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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Butler
 
        A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion still.
  1
        Ah me! what perils do environ
The man that meddles with cold iron!
What plaguy mischiefs and mishaps
Do dog him still with after-claps.
  2
        All our scourging of religion
Began with tumult and sedition;
When hurricanes of fierce commotion
Became strong motives to devotion,
As carnal seamen, in a storm,
Turn pious converts and reform.
  3
        And as the French we conquer’d once,
Now give us laws for pantaloons,
The length of breeches and the gathers,
Port-cannons, periwigs, and feathers.
  4
        And he that makes his soul his surety,
I think, does give the best security.
  5
        And though all cry down self, none means
His own self in a literal sense.
  6
        And when the fight becomes a chase,
Those win the day that win the race;
And that which would not pass in fights,
Has done the feat with easy flights.
  7
        As if Religion were intended
For nothing else but to be mended.
  8
        As the ancients wisely say
Have a care o’ th’ main chance,
And look before you ere you leap;
For as you sow y’are like to reap.
  9
                    Authority intoxicates,
And makes mere sots of magistrates;
The fumes of it invade the brain,
And make men giddy, proud and vain;
By this the fool commands the wise;
The noble with the base complies;
The sot assumes the role of wit,
And cowards make the base submit.
  10
        Ay me! what perils do environ
The man that meddles with cold iron!
  11
        Bloody wars at first began,
The artificial plague of man,
That from his own invention rise,
To scourge his own iniquities.
  12
        But still his tongue ran on, the less
Of weight it bore, with greater ease;
And with its everlasting clack,
Set all men’s ears upon the rack.
  13
        Can by their pangs and aches find
All turns and changes of the wind.
  14
        ’Cause grace and virtue are within
Prohibited degrees of kin;
And therefore no true saint allows
They should be suffered to espouse.
  15
        Critics are a kind of wild flies, that breed
In wild fig trees, and when they’re grown up feed
Upon the raw fruit of the nobler kind,
And by their nibbling on the outer rind,
Open the pores, and make way for the sun
To ripen it sooner than he would have done.
  16
        Cry out upon the stars for doing
Ill offices, to cross their wooing.
  17
        Do not your juries give their verdict
As if they felt the cause, not heard it.
  18
        Drudgery and knowledge are of a kin,
And both descended from one parent sin.
  19
        Fools are stubborn in their way,
As coins are harden’d by th’ allay;
And obstinacy’s ne’er so stiff
As when ’tis in a wrong belief.
  20
 
 
        For as two cheats, that play one game,
Are both defeated of their aim;
So those who play a game of state,
And only cavil in debate,
Altho’ there’s nothing lost nor won,
The public bus’ness is undone,
Which still the longer ’tis in doing,
Becomes the surer way to ruin.
  21
        For blocks are better cleft with wedges,
Than tools of sharp or subtle edges,
And dullest nonsense has been found
By some to be the most profound.
  22
        For brevity is very good,
Where we are or are not understood.
  23
        For daring nonsense seldom fails to hit,
Like scattered shot, and pass with some for wit.
  24
        For fools are stubborn in their way,
As coins are harden’d by th’ allay;
And obstinacy’s ne’er so stiff
As when ’tis in a wrong belief.
  25
                  For those that fly may fight again,
Which he can never do that’s slain.
  26
        For those that run away, and fly,
Take place at least o’ th’ enemy.
  27
        For what is worth in anything,
But so much money as ’twill bring?
  28
        For zeal’s a dreadful termagant,
That teaches saints to tear and cant.
  29
        Full oft have letters caused the writers
To curse the day they were inditers.
  30
        Great wits and valours, like great states,
Do sometimes sink with their own weights.
  31
                        H’ had got a hurt
O’ th’ inside of a deadlier sort.
  32
        He could raise scruples dark and nice,
And after solve ’em in a trice;
As if Divinity had catch’d
The itch, on purpose to be scratch’d.
  33
        He knew what’s what, and that’s as high
As metaphysic wit can fly.
  34
        He ne’er consider’d it as loath
To look a gift-horse in the mouth,
And very wisely would lay forth
No more upon it than ’twas worth.
  35
        He that complies against his will,
Is of his own opinion still,
Which he may adhere to, yet disown,
For reasons to himself best known.
  36
              He that has but impudence,
To all things has a fair pretence;
And put among his wants but shame,
To all the world may lay his claim.
