C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.
A downright fact may be briefly told.
A forest of all manner of trees is poor, if not disagreeable, in effect; a mass of one species of tree is sublime.
A gentleman’s first characteristic is that fineness of structure in the body which renders it capable of the most delicate sensation; and of structure in the mind which renders it capable of the most delicate sympathies: one may say simply “fineness of nature.”
A man is known to his dog by the smell, to his tailor by the coat, to his friend by the smile; each of these know him, but how little or how much depends on the dignity of the intelligence. That which is truly and indeed characteristic of the man is known only to God.
Absolute and entire ugliness is rare.
Absolute ugliness is admitted as rarely as perfect beauty; but degrees of it more or less distinct are associated with whatever has the nature of death and sin, just as beauty as associated with what has the nature of virtue and of life.
All are to be men of genius in their degree,—rivulets or rivers, it does not matter, so that the souls be clear and pure; not dead walls encompassing dead heaps of things, known and numbered, but running waters in the sweet wilderness of things unnumbered and unknown, conscious only of the living banks, on which they partly refresh and partly reflect the flowers, and so pass on.
All great song, from the first day when human lips contrived syllables, has been sincere song.
All men who have sense and feeling are being continually helped; they are taught by every person they meet, and enriched by everything that falls in their way. The greatest is he who has been oftenest aided. Originality is the observing eye.
All other passions do occasional good; but when pride puts in its word everything goes wrong.
All really great pictures exhibit the general habits of nature, manifested in some peculiar, rare, and beautiful way.
All the best things and treasures of this world are not to be produced by each generation for itself; but we are all intended, not to carve our work in snow that will melt, but each and all of us to be continually rolling a great white gathering snow-ball, higher and higher, larger and larger, along the Alps of human power.
All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that the law of human life may be Effort, and the law of human judgment Mercy.
All you have really to do is to keep your back as straight as you can; and not think about what is upon it. The real and essential meaning of “virtue” is that straightness of back.
An artist should be fit for the best society, and keep out of it.
Anything which elevates the mind is sublime. Greatness of matter, space, power, virtue or beauty, are all sublime.
Architecture is the art which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by man, for whatsoever uses, that the sight of them may contribute to his mental health, power, and pleasure.
Architecture is the work of nations.
As long as there are cold and nakedness in the land around you, so long can there be no question at all but that splendor of dress is a crime. In due time, when we have nothing better to set people to work at, it may be right to let them make lace and cut jewels; but as long as there are any who have no blankets for their beds, and no rags for their bodies, so long it is blanket-making and tailoring we must set people to work at, not lace.
As unity demanded for its expression what at first might have seemed its opposite—variety; so repose demands for its expression the implied capability of its opposite—energy. It is the most unfailing test of beauty; nothing can be ignoble that possesses it, nothing right that has it not.
Better the rudest work that tells a story or records a fact, than the richest without meaning. There should not be a single ornament put upon great civic buildings, without some intellectual intention.
But if, indeed, there be a nobler life in us than in these strangely moving atoms; if, indeed, there is an eternal difference between the fire which inhabits them, and that which animates us,—it must be shown, by each of us in his appointed place, not merely in the patience, but in the activity of our hope, not merely by our desire, but our labor, for the time when the dust of the generations of men shall be confirmed for foundations of the gates of the city of God.
Candlesticks and incense not being portable into the maintop, the sailor perceives these decorations to be, on the whole, inessential to a maintop mass. Sails must be set and cables bent, be it never so strict a saint’s day; and it is found that no harm comes of it. Absolution on a lee-shore must be had of the breakers, it appears, if at all; and they give plenary and brief without listening to confession.
Cheerfulness is just as natural to the heart of a man in strong health as color to his cheek; and wherever there is habitual gloom, there must be either bad air, unwholesome food, improperly severe labor, or erring habits of life.
Childhood often holds a truth with its feeble fingers, which the grasp of manhood cannot retain,—which it is the pride of utmost age to recover.
