Sydney Smith Quotes

  1. I have, alas, only one illusion left, and that is the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  2. It resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated, often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.
  3. To business that we love we rise bedtime, and go to’t with delight.
  4. I never read a book before previewing it; it prejudices a man so.
  5. No man can ever end with being superior who will not begin with being inferior.
  6. Never talk for half a minute without pausing and giving others a chance to join in.
  7. The object of preaching is to constantly remind mankind of what they keep forgetting; not to supply the intellect, but to fortify the feebleness of human resolutions.
  8. What would life be without arithmetic, but a scene of horrors?
  9. Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.
  10. Poverty is no disgrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.
  11. Let the Dean and Canons lay their heads together and the thing will be done.
  12. A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort.
  13. Whatever you are by nature, keep to it; never desert your line of talent. Be what nature intended you for, and you will succeed.
  14. Live always in the best company when you read.
  15. It is safest to be moderately base – to be flexible in shame, and to be always ready for what is generous, good, and just, when anything is to be gained by virtue.
  16. Solitude cherishes great virtues and destroys little ones.
  17. A comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience.
  18. Errors, to be dangerous, must have a great deal of truth mingled with them. It is only from this alliance that they can ever obtain an extensive circulation.
  19. What a pity it is that we have no amusements in England but vice and religion!
  20. Heaven never helps the men who will not act.
  21. It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can.
  22. Never give way to melancholy; resist it steadily, for the habit will encroach.
  23. Life is to be fortified by many friendships. To love and to be loved is the greatest happiness of existence.
  24. Correspondences are like small clothes before the invention of suspenders; it is impossible to keep them up.
  25. Science is his forte, and omniscience his foible.
  26. Madam, I have been looking for a person who disliked gravy all my life; let us swear eternal friendship.
  27. What you don’t know would make a great book.
  28. The thing about performance, even if it’s only an illusion, is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities.
  29. As the French say, there are three sexes – men, women, and clergymen.
  30. Manners are like the shadows of virtues, they are the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow creatures love and respect.
  31. Great men hallow a whole people, and lift up all who live in their time.
  32. I look upon Switzerland as an inferior sort of Scotland.
  33. Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.
  34. Find fault when you must find fault in private, and if possible sometime after the offense, rather than at the time.
  35. To do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in, and scramble through as well as we can.
  36. Bishop Berkeley destroyed this world in one volume octavo; and nothing remained, after his time, but mind; which experienced a similar fate from the hand of Mr. Hume in 1737.
  37. In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style.
  38. Among the smaller duties of life I hardly know any one more important than that of not praising where praise is not due.

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