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James Wood, comp. Dictionary of Quotations. 1899.


A man must carry knowledge with him if he would bring home knowledge.

A man used to vicissitudes is not easily dejected.

A patron is one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached the land encumbers him with help.

A wicked fellow is the most pious when he takes to it. He’ll beat you all in piety.

All censure of a man’s self is oblique praise; it is in order to show how much he can spare.

All imposture weakens confidence and chills benevolence.

All power of fancy over reason is a degree of insanity.

Catch, then, O catch the transient hour; / Improve each moment as it flies; / Life’s a short summer—man a flower— / He dies—alas! how soon he dies!

Cautious age suspects the flattering form, and only credits what experience tells.

Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world.

Clear your mind of cant.

Combinations of wickedness would overwhelm the world, did not those who have long practised perfidy grow faithless to each other.

Commerce 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.

Conscience is the sentinel of virtue.

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

Credulity is the common failing of inexperienced virtue.

Deceit and falsehood, whatever conveniences they may for a time promise or produce, are, in the sum of life, obstacles to happiness.

Depend upon it, if a man talks of his misfortunes, there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him.

Each change of many-colour’d life he drew, / Exhausted worlds, and then imagined new.

Economy is the parent of integrity, of liberty, and of ease, and the beauteous sister of temperance, of cheerfulness, and health.

Employment and hardships prevent melancholy.

Envy feels not its own happiness but by comparison with the misery of others.

Every desire is a viper in the bosom, who, when he was chill, was harmless, but when warmth gave him strength, exerted it in poison.

Every man is a rascal as soon as he is sick.

Every man willingly gives value to the praise which he receives, and considers the sentence passed in his favour as the sentence of discernment.

Every period of life is obliged to borrow its happiness from the time to come.

Example is more efficacious than precept.

Exercise is labour without weariness.

Extended empire, like expanded gold, exchanges solid strength for feeble splendour.

Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck only at one end of a room, it will soon fall to the floor. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.

Fears of the brave and follies of the wise.

Few things are impossible to diligence and skill.

Few things are more unpleasant than the transaction of business with men who are above knowing or caring what they have to do.

Foppery is never cured; once a coxcomb, always a coxcomb.

From thee, great God, we spring, to thee we tend, / Path, motive, guide, original and end.

Frugality may be termed the daughter of prudence, the sister of temperance, and the parent of liberty.

Gaiety overpowers weak spirits; good-humour recreates and revives them.

General truths are seldom applied to particular occasions.

Gluttony, where it prevails, is more violent, and certainly more despicable, than avarice itself.

Good and evil will grow up in this world together; and they who complain in peace of the insolence of the populace must remember that their insolence in peace is bravery in war.

Gratitude is a species of justice.

Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.

Grief has its time.

He does nothing who endeavours to do more than is allowed to humanity.

He is no wise man that will quit a certainty for an uncertainty.

He left a name at which the world grew pale, / To point a moral or adorn a tale.

He must mingle with the world that desires to be useful.

He that claims, either in himself or for another, the honours of perfection will surely injure the reputation which he designs to assist.

He that lives must grow old; and he that would rather grow old than die, has God to thank for the infirmities of old age.

He that never thinks can never be wise.

He that undervalues himself will undervalue others, and he that undervalues others will oppress them.

He that voluntarily continues ignorant is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces.

He that would have his virtue published is not the servant of virtue, but of glory.

He who praises everybody praises nobody.

Hell is paved with good intentions.

“Hoc age” is the great rule, whether you are serious or merry; whether … learning science or duty from a folio, or floating on the Thames. Intentions must be gathered from acts.

Hope is itself a species of happiness, and perhaps the chief happiness which this world affords; but, like all other pleasures, its excesses must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulged must end in disappointment.

Hope not wholly to reason away your troubles; but do not feed them with attention, and they will die imperceptibly away.

How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice, / Rules the bold hand or prompts the suppliant voice.

How small, of all that human hearts endure, / That part which laws or kings can cause or cure! / Still to ourselves, in every place consigned, / Our own felicity we make or find.

Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured and little to be enjoyed.

Hunting was the labour of savages in North America, but the amusement of the gentlemen of England.

I am bound to find you in reasons, but not in brains.

