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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Chesterfield
 
  A cheerful, easy, open countenance will make fools think you a good-natured man, and make designing men think you an undesigning one.  1
  A gentleman has ease without familiarity, is respectful without meanness; genteel without affectation, insinuating without seeming art.  2
  A joker is near akin to a buffoon; and neither of them is the least related to wit.  3
  A light supper, a good night’s sleep, and a fine morning have often made a hero of the same man who, by indigestion, a restless night, and a rainy morning, would have proved a coward.  4
  A man who owes a little can clear it off in a very little time, and, if be is a prudent man, will; whereas a man, who by long negligence, owes a great deal, despairs of ever being able to pay, and therefore never looks into his accounts at all.  5
  A man’s fortune is frequently decided by his first address. If pleasing, others at once conclude he has merit; but if ungraceful, they decide against him.  6
  A man’s own good breeding is the best security against other people’s ill manners.  7
  A proper secrecy is the only mystery of able men; mystery is the only secrecy of weak and cunning ones.  8
  A vulgar man is captious and jealous; eager and impetuous about trifles. He suspects himself to be slighted, and thinks everything that is said meant at him.  9
  A weak mind is like a microscope, which magnifies trifling things, but cannot receive great ones.  10
  Advice is seldom welcome; and those who want it the most always like it the least.  11
  Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable; however, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.  12
  An able man shows his spirit by gentle words and resolute actions.  13
  Assurance and intrepidity, under the white banner of seeming modesty, clear the way to merit that would otherwise be discouraged by difficulties.  14
  Awkwardness is a more real disadvantage than it is generally thought to be; it often occasions ridicule, it always lessens dignity.  15
  Be your character what it will, it will be known; and nobody will take it upon your word.  16
  Cautiously avoid talking of the domestic affairs either of yourself or of other people. Yours are nothing to them but tedious gossip, theirs are nothing to you.  17
  Ceremonies are the outworks of manners.  18
  Character must be kept bright as well as clean.  19
  Choose the company of your superiors whenever you can have it.  20
 
 
  Compliments of congratulation are always kindly taken, and cost nothing but pen, ink and paper. I consider them as draughts upon good breeding, where the exchange is always greatly in favor of the drawer.  21
  Cottages have them (falsehood and dissimulation) as well as courts, only with worse manners.  22
  Dispatch is the soul of business; and nothing contributes more to dispatch than method. Lay down a method for everything, and stick to it inviolably, as far as unexpected incidents may allow.  23
  Elegance of manner is the outgrowth of refined and exalted sense.  24
  Every man seeks for truth; but God only knows who has found it.  25
  Everything is worth seeing once, and the more one sees the less one either wonders or admires.  26
  Experience only can teach men not to prefer what strikes them for the present moment, to what will have much greater weight with them hereafter.  27
  Fear invites danger; concealed cowards insult known ones.  28
  Few people do business well who do nothing else.  29
  Firmness of purpose is one of the most necessary sinews of character and one of the best instruments of success. Without it, genius wastes its efforts in a maze of inconsistencies.  30
  Flattery, though a base coin, is the necessary pocket money at court; where, by custom and consent, it has obtained such a currency that it is no longer a fraudulent, but a legal payment.  31
  Frivolous curiosity about trifles, and laborious attentions to little objects which neither require nor deserve a moment’s thought, lower a man, who from thence is thought (and not unjustly) incapable of greater matters. Cardinal de Retz very sagaciously marked out Cardinal Chigi for a little mind, from the moment he told him that he had wrote three years with the same pen, and that it was an excellent good one still.  32
  Good breeding is the result of much good sense, some good nature, and a little self-denial for the sake of others, and with a view to obtain the same indulgence from them.  33
  Good-breeding carries along with it a dignity that is respected by the most petulant. Ill-breeding invites and authorizes the familiarity of the most timid.  34
  Great merit or great failings will make you respected or despised; but trifles, little attentions, mere nothings, either done or neglected, will make you either liked or disliked, in the general run of the world. Examine yourself, why you like such and such people and dislike such and such others; and you will find that those different sentiments proceed from very slight causes.  35
