Hugh Blair


Scottish Divine

Author Quotes

Fretfulness of temper will generally characterize those who are negligent of order.

O cursed lust of gold! when, for thy sake, the fool throws up his interest in both worlds, first starved in this, then damned in that to come!

There are indeed few good dispositions of any kind with which the improvement of taste is not more or less connected. A cultivated taste increases sensibility to all the tender and humane passions by giving them frequent exercise; while it tends to weaken the more violent and fierce emotions:

A fourth rule for constructing sentences with proper strength is to make the members of them go on rising and growing in their importance above one another. This sort of arrangement is called a climax, and is always considered as a beauty in composition.

From reading the most admired productions of genius, whether in poetry or prose, almost every one rises with some good impressions left on his mind; and though these may not always be durable, they are at least to be ranked among the means of disposing the heart to virtue. One thing is certain, that without possessing the virtuous affections in a strong degree, no man can attain eminence in the sublime parts of eloquence. He must feel what a good man feels, if he expects greatly to move or to interest mankind. They are the ardent sentiments of honour, virtue, magnanimity, and public spirit, that only can kindle that fire of genius, and call up into the mind those high ideas which attract the admiration of ages; and if this spirit be necessary to produce the most distinguished efforts of eloquence, it must be necessary also to our relishing them with proper taste and feeling.

Of all the follies incident to youth, there are none which blast their prospects, or render them more contemptible, than self-conceit, presumption, and obstinacy. By checking progress in improvement, they fix one in long immaturity, and produce irreparable mischief.

Though Milton is most distinguished for his sublimity, yet there is also much of the beautiful, the tender, and the pleasing in many parts of his work.

A good man acts with a vigor, and suffers with a patience, more than human, when he believes himself countenanced by the Almighty.

Gentleness corrects whatever is offensive in our manner.

Of all the means which human ingenuity has contrived for recalling the images of real objects, and awakening, by representation, similar emotions to those which were raised by the originals, none is so full and extensive as that which is created by words and writing.

Throughout the whole vegetable, sensible, and rational world, whatever makes progress towards maturity, as soon as it has passed that point, begins to verge towards decay.

A joyless and dreary season will old age prove, if we arrive at it with an unimproved or corrupted mind. For this period, as for everything, certain preparation is necessary; and that preparation consists in the acquisition of knowledge, friends, and virtue. Then is the time when a man would especially wish to find himself surrounded by those who love and respect him,—who will bear with his infirmities, relieve him of his labors, and cheer him with their society. Let him, therefore, now in the summer of his days, while yet active and flourishing, by acts of seasonable kindness and benevolence insure that love, and by upright and honorable conduct lay the foundation for that respect which in old age he would wish to enjoy. In the last place, let him consider a good conscience, peace with God, and the hope of heaven, as the most effectual consolations he can possess when the evil days shall come.

Gentleness, which belongs to virtue, is to be carefully distinguished from the mean spirit of cowards, and the fawning assent of sycophants. It removes no just right from fear; it gives up no important truth from flattery; it is, indeed, not only consistent with a firm mind, but it necessarily requires a manly spirit and a fixed principle in order to give it any real value.

Only mediocrity of enjoyment is allowed to man

Time hurries on with a resistless, unremitting stream, yet treads more soft than e'er did midnight thief that slides his hand under the miser's pillow, and carries off his prize.

Adversity, how blunt are all the arrows of thy quiver in comparison with those of guilt.

He who goes no further than bare justice, stops at the beginning of virtue.

Pride fills the world with harshness and severity; we are rigorous to offences as if we had never offended.

To seem disturbed at calumny, is the way to make it believed, and stabbing your defamer, will not prove you innocent. - Live an exemplary life, and then your good character will overcome and refute the calumny.

Affectation is certain deformity. - By forming themselves on fantastic models the young begin with being ridiculous, and often end in being vicious.

How shocking must thy summons be, O death, to him that is at ease in his possessions! who, counting on long years of pleasure here, is quite unfurnished for the world to come.

Sentiment and principle are often mistaken for each other, though, in fact, they widely differ. - Sentiment is the virtue of ideas; principle the virtue of action. - Sentiment has its seat in the head; principle, in the heart. Sentiment suggests fine harangues and subtle distinctions; principle conceives just notions, and performs good actions in consequence of them. Sentiment refines away the simplicity of truth, and the plainness of piety; and "gives us virtue in words, and vice in deeds." Sentiment may be called the Athenian who knew what was right; and principle, the Lacedemonian who practised it.

True gentleness is founded on a sense of what we owe to him who made us, and to the common nature which we all share. - It arises from reflection on our own failings and wants, and from just views of the condition and duty of men. - It is native feeling heightened and improved by principle.

All the principles which religion teaches, and all the habits which it forms, are favorable to strength of mind. It will be found that whatever purifies, also fortifies the heart.

I have formerly given the general character of Mr. Addison’s style and manner as natural and unaffected, easy and polite, and full of those graces which a flowery imagination diffuses over writing.

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Scottish Divine