''There is not so variable a thing in nature as a lady's head-dress.''
''When the Wife of Hector, in Homers Iliads [sic], discourses with her Husband about the Battel [sic] in which he was going to engage, the Hero, desiring her to leave that Matter to his Care, bids her go to her Maids and mind her Spinning: By which the Poet intimates, that Men and Women ought to busie themselves in their proper Spheres, and on such Matters only as are suitable to their respective Sex.''
''The utmost extent of man's knowledge, is to know that he knows nothing.''
''Admiration is a very short-lived passion that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object, unless it be still fed with fresh discoveries, and kept alive by a new perpetual succession of miracles rising up to its view.''
''Ordinary People ... are so used to be dazled [sic] with Riches, that they pay as much Deference to the Understanding of a Man of an Estate, as of a Man of Learning; and are very hardly brought to regard any Truth, how important soever it may be, that is preached to them, when they know there are several Men of five hundred a Year who do not believe it.''
''We find that Good and Evil happen alike to all Men on this Side of the Grave; and as the principle Design of Tragedy is to raise Commiseration and Terror in the Minds of the Audience, we shall defeat this great End, if we always make Virtue and Innocence happy and successful.''
''Among all kinds of Writing, there is none in which Authors are more apt to miscarry than in Works of Humour, as there is none in which they are more ambitious to excel.''
''The most violent appetites in all creatures are lust and hunger; the first is a perpetual call upon them to propagate their kind, the latter to preserve themselves.''
''Since I am upon this Subject, I must observe that our English Poets have succeeded much better in the Stile, than in the Sentiments of their Tragedies. Their Language is very often noble and sonorous, but the sense either very trifling or very common. On the contrary, in the ancient Tragedies, and indeed in those of Corneille and Racine, tho' the Expressions are very great, it is the Thought that bears them up and swells them. For my own part, I prefer a noble Sentiment that is depressed with homely Language, infinitely before a vulgar one that is blown up with all the Sound and Energy of Expression. Whether this Defect in our Tragedies may arise from Want of Genius, Knowledge, or Experience in the Writers, or from their Compliance with the vicious Taste of their Readers, who are better Judges of the Language than of the Sentiments, and consequently relish the one more than the other, I cannot determine.''
''There is not a more unhappy being than a superannuated idol.''
''As a perfect Tragedy is the noblest Production of human Nature, so it is capable of giving the Mind one of the most delightful and most improving Entertainments. A virtuous Man (says Seneca) strugling [sic] with Misfortunes, is such a Spectacle as Gods might look upon with Pleasure: And such a Pleasure it is which one meets with in the Representation of a well-written Tragedy. Diversions of this kind wear out of our Thoughts every thing that is mean and little. They cherish and cultivate that Humanity which is the Ornament of our Nature. They soften Insolence, sooth [sic] Affliction, and subdue the Mind to the Dispensations of Providence.''
''Friendships, in general, are suddenly contracted; and therefore it is no wonder they are easily dissolved.''
''No oppression is so heavy or lasting as that which is inflicted by the perversion and exorbitance of legal authority.''
''The Taylor and the Painter often contribute to the Success of a Tragedy more than the Poet. Scenes affect ordinary Minds as much as Speeches; and our Actors are very sensible, that a well-dressed Play has sometimes brought them as full Audiences, as a well-written one.... But however the Show and Outside of the Tragedy may work upon the Vulgar, the more understanding Part of the Audience immediately see through it, and despise it.''
''Marriage enlarges the Scene of our Happiness and Miseries.''
''See in what peace a Christian can die.''
''Animals, in their generation, are wiser than the sons of men; but their wisdom is confined to a few particulars, and lies in a very narrow compass.''
''I have observed, that a Reader seldom peruses a Book with Pleasure, 'till he knows whether the Writer of it be a black or a fair Man, of a mild or cholerick Disposition, Married or a Batchelor, with other Particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an Author.''
''The only way therefore to try a Piece of Wit, is to translate it into a different Language: If it bears the Test you may pronounce it true; but if it vanishes in the Experiment you may conclude it to have been a Punn.''
