Reference > Quotations > John Bartlett, comp. > Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. > William Cowper
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John Bartlett (1820–1905).  Familiar Quotations, 10th ed.  1919.
 
William Cowper. (1731–1800)
 
 
1
    Is base in kind, and born to be a slave.
          Table Talk. Line 28.
2
    As if the world and they were hand and glove.
          Table Talk. Line 173.
3
    Happiness depends, as Nature shows,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.
          Table Talk. Line 246.
4
    Freedom has a thousand charms to show,
That slaves, howe’er contented, never know.
          Table Talk. Line 260.
5
    Manner is all in all, whate’er is writ,
The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
          Table Talk. Line 542.
6
    Ages elapsed ere Homer’s lamp appear’d,
And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard:
To carry nature lengths unknown before,
To give a Milton birth, ask’d ages more.
          Table Talk. Line 556.
7
    Elegant as simplicity, and warm
As ecstasy.
          Table Talk. Line 588.
8
    Low ambition and the thirst of praise. 1
          Table Talk. Line 591.
9
    Made poetry a mere mechanic art.
          Table Talk. Line 654.
10
    Nature, exerting an unwearied power,
Forms, opens, and gives scent to every flower;
Spreads the fresh verdure of the field, and leads
The dancing Naiads through the dewy meads.
          Table Talk. Line 690.
  
  
  
