C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.
A gamester, the greater master he is in his art, the worse man he is.
“A good name is like precious ointment”; it filleth all round about, and will not easily away; for the odors of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.
A liar is a bravo towards God and a coward towards men.
A little philosophy inclineth a man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.
A man dies as often as he loses his friends.
A man finds himself seven years older the day after his marriage.
A man shall see, where there is a house full of children, one or two of the eldest restricted, and the youngest ruined by indulgence; but in the midst, some that are, as it were, forgotten, who many times, nevertheless, prove the best.
A man that hath no virtue in himself ever envieth virtue in others; for men’s minds will either feed upon their own good or upon others’ evil; and who wanteth the one will prey upon the other.
A man that is young in years may be old in hours, if he have lost no time; but that happeneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the first cogitations, not so wise as the second; for there is a youth in thoughts as well as in ages; and yet the invention of young men is more lively than that of old, and imaginations stream into their minds better, and, as it were, more divinely.
A man would die, though he were neither valiant nor miserable, only upon a weariness to do the same thing so often over and over again.
A man would do well to carry a pencil in his pocket, and write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable, and should be secured, because they seldom return.
A man’s nature is best perceived in privateness, for there is no affectation; in passion, for that putteth a man out of his precepts; and in a new case or experiment, for there custom leaveth him.
A pleasing figure is a perpetual letter of recommendation.
A steady hand in military affairs is more requisite than in peace, because an error committed in war may prove irremediable.
A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
Alchemy may be compared to the man who told his sons he had left them gold buried somewhere in his vineyard; where they by digging found no gold, but by turning up the mould, about the roots of their vines, procured a plentiful vintage. So the search and endeavors to make gold have brought many useful inventions und instructive experiments to light.
All authority must be out of a man’s self, turned***either upon an art, or upon a man.
All the crimes on earth do not destroy so much of the human race, nor alienate so much property as drunkenness.
All the operations of Nature are gradual.
All things are admired either because they are new or because they are great.
Ambition is like choler, which is a humor that maketh men active, earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped, but if it be stopped, and cannot have its way, it becometh fiery, and thereby malign and venomous.
An angry man who suppresses his passions thinks worse than he speaks; and an angry man that will chide speaks worse than he thinks.
Anger makes dull men witty, but keeps them poor.
Aphorisms, representing a knowledge broken, do invite men to inquire further; whereas methods carrying the show of a total do secure men, as if they were at furthest.
As atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty.
As those wines which flow from the first treading of the grape are sweeter and better than those forced out by the press, which gives them the roughness of the husk and stone, so are those doctrines best and sweetest which flow from a gentle crush of the scriptures, and are not wrung into controversies and commonplaces.
As threshing separates the corn from the chaff, so does affliction purify virtue.
As to jest, there ought to be certain things privileged from it,—namely, religion, matters of state, great persons, and man’s present business of importance, and any case that deserveth pity.
Atheism is rather in the life than in the heart of man.
Bashfulness is a great hindrance to a man, both in uttering his sentiments and in understanding what is proposed to him; ’t is therefore good to press forward with discretion, both in discourse and company of the better sort.
Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt and cannot last; and for the most part it makes a dissolute youth, and an age a little out of countenance; but if it light well, it makes virtues shine and vice blush.
Believe not much them that seem to despise riches; for they despise them that despair of them; and none are worse when they come to them. Be not penny-wise; riches have wings, and sometimes they fly away of themselves, sometimes they must be set flying to bring in more.
Blushing is the livery of virtue.
Books are true friends that will never flatter nor dissemble: be you but true to yourself,… and you shall need no other comfort.
Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
Business is bought at a dear hand where there is small despatch.
But little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth. For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.
Certainly the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin, and passage to another world, is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto Nature, is weak.
Certainly, if a man will but keep of an even hand, his ordinary expenses ought to be but to the half of his receipts; and if he thinks to wax rich, but to the third part.
Children sweeten labors, but they make misfortunes more bitter; they increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the remembrance of death.
Clear and round dealing is the honor of man’s nature; the mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it.
Contempt putteth an edge upon anger more than the hurt itself.
Costly followers are not to be liked; lest while a man maketh his train longer, he makes his wings shorter.
Dangers are no more light if they once seem light, and more dangers have deceived men than forced them; nay, it were better to meet some dangers half-way, though they come nothing near, than to keep too long a watch upon their approaches; for if a man watch too long it is odds he will fall fast asleep.
Death is a friend of ours; and he that is not ready to entertain him is not at home.
