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SYDNEY SMITH
English clergyman, wit and essayist
(1771 - 1845)
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I once gave a lady two-and-twenty receipts against melancholy: one was a bright fire; another, to remember all the pleasant things said to her; another, to keep a box of sugar-plums on the chimney-piece and a kettle simmering on the hob. I thought this mere trifling at the moment, but have in after life discovered how true it is that these little pleasures often banish melancholy better than higher and more exalted objects; and that no means ought to be thought too trifling which can oppose it either in ourselves or in others.
      - [Melancholy]

I shall never apologize to you for egotism. I think very few men writing to their friends have enough of it.
      - [Egotism]

If idleness do not produce vice or malevolence, it commonly produces melancholy.
      - [Idleness]

If men are to be fools, it were better that they were fools in little matters than in great; dullness, turned up with temerity, is a livery all the worse for the facings; and the most tremendous of all things is a magnanimous dunce.
      - [Fools]

If you wish to keep the mind clear and the body healthy, abstain from all fermented liquors.
      - [Temperance]

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.
      - [Writing]

It is all nonsense about not being able to work without ale and cider and fermented liquors. Do lions and cart-horses drink ale?
      - [Temperance]

It is always considered as a piece of impertinence in England, if a man of less than two or three thousand a year has any opinion at all upon important subjects.
      - [Opinion]

It is astonishing the influence foolish apothegms have upon the mass of mankind, though they are not unfrequently fallacies.
      - [Apothegms]

It is good for any man to be alone with nature and himself, or with a friend who knows when silence is more sociable than talk, "In the wilderness alone, there where nature worships God." It is well to be in places where man is little and God is great,--where what he sees all around him has the same look as it had a thousand years ago, and will have the same, in all likelihood, when he has been a thousand years in his grave. It abates and rectifies a man, if he is worth the process.
      - [Nature]

It is wonderful what a different view we take of the same event four-and-twenty hours after if has happened.
      - [Hindsight]

It resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing any one who comes between them.
      - [Matrimony]

Let every man be occupied, and occupied in the highest employment of which his nature is capable, and die with the consciousness that he has done his best.
      - [Occupations]

Living a good deal alone will, I believe, correct me of my faults; for a man can do without his own approbation in much society, but he must make great exertions to gain it when he lives alone. Without it I am convinced solitude is not to be endured.
      - [Solitude]

Man lives only to shiver and perspire.
      - [Life]

Manners are the shadows of virtues; the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow-creatures love and respect. If we strive to become, then, what we strive to appear, manners may often be rendered useful guides to the performance of our duties.
      - [Manners]

Nature descends down to infinite smallness. Great men have their parasites; and, if you take a large buzzing blue-bottle fly, and look at it in a microscope, you may see twenty or thirty little ugly insects crawling about it, which, doubtless, think their fly to be the bluest, grandest, merriest, most important animal in the universe, and are convinced the world would be at an end if it ceased to buzz.
      - [Conceit]

Never teach false modesty. How exquisitely absurd to teach a girl that beauty is of no value, dress of no use! Beauty is of value; her whole prospects and happiness in life may often depend upon a new gown or a becoming bonnet; if she has five grains of common sense she will find this out. The great thing is to teach her their proper value.
      - [Dress]

No furniture is so charming as books.
      - [Books]

No man can ever end with being superior who will not begin with being inferior.
      - [Superiority]

No man, I fear, can effect great benefits for his country without some sacrifice of the minor virtues.
      - [Scrupulousness]

Nothing is so expensive as glory.
      - [Glory]

Novelty is the foundation of the love of knowledge.
      - [Novelty]

Poverty is no disgrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.
      - [Poverty]

Praise is the best diet for us, after all.
      - [Praise]


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