree of nations.
  • Language is the dress of thought.
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The law

  • The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public.
  • For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws.
  • Laws teach us to know when we commit injury and when we suffer it.
  • It is one of the maxims of the civil law, that definitions are hazardous.
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Justice

  • Justice is indispensably and universally necessary, and what is necessary must always be limited, uniform, and distinct.
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Money and wealth

  • Life is short. The sooner that a man begins to enjoy his wealth the better.
  • A man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments.
  • It is observed of gold, by an old epigrammatist, that to have it is to be in fear, and to want it is to be in sorrow.
  • No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.
  • Of riches it is not necessary to write the praise. Let it, however, be remembered that he who has money to spare has it always in his power to benefit others, and of such power a good man must always be desirous.
  • Wealth is nothing in itself; it is not useful but when it departs from us.
  • Wit will never make a man rich, but there are places where riches will always make a wit.
  • It is surely very narrow policy that supposes money to be the chief good.
  • Riches seldom make their owners rich.
  • No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction. A man is pleased that his wife is dressed as well as other people, and the wife is pleased that she is dressed.
  • A man, doubtful of his dinner, or trembling at a creditor, is not much disposed to abstracted meditation, or remote enquiries.
  • Riches are of no value in themselves; their use is discovered only in that which they procure.
  • Men who could willingly resign the luxuries and sensual pleasures of a large fortune cannot consent to live without the grandeur and the homage.
  • Riches exclude only one inconvenience,–that is, poverty.
  • Riches, perhaps, do not so often produce crimes as incite accusers.
  • Wasting a fortune is evaporation by a thousand imperceptible means.
  • The synonym of usury is ruin.
  • Can gold remove the mortal hour? In life can love be bought with gold? Are friendship’s pleasures to be sold? No–all that’s worth a wish–a thought, Fair virtue gives unbribed, unbought. Cease then on trash thy hopes to bind, Let nobler views engage thy mind.
  • The insolence of wealth will creep out.
  • When the desire of wealth is taking hold of the heart, let us look round and see how it operates upon than whose industry or fortune has obtained it. When we find them oppressed with their own abundance, luxurious without pleasure, idle without ease, impatient and querulous in themselves, and despised or hated by the rest of mankind, we shall soon be convinced that if the real wants of our condition are satisfied, there remains little to be sought with solicitude or desired with eagerness.
  • Money and time are the heaviest burdens of life, and… the unhappiest of all mortals are those who have more of either than they know how to use.
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London

  • When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
  • A country gentleman should bring his lady to visit London as soon as he can, that they may have agreeable topicks for conversation when they are by themselves.
  • By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.
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Food and dining

  • A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner.
  • Everybody loves to have things which please the palate put in their way, without trouble or preparation.
  • Any of us would kill a cow rather than not have beef.
  • Some people have a foolish way of not minding, or pretending not to mind, what they eat. For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look upon it, that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else.
  • Hunger is never delicate.
  • Luncheon: as much food as one’s hand can hold.
  • Let me smile with the wise, and feed with the rich.
  • Before dinner men meet with great inequality of understanding.
  • A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek.
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Advertisements

  • Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.
  • Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.
  • Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused.
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Dogs

  • I had rather see the portrait of a dog that I know, than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world.
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Memory

  • We owe to memory not only the increase of our knowledge, and our progress in rational inquiries, but many other intellectual pleasures.
  • We consider ourselves as defective in memory, either because we remember less than we desire, or less than we suppose others to remember.
  • Memory is the primary and fundamental power, without which there could be no other intellectual operation.
  • One of the aged greatest miseries is that they cannot easily find a companion able to share the memories of the past.
  • Memory is like all other human powers, with which no man can be satisfied who measures them by what he can conceive, or by what he can desire.
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Marriage