Death***openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguished envy.
Discourse ought to be as a field, without coming home to any man.
Discretion of speech is more than eloquence; and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal, is more than to speak in good words or in good order. A good continued speech, without a good speech of interlocution, shows slowness; and a good reply, or second speech, without a good settled speech, showeth shallowness and weakness.
Dissimulation is but a faint kind of policy or wisdom; for it asketh a strong wit and a strong heart to know when to tell truth, and to do it; therefore, it is the weaker sort of politicians that are the greatest dissemblers.
Do not overwork the mind any more than the body; do everything with moderation.
Dramatical or representative poesy is, as it were, a visible history; for it sets out the image of things as if they were present.
Even reproof, from authority ought to be grave, and not taunting.
Fame is like a river, that bareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid; but if persons of quality and judgment concur, then it filleth all round about, and will not easily away; for the odors of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.
For cleanness of body was ever esteemed to proceed from a due reverence to God, to society, and to ourselves.
Fortitude is the marshal of thought, the armor of the will, and the fort of reason.
Fortune is like a market, where many times if you wait a little the price will fall.
Fortune is not content to do a man one ill turn.
Fortune makes him fool, whom she makes her darling.
Founders and senators of states and cities, lawgivers, extirpers of tyrants, fathers of the people, and other eminent persons in civil government, were honored but with titles of worthies or demigods; whereas such as were inventors and authors of new arts, endowments, and commodities towards man’s life, were ever consecrated among the gods themselves.
Generally he perceived in men of devout simplicity this opinion: that the secrets of nature were the secrets of God,—part of that glory into which man is not to press too boldly.
Generally it is good to commit the beginning of all great actions to Argus with his hundred eyes, and the end to Briareus with his hundred hands—first to watch, and then to speed.
Glorious men are the scorn of wise men, the admiration of fools, the idols of parasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts.
God Almighty first planted a garden; and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures: it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man.
God grant that we may contend with other churches as the vine with the olive, which of us shall bear the best fruit; but not as the brier with the thistle, which of us shall be most unprofitable.
God hangs the greatest weights upon the smallest wires.
God has placed no limit to intellect.
God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, because His ordinary works convince it.
Good books are true friends.
Goodness answers to the theological virtue charity, and admits no excess but error. The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess; neither can angel nor man come in danger by it.
Goodness I call the habit, and goodness of nature the inclination. This of all the virtues and dignities of the mind, is the greatest, being the character of the Deity; and without it man is a busy, mischievous, wretched thing.
Great effects come of industry and perseverance; for audacity doth almost bind and mate the weaker sort of minds.
Habit, if wisely and skillfully formed, becomes truly a second nature, as the common saying is; but unskillfully and unmethodically directed, it will be, as it were, the ape of Nature, which imitates nothing to the life, but only clumsily and awkwardly.
He is truly well-bred who knows when to value and when to despise those national peculiarities, which are regarded by some with so much observance; a traveller of taste at once perceives that the wise are polite all the world over, but that fools are polite only at home.
He sleeps well who is not conscious that he sleeps ill.
He that cometh to seek after knowledge with a mind to scorn and censure shall be sure to find matter for his humor, but none for his instruction.
He that defers his charity until he is dead is, if a man weighs it rightly, rather liberal of another man’s goods than his own.
He that dies in an earnest pursuit is like one that is wounded in hot blood; who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed and bent upon somewhat that is good doth avert the dolors of death; but above all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.”
He that gives good advice builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example builds with the other; but he that gives good admonition and bad example builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.
He that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others’ memory.
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.***Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity.
He that questioneth much shall learn much, and content much; but especially if he apply his questions to the skill of the persons whom he asketh; for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually gather knowledge; but let his questions not be troublesome, for that is fit for a poser; and let him be sure to leave other men their turn to speak; nay, if there be any that would reign and take up all the time, let them find means to take them off, and bring others on,—as musicians used to do with those that dance too long galliards. If you dissemble sometimes your knowledge of that you are thought to know, you shall be thought, another time, to know that you know not.
He that studieth revenge keepeth his own wounds green.
He that travels into a country before he has some entrance into the language, goeth to school and not to travel.
Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.
Hope is a leaf-joy which may be beaten out to a great extension, like gold.
Houses are built to live in more than to look on; therefore let use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had.
I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue; the Roman word is better, impedimenta; for as the baggage is to an army, so is riches to virtue; it cannot be spared nor left behind, but it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory: of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit.
I had rather believe all the fables in the Legends and the Talmud and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind.