  37
        He that imposes an oath makes it,
Not he that for Convenience takes it.
  38
        He that will win his dame must do
As love does when he draws his bow;
With one hand thrust the lady from,
And with the other pull her home.
  39
        He that would win his dame must do
As love does when he draws his bow;
With one hand thrust the lady from,
And with the other pull her home.
  40
        He was in logic a great critic,
Profoundly skill’d in analytic;
He could distinguish and divide
A hair ’twixt south and south-west side.
  41
        He’d undertake to prove, by force
Of argument, a man’s no horse.
He’d prove a buzzard is no fowl,
And that a lord may be an owl,
A calf an alderman, a goose a justice,
And rooks, committeemen or trustees.
  42
        Honour is like that glassy bubble,
That finds philosophers such trouble,
Whose least part crack’d, the whole does fly
And wits are crack’d to find out why.
  43
        In all the trade of war, no feat
Is nobler than a brave retreat.
  44
        In all the world there is no vice
Less prone t’ excess than avarice;
It neither cares for food nor clothing;
Nature’s content with little—that with nothing.
  45
        In the wicked there’s no vice,
Of which the saints have not a spice,
And yet that thing that’s pious in
The one, in the other is a sin.
Is it not ridiculous, and nonsense,
A saint should be a slave to conscience?
  46
        Laws do not put the least restraint
Upon our freedom, but maintain ’t;
Or, if it does, ’tis for our good,
To give us freer latitude;
For wholesome laws preserve us free,
By stinting of our liberty.
  47
        Man with raging drink inflam’d,
Is far more savage and untamed;
Supplies his loss of wit and sense
With barb’rousness and insolence;
Believes himself, the less he’s able
The more heroic and formidable.
  48
        More proselytes and converts use t’ accrue
To false persuasions than the right and true;
For error and mistake are infinite,
But truth has but one way to be i’ th’ right.
  49
        Night is the Sabbath of mankind,
To rest the body and the mind.
  50
        No Indian prince has to his palace
More followers than a thief to the gallows.
  51
        No man takes or keeps a vow,
But just as he sees others do;
Nor are they ’blig’d to be so brittle
As not to yield and bow a little:
For as best temper’d blades are found,
Before they break, to bend quite round;
So truest oaths are still more tough,
And tho’ they bow, are breaking proof.
  52
        Nothing’s more dull and negligent
Than an old lazy government,
That knows no interest of state,
But such as serves a present strait,
And, to patch up, or shift, will close
Or break alike with friends or foes;
That runs behindhand, and has spent
Its credit to the last extent;
And, the first time ’tis at a loss,
Has not one true friend, nor one cross.
  53
        Quoth he, That man is sure to lose,
That fouls his hands with dirty foes;
For where no honor’s to be gain’d,
’Tis thrown away in being maintain’d.
  54
        Saints themselves will sometimes be,
Of gifts that cost them nothing, free.
  55
        She that with poetry is won,
Is but a desk to write upon;
And what men say of her they mean
No more than on the thing they lean.
  56
        So Noah, when he anchor’d safe on
The mountain’s top, his lofty haven,
And all the passengers he bore
Were on the new world set ashore,
He made it next his chief design
To plant and propagate a vine,
Which since has overwhelmed and drown’d
Far greater numbers, on dry ground
Of wretched mankind, one by one,
Than all the flood before had done.
  57
        Some have mistaken blocks and posts,
For spectres, apparitions, ghosts,
With saucer-eyes and horns; and some
Have heard the devil beat a drum.
  58
        Success, the mark no mortal wit,
Or surest hand, can always hit;
For whatsoe’er we perpetrate,
We do but row—w’are steer’d by fate,
Which in success oft disinherits,
For spurious causes, noblest merits.
  59
        The feeblest vermin can destroy,
As sure as stoutest beasts of prey;
And only with their eyes and breath
Infect, and poison men to death.
  60
        The lives of trees lie only in the barks,
And in their styles the wit of greatest clerks.
  61
        The oyster-women lock’d their fish up,
And trudged away to cry, No Bishop.
  62
        The Queen of night, whose large command
Rules all the sea, and half the land,
And over moist and crazy brains,
In high spring-tides, at midnight reigns,
Was now declining to the west,
To go to bed, and take her rest.