  Great talents, such as honor, virtue, learning, and parts, are above the generality of the world, who neither possess them themselves, nor judge of them rightly in others; but all people are judges of the lesser talents, such as civility, affability, and an obliging, agreeable address and manner, because they feel the good effects of them, as making society easy and pleasing.  36
  Guy Patin recommends to a patient to have no doctor but a horse, and no apothecary but an ass!  37
  History is only a confused heap of facts.  38
  Honest error is to be pitied, not ridiculed.  39
  Humanity is the peculiar characteristic of great minds; little vicious minds abound with anger and revenge, and are incapable of feeling the exact pleasure of forgiving their enemies.  40
  I am sure that since I had the use of my reason, no human being has ever heard me laugh.  41
  I am very sure that any man of common understanding may, by culture, care, attention and labor, make himself whatever he pleases, except a great poet.  42
  I assisted at the birth of that most significant word flirtation, which dropped from the most beautiful mouth in the world, and which has since received the sanction of our most accurate laureate in one of his comedies.  43
  I do by no means advise you to throw away your time in ransacking, like a dull antiquarian, the minute and unimportant parts of remote and fabulous times. Let blockheads read what blockheads wrote.  44
  I knew once a very covetous, sordid fellow, who used to say, Take care of the pence; for the pounds will take care of themselves.  45
  I look upon indolence as a sort of suicide; for the man in efficiently destroyed, though the appetite of the brute may survive.  46
  I really think next to the consciousness of doing a good action, that of doing a civil one is the most pleasing; and the epithet which I should covet the most next to that of Aristides, would be that of well-bred.  47
  I recommend you to take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.  48
  I would have all intoleration intolerated in its turn.  49
  I would rather have a young fellow too much than too little dressed; the excess on that side will wear off, with a little age and reflection; but if he is negligent at twenty, he will be a sloven at forty, and stink at fifty years old. Dress yourself fine where others are fine, and plain where others are plain; but take care always that your clothes are well made and fit you, for otherwise they will give you a very awkward air.  50
  Idleness is the holiday of fools.  51
  If a fool knows a secret, he tells it because he is a fool; if a knave knows one, he tells it wherever it is his interest to tell it.  52
  If we do not plant knowledge when young, it will give us no shade when we are old.  53
  If you love music, hear it: go to operas, concerts, and pay fiddlers to play to you; but I insist upon your neither piping nor fiddling yourself. It puts a gentleman in a very frivolous, contemptible light; brings him into a great deal of bad company; and takes up a great deal of time, which might be much better employed.  54
  If you wish particularly to gain the good graces and affection of certain people, men or women, try to discover their most striking merit, if they have one, and their dominant weakness, for every one has his own, then do justice to the one, and a little more than justice to the other.  55
  In order to judge of the inside of others, study your own; for men in general are very much alike, and though one has one prevailing passion, and another has another, yet their operations are much the same; and whatever engages or disgusts, pleases, or offends you in others, will, mutatis mutandis, engage, disgust, please, or offend others in you.  56
  In your friendships and in your enmities let your confidence and your hostilities have certain bounds; make not the former dangerous, nor the latter irreconcilable. There are strange vicissitudes in business.  57
  It is by vivacity and wit that man shines in company; but trite jokes and loud laughter reduce him to a buffoon.  58
  It is commonly said, and more particularly by Lord Shaftesbury, that ridicule is the best test of truth; for that it will not stick where it is not just. I deny it. A truth learned in a certain light, and attacked in certain words, by men of wit and humor, may, and often doth, become ridiculous, at least so far that the truth is only remembered and repeated for the sake of the ridicule.  59
  It is often more necessary to conceal contempt than resentment; the former is never forgiven, but the latter is sometimes forgotten.  60
  Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.  61
