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There is but one way of fortifying the soul against all gloomy presages and terrors of mind; and that is, by securing to ourselves the friendship and protection of that Being, who disposes of events, and governs futurity.
Philosophy is then only valuable, when it serves for the law of life, and not for the ostentation of science.
WITHOUT a friend the world is but a wilderness.
A man may have a thousand intimate acquaintances, and not a friend among them all. If you have one friend, think yourself happy.
When once you profess yourself a friend, endeavour to be always such. He can never have any true friends that will be often changing them.
Prosperity gains friends, and adversity tries them.
Nothing more engages the affections of men, than a handsome address, and graceful conversation.
Complaisance renders a superior amiable, an equal agreeable, and an inferior acceptable.
Excess of ceremony shows want of breeding. That civility is best which excludes all superfluous formality.
Ingratitude is a crime so shameful, that the man was never yet found who would acknowledge himself guilty of it.
Truth is born with us; and we must do violence to nature, to shake off our veracity.
There cannot be a greater treachery, than first to raise a confidence, and then deceive it.
By the faults of others, wise men correct their own.
No man has a thorough taste of prosperity, to whom adversity never happened.
When our vices leave us, we flatter ourselves that we leave them.
It is as great a point of wisdom to hide ignorance, as to discover knowledge.
Pitch upon that course of life which is the most excellent, and habit will render it the most delightful.
CHAPTER III. :
Custom is the plague of wise men, and the idol of fools.
As to be perfectly just, is an attribute of the divine nature; to be so to the utmost of our abilities, is the glory of man.
No man was ever cast down with the injuries of fortune, unless he had before suffered himself to be deceived by her favours.
Anger may glance into the breast of a wise man, but rests only in the bosom of fools.
None more impatiently suffer injuries, than those that are most forward in doing them.
By taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy: but in passing it over, he is superior.
To err is human : to forgive, divine.
A more glorious victory cannot be gained over another man, than this, that when the injury began on his part, the kindness should begin on ours.
The prodigal robs his heir, the miser robs himself.
We should take a prudent care for the future, but so as to enjoy the present. It is no part of wisdom to be miserable to day, because we may happen to be so to-morrow.
To mourn without measure is folly ; not to mourn at all, insensibility.
Some would be thought to do great things, who are but tools and instruments; like the fool who fancied he played upon the organ, when he only blew the bellows.
Though a man may become learned by another's learning, he never can be wise but by his own wisdom.
He who wants good sense is unhappy in having learning, for he has thereby more ways of exposing himself.
It is ungenerous to give a man occasion to blush at his own ignorance in one thing, who perhaps may excel us in many.
No object is more pleasing to the eye, than the sight of a man whom you have obliged ; nor any music so agreeable to the ear, as the voice of one that owns you for his benefactor,
The coin that is most current among mankind is flattery; the only benefit of which is, that by hearing what we are not, we may be instructed what we ought to be:
The character of the person who commends you is to be considered, before you set a value on his esteem. The wise man applauds hini whom he thinks most virtuous, the rest of the world him who is most wealthy.
The temperate man's pleasures are durable, because they are regular; and all his life is calm and serene, because it is innocent.
A good man will love himself too well to lose, and his neighbour too well to win, an estate by gaming. The love of gaming will corrupt the best principles in the world.
An angry man who suppresses his passions thinks worse than he speaks; and an angry man that will chide speaks worse than he thinks.
A good word is an easy obligation ; but not to speak ill requires only our silence, which costs us nothing.
It is to affectation the world owes its whole race of coxcombs. Nature in her whole drama never drew such a part; she has sometimes made a fool, but a coxcomb is always of his own making.
It is the infirmity of little minds, to be taken with every appearance, and dazzled with every thing that sparkles : great minds have but little admiration, because few things appear new to them.
It happens to men of learning, as to ears of corn ; they shoot up and raise their heads high while they are empty ; but when full and swelled with grain, they begin to flag and droop.
He that is truly polite knows how to contradict with respect, and to please without adulation; and is equally remote from an insipid complaisance, and a low familiarity.
The failings of good men are commonly more published in the world than their good deeds; and one fault of a deserving man shall meet with more reproaches, than all his virtues, praise : such is the force of ill will and ill nature.
It is harder to avoid censure, than to gain applause; for this may be done by one great or wise action in an age: but to escape censure, a man must pass his whole life without saying or doing one ill or foolish thing.
When Darius offered Alexander ten thousand talents to divide Asia equally with him, he answered, “ The earth cannot bear two suns, nor Asia two kings.” Parmenio, a friend of Alexander's, hearing the great offers Darius had made, said, “ Were I Alexander, I would accept them.” “ So would I,” replied Alexander, “ were I Parmenio.”
Nobility is to be considered only as an imaginary distinction, unless accompanied with the practice of those generous virtues by which it ought to be obtained. Titles of honour conferred upon such as have no personal merit, are at best but the royal stamp set upon base metal,
Though an honourable title may be conveyed to posterity, yet the ennobling qualities which are the soul of greatness, are a sort of incommunicable perfections, and cannot be transferred. If a man could bequeath his virtues by will, and settle his sense and learning upon his heirs, as certainly as he can his lands, a noble descent would then indeed be a very valuable privilege.
Truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out. It is always near at hand, and sits upon our lips, and is ready to drop out before we are aware: whereas a lie is troublesome, and sets a man's invention upon the rack ; and one trick needs a great many more to make it good.
The pleasure, which affects the human mind with the most lively and transporting touches, is the sense that we act in the eye of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, that will crown our virtuous endeavours here with a happiness hereafter, large as our desires, and lasting as our immortal souls: without this the highest state of life is insipid, and with it the lowest is a Paradise.
HONOURABLE age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years : but wisdom is the gray hair unto man, and unspotted life is old age.
Wickedness, condemned by her own witness, is very timorous, and, being pressed with conscience, always forecasteth evil things : for fear is nothing else but a betraying of the succours which reason offereth.
A wise man will fear in everything. He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little.
A rich man beginning to fall is held up of his friends : but a poor man being down is thrust away by his friends; when a rich man is fallen, he hath many helpers ; he speaketh things not to be spoken, and yet men justify him : the poor man slipped, and they rebuked him ; he spoke wisely, and could have no place. When a rich man speaketh, every man holdeth his tongue, and look, what he saith they extol it to the clouds ; but if a poor man speak, they say, what fellow is this?
Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not so many as have fallen by the tongue. Well is he that is defended from it, and hath not passed through the venom thereof; who hath not drawn the yoke thereof, nor been bound in its bonds; for the yoke thereof is a yoke of iron, and the bands thereof are bands of brass ; the death thereof is an evil death.
My son, blemish not thy good deeds, neither use uncomfortable words when thou givest any thing. Shall not the dew assuage the heat ? so is a word better than a gift. Lo! is not a word better than a gift ? but both are with a gracious man.
Blame not before thou hast examined the truth; understand first, and then rebuke.
If thou wouldst get a friend, prove him first, and be not hasty to credit him ; for some men are friends for their own occasions, and will not abide in the day of thy trouble.