  63
        The souls of women are so small,
That some believe they’ve none at all;
Or, if they have, like cripples, still
They’ve but one faculty, the will.
  64
        The sun had long since in the lap
Of Thetis taken out his nap,
And, like a lobster boil’d, the morn
From black to red began to turn.
  65
        The worst of rebels never arm
To do their king or country harm,
But draw their swords to do them good,
As doctors cure by letting blood.
  66
        There’s but the twinkling of a star
Between a man of peace and war;
A thief and justice, fool and knave,
A huffing off’cer and a slave;
A crafty lawyer and a pickpocket,
A great philosopher and a blockhead;
A formal preacher and a player,
A learn’d physician and man-slayer.
  67
        Those that go up hill, use to bow,
Their bodies forward, and stoop low
To poise themselves, and sometimes creep,
When th’ way is difficult and steep:
So those at court, that do address,
By low ignoble offices,
Can stoop at anything that’s base,
To wriggle into trust and grace,
Are like to rise to greatness sooner,
Than those that go by worth and honor.
  68
        Through perils both of wind and limb,
Through thick and thin she follow’d him.
  69
                    ’Tis in books the chief
Of all perfections to be plain and brief.
  70
        ’Tis not now who’s stout and bold?
But who bears hunger best, and cold?
And he’s approv’d the most deserving,
Who longest can hold out at starving.
  71
        ’Tis strange how some men’s tempers suit,
Like bawd and brandy, with dispute,
That for their own opinions stand fast,
Only to have them claw’d and canvass’d.
  72
        ’Tis the temptation of the devil
That makes all human actions evil;
For saints may do the same things by
The spirit, in sincerity,
Which other men are tempted to,
And at the devil’s instance do:
And yet the actions be contrary,
Just as the saints and wicked vary.
  73
        To have the power to forgive,
Is empire and prerogative,
And ’tis in crowns a nobler gem,
To grant a pardon than condemn.
  74
        Too much or too little wit
Do only render th’ owner fit
For nothing, but to be undone
Much easier than if they’d none.
  75
        True as the dial to the sun,
Although it be not shin’d upon.
  76
        What makes a church a den of thieves?
A dean and chapter, and white sleeves.
  77
        What makes all doctrines plain and clear?
About two hundred pounds a year,
And that which was prov’d true before,
Prove false again? two hundred more.
  78
        What makes the breaking of all oaths
A holy duty?—food and clothes.
  79
        When civil dudgeon first grew high,
And men fell out, they knew not why;
When hard words, jealousies, and fears
Set folk together by the ears,
And made them fight, like mad or drunk,
For dame Religion, as for punk.
  80
        Whipping, that’s virtue’s governess,
Tutoress of arts and sciences;
That mends the gross mistakes of nature,
And puts new life into dull matter;
That lays foundation for renown,
And all the honours of the gown.
  81
        Why should not conscience have vacation,
As well as other courts o’ th’ nation?
Have equal power to adjourn,
Appoint appearance, and return?
  82
        With crosses, relics, crucifixes,
Beads, pictures, rosaries, and pixes;
The tools of working out salvation
By mere mechanic operation.
  83
  And still be doing, never done.  84
  And though all cry down self, none means his own self in a literal sense.  85
  As you sow, y’ are like to reap.  86
  Brevity is very good, when we are, or are not, understood.  87
  But still his tongue ran on, the less of weight it bore, with greater ease.  88
  For discords make the sweetest airs.  89
  He that has two strings t’ his bow.  90
  He that is down can fall no lower.  91
  He who does not make his words rather serve to conceal than discover the sense of his heart deserves to have it pulled out like a traitor’s and shown publicly to the rabble.  92
  I’ll make the fur fly ’bout the ears of the old cur.  93
  It is unseasonable and unwholesome in all months that have not an R in their names to eat an oyster.  94
  Look before you ere you leap.  95
  Oaths are but words, and words but wind.  96
  Prejudice may be considered as a continual false medium of viewing things, for prejudiced persons not only never speak well, but also never think well, of those whom they dislike, and the whole character and conduct is considered with an eye to that particular thing which offends them.  97
  That conscience approves of and attests such a course of action, is itself alone an obligation.  98
  There is a kind of physiognomy in the titles of books no less than in the faces of men, by which a skilful observer will as well know what to expect from the one as the other.  99
  With vollies of eternal babble.  100
 
 
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