  Let your letter be written as accurately as you are able,—I mean with regard to language, grammar, and stops; for as to the matter of it the less trouble you give yourself the better it will be. Letters should be easy and natural, and convey to the persons to whom we send them just what we should say to the persons if we were with them.  62
  Letters should be easy and natural.  63
  Look in the face of the person to whom you are speaking, if you wish to know his real sentiments; for he can command his words more easily than his countenance.  64
  Loud laughter is the mirth of the mob, who are only pleased with silly things; for true wit or good sense never excited a laugh since the creation of the world. A man of parts and fashion is therefore only seen to smile, but never heard to laugh.  65
  Many new years you may see, but happy ones you cannot see without deserving them. These virtue, honor, and knowledge alone can merit, alone can produce.  66
  Men are much more unwilling to have their weaknesses and their imperfections known than their crimes; and if you hint to a man that you think him silly, ignorant, or even ill-bred or awkward, he will hate you more and longer than if you tell him plainly that you think him a rogue.  67
  Men, as well as women, are oftener led by their hearts than their understandings. The way to the heart is through the senses; please their eyes and ears, and the work is half done.  68
  Most arts require long study and application; but the most useful art of all, that of pleasing, requires only the desire.  69
  Nature has hardly formed a woman ugly enough to be insensible to flattery upon her person; if her face is so shocking that she must in some degree be conscious of it, her figure and her air, she trusts, make ample amends for it.  70
  Never hold any one by the button or the hand in order to be heard out; for if people are unwilling to hear you, you had better hold your tongue than them.  71
  Next to clothes being fine, they should be well made, and worn easily; for a man is only the less genteel for a fine coat, if, in wearing it, he shows a regard for it, and is not as easy in it as if it was a plain one.  72
  No man can possibly improve in any company for which he has not respect enough to be under some degree of restraint.  73
  Not to perceive the little weaknesses and the idle but innocent affectations of the company may be allowable as a sort of polite duty. The company will be pleased with you if you do, and most probably will not be reformed by you if you do not.  74
  Nothing is more dissimilar than natural and acquired politeness. The first consists in a willing abnegation of self; the second in a compelled recollection of others.  75
  Nothing sharpens the arrow of sarcasm so keenly as the courtesy that polishes it; no reproach is like that we clothe with a smile, and present with a bow.  76
  One man affirms that he has rode post a hundred miles in six hours: probably it is a lie; but supposing it to be true, what then? Why, he is a very good post-boy; that is all. Another asserts, and probably not without oaths, that he has drunk six or eight bottles of wine at a sitting; out of charity I will believe him a liar; for, if I do not, I must think him a beast.  77
  Polished brass will pass upon more people than rough gold.  78
  Prepare yourself for the world, as the athletes used to do for their exercises; oil your mind and your manners, to give them the necessary suppleness and flexibility; strength alone will not do.  79
  Real friendship is a slow grower; and never thrives unless engrafted upon a stock of known and reciprocal merit.  80
  Real merit of any kind cannot long be concealed; it will be discovered, and nothing can depreciate it, but a man’s exhibiting it himself. It may not always be rewarded as it ought; but it will always be known.  81
  Sincerity is the most compendious wisdom, an excellent instrument for the speedy despatch of business. It creates confidence in those we have to deal with, saves the labor of many inquiries, and brings things to an issue in few words.  82
  Six, or at most seven, hours’ sleep is, for a constancy, as much as you or anybody else can want; more is only laziness and dozing, and is, I am persuaded, both unwholesome and stupefying.  83
  Style is the dress of thoughts; and let them be ever so just, if your style is homely, coarse, and vulgar, they will appear to as much disadvantage, and be as ill received, as your person, though ever so well proportioned, would if dressed in rags, dirt, and tatters.  84
  Take rather than give the tone to the company you are in. If you have parts you will show them more or less upon every subject; and if you have not, you had better talk sillily upon a subject of other people’s than of your own choosing.  85
  Talk often, but never long; in that case, if you do not please, at least you are sure not to tire your hearers. Pay your own reckoning, but do not treat the whole company; this being one of the few cases in which people do not care to be treated, every one being fully convinced that he has wherewithal to pay.  86
