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It is a common and just observation, that, when the meaning of any thing is dubious, one can no way better judge of the true intent of it, than by considering who is the author, what is his character in general, and his disposition in particular.-Pope.
Haste and rashnesse are storms and tempests, breaking and wrecking businesse, but nimblenesse is a full, fair wind, blowing it with speed to the haven.-Fuller.
Human nature is not so much depraved as to hinder us from respecting goodness in others, though we ourselves want it. This is the reason why we are so much charmed with the pretty prattle of children, and even the expressions of pleasure or uneasiness in some part of the brute creation. They are without artifice or malice; and we love truth too well to resist the charms of sincerity.-Steele.
There is an infinite variety of motions to be made use of in the flutter of a fan. There is the angry flutter, the modest flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused flutter, the merry flutter, and the amorous flutter. Not to be tedious, there is scarce any emotion in the mind which does not produce a suitable agitation in the fan; insomuch, that, if I only see the fan of a disciplined lady, I know very well whether she laughs, frowns, or blushes. -Addison.
There is, perhaps, nothing more easy than to write properly for the English theatre; I am amazed that none are apprenticed to the trade. The author, when well acquainted with the value of thunder and lightning, when versed in all the mystery of scene-shifting and trap-doors, when skilled in the proper periods to introduce a wire walker or a waterfall; when instructed in every actor's peculiar talent, and capable of adapting his speeches to
the supposed excellence; when thus instructed, knows all that can give a modern audience pleasure.-Goldsmith.
The task of our present writers requires, together with that learning which is to be gained from books, that experience which can never be attained by solitary diligence, but must arise from general converse and accurate observation of the living world. Their performance have, as Horace expresses it, plus oneris quantum veniæ minus, little indulgence, and therefore more difficulty. They are engaged in portraits of which every one knows the original, and can detect any deviation from exactness of resemblance. Other writings are safe, except from the malice of learning, but these are in danger from every common reader; as the slipper ill-executed was censured by a shoemaker who happened to stop in his way at the Venus of Apelles.-Johnson.
As none but kings have pow'r to raise
A wit-excise on verse or prose,
What's fit to choose, and what to leave.
And spirits of a nobler nature
Drawn from the dull ingredient matter.
He only sees well who sees the whole in the parts, and the parts in the whole. I know but three classes of men-those who see the whole, those who see but a part, and those who see both together.-Lavater.
'Tis necessary a writing critic should understand how to write. And though every writer is not bound to show himself in the capacity of critic, every writing critic is bound to show himself capable of being a writer. For if he be apparently impotent in this latter kind, he is to be denied all title or character in the other.Shaftesbury.
A modest person seldom fails to gain the goodwill of those he converses with, because nobody envies a man who does not appear to be pleased with himself.-Steele.
The same word in the Greek (os) signifies rust and poyson; and some strong poyson is made of the rust of metals, but none more venomous than the rust of money in the rich man's purse, unjustly detained from the labourer, which will poyson and infect his whole estate.-Fuller.
When I have found the weather set in to be very bad, I have taken a whole day's journey to see a picture gallery that is furnished by the hands of great masters. By this means, when the heavens are filled with clouds, when the earth swims in rain, and all nature wears a louring countenance, I withdraw myself from these uncomfortable scenes into the visionary worlds of art; where I meet with shining landscapes, gilded triumphs, beautiful faces, and all those other objects that fill the mind with gay ideas, and disperse that gloominess which
is apt to hang about us in those dark disconsolate seasons.-Addison.
He who tells a lie is not sensible how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one.-Pope.
Music so softens and disarms the mind,
Worldly ambition is founded on pride or envy, but emulation (or laudable ambition) is actually founded in humility, for it evidently implies that we have a low opinion of our present attainments, and think it necessary to be advanced: and especially in religious concerns it is so far from being pride for a man to wish himself spiritually better, that it is highly commendable, and what we are strongly exhorted to in many parts of the Bible.Bishop Hall.
Volatility of words is carelessness in actions; words are the wings of actions.-Lavater.
Would it not employ a beau prettily enough, if, instead of eternally playing with a snuff-box, he spent some part of his time in making one? Such a method as this would very much conduce to the public emolument, by making every man living good for something; for there would then be no one member of human society but would have some little pretension for some degree in it. Steele.
The good yeoman wears russet clothes, but makes golden payment, having time in his buttons, but silver in his pocket. If he chance to appear in clothes above his rank, it is to grace some great man with his service, and then he blusheth at his own bravery. Otherwise, he is the sweet landmark, whence foreigners may take aim of the ancient English customs; the gentry more floating after foreign fashions.-Fuller.
It is well for gamesters that they are so numerous as to make a society of themselves, for it would be a strange abuse of terms to rank these among society at large, whose profession it is to prey upon all who compose it. Strictly speaking, it will bear a doubt, if a gamester has any other title to be called a man, except under the distinction of Hobbes, and upon claim to the charter of homo hominis lupus.-As a human wolf I grant he has a right to his wolfish prerogatives.-Cumberland.
Law does not put the least restraint
To give us freer latitude;
For wholesome laws preserve us free,
By stinting of our liberty.
In order to look into any person's temper, I generally make my first observations upon his laugh, whether he is easily moved, and what are the passages which throw him into that agreeable kind of convulsion. People are never so much unguarded as when they are pleased; and laughter being a visible symptom of some inward satisfaction, it is then, if ever, we may believe the face. There is, perhaps, no better index to point us to the particularities of the mind than this, which is itself one the chief distinctions of our rationality. For, as Milton says,