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.

I like a good hater.

I live in the crowd of jollity, not so much to enjoy company as to shun myself.

I love to browse in a library.

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.

If it be asked, What is the improper expectation which it is dangerous to indulge, experience will quickly answer that it is such expectation as is dictated not by reason but by desire—an expectation that requires the common course of things to be changed, and the general rules of action to be broken.

If once you find a woman gluttonous, expect from her very little virtue; her mind is enslaved to the lowest and grossest temptation.

If one were to think constantly of death, the business of life would stand still.

If the profession you have chosen has some unexpected inconveniences, console yourself by reflecting that no profession is without them.

If what happens does not make us richer, we must bid it welcome if it make us wiser.

If you anticipate your inheritance, you can at last inherit nothing.

If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle.

In a man’s letters his soul lies naked; his letters are only the mirror of his breast.

In every change there will be many that suffer real or imaginary grievances, and therefore many will be dissatisfied.

In lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath.

In life a friend may be often found and lost; but an old friend never can be found, and Nature has provided that he cannot easily be lost.

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

Invent first, and then embellish.

It is a good thing to stay away till one’s company is desired, but not so good to stay after it is desired.

It is always necessary to show some good opinion of those whose good opinion we solicit.

It is best not to be angry; and best, in the next place, to be quickly reconciled.

It is easy for a man who sits idle at home, and has nobody to please but himself, to ridicule or censure the common ways of mankind.

It is more pleasing to see smoke brightening into flame than flame sinking into smoke.

It is the condition of humanity to design what never will be done, and to hope what never will be attained.

It is useless to deny with the tongue that which man gives credence to with the heart.

It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.

Judgment is forced upon us by experience.

Keep always in your mind that, with due submission to Providence, a man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself.

Kindness is a good thing in itself.

Kindness, in act at least, is in our power, but fondness is not.

Knowledge always desires increase; it is like fire, which must first be kindled by some external agent, but which will afterwards propagate itself.

Knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

Labour is exercise continued to fatigue; exercise is labour used only while it produces pleasure.

Labour, if it were not necessary for the existence, would be indispensable for the happiness, of man.

Language is the dress of thought.

Languages are the pedigree of nations.

Law teaches us to know when we commit injury and when we suffer it.

Laws are not made for particular cases, but for men in general.

Learning once made popular is no longer learning.

Let it be your first care not to be in any man’s debt.

Let me warn you very earnestly against scruples.

Let observation, with extensive view, / Survey mankind, from China to Peru; / Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife, / And watch the busy scenes of crowded life.

Let us endeavour to see things as they are, and then inquire whether we ought to complain.

Let us not throw away any of our days upon useless resentment, or contend who shall hold out longest in stubborn malignity.

Let us try what esteem and kindness can effect.

Letters may be always made out of the books of the morning or talk of the evening.

Liberty is to the lowest rank of every nation little more than the choice of working or starving.

Life admits not of delays.

Life cannot subsist in society but by reciprocal concessions.

Life has no pleasure nobler than that of friendship.

Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.

Life is not long, and too much of it must not pass in idle deliberation how it shall be spent.

Life protracted is protracted woe, / Time hovers o’er, impatient to destroy, / And shuts up all the passages of joy.

Life, however short, is made shorter by waste of time; and its progress towards happiness, though naturally slow, is made still slower by unnecessary labour.

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.

Live on what you have; live if you can on less; do not borrow either for vanity or pleasure—the vanity will end in shame, and the pleasure in regret.

Long customs are not easily broken; he that attempts to change the course of his own life very often labours in vain.

Love ends with hope: the sinking statesman’s door / Pours in the morning worshipper no more.

Magnificence cannot be cheap, for what is cheap cannot be magnificent.

Majority is applied to number, and superiority to power.

Make it an invariable and obligatory law to yourself never to mention your own mental diseases. When you talk of them, it is plain that you want either praise or pity; for praise there is no room, and pity will do you no good.

Make the most and the best of your lot, and compare yourself not with the few that are above you, but with the multitudes which are below you.

Man unconnected is at home everywhere, unless he may be said to be at home nowhere.

Man’s history is little else than a narrative of designs that have failed and hopes that have been disappointed.

