Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Washington Irving
 
  Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above it.
Washington Irving.    
  1
 
  All minds, even the dullest, remember the days of their childhood; but all cannot bring back the indescribable brightness of that blessed season. They who would know what they once were, must not merely recollect, but they must imagine, the hills and valleys—if any such there were—in which their childhood played; the torrents, the waterfalls, the lakes, the heather, the rocks, the heaven’s imperial dome, the raven floating only a little lower than the eagle in the sky. To imagine what he then heard and saw, he must imagine his own nature. He must collect from many vanished hours the power of his untamed heart; and he must, perhaps, transfuse also something of his maturer mind into those dreams of his former being, thus linking the past with the present by a continuous chain, which, though often invisible, is never broken. So it is too with the calmer affections that have grown within the shelter of a roof. We do not merely remember, we imagine, our father’s house, the fireside, all his features, then most living, now dead and buried, the very manner of his smile, every tone of his voice. We must combine, with all the passionate and plastic power of imagination, the spirit of a thousand happy hours into one moment; and we must invest with all that we ever felt to be venerable, such an image as alone can fill our filial hearts. It is thus that imagination, which first aided the growth of all our holiest and happiest affections, can preserve them to us unimpaired—
        “For she can bring us back the dead
Even in the loveliest looks they wore.”
Washington Irving.    
  2
 
  It [the grave] buries every error—covers every defect—extinguishes every resentment. From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections. Who can look down upon the grave of an enemy and not feel a compunctious throb that he should have warred with the poor handful of dust that lies mouldering before him?
Washington Irving.    
  3
 
  I do not know a finer race of men than the English gentlemen. Instead of the softness and effeminacy which characterize the man of rank in most countries, they exhibit a union of elegance and strength, a robustness of frame and freshness of complexion, which I attribute to their living so much in the open air and pursuing so eagerly the invigorating recreation of the country.
Washington Irving.    
  4
 
  Enthusiasts soon understand each other.
Washington Irving.    
  5
 
  With every exertion, the best of men can do but a moderate amount of good; but it seems in the power of the most contemptible individual to do incalculable mischief.
Washington Irving.    
  6
 
  All those snug junketings and public gormandizings, for which the ancient magistrates were equally famous with their modern successors.
Washington Irving.    
  7
 
  Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the declining sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.
Washington Irving.    
  8
 
  The taste of the English in the cultivation of land, and in what is called landscape gardening, is unrivalled. They have studied nature intently, and discover an exquisite sense of her beautiful forms and harmonious combinations. Those charms which in other countries she lavishes in wild solitudes are here assembled round the haunts of domestic life. They seem to have caught her coy and furtive graces, and spread them, like witchery, about their rural abodes.
Washington Irving.    
  9
 
  It is interesting to notice how some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage, and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles. Nature seems to delight in disappointing the assiduities of art, with which it would rear dulness to maturity; and to glory in the vigour and luxuriance of her chance productions. She scatters the seeds of genius to the winds, and though some may perish among the stony places of the world, and some may be choked by the thorns and brambles of early adversity, yet others will now and then strike root even in the clefts of the rock, struggle bravely up into sunshine, and spread over their sterile birthplace all the beauties of vegetation.
Washington Irving.    
  10
 
  Honest good-humour is the oil and wine of a merry meeting, and there is no jovial companionship equal to that where the jokes are rather small and the laughter abundant.
Washington Irving.    
  11
 
  That inexhaustible good-nature, which is the most precious gift of Heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather.
Washington Irving.    
  12
 
  Surely happiness is reflective, like the light of heaven; and every countenance bright with smiles, and glowing with innocent enjoyment, is a mirror transmitting to others the rays of a supreme and ever-shining benevolence.
Washington Irving.    
  13
 
  The paternal hearth, that rallying-place of the affections.
Washington Irving.    
  14
 
  It was the policy of the good old gentleman to make his children feel that home was the happiest place in the world; and I value this delicious home-feeling as one of the choicest gifts a parent can bestow.
Washington Irving.    
  15
 
 
 
  It is the divine attribute of the imagination that it is irrepressible, unconfinable; that when the real world is shut out, it can create a world for itself, and with a necromantic power can conjure up glorious shapes and forms, and brilliant visions to make solitude populous, and irradiate the gloom of a dungeon.
Washington Irving.    
  16
 
  How easy it is for one benevolent being to diffuse pleasure around him; and how truly is a kind heart a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity to freshen into smiles!
Washington Irving.    
  17
 
