English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
English Essayist, Poet, Playwright and Politician
The love of a family is life's greatest blessing.
The next instance I shall mention is in Virgil, where the poet doubtless imitates this Silence of Ajax, in that of Dido; though I do not know that any of his commentators have taken notice of it.
The post of honor is a private station.
The second source of cheerfulness to a good mind is the consideration of that Being on whom we have our dependence, and in whom, though we behold him as yet but in the first faint discoveries of his perfections, we see everything that we can imagine as great, glorious, or amiable. We find ourselves everywhere upheld by his goodness, and surrounded with an immensity of love and mercy. In short, we depend upon a Being whose power qualifies him to make us happy by an infinity of means, whose goodness and truth engage him to make those happy who desire it of him, and whose unchangeableness will secure us in this happiness to all eternity.
The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace.
The utmost we can hope for in this world is contentment; if we aim at anything higher, we shall meet with nothing but grief and disappointment. A man should direct all his studies and endeavors at making himself easy now and happy hereafter.
There are greater depths and obscurities, greater intricacies and perplexities, in an elaborate and well-written piece of nonsense, than in the most abstruse and profound tract of school divinity.
There is a sort of economy in Providence that one shall excel where another is defective, in order to make men more useful to each other, and mix them in society.
There is no passion which steals into the heart more imperceptibly, and covers itself under more disguises, than pride.
There is nothing more requisite in business than dispatch.
These duplicates in those parts of the body, without which a man might have very well subsisted, though not so well as with them, are a plain demonstration of an all-wise Contriver, as those more numerous copyings which are found among the vessels of the same body are evident demonstrations that they could not be the work of chance. This argument receives additional strength if we apply it to every animal and insect within our knowledge, as well as to those numberless living creatures that are objects too minute for a human eye: and if we consider how the several species in this whole world of life resemble one another in very many particulars, so far as is convenient for their respective states of existence, it is much more probable that a hundred millions of dice should be casually thrown a hundred millions of times in the same number than that the body of any single animal should be produced by the fortuitous concourse of matter. And that the like chance should arise in innumerable instances requires a degree of credulity that is not under the direction of common sense. We may carry this consideration yet farther if we reflect on the two sexes in every living species, with their resemblances to each other, and those particular distinctions that were necessary for the keeping up of this great world of life.
This humor shows itself in several remarks that we may make upon the English language. As, first of all, by its abounding in monosyllables, which gives us an opportunity of delivering out thoughts in few sounds.
Pray consider what a figure a man would make in the republic of letters.
Renown?d for conquest, and in council skill?d.
Silence never shows itself to so great an advantage, as when it is made the reply to calumny and defamation, provided that we give no just occasion for them.
Successful authors do what they can to exclude a competitor; while the unsuccessful, with as much eagerness, lay their claim to him as their brother.
That cherubim which now appears as a God to a human soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternity when the human soul shall be as perfect as he himself now is: nay, when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection as much as she now falls short of it?. With what astonishment and veneration may we look into our own souls, where there are such hidden stores of virtue and knowledge, such inexhausted sources of perfection? We know not yet what we shall be, nor will it ever enter into the heart to conceive the glory that will be always in reserve for him.
The bulk of our species ? are such as are not likely to be remembered a moment after their disappearance.
The English delight in silence more than any other European nation, if the remarks which are made on us by foreigners are true. Our discourse is not kept up in conversation, but falls into more pauses and intervals than in our neighboring countries; as it is observed, that the matter of our writings is thrown much closer together, and lies in a narrower compass, than is usual in the works of foreign authors; for, to favor our natural taciturnity, when we are obliged to utter our thoughts, we do it in the shortest way we are able, and give as quick a birth to our conceptions as possible.
The friendships of the world are oft confederacies in vice, or leagues of pleasure; ours has severest virtue for its basis, and such a friendship ends not but with life.
The hours of a wise man are lengthened by his ideas.
The male bird amuses the female with his songs during the whole time of her sitting.
The next method, therefore, that I would propose to fill up our time, should be useful and innocent diversions. I must confess, I think it is below reasonable creatures to be altogether conversant in such diversions as are merely innocent, and have nothing else to recommend them but that there is no hurt in them. Whether any kind of gaming has even thus much to say for itself I shall not determine; but I think it is very wonderful to see persons of the best sense passing away a dozen hours together in shuffling and dividing a pack of cards, with no other conversation but what is made up of a few game phrases, and no other ideas but those of black or red spots ranged together in different figures. Would not a man laugh to hear any one of this species complaining that life is short?
The practice of this virtue administers great comfort to the mind of man in times of poverty and affliction, but most of all in the hour of death. When the soul is hovering in the last moments of its separation, when it is just entering on another state of existence, to converse with scenes and objects and companions that are altogether new,?what can support her under such tremblings of thought, such fears, such anxiety, such apprehensions, but the casting of all her cares upon Him who first gave her being, who has conducted her through one stage of it, and will be always with her to guide and comfort her in her progress through eternity?
The sense of honor is of so fine and delicate a nature, that it is only to be met with in minds which are naturally noble, or in such as have been cultivated by good examples, or a refined education.