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.
 
Selfishness
 
  A man has not enough range of thought to look out for any good which does not relate to his own interest.
Joseph Addison.    
  1
 
  Respective and wary men had rather seek quietly their own, and wish that the well may go well, so it be not long of them, than with pains and hazard make themselves advisers for the common good.
Richard Hooker.    
  2
 
  Of all that have tried the selfish experiment, let one come forth and say he has succeeded. He that has made gold his idol—has it satisfied him? He that has toiled in the fields of ambition—has he been repaid? He that has ransacked every theatre of sensual enjoyment—is he content? Can any answer in the affirmative? Not one. And when his conscience shall ask him, and ask it will, “Where are the hungry whom you gave meat? The thirsty whom you gave drink? The stranger whom you sheltered? The naked whom you clothed? The prisoner whom you visited? The sick whom you ministered unto?” how will he feel when he must answer, “I have done none of these things,—I thought only of myself!”
Dr. Samuel Johnson.    
  3
 
  Have a care how you keep company with those that, when they find themselves upon a pinch, will leave their friends in the lurch.
Roger L’Estrange.    
  4
 
  The weakness of the social affections and the strength of the private desires constitute selfishness.
Sir James Mackintosh.    
  5
 
  Selfishness … a vice utterly at variance with the happiness of him who harbours it, and, as such, condemned by self-love.
Sir James Mackintosh.    
  6
 
  I would cut off my own head if it had nothing better in it but wit; and tear out my own heart if it had no better disposition than to love only myself and laugh at all my neighbours.
Alexander Pope.    
  7
 
  It is a quality that confines a man wholly within himself, leaving him void of that principle which alone should dispose him to communicate and impart those redundancies of good that he is possessed of.
Robert South.    
  8
 
  Let any one who is conversant in the variety of human life reflect upon it, and he will find the man who wants mercy has a taste of no enjoyment of any kind. There is a natural disrelish of everything which is good in his very nature, and he is born an enemy to the world. He is ever extremely partial to himself in all his actions, and has no sense of iniquity but from the punishment which shall attend it. The law of the land is his gospel, and all his cases of conscience are determined by his attorney.
Sir Richard Steele: Spectator, No. 456.    
  9
 
  It is curious to observe how people who are always thinking of their own pleasure or interest will often, if possessing considerable ability, make others give way to them, and obtain everything they seek, except happiness. For, like a spoiled child, who at length cries for the moon, they are always dissatisfied. And the benevolent, who are always thinking of others, and sacrificing their own personal gratifications, are usually the happiest of mankind.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Goodness, and Goodness of Nature.    
  10
 
  Selfishness is not an excess of self-love, and consists not in an over-desire for happiness, but in placing your happiness in something which interferes with, or leaves you regardless of, that of others. Nor are we to suppose that selfishness and want of feeling are either the same or inseparable. For, on the one hand, I have known such as have had very little feeling, but felt for others as much nearly as for themselves, and were, therefore, far from selfish; and, on the other hand, some of very acute feelings feel for no one but themselves, and, indeed, are sometimes amongst the most cruel.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self.    
  11
 
  It is possible to be selfish in the highest degree without being at all too much actuated by self-love, but unduly neglectful of others when your own gratification, of whatever kind, is concerned.
Richard Whately.    
  12
 
 
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