I hold every man a debtor to his profession.
I knew a wise man who had it for a by-word when he saw men hasten to a conclusion: “Stay a little, that we may make an end the sooner.”
I know not how, but martial men are given to love. I think it is but as they are given to wine; for perils commonly ask to be paid in pleasures.
I take all knowledge to be my province.
I will say positively and resolutely that is it impossible an elective monarchy should be so free and absolute as an hereditary.
If a man can play the true logician, and have judgment as well as invention, he may do great matters.
If a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune, for, though she be blind, yet she is not invisible.
If a man read little, he had need have much cunning to seem to know that he doth not.
If I might control the literature of the household, I would guarantee the well-being of Church and State.
If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that it may be said to possess him.
If vices were profitable, the virtuous man would be the sinner.
Imagination I understand to be the representation of an individual thought. Imagination is of three kinds: joined with belief of that which is to come; joined with memory of that which is past; and of things present.
In all other human gifts and passions, though they advance nature, yet they are subject to excess; but charity alone admits no excess. For so we see, by aspiring to be like God in power the angels transgressed and fell; by aspiring to be like God in knowledge man transgressed and fell; but by aspiring to be like God in goodness or love, neither man nor angel ever did or shall transgress. For unto the imitation we are called.
In contemplation, if a man begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
In nature things move violently to their place, and calmly in their place.
In regard of our deliverance past, and our danger present and to come, let us look up to God, and every man reform his own ways.
In revenge a man is but even with his enemy; for it is a princely thing to pardon, and Solomon saith it is the glory of a man to pass over a transgression.
In States, arms and learning have a concurrence or near sequence in time.
In taking revenge a man is but equal to his enemy, but in passing it over he is his superior.
In the youth of a State, arms do flourish; in the middle age of a State, learning; and then both of them together for a time; in the declining age of a State, mechanical arts and merchandise.
It cannot be denied but outward accidents conduce much to fortune’s favor,—opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue; but chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.
It deserves to be considered that boldness is ever blind, for it sees not dangers and inconveniences. Whence it is bad in council though good in execution. The right use of bold persons, therefore, is that they never command in chief, but serve as seconds, under the direction of others. For in council it is good to see dangers, and in execution not to see them unless they are very great.
It had been hard to have put more truth and untruth together in a few words than in that speech, “Whosoever is delighted with solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”
It hath been well said that the arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty flatterers have intelligence, is a man’s self.
It is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends, without which the world is but a wilderness; and even in this scene also of solitude, whosoever in the frame of his nature and affections is unfit for friendship he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity.
It is a revered thing to see an ancient castle not in decay; how much more to behold an ancient family which have stood against the waves and weathers of time!
It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other.
It is good discretion not to make too much of any man at the first; because one cannot hold out that proportion.
It is most true that a natural and secret hatred and aversation towards society, in any man, hath somewhat of the savage beast.
It is said of untrue valor that some men’s valors are in the eyes of them that look on.
It is scarce possible at once to admire and excel an author, as water rises no higher than the reservoir it falls from.
It is seldom that beautiful persons are otherwise of great virtue.
It is the nature of extreme self-lovers as they will set an house on fire and it were but to roast their eggs.
It is without all controversy that learning doth make the minds of men gentle, amiable, and pliant to government; whereas ignorance makes them churlish, thwarting, and mutinous; and the evidence of time doth clear this assertion, considering that the most barbarous, rude, and unlearned times have been most subject to tumults, seditions, and changes.
It was prettily devised of Æsop, the fly sat upon the axletree of the chariot-wheel, and said, “What a dust do I raise!” So are there some vain persons that, whatsoever goeth alone or moveth upon greater means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think it is they that carry it.
It was well said that envy keeps no holidays.
It were better to have no opinion of God at all than such an opinion as is unworthy of him; for the one is unbelief, and the other is contumely; and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity.
It will be found a work of no small difficulty to dispossess a vice from the heart, where long possession begins to plead prescription.
Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverent than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.
Knowledge is not a shop for profit or sale, but a rich storehouse for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of men’s estate.
Knowledge is power.
Learning hath his infancy, when it is but beginning and almost childish; then his youth, when it is luxuriant and juvenile; then his strength of years, when it is solid and reduced; and lastly his old age, when it waxeth dry and exhaust.
Let him be sure to leave other men their turn to speak.
Libraries are as the shrines where all the relics of saints full of true virtue, and that without delusion or imposture, are preserved and reposed.
Logic differeth from rhetoric as the fist from the palm; the one close, the other at large.