''The Obedience of Children to their Parents is the Basis of all Government, and set forth as the measure of that Obedience which we owe to those whom Providence hath placed over us.''
''I shall endeavour to enliven Morality with Wit, and to temper Wit with Morality, that my Readers may, if possible, both Ways find their Account in the Speculation of the Day.''
''When an old Woman begins to doat [sic], and grow chargeable to a Parish, she is generally turned into a Witch, and fills the whole Country with extravagant Fancies, imaginary Distempers, and terrifying Dreams. In the mean time, the poor Wretch that is the innocent Occasion of so many Evils begins to be frighted at her self, and sometimes confesses secret Commerces and Familiarities that her Imagination forms in a delirious old Age.''
''Husband a lie, and trump it up in some extraordinary emergency.''
''Suspicion is not less an enemy to virtue than to happiness; he that is already corrupt is naturally suspicious, and he that becomes suspicious will quickly be corrupt.''
''But there is nothing which delights and terrifies our English Theatre so much as a Ghost, especially when he appears in a bloody Shirt. A Spectre has very often saved a Play, though he has done nothing but stalked across the Stage, or rose through a Cleft of it, and sunk again without speaking one Word.''
''In Reason's Ear they all rejoice, And utter forth a glorious Voice, For ever singing, as they shine, The Hand that made us is Divine.''
''The English Writers of Tragedy are possessed with a Notion, that when they represent a virtuous or innocent Person in Distress, they ought not to leave him till they have delivered him out of his Troubles, or made him triumph over his Enemies.''
''Nothing is capable of being well set to music that is not nonsense.''
''It is usual for a Man who loves Country Sports to preserve the Game in his own Grounds, and divert himself upon those that belong to his Neighbour.''
''Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors.''
''Musick is certainly a very agreeable Entertainment, but if it would take the entire Possession of our Ears, if it would make us incapable of hearing Sense, if it would exclude Arts that have a much greater Tendency to the Refinement of human Nature; I must confess I would allow it no better Quarter than Plato has done, who banishes it out of his Common-wealth.''
''But among all our Methods of moving Pity or Terror, there is none so absurd and barbarous, and what more exposes us to the Contempt and Ridicule of our Neighbours, than that dreadful butchering of one another, which is so very frequent upon the English Stage. To delight in seeing Men stabbed, poisoned, racked, or impaled, is certainly the Sign of a cruel Temper: And as this is often practised before the British Audience, several French Criticks, who think these are grateful Spectacles to us, take Occasion from them to represent us a People that delight in Blood.''
''What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to an human soul.''
''Good Nature, and Evenness of Temper, will give you an easie Companion for Life; Vertue and good Sense, an agreeable Friend; Love and Constancy, a good Wife or Husband. Where we meet one Person with all these Accomplishments, we find an Hundred without any one of them.''
''There is no kind of false Wit which has been so recommended by the Practice of all Ages, as that which consists in a Jingle of Words, and is comprehended under the general Name of Punning. It is indeed impossible to kill a Weed, which the Soil has a natural Disposition to produce. The seeds of Punning are in the Minds of all Men, and tho' they may be subdued by Reason, Reflection, and good Sense, they will be very apt to shoot up in the greatest Genius, that is not broken and cultivated by the Rules of Art. Imitation is natural to us, and when it does not raise the Mind to Poetry, Painting, Musick, or other more noble Arts, it often breaks out in Punns and Quibbles.''
''The Spacious Firmament on high, With all the blue Ethereal Sky, And spangled Heav'ns, a Shining Frame, Their great Original proclaim: Th' unwearied Sun, from day to day, Does his Creator's Pow'r display, And publishes to every Land The Work of an Almighty Hand.''
''I think a Person who is thus terrifyed [sic] with the Imagination of Ghosts and Spectres much more reasonable, than one who contrary to the Reports of all Historians sacred and profane, ancient and modern, and to the Traditions of all Nations, thinks the Appearance of Spirits fabulous and groundless.''
