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No man can pay a more servile tribute to the great, than by suffering his liberty, in their presence, to aggrandize him in his own esteem. Between different ranks of the community, there is necessarily some distance. He who is called by his superior to pass the interval, may very properly accept the invitation; but petulence and obtrusion, are rarely produced by magnanimity, nor have often any nobler cause than the pride of importance, and the malice of inferiority. He who knows himself necessary, may set, while that necessity lasts, a high value upon himself; as in a lower condition, a servant eminently skilful may be saucy, but he is saucy, because he is servile.
A due regard to subordination is the power that keeps peace and order in the world.
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 9. p. 290.
Every man of known influence has so many petitions which he cannot grant, that he must necessarily offend more than he gratifies; as the preference given to one, affords all the rest a reason for complaint. "When I give away a place (said Louis the XIVth) I make a hundred discontented, and one ungrateful."
Life of Swift.
Suspicion is no less an enemy to virtue than happiness. He that is already corrupt is naturally suspicious; and he that becomes suspicious, will quickly be corrupt.
Rambler, vol. 2, p. 145.
He that suffers by imposture, has too often his virtue more impaired than his fortune. But as it is necessary not to invite robbery by supineness, so it is our duty not to suppress tenderness by suspicion. It is better to suffer wrong than to do it; and happier to be sometimes cheated, than not to trust. Ibid. p. 147.
He who is spontaneously suspicious, may be justly charged with radical corruption; for if he has not known the prevalence of dishonesty by information, nor had time to discern it with his own eyes, whence can he take his measures of judgment but from himself?
Ibid. vul. 4, p. 86.
The superiority of some is merely local. They are great, because their associates are little.
Life of Swift,
Idle and indecent applications of sentences taken from Scripture, is a mode of merriment which a good man dreads for its profaneness, and a witty man disdains for its easiness and vulgarity. Life of Pope.
All amplification of sacred history is frivolous and vuin; all addition to that which is already sufficient for the purposes of religion, seems not only useless, but in some degree profane.
Life of Cowley.
A simile, to be perfect, must both illustrate and ennoble the subject; must show it to the un
derstanding in a clearer view, and display it to the fancy with greater dignity; but either of these qualities may be sufficient to recommend it. In` didactic poetry, of which the great purpose is instruction, a simile may be praised which illustrates though it does not ennoble. In heroics, that may be admitted which ennobles, though it does not illustrate. That it may be complete, it is required to exhibit, independently of its references, a pleasing image; for a simile is said to be a short episode.
Life of Pope.
Shame, above every other passion, propagates itself.
Rambler, vol. 3, p. 309..
It is perhaps, kindly provided by nature, that as the feathers and strength of the bird grow together, and her wings are not completed till she is able to fly; so some proportion should be observed in the human mind, between judgment and courage. The precipitation of experience is therefore restrained by shame, and we remain shackled by timidity, till we have learned to speak and act with propriety.
Ibid. p. 316.
Shame operates most strongly in our earliest. years. Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 5, p. 79.
As in life, so in study, it is dangerous to do more things than one at a time; and the mind is not to be harrassed with unnecessary obstructions,
in a way of which the natural and unavoidable asperity is such as too frequently produces despair.
Preface to the Preceptor, p. 65.
The predominance of a favourite study, affects all subordinate operations of the intellect.
Life of Cowley.
Sobriety or temperance, is nothing but the forbearance of pleasure; and if pleasure was not followed by pain, who would forbear it?
Idler, vol. 2, p. 208.
Value is more frequently raised by scarcity than by use. That which lay neglected when it was common, rises in estimation as its quantity becomes less. We seldom learn the true want of what we have, till it is discovered that we can have no more.
Ibid. p. 280.
In all pointed sentences, some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness.
Bravery of English Common Soldiers, p. 324.
SUCCESS AND MISCARRIAGE.
Success and miscarriage have the same effects in all conditions. The prosperous are feared, hated, and flattered; and the unfortunate avoided, pitied, and despised.
Idler, vol. 2, p. 277.
Of all the disputed plays of Shakspeare, except Titus Andronicus, it may be asked, if they are taken from him, to whom shall they be given? for it will be found more credible that Shakspeare might sometimes sink below his highest flights, than that any other should rise up to his Lowest.
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 1, p. 216.
Each change of many-coloured life he drew,
Prologue at the opening of Drury-lane Theatre,
Nothing gives so much offence to the lower ranks of mankind, as the sight of superfluities merely ostentatious.
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 6, p. 339.
Good sense is a sedate and quiescent quality, which manages its possessions well, but does not increase them: it collects few materials for its own operations, and preserves safety, but never gains supremacy. Life of Pope.
It is probable all the sports of the field are of Gothic original; the ancients neither hunted by the scent, nor seem much to have practised horsemanship as an exercise; and though in their works there is mention of Aucupium and Piscatio, they