Christian faith is a grand cathedral, with divinely pictured windows. Standing without you see no glory, nor can possibly imagine any. Nothing is visible but the merest outline of dusky shapes. Standing within all is clear and defined; every ray of light reveals an army of unspeakable splendors.
Color is, in brief terms, the type of love. Hence it is especially connected with the blossoming of the earth; and again, with its fruits; also, with the spring and fall of the leaf, and with the morning and evening of the day, in order to show the waiting of love about the birth and death of man.
Come, ye cold winds, at January’s call, On whistling: wings, and with white flakes bestrew The earth.
Conceit may puff a man up, but never prop him up.
Contrast increases the splendor of beauty, but it disturbs its influence; it adds to its attractiveness, but diminishes its power.
Courage, so far as it is a sign of race, is peculiarly the mark of a gentleman or a lady; but it becomes vulgar if rude or insensitive, while timidity is not vulgar, if it be a characteristic of race or fineness of make. A fawn is not vulgar in being timid, nor a crocodile “gentle” because courageous.
Cunning is the intensest rendering of vulgarity, absolute and utter.
Disorder in a drawing-room is vulgar; in an antiquary’s study, not; the black battle-stain on a soldier’s face is not vulgar, but the dirty face of a housemaid is.
Drunkenness is not only the cause of crime, but it is crime: and if any encourage drunkenness for the sake of the profit derived from the sale of drink, they are guilty of a form of moral assassination as criminal as any that has ever been practiced by the braves of any country or of any age.
Education is the leading human souls to what is best, and making what is best out of them; and these two objects are always attainable together, and by the same means. The training which makes men happiest in themselves also makes them most serviceable to others.
Endurance is nobler than strength, and patience than beauty.
Every duty we omit obscures some truth we should have known.
Faithful prayer always implies correlative exertion; and no man can ask honestly and hopefully to be delivered from temptation, unless he has himself honestly and firmly determined to do the best he can to keep out of it.
Generally, downright fact may be told in a plain way; and we want downright facts, at the present, more than anything else.
God is a kind Father. He sets us all in the places where he wishes us to be employed. He chooses work for every creature which will be delightful to them if they do it simply and humbly. He gives us always strength enough and sense enough for what he wants us to do.
God never imposes a duty without thee time to do it.
God shows us in Himself, strange as it may seem, not only authoritative perfection, but even the perfection of obedience—an obedience to His own laws; and in the cumbrous movement of those unwieldiest of his creatures we are reminded, even in His divine essence, of that attribute of uprightness in the human creature “that sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not.”
God will put up with a great many things in the human heart, but there is one thing that He will not put up with in it—a second place. He who offers God a second place, offers Him no place.
Greater completion marks the progress of art, absolute completion usually its decline.
Greatness is not a teachable nor gainable thing, but the expression of the mind of a God-made great man.
Greatness is the aggregation of minuteness; nor can its sublimity be felt truthfully by any mind unaccustomed to the affectionate watching of what is least.
He only is advancing in life whose heart is getting softer, whose blood warmer, whose brain quicker, whose spirit is entering into living peace.
He who has once stood beside the grave, to look back upon the companionship which has been forever closed, feeling how impotent there are the wild love, or the keen sorrow, to give one instant’s pleasure to the pulseless heart, or atone in the lowest measure to the departed spirit for the hour of unkindness, will scarcely for the future incur that debt to the heart which can only be discharged to the dust.
I believe that the root of almost every schism and heresy from which the Christian church has ever suffered has been the effort of men to earn, rather than to receive, their salvation.
I believe that there is no test of greatness in periods, nations or men more sure than the development, among them or in them, of a noble grotesque, and no test of comparative smallness or limitation, of one kind or another, more sure than the absence of grotesque invention, or incapability of understanding it.
I believe the first test of a truly great man is his humility.
I never heard my father’s or mother’s voice once raised in any question with each other; nor saw any angry or even slightly hurt or offended glance in the eyes of either. I never heard a servant scolded, nor even suddenly, passionately, or in any severe manner, blamed; and I never saw a moment’s trouble or disorder in any household matter.
