Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Primary Author Index
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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Sterne
 
        Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still,
Slavery! said I—still thou art a bitter draught.
  1
  A coward never forgives.  2
  A good simile,—as concise as a king’s declaration of love.  3
  A word, a look, which at one time would make no impression, at another time wounds the heart; and like a shaft flying with the wind pierces deep, which, with its own natural force, would scarce have reached the object aimed at.  4
  Alas! if the principles of contentment are not within us, the height of station and worldly grandeur will as soon add a cubit to a man’s stature as to his happiness.  5
  An atheist is more reclaimable than a papist, as ignorance is sooner cured than superstition.  6
  An inward sincerity will of course influence the outward deportment; but where the one is wanting, there is great reason to suspect the absence of the other.  7
  Any one may do a casual act of good-nature; but a continuation of them shows it a part of the temperament.  8
  As monarchs have a right to call in the specie of a state, and raise its value, by their own impression; so are there certain prerogative geniuses, who are above plagiaries, who cannot be said to steal, but, from their improvement of a thought, rather to borrow it, and repay the commonwealth of letters with interest again; and may more properly be said to adopt, than to kidnap a sentiment, by leaving it heir to their own fame.  9
  Beauty has so many charms, one knows not how to speak against it; and when it happens that a graceful figure is the habitation of a virtuous soul, when the beauty of the face speaks out the modesty and humility of the mind, and the justness of the proportion raises our thoughts up to the heart and wisdom of the great Creator, something may be allowed it,—and something to the embellishments which set it off; and yet, when the whole apology is read, it will be found at last that beauty, like truth, never is so glorious as when it goes the plainest.  10
  Beauty, like truth, never is so glorious as when it goes plainest.  11
  Before an affliction is digested, consolation ever comes too soon; and after it is digested, it comes too late; but there is a mark between these two, as fine almost as a hair, for a comforter to take aim at.  12
  Courtship consists in a number of quiet attentions, not so pointed as to alarm, nor so vague as not to be understood.  13
  Death opens the gate of fame, and shuts the gate of envy after it; it unlooses the chain of the captive, and puts the bondsman’s task into another man’s hand.  14
  Delicious essence! how refreshing art thou to nature! how strongly are all its powers and all its weaknesses on thy side! how sweetly dost thou mix with the blood, and help it through the most difficult and tortuous passages to the heart!  15
  Digressions incontestibly are the sunshine; they are the life, the soul of reading.  16
  Do not weep, my dear lady! Your tears are too precious to shed for me; bottle them up, and may the cork never be drawn.  17
  Endless is the search of truth.  18
  Freethinkers are generally those who never think at all.  19
  Go, poor devil, get thee gone; why should I hurt thee? This world surely is wide enough to hold both thee and me.  20
 
 
  God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.  21
  Grant me patience, just Heaven! Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world—though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst—the cant of criticism is the most tormenting.  22
  Great is the power of Eloquence; but never is it so great as when it pleads along with nature, and the culprit is a child strayed from his duty, and returned to it again with tears.  23
  Hail! ye small sweet courtesies of life, for smooth do ye make the road of it, like grace and beauty, which beget inclinations to love at first sight; it is ye who open the door and let the stranger in.  24
  He gave a deep sigh; I saw the iron enter into his soul.  25
  Heaven be their resource who have no other but the charity of the world, the stock of which, I fear, is no way sufficient for the many great claims which are hourly made upon it.  26
  How frequently is the honesty and integrity of a man disposed of by a smile or shrug! How many good and generous actions have been sunk into oblivion by a distrustful look, or stamped with the imputation of proceeding from bad motives, by a mysterious and seasonable whisper!  27
  I am persuaded that every time a man smiles—but much more so when he laughs—it adds something to this fragment of life.  28
  I am positive I have a soul; nor can all the books with which materialists have pestered the world ever convince me to the contrary.  29
  I asked a hermit once in Italy how he could venture to live alone, in a single cottage, on the top of a mountain, a mile from any habitation? He replied that, “Providence was his very next-door neighbor.”  30
