A self-portrait from about 1802
10 April 1778|
Maidstone, Kent, England
|Died||18 September 1830
Soho, London, England
|Occupation||Essayist, literary critic, painter, philosopher|
|Notable works||Characters of Shakespear’s Plays, Table-Talk, Liber Amoris, The Spirit of the Age, Notes of a Journey Through France and Italy, The Plain Speaker|
It is not fit that every man should travel; it makes a wise man better, and a fool worse.
There are no rules for friendship. It must be left to itself. We cannot force it any more than love.
Gracefulness has been defined to be the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.
There is a secret pride in every human heart that revolts at tyranny. You may order and drive an individual, but you cannot make him respect you.
To think ill of mankind and not wish ill to them, is perhaps the highest wisdom and virtue.
The least pain in our little finger gives us more concern and uneasiness than the destruction of millions of our fellow-beings.
I would like to spend the whole of my life traveling, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend at home.
We are very much what others think of us. The reception our observations meet with gives us courage to proceed, or damps our efforts.
An honest man speaks the truth, though it may give offence; a vain man, in order that it may.
The smallest pain in our little finger gives us more concern than the destruction of millions of our fellow beings.
To get others to come into our ways of thinking, we must go over to theirs; and it is necessary to follow, in order to lead.
Love turns, with a little indulgence, to indifference or disgust; hatred alone is immortal.
Grace is the absence of everything that indicates pain or difficulty, hesitation or incongruity.
A hypocrite despises those whom he deceives, but has no respect for himself. He would make a dupe of himself too, if he could.
It is hard for any one to be an honest politician who is not born and bred a Dissenter.
The true barbarian is he who thinks everything barbarous but his own tastes and prejudices.
Those who speak ill of the spiritual life, although they come and go by day, are like the smith's bellows: they take breath but are not alive.
Every man, in his own opinion, forms an exception to the ordinary rules of morality.
Man is a make-believe animal: he is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part.
If I have not read a book before, it is, for all intents and purposes, new to me whether it was printed yesterday or three hundred years ago.
If the world were good for nothing else, it is a fine subject for speculation.
Grace has been defined as the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.
A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.
The world judge of men by their ability in their profession, and we judge of ourselves by the same test: for it is on that on which our success in life depends.
Cunning is the art of concealing our own defects, and discovering other people's weaknesses.
The person whose doors I enter with most pleasure, and quit with most regret, never did me the smallest favor.
To be capable of steady friendship or lasting love, are the two greatest proofs, not only of goodness of heart, but of strength of mind.
Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself. He who has a contempt for poetry, cannot have much respect for himself, or for anything else.
Without the aid of prejudice and custom, I should not be able to find my way across the room.
Even in the common affairs of life, in love, friendship, and marriage, how little security have we when we trust our happiness in the hands of others!
Our friends are generally ready to do everything for us, except the very thing we wish them to do.
Though familiarity may not breed contempt, it takes off the edge of admiration.
The most insignificant people are the most apt to sneer at others. They are safe from reprisals. And have no hope of rising in their own self esteem but by lowering their neighbors.
We grow tired of everything but turning others into ridicule, and congratulating ourselves on their defects.
The truly proud man knows neither superiors or inferiors. The first he does not admit of – the last he does not concern himself about.
The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.
We find many things to which the prohibition of them constitutes the only temptation.
To a superior race of being the pretensions of mankind to extraordinary sanctity and virtue must seem… ridiculous.
You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.
We often choose a friend as we do a mistress – for no particular excellence in themselves, but merely from some circumstance that flatters our self-love.
No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history.
Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be.
If we wish to know the force of human genius, we should read Shakespeare. If we wish to see the insignificance of human learning, we may study his commentators.
The way to get on in the world is to be neither more nor less wise, neither better nor worse than your neighbours.
Hope is the best possession. None are completely wretched but those who are without hope. Few are reduced so low as that.
It is better to be able neither to read nor write than to be able to do nothing else.
To be remembered after we are dead, is but poor recompense for being treated with contempt while we are living.
The dupe of friendship, and the fool of love; have I not reason to hate and to despise myself? Indeed I do; and chiefly for not having hated and despised the world enough.
Almost every sect of Christianity is a perversion of its essence, to accommodate it to the prejudices of the world.
Few things tend more to alienate friendship than a want of punctuality in our engagements. I have known the breach of a promise to dine or sup to break up more than one intimacy.
Defoe says that there were a hundred thousand country fellows in his time ready to fight to the death against popery, without knowing whether popery was a man or a horse.
There is a heroism in crime as well as in virtue. Vice and infamy have their altars and their religion.
That which is not, shall never be; that which is, shall never cease to be. To the wise, these truths are self-evident.
There are few things in which we deceive ourselves more than in the esteem we profess to entertain for our friends. It is little better than a piece of quackery. The truth is, we think of them as we please, that is, as they please or displease us.
The humblest painter is a true scholar; and the best of scholars the scholar of nature.
No one ever approaches perfection except by stealth, and unknown to themselves.
There is nothing good to be had in the country, or if there is, they will not let you have it.
A grave blockhead should always go about with a lively one – they show one another off to the best advantage.
I'm not smart, but I like to observe. Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.
There is no one thoroughly despicable. We cannot descend much lower than an idiot; and an idiot has some advantages over a wise man.
Old friendships are like meats served up repeatedly, cold, comfortless, and distasteful. The stomach turns against them.
One shining quality lends a lustre to another, or hides some glaring defect.
The mind of man is like a clock that is always running down, and requires to be constantly wound up.
A nickname is the heaviest stone that the devil can throw at a man. It is a bugbear to the imagination, and, though we do not believe in it, it still haunts our apprehensions.
Anyone who has passed though the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape.
The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases.
The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.
A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.
Envy among other ingredients has a mixture of the love of justice in it. We are more angry at undeserved than at deserved good-fortune.
People of genius do not excel in any profession because they work in it, they work in it because they excel.
We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.
Do not keep on with a mockery of friendship after the substance is gone – but part, while you can part friends. Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming.
Life is the art of being well deceived; and in order that the deception may succeed it must be habitual and uninterrupted.
The seat of knowledge is in the head; of wisdom, in the heart. We are sure to judge wrong, if we do not feel right.
Dr. Johnson was a lazy learned man who liked to think and talk better than to read or write; who, however, wrote much and well, but too often by rote.
There is no prejudice so strong as that which arises from a fancied exemption from all prejudice.
Those who make their dress a principal part of themselves, will, in general, become of no more value than their dress.
We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.
When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.
Look up, laugh loud, talk big, keep the color in your cheek and the fire in your eye, adorn your person, maintain your health, your beauty and your animal spirits.
Fame is the inheritance not of the dead, but of the living. It is we who look back with lofty pride to the great names of antiquity.
A scholar is like a book written in a dead language. It is not every one that can read in it.