''I will indulge my sorrows, and give way To all the pangs and fury of despair.''
''The unjustifiable severity of a parent is loaded with this aggravation, that those whom he injures are always in his sight.''
''Those who were skillful in Anatomy among the Ancients, concluded from the outward and inward Make of an Human Body, that it was the Work of a Being transcendently Wise and Powerful. As the World grew more enlightened in this Art, their Discoveries gave them fresh Opportunities of admiring the Conduct of Providence in the Formation of an Human Body.''
''[W]e are all guilty in some Measure of the same narrow way of Thinking ... when we fancy the Customs, Dresses, and Manners of other Countries are ridiculous and extravagant, if they do not resemble those of our own.''
''A man's first Care should be to avoid the Reproaches of his own Heart; his next, to escape the Censures of the World: If the last interferes with the former, it ought to be entirely neglected; but otherwise, there cannot be a greater Satisfaction to an honest Mind, than to see those Approbations which it gives itself seconded by the Applauses of the Publick: A Man is more sure of his Conduct, when the Verdict which he passes upon his own Behaviour is thus warranted, and confirmed by the Opinion of all that know him.''
''Women were formed to temper Mankind, and sooth them into Tenderness and Compassion; not to set an Edge upon their Minds, and blow up in them those Passions which are too apt to rise of their own Accord.''
''Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm.''
''Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.''
''With regard to donations always expect the most from prudent people, who keep their own accounts.''
''The woman that deliberates is lost.''
''For wheresoe'er I turn my ravished eyes, Gay gilded scenes and shining prospects rise, Poetic fields encompass me around, And still I seem to tread on classic ground.''
''Immortal glories in my mind revive, And in my soul a thousand passions strive, When Rome's exalted beauties I descry Magnificent in piles of ruin lie.''
''Thus I live in the World, rather as a Spectator of Mankind, than as one of the Species.''
''The important question is not, what will yield to man a few scattered pleasures, but what will render his life happy on the whole amount.''
''"We are always doing," says he, "something for posterity, but I would fain see posterity do something for us."''
''We envy not the warmer clime, that lies In ten degrees of more indulgent skies, Nor at the coarseness of our heaven repine, Though o'er our heads the frozen Pleiads shine: 'Tis Liberty that crowns Britannia's Isle, And makes her barren rocks and her bleak mountains smile.''
''Young men soon give, and soon forget, affronts; Old age is slow in both.''
''The Fashionable World is grown free and easie; our Manners sit more loose upon us: Nothing is so modish as an agreeable Negligence. In a word, Good Breeding shows it self most, where to an ordinary Eye it appears the least.''
''It is easier for an artful Man, who is not in Love, to persuade his Mistress he has a Passion for her, and to succeed in his Pursuits, than for one who loves with the greatest Violence. True Love hath ten thousand Griefs, Impatiencies and Resentments, that render a Man unamiable in the Eyes of the Person whose Affection he sollicits.''
''To a man of pleasure every moment appears to be lost, which partakes not of the vivacity of amusement.''
''Female Virtues are of a Domestick turn. The Family is the proper Province for Private Women to Shine in. If they must be showing their Zeal for the Publick, let it not be against those who are perhaps of the same Family, or at least of the same Religion or Nation, but against those who are the open, professed, undoubted Enemies of their Faith, Liberty, and Country.''
''Our disputants put me in mind of the scuttlefish that, when he is unable to extricate himself, blackens the water about him till he becomes invisible.''
'''Tis not in mortals to command success, But we'll do more, Sempronius, we'll deserve it.''
''When I consider the Question, Whether there are such Persons in the World as those we call Witches? my Mind is divided between the two opposite Opinions; or rather (to speak my Thoughts freely) I believe in general that there is, and has been such a thing as Witchcraft; but at the same time can give no Credit to any Particular Instance of it.''