I would have, then, our ordinary dwelling-houses built to last, and built to be lovely; as rich and full of pleasantness as may be within and without:***with such differences as might suit and express each man’s character and occupation, and partly his history.
If there be any one principle more widely than another confessed by every utterance, or more sternly than another imprinted on every atom of the visible creation, that principle is not liberty, but law.
If you want knowledge, you must toil for it; if food, you must toil for it; and if pleasure, you must toil for it: toil is the law.
Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, of a state of progress and change. Nothing that lives is, or can be rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent. The foxglove blossom—a third part bud, a third part past, a third part in full bloom—is a type of the life of this world.
In all things that live there are certain irregularities and deficiencies which are not only signs of life, but sources of beauty. No human face is exactly the same in its lines on each side, no leaf perfect in its lobes, no branch in its symmetry.
In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.
In mortals there is a care for trifles which proceeds from love and conscience, and is most holy; and a care for trifles which comes of idleness and frivolity, and is most base. And so, also, there is a gravity proceeding from thought, which is most noble; and a gravity proceeding from dulness and mere incapability of enjoyment, which is most base.
In old times men used their powers of painting to show the objects of faith; in later times they used the objects of faith that they might show their powers of painting.
In the utmost solitudes of nature, the existence of hell seems to me as legibly declared by a thousand spiritual utterances as that of heaven.
In the world’s affairs there is no design so great or good but it will take twenty wise men to help it forward a few inches; and a single fool can stop it.
It is a matter of the simplest demonstration, that no man can be really appreciated but by his equal or superior.
It is excellent discipline for an author to feel that he must say all he has to say in the fewest possible words, or his reader is sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words, or his reader will certainly misunderstand them. Generally, also, a downright fact may be told in a plain way; and we want downright facts at present more than anything else.
It is far better to give work which is above the men than to educate the men to be above their work.
It is far more difficult to be simple than to be complicated; far more difficult to sacrifice skill and cease exertion in the proper place, than to expend both indiscriminately.
It is not so much in buying pictures as in being pictures, that you can encourage a noble school. The best patronage of art is not that which seeks for the pleasures of sentiment in a vague ideality, nor for beauty of form in a marble image, but that which educates your children into living heroes, and binds down the flights and the fondnesses of the heart into practical duty and faithful devotion.
It is not the church we want, but the sacrifice; not the emotion of admiration, but the act of adoration; not the gift, but the giving.
It is not the weariness of mortality, but the strength of divinity, which we have to recognize in all mighty things; and that is just what we now never recognize, but think that we are to do great things by help of iron bars and perspiration. Alas! we shall do nothing that way but lose some pounds of our own weight.
It is only by labor that thought can be made healthy, and only by thought that labor can be made happy; and the two cannot be separated with impunity.
It is, indeed, right that we should look for, and hasten, so far as in us lies, the coming of the day of God; but not that we should check any human effort by anticipations of its approach. We shall hasten it best by endeavoring to work out the tasks that are appointed for us here; and, therefore, reasoning as if the world were to continue under its existing dispensation, and the powers which have just been granted to us were to be continued through myriads of future ages.
It was stated***that the value of architecture depended on two distinct characters:—the one, the impression it receives from human power; the other, the image it bears of the natural creation.
It will be found that they are the weakest winded and the hardest hearted men that most love change.
Like other beautiful things in this world, its end (that of a shaft) is to be beautiful; and, in proportion to its beauty, it receives permission to be otherwise useless. We do not blame emeralds and rubies because we cannot make them into heads of hammers.
Many thoughts are so dependent upon the language in which they are clothed that they would lose half their beauty if otherwise expressed.
Men are merely on a lower or higher stage of an eminence, whose summit is God’s throne, infinitely above all; and there is just as much reason for the wisest as for the simplest man being discontent with his position, as respects the real quantity of knowledge he possesses.
Men cannot benefit those that are with them as they can benefit those that come after them; and of all the pulpits from which human voice is ever sent forth, there is none from which it reaches so far as from the grave.
