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James Wood, comp. Dictionary of Quotations. 1899.


A blue-stocking despises her duties as a woman, and always begins by making herself a man.

Accent is the soul of speech; it gives it feeling and truth.

All our evils are imaginary, except pain of body and remorse of conscience.

Base souls have no faith in great men.

By dint of dining out, I run the risk of dying by starvation at home.

C’est le chemin des passions qui m’a conduit à la philosophie—It is by my passions I have been led to philosophy.

Celui-là est le mieux servi, qui n’a pas besoin de mettre les mains des autres au bout de ses bras—He is best served who has no need to put other people’s hands at the end of his arms.

Childhood is the sleep of reason.

Conscience is the voice of the soul; the passions, of the body.

Etre pauvre sans être libre, c’est le pire état où l’homme puisse tomber—To be poor without being free is the worst condition into which man can sink.

Everything in this world is a tangled yarn; we taste nothing in its purity; we do not remain two moments in the same state.

Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Creator; everything degenerates in the hands of man.

Except pain of body and remorse of conscience, all our evils are imaginary.

General abstract truth is the most precious of all blessings; without it man is blind; it is the eye of reason.

Gracefulness cannot subsist without ease.

Gratitude is a duty which ought to be paid, but which none have a right to expect.

He is best served who has no need to put the hands of others at the end of his arms.

He who is most slow in making a promise is the most faithful in the performance of it.

How many illustrious and noble heroes have lived too long by a day!

Il est trop difficile de penser noblement, quand on ne pense que pour vivre—It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only to get a livelihood.

Interest is the spur of the people, but glory that of great souls.

It is from the difference we feel between the finitude of fact and the infinitude of fantasy that all the evils spring which torment humanity.

Je m’en vais voir le soleil pour la dernière fois!—I shall see the sun for the last time.His last words.

Kings wish to be absolute, and they are sometimes told that the best way to become so is to make themselves beloved by the people; but the maxim, unhappily, is laughed at in court.

Knowledge is most surely engraved on brains well prepared for it.

L’adversité est sans doute un grand maître; mais ce maître se fait payer cher ses leçons, et souvent le profit qu’on en retire ne vaut pas le prix qu’elles ont coûté—Adversity is without doubt a great teacher, but this teacher makes us pay dear for his instructions, and often the profit we derive from them is not worth the price we are required to pay.

L’anglais a les préjugés de l’orgueil, et les français ceux de la vanité—The English are predisposed to pride, the French to vanity.

L’apparente facilité d’apprendre est cause de la perte des enfants—The apparent facility of learning is a reason why children are lost.

L’homme vraiment libre ne veut que ce qu’il peut, et fait ce qu’il lui plaît—The man who is truly free wills only what he can, and does only what pleases him.

La conscience est la voix de l’âme, les passions sont la voix du corps—Conscience is the voice of the soul, the passions are the voice of the body.

La manière de former les idées est ce qui donne caractère à l’esprit humain—It is the way in which our ideas are formed that a character is imparted to our minds.

La patience est amère, mais le fruit en est doux—Patience is bitter, but it yields sweet fruit.

La plupart des peuples, ainsi que des hommes, ne sont dociles que dans leur jeunesse; ils deviennent incorrigibles en vieillisant—Most nations, as well as men, are impressible only in their youth; they become incorrigible as they grow old.

La science du gouvernement n’est qu’une science de combinaisons, d’applications et d’exceptions, selon le temps, les lieux, les circonstances—The science of government is only a science of combinations, applications, and exceptions, according to time, place, and circumstance.

La tempérance et le travail sont les deux vrais médicins de l’homme—Temperance and labour are the two real physicians of man.

La ville est le séjour de profanes humains, les dieux habitent la campagne—Towns are the dwelling-places of profane mortals; the gods inhabit rural retreats.

Le contrat du gouvernement est tellement dissous par despotisme que le despot n’est le maître qu’aussi long temps qu’il est le plus fort; et que si tôt qu’on peut l’expulser, il n’a point à réclaimer contre la violence—The contract of government is so dissolved by despotism, that the despot is master only so long as he is the strongest, and that as soon as there is power to expel him, he has no right to protest against the violent proceeding.

