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Lewis the XIVth of France spent his life in turning a good name into a great.
Since the union of divinity and humanity is the great article of our religion, it is odd to see some clergymen in their writings of divinity, wholly devoid of humanity.
The Epicureans began to spread at Rome in the empire of Augustus, as the Socinians, and even the Epicureans too did in England toward the end of king Charles the Second's reign: which is reckoned, though very absurdly, our Augustan age. They both seem to be corruptions occasioned by luxury and peace, and by politeness beginning to decline.
Sometimes I read a book with pleasure, and detest the author.
At a bookseller's shop some time ago I saw a book with this title ; “Poems by the author of the Choice.” Not enduring to read a dozen lines, I asked the company with me, whether they had ever seen the book, or heard of the poem whence the author denominated himself; they were all as ignorant as I. But I find it common with these small dealers in wit and learning, to give themselves a title from their first adventure, as don Quixote usually did from his last. This arises from that great importance which every man surposes himself to be of.
One Dennis, commonly called the critick, who had writ a threepenny pamphlet against the power of France, being in the country, and hearing of a French privateer hovering about the coast, although he were twenty miles from the sea, fled to town, and told his friends, they need not wonder at his haste ; for the king of France, having got intelligence where he was, had sent a privateer on purpose to catch him.
Dr. Gee, prebendary of Westminster, who had writ a small paper against popery, being obliged to travel for his health, affected to disguise his person, and change his name, as he passed through Portugal, Spain, and Italy; telling all the English he met, that he was afraid of being murdered, or put into the inquisition. He was acting the same farce at Paris, till Mr. Prior (who was then secretary to the embassy) quite disconcerted the doctor, by maliciously discovering the secret; and offering to engage body for body, that not a creature would hurt him, or had ever heard of him or his pamphlet.
A chambermaid to a lady of my acquaintance, thirty miles from London, had the very same turn of thought, when talking with one of her fellow servants, she said; “I hear it is all over London already that “I am going to leave my lady :” and so had a footman, who being newly married, desired his comrade to tell him freely what the town said of it.
When somebody was telling a certain great minister that people were discontented; “ Poh, said he, “ half a dozen fools are prating in a coffeehouse, “ and presently think their own noise about their ears “ is made by the world.”
The death of a private man is generally of so little importance to the world, that it cannot be a thing of great importance in itself; and yet I do not observe from the practice of mankind, that either philosophy or nature have sufficiently armed us against the fears which attend it. Neither do I find any thing able to reconcile us to it, but extreme pain, shame, or despair ; for poverty, imprisonment, ill fortune, grief, sickness, and old age, do generally fail. Whence comes the custom of bidding a woman
apron strings to find an excuse? Was it not from the apron of fig leaves worn by Eve, when she covered herself, and was the first of her sex who made a bad excuse for eating the forbidden fruit ?
I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.
Do not we see how easily we pardon our own actions and passions, and the very infirmities of our bodies; why should it be wonderful to find us pardon our own dullness?
Dignity and station, or great riches, are in some sort necessary to old men, in order to keep the
young at a distance, who are otherwise apt to insult them upon the score of their age.
There is no vice or folly that requires so much nicety and skill to manage, as vanity; nor any, which, by ill management, makes so contemptible a figure. Observation is an old man's memory.
Politicks are nothing but corruptions, and are consequently of no use to a good king or a good ministry; for which reason all courts are so full of politicks.
Eloquence smooth and cutting, is like a razor whetted with cil.
Imaginary evils soon become real ones by indulging our reflections on them; as he, who in a melancholy fancy sees something like a face on the wall or the wainscot, can, by two or three touches with a lead pencil, make it look visible, and agreeing with what he fancied.
Men of great parts are often unfortunate in the management of publick business, because they are apt to
St. Paul says,
go out of the common road by the quickness of their imagination. This I once said to my lord Bolingbroke, and desired he would observe, that the clerks in his office used a sort of ivory knife with a blunt edge to divide a sheet of paper, which never failed to cut it even, only requiring a steady hand, whereas if they should make use of a sharp penknife, the sharpness would make it go often out of the crease and disfigure the paper. “ He who does not provide for his own house,”
“ is worse than an infidel.” And I think, he who provides only for his own house, is just equal with an infidel.
Jealousy, like fire, may shrivel up horns, but it makes them stink.
A footman's hat should fly off to every body; and therefore Mercury, who was Jupiter's footman, had wings fastened to his cap.
When a man pretends love, but courts for money, he is like a juggler, who conjures away your shilling, and conveys something very indecent under the hat.
All panegyricks are mingled with an infusion of poppy.
I have known men happy enough at ridicule, who upon grave subjects were perfectly stupid ; of which Dr. Echard of Cambridge, who writ “ The Contempt “ of the Clergy," was a great instance.
One top of Parnassus was sacred to Bacchus, the other to Apollo.
Matrimony has many children ; Repentance, Discord, Poverty, Jealousy, Sickness, Spleen, Loathing, &c.
Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.
always to keep his countenance, and never to keep his word.
I asked a poor man how he did ? He said, he was like a washball, always in decay.
Hippocrates, Aph. 32. Sect. 6. observes, that stuttering people are always subject to a looseness. I wish physicians had power to remove the profusion of words in many people to the inferiour parts.
A man dreamed he was a cuckold; a friend told him it was a bad sign, because when a dream is true, Virgil says
it passes through the horned gate. Love is a Aame, and therefore we say, beauty is attractive; because physicians observe that fire is a
Civis, the most honourable name among the Romans; a citizen, a word of contempt among us.
A lady who had gallantries and several children, told her husband he was like the austere man, who reaped where he did not sow.
We read that an ass's head was sold for eighty pieces of silver; they have been lately sold ten thousand times dearer, and yet they were never more plentiful.
I must complain the cards are ill shuffled, till I have a good hand.
Very few men do properly live at present, but are providing to live another time.,
When I am reading a book, whether wise or silly, it seems to me to be alive and talking to me.
Whoever live at a different end of the town from me, I look upon as persons out of the world, and only myself and the scene about me to be in it.
When I was young, I thought all the world, as well as myself
, was wholly taken up in discoursing upon the last new play.