Men have commonly more pleasure in the criticism which hurts than in that which is innocuous, and are more tolerant of the severity which breaks hearts and ruins fortunes than of that which falls impotently on the grave.
Men say their pinnacles point to heaven. Why, so does every tree that buds, and every bird that rises as it sings. Men say their aisles are good for worship. Why, so is every mountain glen and rough sea-shore. But this they have of distinct and indisputable glory,—that their mighty walls were never raised, and never shall be, but by men who love and aid each other in their weakness.
Milton saw not, and Beethoven heard not, but the sense of beauty was upon them, and they fain must speak.
Multitudes think they like to do evil; yet no man ever really enjoyed doing evil since God made the world.
Music is thus, in her health, the teacher of perfect order, and is the voice of the obedience of angels, and the companion of the course of the spheres of heaven; and in her depravity she is also the teacher of perfect disorder and disobedience.
No day is without its innocent hope.
No divine terror will ever be found in the work of the man who wastes a colossal strength in elaborating toys; for the first lesson that terror is sent to teach us is, the value of the human soul, and the shortness of mortal time.
No great intellectual thing was ever done by great effort; a great thing can only be done by a great man, and he does it without effort.
No human face is exactly the same in its lines on each side, no leaf perfect in its lobes, no branch in its symmetry. All admit irregularity as they imply change; and to banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that the law of human life may be effort, and the law of human judgment mercy.
No peace was ever won from fate by subterfuge or argument; no peace is ever in store for any of us, but that which we shall win by victory over shame or sin—victory over the sin that oppresses, as well as over that which corrupts.
No person who is not a great sculptor or painter can be an architect. If he is not a painter or sculptor, he can only be a builder.
No picture can be good which deceives by its imitation, for the very reason that nothing can be beautiful which is not true.
Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the time, and not be discouraged at the rests. If we say sadly to ourselves, “There is no music in a rest,” let us not forget “there is the making of music in it.” The making of music is often a slow and painful process in this life. How patiently God works to teach us! How long He waits for us to learn the lesson!
Now the basest thought possible concerning man is, that he has no spiritual nature; and the foolishest misunderstanding of him possible is, that he has, or should have, no animal nature. For his nature is nobly animal, nobly spiritual,—coherently and irrevocably so; neither part of it may, but at its peril, expel, despise, or defy the other.
O powers illimitable! it is but the outer hem of God’s great mantle our poor stars do gem.
Obedience is, indeed, founded on a kind of freedom, else it would become mere subjugation, but that freedom is only granted that obedience may be more perfect; and thus while a measure of license is necessary to exhibit the individual energies of things, the fairness and pleasantness and perfection of them all consist in their restraint.
Order and system are nobler things than power.
Our God is a household God, as well as a heavenly one. He has an altar in every man’s dwelling; let men look to it when they rend it lightly, and pour out its ashes.
Our large trading cities bear to me very nearly the aspect of monastic establishments in which the roar of the mill-wheel and the crane takes the place of other devotional music, and in which the worship of Mammon and Moloch is conducted with a tender reverence and an exact propriety; the merchant rising to his Mammon matins with the self-denial of an anchorite, and expiating the frivolities into which he may be beguiled in the course of the day by late attendance at Mammon vespers.
Our purity of taste is best tested by its universality, for if we can only admire this thing or that, we may be sure that our cause for liking is of a finite and false nature.
Our respect for the dead, when they are just dead, is something wonderful, and the way we show it more wonderful still. We show it with black feathers and black horses; we show it with black dresses and black heraldries; we show it with costly obelisks and sculptures of sorrow, which spoil half of our beautiful cathedrals. We show it with frightful gratings and vaults, and lids of dismal stone, in the midst of the quiet grass; and last, and not least, we show it by permitting ourselves to tell any number of falsehoods we think amiable or credible in the epitaph.
People are always expecting to get peace in heaven; but you know whatever peace they get there will be ready-made. Whatever of making peace they can be blest for must be on the earth here.