  • It is not from reason and prudence that people marry, but from inclination.
  • Marriage has many pains but celibacy has no pleasures.
  • It is commonly a weak man who marries for love.
  • He who would have fine guests, let him have a fine wife.
  • Remarriage is the triumph of hope over experience.
  • Wise married women don’t trouble themselves about infidelity in their husbands.
  • Marriage is the strictest tie of perpetual friendship, and there can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity; and he must expect to be wretched, who pays to beauty, riches, or politeness that regard which only virtue and piety can claim.
  • Bachelors have consciences, married men have wives.
  • A man of sense and education should meet a suitable companion in a wife. It is a miserable thing when the conversation can only be such as whether the mutton should be boiled or roasted, and probably a dispute about that.
  • A married man has many cares, but a bachelor no pleasures.
  • I believe it will be found that those who marry late are best pleased with their children; and those who marry early, with their partners.
  • Mutual complacency is the atmosphere of conjugal love.
  • Domestic discord is not inevitably and fatally necessary; but yet it is not easy to avoid.
  • Unless a woman has an amorous heart, she is a dull companion.
  • I would advise no man to marry who is not likely to propagate understanding.
  • Now … that you are going to marry, do not expect more from life, than life will afford.
  • Nothing flatters a man as much as the happiness of his wife; he is always proud of himself as the source of it.
  • There is, indeed, nothing that so much seduces reason from vigilance, as the thought of passing life with an amiable woman.
  • Marriage is the best state for man in general, and every man is a worst man in proportion to the level he is unfit for marriage.
  • A good wife is like the ivy which beautifies the building to which it clings, twining its tendrils more lovingly as time converts the ancient edifice into a ruin.
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Government and politics

  • To prevent evil is the great end of government, the end for which vigilance and severity are properly employed.
  • A country governed by a despot is an inverted cone.
  • Politics are now nothing more than means of rising in the world. With this sole view do men engage in politics, and their whole conduct proceeds upon it.
  • Political liberty is only good insofar as it produces private liberty.
  • They who most loudly clamour for liberty do not most liberally grant it.
  • I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of government rather than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual.
  • No government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it…. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every form of government.
  • Every government is perpetually degenerating towards corruption, from which it must be rescued at certain periods by the resuscitation of its first principles, and the re-establishment of its original constitution.
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Death

  • It seems to be remarkable that death increases our veneration for the good, and extenuates our hatred for the bad.
  • The time will come to every human being when it must be known how well he can bear to die.
  • The uncertainty of death is, in effect, the great support of the whole system of life.
  • That we must all die, we always knew, I wish I had sooner remembred it.
  • The uncertainty of death is, in effect, the great support of the whole system of life.
  • When a friend is carried to his grave, we at once find excuses for every weakness, and palliation of every fault. We recollect a thousand endearments, which before glided off our minds without impression, a thousand favors unrepaid, a thousand duties unperformed; and wish, vainly wish, for his return, not so much that we may receive as that we may bestow happiness, and recompense that kindness which before we never understood.
  • When we see our enemies and friends gliding away before us, let us not forget that we are subject to the general law of mortality, and shall soon be where our doom will be fixed forever.
  • The whole of life is but keeping away the thoughts of death.
  • It is a common error, and the greater and more mischievous for being so common, to believe that repentance best becomes and most concerns dying men. Indeed, what is necessary every hour of our life is necessary in the hour of death too, and as long as one lives he will have need of repentance, and therefore it is necessary in the hour of death too; but he who hath constantly exercised himself in it in his health and vigor, will do it with less pain in his sickness and weakness; and he who hath practiced it all his life, will do it with more ease and less perplexity in the hour of his death.
  • Disease generally begins that equality which death completes.
  • If one was to think constantly of death, the business of life would stand still.
  • It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.
  • To neglect at any time preparation for death is to sleep on our post at a siege; to omit it in old age is to sleep at an attack.
  • There is not, perhaps, to a mind well instructed, a more painful occurrence, than the death of one we have injured without reparation.
  • Then with no throbs of fiery pain, No cold gradations of decay, Death broke at once the vital chain, And freed his soul the nearest way.
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Being taught

  • Most men are unwilling to be taught.
  • We often need reminding even if we do not often need educating.
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History

  • All history was at first oral.
  • We must consider how very little history there is–I mean real, authentic history. That certain kings reigned and certain battles were fought, we can depend upon as true; but all the coloring, all the philosophy, of history is conjecture.
  • Many falsehoods are passing into uncontradicted history.
  • The history of mankind is little else than a narrative of designs which have failed and hopes that have been disappointed.
  • Great abilities are not requisite for an Historian; for in historical composition, all the greatest powers of the human mind are quiescent.
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Music

