Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
  Above all subjects study thine own self. For no knowledge that terminates in curiosity or speculation is comparable to that which is of use; and of all useful knowledge that is most so which consists in the due care and just notions of ourselves. This study is a debt which every one owes himself. Let us not then be so lavish, so unjust, as not to pay this debt, by spending some part at least, if we cannot all, or most of our time and care upon that which has the most indefeasible claim to it. Govern your passions, manage your actions with prudence, and where false steps have been made, correct them for the future. Let nothing he allowed to grow headstrong and disorderly; but bring all under discipline. Set all your faults before your eyes, and pass sentence upon yourself with the same severity as you would do upon another for whom no partiality had biassed your judgment.
  It is fit for a man to know his own abilities and weaknesses, and not think himself obliged to imitate all that he thinks fit to praise.
Robert Boyle.    
  Reader, you have been bred in a land abounding with men able in arts, learning, and knowledges manifold: this man in one, this in another; few in many, none in all. But there is one art of which every man should be a master,—the art of reflection. If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all? In like manner, there is one knowledge which it is every man’s duty and interest to acquire, namely, self-knowledge. Or to what end was man alone, of all animals, endued by the Creator with the faculty of self-consciousness?
Samuel Taylor Coleridge.    
  He that knows himself knows others; and he that is ignorant of himself could not write a very profound lecture on other men’s heads.
Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.    
  The imperfection of self-knowledge must often expose us to the danger of self-delusion, the only remedy for which is self-distrust: this evinces the necessity of self-denial; and our general security (with divine assistance) must be in self-command.
W. Danby.    
  We come into the world, and know not how: we live in it in a state of self-nescience, and go hence again, and are as ignorant of our recess.
Joseph Glanvill.    
  He that knows most of himself, knows least of his knowledge, and the exercised understanding is conscious of its disability.
Joseph Glanvill.    
  Though this vicinity of ourselves to ourselves cannot give us the full prospect of all the intrigues of our nature, yet we have much more advantage to know ourselves than to know other things without us.
Sir Matthew Hale.    
  Next to the knowledge of God this knowledge of ourselves seems most worthy of our endeavour.
Sir Matthew Hale.    
  When a man employs himself upon remote and unnecessary subjects, and wastes his life upon questions which cannot be resolved, and of which the solution would conduce very little to the advancement of happiness; when he lavishes his hours in calculating the weight of the terraqueous globe, or in adjusting successive systems of worlds beyond the reach of the telescope; he may be very properly recalled from his excursions by this precept, and reminded that there is a nearer being with which it is his duty to be more acquainted; and from which his attention has hitherto been withheld by studies to which he has no other motive than vanity or curiosity.
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Rambler, No. 24.    
  When a right knowledge of ourselves enters into our minds, it makes as great a change in all our thoughts and apprehensions as when we awake from the wanderings of a dream.
William Law.    
  It is by the consciousness it has of its present thoughts and actions, that it is self to itself now, and so will be the same self as far as the same consciousness can extend to actions past or to come.
John Locke.    
  We find this great precept often repeated in Plato, do thine own work, and know thyself. Of which two parts both the one and the other generally comprehend our whole duty, and consequently do each of them complicate and involve the other; for who will do his own work aright will find that his first lesson is to know himself: and who rightly understands himself will never mistake another man’s work for his own, but will love and improve himself above all other things, will refuse superfluous employments, and reject all unprofitable thoughts and propositions.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cotton’s 3d ed., ch. iii.    
  My faults will not be hid, and it is no dispraise to me that they will not: the clearness of one’s mind is never better proved than in discovering its own faults.
Alexander Pope.    
  If self-knowledge be a path to virtue, virtue is a much better one to self-knowledge. The more pure the soul becomes, it will, like precious stones that are sensible to the contact of poison, shrink from the fetid vapours of evil impressions.
Jean Paul F. Richter.    
  No man truly knoweth himself but he groweth daily more contemptible in his own eyes.
Jeremy Taylor: Guide to Devotion.    
  Of all literary exercitations, whether designed for the use or entertainment of the world, there are none of so much importance, or so immediately our concern, as those which let us into the knowledge of our own nature. Others may exercise the understanding or amuse the imagination; but these only can improve the heart and form the human mind to wisdom.
Bishop William Warburton.    
  The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.

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