Perfect taste is the faculty of receiving the greatest possible pleasure from those material sources which are attractive to our moral nature in its purity and perfection.
Railway traveling is not traveling at all; it is merely being sent to a place, and very little different from becoming a parcel.
Remember always in painting, as in eloquence, the greater your strength the quieter will be your manner and the fewer your words; and in painting, as in all the arts and acts of life, the secret of high success will be found, not in a fretful and various excellence, but in a quiet singleness of justly chosen aim.
Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies, for instance.
Repose demands for its expression the implied capability of its opposite,—energy.
Science deals exclusively with things as they are in themselves.
Sculpture is not the mere cutting of the form of anything in stone; it is the cutting of the effect of it. Very often the true form, in the marble, would not be in the least like itself.
Self-command is often thought a characteristic of high breeding.***A true gentleman has no need of self-command; he simply feels rightly in all directions on all occasions, and, desiring to express only so much of his feeling as it is right to express, does not need to command himself.
Shadows are in reality, when the sun is shining, the most conspicuous thing in a landscape, next to the highest lights.
Sky is the part of creation in which Nature has done more for the sake of pleasing man, more for the sole and evident purpose of talking to him and teaching him, than in any other of her works, and it is just the part in which we least attend to her.
Sometimes gentle, sometimes capricious, sometimes awful, never the same for two minutes together; almost human in its passions, almost spiritual in its tenderness, almost divine in its infinity.
Such help as we can give to each other in this world is a debt to each other; and the man who perceives a superiority or a capacity in a subordinate, and neither confesses nor assists it, is not merely the withholder of kindness, but the committer of injury,
Superstition, in all times and among all nations, is the fear of a spirit whose passions are those of a man, whose acts are the acts of a man; who is present in some places, not in others; who makes some places holy and not others; who is kind to one person, unkind to another; who is pleased or angry according to the degree of attention you pay him, or praise you refuse to him; who is hostile generally to human pleasure, but may be bribed by sacrifice of a part of that pleasure into permitting the rest. This, whatever form of faith it colors, is the essence of superstition.
Temperance, in the nobler sense, does not mean a subdued and imperfect energy; it does not mean a stopping short in any good thing, as in love or in faith; but it means the power which governs the most intense energy, and prevents its acting in any way but as it ought.
That which we foolishly call vastness is, rightly considered, not more wonderful, not more impressive, than that which we insolently call littleness; and the infinity of God is not mysterious, it is only unfathomable, not concealed, but incomprehensible: it is a clear infinity, the darkness of the pure, unsearchable sea.
The art of nations is to be accumulative, just as science and history are: the work of living men not superseding, but building itself upon the work of the past.
The constant duty of every man to his fellows is to ascertain his own powers and special gifts, and to strengthen them for the help of others.
The Divine mind is as visible in its full energy of operation on every lowly bank and mouldering stone as in the lifting of the pillars of heaven, and settling the foundation of the earth.
The enormous influence of novelty—the way in which it quickens observation, sharpens sensation, and exalts sentiment—is not half enough taken note of by us, and is to me a very sorrowful matter. And yet, if we try to obtain perpetual change, change in itself will become monotonous.
The eye is continually influenced by what it cannot detect; nay, it is not going too far to say that it is most influenced by what it detects least. Let the painter define, if he can, the variations of lines on which depend the change of expression in the human countenance.
The fact of our deriving constant pleasure from whatever is a type or semblance of divine attributes, and from nothing but that which is so, is the most glorious of all that can be demonstrated of human nature; it not only sets a great gulf of specific separation between us and the lower animals, but it seems a promise of a communion ultimately deep, close, and conscious, with the Being whose darkened manifestations we here feebly and unthinkingly delight in.
The finer the nature, the more flaws it will show through the clearness of it; and it is a law of this universe, that the best things shall be seldomest seen in their best form.
The highest thoughts are those which are least dependent on language, and the dignity of any composition and praise to which it is entitled are in exact proportion to its dependency of language or expression.
