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Party is the madness of many, for the gain of a few.
There never was any party, faction, sect, or cabal, whatsoever, in which the most ignorant were not the most violent: for a bee is not a busier animal than a blockhead. However, such instruments are necessary to politicians; and perhaps it may be with states as with clocks, which must have some dead weight hanging at them, to help and regulate the motion of the finer and more useful parts.
To endeavour to work upon the vulgar with fine sense, is like attempting to hew blocks with a razor.
Fine sense and exalted sense are not half so useful as common sense. There are forty men of wit for one man of sense; and he that will carry nothing about him but gold, will be every day at a loss for want of readier change.
Learning is like mercury, one of the most powerful and excellent things in the world in skilful hands; in unskilful, the most mischievous.
The nicest constitutions of government are often like the finest pieces of clock-work, which, depending on so many motions, are therefore more subject to be out of order.
Every man has just as much vanity as he wants understanding
Modesty, if it were to be recommended for nothing else, this were enough, that the pretending to little leaves a man at ease; whereas boasting requires a perpetual labour to appear what he is not: if we have none, it best hides our want of it. For as blushing will sometimes make a whore pass for a virtuous woman, so modesty may make a fool seem a man of
It is not so much the being exempt from faults, as the having overcome them, that is an advantage to us; it being with the follies of the mind as with the weeds of a field, which if destroyed and consumed upon the place of their birth, enrich and improve it more than if none had ever sprung there.
To pardon those absurdities in ourselves which we cannot suffer in others, is neither better nor worse than to be more willing to be fools ourselves than to have others so.
A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser to-day than he was yesterday.
The best way to prove the clearness of our mind, is by showing its faults; as when a stream discovers the dirt at the bottom, it convinces us of the transparency and purity of the water.
Our passions are like convulsion fits, which, though they make us stronger for the time, leave us the weaker ever after.
To be angry, is to revenge the fault of others upon ourselves.
A brave man thinks no one his superior who does him an injury; for he has it then in his power to make himself superior to the other by forgiving it.
To relieve the oppressed is the most glorious act a man is capable of; it is in some measure doing the business of God and Providence.
I as little fear that God will damn a man that has charity, as I hope that the priests can save one who has not.
Superstition is the spleen of the soul.
Atheists put on a false courage and alacrity in the midst of their darkness and apprehensions, like children who, when they fear to go in the dark, will sing for fear.
An atheist is but a mad ridiculous derider of piety; but a hypocrite makes a sober jest of God and religion; he finds it easier to be upon his knees than to rise to a good action : like an impudent debtor, who goes every day to talk familiarly to his creditor, without ever paying what he owes.
What Tully says of war may be applied to disputing, it should be always so managed, as to remember that the only end of it is peace; but generally true disputants are like true sportsmen, their whole delight is in the pursuit; and a disputant no more cares for the truth than the sportsman for the hare.
The Scripture in time of disputes is like an open town in time of war, which serves indifferently the occasions of both parties; each makes use of it for the present turn, and then resigns it to the next comer to do the same.
Such as are still observing upon others, are like those who are always abroad at other men's houses, reforming every thing there, while their own runs to ruin.
When men grow virtuous in their old age, they only make a sacrifice to God of the devil's leavings.
Some old men, by continually praising the time of their youth, would almost persuade us that there were no fools in those days; but unluckily they are left themselves for examples.
When we are young, we are slavishly employed in procuring something whereby we may live comfortably when we grow old ; and when we are old, we perceive it is too late to live as we proposed.
The world is a thing we must of necessity either laugh at, or be angry at; if we laugh at it, they say we are proud ; if we are angry at it, they say we are illnatured.
People are scandalized if one laughs at what they call a serious thing. Suppose I were to have my head cut off to-morrow, and all the world were talking of it today, yet why might I not laugh to think, what a bustle is here about my head?
The greatest advantage I know of being thought a wit by the world is, that it gives one the greater freedom of playing the fool.
We ought in humanity no more to despise a man for the misfortunes of the mind than for those of the body, when they are such as he cannot help. Were this thoroughly considered, we should no more laugh at one for having his brains cracked than for having his head broke.
A man of wit is not incapable of business, but above it. A sprightly generous horse is able to carry a packsaddle as well as an ass; but he is too good to be put to the drudgery.
Wherever I find a great deal of gratitude in a poor man, I take it for granted there would be as much generosity if he were a rich man.
Flowers of rhetoric in sermons and serious discourses are like the blue and red flowers in corn, pleasing to those who come only for amusement, but prejudicial to him who would reap the profit from it.
When two people compliment each other with the choice of any thing, each of them generally gets that which he likes least.
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.