Reference > Quotations > James Wood, comp. > Dictionary of Quotations
James Wood, comp.  Dictionary of Quotations.  1899.
  An acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia.  1
  Analysis is not the business of the poet. His office is to portray, not to dissect.  2
  Delusion may triumph, but the triumphs of delusion are but for a day.  3
  Few of the many wise apothegms which have been uttered, from the time of the seven sages of Greece to that of Poor Richard, have prevented a single foolish action.  4
  Governments exist only for the good of the people.  5
  Grief, which disposes gentle natures to retirement, to inaction, and to meditation, only makes restless spirits more restless.  6
  Half the logic of misgovernment lies in this one sophistical dilemma: if the people are turbulent, they are unfit for liberty; if they are quiet, they do not want liberty.  7
  He who is deficient in the art of selection may, by showing nothing but the truth, produce all the effect of the grossest falsehood. It perpetually happens that one writer tells less truth than another, merely because he tells more truth.  8
  His imagination resembled the wings of an ostrich. It enabled him to run, though not to soar.  9
  History is made up of the bad actions of extraordinary men. All the most noted destroyers and deceivers of our species, all the founders of arbitrary governments and false religions, have been extraordinary men, and nine-tenths of the calamities which have befallen the human race had no other origin than the union of high intelligence with low desires.  10
  In Plato’s opinion, man was made for philosophy; in Bacon’s opinion, philosophy was made for man.  11
  In the works of many celebrated authors men are mere personifications. We have not a jealous man, but jealousy; not a traitor, out perfidy; not a patriot, but patriotism. The mind of Bunyan, on the contrary, was so imaginative that personifications, when he dealt with them, became men.  12
  It is a common error to think that in politics legislation is everything and administration nothing.  13
  It is the nature of parties to retain their original enmities far more firmly than their original principles.  14
  Knowledge advances by steps, and not by leaps.  15
  Large bodies are far more likely to err than individuals. The passions are inflamed by sympathy; the fear of punishment and the sense of shame are diminished by partition. Every day we see men do for their faction what they would die rather than do for themselves.  16
  Laws exist in vain for those who have not the courage and the means to defend them.  17
  Man is so inconsistent a creature that it is impossible to reason from his belief to his conduct, or from one part of his belief to another.  18
  No man at the head of affairs always wishes to be explicit.  19
  No reports are more readily believed than those which disparage genius and soothe envy of conscious mediocrity.  20
  Obscurity and affectation are the two great faults of style.  21
  Parliamentary government is government by speaking.  22
  Propriety of thought and propriety of diction are commonly found together. Obscurity and affectation are the two greatest faults of style.  23
  The best portraits are those in which there is a slight mixture of caricature.  24
  The effect of violent animosities between parties has always been an indifference to the general welfare and honour of the state.  25
  The great cause of revolutions is this: that, while nations move onward, constitutions stand still.  26
  The hearts of men are their books, events are their tutors, great actions are their eloquence.  27
  The law has no eyes, the law has no hands, the law is nothing—nothing but a piece of paper, till public opinion breathes the breath of life into the dead letter.  28
  The real object of the drama is the exhibition of human character.  29
  The triumphs of delusion are but for a day.  30
  The upper current of society presents no certain criterion by which we can judge of the direction in which the under-current flows.  31
  To give to the human mind a direction which it shall retain for ages is the rare prerogative of a few imperial spirits.  32
  We must judge of a form of government by its general tendency, not by happy accidents.  33
  With the dead there is no rivalry. In the dead there is no change. Plato is never sullen. Cervantes is never petulant. Demosthenes never comes unseasonably. Dante never stays too long.  34

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