11
    Lights of the world, and stars of human race.
          The Progress of Error. Line 97.
12
    How much a dunce that has been sent to roam
Excels a dunce that has been kept at home!
          The Progress of Error. Line 415.
13
    Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true,—
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew.
          Truth. Line 327.
14
    The sounding jargon of the schools. 2
          Truth. Line 367.
15
    When one that holds communion with the skies
Has fill’d his urn where these pure waters rise,
And once more mingles with us meaner things,
’T is e’en as if an angel shook his wings.
          Charity. Line 435.
16
    A fool must now and then be right by chance.
          Conversation. Line 96.
17
    He would not, with a peremptory tone,
Assert the nose upon his face his own.
          Conversation. Line 121.
18
    A moral, sensible, and well-bred man
Will not affront me,—and no other can.
          Conversation. Line 193.
19
    Pernicious weed! whose scent the fair annoys,
Unfriendly to society’s chief joys:
Thy worst effect is banishing for hours
The sex whose presence civilizes ours.
          Conversation. Line 251.
20
    I cannot talk with civet in the room,
A fine puss-gentleman that ’s all perfume.
          Conversation. Line 283.
21
    The solemn fop; significant and budge;
A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge. 3
          Conversation. Line 299.
22
    His wit invites you by his looks to come,
But when you knock, it never is at home. 4
          Conversation. Line 303.
23
    Our wasted oil unprofitably burns,
Like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns. 5
          Conversation. Line 357.
24
    That good diffused may more abundant grow.
          Conversation. Line 443.
25
    A business with an income at its heels
Furnishes always oil for its own wheels.
          Retirement. Line 614.
26
    Absence of occupation is not rest,
A mind quite vacant is a mind distress’d.
          Retirement. Line 623.
27
    An idler is a watch that wants both hands,
As useless if it goes as if it stands.
          Retirement. Line 681.
28
    Built God a church, and laugh’d his word to scorn.
          Retirement. Line 688.
29
    Philologists, who chase
A panting syllable through time and space,
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah’s ark.
          Retirement. Line 691.
30
    I praise the Frenchman, 6 his remark was shrewd,—
How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude!
But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
Whom I may whisper, Solitude is sweet.
          Retirement. Line 739.
31
    A kick that scarce would move a horse
  May kill a sound divine.
          The Yearly Distress.
32
    I am monarch of all I survey,
  My right there is none to dispute.
          Verses supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk.
33
    O Solitude! where are the charms
  That sages have seen in thy face?
          Verses supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk.
34
    But the sound of the church-going bell
  These valleys and rocks never heard;
Ne’er sigh’d at the sound of a knell,
  Or smiled when a Sabbath appear’d.
          Verses supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk.
35
    How fleet is a glance of the mind!
  Compared with the speed of its flight
The tempest itself lags behind,
  And the swift-winged arrows of light.
          Verses supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk.
36
    There goes the parson, O illustrious spark!
And there, scarce less illustrious, goes the clerk.
          On observing some Names of Little Note.
37
    But oars alone can ne’er prevail
  To reach the distant coast;
The breath of heaven must swell the sail,
  Or all the toil is lost.
          Human Frailty.
38
    And the tear that is wiped with a little address,
May be follow’d perhaps by a smile.
          The Rose.
39
    ’T is Providence alone secures
In every change both mine and yours.
          A Fable. Moral.
40
    I shall not ask Jean Jacques Rousseau
If birds confabulate or no.
          Pairing Time Anticipated.
41
    Misses! the tale that I relate
  This lesson seems to carry,—
Choose not alone a proper mate,
  But proper time to marry.
          Pairing Time Anticipated.
42
    That though on pleasure she was bent,
  She had a frugal mind.
          History of John Gilpin.
43
    A hat not much the worse for wear.
          History of John Gilpin.
44
    Now let us sing, Long live the king!
  And Gilpin, Long live he!
And when he next doth ride abroad,
  May I be there to see!
          History of John Gilpin.
45
    The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown.
          To an Afflicted Protestant Lady.
46
    United yet divided, twain at once:
So sit two kings of Brentford on one throne. 7
          The Task. Book i. The Sofa. Line 77.
47
    Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid nature.
          The Task. Book i. The Sofa. Line 181.
48
    The earth was made so various, that the mind
Of desultory man, studious of change
And pleased with novelty, might be indulged.
          The Task. Book i. The Sofa. Line 506.
49
    Doing good,
Disinterested good, is not our trade.
          The Task. Book i. The Sofa. Line 673.
50
    God made the country, and man made the town. 8
          The Task. Book i. The Sofa. Line 749.
51
    Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness, 9
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumour of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 1.
52
    Mountains interposed
Make enemies of nations who had else,
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 17.
53
    I would not have a slave to till my ground,
To carry me, to fan me while I sleep
And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth
That sinews bought and sold have ever earn’d.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 29.
54
    Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free!
They touch our country, and their shackles fall. 10
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 40.
55
    Fast-anchor’d isle.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 151.
56
    England, with all thy faults I love thee still,
My country! 11
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 206.
57
    Presume to lay their hand upon the ark
Of her magnificent and awful cause.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 231.
58
    Praise enough
To fill the ambition of a private man,
That Chatham’s language was his mother tongue.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 235.
59
    There is a pleasure in poetic pains
Which only poets know. 12
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 285.
60
    Transforms old print
To zigzag manuscript, and cheats the eyes
Of gallery critics by a thousand arts.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 363.
61
    Reading what they never wrote,
Just fifteen minutes, huddle up their work,
And with a well-bred whisper close the scene.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 411.
62
    Whoe’er was edified, themselves were not.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 444.
63
    Variety ’s the very spice of life. 13
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 606.
64
    She that asks
Her dear five hundred friends.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 642.
65
    His head,
