S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Active beneficence is a virtue of easier practice than forbearance after having conferred, or than thankfulness after having received, a benefit. I know not, indeed, whether it be a greater and more difficult exercise of magnanimity for the one party to act as if he had forgotten, or for the other as if he constantly remembered, the obligation.
Ovid, not content with catching the leading features of any scene or character, indulged himself in a thousand minutiæ of description, a thousand puerile prettinesses, which were in themselves uninteresting, and took off greatly from the effect of the whole; as the numberless suckers and straggling branches of a fruit tree, if permitted to shoot out unrestrained, while they are themselves barren and useless, diminish considerably the vigour of the parent stock. Ovid had more genius, but less judgment, than Virgil; Dryden more imagination, but less correctness, than Pope: had they not been deficient in these points, the former would certainly have equalled, the latter infinitely outshone, the merits of his countryman.
Advice, however earnestly sought, however ardently solicited, if it does not coincide with a mans own opinions, if it tends only to investigate the improprieties, to correct the criminal excesses of his conduct, to dissuade from a continuance and to recommend a reformation of his errors, seldom answers any other purpose than to put him out of humour with himself, and to alienate his affections from the adviser.
It is related of some French judge, who was remarked throughout his whole practice for the almost infallible justice of his decrees, that whenever any extraordinary case occurred the circumstances of which were so perplexed as to render him incapable of giving a decided opinion in favour of either side, with satisfaction to his own conscience, he was accustomed to retire to his closet, and refer it to the final decision of the die.