Arthur Helps, fully Sir Arthur Helps

Helps, fully Sir Arthur Helps

English Writer, Historian, Biographer and Dean of the Privy Council

Author Quotes

We talk of early prejudices, of the prejudices of religion, of position, of education; but in truth we only mean the prejudices of others. It is by the observation of trivial matters that the wise learn the influence of prejudice over their own minds at all times, and the wonderfully moulding power which those minds possess in making all things around conform to the idea of the moment. Let a man but note how often he has seen likenesses where no resemblance exists; admired ordinary pictures, because he thought they were from the hands of celebrated masters; delighted in the commonplace observations of those who had gained a reputation for wisdom; laughed where no wit was; and he will learn with humility to make allowance for the effect of prejudice in others.

What a blessing this smoking is! Perhaps the greatest that we owe to the discovery of America.

When we consider the incidents of former days, and perceive, while reviewing the long line of causes, how the most important events of our lives originated in the most trifling circumstances; how the beginning of our greatest happiness or greatest misery is to be attributed to a delay, to an accident, to a mistake; we learn a lesson of profound humility.

You cannot expect that a friend should be like the atmosphere, which confers all manner of benefits upon you, and without which indeed it would be impossible to live, but at the same time is never in your way.

Almost all human affairs are tedious. Everything is too long. Visits, dinners, concerts, plays, speeches, pleadings, essays, sermons, are too long. Pleasure and business labour equally under this defect, or, as I should rather say, this fatal superabundance.

Irony is contempt disguised as an actor in the ancient tragedy, with the buskin and the mask, at once elevated and concealed. It may give your adversary discomfort, but will never persuade him to alter his opinion; for, in order to convince, we must not only be, but appear in earnest.

No doubt hard work is a great police-agent. If everybody were worked from morning till night, and then carefully locked up, the register of crimes might be greatly diminished. But what would become of human nature? Where would be the room for growth in such a system of things? It is through sorrow and mirth, plenty and need, a variety of passions, circumstances, and temptations, even through sin and misery, that men’s natures are developed.

The rich are always advising the poor, but the poor seldom return the compliment.

We all seek happiness so eagerly, that in the pursuit we often lose that joyous sense of existence, and those quiet daily pleasures, the value of which our pride alone prevents us from acknowledging.

An official man is always an official man, and he has a wild belief in the value of reports

Is boredom anything less than the sense of one's faculties slowly dying?

No man has ever praised to persons equally--and pleased them both.

The sense of danger is never, perhaps, so fully apprehended as when the danger has been overcome.

We often err by contemplating an individual solely in his relation and behaviour to us, and generalizing from that with more rapidity than wisdom. We might as well argue that the moon has no rotation about her axis, because the same hemisphere is always presented to our view.

Be cheerful, no matter what reverse obstruct your pathway, or what plagues follow you in your trail to annoy you. Ask yourself what is to be gained by looking or feeling sad when troubles throng around you, or how your condition is to be alleviated by abandoning yourself to despondency. If you are a young man, nature designed you to be of good cheer; and should you find your road to fortune, fame, or respectability, or any other boon to which your young heart aspires, a little thorny, consider it all for the best, and that these impediments are only thrown in your way to induce greater efforts and more patient endurance on your part. Far better spend a whole life in diligent, aye, cheerful and unremitting toil, though you never attain the pinnacle of your ambitious desires, than to turn back at the first appearance of misfortune, and allow despair to unnerve your energies, or sour your naturally sweet and cheerful disposition. If you are of the softer, fairer portion of humanity, be cheerful; though we know full well that most affections are sweet to you when compared with disappointment and neglect, yet let hope banish despair and ill forebodings. Be cheerful: do not brood over fond hopes unrealized, until a chain, link after link, is fastened on each thought and wound around the heart. Nature intended you to be the fountain-spring of cheerfulness and social life, and not the travelling monument of despair and melancholy.

It has always appeared to me, that there is so much to be done in this world, that all self-inflicted suffering which cannot be turned to good account for others, is a loss - a loss, if you may so express it, to the spiritual world.

People resemble still more the time in which they live, than they resemble their fathers.

The sun is shining all around, but there are some who will only contemplate their own shadows.

We should lay up in our minds a store of goodly thoughts which will be a living treasure of knowledge always with us, and from which, at various times, and amidst all the shiftings of circumstances, we might be sure of drawing some comfort, guidance, and sympathy.

Choose an author as you choose a friend.

It is a shallow mind that suspects or rejects an offered kindness because it is unable to discover the motive. It would have been as wise for the Egyptians to have scorned the pure waters of the Nile because they were not quite certain about the source of that mighty river.

People speak of the sadness of being in a crowd and knowing no one. There is something pleasurable in it too.

The world will find out that part of your character which concerns it: that which especially concerns yourself, it will leave for you to discover.

Do not mistake energy for enthusiasm; the softest speakers are often the most enthusiastic of men.

It is a weak thing to tell half your story, and then ask your friend's advice--a still weaker thing to take it.

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Helps, fully Sir Arthur Helps
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English Writer, Historian, Biographer and Dean of the Privy Council