English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
This, among other motives, may be one reason why we are naturally averse to the launching out into a man?s praise till his head is laid in the dust. Whilst he is capable of changing, we may be forced to retract our opinions. He may forfeit the esteem we have conceived of him, and some time or other appear to us under a different light from what he does at present. In short, as the life of any man cannot be called happy or unhappy, so neither can it be pronounced vicious or virtuous, before the conclusion of it.
Thus I live in the world rather as a Spectator of mankind, than as one of the species, by which means I have made myself a speculative statesman, soldier, merchant, and artisan, without ever meddling with any practical part of life.
To be an atheist requires an indefinitely greater measure of faith than to receive all the great truths which atheism would deny.
True benevolence, or compassion, extends itself through the whole of existence and sympathizes with the distress of every creature capable of sensation.
Virgil has very finely touched upon the female passion for dress and shows, in the character of Camilla; who though she seems to have shaken off all the other weaknesses of her sex, is still described as a woman in this particular.
We find the Works of Nature still more pleasant, the more they resemble those of art.
Were our English stage but half so virtuous as that of the Greeks or Romans, we should quickly see the influence of it in the behavior of all the politer part of mankind. It would not be fashionable to ridicule religion, or its professors; the man of pleasure would not be the complete gentleman; vanity would be out of countenance; and every quality which is ornamental to human nature would meet with that esteem which is due to it. If the English stage were under the same regulations the Athenian was formerly, it would have the same effect that had, in recommending the religion, the government, and public worship of its country.
What though no real voice nor sound amid their radiant orbs be found; in reason's ear they all rejoice, and utter forth a glorious voice, forever singing as they shine, The Hand that made us divine.
When I behold a fashionable table set out in all its magnificence, I fancy that I see gouts and dropsies, fevers and lethargies, with other innumerable distempers lying in ambuscade among the dishes. Nature delights in the most plain and simple diet. Every animal but man keeps to one dish. Herbs are the food of this species, fish of that, and flesh of a third. Man falls upon everything that comes in his way; not the smallest fruit or excrescence of the earth, scarce a berry or a mushroom can escape him.
When Innocent desired the Marquis of Carpio to furnish thirty thousand head of swine, he could not spare them; but thirty thousand lawyers he had at his service.
Where have my ravish'd senses been! What joys, what wonders, have I seen! The scene yet stands before my eye, a thousand glorious deeds that lie in deep futurity obscure, fights and triumphs immature, heroes immers'd in time's dark womb, ripening for mighty years to come, break forth, and, to the day display'd, my soft inglorious hours upbraid. Transported with so bright a scheme, my waking life appears a dream.
Wind a cloudy day, or a little sunshine, have as great an influence on many constitutions as the most real blessings or misfortunes.
Those ideas which are in the mind of man are a transcript of the world; to this we may add, that words are the transcripts of those ideas which are in the mind of man, and that writing and printing are the transcript of words.
Thus I live in the World, rather as a Spectator of Mankind, than as one of the Species.
To be exempt from the passions with which others are tormented, is the only pleasing solitude.
True fortitude is seen in great exploits That justice warrants, and that wisdom guides; And all else is tow'ring phrenzy and distraction.
Virtues that shun the day, and lie concealed in the smooth seasons and the calm of life.
We have in England a particular bashfulness in everything that regards religion. A well-bred man is obliged to conceal any serious sentiment of this nature, and very often to appear a greater libertine than he is, that he may keep himself in countenance among the men of mode.
Were our legislature vested in the prince, he might turn and wind our constitution at his pleasure, and shape our government to his fancy.
When a government flourishes in conquests, and is secure from foreign attacks, it naturally falls into all the pleasures of luxury; and as these pleasures are very expensive, they put those who are addicted to them upon raising fresh supplies of money, by all the methods of rapaciousness and corruption; so that avarice and luxury very often become one complicated principle of action, in those whose hearts are wholly set upon ease, magnificence, and pleasure. The most elegant and correct of all the Latin historians observes that in his time, when the most formidable states in the world were subdued by the Romans, the republic sunk into those two vices of a quite different nature, luxury and avarice; and accordingly describes Catiline as one who coveted the wealth of other men, at the same time that he squandered away his own. This observation on the commonwealth, when it was in the height of power and riches, holds good of all governments that are settled in a state of ease and prosperity. At such times men naturally endeavor to outshine one another in pomp and splendor, and, having no fears to alarm them from abroad, indulge themselves in the enjoyment of all the pleasures they can get into their possession; which naturally produce avarice, and an immoderate pursuit after wealth and riches.
When I consider the question, whether there are such persons in the world as those we call witches? my mind is divided between the two opposite opinions; or rather (to speak my thoughts freely) I believe in general that there is, and has been such a thing as witchcraft; but at the same time can give no credit to any particular instance of it.
When love once pleads admission to our hearts, (In spite of all the virtue we can boast), The woman that deliberates is lost.
Where statesmen are ruled by faction and interest, they can have no passion for the glory of their country, nor any concern for the figure it will make.
Wine heightens indifference into love, love into jealousy, and jealousy into madness. It often turns the good-natured man into an idiot, and the choleric into an assassin. It gives bitterness to resentment, it makes vanity insupportable, and displays every little spot of the soul in its utmost deformity.
Those marriages generally abound most with love and constancy that are preceded by a long courtship. The passion should strike root, and gather strength before marriage be grafted on it. A long course of hopes and expectations fixes the idea in our minds, and habituates us to a fondness of the person beloved.