Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Actions
 
  Actions are of so mixed a nature, that as men pry into them, or observe some parts more than others, they take different hints, and put contrary interpretations on them.
Joseph Addison.    
  1
 
  Outward actions can never give a just estimate of us, since there are many perfections of a man which are not capable of appearing in actions.
Joseph Addison.    
  2
 
  He was particularly pleased with Sallust for his entering into internal principles of action.
Joseph Addison.    
  3
 
  A superior capacity for business, and a more extensive knowledge, are steps by which a new man often mounts to favour and outshines the rest of his contemporaries.
Joseph Addison.    
  4
 
  There is no greater wisdom than well to time the beginnings and onsets of things.
Lord Bacon.    
  5
 
  When things are come to the execution, there is no secrecy comparable to celerity.
Francis Bacon.    
  6
 
  Natures that have much heat, and great and violent desires and perturbations, are not ripe for action till they have passed the meridian of their days.
Francis Bacon.    
  7
 
  In choice of instruments it is better to choose men of a plainer sort that are like to do that that is committed to them, and to report faithfully the success, than those that are cunning to contrive somewhat to grace themselves, and will help the matter in report.
Francis Bacon.    
  8
 
  Some men’s behaviour is like a verse wherein every syllable is measured: how can a man comprehend great matters that breaketh his mind too much to small observations?
Francis Bacon.    
  9
 
  However, to act with any people with the least degree of comfort, I believe we must contrive a little to assimilate to their character. We must gravitate toward them, if we would keep in the same system, or expect that they should approach toward us.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Hon. C. J. Fox, Oct. 8, 1777.    
  10
 
  The progressive sagacity that keeps company with times and occasions, and decides upon things in their existing position, is that alone which can give true propriety, grace, and effect to a man’s conduct. It is very hard to anticipate the occasion, and to live by a rule more general.
Edmund Burke: Letter to R. Shackleton, May 25, 1779.    
  11
 
  The only things in which we can be said to have any property are our actions. Our thoughts may be bad, yet produce no poison; they may be good, yet produce no fruit. Our riches may be taken from us by misfortune, our reputation by malice, our spirits by calamity, our health by disease, our friends by death. But our actions must follow us beyond the grave: with respect to them alone we cannot say that we shall carry nothing with us when we die, neither that we shall go naked out of the world. Our actions must clothe us with an immortality, loathsome or glorious: these are the only title-deeds of which we cannot be disinherited; they will have their full weight in the balance of eternity, when everything else is as nothing; and their value will be confirmed and established by those two sure and sateless destroyers of all other earthly things,—Time and Death.
Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.    
  12
 
  When young we trust ourselves too much, and we trust others too little when old. Rashness is the error of youth, timid caution of age. Manhood is the isthmus between the two extremes: the ripe and fertile season of action, when alone we can hope to find the head to contrive united with the hand to execute.
Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.    
  13
 
  No two things differ more than hurry and despatch. Hurry is the mark of a weak mind, despatch of a strong one.
Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.    
  14
 
  Hurry and Cunning are the two apprentices of Despatch and of Skill, but neither of them ever learn their master’s trade.
Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.    
  15
 
 
 
  The causes and designs of an action are the beginning; the effects of these causes, and the difficulties met with in the execution of these designs, are the middle; and the unravelling and resolution of these difficulties are the end.
John Dryden.    
  16
 
  The actions of men are oftener determined by their character than their interest: their conduct takes its colour more from their acquired tastes, inclinations, and habits, than from a deliberate regard to their greatest good. It is only on great occasions the mind awakes to take an extended survey of her whole course, and that she suffers the dictates of reason to impress a new bias upon her movements. The actions of each day are, for the most part, links which follow each other in the chain of custom. Hence the great effort of practical wisdom is to imbue the mind with right tastes, affections, and habits; the elements of character and masters of action.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  17
 
  The ways of well-doing are in number even as many as are the kinds of voluntary actions: so that whatsoever we do in this world, and may do it ill, we show ourselves therein by well-doing to be wise.
Richard Hooker.    
  18
 
  Many men there are than whom nothing is more commendable when they are singled; and yet, in society with others, none less fit to answer the duties which are looked for at their hands.
Richard Hooker.    
  19
 
  That every man should regulate his actions by his own conscience, without any regard to the opinions of the rest of the world, is one of the first precepts of moral prudence; justified not only by the suffrage of reason, which declares that none of the gifts of Heaven are to lie useless, but by the voice likewise of experience, which will soon inform us that, if we make the praise or blame of others the rule of our conduct, we shall be distracted by a boundless variety of irreconcilable judgments, be held in perpetual suspense between contrary impulses, and consult forever without determination.
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Rambler, No. 23.    
  20
 
  Act well at the moment, and you have performed a good action to all eternity.
Johann Kaspar Lavater.    
  21
 
  The just season of doing things must be nicked, and all accidents improved.
Roger L’Estrange.    
  22
 
  No man sets himself about anything but upon some view or other which serves him for a reason.
John Locke.    
  23
 
  Actions have their preference, not according to the transient pleasure or pain that accompanies or follows them here, but as they serve to secure that perfect durable happiness hereafter.
John Locke.    
  24
 
  Our voluntary actions are the precedent causes of good and evil which they draw after them and bring upon us.
John Locke.    
  25
 
  We will not, in civility, allow too much sincerity to the professions of most men, but think their actions to be interpreters of their thoughts.
John Locke.    
  26
 
  Action is the highest perfection and drawing forth of the utmost power, vigour, and activity of man’s nature. God is pleased to vouchsafe the best that he can give only to the best that we can do. The properest and most raised conception that we have of God is, that he is a pure act, a perpetual, incessant motion.
Robert South.    
  27
 
  The schools dispute, whether in morals the external action superadds anything of good or evil to the internal elicit act of the will: but certainly the enmity of our judgments is wrought up to an high pitch before it rages in an open denial.
Robert South.    
  28
 
  Since the event of an action usually follows the nature or quality of it, and the quality follows the rule directing it, it concerns a man in the framing of his actions not to be deceived in the rule.
Robert South.    
  29
 
  We may deny God in all those acts that are capable of being morally good or evil: those are the proper scenes in which we act our confessions or denials of him.
Robert South.    
  30
 
  Deeds always over-balance, and downright practice speaks more plainly than the fairest profession.
Robert South.    
  31
 
  For a man to found a confident practice upon a disputable principle is brutishly to outrun his reason.
Robert South.    
  32
 
  Actions that promote society and mutual fellowship seem reducible to a proneness to do good to others and a ready sense of any good done by others.
Robert South.    
  33
 
  If he acts piously, soberly, and temperately, he acts prudentially and safely.
Robert South.    
  34
 
  We are not only to look at the bare action, but at the reason of it.
Edward Stillingfleet.    
  35
 
  Considering the usual motives of human actions, which are pleasure, profit, and ambition, I cannot yet comprehend how these persons find their account in any of the three.
Jonathan Swift.    
  36
 
  In every action reflect upon the end; and in your undertaking it consider why you do it.
Jeremy Taylor.    
  37
 
  It is not much business that distracts any man; but the want of purity, constancy, and tendency towards God.
Jeremy Taylor.    
  38
 
  There is no action of man in this life, which is not the beginning of so long a chain of consequences, as that no human providence is high enough to give us a prospect to the end.
Thomas of Malmesbury.    
  39
 
  In matters of human prudence, we shall find the greatest advantage by making wise observations on our conduct.
Dr. Isaac Watts.    
  40
 
 
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