Page images

Harry Killegrew said to lord Wharton, 'You would not swear at that rate, if you thought you were doing God honour.'

Lewis the Fourteenth of France spent his life in turning a good name into a great.

Since the union of divinity and humanity is the great article of our religion, it is odd to see some clergymen, in their writings of divinity, wholly devoid of humanity.

The death of a private man is generally of so little importance to the world, that it cannot be of great importance in itself; and yet I do not observe from the practice of mankind, that either philosophy or nature have sufficiently armed us against the fears which attend it: neither do I find any thing able to reconcile us to it, but extreme pain, shame, or despair; for poverty, imprisonment, ill fortune, grief, sickness, and old age,do generally fail. I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.

Do we not see how easily we pardon our own actions and passions, and the very infirmities of our bodies; why should it be wonderful to find us pardon our own dullness?

There is no vice or folly that requires so much nicety and skill to manage, as vanity; nor any, which, by ill management, makes so contemptible a figure.

Observation is an old man's memory.

Eloquence, smooth and cutting, is like a razor whetted with oil.

Imaginary evils soon become real ones, by indulging our reflections on them; as he, who in a melancholy fancy sees something like a face on

the wall or the wainscot, can, by two or three touches with a lead pencil, make it look visible, and agreeing with what he fancied.

Men of great parts are often unfortunate in the management of public business, because they are apt to go out of the common road by the quickness of their imagination. This I once said to my lord Bolingbroke, and desired he would observe, that the clerks in his office used a sort of ivory knife with a blunt edge to divide a sheet of paper, which never failed to cut it even, only requiring a steady hand; whereas if they should make use of a sharp penknife, the sharpness would make it often go out of the crease, and disfigure the paper.

'He who does not provide for his own house,' St. Paul says, 'is worse than an infidel.' And I think he who provides only for his own house, is just equal with an infidel.

All panegyrics are mingled with an infusion of poppy.

Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.

The two maxims of any great man at court are, always to keep his countenance, and never to keep his word.

I asked a poor man how he did? He said, 'he was like a wash-ball, always in decay.'

Civis, the most honourable name among the Romans; a citizen, a word of contempt among us.

I must complain the cards are ill shuffled, till I have a good hand.

When I am reading a book, whether wise or silly, it seems to me to be alive and talking to



Whoever live at a different end of the town from me, I look upon as persons out of the world, and only myself and the scene about me to be in it.

When I was young, I thought all the world, as well as myself, was wholly taken up in discoursing upon the last new play.

No man will take counsel, but every man will take money therefore money is better than counsel.

I never yet knew a wag (as the term is) who was not a dunce.

A person reading to me a dull poem of his own making, I prevailed on him to scratch out six lines together; in turning over the leaf, the ink being wet, it marked as many lines on the other side; whereof the poet complaining, I bid him be easy, for it would be better if those were out too.

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

Reflect on things past, as wars, negociations, factions, &c. We enter so little into those interests, that we wonder how men could possibly be so busy and concerned for things so transitory; look on the present times, we find the same humour, yet wonder not at all.

A wise man endeavours, by considering all circumstances, to make conjectures, and form conclusions; but the smallest accident intervening (and, in the course of affairs, it is impossible to foresee all), does often produce such turns and changes,

that at last he is just as much in doubt of events, as the most ignorant and unexperienced person.

Positiveness is a good quality for preachers and orators; because he, that would obtrude his thoughts and reasons upon a multitude, will convince others the more, as he appears convinced himself.

How is it possible to expect that mankind will take advice, when they will not so much as take warning?

I forget whether advice be among the lost things, which Ariosto says are to be found in the Moon; that and time ought to have been there.

No preacher is listened to but Time, which gives us the same train and turn of thought that elder people have tried in vain to put into our heads before.

When we desire or solicit any thing, our minds run wholly on the good side or circumstances of it; when it is obtained, our minds run wholly on the bad ones.

In a glass-house, the workmen often fling in a small quantity of fresh coals, which seems to disturb the fire, but very much enlivens it. This seems to allude to a gentle stirring of the passions, that the mind may not languish.

Religion seems to have grown an infant with age, and requires miracles to nurse it, as it had in its infancy.

All fits of pleasure are balanced by an equal degree of pain or languor; it is like spending this year part of the next year's revenue.

The latter part of a wise man's life is taken up

in curing the follies, prejudices, and false opinions, he had contracted in the former.

Would a writer know how to behave himself with relation to posterity, let him consider in old books what he finds that he is glad to know, and what omissions he most laments.

Whatever the poets pretend, it is plain they give immortality to none but themselves: it is Homer and Virgil we reverence and admire, not Achilles or Eneas. With historians it is quite the contrary; our thoughts are taken up with the actions, persons, and events we read, and we little regard the authors.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are in confederacy against him.

Men who possess all the advantages of life are in a state where there are many accidents to disorder and discompose, but few to please them.

It is unwise to punish cowards with ignominy; for, if they had regarded that, they would not have been cowards: death is their proper punishment, because they fear it most.

The greatest inventions were produced in the times of ignorance; as the use of the compass, gunpowder, and printing; and by the dullest nation, as the Germans.

One argument, to prove that the common relations of ghosts and spectres are generally false, may be drawn from the opinion held, that spirits are never seen by more than one person at a time; that is to say, it seldom happens to above one person in a company to be possessed with any high degree of spleen or melancholy.

« PreviousContinue »