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SYDNEY SMITH
English clergyman, wit and essayist
(1771 - 1845)
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A bigot delights in public ridicule, for he begins to think he is a martyr.
      - [Prejudice]

A great deal of talent is lost in the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves a number of obscure men, who have only remained in obscurity because their timidity has prevented them from making a first effort.
      - [Cowards]

A man can do without his own approbation in much society, but he must make great exertions to gain it when he lives alone.
      - [Self-respect]

A true sarcasm is like a sword-stick; it appears, at first sight, to be much more innocent than it really is, till, all of a sudden, there leaps something out of it--sharp and deadly and incisive--which makes you tremble and recoil.
      - [Sarcasm]

All affectation and display proceed the supposition of possessing something better than the rest of the world possesses. Nobody is vain in possessing two legs and two arms; because that is the precise quantity of either sort of limb which everybody possesses.
      - [Conceit]

All mankind are happier for having been happy; so that, if you make them happy now, you make them happy twenty years hence by the memory of it.
      - [Happiness]

All musical people seem to be happy. It is the engrossing pursuit,--almost the only innocent and unpunished passion.
      - [Music]

Among the smaller duties of life, I hardly know any one more important than that of not praising where praise is not due. Reputation is one of the prizes for which men contend: it is, as Mr. Burke calls it, "the cheap defense and ornament of nations." It produces more labor and more talent than twice the wealth of a country could ever rear up. It is the coin of genius, and it is the imperious duty of every man to bestow it with the most scrupulous justice and the wisest economy.
      - [Praise]

Be what nature intended you for, and you will succeed; be anything else and you will be ten thousand times worse than nothing.
      - [Destiny]

Brevity in writing is what charity is to all other virtues--righteousness is nothing without the one, nor authorship without the other.
      - [Brevity]

Correspondences are like small-clothes before the invention of suspenders; it is impossible to keep them up.
      - [Correspondence]

Duelling, though barbarous in civilized, is a highly civilized institution among barbarous people, and when compared to assassination, is a prodigious victory gained over human passions.
      - [Dueling]

Ennui, wretchedness, melancholy, groans and sighs are the offering which these unhappy Methodists make to a Deity, who has covered the earth with gay colors, and scented it with rich perfumes; and shown us, by the plan and order of His works, that He has given to man something better than a bare existence, and scattered over His creation a thousand superfluous joys, which are totally unnecessary to the mere support of life.
      - [Ennui]

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; from pure extravagance, and genuine, unmingled falsehood, the world never has, and never can sustain any mischief.
      - [Error]

Every good picture is the best of sermons and lectures. The sense informs the soul. Whatever you have, have beauty.
      - [Beauty]

Fortitude, justice, and candor are very necessary instruments of happiness, but they require time and exertion.
      - [Happiness]

He deserves to be preached to death by wild curates.
      - [Preaching]

His dress was a volcano of silk with lava buttons.
      - [Dress]

How nature delights and amuses us by varying even the character of insects; the ill-nature of the wasp, the sluggishness of the drone, the volatility of the butterfly, the slyness of the bug!
      - [Variety]

I believe one reason why women are generally so much more cheerful than men is because they can work with the needle, and so endlessly vary their employment.
      - [Occupations]

I do not mean to be disrespectful, but the attempt of the Lords to stop the progress of reform, reminds me very forcibly of the great storm of Sidmouth, and of the conduct of the excellent Mrs. Partington on that occasion. In the winter of 1824, there set in a great flood upon that town--the tide rose to an incredible height: the waves rushed in upon the houses, and everything was threatened with destruction. In the midst of this sublime and terrible storm, Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her mop, squeezing out the sea water, and vigorously pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused. Mrs. Partington's spirit was up; but I need not tell you that the contest was unequal. The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington. She was excellent at a slop or a puddle, but she should not have meddled with a tempest.
      - in a speech at Tuunton, Oct. 1831 [Reform]

I endeavor in vain to give my parishioners more cheerful ideas of religion; to teach them that God is not a jealous, childish, merciless tyrant; that He is best served by a regular tenor of good actions, not by bad singing, ill-composed prayers, and eternal apprehensions. But the luxury of false religion is to be unhappy!
      - [Religion]

I have come to the conclusion that mankind consume twice too much food.
      - [Gluttony]

I have no relish for the country; it is a kind of healthy grave.
      - [Country]

I have the most perfect confidence in your indiscretion.
      - [Indiscretion]


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