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.
 
Alexander Pope
 
  There is nothing that is meritorious but virtue and friendship; and indeed friendship itself is only a part of virtue.
Alexander Pope, on his Death-bed: Dr. S. Johnson’s Life of Pope.    
  1
 
  Most men in years, as they are generally discouragers of youth, are like old trees, which, being past bearing themselves, will suffer no young plants to flourish beneath them.
Alexander Pope.    
  2
 
  I grieve with the old for so many additional inconveniences, more than their small remain of life seemed destined to undergo.
Alexander Pope.    
  3
 
  To be angry, is to revenge the faults of others upon ourselves.
Alexander Pope.    
  4
 
  The worst authors might endeavour to please us; and in that endeavour deserve something at our hands.
Alexander Pope.    
  5
 
  The cabinets of the sick and the closets of the dead have been ransacked to publish private letters, and divulge to all mankind the most secret sentiments of friendship.
Alexander Pope.    
  6
 
  To buy books only because they were published by an eminent printer, is much as if a man should buy clothes that did not fit him, only because made by some famous tailor.
Alexander Pope.    
  7
 
  For secret calumny, or the arrow flying in the dark, there is no public punishment left but what a good writer inflicts.
Alexander Pope.    
  8
 
  There is but one way I know of conversing safely with all men; that is, not by concealing what we say or do, but by saying or doing nothing that deserves to be concealed.
Alexander Pope.    
  9
 
  The cleanness and purity of one’s mind is never better proved than in discovering its own faults at first view.
Alexander Pope.    
  10
 
  Quietness improves into cheerfulness enough to make me just so good-humoured as to wish the world well.
Alexander Pope.    
  11
 
  Mirth from company is but a fluttering, unquiet motion, that beats about the breast for a few moments, and after leaves it empty.
Alexander Pope.    
  12
 
  The numbers themselves, though of the heroic measure, should be the smoothest imaginable.
Alexander Pope.    
  13
 
  An honest mind is not in the power of a dishonest: to break its peace there must be some guilt or consciousness.
Alexander Pope.    
  14
 
  You are so good a critic that it is the greatest happiness of the modern poets that you do not hear their works; and, next, that you are not so arrant a critic as to damn them, like the rest, without hearing.
Alexander Pope.    
  15
 
 
 
  True it is that the talents for criticism (namely, smartness, quick censure, vivacity of remark; indeed, all but acerbity) seem rather the gifts of youth than of old age.
Alexander Pope.    
  16
 
  A critic supposes he has done his part if he proves a writer to have failed in an expression: and can it be wondered at if the poets seem resolved not to own themselves in any error? for as long as one side despises a well-meant endeavour the other will not be satisfied with a moderate approbation.
Alexander Pope.    
  17
 
  A jest upon a poor wit at first might have had an epigrammatist for its father, and been afterwards gravely understood by some painful collector.
Alexander Pope.    
  18
 
  It is very much an image of that author’s writing; who has an agreeableness that charms us, without correctness; like a mistress whose faults we see, but love her with them all.
Alexander Pope.    
  19
 
  Sure, upon the whole, a bad author deserves better usage than a bad critic: a man may be the former merely through the misfortune of an ill judgment; but he cannot be the latter without both that and an ill temper.
Alexander Pope.    
  20
 
  A person who is too nice an observer of the business of the crowd, like one who is too curious in observing the labour of the bees, will often be stung for his curiosity.
Alexander Pope.    
  21
 
  It is with a fine genius as with a fine fashion: all those are displeased at it who are not able to follow it.
Alexander Pope.    
  22
 
  If you attain the top of your desires in fame, all those who envy you will do you harm; and of those who admire you few will do you good.
Alexander Pope.    
  23
 
  He had an unlimited sense of fame, the attendant of noble spirits, which prompted him to engage in travels.
Alexander Pope.    
  24
 
  Fame can never make us lie down contentedly on a death-bed.
Alexander Pope.    
  25
 
  He has merit, good nature, and integrity, that are too often lost upon great men, or at least are not all three a match for flattery.
Alexander Pope.    
  26
 
  ’Tis one thing when a person of true merit is drawn as like as we can; and another when we make a fine thing at random and persuade the next vain creature that ’tis his own likeness.
Alexander Pope.    
  27
 
  Whoever is really brave has always this comfort when he is oppressed, that he knows himself to be superior to those who injure him, by forgiving it.
Alexander Pope.    
  28
 
  Let Fortune do her worst, whatever she makes us lose, as long as she never makes us lose our honesty and our independency.
Alexander Pope.    
  29
 