  Woman’s is comparatively a fixed, a secluded, and a meditative life. She is more the companion of her own thoughts and feelings; and if they are turned to ministers of sorrow, where shall she look for consolation? Her lot is to be wooed and won; and if unhappy in her love, her heart is like some fortress that his been captured, and sacked, and abandoned, and left desolate. How many bright eyes grow dim—how many soft cheeks grow pale—how many lovely forms fade away into the tomb, and none can tell the cause that blighted their loveliness! As the dove will clasp its wings to its side, and cover and conceal the arrow that is preying on its vitals, so it is the nature of woman to hide from the world the pangs of wounded affection. The love of a delicate female is always shy and silent. Even when fortunate, she scarcely breathes it to herself; but when otherwise, she buries it in the recesses of her bosom, and there lets it cower and brood among the ruins of her peace. With her, the desire of her heart has failed,—the great charm of her existence is at an end. She neglects all the cheerful exercises which gladden the spirits, quicken the pulse, and send the tide of life in healthful currents through the veins. Her rest is broken, the sweet refreshment of sleep is poisoned by melancholy dreams, “dry sorrow drinks her blood,” until her enfeebled frame sinks under the slightest external injury. Look for her, after a little while, and you will find friendship weeping over her untimely grave, and wondering that one who but lately glowed with all the radiance of health and beauty should so speedily be brought down to “darkness and the worm.” You will be told of some casual indisposition that laid her low; but no one knows the mental malady that sapped her strength and made her so easy a prey to the spoiler.
Washington Irving.    
  18
 
  There is a certain artificial polish, a commonplace vivacity, acquired by perpetually mingling in the beau monde, which, in the commerce of the world, supplies the place of a natural suavity and good humour, but is purchased at the expense of all original and sterling traits of character. By a kind of fashionable discipline, the eye is taught to brighten, the lip to smile, and the whole countenance to irradiate with the semblance of friendly welcome, while the bosom is unwarmed by a single spark of genuine kindness and good will.
Washington Irving.    
  19
 
  Strong and many are the claims made upon us by our mother Earth: the love of locality—the charm and attraction which some one homely landscape possesses to us, surpassing all stranger beauties, is a remarkable feature in the human heart. We who are not ethereal creatures, but of mixed and diverse nature; we who, when we look our clearest towards the skies, must still have our standing-ground of earth secure—it is strange what relations of personal love we enter into with the scenes of this lower sphere. How we delight to build our recollections upon some basis of reality—a place, a country, a local habitation: how the events of life, as we look back upon them, have grown into the well-remembered background of the places where they fell upon us! here is some sunny garden or summer lane beautified and canonized forever with the flood of a great joy; and here are dim and silent places, rooms always shadowed and dark to us, whatever they may be to others, where distress or death came once, and since then dwells for evermore.
Washington Irving.    
  20
 
  The tie which links mother and child is of such pure and immaculate strength as to be never violated, except by those whose feelings are withered by vitiated society. Holy, simple, and beautiful in its construction, it is the emblem of all we can imagine of fidelity and truth; is the blessed tie whose value we feel in the cradle, and whose loss we lament on the verge of the very grave, where our mother moulders in dust and ashes. In all our trials, amid all our afflictions, she is still by our side: if we sin, she reproves more in sorrow than in anger; nor can she tear us from her bosom, nor forget we are her child.
Washington Irving.    
  21
 
  There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son, that transcends all other affections of the heart. It is neither to be chilled by selfishness, nor daunted by danger, nor weakened by worthlessness, nor stifled by ingratitude. She will sacrifice every comfort to his convenience; she will surrender every pleasure to his enjoyment; she will glory in his fame, and exult in his prosperity; and if adversity overtake him, he will be the dearer to her by misfortune; and if disgrace settle upon his name, she will still love and cherish him; and if all the world beside cast him off, she will be all the world to him.
Washington Irving.    
  22
 
  The love of a mother is never exhausted; it never changes, it never tires. A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands: but a mother’s love endures through all; in good repute, in bad repute, in the face of the world’s condemnation, a mother still loves on, and still hopes that her child may turn from his evil ways, and repent; still she remembers the infant smiles that once filled her bosom with rapture, the merry laugh, the joyful shout of his childhood, the opening promise of his youth; and she can never be brought to think him all unworthy.
Washington Irving.    
  23
 
  He had been indulging in fanciful speculations on spiritual essences until … he had an ideal world of his own around him.
Washington Irving.    
  24
 
  Redundancy of language is never found with deep reflection. Verbiage may indicate observation, but not thinking. He who thinks much says but little in proportion to his thoughts. He selects that language which will convey his ideas in the most explicit and direct manner. He tries to compress as much thought as possible into a few words. On the contrary, the man who talks everlastingly and promiscuously, who seems to have an exhaustless magazine of sound, crowds so many words into his thoughts that he always obscures, and very frequently conceals them.
Washington Irving.    
  25
 
  There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which beams and blazes in the dark hours of adversity.
Washington Irving.    
  26
 
  A curtain-lecture is worth all the sermons in the world for teaching the virtues of patience and long-suffering.
Washington Irving.    
  27
 
 
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