Every age and every nation has certain characteristic vices, which prevail almost universally, which scarcely any person scruples to avow, and which even rigid moralists but faintly censure. Succeeding generations change the fashion of their morals with the fashion of their hats and their coaches; t
Finesse is the best adaptation of means to circumstances.
The highest intellects, like the tops of mountains, are the first to catch and to reflect the dawn.
There was, it is said, a criminal in Italy who was suffered to make his choice between Guicciardini and the galleys. He chose the history. But the war of Pisa was too much for him; he changed his mind, and went to the oars.
Your Constitution is all sail and no anchor.
Shakespeare has had neither equal nor second.
When the great Kepler bad at length discovered the harmonic laws that regulate the motions of the heavenly bodies, he exclaimed: "Whether my discoveries will be read by posterity or by my contemporaries is a matter that concerns them more than me. I may well be contented to wait one century for a re
The study of the properties of numbers, Plato tells us, habituates the mind to the contemplation of pure truth, and raises us above the material universe. He would have his disciples apply themselves to this study, not that they may be able to buy or sell, not that they may qualify themselves to be
The passages in which Milton has alluded to his own circumstances are perhaps read more frequently, and with more interest, than any other lines in his poems.
A dominant religion is never ascetic.
Every sect clamors for toleration when it is down.
This is the highest miracle of genius, that things which are not should be as though they were, that the imaginations of one mind should become the personal recollections of another.
We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much apparent reason.
What a blessing it is to love books as I love them;- to be able to converse with the dead, and to live amidst the unreal!
A perfect historian must possess an imagination sufficiently powerful to make his narrative affecting and picturesque; yet he must control it so absolutely as to content himself with the materials which he finds, and to refrain from supplying deficiencies by additions of his own. He must be a profou
Facts are the mere dross of history. It is from the abstract truth which interpenetrates them, and lies latent among them, like gold in the ore, that the mass derives its whole value; and the precious particles are generally combined with the baser in such a manner that the separation is a task of t
We hold that the most wonderful and splendid proof of genius is a great poem produced in a civilized age.
Our judgment ripens; our imagination decays. We cannot at once enjoy the flowers of the Spring of life and the fruits of its Autumn.
A Grecian history, perfectly written should be a complete record of the rise and progress of poetry, philosophy, and the arts.
Language is the machine of the poet.
Men of great conversational powers almost universally practise a sort of lively sophistry and exaggeration which deceives for the moment both themselves and their auditors.
With the dead there is no rivalry, with the dead there is no change.
The English Bible - a book which, if everything else in our language should perish, would alone suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power.
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods?
Propriety of thought and propriety of diction are commonly found together. Obscurity and affectation are the two greatest faults of style. Obscurity of expression generally springs from confusion of ideas; and the same wish to dazzle, at any cost, which produces affectation in the manner of a writer
In every age the vilest specimens of human nature are to be found among demagogues.
The Saviour of mankind Himself, in whose blameless life malice could find no act to impeach, has been called in question for words spoken.
In the modern languages there was not, six hundred years ago, a single volume which is now read. The library of our profound scholar must have consisted entirely of Latin books.
We deplore the outrages which accompany revolutions. But the more violent the outrages, the more assured we feel that a revolution was necessary.
The maxim, that governments ought to train the people in the way in which they should go, sounds well. But is there any reason for believing that a government is more likely to lead the people in the right way than the people to fall into the right way of themselves?