Reference > Quotations > James Wood, comp. > Dictionary of Quotations
James Wood, comp.  Dictionary of Quotations.  1899.
Sydney Smith
  Definition of words has been commonly called a mere exercise of grammarians; but when we come to consider the innumerable evils men have inflicted on each other from mistaking the meaning of words, the exercise of definition certainly begins to assume rather a more dignified aspect.  1
  Education gives fecundity of thought, copiousness of illustration, quickness, vigour, fancy, words, images, and illustrations; it decorates every common thing, and gives the power of trifling without being undignified and absurd.  2
  Errors, to be dangerous, must have a great deal of truth mingled with them;… from pure extravagance, and genuine, unmingled falsehood, the world never has sustained, and never can sustain, any mischief.  3
  Every good picture is the best of sermons and lectures: the sense informs the soul.  4
  Every man’s destiny is in his own hands.  5
  Find fault, when you must find fault, in private, if possible, and some time after the offence, rather than at the time.  6
  God has given us wit and flavour, and brightness and laughter, and perfumes to enliven the days of man’s pilgrimage, and to charm his pained steps over the burning marl.  7
  Great men have their parasites.  8
  If frequent failure convince you of that mediocrity of nature which is incompatible with great actions, submit wisely and cheerfully to your lot.  9
  Let no mean spirit of revenge tempt you to throw off your loyalty to your country, and to prefer a vicious celebrity to obscurity crowned with piety and virtue.  10
  Man could direct his ways by plain reason, and support his life by tasteless food; but God has given us wit, and flavour, and brightness, and laughter, and perfumes, to enliven the day of man’s pilgrimage, and to charm his pained steps over the burning marl.  11
  Manners are the shadows of virtues, the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow-creatures love and respect.  12
  Married couples resemble a pair of scissors, often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing any one who comes between them.  13
  Never talk half a minute without pausing and giving others an opportunity to strike in.  14
  Not body enough to cover his mind decently with; his intellect is improperly exposed.  15
  Patience of obscurity is a duty which we owe not more to our happiness than to the quiet of the world at large.  16
  Piety, stretched beyond a certain point, is the parent of impiety.  17
  Solitude cherishes great virtues and destroys little ones.  18
  The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington. She was excellent at a slop or a puddle, but she should not have meddled with a tempest.  19
  The good of other times let others state; / I think it lucky I was born so late.  20
  The object of preaching is constantly to remind mankind of what mankind are constantly forgetting; not to supply the defects of human intelligence, but to fortify the feebleness of human resolutions.  21
  The real object of education is to give children resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that time will ameliorate, not destroy; occupation that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible.  22
  The wit of language is so miserably inferior to the wit of ideas that it is deservedly driven out of good company.  23
  There is nothing more characteristic than the shakes of the hand.  24
  To love and to be loved is the greatest happiness of existence.  25
  We cultivate literature on a little oatmeal.  26
  Yes, you find people ready enough to do the good Samaritan without the oil and twopence.  27

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