  I have been endeavouring very busily to raise a friendship, which the first breath of any ill-natured by-stander could puff away.
Alexander Pope.    
  30
 
  I will not quarrel with the present age: it has done enough for me in making and keeping you two my friends.
Alexander Pope.    
  31
 
  I am the better acquainted with you for absence, as men are with themselves for affliction: absence does but hold off a friend to make one see him truly.
Alexander Pope.    
  32
 
  We are but curious impertinents in the case of futurity.
Alexander Pope.    
  33
 
  The search of our future being is but a needless, anxious, and uncertain haste to be knowing, sooner than we can, what, without all this solicitude, we shall know a little later.
Alexander Pope.    
  34
 
  At the upshot, after a life of perpetual application, to reflect that you have been doing nothing for yourself, and that the same or less industry might have gained you a friendship that can never deceive or end,—a glory which, though not to be had till after death, yet shall be felt and enjoyed to eternity.
Alexander Pope.    
  35
 
  It may be with superior souls as with gigantic, which exceed the due proportion of parts, and, like the old heroes of that make, commit something near extravagance.
Alexander Pope.    
  36
 
  He has merit, good nature, and integrity, that are too often lost upon great men.
Alexander Pope.    
  37
 
  False happiness is like false money: it passes for a time as well as the true, and serves some ordinary occasions; but when it is brought to the touch we find the lightness and alloy, and feel the loss.
Alexander Pope.    
  38
 
  To reflect on those innumerable secrets of nature and physical philosophy which Homer wrought in his allegories, what a new scene of wonder may this afford us!
Alexander Pope.    
  39
 
  The periphrases and circumlocutions by which Homer expresses the single act of dying have supplied succeeding poets with all their manners of phrasing it.
Alexander Pope.    
  40
 
  This vast invention exerts itself in Homer in a manner superior to that of any poet; it is the great and peculiar characteristic which distinguishes him from all others.
Alexander Pope.    
  41
 
  Upon the whole, it will be necessary to avoid that perpetual repetition of the same epithets which we find in Homer.
Alexander Pope.    
  42
 
  There is nothing more perfectly admirable in itself than that artful manner in Homer of taking measure or gauging his heroes by each other, and thereby elevating the character of one person by the opposition of it to some other he is made to excel.
Alexander Pope.    
  43
 
  Homer has divided each of his poems into two parts, and has put a particular intrigue, and the solution of it, into each part.
Alexander Pope.    
  44
 
  The whole structure of that work [the Iliad] is dramatic and full of action.
Alexander Pope.    
  45
 
  Zoilus calls the companions of Ulysses the “squeaking pigs” of Homer.
Alexander Pope.    
  46
 
  To throw his language more out of prose, Homer affects the compound epithets.
Alexander Pope.    
  47
 
  Homer excels all the inventors of other arts in this; that he has swallowed up the honour of those who succeeded him.
Alexander Pope.    
  48
 
  Herodotus … is as fabulous as Homer when he defers to the common reports of countries.
Alexander Pope.    
  49
 
  Homer is like a skilful improver, who places a beautiful statue so as to answer several vistas.
Alexander Pope.    
  50
 
  Homer is like his Jupiter, has his terrors, shaking Olympus; Virgil, like the same power in his benevolence, laying plans for empires.
Alexander Pope.    
  51
 
  That period includes more than a hundred sentences that might be writ to express multiplication of nothings, and all the fatiguing perpetual business of having no business to do.
Alexander Pope.    
  52
 
  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 lead weight hanging at them, to help and regulate the motion of the finer and more useful parts.
Alexander Pope.    
  53
 
  Whatever praises may be given to works of judgment, there is not even a single beauty in them to which the invention must not contribute.
Alexander Pope.    
  54
 
  Learning is like mercury,—one of the most powerful and excellent things in the world in skilful hands; in unskilful, the most mischievous.
Alexander Pope.    
  55
 
  The printing private letters is the worst sort of betraying conversation, as it evidently has the most extensive ill consequences.
Alexander Pope.    
  56
 
  He lived in such temperance as was enough to make the longest life agreeable; and in such a course of piety as sufficed to make the most sudden death so also.
Alexander Pope.    
  57
 
  As the obtaining the love of valuable men is the happiest end of this life, so the next felicity is to get rid of fools and scoundrels.
Alexander Pope.    
  58
 
  True politeness consists in being easy one’s self, and in making everybody about one as easy as one can.
Alexander Pope.    
  59
 
