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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 greatest honours below his merit, and consequently scorns to boast. I therefore deliver it as a maxim, that whoever desires the character of a proud man, ought to conceal his vanity.
Law, in a free country, is, or ought to be, the determination of the majority of those who have property in land.
One argument, used to the disadvantage of Providence, I take to be a very strong one in its defence. It is objected, that storms and tempests, rinfruitful seasons, serpents, spiders, Aies, and other noxious or troublesome animals, with many more instances of the like kind, discover an imperfection in nature, because human life would be much easier without them: but the design of Providence may clearly be perceived in this proceeding. The motions of the Sun and Moon; in short, the whole system of the universe, as far as philosophers have been able to discover and observe, are in the utmost degree of regularity and perfection; but, wherever God hath left to man the power of interposing a remedy by thought or labour, there he hath placed things in a state of imperfection, on purpose to stir up human industry, without which life would stagnate, or indeed rather could not subsist at all : Curis accuunt mortalia corda.
Praise is the daughter of present power. • How inconsistent is man with himself!
I have known several persons of great fame for wisdom in public affairs and councils governed by foolish servants.
I have known great ministers, distinguished for wit and learning, who preferred none but dunces.
I have known men of great valour cowards to their wives.
I have known men of the greatest cunning perpetiially cheated.
I have known three great ministers, who could exactly compute and settle the accounts of a king, dom, but were wholly ignorant of their own economy.
The preaching of divines helps to preserve well. inclined men in the course of virtue, but seldom or never reclaims the vicious.
Princes usually make wiser choices than the ser. vants whom they trust for the disposal of places : I have known a prince, more than once, choose an able minister; but I never observed that minis. ter to use his credit in the disposal of an employment to a person whom he thought the fittest for it. One of the greatest in this age owned and excused the matter, from the violence of parties, and the unreasonableness of friends.
Small causes are sufficient to make a man uneasy, when great ones are not in the way: forwant of a block he will stumble at a straw.
Dignity, high station, or great riches, are in some sort necessary to old men, in order to keep the younger at a distance, who are otherwise too apt to insult them upon the score of their age.
Every man desires to live long, but no man would be old.
Love of flattery, in most men, proceeds from the mean opinion they have of themselves; in women, from the contrary.
If books and laws continue to increase, as they have done for fifty years past, I am in some concern for future ages, how any man will be learned, or any man a lawyer.
Kings are commonly said to have long hands ; I wish they had as long ears.
Princes, in their infancy, childhood, and youth, are said to discover prodigious parts and wit, to speak things that surprise and astonish : strange, 80 many hopeful princes, so many shameful kings! If they happen to die young, they would have been prodigies of wisdom and virtue: if they live, they are often prodigies, indeed, but of another sort.
Politics, as the word is commonly understood, are nothing but corruptions, and consequently of no use to a good king, or a good ministry; for which reason courts are so overrun with politics.
Apollo was held the god of physic, and sender of diseases. Both were originally the same trade, and still continue.
Old men and comets have been reverenced for the same reason; their long beards, and pretences to foretel events.
A person was asked at court, what he thought of an ambassador, and his train, who were all embroidery and lace, full of bows, cringes, and gestures; he said, it was Solomon's importation, gold and apes.
Most sorts of diversion in men, children, and other animals, are an imitation of fighting.
Augustus meeting an ass with a lusky name, foretold himself good fortune. I meet many asses, but none of them have lucky names.
If a man makes me keep my distance, the comfort is, he keeps his at the same time.
Who can deny that all men are violent lovers of truth, when we see them so positive in their errors, which they will maintain out of their zeal to truth, although they contradict themselves every day of their lives?
. That was excellently observed,' said I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine: when we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.
Very few men, properly speaking, live at present; but are providing to live another time.
As universal a practice as lying is, and as easy a one as it seems, I do not remember to have heard three good lies in all my conversation, even from those who were most celebrated in that faculty.
THOUGHTS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS. 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 sonie dead weight hanging at them to help and regulate the motion of the finer and more useful parts.
To endeavour to work upon the vulgar with fine sense, is like attempting to hew blocks with a razor.
The nicest constitutions of government are often like the finest pieces of clock-work; which depending on so many motions, are therefore more subject to be out of order.
Every man has just as much vanity as he wants understanding.
Modesty, if it were to be recommended for no. thing else, this were enough, that the pretending to little, leaves a man at ease; whereas boasting requires a perpetual labour to appear what he is not. If we have sense, modesty best proves it to others; if we have none, it best hides our want of it. For, as blushing will sometimes make a bad woman pass for a virtuous one, so modesty may make a fool seem a man of sense.
It is not so much the being exempt from faults, as the having overcome them, that is an advantage to us: it being with the follies of the mind, as with the weeds of a field, which, if destroyed and consumed upon the place of their birth, enrich and improve it more than if none had ever sprung there.
To pardon those absurdities in ourselves, which we cannot suffer in others, is neither better nor worse than to be more willing to be fools ourselves, than to have others so.
Our passions are like convulsion fits, which, though they make us stronger for the time, leave us weaker ever after.