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American essayist and critic
(1819 - 1886)
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Nothing is rarer than the use of a word in its exact meaning.
      - [Words]

Nothing really succeeds which is not based on reality; sham, in a large sense, is never successful. In the life of the individual, as in the more comprehensive life of the State, pretension is nothing and power is everything.
      - [Honesty]

Of the three requisitions of genius, the first is soul, and the second, soul, and the third soul.
      - [Genius]

Pretension is nothing; power is everything.
      - [Power]

Sin, every day, takes out a patent for some new invention.
      - [Sin]

Some men find happiness in gluttony and in drunkenness, but no delicate viands can touch their taste with the thrill of pleasure, and what generosity there is in wine steadily refuses to impart its glow to their shriveled hearts.
      - [Gluttony]

Sydney Smith playfully says that common sense was invented by Socrates, that philosopher having been one of its most conspicuous exemplars in conducting the contest of practical sagacity against stupid prejudice and illusory beliefs.
      - [Common Sense]

Talent is a cistern; genius, a fountain.
      - [Talent]

Talent repeats; genius creates. Talent is a cistern;, genius a fountain. Talent deals with the actual, with discovered and realised truths, analyzing, arranging, combining, applying positive knowledge, and in action looking to precedents; genius deals with the possible, creates new combinations, discovers new laws, and acts from an insight into principles. Talent jogs to conclusions to which genius takes giant leaps. Talent accumulates knowledge, and has it packed up in the memory; genius assimilates it with its own substance, grows with every new accession, and converts knowledge into power. Talent gives out what it has taken in; genius what has risen from its unsounded wells of living thought. Talent, in difficult situations, strives to untie knots, which genius instantly cuts with one swift decision. Talent is full of thoughts, genius of thought; one has definite acquisitions, the other indefinite power.
      - [Talent]

Tears are copiously showered over frailties the discoverer takes a malicious delight in circulating; and thus, all granite on one side of the heart, and all milk on the other, the unsexed scandal-monger hies from house to house, pouring balm from its weeping eyes on the wounds it inflicts with its stabbing tongue.
      - [Scandal]

The bitterest satires and noblest eulogies on married life have come from poets.
      - [Wedlock]

The contemplation of beauty in nature, in art, in literature, in human character, diffuses through our being a soothing and subtle joy, by which the heart's anxious and aching cares are softly smiled away.
      - [Beauty]

The essence of the ludicrous consists in surprise,--in unexpected terms of feeling and explosions of thought,--often bringing dissimilar things together with a shock; as when some wit called Boyle, the celebrated philosopher, the father of chemistry and brother of the Earl of Cork.
      - [Wit]

The eye observes only what the mind, the heart, and the imagination are gifted to see; and sight must be reinforced by insight before souls can be discerned as well as manners, ideas as well as objects, realities and relations as well as appearances and accidental connections.
      - [Eyes]

The familiar writer is apt to be his own satirist. Out of his own mouth is he judged.
      - [Authorship]

The great characteristic of men of active genius is a sublime self-confidence, springing not from self-conceit, but from an intense identification of the man with his object, which lifts him altogether above the fear of danger and death, which gives to his enterprise a character of insanity to the common eye, and which communicates an almost superhuman audacity to his will.
      - [Self-confidence]

The greatness of action includes immoral as well as moral greatness--Cortes and Napoleon, as well as Luther and Washington.
      - [Greatness]

The inborn geniality of some people amounts to genius.
      - [Cheerfulness]

The invention of printing added a new element of power to the race. From that hour, in a most especial sense, the brain and not the arm, the thinker and not the soldier, books and not kings, were to rule the world; and weapons, forged in the mind, keen-edged and brighter than the sunbeam, were to supplant the sword and the battle-axe.
      - [Press]

The laughter which it creates is impish and devilish, the very mirth of fiends, and its wit the gleam and glare of infernal light.
      - [Satire]

The minister's brain is often the "poor-box" of the church.
      - [Preaching]

The purity of the critical ermine, like that of the judicial, is often soiled by contact with politics.
      - [Criticism]

The saddest failures in life are those that come from the not putting forth of power and will to succeed.
      - [Will]

The strife of politics tends to unsettle the calmest understanding, and ulcerate the most benevolent heart. There are no bigotries or absurdities too gross for parties to create or adopt under the stimulus of political passions.
      - [Politics]

The very large, very respectable, and very knowing class of misanthropes who rejoice in the name of grumblers,--persons who are so sure that the world is going to ruin, that they resent every attempt to comfort them as an insult to their sagacity, and accordingly seek their chief consolation in being inconsolable, their chief pleasure in being displeased.
      - [Grumbling]

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