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J'allois le reconnoitre moi-même, parcequ'on ne peut jamais être sur, tout-à-fait, d'un rapport:c'est ce que j'ai fait toute ma vie.2
A man often regrets that he did speak on particular occasions: very seldom that he did not speak.
We, ignorant of ourselves,
Beg often our own harms, which the wise Powers
By losing of our prayers.3
Men run after fortune; but they should rather run after health, or the means of preserving it. Without health all becomes indifferent.*
My Lord, I have made a maxim which should be written in diamonds; that a wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart."
Turn from the glittering bribe the scornful eye,
To do so was the work of a moment with the rous girl, who never suffered fear to interfere with love or duty."
The world approve!- What is the world to me?
Ne'er with your children act a tyrant's part,
2 Prince Eugene (Mem. by Prince de Ligne).
1 Un marais.
3 Ant. and Cleopatra.
5 Swift to Lord Bolingbroke.
7 Betrothed (Scott). 9 Ibid.
8 Tancred and Sigismunda.
Virtue and parts, though they be allowed their due consideration, yet are not enough to procure a man a good reception and make him welcome wherever he comes. Nobody contents himself with rough diamonds, and wears them so, who would appear to advantage. When they are polished and set, then they give a lustre.1
It is the business of religion and philosophy, not so much to extinguish our passions, as to regulate and direct them to valuable, well-chosen objects.2
Never suffer one word to pass your lips which can be interpreted against religion or morals: even those who seemingly applaud will, in fact, despise you.3
If, in place of checking, we nourish those evil dispositions which we possess, all the consequences will be placed to our account, and every excuse from natural constitution be rejected at the tribunal of Heaven.4
I am conscious of so many defects myself, as disposes me to be not a little charitable and forgiving.
The two greatest mistakes are, to measure truth by every man's single reason; and, not only to wish everybody like oneself, but to believe them so too, and that they are only disguised in what they differ from us.6
3 Ganganelli (Letters)..
5 Thomson. See a letter in Johnson's Life of him.
6 Sir W. Temple.
Measuring all reason by our own (the commonest and greatest weakness) is an encroachment upon the common rights of mankind.
There is reason to believe that, if men were better instructed themselves, they would be less imposing upon others.'
Courage, disinterestedness, love of truth, gentleness of behaviour, humanity; in one word— virtue in its true signification.2
How carefully to be avoided is the embracing errors for truths, prejudices for principles; and when that is once done, no matter how vainly and weakly, the adhering perhaps to false and dangerous notions, only because one has declared for them, and submitting, for life, the understanding and conscience to a yoke of base and servile prejudices, vainly taken up, and obstinately retained."
Even yet, God knows, I would fight in honourable contest, with word or blow, for my political opinions; but I cannot permit that strife to mix its waters with my daily meal, those waters of bitterness which poison all mutual love and confidence betwixt the well-disposed on either side, and prevent them, if need were, from making mutual concessions, and balancing the constitution against the ultras of both parties."
He (Gilbert Walmsley) was a Whig, with all the virulence of his party; yet difference of opinion
1 Locke. 3 Ibid.
2 Lord Chatham (Letters to Thomas Pitt). 4 Scott (Life by Lockhart).
did not keep us apart: I honoured him, and he endured me.1
Those that study no one's happiness but their own, do not deserve that any one should study theirs.2
Always be gentle towards persons, however your zeal may be in the cause you defend."
True politeness is a perpetual attention (by habit it grows easy and natural to us) to the little wants of those we are with, by which we either prevent or remove them.1
Do you rise early? If not, let me conjure you to acquire the habit. This will very much contribute towards rendering your life long, useful, and happy.
To rise early is to double life.
O Almighty God! By thy power
Send, I beseech thee, six
things to my aid!
Knowledge, its practical application,
Many endure, from the anxious fears of contingent mischiefs, that never will befall them, more
1 Johnson (Bosw.).
2 Hogg (Three Perils of Woman).
6 Persian Verses. (See Elliott's Letters from the North of Europe.)
torment than the apprehended mischiefs themselves, though really suffered, would inflict.'
It is not, perhaps, much thought of, but it is certainly a very important lesson to learn how to enjoy ordinary life, and to be able to relish your being, without the transport of some passion, or gratification of some appetite.2
Men generally can judge well of the mode of attaining the end, but ill of the value of the end itself.3
To ennoble and purify, without raising us above the sphere of our usefulness; to qualify us for what we ought to seek, without unfitting us for that to which we must submit; are great and difficult problems, which can be but imperfectly solved.*
Now that you are settled at Dublin and hard at it with the law, I ought not, according to common notions, to answer your questions about Eschylus, &c.; but I am of opinion that the study of good authors, and especially poets, ought never to be intermitted by any man who is to speak or write for the public, or, indeed, who has any occasion to tax his imagination, whether it be for argument, for illustration, for ornament, for sentiment, or any other purpose."
If you come into parliament, let me earnestly
2 Spectator, No. 222.
4 Mackintosh (Life).
5 C. J. Fox (Life by Trotter). See, on the subject of the union of a fondness for scientific and classical pursuits with the deepest attention to professional studies, "Reminiscences of C. Butler," where appear the names of D'Aguesseau, Bacon, Hale, Hardwicke, Mansfield, Thurlow, Sir W. Grant, Sir W. Scott, and Sir S. Romilly, to which many others may be added.