S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
It is proper that alms should come out of a little purse, as well as out of a great sack; but surely where there is plenty, charity is a duty, not a courtesy: it is a tribute imposed by Heaven upon us, and he is not a good subject who refuses to pay it.
In some unlucky dispositions there is such an envious kind of pride that they cannot endure that any but themselves should be set forth for excellent: so when they hear one justly praised, they will either seek to dismount his virtues; or, if they be like a clear night, eminent, they will stab him with a but of detraction: as if there were something yet so foul as did obnubilate even his brightest glory. Thus, when their tongue cannot justly condemn him, they will leave him in suspected ill, by silence. Surely, if we considered detraction to be bred of envy, nested only in deficient minds, we should find that the applauding of virtue would win us far more honour than the seeking slyly to disparage it. That would show we loved what we commended, while this tells the world we grudge at what we want in ourselves.
The noblest part of a friend is an honest boldness in the notifying of errors. He that tells me of a fault, aiming at my good, I must think him wise and faithful: wise, in spying that which I see not; faithful, in a plain admonishment, not tainted with flattery.
Human life hath not a surer friend, nor many times a greater enemy, than hope. Tis the miserable mans god, which, in the hardest gripe of calamity, never fails to yield him beams of comfort. Tis the presumptuous mans devil, which leads him awhile in a smooth way, and then makes him break his neck on the sudden. Hope is to man as a bladder to a learning swimmer,it keeps him from sinking in the bosom of the waves, and by that help he may attain the exercise; but yet it many times makes him venture beyond his height, and then, if that breaks, or a storm rises, he drowns without recovery. How many would die, did not hope sustain them! How many have died by hoping too much! This wonder we may find in hope, that she is both a flatterer and a true friend.
Irresolution is a worse vice than rashness. He that shoots best may sometimes miss the mark; but he that shoots not at all, can never hit it. Irresolution loosens all the joints of a state; like an ague, it shakes not this nor that limb, but all the body is at once in a fit. The irresolute man is lifted from one place to another; so hatcheth nothing, but addles all his actions.
Laws were made to restrain and punish the wicked: the wise and good do not need them as a guide, but only as a shield against rapine and oppression: they can live civilly and orderly though there were no law in the world.
To go to law is for two persons to kindle a fire at their own cost to warm others, and singe themselves to cinders; and because they cannot agree as to what is truth and equity, they will both agree to unplume themselves, that others may be decorated with their feathers.
When philosophy has gone so far as she is able, she arrives at Almightiness, and in that labyrinth is lost; where not knowing the way, she goes on by guess, and cannot tell whether she is right or wrong; and like a petty river is swallowed up in the boundless ocean of Omnipotency.
Meditation is the souls perspective glass; whereby, in her long remove, she discerneth God as if he were nearer hand. I persuade no man to make it his whole lifes business. We have bodies as well as souls; and even this world, while we are in it, ought somewhat to be cared for. As those states are likely to flourish where execution follows sound advisements, so is man when contemplation is seconded by action.
Should we hear a continued oration upon such a subject as the stage treats on, in such words as we hear some sermons, I am confident it would not only be far more tedious, but nauseous and contemptful.