Manners make laws, manners likewise repeal them.

Many a man is mad in certain instances, and goes through life without having perceived it.

Many acquaintances, but few friends.

Many things difficult to design prove easy of performance.

Marriage is the best state for man in general; and every man is a worse man in proportion as he is unfit for the married state.

Memory is the primary and fundamental power, without which there could be no other intellectual operation.

Men are seldom more innocently employed than when they are making money.

Men can be estimated by those who know them not, only as they are represented by those who know them.

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

Men should not be told of the faults which they have mended.

Mere pleasure ought not to be the prime motive of action.

Miserable beyond all names of wretchedness is that unhappy pair who are doomed to reduce beforehand to the principles of abstract reason all the details of each domestic day.

Most men think indistinctly, and therefore cannot speak with exactness.

Neither exalt your pleasures, nor aggravate your vexations, beyond their real and natural state.

Neither our virtues nor vices are all our own.

New scenes impress new ideas, enrich the imagination, and enlarge the power of reason.

“No,” a monosyllable, the easiest learned by the child, but the most difficult to practise by the man, contains within it the import of a life, the weal or woe of an eternity.

No intellectual images are without use.

No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.

No man has a claim to credit upon his own word, when better evidence, if he had it, may be easily produced.

No man is good but as he wishes the good of others.

No man loves to frustrate expectations which have been formed in his favour.

No man should think so highly of himself as to think he can receive but little light from books, nor so meanly as to believe he can discover nothing but what is to be learned from them.

No man talks of that which he is desirous to conceal, and every man desires to conceal that of which he is ashamed.

No man’s conscience can tell him the rights of another man.

No power of good can be obtained by doing nothing and by knowing nothing.

Nobody will persist long in helping those who will not help themselves.

Nothing amuses more harmlessly than computation, and nothing is oftener applicable to real business or speculative inquiries. A thousand stories which the ignorant tell and believe die away at once when the computist takes them in his grip.

Nothing is easier than to clear debts by borrowing.

Nothing is more common than mutual dislike, where mutual approbation is particularly expected.

Nothing is more easy than to clear debts by borrowing.

Nothing will be mended by complaints.

Numerical inquiries will give you entertainment in solitude by the practice, and reputation in public by the effect.

Objects imperfectly discerned take forms from the hope or fear of the beholder.

Of how few lives does not stated duty claim the greater part?

Of real evils the number is great; of possible evils there is no end.

On every stage the foes of peace attend / Hate dogs their flight, and insult mocks their end.

One man’s eyes are spectacles to another to read his heart with.

One of the old man’s miseries is that he cannot easily find a companion able to partake with him of the past.

Our 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.

Our minds cannot be empty; and evil will break in upon them if they are not preoccupied by good.

Pain is less subject than pleasure to capricious expression.

Parents we can have but once; and he promises himself too much who enters life with the expectation of finding many friends.

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Pleasure preconceived and preconcerted ends in disappointment; but 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.

Pleasure which cannot be obtained but by unreasonable and unsuitable expense, must always end in pain.

Pleasure which must be enjoyed at the expense of another’s pain, can never be such as a worthy mind can fully delight in.

Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth by calling imagination to the help of reason.

Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind, / Obedient passions, and a will resigned; / For love, which scarce collective man can fill; / For patience, sovereign o’er transmuted ill; / For faith, that, panting for a happier seat, / Counts death kind Nature’s signal of retreat.

Poverty is often concealed in splendour, and often in extravagance. It is the care of a great part of mankind to conceal their indigence from the rest. They support themselves by temporary expedients, and every-day is lost in contriving for to-morrow.

Poverty takes away so many means of doing good, and produces so much inability to resist evil, both natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means to be avoided.

Power is nothing but as it is felt, and the delight of superiority is proportionate to the resistance overcome.

Praise is so pleasing to the mind of man that it is the original motive of almost all our actions.

Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.

Providence gives the power, of which reason teaches the use.

Providence is not counteracted by any means which Providence puts into our power.

Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen.

Rather to do nothing than to do good is the lowest state of a degraded mind.

Read the book you do honestly feel a wish and curiosity to read.

Reason is like the sun, of which the light is constant, uniform, and lasting; fancy, a meteor of bright but transitory lustre, irregular in its motion and delusive in its direction.

