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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Washington Irving
 
        Sweet is the memory of distant friends!
Like the mellow rays of the departing sun,
It falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.
  1
  A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands. But a mother’s love endures through all; in good repute, in bad repute, in the face of the world’s condemnation, a mother still loves on, and still hopes that her child may turn from his evil ways, and repent; still she remembers the infant smiles that once filled her bosom with rapture, the merry laugh, the joyful shout of his childhood, the opening promise of his youth; and she can never be brought to think him all unworthy.  2
  A sharp tongue is the only edge-tool that grows keener with constant use.  3
  A woman is more considerate in affairs of love than a man; because love is more the study and business of her life.  4
  A woman’s whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is her world; it is there her ambition strives for empire; it is there her avarice seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth her sympathies on adventure, she embarks her soul in the traffic of affection; and, if shipwrecked, her case is hopeless, for it is a bankruptcy of the heart.  5
  As the vine which has long twined its graceful foliage about the oak, and been lifted by it into sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rifted by the thunderbolt, cling round it with its caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs; so it is beautifully ordered by Providence, that woman, who is the mere dependent and ornament of man in his happier hours, should be his stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity; winding herself into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly supporting the drooping head, and binding up the broken heart.  6
  By a kind of fashionable discipline, the eye is taught to brighten, the lip to smile, and the whole countenance to emanate with the semblance of friendly welcome, while the bosom is unwarmed by a single spark of genuine kindness and good-will.  7
  Critics are a kind of freebooters in the republic of letters who, like deer, goats and divers other graminivorous animals, gain subsistence by gorging upon buds and leaves of the young shrubs of the forest, thereby robbing them of their verdure, and retarding their progress to maturity.  8
  Enthusiasts soon understand each other.  9
  Every antique farm-house and moss-grown cottage is a picture.  10
  Every desire bears its death in its very gratification. Curiosity languishes under repeated stimulants, and novelties cease to excite and surprise, until at length we cannot wonder even at a miracle.  11
  Free-livers on a small scale, who are prodigal within the compass of a guinea.  12
  From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections.  13
  Happiness is reflective, like the light of heaven.  14
  He early acquired the magic of method, which of itself works wonders.  15
  He had been indulging in fanciful speculations on spiritual essences until he had an ideal world of his own around him.  16
  He was a kind and thankful toad, whose heart dilated in proportion as his skin was filled with good cheer; and whose spirits rose with eating, as some men’s do with drink.  17
  He who thinks much says but little in proportion to his thoughts. He selects that language which will convey his ideas in the most explicit and direct manner. He tries to compress as much thought as possible into a few words. On the contrary, the man who talks everlastingly and promiscuously, who seems to have an exhaustless magazine of sound, crowds so many words into his thoughts that he always obscures, and very frequently conceals them.  18
  History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the tablet; the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids,—what are they but heaps of sand; and their epitaphs but characters written in the dust?  19
  History is but a kind of Newgate calendar, a register of the crimes and miseries that man has inflicted on his fellow-man.  20
 