Le corps politique, aussi bien que le corps de l’homme, commence à mourir dès sa naissance, et porte en lui-même les causes de sa destruction—The body politic, like the body of man, begins to die as soon as it is born, and bears within it the seeds of its own dissolution.

Le monde est le livre des femmes—The world is the book of women.

Le pédant et l’instituteur disent à peu près les mêmes choses; mais le premier les dit à tout propos: le second ne les dit que quand il sûr de leur effet—The pedant and the teacher say nearly the same things; but the former on every occasion, the latter only when he is sure of their effect.

Le peuple anglais pense être libre; il ne l’est que durant l’élection des membres du parlement—The English think they are free; they are free only during the election of members of Parliament.

Le plus lent à promettre est toujours le plus fidèle à tenir—He who is slow in promising is always the most faithful in performing.

Les consolations indiscrètes ne font qu’aigrir les violentes afflictions—Consolation indiscreetly pressed only aggravates the poignancy of the affliction.

Les magistrates, les rois n’ont aucune autorité sur les âmes; et pourvu qu’on soit fidèle aux lois de la société dans ce monde, ce n’est point à eux de se mêler de ce qu’on deviendra dans l’autre, où ils n’ont aucune inspection—Rulers have no authority over men’s souls; and provided we are faithful to the laws of society in this world, it is no business of theirs to concern themselves with what may become of us in the next, over which they have no supervision.

Les peuples une fois accoutumés à des maîtres ne sont plus en état de s’en passer—People once accustomed to masters are no longer able to dispense with them.

Les villes sont le gouffre de l’espèce humaine—Towns are the sink of our race.

Life is burdensome to us chiefly from the abuse of it.

Nothing is less in our power than the heart, and, far from commanding it, we are forced to obey it.

Nous ne savons ce que c’est que le bonheur ou le malheur absolu—We do not know what absolute good or evil is.

Our affections, as well as our bodies, are in perpetual flux.

Our greatest misfortunes come to us from ourselves.

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.

Peuples libres, souvenez-vous de cette maxime: on peut acquérir la liberté, mais on ne la retrouve jamais—Free people, remember this rule: you may acquire liberty, but never regain it if you once lose it.

Quiconque rougit est déjà coupable; la vraie innocence n’a honte de rien—whoever blushes confesses guilt; true innocence feels no shame.

S’abstenir pour jouir, c’est l’épicurisme de la raison—To abstain so as to enjoy is the epicurism of reason.

S’il y avait un peuple de dieux, il se gouvernerait démocratiquement. Un gouvernement si parfait ne convient pas des hommes—If there were a community of gods, the government would be democratic. A government so perfect is not suitable for men.

Si j’avais le malheur d’être né prince—If I had had the misfortune of being born a prince.In the commencement of a letter to the Duke of Würtemberg, who had asked his advice about the education of his son.

Souffrir est la première chose qu’il doit apprendre, et celle qu’il aura le plus grand besoin de savoir—To be able to endure is the first lesson which a child ought to learn, and the one which it will have the most need to know.

Take from the philosopher the pleasure of being heard, and his desire for knowledge ceases.

Temperance and labour are the two best physicians of man.

The being whose strength exceeds its necessities is strong; the being whose necessities exceed its strength is feeble.

The empire of woman is an empire of softness, of address, of complacency. Her commands are caresses, her menaces are tears.

The greatest braggards are generally the greatest cowards.

The want of occupation is no less the plague of society than of solitude.

The way in which we form our ideas gives character to our minds.

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless. Not being able to enlarge the one, let us contract the other; for it is from their difference alone that all the evils arise which render us really unhappy.

There is a period of life when our backward movements are steps in advance.

There is no true action without will.

To endure is the first and most necessary lesson a child has to learn.

To live is not to breathe; it is to act.

To write a good love-letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.

Un corps débile affaiblit l’âme—A feeble body weakens the mind.

Vivre n’est pas respirer; c’est agir—Living is not breathing; it is acting.

We do not know what is really good or bad fortune.

We may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.

We ought not to teach children the sciences, but to give them a taste for them.

We pity in others only those evils which we have ourselves experienced.

Woman’s dignity lies in her being unknown; her glory, in the esteem of her husband; and her pleasure, in the welfare of her family.From Lucan.