Reference > Quotations > James Wood, comp. > Dictionary of Quotations
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James Wood, comp.  Dictionary of Quotations.  1899.
 
Sterne
 
  An ounce of a man’s own wit is worth a pound of other peoples’.  1
  Conversation is a traffic; and if you enter into it without some stock of knowledge to balance the account perpetually, the trade drops at once.  2
  Courtship consists in a number of quiet attentions, not so pointed as to alarm, nor so vague as not to be understood.  3
  Digressions incontestably are the sunshine; they are the life, the soul of reading.  4
  Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still, Slavery, thou art a bitter draught.  5
  Every time a man smiles, much more when he laughs, it adds something to his fragment of life.  6
  Fancy is capricious; wit must not be searched for, and pleasantry will not come in at a call.  7
  For every ten jokes thou hast got an hundred enemies.  8
  Freethinkers are generally those who never think at all.  9
  Get on the crupper of a good stout hypothesis, and you may ride round the world.  10
  God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.  11
  Gravity is a taught trick to gain credit of the world for more sense and knowledge than a man is worth.  12
  Gravity, with all its pretensions, was no better, but often worse, than what a French wit had long ago defined it, viz., a mysterious carriage of the body to cover the defects of the mind.  13
  Honours, like impressions upon coin, may give an ideal and local value to a bit of base metal; but gold and silver will pass all the world over, without any other recommendation than their own weight.  14
  Impatience is the principal cause of most of our irregularities and extravagances.  15
  In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.  16
  Injuries come only from the heart.  17
  Keyholes are the occasions of more sin and wickedness than all the other holes in this world put together.  18
  Learning is the dictionary, but sense the grammar, of science.  19
  Lessons of wisdom have never such power over us as when they are wrought into the heart through the groundwork of a story which engages the passions.  20
 
 
  Madness is consistent, which is more than can be said for poor reason. Our passions and principles are steady in frenzy, but begin to shift and waver as we return to reason.  21
  Man has seldom an offer of kindness to make to a woman but she has a presentiment of it some moments before.  22
  Man’s body and his mind are exactly like a jerkin and a jerkin’s lining—rumple the one, you rumple the other.  23
  Men tire themselves in pursuit of rest.  24
  Mysteries which must explain themselves are not worth the loss of time which a conjecture about them takes up.  25
  Nature never made an unkind creature; ill-usage and bad habits have deformed a fair and lovely creation.  26
  Nothing is so perfectly amusement as a total change of ideas.  27
  Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world,—though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst,—the cant of criticism is the most tormenting!  28
  Our passions and principles are steady in frenzy; but begin to shift and waver, as we return to reason.  29
  People who are always taking care of their health are like misers, who are hoarding up a treasure which they have never spirit enough to enjoy.  30
  Poets should turn philosophers in age, as Pope did. We are apt to grow chilly when we sit out our fire.  31
  Remember this: that your conscience is not a law—no; God and reason made the law, and has placed conscience within you to determine.  32
  Small curses upon great occasions are but so much waste of our strength and soul’s health to no manner of purpose; they are like sparrow-shot fired against a bastion.  33
  Smelfungus in the grand portico of the Pantheon says, “’Tis nothing but a huge cockpit.”  34
  Some people pass through life soberly and religiously enough, without knowing why, or reasoning about it, but, from force of habit merely, go to heaven like fools.  35
  Sweet pliability of man’s spirit, that can at once surrender itself to illusions which cheat expectation and sorrow of their weary moments!  36
  The accusing spirit, which flew up to heaven’s chancery with the oath, blushed as he gave it in; and the recording angel, as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word and blotted it out for ever.  37
  The best friends in the world may differ sometimes.  38
  The chaste mind, like a polished plane, may admit foul thoughts, without receiving their tincture.  39
  The history of a soldier’s wound beguiles the pain of it. We lose the right of complaining sometimes by forbearing it, but we often treble the force.  40
  The world is all barren to him who will not cultivate the fruit it offers.  41
  There is a certain mien and motion of the body and all its parts, both in acting and speaking, which argues a man well within.  42
  There is a worth in honest ignorance; ’twere almost a pity to exchange for knowledge.  43
  There is no cause why one man’s nose is longer than another’s, but because that God pleases to have it so.  44
  There is no disputing against hobby-horses.  45
  This world surely is wide enough to hold both thee and me! (uncle Toby to the fly).  46
  To have a respect for ourselves guides our morals; and to have a deference for others governs our manners.  47
  To have the fear of God before our eyes, and, in our mutual dealings with each other, to govern our actions by the eternal measures of right and wrong; the first of these will comprehend the duties of religion; the second, those of morality.  48
  To spur a free horse soon makes a jade of him.  49
  Trust that man in nothing who has not a conscience in everything.  50
  Two misfortunes are twice as many at least as are needful to be talked over at one time.  51
  We are as turkeys driven, with a stick and red clout, to market.  52
  We can have no dependence upon morality without religion; so, on the other hand, there is nothing better to be expected from religion without morality.  53
  What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything.  54
  What have I to do,… either with your amusements or your pleasures, unless it was in my power to increase their measure?  55
  What persons are by starts, they are by nature. You see them at such times off their guard. Habit may restrain vice, and virtue may be obscured by passion, but intervals best discover the man.  56
  When a man gives himself up to the government of a ruling passion—or, in other words, when his hobby-horse grows headstrong—farewell cool reason and fair discretion!  57
  When a man smiles, and much more when he laughs, it adds something to his fragment of life.  58
  When a misfortune is impending, I cry, “God forbid!” but when it falls upon me, I say, “God be praised!”  59
  When we cannot get at the very thing we wish, never to take up with the next best in degree to it, that’s pitiful beyond description.  60
  When you are predetermined to take one soul’s advice, act without consulting further with any soul living.  61
  When, to gratify a private appetite, it is once resolved upon that an innocent and a helpless creature shall be sacrificed, ’tis an easy matter to pick up sticks enough from any thicket where it has strayed to make a fire to offer it up with.  62
  Whenever a man talks loudly against religion, always suspect that it is not his reason, but his passions, which have got the better of his creed. A bad life and a good belief are disagreeable and troublesome neighbours; and when they separate, depend upon it, ’tis for no other cause but quietness’ sake.  63
  Who values a good night’s rest will not lie down with enmity in his heart if he can help it.  64
 
 
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