Swiss Physician and Philosopher
"All our distinctions are accidental; beauty and deformity, though personal qualities, are neither entitled to praise nor censure; yet it is so happens that they color our opinion of those qualities to which mankind have attached responsibility."
"Fools with bookish knowledge, are children with edged weapons, they hurt themselves, and put others in pain. The half-learned is more dangerous than the simpleton."
"Many have been ruined by their fortunes; many have escaped ruin by the want of fortune. To obtain it, the great have become little, and the little great."
"Never lose sight of this important truth, that no one can be truly great until he has gained a knowledge of himself which can only be acquired by occasional retirement."
"One ought to love society, if he wishes to enjoy solitude. It is a social nature that solitude works upon with the most various power. If one is misanthropic, and betakes himself to loneliness that he may get away from hateful things, solitude is a silent emptiness to him."
"There are few mortals so insensible that their affections cannot be gained by mildness, their confidence by sincerity, their hatred by scorn or neglect."
"The rich and luxurious may claim an exclusive right to those pleasures which are capable of being purchased by pelf, in which the mind has no enjoyment, and which only afford a temporary relief to languor by steeping the senses of forgetfulness; but in the precious pleasures of the intellect, so easily accessible by all mankind, the great have no exclusive privilege; for such enjoyments are only to be procured by our own industry."
"The love of solitude, when cultivated in the morn of life, elevates the mind to a noble independence, but to acquire the advantages which solitude is capable of affording, the mind must not be impelled to it by melancholy and discontent, but by a real distaste to the idle pleasures of the world, a rational contempt for the deceitful joys of life, and just apprehensions of being corrupted and seduced by its insinuating and destructive gayeties."
"The man whom neither riches nor luxury nor grandeur can render happy may, with a book in his hand, forget all his troubles under the friendly shade of every tree, and may experience pleasures as infinite as they are varied, as pure as they are lasting, as lively as they are unfading, and as compatible with every public duty as they are contributory to private happiness."
"Time is never more misspent than while we declaim against the want of it; all our actions are then tinctured with peevishness. The yoke of life is certainly the least oppressive when we carry it with good-humor; and in the shades of rural retirement, when we have once acquired a resolution to pass our hours with economy sorrowful lamentations on the subject of time misspent and business neglected never torture the mind."
"We protract the career of time by employment, we lengthen the duration of our lives by wise thoughts and useful actions. Life to him who wishes not to have lived in vain is thought and action."
"An everlasting tranquility is, in my imagination, the highest possible felicity, because I know of no felicity on earth higher than that which a peaceful mind and contented heart afford."
"Beauty gains little, and homeliness and deformity lose much, by gaudy attire. Lysander knew this was in part true, and refused the rich garments that the tyrant Dionysius proffered to his daughters, saying "that they were fit only to make unhappy faces more remarkable.""
"Conceit and confidence are both of them cheats; the first always imposes on itself, the second frequently deceives others too."
"Egotism is more like an offense, than a crime; though it is allowable to speak of yourself, provided nothing is advanced in favor; but I cannot help suspecting that those who abuse themselves are, in reality, angling for approbation."
"Gambling houses are temples where the most sordid and turbulent passions contend; there no spectator can be indifferent. A card or a small square of ivory interests more than the loss of an empire, or the ruin of an unoffending group of infants, and their nearest relatives."
"Humility is the first lesson we learn from reflection, and self-distrust the first proof we give of having obtained a knowledge of ourselves."
"By love?s delightful influence the attack of ill-humour is resisted, the violence of our passions abated, the bitter cup of affliction sweetened, all the injuries of the world alleviated, and the sweetest flowers plentifully strewed along the most thorny paths of life."
"Idlers cannot even find time to be idle, or the industrious to be at leisure. We must always be doing or suffering."
"If you ask me which is the real hereditary sin of human nature, do you imagine I shall answer pride or luxury or ambition or egotism? No; I shall say indolence. Who conquers indolence will conquer all the rest. Indeed, all good principles must stagnate without mental activity."
"In fame's temple there is always a niche to be found for rich dunces, importunate scoundrels, or successful butchers of the human race."
"In the sallies of badinage a polite fool shines; but in gravity he is as awkward as an elephant disporting."
"Indolent people, whatever taste they may have for society, seek eagerly for pleasure, and find nothing. They have an empty head and seared hearts."
"It would be a considerable consolation to the poor and discontented could they but see the means whereby the wealth they covet has been acquired, or the misery that it entails."
"Leisure, the highest happiness upon earth, is seldom enjoyed with perfect satisfaction, except in solitude. Indolence and indifference do not always afford leisure; for true leisure is frequently found in that interval of relaxation which divides a painful duty from an agreeable recreation; a toilsome business from the more agreeable occupations of literature and philosophy."
"Liberal of cruelty are those who pamper with promises; promisers destroy while they deceive, and the hope they raise is dearly purchased by the dependence that is sequent to disappointment."
"Many species of wit are quite mechanical; these are the favorites of witlings, whose fame in words scarce outlives the remembrance of their funeral ceremonies."
"Never lose sight of this important truth, that no one can be truly great until he has gained a knowledge of himself, a knowledge which can only be acquired by occasional retirement."
"News-hunters have great leisure, with little thought; much petty ambition to be considered intelligent, without any other pretension than being able to communicate what they have just learned."