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.
 
John Selden
 
  Bishops are now unfit to govern, because of their learning. They are bred up in another law; they run to the text for something done among the Jews that concerns not England. ’Tis just as if a man would have a kettle and he would not go to our braziers to have it made as they would kettles, but he would have it made as Hiram made his brass-work who wrought in Solomon’s Temple.
John Selden.    
  1
 
  They that govern most make least noise. You see when they row in a barge, they that do drudgery-work, slash, and puff, and sweat; but he that governs sits quietly at the stern, and scarce is seen to stir.
John Selden.    
  2
 
  No state can be named wherein any part of the body of those imperial laws hath the just force of a law, otherwise than as custom hath particularly induced it.
John Selden.    
  3
 
  Of all the actions of a man’s life his marriage doth least concern other people; yet of all actions of our life it is most meddled with by other people.
John Selden.    
  4
 
  In a troubled state we must do as in foul weather upon a river, not to think to cut directly through, for the boat may be filled with water; but rise and fall as the waves do, and give way as much as we conveniently can.
John Selden.    
  5
 
  Rhetoric is very good, or stark naught; there’s no medium in rhetoric.
John Selden.    
  6
 
  Dreams and prophecies do thus much good: they make a man go on with boldness and courage, upon a danger or a mistress: if he obtains, he attributes much to them; if he miscarries, he thinks no more of them, or is no more thought of himself.
John Selden: Table Talk.    
  7
 
  Speak not ill of a great enemy, but rather give him good words, that he may use you the better if you chance to fall into his hands. The Spaniard did this when he was dying: his confessor told him, to work him to repentance, how the devil tormented the wicked that went to hell; the Spaniard, replying, called the devil “My lord: I hope my lord the devil is not so cruel.” His confessor reproved him. “Excuse me,” said the Don, “for calling him so: I know not into what hands I may fall; and if I happen into his, I hope he will use me the better for giving him good words.”
John Selden: Table Talk.    
  8
 
  Humility is a virtue all preach, none practise, and yet everybody is content to hear. The master thinks it good doctrine for his servant, the laity for the clergy, and the clergy for the laity.  9
  There is humilitas quædam in vitio. If a man does not take notice of that excellency and perfection that is in himself, how can he be thankful to God, who is the author of all excellency and perfection? Nay, if a man hath too mean an opinion of himself, it will render him unserviceable both to God and man.
John Selden: Table Talk.    
  10
 
  A king is a thing men have made for their own sakes, for quietness’ sake; just as if in a family one man is appointed to buy the meat: if every man should buy, or if there were many buyers, they would never agree: one would buy what the other liked not, or what the other bought before; so there would be a confusion. But that charge being committed to one, he, according to his discretion, pleases all. If they have not what they would have one day, they shall have it the next, or something as good.
John Selden: Table-Talk.    
  11
 
  No man is wiser for his learning: it may administer matter to work in, or objects to work upon; but wit and wisdom are born with a man.
John Selden: Table-Talk.    
  12
 
  You may see by [libels] how the wind sits: as, take a straw and throw it up into the air, you shall see by that which way the wind is, which you shall not do by casting up a stone. More solid things do not show the complexion of the times so well as ballads and libels.
John Selden: Table-Talk.    
  13
 
  Nothing is text but what is spoken of in the Bible, and meant there for person and place: the rest is application, which a discreet man may do well; but ’tis his scripture, not the Holy Ghost’s.  14
  First in your sermons use your logic, and then your rhetoric: rhetoric without logic is like a tree with leaves and blossoms, but no root.
John Selden: Table-Talk.    
  15
 
 
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