  I have so great a contempt and detestation for meanness, that I could sooner make a friend of one who had committed murder, than of a person who could be capable, in any instance, of the former vice. Under meanness, I comprehend dishonesty; under dishonesty, ingratitude; under ingratitude, irreligion; and under this latter, every species of vice and immorality in human nature.  31
  I live in a constant endeavor to fence against the infirmities of ill-health, and other evils of life, by mirth; being firmly persuaded that every time a man smiles, but much more when he laughs, it adds something to his fragment of life.  32
  I never drink. I cannot do it, on equal terms with others. It costs them only one day; but me three, the first in sinning, the second in suffering, and the third in repenting.  33
  I pity the man who can travel from Dan to Beersheba, and cry, “’T is all barren!” And so it is, and so is all the world to him who will not cultivate the fruits it offers.  34
  I thought that to forgive our enemies had been the highest effort of the heathen ethic; but that the returning good for evil was an improvement of the Christian morality. But I had the mortification to meet with that interloper, Socrates, in Plato, enforcing the divine precept of loving our enemies. Perhaps for this reason, among others, he was styled by Erasmus “a Christian before Christianity.”  35
  I was acquainted once with a gallant soldier who assured me that his only measure of courage was this: upon the first fire, in an engagement, he immediately looked upon himself as a dead man. He then bravely fought out the remainder of the day, perfectly regardless of all manner of danger, as becomes a dead man to be. So that all the life or limbs he carried back again to his tent he reckoned as clear gains, or, as he himself expressed it, so much out of the fire.  36
  I would go fifty miles on foot to kiss the hand of that man whose generous heart will give up the reins of his imagination into his Author’s hands; be pleased, he knows not why, and cares not wherefore.  37
  If a man has a right to be proud of anything, it is of a good action done as it ought to be, without any base interest lurking at the bottom of it.  38
  If there is an evil in this world, it is sorrow and heaviness of heart. The loss of goods, of health, of coronets and mitres, is only evil as they occasion sorrow; take that out, the rest is fancy, and dwelleth only in the head of man.  39
  If thou art rich, then show the greatness of thy fortune, or what is better, the greatness of thy soul, in the meekness of thy conversation; condescend to men of low estate, support the distressed and patronize the neglected. Be great.  40
  If time, like money, could be laid by while one was not using it, there might be some excuse for the idleness of half the world, but yet not a full one. For even this would be such an economy as the living on a principal sum, without making it purchase interest.  41
  In part of Lord Kames’ Elements of Criticism, he says that “music improves the relish of a banquet.” That I deny,—any more than painting might do. They may both be additional pleasures, as well as conversation is, but are perfectly distinct notices; and cannot, with the least propriety, be said to mix or blend with the repast, as none of them serve to raise the flavor of the wine, the sauce, the meat, or help to quicken appetite. But music and painting both add a spirit to devotion, and elevate the ardor.  42
  In solitude the mind gains strength, and learns to lean upon herself; in the world it seeks or accepts of a few treacherous supports—the feigned compassion of one, the flattery of a second, the civilities of a third, the friendship of a fourth—they all deceive, and bring the mind back to retirement, reflection, and books.  43
  Is it not an amazing thing, that men shall attempt to investigate the mystery of the redemption, when, at the same time that it is propounded to us as an article of faith solely, we are told that “the very angels have desired to pry into it in vain”?  44
  It appears an extraordinary thing to me, that since there is such a diabolical spirit in the depravity of human nature, as persecution for difference of opinion, in, religious tenets, there never happened to be any inquisition, any auto da fé, any crusade, among the Pagans.  45
  It is curious to observe the triumph of slight incidents over the mind; and what incredible weight they have in forming and governing our opinions, both of men and things, that trifles light as air shall waft a belief into the soul, and plant it so immovable within it, that Euclid’s demonstrations, could they be brought to batter it in breach, should not all have power to overthrow it!  46
  It is not in the power of every one to taste humor, however he may wish it; it is the gift of God! and a true feeler always brings half the entertainment along with him.  47
  “It is not safe for man to be alone,” nor can all which the cold-hearted pedant stuns our ears with upon the subject ever give one answer of satisfaction to the mind; in the midst of the loudest vauntings of philosophy, nature will have her yearnings for society and friendship. A good heart wants something to be kind to; and the best parts of our blood, and the purest of our spirits suffer most under the destitution.  48
