Reference > Quotations > James Wood, comp. > Dictionary of Quotations
James Wood, comp.  Dictionary of Quotations.  1899.
John Morley
  A proverb is good sense brought to a point.  1
  Intellectual fairness is often only another name for indolence and inconclusiveness of mind, just as love of truth is sometimes a fine phrase for temper.  2
  It is a beggarly conception to judge as if poetry should always be capable of a prose rendering.  3
  It is a great mistake to think that because you have read a masterpiece once or twice or ten times, therefore you have done with it…. You ought to live with it and make it part of your daily life.  4
  It is at least fatal to the philosophic pretension of a line or stanza if, when it is fairly reduced to prose, the prose discloses that it is nonsense.  5
  It is best to take with thankfulness and admiration from each man what he has to give.  6
  It is his moral sentences on mankind or the state that rank the prose writer among the sages.  7
  It is not everybody who can bend the bow of Ulysses, and most men only do themselves a mischief by trying to bend it.  8
  It requires no preterhuman force of will in any young man or woman … to get at least half an hour out of a solid busy day for good and disinterested reading.  9
  Literature consists of all the books—and they are not many—where moral truth and human passion are touched with a certain largeness, sanity, and attraction of form.  10
  Many people think of knowledge as of money. They would like knowledge, but cannot face the perseverance and self-denial that go to the acquisition of it.  11
  Maxim or aphorism, let us remember that this wisdom of life is the true salt of literature; that those books are most nourishing which are most richly stored with it, and that it is one of the main objects … which men ought to seek in the reading of books.  12
  Moderation and judgment are, for most purposes, more than the flash and the glitter even of genius.  13
  Plutarch warns young men that it is well to go for a light to another man’s fire, but by no means to tarry by it, instead of kindling a torch of their own.  14
  Proverbs cover the whole field of man as he is, and life as it is, not of either as they ought to be.  15
  Some of the most famous books are least worth reading. Their fame was due to their doing something that needed in their day to be done. The work done, the virtue of the book expires.  16
  The essence of aphorism is the compression of a mass of thought and observation into a single saying.  17
  The great successes of the world have been affairs of a second, a third, nay, a fiftieth trial.  18
  The habit and power of reading with reflection, comprehension, and memory all alert and awake, does not come at once to the natural man any more than many other sovereign virtues.  19
  The object of reading is not to dip into everything that even wise men have ever written.  20
  The parcel of books, if they are well chosen,… awakens within us the diviner mind, and rouses us to a consciousness of what is best in others and ourselves.  21
  The point is not that men should have a great many books, but that they should have the right ones, and that they should use those that they have.  22
  The power of observing life is rare, that of drawing lessons from it rarer, and that of condensing the lesson in a pointed sentence is rarest of all.  23
  The thing that matters most, both for happiness and for duty, is that we should strive habitually to live with wise thoughts and right feelings.  24
  There is poetry and beauty in the common lives about us, if we look at them with imaginative and sympathetic eye.  25
  Try for yourselves what you can read in half-an-hour,… and consider what treasures you might have laid by at the end of the year; and what happiness, fortitude and wisdom they would have given you during all the days of your life.  26
  We all know that the secret of breakdown and wreck is seldom so much an insufficient knowledge of the route, as imperfect discipline of the will.  27
  We may all agree in lamenting that there are so many houses where you will not find a good atlas, a good dictionary, or a good cyclopædia of reference. What is still more lamentable, in a good many more houses where these books are, is that they are never referred to or opened.  28
  When our names are blotted out, and our place knows us no more, the energy of each social service will remain.  29
  Wise sayings are the guiding oracles which man has found out for himself in that great business of ours, of learning how to be, to do, to do without, and to depart.  30
  You will find that most books worth reading once are worth reading twice.  31

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