James Beattie


Scottish Poet

Author Quotes

And from the prayer of Want, and plaint of Woe, O never, never turn away thine ear! Forlorn, in this bleak wilderness below, Ah! what were man, should Heaven refuse to hear!

Is there a heart that music cannot melt? Alas! how is that rugged heart forlorn.

The love of God ought continually to predominate in the mind, and give to every act of duty grace and animation.

Wilt thou debase the heart which God refined? No; let thy heaven-taught soul to heaven aspire, to fancy, freedom, harmony, resigned; ambition's groveling crew forever left behind.

And lo! In the dark east, expanded high, the rainbow brightens to the setting sun.

It does not, however, appear that in things so intimately connected with the happiness of life as marriage and the choice of an employment, parents have any right to force the inclinations of their children.

The man is to be pitied who, in matters of moment, has to do with a staunch metaphysician: doubts, disputes, and conjectures will be the plague of his life.

Zealous, yet modest; innocent, though free; patient of toil, serene amidst alarms; inflexible in faith, invincible in arms.

And none speaks false, when there is none to hear.

It is strange to observe the callousness of some men, before whom all the glories of heaven and earth pass in daily succession without touching their hearts, elevating their fancy, or leaving any durable remembrance. Even of those who pretend to sensibility, how many are there to whom the lustre of the rising or setting sun, the sparkling concave of the midnight sky, the mountain forest tossing and roaring to the storm, or warbling with all the melodies of a summer evening; the sweet interchange of hill and dale, shade and sunshine, grove, lawn, and water, which an extensive landscape offers to the view; the scenery of the ocean, so lovely, so majestic, and so tremendous, and the many pleasing varieties of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, could never afford so much real satisfaction as the steam and noise of a ball-room, the insipid fiddling and squeaking of an opera, or the vexations and wranglings of a card-table!

The only poet, modern or ancient, who in the variety of his characters can vie with Homer, is our great English dramatist.

Aristotle?s moral, rhetorical, and political writings, in which his excellent judgment is very little warped by logical subtleties, are far the most useful part of his philosophy.

Laws, as we read in ancient sages, have been like cobwebs in all ages: cobwebs for little flies are spread, and laws for little folks are made; but if an insect of renown, hornet or beetle, wasp or drone, be caught in quest of sport or plunder, the flimsy fetter flies in sunder.

There is not a book on earth so favorable to all the kind and to all the sublime affections, or so unfriendly to hatred and persecution, to tyranny, injustice, and every sort of malevolence, as the Gospel.

At the close of the day when the hamlet is still, and mortals the sweets of forgetfulness prove, when naught but the torrent is heard on the hill, and naught but the nightingale's song in the grove.

Let those deplore their doom, whose hope still grovels in this dark sojourn; but lofty souls, who look beyond the tomb, can smile at Fate, and wonder how they mourn.

They who, by speech or writing, present to the ear or eye of modesty any of the indecencies I allude to, are pests of society.

Be ignorance thy choice where knowledge leads to woe.

Mine be the breezy hill that skirts the down, Where a green grassy turf is all I crave, With here and there a violet bestrewn, Fast by a brook or fountain's murmuring wave; And many an evening sun shine sweetly on my grave!

This happy sensibility to the beauties of nature should be cherished in young persons. It engages them to contemplate the Creator in his wonderful works; it purifies and harmonizes the soul, and prepares it for moral and intellectual discipline; it supplies a never-failing source of amusement; it contributes even to bodily health; and, as a strict analogy subsists between material and moral beauty, it leads the heart by an easy transition from the one to the other, and thus recommends virtue for its transcendent loveliness, and makes vice appear the object of contempt and abomination. An intimate acquaintance with the best descriptive poets?Spenser, Milton, and Thomson, but above all with the divine Georgic?joined to some practice in the art of drawing, will promote this amiable sensibility in early years; for then the face of nature has novelty superadded to its other charms, the passions are not pre-engaged, the heart is free from care, and the imagination warm and romantic.

Borne on the swift, tho' silent wings of time, old age comes on apace, to ravage all the clime.

No jealousy their dawn of love o'ercast, nor blasted were their wedded days with strife; each season look'd delightful as it past, to the fond husband, and the faithful wife.

This, though there may be many an exception, is in general true of the visible signs of our passions; and it is no less true of the audible. A man habitually peevish, or passionate, or querulous, or imperious, may be known by the sound of his voice, as well as by his physiognomy.

But when shall spring visit the mouldering urn? Oh when shall it dawn on the night of the grave?

Observe the effect of argumentation in poetry: we have too much of it in Milton; it transforms the noblest thoughts into drawling inferences, and the most beautiful language into prose.

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Scottish Poet