 
  Honest good-humor is the oil and wine of a merry meeting, and there is no jovial companionship equal to that where the jokes are rather small and the laughter abundant.  21
  How easy it is for one benevolent being to diffuse pleasure around him; and how truly is a kind heart a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity to freshen into smiles!  22
  How idle a boast, after all, is the immortality of a name! Time is ever silently turning over his pages; we are too much engrossed by the story of the present to think of the character and anecdotes that gave interest to the past; and each age is a volume thrown aside and forgotten.  23
  How truly are we the dupes of show and circumstances!  24
  How we delight to build our recollections upon some basis of reality,—a place, a country, a local habitation! how the events of life, as we look back upon them, have grown into the well-remembered background of the places where they fell upon us! Here is some sunny garden or summer lane, beautified and canonized forever with the flood of a great joy; and here are dim and silent places,—rooms always shadowed and dark to us, whatever they may be to others,—where distress or death came once, and since then dwells forevermore.  25
  I have often had occasion to remark the fortitude with which women sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those disasters which break down the spirit of a man and prostrate him in the dust seem to call forth all the energies of the softer sex, and give such intrepidity and elevation to their character that at times it approaches to sublimity.  26
  I profess not to know how women’s hearts are wooed and won. To me they have always been matters of riddle and admiration.  27
  I value this delicious home-feeling as one of the choicest gifts a parent can bestow.  28
  It buries every error, covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment.  29
  It is interesting to notice how some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage, and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles.  30
  It is the divine attribute of the imagination, that it is irrepressible, unconfinable; that when the real world is shut out, it can create a world for itself, and with a necromantic power can conjure up glorious shapes and forms, and brilliant visions to make solitude populous, and irradiate the gloom of a dungeon.  31
  It lightens the stroke to draw near to Him who handles the rod.  32
  It was Shakespeare’s notion that on this day birds begin to couple; hence probably arose the custom of sending fancy love-billets.  33
  Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above it.  34
  Man passes away; his name perishes from record and recollection; his history is as a tale that is told, and his very monument becomes a ruin.  35
  Nature seems to delight in disappointing the assiduities of art, with which it would rear dulness to maturity, and to glory in the vigor and luxuriance of her chance productions. She scatters the seeds of genius to the winds, and though some may perish among the stony places of the world, and some may be choked by the thorns and brambles of early adversity, yet others will now and then strike root even in the clefts of the rock, struggle bravely up into sunshine, and spread over their sterile birthplace all the beauties of vegetation.  36
  Nothing can be more touching than to behold a soft and tender female, who had been all weakness and dependence, and alive to every trivial roughness while treading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly rising by mental force to be the comforter and supporter of her husband under misfortune, and abiding with unshrinking firmness the bitterest blast of adversity.  37
  O woman! thou knowest the hour when the good man of the house will return, when the heat and burden of the day are past; do not let him at such time, when he is weary with toil and jaded with discouragement, find upon his coming to his habitation that the foot which should hasten to meet him is wandering at a distance, that the soft hand which should wipe the sweat from his brow is knocking at the door of other houses.  38
  Over no nation does the press hold a more absolute control than over the people of America, for the universal education of the poorest classes makes every individual a reader.  39
  Poetry is evidently a contagious complaint.  40
  Redundancy of language is never found with deep reflection. Verbiage may indicate observation, but not thinking. He who thinks much says but little in proportion to his thoughts.  41
  Rising genius always shoots forth its rays from among clouds and vapors, but these will gradually roll away and disappear as it ascends to its steady and meridian lustre.  42
  Society is like a lawn where roughness is smoothed, every bramble eradicated, and where the eye is delighted by the smiling verdure of a velvet surface.  43
  That inexhaustible good-nature which is the most precious gift of Heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather.  44
  The almighty dollar!  45
  The idol of to-day pushes the hero of yesterday out of our recollection; and will, in turn, be supplanted by his successor of to-morrow.  46
  The man who talks everlastingly and promiscuously, who seems to have an exhaustless magazine of sound, crowds so many words into his thoughts that he always obscures, and very frequently conceals them.  47
  The moan of the whip-poor-will from the hillside; the boding cry of the tree-toad, that harbinger of storm; the dreary hooting of the screechowl.  48
  The natural effect of sorrow over the dead is to refine and elevate the mind.  49
  The natural principle of war is to do the most harm to our enemy with the least harm to ourselves; and this of course, is to be effected by stratagem.  50
  The oil and wine of merry meeting.  51
  The only happy author in this world is he who is below the care of reputation.  52
  The paternal hearth, the rallying-place of the affections.  53
  The scholar only knows how dear these silent yet eloquent companions of pure thoughts and innocent hours become in the season of adversity.  54
  The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open, this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude.  55
  The tie which links mother and child is of such pure and immaculate strength as to be never violated, except by those whose feelings are withered by vitiated society. Holy, simple, and beautiful in its construction, it is the emblem of all we can imagine of fidelity and truth.  56
  The very difference of character in marriage produces a harmonious combination.  57
  The youthful freshness of a blameless heart.  58
  There are moments of mingled sorrow and tenderness, which hallow the caresses of affection.  59
  There is a certain artificial polish, a commonplace vivacity acquired by perpetually mingling in the beau monde, which, in the commerce of the world, supplies the place of natural suavity and good-humor, but is purchased at the expense of all original and sterling traits of character.  60
  There is a certain meddlesome spirit which, in the garb of learned research, goes prying about the traces of history, casting down its monuments, and marring and mutilating its fairest trophies. Care should be taken to vindicate great names from such pernicious erudition.  61
  There is a healthful hardiness about real dignity that never dreads contact and communion with others, however humble.  62
  There is a majestic grandeur in tranquillity.  63
  There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.  64
  There is a voice from the tomb sweeter than song. There is a remembrance of the dead to which we turn even from the charms of the living. Oh, the grave! the grave! It buries every error, covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment. From its peaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections.  65
  There is an emanation from the heart in genuine hospitality which cannot be described, but is immediately felt and puts the stranger at once at his ease.  66
  There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which beams and blazes in the dark hours of adversity.  67
  There is never jealousy where there is not strong regard.  68
  There is something nobly simple and pure in a taste for the cultivation of forest trees. It argues, I think, a sweet and generous nature to have this strong relish for the beauties of vegetation, and this friendship for the hardy and glorious sons of the forest. He who plants a tree looks forward to future ages, and plants for posterity. Nothing could be less selfish than this.  69
  Too young for woe, though not for tears.  70
  Washington, in fact, had very little private life, but was eminently a public character.  71
  What earnest worker, with hand and brain for the benefit of his fellow-men, could desire a more pleasing recognition of his usefulness than the monument of a tree, ever growing, ever blooming, and ever bearing wholesome fruit?  72
  When the Gauls laid waste Rome, they found the senators clothed in their robes, and seated in stern tranquillity in their curule chairs; in this manner they suffered death without resistance or supplication. Such conduct was in them applauded as noble and magnanimous; in the hapless Indians it was reviled as both obstinate and sullen. How truly are we the dupes of show and circumstances! How different is virtue, clothed in purple and enthroned in state, from virtue, naked and destitute, and perishing obscurely in a wilderness.  73
  Who can look down upon the grave even of an enemy, and not feel a compunctious throb, that he should ever have warred with the poor handful of earth that lies mouldering before him!  74
  With every exertion, the best of men can do but a moderate amount of good; but it seems in the power of the most contemptible individual to do incalculable mischief.  75
 
 
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