The more readily we admit the possibility of our own cherished convictions being mixed with error, the more vital and helpful whatever is right in them will become; and no error is so conclusively fatal as the idea that God will not allow us to err, though He has allowed all other men to do so.
The names of great painters are like passing-bells: in the name of Velasquez you hear sounded the fall of Spain; in the name of Titian, that of Venice; in the name of Leonardo, that of Milan; in the name of Raphael, that of Rome. And there is profound justice in this, for in proportion to the nobleness of the power is the guilt of its use for purposes vain or vile; and hitherto the greater the art, the more surely has it been used, and used solely, for the decoration of pride or the provoking of sensuality.
The noble grotesque involves the true appreciation of beauty.
The plea of ignorance will never take away our responsibilities.
The power of association is stronger than the power of beauty; therefore, the power of association is the power of beauty.
The power of painter or poet to describe rightly what he calls an ideal thing depends upon its being to him not an ideal, but a real thing. No man ever did or ever will work well but either from actual sight or sight of faith.
The proof of a thing’s being right is that it has power over the heart; that it excites us, wins us, or helps us.
The repose necessary to all beauty is repose, not of inanition, nor of luxury, nor of irresolution, but the repose of magnificent energy and being; in action, the calmness of trust and determination; in rest, the consciousness of duty accomplished and of victory won; and this repose and this felicity can take place as well in the midst of trial and tempest, as beside the waters of comfort.
The sculptor does not work for the anatomist, but for the common observer of life and nature.
The sculptor must paint with his chisel; half his touches are not to realize, but to put power into, the form. They are touches of light and shadow, and raise a ridge, or sink a hollow, not to represent an actual ridge or hollow, but to get a line of light, or a spot of darkness.
The secret of language is the secret of sympathy, and its full charm is possible only to the gentle.
The tremendous unity of the pine absorbs and moulds the life of a race. The pine shadows rest upon a nation. The northern peoples, century after century, lived under one or other of the two great powers of the pine and the sea, both infinite. They dwelt amidst the forests as they wandered on the waves, and saw no end nor any other horizon. Still the dark, green trees, or the dark, green waters jagged the dawn with their fringe or their foam. And whatever elements of imagination, or of warrior strength, or of domestic justice were brought down by the Norwegian or the Goth against the dissoluteness or degradation of the south of Europe were taught them under the green roofs and wild penetralia of the pine.
The true grotesque being the expression of the repose or play of a serious mind, there is a false grotesque opposed to it, which is the result of the full exertion of a frivolous one.
The truths of nature are one eternal change, one infinite variety. There is no bush on the face of the globe exactly like another bush; there are no two trees in the forest whose boughs bend into the same network, nor two leaves on the same tree which could not be told one from the other, nor two waves in the sea exactly alike.
The whole difference between a man of genius and other men, it has been said a thousand times, and most truly, is that the first remains in great part a child, seeing with the large eyes of children, in perpetual wonder, not conscious of much knowledge—conscious, rather, of infinite ignorance, and yet infinite power; a fountain of eternal admiration, delight, and creative force within him meeting the ocean of visible and governable things around him.
The work of science is to substitute facts for appearances, and demonstrations for impressions.
There are many religions, but there is only one morality.
There are no laws by which we can write Iliads.
There is a certain period of the soul-culture when it begins to interfere with some of the characters of typical beauty belonging to the bodily frame, the stirring of the intellect wearing down the flesh, and the moral enthusiasm burning its way out to heaven, through the emaciation of the earthen vessel; and there is, in this indication of subduing the mortal by the immortal part, an ideal glory of perhaps a purer and higher range than that of the more perfect material form. We conceive, I think, more nobly of the weak presence of Paul than of the fair and ruddy countenance of David.
There is in every animal’s eye a dim image and gleam of humanity, a flash of strange light through which their life looks out and up to our great mystery of command over them, and claims the fellowship of the creature if not of the soul.
