S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
As for a little more money and a little more time, why its ten to one if either one or the other would make you a whit happier. If you had more time, it would be sure to hang heavily. It is the working man is the happy man. Man was made to be active, and he is never so happy as when he is so. It is the idle man is the miserable man. What comes of holidays, and far too often of sight-seeing, but evil? Half the harm that happens is on those days. And as for moneyDont you remember the old saying, Enough is as good as a feast? Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way. That was a true proverb of the wise man, rely upon it: Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure, and trouble therewith.
If we can sleep without dreaming, it is well that painful dreams are avoided. If while we sleep we can have any pleasing dreams, it is, as the French say, tant gagné, so much added to the pleasure of life.
Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarcely in that; for it is true we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct. Remember this: they that will not be counselled cannot be helped. If you do not hear reason, she will rap your knuckles.
There are two ways of being happy,we may either diminish our wants, or augment our meanseither will dothe result is the same; and it is for each man to decide for himself, and do that which happens to be the easiest. If you are idle, or sick, or poor, however hard it may be to diminish your wants, it will be harder to augment your means. If you are active and prosperous, or young, or in good health, it may be easier for you to augment your means than to diminish your wants. But if you are wise you will do both at the same time, young or old, rich or poor, sick or well; and if you are very wise you will do both in such a way as to augment the general happiness of society.
Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy; and he that riseth late must trot all day, and scarce overtake his business at night; while Laziness travels so slowly that Poverty soon overtakes him.
By the original law of nations, war and extirpation were the punishment of injury. Humanizing by degrees, it admitted slavery instead of death: a further step was the exchange of prisoners instead of slavery.
We assemble parliaments and councils to have the benefit of their collected wisdom; but we necessarily have, at the same time, the inconveniences of their collected passions, prejudices, and private interests. By the help of these, artful men overpower their wisdom, and dupe its possessors; and if we may judge by the acts, arrêts, and edicts, all the world over, for regulating commerce, an assembly of great men are the greatest fools upon earth.
Pride is as loud a beggar as want, and a great deal more saucy. When you have bought one fine thing, you must buy ten more, that your appearance may be all of a piece; but it is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follows it.
Of these are a Socratic dialogue, tending to prove that, whatever might be his parts and abilities, a vicious man could not properly be called a man of sense; and a discourse on self-denial, showing that virtue was not secure till its practice became a habitude and was free from the opposition of contrary inclinations.
I would therefore offer it to the consideration of those who superintend the education of our youth, whether, since many of those who begin with the Latin quit the same after spending some years without having made any great proficiency, and what they have learned becomes almost useless, so that their time has been lost, it would not have been better to have begun with the French, proceeding to the Italian and Latin; for, though, after spending the same time, they should quit the study of languages and never arrive at the Latin, they would, however, have acquired another tongue or two that, being in modern use, might be serviceable to them in common life.
I soon found the advantage of this change in my manners: the conversations I engaged in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I proposed my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevailed with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right. And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, became at length easy, and so habitual to me that perhaps for the last fifty years no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me.
That while a party is carrying on a general design, each man has his particular private interest in view. That as soon as a party has gained its general point, each member becomes intent upon his particular interest; which, thwarting others, breaks that party into divisions, and occasions more confusion.
That few in public affairs act from a mere view of the good of their country, whatever they may pretend; and though their actings bring real good to their country, yet men primarily considered that their own and their countrys interest were united, and so did not act from a principle of benevolence.
By hearing him [Whitefield] often, I came to distinguish easily between sermons newly composed, and those which he had often preached in the course of his travels. His delivery of the latter was so improved by frequent repetition, that every accent, every emphasis, every modulation of voice was so perfectly well turned and well placed, that, without being interested in the subject, one could not help being pleased with the discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind with that received from an excellent piece of music. This is an advantage itinerant preachers have over those who are stationary, as the latter cannot well improve their delivery of a sermon by so many rehearsals.
In reality, there is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself: you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.
I never was without some religious principles, I never doubted, for instance, the existence of a Deity; that he made the world and governed it by his providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crimes will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteemed the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, though with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mixed with other articles, which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, served principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another.
Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and a guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits, and the force of perpetual temptations.
In this piece it was my design to explain and enforce this doctrine, that vicious actions are not hurtful because they are forbidden, but forbidden because they are hurtful, the nature of men alone considered; that it was, therefore, every ones interest to be virtuous who wished to be happy even in this world.
Since the foolish part of mankind will make wars, from time to time, with each other, not having sense enough otherwise to settle their differences, it certainly becomes the wiser part, who cannot prevent these wars, to alleviate as much as possible the calamities attending them.
Benjamin Franklin: Letter to Burke, Oct. 15, 1781.
Christians are directed to have faith in Christ, as the effectual means of obtaining the change they desire. It may, when sufficiently strong, be effectual with many; for a full opinion that a teacher is infinitely wise, good, and powerful, and that he will certainly reward and punish the obedient and disobedient, must give great weight to his precepts, and make them much more attended to by his disciples. But many have this faith in so weak a degree that it does not produce the effect.
Benjamin Franklin: Letter to Lord Kames, May 3, 1760: Sparkss Life and Corresp. of Franklin.
Conversation warms the mind, enlivens the imagination, and is continually starting fresh game that is immediately pursued and taken, and which would never have occurred in the duller intercourse of epistolary correspondence.
Benjamin Franklin: Letter to Lord Kames: Sparkss Life and Corresp. of Franklin.
In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favour. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? I have lived for a long time [81 years]; and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall proceed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: we shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests; our prospects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a by-word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, or conquest. I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business; and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.
Benjamin Franklin: Speech in Convention for forming a Constitution for the United States, 1787.