  • Music is the only sensual pleasure without vice.
  • Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.
  • Had I learned to fiddle, I should have done nothing else.
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Patriotism

  • He that wishes to see his country robbed of its rights cannot be a patriot.
  • Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.
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Theory

  • Every cold empirick, when his heart is expanded by a successful experiment, swells into a theorist.
  • He that travels in theory has no inconveniences.
  • Books without the knowledge of life are useless.
  • All theory is against free will; all experience is for it.
  • You cannot, by all the lecturing in the world, enable a man to make a shoe.
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Parenting

  • Parents are by no means exempt from the intoxication of dominion.
  • There must always be a struggle between a father and son, while one aims at power and the other at independence.
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Slavery

  • Slavery is now nowhere more patiently endured, than in countries once inhabited by the zealots of liberty.
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Hunting

  • It is very strange, and very melancholy, that the paucity of human pleasures should persuade us ever to call hunting one of them.
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Smoking

  • Smoking is a shocking thing – blowing smoke out of our mouths into other people’s mouths, eyes, and noses, and having the same thing done to us.
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Nationalities and countries

  • An Englishman is content to say nothing when he has nothing to say.
  • Greece appears to be the fountain of knowledge; Rome of elegance.
  • The Irish are a fair people: They never speak well of one another.
  • The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees is the high road that leads him to England.
  • Come, let me know what it is that makes a Scotch man happy!
  • A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.
  • Much may be made of a Scotchman, if he be caught young.
  • I am willing to love all of mankind, except an American.
  • It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather.
  • A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority.
  • A blade of grass is always a blade of grass, whether in one country or another.
  • A Scotchman must be a very sturdy moralist who does not love Scotland better than truth.
  • Hunting was the labour of the savages of North America, but the amusement of the gentlemen of England.
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More advice on living

  • Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter.
  • Leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.
  • To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly.
  • Reproof should not exhaust its power upon petty failings.
  • Life will not bear refinement. You must do as other people do.
  • Don’t, Sir, accustom yourself to use big words for little matters.
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More truths

  • A vow is a snare for sin.
  • Every man is rich or poor according to the proportion between his desires and his enjoyments.
  • He that will enjoy the brightness of sunshine, must quit the coolness of the shade.
  • Justice is my being allowed to do whatever I like. Injustice is whatever prevents my doing so.
  • An epithet or metaphor drawn from nature ennobles art; an epithet or metaphor drawn from art degrades nature.
  • Round numbers are always false.
  • Example is always more efficacious than precept.
  • Jesting, often, only proves a want of intellect.
  • There are charms made only for distant admiration.
  • Each person’s work is always a portrait of himself.
  • Bias and impartiality is in the eye of the beholder.
  • People in distress never think that you feel enough.
  • Nothing is more hopeless than a scheme of merriment.
  • The power of punishment is to silence, not to confute.
  • Distance has the same effect on the mind as on the eye.
  • Many things difficult to design prove easy to performance.
  • Everybody knows worse of himself than he knows of other men.
  • You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument.
  • Life cannot subsist in society but by reciprocal concessions.
  • Men seldom give pleasure when they are not pleased themselves.
  • Every man’s affairs, however little, are important to himself.
  • Nothing is little to him that feels it with great sensibility.
  • Faction seldom leaves a man honest, however it might find him.
  • We love to overlook the boundaries which we do not wish to pass.
  • Nothing is difficult, when gain and honour unite their influence.
  • When speculation has done its worst, two and two still make four.
  • Spite and ill-nature are among the most expensive luxuries in life.
  • Time is, of all modes of existence, most obsequious to the imagination.
  • No one will persist long in helping someone who will not help themselves.
  • The resolution of the combat is seldom equal to the vehemence of the charge.
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More thoughts