  It is sweet to feel by what fine-spun thread our affections are drawn together.  49
  Keep away from the fire!  50
  Lessons of wisdom have never such power over us as when they are wrought into the heart through the groundwork of a story.  51
  Lovers are apt to hear through their eyes, but the safest way is to see through their ears. Who was it that said, “Speak, that I may see you?”  52
  Madness is consistent; which is more than can be said for poor reason. Whatever may be the ruling passion at the time continues equally so throughout the whole delirium, though it should last for life. Madmen are always constant in love; which no man in his senses ever was. Our passions and principles are steady in frenzy; but begin to shift and waver, as we return to reason.  53
  Men tire themselves in pursuit of rest.  54
  O blessed health! thou art above all gold and treasure; ’tis thou who enlargest the soul, and openest all its powers to receive instruction, and to relish virtue. He that has thee has little more to wish for, and he that is so wretched as to want thee, wants everything with thee.  55
  Of all the cants in this canting world, deliver me from the cant of criticism.  56
  One does not require nor think of a fire often in spring or autumn; yet I don’t know how it is, but when we have happened by chance to pass near one, the sensation it communicates is so pleasant that we feel rather inclined to indulge it. This is analogous to temptation,—and the moral is, “keep away from the fire.”  57
  Pain and pleasure, like light and darkness, succeed each other.  58
  Patience cannot remove, but it can always dignify and alleviate, misfortune.  59
  People who are always taking care of their health are like misers, who are hoarding a treasure which they have never spirit enough to enjoy.  60
  Plutarch has a fine expression, with regard to some woman of learning, humility, and virtue;—that her ornaments were such as might be purchased without money, and would render any woman’s life both glorious and happy.  61
  Positiveness is a most absurd foible. If you are in the right, it lessens your triumph; if in the wrong, it adds shame to your defeat.  62
  Precedents are the disgrace of legislation. They are not wanted to justify right measures, are absolutely insufficient to excuse wrong ones. They can only be useful to heralds, dancing masters, and gentlemen ushers.  63
  Probably Providence has implanted peevishness and ill-temper in sick and old persons, in compassion to the friends or relations who are to survive; as it must naturally lessen the concern they might otherwise feel for their loss.  64
  Sight is by much the noblest of the senses. We receive our notices from the other four, through the organs of sensation only. We hear, we feel, we smell, we taste, by touch. But sight rises infinitely higher. It is refined above matter, and equals the faculty of spirit.  65
  Simplicity is the great friend to nature, and if I would be proud of anything in this silly world, it should be of this honest alliance.  66
  So fruitful is slander in variety of expedients to satiate as well as disguise itself. But if these smoother weapons cut so sore, what shall we say of open and unblushing scandal, subjected to no caution, tied down to no restraints?  67
  So quickly sometimes has the wheel turned round that many a man has lived to enjoy the benefit of that charity which his own piety projected.  68
  Some people pass through life soberly and religiously enough, without knowing why, or reasoning about it, but, from force of habit merely, go to heaven like fools.  69
  Such a pearly row of teeth, that sovereignty would have pawned her jewels for them.  70
  The accusing spirit, which flew up to heaven’s chancery with the oath, blushed as he gave it in; and the recording angel, as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word and blotted it out forever.  71
  The best hearts, Trim, are ever the bravest, replied my uncle Toby.  72
  The brave only know how to forgive; it is the most refined and generous pitch of virtue human nature can arrive at. Cowards have done good and kind actions,—cowards have even fought, nay, sometimes even conquered; but a coward never forgave. It is not in his nature; the power of doing it flows only from a strength and greatness of soul, conscious of its own force and security, and above the little temptations of resenting every fruitless attempt to interrupt its happiness.  73
  The chaste mind, like a polished plane, may admit foul thoughts, without receiving their tincture.  74
  The desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it.  75
  The happiness of life may be greatly increased by small courtesies in which there is no parade, whose voice is too still to tease, and which manifest themselves by tender and affectionate looks, and little kind acts of attention.  76
  The improbability of a malicious story serves but to help forward the currency of it, because it increases the scandal. So that, in such instances, the world is like the pious St. Austin, who said he believed some things because they were absurd and impossible.  77