Reflect that life, like every other blessing, derives its value from its use alone.

Remember that all tricks are either knavish or childish.

Resentment gratifies him who intended an injury, and pains him unjustly who did not intend it.

Resolution will sometimes relax, and diligence will sometimes be interrupted; but let no accidental surprise or deviation, whether short or long, dispose you to despondency.

Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance, of justice.

Round numbers are always false.

Security will produce danger.

Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.

Slow rises worth by poverty depressed.

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 of little danger.

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.

Some men weave their sophistry till their own reason is entangled.

Sorrow is the mere rust of the soul. Activity will cleanse and brighten it.

Still raise for good the supplicating voice, / But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.

Sudden blaze of kindness may, by a single blast of coldness, be extinguished; but that fondness which length of time has connected with many circumstances and occasions, though it may for a while be suppressed by disgust or resentment, with or without cause, is hourly revived by accidental recollection.

Surely it is better to enclose the gulf and hinder all access, than by encouraging us to advance a little, to entice us afterwards a little further, and let us perceive our folly only by our destruction.

Surely life, if it be not long, is tedious, since we are forced to call in the assistance of so many trifles to rid us of our time, of that time which can never return.

Suspicion is no less an enemy to virtue than to happiness.

Tears are often to be found where there is little sorrow, and the deepest sorrow without tears.

Testimony is like an arrow shot from a long bow; the force of it depends upon the strength of the hand that draws it. Argument is like an arrow from a cross-bow, which has equal force though shot by a child.

That man is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.

That voluntary debility, which modern language is content to term indolence, will, if it is not counteracted by resolution, render in time the strongest faculties lifeless, and turn the flame to the smoke of virtue.

The advice that is wanted is commonly unwelcome; that which is not wanted is evidently impertinent.

The blaze of reputation cannot be blown out, but it often dies in the socket.

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt till they are too strong to be broken.

The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.

The consolation which is derived from truth, if any there be, is solid and durable; that which may be derived from error must be, like its original, fallacious and fugitive.

The covetous man never has money, and the prodigal will have none shortly.

The first approach to riches is security from poverty.

The greatest benefit which one friend can confer upon another, is to guard, and excite, and elevate his virtues.

The habit of looking on the best side of every event is worth more than a thousand a year.

The heroes of literary history have been no less remarkable for what they have suffered than for what they have achieved.

The importunities and perplexities of business are softness and luxury, compared with the incessant cravings of vacancy, and the unsatisfactory expedients of idleness.

The jest which is expected is already destroyed.

The longer we live and the more we think, the higher value we learn to put on the friendship and tenderness of parents and of friends.

The majority have no other reason for their opinions than that they are the fashion.

The merchant who was at first busy in acquiring money ceases to grow richer from the time when he makes it his business only to count it.

The mind is enlarged and elevated by mere purposes, though they end as they begin by airy contemplation.

The misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continually repeated.

The passions rise higher at domestic than at imperial tragedies.

The production of something, where nothing was before, is an act of greater energy than the expansion or decoration of the thing produced.

The public is the majority of a society.

The serenity that is not felt, it can be no virtue to feign.

The shepherd in Virgil grew at last acquainted with Love, and found him a native of the rocks.

The trappings of a monarchy would set up an ordinary commonwealth.

The true, strong, and sound mind is the mind that can embrace equally great things and small.

The two great movers of the human mind are the desire of good and the fear of evil.

The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.

The world is not to be despised but as it is compared with something better. Company is in itself better than solitude, and pleasure better than indolence.

There are cases where little can be said and much must be done.

There are charms made only for distant admiration. No spectacle is nobler than a blaze.

There are few things that are worthy of anger, and still fewer that can justify malignity.

There is a frightful interval between the seed and the timber.

There is but one solid basis of happiness, and that is the reasonable hope of a happy futurity. This may be had everywhere.

There is nothing exasperates people more than the display of superior ability or brilliancy in conversation. They seem pleased at the time, but their envy makes them curse him at their hearts.

They that mean to make no use of friends will be at little trouble to gain them: and to be without friendship is to be without one of the first comforts of our present state.

They who contract absurd habits are such as have no fear.