  In the anatomy of the mind, as of the body, more good will accrue to mankind by attending to the large, open, and perceptible parts than by studying too much finer nerves.
Alexander Pope.    
  60
 
  Nature and truth, though never so low or vulgar, are yet pleasing, when openly and artlessly represented.
Alexander Pope.    
  61
 
  Trifling painters or sculptors bestow infinite pains upon the most insignificant parts of a figure, till they sink the grandeur of the whole.
Alexander Pope.    
  62
 
  Pastoral is an imitation of the action of a shepherd; the form of this imitation is dramatic or narrative, or mixed of both, the fable simple, the manners not too polite nor too rustic.
Alexander Pope.    
  63
 
  We must use some illusion to render a pastoral delightful, and this consists in exposing the best side only of a shepherd’s life, and in concealing its miseries.
Alexander Pope.    
  64
 
  Those who have once made their court to those mistresses without portions, the Muses, are never likely to set up for fortunes.
Alexander Pope.    
  65
 
  That man makes a mean figure in the eyes of reason who is measuring syllables and coupling rhymes when he should be mending his own soul and securing his own immortality.
Alexander Pope.    
  66
 
  The world is become too busy for me: everybody is so concerned for the public that all private enjoyments are lost or disrelished.
Alexander Pope.    
  67
 
  As much company as I have kept, and as much as I love it, I love reading better, and would rather be employed in reading than in the most agreeable conversation.
Alexander Pope.    
  68
 
  One of an unfortunate constitution is perpetually exhibiting a miserable example of the weakness of mind and body.
Alexander Pope.    
  69
 
  Bad writers are not ridiculed because ridicule ought to be a pleasure, but to undeceive and vindicate the honest and unpretending part of mankind from imposition.
Alexander Pope.    
  70
 
  A satire may he exemplified by pictures, characters, and examples.
Alexander Pope.    
  71
 
  As it was communicated with the air of a secret, it soon found its way into the world.
Alexander Pope.    
  72
 
  What is every year of a wise man’s life but a censure and critique of the past?
Alexander Pope.    
  73
 
  My faults will not be hid, and it is no dispraise to me that they will not: the clearness of one’s mind is never better proved than in discovering its own faults.
Alexander Pope.    
  74
 
  I have sacrificed much of my own self-love in preventing not only many mean things from seeing the light, but many which I thought tolerable.
Alexander Pope.    
  75
 
  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.    
  76
 
  Sickness is early old age: it teaches us diffidence in our earthly state, and inspires us with thoughts of a future.
Alexander Pope.    
  77
 
  Nothing makes a more ridiculous figure in a man’s life than the disparity we often find in him sick and well.
Alexander Pope.    
  78
 
  Sickness, contributing no less than old age to the shaking down this scaffolding of the body, may discover the inward structure more plainly.
Alexander Pope.    
  79
 
  There is a majesty in simplicity which is far above the quaintness of wit.
Alexander Pope.    
  80
 
  How fit is this retreat for uninterrupted study! Any one that sees it will own I could not have chosen a more likely place to converse with the dead in.
Alexander Pope.    
  81
 
  There is no study that is not capable of delighting us after a little application to it.
Alexander Pope.    
  82
 
  Whoever would write elegantly must have regard to the different turn and juncture of every period: there must be proper distances and pauses.
Alexander Pope.    
  83
 
  The thoughts are plain,… the expression humble, yet as pure as the language will afford; neat, but not florid; easy, and yet lively.
Alexander Pope.    
  84
 
  The noble power of suffering bravely is as far above that of enterprising greatly, as an unblemished conscience and inflexible resolution are above an accidental flow of spirits, or a sudden tide of blood.
Alexander Pope.    
  85
 
  I am satisfied to trifle away my time, rather than let it stick by me.
Alexander Pope.    
  86
 
  Some of Homer’s translations have swelled into fustian, and others sunk into flatness.
Alexander Pope.    
  87
 
  Chapman has taken advantage of an immeasurable length of verse, notwithstanding which, there is scarce any paraphrase so loose and rambling as his.
Alexander Pope.    
  88
 
  Every man has just as much vanity as he wants understanding.
Alexander Pope.    
  89
 
  I agree with you in your censure of the sea terms in Dryden’s Virgil, because no terms of art, or cant words, suit the majesty of epic poetry.
Alexander Pope.    
  90
 
  Virgil exceeds Theocritus in regularity and brevity, and falls short of him in nothing but simplicity and propriety of style.
Alexander Pope.    
  91
 