Lookers-on many times see more than gamesters.
Lukewarm persons think they may accommodate points of religion by middle ways and witty reconcilements,—as if they would make an arbitrament between God and man.
Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him, and from the top of it offer up his prayers for the observers of his law. The people assembled; Mahomet called the hill to come to him, again and again; and when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said, “If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill.”
Many have made witty invectives against usury. They say that it is a pity the devil should have God’s part, which is the tithe; that the usurer is the greatest Sabbath-breaker, because his plough goeth every Sunday.
Mathematics are the most abstracted of knowledge.
Men believe that their reason governs their words; but it often happens the words have power to react on reason.
Men commonly think according to their inclinations, speak according to their learning and imbibed opinions; but generally act according to custom.
Men fear death, as children fear the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased by frightful tales, so is the other. Groans, convulsions, weeping friends, and the like show death terrible; yet there is no passion so weak but conquers the fear of it, and therefore death is not such a terrible enemy. Revenge triumphs over death, love slights it, honor aspires to it, dread of shame prefers it, grief flies to it, and fear anticipates it.
Men in great places are thrice servants,—servants of the sovereign or state, servants of fame, and servants of business; so that they have no freedom, neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times.
Men leave their riches either to their kindred or their friends, and moderate portions prosper best in both.
Men of noble birth are noted to be envious towards new men when they rise; for the distance is all told, and it is like a deceit of the eye, that when others come on they think themselves going back.
Men possessing minds which are morose, solemn, and inflexible enjoy generally a greater share of dignity than of happiness.
Men seem neither to understand their riches nor their strength; of the former they believe greater things than they should; of the latter much less. Self-reliance and self-denial will teach a man to drink out of his own cistern, and eat his own sweet bread, and to learn and labor truly to get his living, and carefully to expend the good things committed to his trust.
Men’s thoughts are much according to their inclination.
Merit and good works is the end of man’s motion, and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of man’s rest.
Mr. Bettenham said that virtuous men were like some herbs and spices, that give not out their sweet smell till they be broken or crushed.
My name and memory I leave to men’s charitable speeches, to foreign nations, and to the next age.
Natures that have much heat, and great and violent desires and perturbations, are not ripe for action till they have passed the meridian of their years.
Neither the naked hand nor the understanding, left to itself, can do much; the work is accomplished by instruments and helps, of which the need is not less for the understanding than the hand.
Nero was wont to say of his master, Seneca, that his style was like mortar without lime.
No man in effect doth accompany with others but he learneth, ere he is aware, some gesture, voice, or fashion.
No receipt openeth the heart but a true friend, to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession.
Not to resolve is to resolve; and many times it breeds as many necessities, and engageth as far in some other sort, as to resolve.
Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.
Nothing is to be feared but fear.
Of all things known to mortals wine is the most powerful and effectual for exciting and inflaming the passions of mankind, being common fuel to them all.
Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and aid authors to read.
Our humanity were a poor thing but for the divinity that stirs within us.
Out of monuments, names, words, proverbs, traditions, private records and evidences, fragments of stories, passages of books, and the like, we do save and recover somewhat from the deluge of time.
Philosophy, when superficially studied, excites doubt: when thoroughly explored, it dispels it.
Physic is of little use to a temperate person, for a man’s own observation on what he finds does him good, and what hurts him is the best physic to preserve health.
Praise from the common people is generally false, and rather follows vain persons than virtuous ones.
Praise is the reflection of virtue.
Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes, and Adversity is not without comforts and hopes.
Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God’s favor.
Providence for war is the best prevention of it.
Rather to excite your judgment briefly than to inform it tediously.
Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.***Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.
Revenge is a kind of wild justice.
Round dealing is the honor of man’s nature; and a mixture of falsehood is like alloy in gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it.
Secrecy in suits goes a great way towards success.
Seek not proud riches, but such as thou may’st get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly; yet have no abstract nor friarly contempt of them.
Self-respect is, next to religion, the chiefest bridle of all vices.
Sir Amyas Pawlet, when he saw too much haste made in any matter, was wont to say, “Stay awhile, that we may make an end the sooner.”
Socrates was pronounced by the Oracle of Delphos to be the wisest man in Greece, which he would turn from himself ironically, saying there could be nothing in him to verify the oracle, except this, that he was not wise and knew it, and others were not wise and knew it not.
