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Wit being an unexpected copulation of ideas, the discovery of some occult relation between images in appearance remote from each other; an effusion of wit, therefore, pre-supposes an accumulation of knowledge; a memory stored with notions, which the imagination may cull out to compose new assemblages. Whatever may be the native vigour of the mind, she can never form many combinations from few ideas; as many changes can never be rung upon a few bells. Ibid. vol. 4, p. 187.
Nothing was ever said with uncommon felicity, but by the co-operation of chance; and therefore wit, as well as valour, must be content to share its honours with fortune.
Idler, vol. 2, p. 32.
The first years of man must make provision for the last. He that never thinks, can never be wise. Prince of Abyffinia, p. 113.
To be of grave mien, and slow of utterance. to look with solicitude, and speak with hesitation, is attainable at will; but the show of wisdom is ridiculous, when there is nothing to cause doubt, as that of valour, where there is nothing to be feared.
Idler, vol. 1, p 288.
The two powers which, in the opinion of Epictetus, constitute a wise man, are those of bearing and forbearing.
Life of Savage.
Wisdom comprehends at once the end and the means, estimates easiness or difficulty, and is cautious or confident in due proportion.
Ider, vol. 2, p. 223.
The world is generally willing to support those who solicit favour, against those who command reverence. He is easily praised, whom no man can envy. Preface to Shakspeare, p. 51.
Of things that terminate in human life, the world is the proper judge. To despise its sentence, if it were possible, is not just; and if it were just, is not possible.
Life of Pope.
To know the world, is necessary, since we were born for the help of one another; and to know it early, is convenient, if it be only that we may learn early to despise it.
Idler, vol. 2, p. 159.
Women are always most observed, when they 'seem themselves least to observe, or to lay out for observation.
Rambler, vol. 2, p. 254.
It is observed, that the unvaried complaisance which women have a right of exacting, keeps them generally unskilled in human nature,
Ibid. vol. 3, p. 266.
Our best poet seems to have given this character to women; "That they think ill of nothing
that raises the credit of their beauty, and are ready, however virtuous, to pardon any act which they think excited by their own charms."
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 2, p. 156.
It is said of a woman who accepts a worse match than those which she had refused, that she has passed through the wood, and at last has taken a crooked stick.
Ibid. p. 286.
Nothing is more common than for the younger part of the sex, upon certain occasions, to say in a pet what they do not think, or to think for a time on what they do not finally resolve.
Ibid. vol. 4, p. 105.
As the faculty of writing has been chiefly a masculine endowment, the reproach of making the world miserable has been always thrown upon the WOMEN; and the grave and the merry have equally thought themselves at liberty to conclude either with declamatory complaints, or satirical censures, of female folly or fickleness. Rambler, vol. I, p. 108.
Of women it has been always known, that no censure wounds so deeply, or rankles so long, as that which charges them with want of beauty. Ibid. p. 242.
It may be particularly observed of women, that they are for the most part good or bad, as they fall among those who practise vice or virtue; and that neither education nor reason gives them much security against the influence of example. Whether it be, that they have less
courage to stand against opposition, or that their desire of admiration makes them sacrifice their principles to the poor pleasure of worthless praise, it is certain, whatever be the cause, that female goodness seldom keeps its ground against laughter, flattery, or fashion.
Ibid. vol. 2, p. 59.
The wisdom of those by whom our female education was instituted, should always be admired for having contrived that every woman, of whatever condition, should be taught some arts of manufacture, by which the vacuities of recluse and domestic leisure may be filled up. Those arts are more necessary, as the weakness of their sex, and the general system of life, debar ladies from many employments, which, by diversifying the circumstances of men, preserve them from being cankered by the rust of their own thoughts.
Ibid. p. 180. Women, by whatever fate, always judge absurdly of the intellects of boys. The vivacity and confidence which attract female admiration, are seldom produced in the early part of life, but by ignorance, at least, if not by stupidity; for they proceed not from confidence of right, but fearlessness of wrong. Whoever has a clear apprehension, must have quick sensibility; and where he has no sufficient reason to trust his own judgment, will proceed with doubt and caution, because he perpetually dreads the disgrace of error.
Ibid. vol. 4, p. 186.
The weakness they lament, themselves create;
Start at the light, and tremble in the dark;
Irene, p. 28.
Some light might be given to those who shall endeavour to calculate the increase of English wealth, by observing that Latymer, in the time of Edward VI. mentions it, as a proof of his. father's prosperity-That though but a yeoman, he gave his daughters five pounds each for her portion. At the latter end of Elizabeth, seven hundred pounds were such a temptation to courtship as made all other motives suspected.-Congreve makes twelve thousand pounds more than a counterbalance to the affectation of Belinda.No poet would now fly his favourite character at less than fifty thousand.
Notes upon Shakspeare, vol. 1, p. 317.
There is always danger lest wickedness, conjoined with abilities, should steal upon esteem, though it misses of approbation.
Ibid. vol. 10, p. 628.
In the bottle, discontent seeks for comfort, cowardice for courage, and bashfulness for confidence; but who ever asked succour from Bacchus, that was able to preserve himself from being enslaved by his auxiliary?
Life of Addison.