  • A transition from an author’s book to his conversation, is too often like an entrance into a large city.
  • Every man has something to do which he neglects, every man has faults to conquer which he delays to combat.
  • The natural progress of the works of men is from rudeness to convenience, from convenience to elegance, and from elegance to nicety.
  • The world is like a grand staircase, some are going up and some are going down.
  • When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.
  • You hesitate to stab me with a word, and know not – silence is the sharper sword.
  • To forget, or pretend to do so, to return a borrowed article, is the meanest sort of petty theft.
  • Fate wings, with every wish, the afflictive dart, Each gift of nature, and each grace of art.
  • Wit is that which has been often thought, but never before was well expressed.
  • Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off.
  • Treating your adversary with respect is striking soft in battle.
  • Labor’s face is wrinkled with the wind, and swarthy with the sun.
  • When men come to like a sea-life, they are not fit to live on land.
  • Much mischief is done in the world with very little interest or design.
  • Attack is the reaction. I never think I have hit hard unless it rebounds.
  • I am a great friend to public amusements; for they keep people from vice.
  • A cow is a very good animal in the field; but we turn her out of a garden.
  • A translator is to be like his author; it is not his business to excel him.
  • All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.
  • He who has provoked the shaft of wit, cannot complain that he smarts from it.
  • There mark what ills the scholar’s life assail, toil, envy, want, and patron.
  • Authors and lovers always suffer some infatuation, from which only absence can set them free.
  • Nothing is more common than mutual dislike, where mutual approbation is particularly expected.
  • Were it not for imagination a man would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as of a duchess.
  • Oratory is the power of beating down your adversary’s arguments and putting better in their place.
  • Most minds are the slaves of external circumstances, and conform to any hand that undertakes to mould them.
  • All unnecessary vows are folly, because they suppose a prescience of the future, which has not been given us.
  • A man who always talks for fame never can be pleasing. The man who talks to unburthen his mind is the man to delight you.
  • In bed we laugh, in bed we cry, and born in bed, in bed we die; the near approach a bed may show of human bliss to human woe.
  • It may be laid down as a position which seldom deceives, that when a man cannot bear his own company, there is something wrong.
  • I am very fond of the company of ladies. I like their beauty, I like their delicacy, I like their vivacity, and I like their silence.
  • Differences, we know, are never so effectually laid asleep as by some common calamity; an enemy unites all to whom he threatens danger.
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On a lighter note

  • A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.
  • A family is a little kingdom, torn with factions and exposed to revolutions.
  • A horse that can count to ten is a remarkable horse, not a remarkable mathematician.
  • Women have two weapons – cosmetics and tears
  • A man is very apt to complain of the ingratitude of those who have risen far above him.
  • Authors and lovers always suffer some infatuation, from which only absence can set them free.
  • Luncheon: as much food as one’s hand can hold.
  • Bachelors have consciences, married men have wives.
  • Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.
  • I hate a fellow whom pride, or cowardice, or laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl; let him come out as I do, and bark.
  • Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.
  • The Irish are a fair people: They never speak well of one another.
  • This is one of the disadvantages of wine: it makes a man mistake words for thought.
  • Whoever thinks of going to bed before twelve o’clock is a scoundrel.
  • You must have taken great pains sir; you could not naturally have been so very stupid.
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
  • Sir, when you have seen one green field, you have seen all green fields. Let us walk down Cheapside.
  • Worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see.
  • Sir, a man who cannot get to heaven in a green coat, will not find his way thither the sooner in a grey one.
  • I know not, Madam, that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.
  • Patron: One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is repaid in flattery.
  • A tavern chair is the throne of human felicity.
  • I should as soon think of contradicting a bishop.
  • I am willing to love all of mankind, except an American.
  • He was so generally civil, that nobody thanked him for it.
  • When two Eglishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather.
  • He was dull in a new way, and that made many think him great.
  • Corneille is to Shakespeare as a clipped hedge is to a forest.
  • Men are like stone jugs – you may lug them where you like by the ears.
  • A fishing rod is a stick with a hook at one end and a fool at the other.
  • Paradise Lost is a book that, once put down, is very hard to pick up again.
  • When a man says he had pleasure with a woman he does not mean conversation.
  • Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.
  • The finest landscape in the world is improved by a good inn in the foreground.
  • It is as bad as bad can be: it is ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-drest.
  • The expense is damnable, the position is ridiculous, and the pleasure fleeting.
  • Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.
  • I do not care to speak ill of a man behind his back, but I believe he is an attorney.
  • With what hope can we endeavor to persuade the ladies that the time spent at the toilet is lost in vanity.
  • If I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman.
  • I have all my life long been lying in bed till noon; yet I tell all young men, and tell them with great sincerity, that nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good.
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