Sydney Smith


English Clergyman and Essayist

Author Quotes

Looked as if she had walked straight out of the ark.

Never talk for half a minute without pausing and giving others a chance to join in.

Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.

The haunts of happiness are varied, but I have more often found her among little children, home firesides, and country houses than anywhere else.

There is one piece of advice, in a life of study, which I think no one will object to; and that is, every now and then to be completely idle - to do nothing at all.

We talk of human life as a journey; but how variously is that journey performed! There are those who come forth girt, and shod, and mantled, to walk on velvet lawns and smooth terraces, where every gale is arrested and every beam is tempered. There are others who walk on the Alpine paths of life, against driving misery, and through stormy sorrows, over sharp afflictions; walk with bare feet and naked breast, jaded, mangled, and chilled.

Lucy, dear child, mind your arithmetic. You know in the first sum of yours I ever saw there was a mistake. You had carried two (as a cab is licensed to do), and you ought, dear Lucy, to have carried but one. Is this a trifle? What would life be without arithmetic, but a scene of horrors.

Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.

Say everything for vice which you can, magnify any pleasures as much as you please, but don't believe you have any secret for sending on quicker the sluggish blood, and for refreshing the faded nerve.

The history of the world shows us that men are not to be counted by their numbers, but by the fire and vigor of their passions; by their deep sense of injury; by their memory of past glory; by their eagerness for fresh fame; by their clear and steady resolution of ceasing to live, or of achieving a particular object, which, when it is once formed, strikes off a load of manacles and chains, and gives free space to all heavenly and heroic feelings. All great and extraordinary actions come from the heart. There are seasons in human affairs, when qualities fit enough to conduct the common business of life, are feeble and useless; and when men must trust to emotion, for that safety which reason at such times can never give.

There is the same difference between the tongues of some, as between the hour and the minute hand; one goes ten times as fast, and the other signifies ten times as much.

What a pity it is that we have no amusements in England but vice and religion!

Macaulay is like a book in breeches...He has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful.

No furniture is so charming as books, even if you never open them or read a single word.

Science is his forte, and omniscience his foible.

The longer I live, the more I am convinced that the apothecary is of more importance than Seneca; and that half the unhappiness in the world proceeds from little stoppages; from a duct choked up, from food pressing in the wrong place, from a vexed duodenum, or an agitated pylorus.

They wanted to help for [surgery costs] and anything that would help me, like glasses. It was so supportive and really nice. It's so nice to know that they cared that much and wanted me to get better.

What would life be without arithmetic, but a scene of horrors?

Madam, I have been looking for a person that dislikes gravy all my life; let us swear eternal friendship.

No man can ever end with being superior, who will not begin with being inferior.

Serenely full, the epicure would say, Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today

The main question to a novel is -- did it amuse? were you surprised at dinner coming so soon? did you mistake eleven for ten? were you too late to dress? and did you sit up beyond the usual hour? If a novel produces these effects, it is good; if it does not -- story, language, love, scandal itself cannot save it. It is only meant to please; and it must do that or it does nothing.

Till subdued by age and illness, his [Sir James Mackintosh’s] conversation was more brilliant and instructive than that of any human being I ever had the good fortune to be acquainted with. His memory (vast and prodigious as it was) he so managed as to make it a source of pleasure and instruction, rather than that dreadful engine of colloquial oppression into which it is sometimes erected. He remembered things, words, thoughts, dates, and everything that was wanted. His language was beautiful, and might have gone from the fireside to the press.

What you don't know would make a great book.

Magnificent spectacle of human happiness.

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English Clergyman and Essayist