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HUGH BLAIR
English clergyman, critic and professor of rhetoric and belles-lettres
(1718 - 1809)
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In vain we attempt to clear our conscience by affecting to compensate for fraud or cruelty by acts of strict religious homage towards God.
      - [Retribution]

Industry is not only the instrument of improvement, but the foundation of pleasure. He who is a stranger to it may possess, but cannot enjoy; for it is labor only which gives relish to pleasure. It is the appointed vehicle of every good to man. It is the indispensable condition of possessing a sound mind in a sound body.
      - [Industry]

It frequently happens that where the second line is sublime, the third, in which he meant to rise still higher, is perfectly bombast.
      - commenting on Lucan's style [Ridicule]

It is difficult to descend with grace without seeming to fall.
      - [Style]

It is for the sake of man, not of God, that worship and prayers are required; not that God may be rendered more glorious, but that man may be made better,--that he may be confirmed in a proper sense of his dependent state, and acquire those pious and virtuous dispositions in which his highest improvement consists.
      - [Worship]

It is pride which fills the world with so much harshness and severity. We are rigorous to offenses as if we had never offended.
      - [Pride]

Levity may be the forced production of folly or vice; cheerfulness is the natural offspring of wisdom and virtue only. The one is an occasion agitation; the other a germane habit. The one degrades the character, the other is perfectly consistent with the dignity of reason and the steady and manly spirit of religion.
      - [Cheerfulness]

Life will frequently languish, even in the hands of the busy, if they have not some employment subsidiary to that which forms their main pursuit.
      - [Employment]

Men shiver when thou art named; nature appalled shakes off her wonted firmness.
      - [Tombs]

Nothing leads more directly to the breach of charity, and to the injury and molestation of our fellow-creatures, than the indulgence of an ill temper.
      - [Temper]

Nothing, except what flows from the heart, can render even external manners truly pleasing.
      - [Manners]

O cursed lust of gold; when for thy sake
  The fool throws up his interest in both worlds,
    First starved in this, then damn'd in that to come.
      - [Avarice]

Oft in the lone churchyard at night I've seen,
  By glimpse of moonshine, chequering through the trees,
    The school-boy with his satchel in his hand,
      Whistling aloud to bear his courage up;
        And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones,
          (With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown,
            That tell in homely phrase who lie below;)
              Sudden he starts! and hears, or thinks he hears,
                The sound of something purring at his heels.
      - [Schools]

On this side and on that, men see their friends
  Drop off like leaves in autumn.
      - [Death]

Only mediocrity of enjoyment is allowed to man.
      - [Enjoyment]

People first abandon reason, and then become obstinate; and the deeper they are in error the more angry they are.
      - [Obstinacy]

Pride makes us esteem ourselves; vanity makes us desire the esteem of others.
      - [Vanity]

Prosperity is often an equivocal word denoting merely affluence of possession.
      - [Prosperity]

Refined taste forms a good critic; but genius is further necessary to form the poet or the orator.
      - [Genius]

Sentiment and principle are often mistaken for each other, though, in fact, they widely differ. Sentiment is the virtue of ideas, and principle the virtue of action. Sentiment has its seat in the head; principle, in the heart. Sentiment suggests fine harangues and subtle distinctions; principle conceives just notions, and performs good actions in consequence of them. Sentiment refines away the simplicity of truth, and the plainness of piety, and, as Voltaire, that celebrated wit, has remarked of his no less celebrated contemporary, Rousseau, "gives us virtue in words, and vice in deeds." Sentiment may be called the Athenian who knew what was right; and principle, the Lacedemonian who practiced it.
      - [Sentiment]

Silence is one of the great arts of conversation, as allowed by Cicero himself, who says "there is not only an art, but an eloquence in it"; and this opinion is confirmed by a great modern, Lord Bacon. For a well-bred woman may easily and effectually promote the most useful and elegant conversation without speaking a word. The modes of speech are scarcely more variable than the modes of silence.
      - [Silence]

Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd there:
  Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow tombs,
    Dead men have come again, and, walk'd about;
      And the great bell has toll'd unrung, untouch'd.
        Such tales their cheer at wake or gossiping,
          When it draws near to witching time of night.
      - [Churchyards]

Such is the infatuation of self-love, that, though in the general doctrine of the vanity world all men agree, yet almost everyone flatters himself that his own case is to be an exception from the common rule.
      - [Self-love]

Taste consists in the power of judging; genius in the power of executing.
      - [Genius]

That reproach of modern times, that gulf of time and fortune, the passion for gaming, which is so often the refuge of the idle sons of pleasure and often, alas! the last resource of the ruined.
      - [Gambling]


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