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.
Such is the infatuation of self-love, that, though in the general doctrine of the vanity of the world all men agree, yet almost every one flatters himself that his own case is it to be an exception from the common rule.
We have deprived ourselves of that liberty of transposition in the arrangement of words which the ancient languages enjoyed.
An honest man will never employ an equivocal expression; a confused man may often utter ambiguous ones without any design.
I will not go so far as to say that the improvement of taste and of virtue is the same, or that they may always be expected to co-exist in an equal degree. More powerful correctives than taste can apply are necessary for reforming the corrupt propensities which too frequently prevail among mankind. Elegant speculations are sometimes found to float on the surface of the mind while bad passions possess the interior regions of the heart. At the same time, this cannot but be admitted, that the exercise of taste is, in its native tendency, moral and purifying.
Taste and genius are two words frequently joined together, and therefore, by inaccurate thinkers, confounded. They signify, however, two quite different things. The difference between them can be clearly pointed out, and it is of importance to remember it. Taste consists in the power of judging; genius, in the power of executing. One may have a considerable degree of taste in poetry, eloquence, or any of the fine arts, who has little or hardly any genius for composition or execution in any of these arts; but genius cannot be found without including taste also. Genius, therefore, deserves to be considered as a higher power of the mind than taste. Genius always imports something inventive or creative, which does not rest in mere sensibility to beauty where it is perceived, but which can, moreover, produce new beauties, and exhibit them in such a manner as strongly to impress the minds of others. Refined taste forms a good critic; but genius is further necessary to form the poet or the orator.
We ought certainly to read blank verse so as to make every line sensible to the ear; at the same time, in doing so, every appearance of sing-song and tone must be carefully guarded against.
As if we did not suffer enough from the storms which beat upon us without, must we conspire also to harass one another?
If you delay till to-morrow what ought to be done to-day, you overcharge the morrow with a burden which belongs not to it. You load the wheels of time, and prevent it from carrying you along smoothly. He who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows out the plan, carries on a thread which will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life. The orderly arrangement of his time is like a ray of light which darts itself through all his affairs. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidents, all things lie huddled together in one chaos, which admits neither of distribution nor review.
The discipline which corrects the baseness of worldly passions, fortifies the heart with virtuous principles, enlightens the mind with useful knowledge, and furnishes it with enjoyment from within itself, is of more consequence to real felicity, than all the provisions we can make of the goods of fortune.
We should ever have it fixed in our memories, that by the character of those whom we choose for our friends, our own is likely to be formed, and will certainly be judged of by the world. We ought, therefore, to be slow and cautious in contracting intimacy; but when a virtuous friendship is once established, we must ever consider it as a sacred engagement.
As we advance from youth to middle age, a new field of action opens, and a different character is required. The flow of gay impetuous spirits begins to subside; life gradually assumes a graver cast; the mind a more sedate and thoughtful turn. The attention is now transferred from pleasure to interest; that is, to pleasure diffused over a wider extent and measured by a larger scale. Formerly the enjoyment of the present moment occupied the whole attention; now no action terminates ultimately in itself, but refers to some more distant aim. Wealth and power, the instruments of lasting gratification, are now coveted more than any single pleasure; prudence and foresight lay their plan; industry carries on its patient efforts; activity pushes forward; address winds around; here an enemy is to be overcome, there a rival to be displaced; competition warms, and the strife of the world thickens on every side.
In the eye of that Supreme Being to whom our whole internal frame is uncovered, motives and dispositions hold the place of actions.
The elevated sentiments and high examples which poetry, eloquence, and history are often bringing under our view naturally tend to nourish in our minds public spirit, the love of glory, contempt of external fortune, and the admiration of what is truly illustrious and great.
Between levity and cheerfulness there is a wide distinction; and the mind which is most open to levity is frequently a stranger to cheerfulness. It has been remarked that transports of intemperate mirth are often no more than flashes from the dark cloud; and that in proportion to the violence of the effulgence is the succeeding gloom. Levity may be the forced production of folly or vice; cheerfulness is the natural offspring of wisdom and virtue only. The one is an occasional agitation; the other a permanent habit. The one degrades the character; the other is perfectly consistent with the dignity of reason, and the steady and manly spirit of religion. To aim at a constant succession of high and vivid sensations of pleasure is an idea of happiness perfectly chimerical. Calm and temperate enjoyment is the utmost that is allotted to man. Beyond this we struggle in vain to raise our state; and in fact depress our joys by endeavoring to heighten them. Instead of those fallacious hopes of perpetual festivity with which the world would allure us, religion confers upon us a cheerful tranquillity. Instead of dazzling us with meteors of joy which sparkle and expire, it sheds around us a calm and steady light, more solid, more equal, and more lasting.