  No uninformed minds can represent virtue so noble to us that we necessarily add splendour to her.
Alexander Pope.    
  92
 
  What further relieves descriptions of battles is the art of introducing pathetic circumstances about the heroes, which raise a different movement in the mind, compassion and pity.
Alexander Pope.    
  93
 
  I find no other difference between the common town wits and the downright country fools, than that the first are partly in the wrong, with a little more gaiety, and the last neither in the right nor wrong.
Alexander Pope.    
  94
 
  Praise to a wit is like rain to a tender flower: if it be moderately bestowed it cheers and revives; but if too lavishly, overcharges and depresses him.
Alexander Pope.    
  95
 
  The ancient poets are like so many modern ladies: let an action be never so trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the utmost importance.
Alexander Pope.    
  96
 
  Expletives, whether words or syllables, are made use of purely to supply a vacancy: do before verbs plural is absolutely such; and future refiners may explode did and does.
Alexander Pope.    
  97
 
  As no single man is born with a right of controlling the opinions of all the rest, so the world has no title to demand the whole time of any particular person.
Alexander Pope.    
  98
 
        How index-learning turns no student pale,
Yet holds the eel of science by the tail.
Alexander Pope: Dunciad, Book II.    
  99
 
  Great geniuses, like great ministers, though they are confessedly the first in the commonwealth of letters, must be envied and calumniated.
Alexander Pope: Essay on Homer.    
  100
 
  Ourselves are easily provided for; it is nothing but the circumstantials (the apparatus or equipage) of human life that costs so much.
Alexander Pope: Letters to Gay.    
  101
 
  What can you expect from a man who has not talked these five days?—who is withdrawing his thoughts, as far as he can, from all the present world, its customs, and its manners, to be fully possessed and absorpt in the past?
Alexander Pope: Letters.    
  102
 
  Pretty conceptions, fine metaphors, glittering expressions, and something of a neat cast of verse, are properly the dress, gems, or loose ornaments of poetry.
Alexander Pope: Letters.    
  103
 
  Kings and princes, in the earlier ages of the world, laboured in arts and occupations, and were above nothing that tended to promote the conveniences of life.
Alexander Pope: Odyssey, Notes.    
  104
 
  But, after all, if they have any merit, it is to be attributed to some good old authors whose works I study.
Alexander Pope: On Pastoral Poetry.    
  105
 
  When men grow virtuous in their old age, they only make a sacrifice to God of the devil’s leavings.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  106
 
  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.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  107
 
  Such as are still observing upon others are like those who are always abroad at other men’s houses, reforming everything there, while their own runs to ruin.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  108
 
  What Tully says of war may be applied to disputing,—it should be always so managed as to remember that the only true 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.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  109
 
  The character of covetousness is what a man generally acquires more through some niggardliness or ill grace in little and inconsiderable things than in expenses of any consequence. A very few pounds a year would ease that man of the scandal of avarice.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  110
 
  Get your enemies to read your works, in order to mend them; for your friend is so much your second-self that he will judge too like you.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  111
 
  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 one.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  112
 
  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.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  113
 
  A man coming to the water-side is surrounded by all the crew; every one is officious, every one making applications, every one offering his services; the whole bustle of the place seems to be only for him. The same man going from the water-side, no noise is made about him, no creature takes notice of him, all let him pass with utter neglect! The picture of a minister when he comes into power, and when he goes out.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  114
 
  There is nothing wanting to make all rational and disinterested people in the world of one religion but that they should talk together every day.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  115
 
  A short and certain way to obtain the character of a reasonable and wise man is, whenever any one tells you his opinion, to comply with him.
Alexander Pope: Thoughts on Various Subjects.    
  116
 
  I congratulate you upon having your share in that which all the great men and all the good men that ever lived have had their share of,—envy and calumny. “To be uncensured and to be obscure is the same thing.”
Alexander Pope: To Addison.    
  117
 
  Increase of years makes men more talkative, but less writative, to that degree that I now write no letters but of plain how d’ ye’s.
Alexander Pope: To Swift.    
  118
 
  I have nothing left but to gather up the reliques of a wreck, and look about me to see how few friends I have.
Alexander Pope: To Swift.    
  119
 
  I am a man of desperate fortunes, that is a man whose friends are dead; for I never aimed at any other fortune than in friends.
Alexander Pope: To Swift.    
  120
 
  He is the same man; so is every one here that you know: mankind is unamendable.
Alexander Pope: To Swift.    
  121
 
 
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