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EDWIN PERCY WHIPPLE
American essayist and critic
(1819 - 1886)
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Felicity, not fluency, of language is a merit.
      - [Language]

From Lucifer to Jerry Sneak there is not an aspect of evil, imperfection, and littleness which can elude the lights of humor or the lightning of wit.
      - [Wit]

From the hour of the invention of printing, books, and not kings, were to rule the world. Weapons forged in the mind, keen-edged, and brighter than a sunbeam, were to supplant the sword and battle-axe.
      - [Literature]

Genius is not a single power, but a combination of great powers. It reasons, but it is not reasoning; it judges, but it is not judgment; it imagines, but it is not imagination; it feels deeply and fiercely, but it is not passion. It is neither, because it is all.
      - [Genius]

Genius may be almost defined as the faculty of acquiring poverty.
      - [Genius]

God is glorified, not by our groans, but our thanksgivings; and all good thought and good action claim a natural alliance with good cheer.
      - [Cheerfulness]

God, in His wrath, has not left this world to the mercy of the subtlest dialectician; and all arguments are happily transitory in their effect when they contradict the primal intuitions of conscience and the inborn sentiments of the heart.
      - [Conscience]

Grit is the grain of character. It may generally be described as heroism materialized,--spirit and will thrust into heart, brain, and backbone, so as to form part of the physical substance of the man.
      - [Character]

Heroism is no extempore work of transient impulse--a rocket rushing fretfully up to disturb the darkness by which, after a moment's insulting radiance, it is ruthlessly swallowed up,--but a steady fire, which darts forth tongues of flame. It is no sparkling epigram of action, but a luminous epic of character.
      - [Heroism]

His genius, it is true, was of a peculiar kind; the genius of character, of thought, and the objects of thought solidified and concentrated into active faculty. He belongs to that rare class of men--rare as Homers and Miltons, rare as Platos and Newtons--who have impressed their characters upon nations without pampering national vices. Such men have natures broad enough to include all the facts of a people's practical life, and deep enough to discern the spiritual laws which underlie, animate, and govern those facts.
      - [Washington, George]

Humor implies a sure conception of the beautiful, the majestic, and the true, by whose light it surveys and shapes their opposites. It is an humane influence, softening with mirth the ragged inequalities of existence, prompting tolerant views of life, bridging over the spaces which separate the lofty from the lowly, the great from the humble.
      - [Humor]

Humor, warm and all-embracing as the sunshine, bathes its objects in a genial and abiding light.
      - [Humor]

In most old communities there is a common sense even in sensuality. Vice itself gets gradually digested into a system, is amenable to certain laws of conventional propriety and honor, has for its object simply the gratification of its appetites, and frowns with quite a conservative air on all new inventions, all untried experiments in iniquity.
      - [Common Sense]

Irony is an insult conveyed in the form of a compliment.
      - [Irony]

It is at once the thinnest and most effective of all the coverings under which duncedom sneaks and skulks.
      - [Dignity]

It marries ideas lying wide apart by a sudden jerk of the understanding.
      - [Wit]

Lord Chatham and Napoleon were ns much actors as Garrick or Talma. Now, an imposing air should always be taken as evidence of imposition. Dignity is often a veil between us and the real truth of things.
      - [Dignity]

Man, being essentially active, must find in activity his joy, as well as his beauty and glory; and labor, like everything else that is good, is its own reward.
      - [Action]

Men educate each other in reason by contact or collision, and keep each other sane by the very conflict of their separate hobbies. Society as a whole is the deadly enemy of the particular crotchet of each, and solitude is almost the only condition in which the acorn of conceit can grow to the oak of perfect self-delusion.
      - [Conceit]

Mirth is a Proteus, changing its shape and manner with the thousand diversities of individual character, from the most superfluous gayety to the deepest, moat earnest humor.
      - [Mirth]

My Lord Anson, at the Admiralty, sends word to Chatham, then confined to his chamber by one of his most violent attacks of the gout, that it is impossible for him to fit out a naval expedition within the period to which he is limited. "Impossible!" cried Chatham, glaring at the messenger; "who talks to me of impossibilities?" Then starting to his feet, and forcing out great drops of agony on his brow with the excruciating torment of the effort, he exclaimed, "Tell Lord Anson that he serves under a minister who treads on impossibilities!"
      - [Impossibility]

Nature and society are so replete with startling contrasts that wit often consists in the mere statement and comparison of facts, as when Hume says that the ancient Muscovites wedded their wives with a whip instead of a ring.
      - [Wit]

Nature does not capriciously scatter her secrets as golden gifts to lazy pets and luxurious darlings, but imposes tasks when she presents opportunities, and uplifts him whom she would inform. The apple that she drops at the feet of Newton is but a coy invitation to follow her to the stars.
      - [Nature]

No education deserves the name unless it develops thought, unless it pierces down to the mysterious spiritual principle of mind, and starts that into activity and growth.
      - [Education]

No language can fitly express the meanness, the baseness, the brutality, with which the world has ever treated its victims of one age and boasts of the next. Dante is worshipped at that grave to which he was hurried by persecution. Milton, in his own day, was "Mr. Milton, the blind adder, that spit his venom on the king's person"; and soon after, "the mighty orb of song." These absurd transitions from hatred to apotheosis, this recognition just at the moment when it becomes a mockery, saddens all intellectual history.
      - [Martyrs]


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