Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Ancients
 
  To account for this, we must consider that the first race of authors, who were the great heroes in writing, were destitute of all rules and arts of criticism; and for that reason, though they excel later writers in greatness of genius, they fall short of them in accuracy and correctness. The moderns cannot reach their beauties, but can avoid their imperfections. When the world was furnished with these authors of the first eminence, there grew up another set of writers, who gained themselves a reputation by the remarks which they made on the works of those who preceded them.
Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 61.    
  1
 
  We may observe that in the first ages of the world, when the great souls and masterpieces of human nature were produced, men shined by a noble simplicity of behaviour, and were strangers to those little embellishments which are so fashionable in our present conversation. And it is very remarkable, that notwithstanding we fall short at present of the ancients in poetry, painting, oratory, history, architecture, and all the noble arts and sciences which depend more upon genius than experience, we exceed them as much in doggerel humour, burlesque, and all the trivial arts of ridicule. We meet with more raillery among the moderns, but more good sense among the ancients.
Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 249.    
  2
 
  It is pleasant to see a verse of an old poet revolting from its original sense, and siding with a modern subject.
Joseph Addison.    
  3
 
  The poetical fables are more ancient than the astrological influences, that were not known to the Greeks till after Alexander the Great.
Richard Bentley.    
  4
 
  In ancient authors a parenthetical form of writing is even more common than among moderns.
William Thomas Brande.    
  5
 
  He calls up the heroes of former ages from a state of inexistence to adorn and diversify his poem.
William Broome: On the Odyssey.    
  6
 
  In this age we have a sort of reviviscence, not, I fear of the power, but of a taste for the power, of the early times.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge.    
  7
 
  What English readers, unacquainted with Greek or Latin, will believe me when we confess we derive all that is pardonable in us from ancient fountains?
John Dryden.    
  8
 
  In tragedy and satire I maintain, against some critics, that this age and the last have excelled the ancients; and I would instance in Shakespeare of the former, in Dorset of the latter.
John Dryden.    
  9
 
  Some are offended because I turned these tales into modern English; because they look on Chaucer as a dry, old-fashioned wit, not worth reviving.
John Dryden.    
  10
 
  The heathen poet in commending the charity of Dido to the Trojans spoke like a Christian.
John Dryden.    
  11
 
  The critics of a more exalted taste may discover such beauties in the ancient poetry as may escape the comprehension of us pigmies of a more limited genius.
Sir Samuel Garth.    
  12
 
  It is an unaccountable vanity to spend all our time raking into the scraps and imperfect remains of former ages, and neglecting the clearer notices of our own.
Joseph Glanvill.    
  13
 
  The sages of old live again in us, and in opinions there is a metempsychosis.
Joseph Glanvill.    
  14
 
  The love of things ancient doth argue stayedness, but levity and want of experience maketh apt unto innovation.
Richard Hooker.    
  15
 
 
 
  Many times that which deserveth approbation would hardly find favour if they which propose it were not to profess themselves scholars, and followers of the ancients.
Richard Hooker.    
  16
 
  Among the ancients there was not much delicacy of breeding, or that polite deference and respect which civility obliges us either to express or counterfeit towards the persons with whom we converse.
David Hume.    
  17
 
  Nothing conduces more to letters than to examine the writings of the ancients, provided the plagues of judging and pronouncing against them be away; such as envy, bitterness, precipitation, impudence, and scurril scoffing.
Ben Jonson.    
  18
 
  They think that whatever is called old must have the decay of time upon it, and truth too were liable to mould and rottenness.
John Locke.    
  19
 
  Though the knowledge they have left us be worth our study, yet they exhausted not all its treasures: they left a great deal for the industry and sagacity of after-ages.
John Locke.    
  20
 
  In the philosophy of history the moderns have very far surpassed the ancients. It is not, indeed, strange that the Greeks and Romans should not have carried the science of government, or any other experimental science, so far as it has been carried in our time; for the experimental sciences are generally in a state of progression. They were better understood in the seventeenth century than in the sixteenth, and in the eighteenth century than in the seventeenth. But this constant improvement, this natural growth of knowledge, will not altogether account for the immense superiority of the modern writers. The difference is a difference not in degree, but of kind. It is not merely that new principles have been discovered, but that new faculties seem to be exerted. It is not that at one time the human intellect should have made but small progress, and at another time have advanced far; but that at one time it should have been stationary, and at another time constantly proceeding. In taste and imagination, in the graces of style, in the arts of persuasion, in the magnificence of public works, the ancients were at least our equals. They reasoned as justly as ourselves on subjects which required pure demonstration. But in the moral sciences they made scarcely any advance. During the long period which elapsed between the fifth century before the Christian era and the fifteenth after it, little perceptible progress was made. All the metaphysical discoveries of all the philosophers from the time of Socrates to the northern invasion are not to be compared in importance with those which have been made in England every fifty years since the time of Elizabeth. There is not the least reason to believe that the principles of government, legislation, and political economy were better understood in the time of Augustus Cæsar than in the time of Pericles. In our own country, the sound doctrines of trade and jurisprudence have been within the lifetime of a single generation dimly hinted, boldly propounded, defended, systematized, adopted by all reflecting men of all parties, quoted in legislative assemblies, incorporated into laws and treaties.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: History, May, 1828.    
  21
 
  Seeing every nation affords not experience and tradition enough for all kind of learning; therefore we are taught the languages of those people who have been most industrious after wisdom.
John Milton.    
  22
 
  But, after all, if they have any merit, it is to be attributed to some good old authors whose works I study.
Alexander Pope: On Pastoral Poetry.    
  23
 
  These passages in that book were enough to humble the presumption of our modern sciolists, if their pride were not as great as their ignorance.
Sir William Temple.    
  24
 
  All the writings of the ancient Goths were composed in verse, which were called runes, or viises, and from thence the term of wise came.
Sir William Temple.    
  25
 
  It was the custom of those former ages, in their over-much gratitude, to advance the first authors of any useful discovery among the number of their gods.
Bishop John Wilkins.    
  26
 
 
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