Some are so close and reserved that they will not show their wares but by a dark light, and seem always to keep back somewhat; and when they know within themselves they speak of that which they do not well know, would nevertheless seem to others to know of that which they may not well speak.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
Speech of a man’s self ought to be seldom and well chosen. I knew one was wont to say in scorn, “He must needs be a wise man, he speaks so much of himself.” There is but one case wherein a man may commend himself with good grace, and that is in commending virtue in another, especially if it be a virtue whereunto himself pretendeth.
States are great engines moving slowly.
Studies teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation.
Superstition, without a veil, is a deformed thing; for, as it addeth deformity to an ape to be so like a man, so the similitude of superstition to religion makes it the more deformed; and as wholesome meat corrupteth to little worms, so good forms and orders corrupt into a number of petty observances.
Surely the continual habit of dissimulation is but a weak and sluggish cunning, and not greatly politic.
Suspicions among thoughts are like bats amongst birds, they ever fly to twilight; they are to be repressed, or, at least, well guarded, for they cloud the mind.
Talkers and futile persons are commonly vain and credulous withal, for he that talketh what he knoweth will also talk what he knoweth not; therefore set it down that a habit of secrecy is both politic and moral; and in this part it is good, that a man’s face gives his tongue leave to speak; for the discovery of a man’s self by the tracts of his countenance is a great weakness, and betraying by how much it is many times more marked and believed than a man’s words.
Thales was reputed to be one of the wise men who made answer to the question when a man should marry: “A young man not yet, an old man not at all.”
That is the best part of beauty which a picture cannot express.
The best receipt—best to work and best to take—is the admonition of a friend.
The breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air (where it comes and goes like the warbling of music) than in the hand.
The desire of power in excess caused angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity is no excess, neither can man nor angels come into danger by it.
The eye of the understanding is like the eye of the sense; for as you may see great objects through small crannies or holes, so you may see great axioms of nature through small and contemptible instances.
The first creation of God in the works of the days was the light of the sense; the last was the light of the reason; and His Sabbath-work ever since is the illumination of the spirit.
The flood of grief decreaseth when it can swell no longer.
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss; and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other.
The genius, wit, and spirit of a nation are discovered by their proverbs.
The great atheists are, indeed, the hypocrites, which are ever handling holy things, but without feeling; so as they must need be cauterized in the end.
The greatest trust between man and man is trust of giving counsel.
The greatest vicissitude of things amongst men, is the vicissitude of sects and religions.
The honorablest part of talk is to give the occasion, and again to moderate and pass to somewhat else; for then a man leads the dance.
The images of men’s wits and knowledge remain in books, exempted from the worry of time and capable of perpetual renovation.
The introduction of noble inventions seems to hold by far the most excellent place among human actions.
The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears; they cannot utter the one, nor they will not utter the other. Children sweeten labors, but they make misfortunes more bitter; increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the remembrance of death.
The less people speak of their greatness the more we think of it.
The master of superstition is the people, and in all superstition wise men follow fools, and arguments are fitted to practice in a reversed order.
The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy. But then let a man take heed that the revenge be such as there is no law to punish; else a man’s enemy is still beforehand, and is two for one.
The mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.
The only hope of science is genuine induction.
The poets did well to conjoin music and medicine, because the office of medicine is but to tune the curious harp of man’s body.
The problem is, whether a man constantly and strongly believing that such a thing shall be, it don’t help anything to the effecting of the thing.
The proverb is true, that light gains make heavy purses; for light gains come often, great gains now and then.
The remedy is worse than the disease.
The road to true philosophy is precisely the same with that which leads to true religion; and from both the one and the other, unless we would enter in as little children, we must expect to be totally excluded.
The strength of all sciences, which consisteth in their harmony, each supporting the other, is as the strength of the old man’s fagot in the band; for were it not better for a man in a fair room to set up one great light, or branching candlestick of lights, than to go about with a small watch-candle into every corner?
The surest way to prevent seditious (if the times do bear it) is to take away the matter of them; for if there be fuel prepared it is hard to tell whence the spark shall come that shall set it on fire.
The vine produces more grapes when it is young, but better grapes for wine when it is old, because its juices are more perfectly concocted.
The way of fortune is like the milky way in the sky, which is a meeting or knot of a number of small stars, not seen asunder, but giving light together; so are there a number of little and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate.
The ways to enrich are many, and most of them foul. Parsimony is one of the best, and yet is not innocent; for it withholdeth men from works of liberality and charity.
The zeal which begins with hypocrisy must conclude in treachery; at first it deceives, at last it betrays.
There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first, the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power.
There is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer; for there is no such flatterer as a man’s self, and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man’s self as the liberty of a friend.