''What makes this Generation of Vermin so very Prolifick, is the indefatigable Diligence with which they apply themselves to their Business. A Man does not undergo more watchings and fatigues in a Campaign, than in the Course of a vicious Amour. As it is said of some Men, that they make their Business their Pleasure, these Sons of Darkness may be said to make their Pleasure their Business. They might conquer their corrupt Inclinations with half the Pains they are at in gratifying them.''
''One would wonder to hear skeptical men disputing for the reason of animals, and telling us it is only our pride and prejudices that will not allow them the use of that faculty. Reason shows itself in all occurrences of life; whereas the brute makes no discovery of such a talent, but in what immediately regards his own preservation, or the continuance of his species. Animals in their generation are wiser than the sons of men; but their wisdom is confined to a few particulars, and lies in a very narrow compass. Take a brute out of his instinct, and you find him wholly deprived of understanding.''
''The unjustifiable severity of a parent is loaded with this aggravation, that those whom he injures are always in his sight.''
''I should prefer a Woman that is agreeable in my own Eye, and not deformed in that of the World, to a celebrated Beauty. If you marry one remarkably beautiful, you must have a violent Passion for her, or you have not the proper Taste of her Charms; and if you have such a Passion for her, it is odds but it will be imbittered [sic] with Fears and Jealousies.''
''The Tragi-Comedy, which is the Product of the English Theatre, is one of the most monstrous Inventions that ever entered into a Poet's Thoughts. An Author might as well think of weaving the Adventures of Aeneas and Hudibras into one Poem, as of writing such a motly [sic] Piece of Mirth and Sorrow.''
''There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace. Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth evil, both equally unexpected.''
''The Mind that lies fallow but a single Day, sprouts up in Follies that are only to be killed by a constant and assiduous Culture.''
''Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.''
''Our Sight is the most perfect and most delightful of all our Senses. It fills the Mind with the largest Variety of Ideas, converses with its Objects at the greatest Distance, and continues the longest in Action without being tired or satiated with its proper Enjoyments. The Sense of Feeling can indeed give us a Notion of Extension, Shape, and all other Ideas that enter at the Eye, except Colours; but at the same time it is very much straightened and confined in its Operations, to the Number, Bulk, and Distance of its particular Objects. Our Sight seems designed to supply all these Defects, and may be considered as a more delicate and diffusive kind of Touch, that spreads its self over an infinite Multitude of Bodies, comprehends the largest Figures, and brings into our reach some of the most remote Parts of the Universe.''
''Those marriages generally abound most with love and constancy, that are preceded by a long courtship.''
''The greatest sweetener of human life is Friendship. To raise this to the highest pitch of enjoyment, is a secret which but few discover.''
''That he delights in the misery of others no man will confess, and yet what other motive can make a father cruel?''
''But to consider this Subject in its most ridiculous Lights, Advertisements are of great Use to the Vulgar: First of all, as they are Instruments of Ambition. A Man that is by no Means big enough for the Gazette, may easily creep into the Advertisements.... A Second Use which this Sort of Writings have been turned to of late Years, has been the Management of Controversy, insomuch that above half the Advertisements one meets with now-a-Days are purely Polemical.... The Third and last Use of these Writings is, to inform the World where they may be furnished with almost every Thing that is necessary for Life. If a Man has Pains in his Head, Cholicks in his Bowels, or Spots in his Clothes, he may here meet with proper Cures and Remedies.''
''If we may believe our logicians, man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter. He has a heart capable of mirth, and naturally disposed to it.''
''Authors have established it as a kind of rule, that a man ought to be dull sometimes; as the most severe reader makes allowances for many rests and nodding-places in a voluminous writer.''
''Nature seems to have taken a particular Care to disseminate her Blessings among the different Regions of the World, with an Eye to this mutual Intercourse and Traffick among Mankind, that the Natives of the several Parts of the Globe might have a kind of Dependance [sic] upon one another, and be united together by their common Interest.''
''It is indeed very possible, that the Persons we laugh at may in the main of their Characters be much wiser Men than our selves; but if they would have us laugh at them, they must fall short of us in those Respects which stir up this Passion.''