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JOHN FOSTER (1)
English clergyman and essayist
(1770 - 1843)

A man of genius may sometimes suffer a miserable sterility; but at other times he will feel himself the magician of thought.
      - [Genius]

Alas! many an enamored pair have courted in poetry, and after marriage lived in prose.
      - [Celibacy]

All reasoning is retrospect; it consists in the application of facts and principles previously known. This will show the very great importance of knowledge, especially that kind which is called experience.
      - [Experience : Reason]

An atheist is one of the most daring beings in creation,--a contemner of God, who explodes His laws by denying His existence.
      - [Atheism]

An observant man, in all his intercourse with society and the world, carries a pencil constantly in his hand, and, unperceived, marks on every person and thing the figure expressive of its value, and therefore instantly on meeting that person or thing again, knows what kind and degree of attention to give it. This is to make something of experience.
      - [Observation]

Burke's sentences are pointed at the end, instinct with pungent sense to the last syllable. They are like a charioteer's whip, which not only has a long and effective lash, but cracks and inflicts a still smarter sensation at the end.
      - [Style]

Casual thoughts are sometimes of great value. One of these may prove the key to open for us a yet unknown apartment in the palace of truth, or a yet unexplored tract in the paradise of sentiment that environs it.
      - [Thought]

Fine feelings, without vigor of reason are, in the situation of the extreme feather of a peacock's tail--dragging in the mud.
      - [Feeling]

Genius is the power of lighting one's own fire.
      - [Genius]

He who would do some great thing in this short life must apply himself to the work with such a concentration of his forces as, to idle spectators, who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity.
      - [Earnestness : Energy]

How little of our knowledge of mankind is derived from intentional accurate observation! Most of it has, unsought, found its way into the mind from the continual presentations of the objects to our unthinking view. It is a knowledge of sensation more than of reflection.
      - [Observation]

How many of these minds are there to whom scarcely any good can be done! They have no excitability. You are attempting to kindle a fire of stone. You must leave them as you find them, in permanent mediocrity.
      - [Mediocrity]

I find that most people are made only for the common uses of life.
      - [Mediocrity]

I have often maintained that fiction may be much more instructive than real history.
      - [Fiction]

In the great majority of things habit is a greater plague than ever afflicted Egypt.
      - [Habit]

Mr. T. sees religion, not as a sphere; but as a line; and it is the identical line in which he is moving. He is like an African buffalo,--sees right forward, nothing on the right hand or on the left.
      - [Bigotry]

People of gayety and fashion have occasionally a feeling that a little easy quantity of religion would be a good thing; because, after all, we cannot stay in this world always, and there may be hardish matters to settle in the other place.
      - [Religion]

Polished steel will not shine in the dark; no more can reason, however refined, shine efficaciously, but as it reflects the light of Divine truth, shed from heaven.
      - [Reason]

The souls of men of undecided and feeble purpose are the graveyards of good intentions.
      - [Soul]

There exists a very beautiful custom in Germany, which it would be well to imitate everywhere. On the first day of the New Year, whatever may have been the quarrels or estrangement between friends and relatives, mutual visits are interchanged, kindly greetings given and received--all is forgotten and forgiven. Let this custom begin with reconciliation to God, then friendship and fellowship may be found that shall be blessed and lasting.
      - [New Year's Day]

Think how completely all the griefs of this mortal life will be compensated by one age, for instance, of the felicities beyond the grave.
      - [Heaven]

Time is the greatest of all tyrants. As we go on towards age, he taxes our health, limbs, faculties, strength, and features.
      - [Time]

When we withdraw from human intercourse into solitude, we are more peculiarly committed in the presence of the divinity; yet some men retire into solitude to devise or perpetrate crimes. This is like a man going to meet and brave a lion in his own gloomy desert, in the very precincts of his dread abode.
      - [Solitude]

Youth is not like a new garment which we can keep fresh and fair by wearing sparingly. Youth, while we have it, we must wear daily; and it will fast wear away.
      - [Youth]


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