  The greatest powers cannot injure a man’s character whose reputation is unblemished among his party.  87
  The heart never grows better by age, I fear rather worse; always harder. A young liar will be an old one; and a young knave will only be a greater knave as he grows older.  88
  The insolent civility of a proud man is, if possible, more shocking than his rudeness could be; because he shows you, by his manner, that he thinks it mere condescension in him; and that his goodness alone bestows upon you what you have no pretense to claim.  89
  The manner of a vulgar man has freedom without ease, and the manner of a gentleman has ease without freedom.  90
  The manner of your speaking is full as important as the matter, as more people have ears to be tickled than understandings to judge.  91
  The most familiar and intimate habitudes, connections, friendships, require a degree of good-breeding both to preserve and cement them.  92
  The nature of our constitution makes eloquence more useful and more necessary in this country than in any other in Europe.  93
  The receipt to make a speaker, and an applauded one too, is short and easy. Take common sense quantum sufficit; add a little application to the rules and orders of the House [of Commons], throw obvious thoughts in a new light, and make up the whole with a large quantity of purity, correctness and elegancy of style. Take it for granted that by far the greatest part of mankind neither analyze nor search to the bottom; they are incapable of penetrating deeper than the surface.  94
  The reputation of generosity is to be purchased pretty cheap; it does not depend so much upon a man’s general expense, as it does upon his giving handsomely where it is proper to give at all. A man, for instance, who should give a servant four shillings would pass for covetous, while he who gave him a crown would be reckoned generous; so that the difference of those two opposite characters turns upon one shilling.  95
  The scholar without good breeding is a pedant; the philosopher, a cynic; the soldier, a brute; and every man disagreeable.  96
  Those tears of the sky for the loss of the sun.  97
  True politeness is perfect ease and freedom. It simply consists in treating others just as you love to be treated yourself.  98
  Ugliness is a letter of credit for some special purposes.  99
  Very ugly or very beautiful women should be flattered on their understanding, and mediocre ones on their beauty.  100
  We are as often duped by diffidence as by confidence.  101
  Wear your learning like your watch, in a private pocket; and do not pull it out and strike it, merely to show that you have one.  102
  Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.  103
  Whatever poets may write, or fools believe, of rural innocence and truth, and of the perfidy of courts, this is most undoubtedly true,—that shepherds and ministers are both men; their natures and passions the same, the modes of them only different.  104
  When I reflect upon what I have seen, what I have heard, what I have done, I can hardly persuade myself that all that frivolous hurry and bustle and pleasure of the world had any reality; and I look on what has passed as one of those wild dreams which opium occasions, and I by no means wish to repeat the nauseous dose for the sake of the fugitive illusion.  105
  Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him. Haste and hurry are very different things.  106
  Women and young men are very apt to tell what secrets they know from the vanity of having been intrusted.  107
  Women are much more like each other than men: they have, in truth, but two passions, vanity and love; these are their universal characteristics.  108
  Women especially as to be talked to as below men, and above children.  109
  Women have, in general, but one object, which is their beauty; upon which scarce any flattery is too gross for them.  110
  Wrongs are often forgiven, but contempt never is. Our pride remembers it forever. It implies a discovery of weaknesses, which we are much more careful to conceal than crimes. Many a man will confess his crimes to a common friend, but I never knew a man who would tell his silly weaknesses to his most intimate one.  111
  You must look into people as well as at them.  112
  You should not only have attention to everything, but a quickness of attention, so as to observe at once all the people in the room—their motions, their looks and their words—and yet without staring at them and seeming to be an observer.  113
  Young men are as apt to think themselves wise enough, as drunken men are to think themselves sober enough. They look upon spirit to be a much better thing than experience; which they call coldness. They are but half mistaken; for though spirit without experience is dangerous, experience without spirit is languid and ineffective.  114
 
 
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