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CONFIDENCE is the common consequence of success. They whose excellence of any kind has been loudly celebrated, are ready to conclude that their powers are universal.
Preface to Shakspeare, p. 49
Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings, yet he who forms his opinion of himself, without knowing the powers of other men, is very liable to error.
Life of Pope.
It may be no less dangerous to claim, on certain occasions, too little than too much. There is something captivating in spirit and intrepidity, to which we often yield as to a resistless power; nor can he reasonably expect the confidence of others, who too apparently distrusts himself. Rambler, vol. 1, p. 3.
There would be few enterprizes of great labour or hazard undertaken, if we had not the power of magnifying the advantages which we persuade ourselves to expect from them. Ibid. p. 9.
Men who have great confidence in their own pènetration, are often, by that confidence, deceived; they imagine they can pierce through all the involutions of intrigue without the diligence necessary to weaker minds, and therefore
sit idle and secure. They believe that none can hope to deceive them, and therefore that none will try.
Memoirs of the King of Prussia, p: 122.
Nothing is more fatal to happiness or virtue than that confidence which flatters us with an opinion of our own strength, and, by assuring us of the power of retreat, precipitates us into hazard.
Idler, vol. I, p. 292.
Whatever might be à man's confidence in his dependants or followers, on general occasions, there are some of such particular importance, he ought to trust to none but himself; as the same credulity that might prevail upon him to trust another, might induce another to commit the same office to a third, and at length, that some of them may be deceived.
Life of Drake, p. 198.
Men overpowered with distress eagerly listen. to the first offers of relief, close with every scheme, and believe every promise. He that has no longer any confidence in himself; is glad to repose his trust in any other that will undertake to guide him.
Ibid. p. 340.
Commerce, however we may please ourselves with the contrary opinion, is one of the daughters of fortune, inconstant and deceitful as her mother. She chooses her residence where she is least ex
pected, and shifts her abode when her continuance is, in appearance, most firmly settled. Universal Vifitor, p. 112.
Where there is no commerce nor manufacture, he that is born poor can scarcely become rich; and if none are able to buy estates, he that is born to land, cannot annihilate his family by selling it.
Western Islands, p. 194.
It may deserve to be enquired, Whether a great nation ought to be totally commercial? Whether, amidst the uncertainty of human affairs, too much attention to one mode of happiness may not endanger others? Whether the pride of riches must not sometimes have recourse to the protection of courage? And whether, if it be necessary to preserve in some part of the empire the military spirit, it can subsist more commodiously in any place than in remote and unprofitable provinces, where it can commonly do little harm, and whence it may be called forth at any sudden exigence?
It must, however, be confessed, that a man who places honour only in successful violence, is a very troublesome and pernicious animal in time of peace, and that the martial character cannot prevail in a whole people, but by the diminution of all other virtues. He that is accustomed to resolve all right into conquest, will have very little tenderness or equity. All the friendship in such a life can be only a confederacy of invasion, or alliance of defence. The strong must flourish by force, and the weak subsist by stratagem.
Ibid. p. 210 & 211.
There are many arts of graciousness and conciliation which are to be practised without expence, and by which those may be made our friends, who have never received from us any real benefit. Such arts, when they include neither guilt nor meanness, it is surely reasonable to learn; for who would want that love which is so easily to be gained?
Rambler, vol. 2, p. 16.
The universal axiom in which all complaisance is included, and from which flow all the formalities which custom has established in civilized nations, is, "That no man should give any preference to himself;" a rule so comprehensive and certain, that perhaps it is not easy for the mind to imagine an incivility without supposing it to be broken.
Ibid p. 262.
There are, indeed, in every place, some particular modes of the ceremonial part of good breeding, which being arbitrary and accidental, can be learned only by habitude and conversation. Such are the forms of salutation, the different gradations of reverence, and all the adjustments of place and precedence. These, however, may be often violated without offence, if it be sufficiently evident that neither malice nor pride contributed to the failure, but will not atone, however rigidly observed, for the tumour of insolence, or petulance of contempt.
Wisdom and virtue are by on means sufficient, without the supplemental law of good breed
ing, to secure freedom from degenerating into. rudeness, or self-esteem from swelling into insolence. A thousand incivilities may be committed, and a thousand offices neglected, without any remorse of conscience, or reproach from
Ibid. p. 261
If we would have the kindness of others, we must endure their follies. He who cannot persuade himself to withdraw from society, must be content to pay a tribute of his time to a multitude of tyrants: To the loiterer, who makes appointments which he never keeps; to the consulter, who asks advice which he never takes; to the boaster, who blusters only to be praised; to the complainer, who whines only to be pitied; to the projector, whose happiness is to entertain his friends with expectations, which all but himself know to be vain; or to the economist, who tells of bargains and settlements; to the politician, who predicts the fate of battles and breach of alliances; to the usurer, who compares the different funds; and to the talker, who talks only because he loves to be talking.
Idler, vol. 1, p. 80.
He that is pleased with himself easily imagines he shall please others.
Life of Pope.
Charity would lose its name were it influenced by so mean a motive as human praise.
Introduction to the Proceedings of the Committee for clothing French Prisoners, p. 158.