There is in human nature generally more of the fool than of the wise; and therefore those faculties by which the foolish part of men’s minds are taken are more potent.
There is no affectation in passion, for that putteth a man out of his precepts.
There is no greater wisdom than well to time the beginning and outsets of things.
There is no secrecy comparable to celerity; like the motion of a bullet in the air, it flies so swift that it outruns the eye.
There is no way but to meditate and ruminate well upon the effects of anger,—how it troubles man’s life; and the best time to do this is to look back upon anger when the fit is thoroughly over.
There is nothing that makes a man suspect much, more than to know little; and, therefore, men should remedy suspicion by procuring to know more, and not to keep their suspicions to smother.
There is some good in public envy, whereas in private there is none; for public envy is as an ostracism that eclipseth men when they grow too great; and therefore it is a bridle also to great ones to keep within bounds.
There is the supreme and indissoluble consanguinity between men, of which the heathen poet saith, we are all His generation.
There is this difference between happiness and wisdom: he that thinks himself the happiest man is really so; but he that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool.
There never was found in any age of the world, either philosopher or sect, or law or discipline, which did so highly exalt the public good as the Christian faith.
There never was found, in any age of the world, either religion or law that did so highly exalt the public good as the Bible.
There was never law or sect or opinion did so much magnify goodness as the Christian religion doth.
They that deny a God destroy man’s nobility, for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.
This communicating of a man’s self to his friend works two contrary effects, for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halves; for there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend but he enjoyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less.
Those Spaniards in Mexico who were chased of the Indians tell us what to do with our goods in our extremity. They being to pass over a river in their flight, as many as cast away their gold swam over safe; but some, more covetous, keeping their gold, were either drowned with it, or overtaken and slain by the savages; you have received, now learn to give.
Those who want friends to open themselves unto are cannibals of their own hearts.
Three means to fortify belief are experience, reason, and authority. Of these the more potent is authority; for belief upon reason or experience will stagger.
Time is like a river, in which metals and solid substances are sunk, while chaff and straws swim upon the surface.
Time is the greatest of innovators.
To be free-minded and cheerfully disposed at hours of meat and sleep and of exercise is one of the best precepts of long lasting.
To choose time is to save time; and an unseasonable motion is but beating the air. There be three parts of business—the preparation, the debate or examination, and the perfection; whereof, if you look for despatch, let the middle only be the work of many, and the first and last the work of few.
To grief there is a limit; not so to fear.
To speak in a mean, the virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroic virtue.
Too much magnifying of man or matter doth irritate contradiction, and procure envy and scorn.
Truth is a naked and open daylight, that doth not show the masks and mummeries of the world half so stately and daintily as candlelights.
Tunes and airs have in themselves some affinity with the affections,—as merry tunes, doleful tunes, solemn tunes, tunes inclining men’s minds to pity, warlike tunes,—so that it is no marvel if they alter the spirits, considering that tunes have a predisposition to the motion of the spirits.
Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants, but not always best subjects; for they are light to run away, and almost all fugitives are of that condition.
Usury dulls and damps all industries, improvements, and new inventions, wherein money would be stirring if it were not for this slug.
Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set.
Virtue is like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed.
We cannot think too oft there is a never, never-sleeping Eye, which reads the heart, and registers our thoughts.
We take cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom; and certainly there is a great difference between a cunning man and a wise man, not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability.
Were it not better for a man in a fair room to set up one great light, or branching candlestick of lights, than to go about with a rushlight into every dark corner.
When all is done, the help of good counsel is that which setteth business straight.
When any of the four pillars of government are mainly shaken or weakened—which are religion, justice, counsel and treasure—men need to pray for fair weather.
When things are come to the execution, there is no secrecy comparable to celerity.
Whereas they have sacrificed to themselves, they become sacrifices to the inconstancy of fortune, whose wings they thought, by their self-wisdom, to have pinioned.
Who taught the parrot his “Welcome?” Who taught the raven in a drought to throw pebbles into a hollow tree where she espied water, that the water might rise so as she might come to it? Who taught the bee to sail through such a vast sea of air, and to find the way from a flower in a field to her hive? Who taught the ant to bite every grain of corn that she burieth in her hill, lest it should take root and grow?
Whoever is out of patience is out of possession of his soul.
Whosoever in the frame of his nature and affections is unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity.
Wisdom for a man’s self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved thing; it is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it fall; it is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out the badger who digged and made room for him; it is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour.
Wives are young men’s mistresses; companions for middle age; and old men’s nurses.