There is large difference between indolent impatience of labor and intellectual impatience of delay, large difference between leaving things unfinished because we have more to do or because we are satisfied with what we have done.
There is no action so slight, nor so mean, but it may be done to a great purpose, and ennobled therefore; nor is any purpose so great but that slight actions may help it, and may be so done as to help it much, most especially that chief of all purposes, the pleasing of God.
There is no process of amalgamation by which opinions, wrong individually, can become right merely by their multitude.
There is no solemnity so deep, to a right-thinking creature, as that of dawn.
There is nothing so great or so goodly in creation, but that it is a mean symbol of the gospel of Christ, and of the things He has prepared for them that love Him.
There is nothing so small but that we may honor God by asking His guidance of it, or insult Him by taking it into our own hands; and what is true of the Deity is equally true of His revelation.
There is nothing that this age, from whatever standpoint we survey it, needs more, physically, intellectually, and morally, than thorough ventilation.
There is religion in everything around us,—a calm and holy religion in the unbreathing things of nature, which man would do well to imitate.
Therefore when we build, let us think that we build (public edifices) forever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone, let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, “See! this our fathers did for us.”
Though nature is constantly beautiful, she does not exhibit her highest powers of beauty constantly; for then they would satiate us, and pall upon our senses. It is necessary to their appreciation that they should be rarely shown. Her finest touches are things which must be watched for; her most perfect passages of beauty are the most evanescent.
Time is scytheless and toothless; it is we who gnaw like the worm; we who smite like the scythe. It is ourselves who abolish, ourselves who consume; we are the mildew and the flame, and the soul of man is to its own work as the moth that frets when it cannot fly, and as the hidden flame that blasts where it cannot illumine.
To cultivate sympathy you must be among living creatures, and thinking about them; and to cultivate admiration, you must be among beautiful things and looking at them.
To yield reverence to another, to hold ourselves and our lives at his disposal, is not slavery; often, it is the noblest state in which a man can live in this world.
True taste is forever growing, learning, reading, worshipping, laying its hand upon its mouth because it is astonished, casting its shoes from off its feet because it finds all ground holy.
Variety is a positive requisite even in the character of our food.
We are foolish, and without excuse foolish, in speaking of the superiority of one sex to the other, as if they could be compared in similar things! Each has what the other has not; each completes the other; they are in nothing alike; and the happiness and perfection of both depend on each asking and receiving from the other what the other only can give.
We must note carefully what distinction there is between a healthy and a diseased love of change; for as it was in healthy love of change that the Gothic architecture rose, it was partly in consequence of diseased love of change that it was destroyed.
We require from buildings, as from men, two kinds of goodness; first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it; which last is itself another form of duty.
What is in reality cowardice and faithlessness, we call charity, and consider it the part of benevolence sometimes to forgive men’s evil practice for the sake of their accurate faith, and sometimes to forgive their confessed heresy for the sake of their admirable practice.
Whatever may be the means, or whatever the more immediate end of any kind of art, all of it that is good agrees in this, that it is the expression of one soul talking to another, and is precious according to the greatness of the soul that utters it.
Whenever you see want or misery or degradation in this world about you, then be sure either industry has been wanting, or industry has been in error.
Wherever the human mind is healthy and vigorous in all its proportions, great in imagination and emotion no less than in intellect, and not overborne by an undue or hardened pre-eminence of the mere reasoning faculties, there the grotesque will exist in full energy.
Whether we force the man’s property from him by pinching his stomach, or pinching his fingers, makes some difference anatomically; morally, none whatsoever.
Wise laws and just restraints are to a noble nation not chains, but chains of mail,—strength and defense, though something of an incumbrance.
Without mountains the air could not be purified, nor the flowing of the rivers sustained.
Work first, and then rest.
You may assuredly find perfect peace, if you are resolved to do that which your Lord has plainly required—and content that He should indeed require no more of you—than to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him.
You were made for enjoyment, and the world was filled with things which you will enjoy, unless you are too proud to be pleased by them, or too grasping to care for what you cannot turn to other account than mere delight.