Not yet by time completely silver’d o’er,
Bespoke him past the bounds of freakish youth,
But strong for service still, and unimpair’d.
          The Task. Book ii. The Timepiece, Line 702.
66
    Domestic happiness, thou only bliss
Of Paradise that has survived the fall!
          The Task. Book iii. The Garden. Line 41.
67
    Great contest follows, and much learned dust.
          The Task. Book iii. The Garden. Line 161.
68
    From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up. 14
          The Task. Book iii. The Garden. Line 188.
69
    How various his employments whom the world
Calls idle, and who justly in return
Esteems that busy world an idler too!
          The Task. Book iii. The Garden. Line 352.
70
    Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse too.
          The Task. Book iii. The Garden. Line 566.
71
    I burn to set the imprison’d wranglers free,
And give them voice and utterance once again.
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate 15 wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 34.
72
    Which not even critics criticise.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 51.
73
    What is it but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns?
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 55.
74
    And Katerfelto, with his hair on end
At his own wonders, wondering for his bread.
’T is pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat,
To peep at such a world,—to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 86.
75
    While fancy, like the finger of a clock,
Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 118.
76
    O Winter, ruler of the inverted year! 16
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 120.
77
    With spots quadrangular of diamond form,
Ensanguined hearts, clubs typical of strife,
And spades, the emblems of untimely graves.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 217.
78
    In indolent vacuity of thought.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 297.
79
    It seems the part of wisdom.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 336.
80
    All learned, and all drunk!
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 478.
81
    Gloriously drunk, obey the important call.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 510.
82
    Those golden times
And those Arcadian scenes that Maro sings,
And Sidney, warbler of poetic prose.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 514.
83
    The Frenchman’s darling. 17
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 765.
84
    Some must be great. Great offices will have
Great talents. And God gives to every man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordain’d to fill.
          The Task. Book iv. The Winter Evening. Line 788.
85
    Silently as a dream the fabric rose,
No sound of hammer or of saw was there. 18
          The Task. Book v. The Winter Morning Walk. Line 144.
86
    But war ’s a game which were their subjects wise
Kings would not play at.
          The Task. Book v. The Winter Morning Walk. Line 187.
87
    The beggarly last doit.
          The Task. Book v. The Winter Morning Walk. Line 316.
88
    As dreadful as the Manichean god,
Adored through fear, strong only to destroy.
          The Task. Book v. The Winter Morning Walk. Line 444.
89
    He is the freeman whom the truth makes free.
          The Task. Book v. The Winter Morning Walk. Line 733.
90
    With filial confidence inspired,
Can lift to Heaven an unpresumptuous eye,
And smiling say, My Father made them all!
          The Task. Book v. The Winter Morning Walk. Line 745.
91
    Give what thou canst, without Thee we are poor;
And with Thee rich, take what Thou wilt away.
          The Task. Book v. The Winter Morning Walk. Line 905.
92
    There is in souls a sympathy with sounds;
And as the mind is pitch’d the ear is pleased
With melting airs or martial, brisk or grave;
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch’d within us, and the heart replies.
How soft the music of those village bells
Falling at intervals upon the ear
In cadence sweet!
          The Task. Book vi. Winter Walk at Noon. Line 1.
93
    Here the heart
May give a useful lesson to the head,
And Learning wiser grow without his books.
          The Task. Book vi. Winter Walk at Noon. Line 85.
94
    Knowledge is proud that he has learn’d so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells.
          The Task. Book vi. Winter Walk at Noon. Line 96.
95
    Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgment hoodwink’d.
          The Task. Book vi. Winter Walk at Noon. Line 101.
96
    I would not enter on my list of friends
(Though graced with polish’d manners and fine sense,
Yet wanting sensibility) the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.
          The Task. Book vi. Winter Walk at Noon. Line 560.
97
    An honest man, close-button’d to the chin,
Broadcloth without, and a warm heart within.
          Epistle to Joseph Hill.
98
    Shine by the side of every path we tread
With such a lustre, he that runs may read. 19
          Tirocinium. Line 79.
99
    What peaceful hours I once enjoy’d!
  How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
  The world can never fill.
          Walking with God.
100
    And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.
          Exhortation to Prayer.
101
    God moves in a mysterious way
  His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea
  And rides upon the storm.
          Light shining out of Darkness.
102
    Behind a frowning providence
  He hides a shining face.
          Light shining out of Darkness.
103
    Beware of desperate steps! The darkest day,
Live till to-morrow, will have pass’d away.
          The Needless Alarm. Moral.
104
    Oh that those lips had language! Life has pass’d
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
          On the Receipt of my Mother’s Picture.
105
    The son of parents pass’d into the skies.
          On the Receipt of my Mother’s Picture.
106
    The man that hails you Tom or Jack,
And proves, by thumping on your back, 20
  His sense of your great merit, 21
Is such a friend that one had need
Be very much his friend indeed
  To pardon or to bear it.
          On Friendship.
107
    A worm is in the bud of youth,
  And at the root of age.
          Stanzas subjoined to a Bill of Mortality.
108
    Toll for the brave!—
  The brave that are no more!
All sunk beneath the wave,
  Fast by their native shore!
          On the Loss of the Royal George.
109
    There is a bird who by his coat,
And by the hoarseness of his note,
  Might be supposed a crow.
          The Jackdaw. (Translation from Vincent Bourne).
110
    He sees that this great roundabout
The world, with all its motley rout,
  Church, army, physic, law,
Its customs and its businesses,
Is no concern at all of his,
  And says—what says he?—Caw.
          The Jackdaw. (Translation from Vincent Bourne).
111
    For ’t is a truth well known to most,
That whatsoever thing is lost,
We seek it, ere it come to light,
In every cranny but the right.
          The Retired Cat.
112
    He that holds fast the golden mean, 22
And lives contentedly between
  The little and the great,
Feels not the wants that pinch the poor,
Nor plagues that haunt the rich man’s door.
          Translation of Horace. Book ii. Ode x.
113
    But strive still to be a man before your mother. 23
          Connoisseur. Motto of No. iii.
 