Think not your estate your own, while any man can call upon you for money which you cannot pay.

This world, where much is to be done and little to be known.

Those that have loved longest love best.

To a poet nothing can be useless.

To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches; and therefore every man endeavours with his utmost care to hide his poverty from others, and his idleness from himself.

To dread no eye, and to suspect no tongue, is the greatest prerogative of innocence; an exemption granted only to invariable virtue.

To have gold is to be in fear, and to want it to be in sorrow.

To have no assistance from other minds in resolving doubts, in appeasing scruples, in balancing deliberations, is a very wretched destitution.

To hear complaints is wearisome alike to the wretched and the happy.

To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life.

To lament the past is vain; what remains is to look for hope in futurity.

To prefer one future mode of life to another, upon just reasons, requires faculties which it has not pleased our Creator to give us.

To require two things is the way to have them both undone.

To tell our own secrets is generally folly, but that folly is without guilt; to communicate those with which we are intrusted is always treachery, and treachery for the most part combined with folly.

To those that have lived long together, everything heard and everything seen recalls some pleasure communicated or some benefit conferred, some petty quarrel or some slight endearment.

To tread upon the brink is safe, but to come a step further is destruction.

Trade’s proud empire hastes to swift decay.

Trust as little as you can to report, and examine all you can by your own senses.

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.

Try to forget our cares and our maladies, and contribute, as we can, to the cheerfulness of each other.

Uniformity must tire at last, though it be uniformity of excellence. We love to expect, and when expectation is disappointed or gratified, we want to be again expecting.

Unmingled good cannot be expected; but as we may lawfully gather all the good within our reach, we may be allowed to lament over that which we lose.

Unnumbered suppliants crowd preferment’s gate, / Athirst for wealth, and burning to be great; / Delusive fortune hears the incessant call, / They mount, they shine, evaporate, and fall.

Upon the common course of life must our thoughts and our conversation be generally employed.

Violent mirth is the foam, and deep sadness the subsidence, of a morbid fermentation.

Want of tenderness is want of parts, and is no less a proof of stupidity than depravity.

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.

We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know, because they have never deceived us.

We are seldom sure that we sincerely meant what we omitted to do.

We can hardly be confident of the state of our own minds, but as it stands attested by some external action.

We may have a law, or we may have no law, but we cannot have half a law.

We may take Fancy for a companion, but must follow Reason as our guide.

We must first pray, and then labour; first implore the blessing of God, and use those means which he puts into our hands.

We tell the ladies that good wives make good husbands; I believe it is a more certain position that good brothers make good sisters.

Wealth heaped on wealth, nor truth nor safety buys; / The dangers gather as the treasures rise.

What can be done, you must do for yourself.

What is modesty, if it deserts from truth?

What is nearest us touches us most.

What is obvious is not always known, and what is known is not always present.

What is twice read is commonly better remembered than what is transcribed.

What we hope ever to do with ease we may learn first to do with diligence.

Whatever be the cause of happiness, may be made likewise the cause of misery. The medicine which, rightly applied, has power to cure, has, when rashness or ignorance prescribes it, the same power to destroy.

Whatever be the motive of insult, it is always best to overlook it; for folly scarcely can deserve resentment, and malice is punished by neglect.

Whatever befalls us, though it is wise to be serious, it is useless and foolish, and perhaps sinful, to be gloomy.

When a nobleman writes a book he ought to be encouraged.

When any fit of anxiety, or gloominess or perversion of the mind, lays hold upon you, make it a rule not to publish it by complaints, but exert your whole care to hide it; by endeavouring to hide it you will drive it away.

When any man finds himself disposed to complain with how little care he is regarded, let him reflect how little he contributes to the happiness of others.

When desperate ills demand a speedy cure, distrust is cowardice and prudence folly.

When pleasure can be had, it is fit to catch it.

Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off.

Where there is no hope, there can be no endeavour.

While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till grief be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.

Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.

Without affecting stoicism, it may be said that it is our business to exempt ourselves as much as we can from the power of external things.

Without economy none can be rich, and with it few can be poor.

Year chases year, decay pursues decay, / Still drops some joy from withering life away.

You can never be wise unless you love reading.

You can never by persistency make wrong right.

You have no business with consequences; you are to tell the truth.