  The mind should be accustomed to make wise reflections, and draw curious conclusions as it goes along; the habitude of which made Pliny the Younger affirm that he never read a book so bad but he drew some profit from it.  78
  The more tickets you have in a lottery, the worse your chance. And it is the same of virtues, in the lottery of life.  79
  The most affluent may be stripped of all, and find his worldly comforts like so many withered leaves dropping from him.  80
  The very essence of gravity was design, and, consequently, deceit; it was a taught trick to gain credit of the world for more sense and knowledge than a man was worth; and that with all its pretensions it was no better, but often worse, than what a French wit had long ago defined it—a mysterious carriage of the body to cover the defects of the mind.  81
  The way to fame is like the way to heaven—through much tribulation.  82
  The world is ashamed of being virtuous.  83
  There are many ways of inducing sleep—the thinking of purling rills, or waving woods; reckoning of numbers; droppings from a wet sponge fixed over a brass pan, etc. But temperance and exercise answer much better than any of these succedaneums.  84
  There are some tempers—how shall I describe them—formed either of such impenetrable matter, or wrought up by habitual selfishness to such an utter insensibility of what becomes of the fortunes of their fellow-creatures, as if they were not partakers of the same nature, or had no lot or connection at all with the species.  85
  There is no small degree of malicious craft in fixing upon a season to give a mark of enmity and ill-will: a word—a look, which at one time would make no impression, at another time wounds the heart, and, like a shaft flying with the wind, pierces deep, which, with its own natural force, would scarce have readied the object aimed at.  86
  There is no such thing as real happiness in life. The justest definition that was ever given of it was “a tranquil acquiescence under an agreeable delusion”—I forget where.  87
  There is one sweet lenitive at least for evils, which nature holds out; so I took it kindly at her hands, and fell asleep.  88
  There is such a torture, happily unknown to ancient tyranny, as talking a man to death. Marcus Aurelius advises to assent readily to great talkers—in hopes, I suppose, to put an end to the argument.  89
  This world surely is wide enough to hold both thee and me.  90
  Titles of honor are like the impressions on coin; which add no value to gold and silver, but only render brass current.  91
  To have a respect for ourselves guides our morals; and to have a deference for others governs our manners.  92
  Trust that man in nothing who has not a conscience in everything.  93
  Upon the present theological computation, ten souls must be lost for one that is saved. At which rate of reckoning, heaven can raise but its cohorts while hell commands its legions. From which sad account it would appear, that, though our Saviour had conquered death by the resurrection, he had not yet been able to overcome sin by the redemption.  94
  Vanity bids all her sons be brave, and all her daughters chaste and courteous. But why do we need her instructions? Ask the comedian who is taught a part which he does not feel.  95
  We are born to trouble; and we may depend upon it, whilst we live in this world, we shall have it, though with intermissions.  96
  We lose the right of complaining sometimes by forbearing it; but we often treble the force.  97
  We may imitate the Deity in all His attributes; but mercy is the only one in which we can pretend to equal Him. We cannot, indeed, give like God; but surely we may forgive like Him.  98
  What persons are by starts they are by nature.  99
  Whatever stress some may lay upon it, a death-bed repentance is but a weak and slender plank to trust our all upon.  100
  When a few words will rescue misery out of her distress, I hate the man who can be a churl of them.  101
  When a misfortune is impending, I cry, “God forbid”; but when it falls upon me, I say, “God be praised.”  102
  When my way is too rough for my feet, or too steep for my strength, I get off it to some smooth velvet path which fancy has scattered over with rosebuds of delights; and, having taken a few turns in it, come back strengthened and refreshed.  103
  When, to gratify a private appetite, it is once resolved upon that an ignorant and helpless creature shall be sacrificed, it is an easy matter to pick up sticks enough from any thicket where it has strayed, to make a fire to offer it up with.  104
  Writings may be compared to wine. Sense is the strength, but wit the flavor.  105
  Yorick sometimes, in his wild way of talking, would say that gravity was an arrant scoundrel, and, he would add, of the most dangerous kind, too, because a sly one; and that he verily believed more honest well-meaning people were bubbled out of their goods and money by it in one twelvemonth than by pocket-picking and shop-lifting in seven.  106
 
 
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