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.
 
Vanity
 
  Should I publish any favours done me by your lordship, I am afraid it would look more like vanity than gratitude.
Joseph Addison.    
  1
 
  There are some vain persons, that whatsoever goeth alone, or moveth upon greater means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think it is they that carry it.
Francis Bacon: Essay LV., Of Vainglory.    
  2
 
  Socrates, Aristotle, Galen, were men full of ostentation: certainly, vainglory helpeth to perpetuate a man’s memory; and virtue was never so beholden to human nature, as it received its due at the second hand. Neither had the fame of Cicero, Seneca, Plinius Secundus, borne her age so well if it had not been joined with some vanity in themselves; like unto varnish, that makes ceilings not only shine, but last…. Glorious men are the scorn of wise men, the admiration of fools, the idols of parasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts.
Francis Bacon: Essay LV., Of Vainglory.    
  3
 
  Pride makes us esteem ourselves; vanity makes us desire the esteem of others. It is just to say, as Dean Swift has done, that a man is too proud to be vain.
Hugh Blair.    
  4
 
  These courtiers of applause deny themselves things convenient to flaunt it out; being frequently enough vain to immolate their own desires to their vanity.
Robert Boyle.    
  5
 
  In a small degree, and conversant in little things, vanity is of little moment. When full-grown, it is the worst of vices, and the occasional mimic of them all. It makes the whole man false. It leaves nothing sincere or trustworthy about him. His best qualities are poisoned and perverted by it, and operate exactly as the worst. When your lords had many writers as immoral as the object of their statue (such as Voltaire and others), they chose Rousseau, because in him that peculiar vice which they wished to erect into ruling virtue was by far the most conspicuous.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791.    
  6
 
  He has not observed on the nature of vanity who does not know that it is omnivorous,—that it has no choice in its food,—that it is fond to talk even of its own faults and vices, as what will excite surprise and draw attention, and what will pass at worst for openness and candour.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly.    
  7
 
  Greater mischiefs happen often from folly, meanness, and vanity, than from the greater sins of avarice and ambition.
Edmund Burke: To R. Burke, Jun., March, 1792.    
  8
 
  How much I regret to see so generally abandoned to the weeds of vanity that fertile and vigorous space of life in which might be planted the oaks and fruit-trees of enlightened principle and virtuous habit, which growing up, would yield to old age an enjoyment, a glory, and a shade!
John Foster: Journal.    
  9
 
  In the pursuit of wealth men are led by an attention to their own interest to promote the welfare of each other; their advantages are reciprocal; the benefits which each is anxious to acquire for himself he reaps in the greatest abundance from the union and conjunction of society. The pursuits of vanity are quite contrary. The portion of time and attention mankind are willing to spare from their avocations and pleasures to devote to the admiration of each other is so small that every successful adventurer is felt to have impaired the common stock. The success of one is the disappointment of multitudes. For though there he many rich, many virtuous, many wise men, fame must necessarily be the portion of but few. Hence every vain man in whom is the ruling passion, regarding his rival as his enemy, is strongly tempted to rejoice in his miscarriage, and repine at his success.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  10
 
  In a vain man, the smallest spark may kindle into the greatest flame, because the materials are always prepared for it.
David Hume.    
  11
 
  The greatest human virtue bears no proportion to human vanity. We always think ourselves better than we are, and are generally desirous that others should think us still better than we think ourselves. To praise us for actions or dispositions which deserve praise is not to confer a benefit, but to pay a tribute. We have always pretensions to fame which, in our own hearts, we know to be disputable, and which we are desirous to strengthen by a new suffrage; we have always hopes which we suspect to be fallacious, and of which we eagerly snatch at every confirmation.
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Rambler, No. 104.    
  12
 
  Imperfections would not be half so much taken notice of, if vanity did not make proclamation of them.
Roger L’Estrange.    
  13
 
  When you are disposed to be vain of your mental acquirements, look up to those who are more accomplished than yourself, that you may be fired with emulation; but when you feel dissatisfied with your circumstances, look down on those beneath you, that you may learn contentment.
Dr. John Moore.    
  14
 
  Every man has just as much vanity as he wants understanding.
Alexander Pope.    
  15
 
 
 
  Vanity is the foundation of the most ridiculous and contemptible vices,—the vices of affectation and common lying.
Adam Smith.    
  16
 
  Hardly shall you meet with man or woman so aged or ill-favoured but if you will commend them for comeliness, nay, and for youth too, shall take it well.
Robert South.    
  17
 
  There is no passion so universal, however diversified or disguised under different forms and appearances, as the vanity of being known to the rest of mankind, and communicating a man’s parts, virtues, or qualifications, to the world: this is so strong upon men of great genius that they have a restless fondness for satisfying the world in the mistakes they might possibly be under with relation even to their physiognomy.
Sir Richard Steele: Guardian, No. 1.    
  18
 
  To be vain is rather a mark of humility than pride. Vain men delight in telling what honours have been done them, what great company they have kept, and the like; by which they plainly confess that these honours were more than their due, and such as their friends would not believe if they had not been told: whereas a man truly proud thinks the honours below his merit, and scorns to boast.
Jonathan Swift.    
  19
 
 
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