Note 1.
See Pope, Quotation 1. [back]
Note 2.
See Prior, Quotation 1. [back]
Note 3.
See Pope, Quotation 200. [back]
Note 4.
See Pope, Quotation 251. [back]
Note 5.
See Butler, Quotation 45.

The story of a lamp which was supposed to have burned about fifteen hundred years in the sepulchre of Tullia, the daughter of Cicero, is told by Pancirollus and others. [back]
Note 6.
La Bruyère. [back]
Note 7.
Buckingham: The Rehearsal (the two Kings of Brentford). [back]
Note 8.
See Bacon, Quotation 32. [back]
Note 9.
Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place of wayfaring men!—Jeremiah ix. 2.

Oh that the desert were my dwelling-place!—Lord Byron: Childe Harold, canto iv, stanza 177. [back]
Note 10.
Servi peregrini, ut primum Galliæ fines penetraverint eodem momento liberi sunt (Foreign slaves, as soon as they come within the limits of Gaul, that moment they are free).—Bodinus: Liber i. c. 5.

Lord Campbell (“Lives of the Chief Justices,” vol. ii. p. 418) says that “Lord Mansfield first established the grand doctrine that the air of England is too pure to be breathed by a slave.” The words attributed to Lord Mansfield, however, are not found in his judgment. They are in Hargrave’s argument, May 14, 1772, where he speaks of England as “a soil whose air is deemed too pure for slaves to breathe in.”—Lofft: Reports, p. 2. [back]
Note 11.
See Churchill, Quotation 9. [back]
Note 12.
See Dryden, Quotation 95. [back]
Note 13.
No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety.—Publius Syrus: Maxim 406. [back]
Note 14.
He has spent all his life in letting down buckets into empty wells; and he is frittering away his age in trying to draw them up again.—Lady Holland’s Memoir of Sydney Smith, vol. i. p. 259. [back]
Note 15.
See Bishop Berkeley, Quotation 3. [back]
Note 16.
See Thomson, Quotation 21. [back]
Note 17.
It was Cowper who gave this now common name to the mignonette. [back]
Note 18.
No hammers fell, no ponderous axes rung;
Like some tall palm the mystic fabric sprung.
Reginald Heber: Palestine.

So that there was neither hammer nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building.—1 Kings vi. 7. [back]
Note 19.
Write the vision, and make it plain, upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.—Habakkuk ii. 2.

He that runs may read.—Alfred Tennyson: The Flower. [back]
Note 20.
See Young, Quotation 80. [back]
Note 21.
Var. How he esteems your merit. [back]
Note 22.
Keep the golden mean.—Publius Syrus: Maxim 1072. [back]
Note 23.
See Beaumont and Fletcher, Quotation 26. [back]
 

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