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Vanity is a natural object of temptation to a woman.
Violent zeal for truth has a hundred to one odds to be either petulancy, ambition, or pride.
Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.
We are little airy creatures,
All of different voice and features;
One of us in glass is set,
One of us you'll find in jet,
T'other you may see in tin,
And the fourth a box within.
If the fifth you should pursue,
It can never fly from you.
We have an intuitive sense of our duty.
What planter will attempt to yoke a sapling with a falling oak?
What they do in heaven we are ignorant of; what they do not we are told expressly.
When any one person or body of men seize into their hands the power in the last resort, there is properly no longer a government, but what Aristotle and his followers call the abuse and corruption of one.
When dunces are satiric, I take it for a panegyric.
When I am in danger of bursting, I will go and whisper among the reeds.
When I am reading a book, whether wise or silly, it seems to me to be alive and talking to me.
When men grow virtuous in their old age they are merely making a sacrifice to God of the devil's leavings.
Whence proceeds this weight we lay
On what detracting people say?
Their utmost malice cannot make
Your head, or tooth, or finger ache;
Nor spoil your shapes, distort your face,
Or put one feature out of place.
Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.
Wisdom is a fox who, after long hunting, will at last cost you the pains to dig out; it is a cheese, which, by how much the richer, has the thicker, the homlier, and the coarser coat; and whereof to a judicious palate, the maggots are best. It is a sack posset, wherein the deeper you go, you'll find it the sweeter. Wisdom is a hen, whose cackling we must value and consider, because it is attended with an egg. But lastly, it is a nut, which, unless you choose with judgment, may cost you a tooth, and pay you with nothing but a worm.
Would a writer know how to behave himself with relation td posterity? Let him consider in old books what he finds that he is glad to know, and what omissions he most laments.
When I beheld this I sighed, and said within myself, Surely man is a Broomstick!
- A Meditation upon a Broomstick [Man]
Books, the children of the brain.
- A Tale of a Tub (sec. I) [Books]
Whoever has an ambition to be heard in a crowd must press, and squeeze, and thrust, and climb with indefatigable pains, till he has exalted himself to a certain degree of altitude above them. Now, in all assemblies, though you wedge them ever so close, we may observe this peculiar property, that over their heads there is room enough; but how to reach it is the difficult point, it being as hard to get quit of number as of hell.
- A Tale of a Tub
(Section 1 - The Introduction)
[Books (First Lines)]
Never sleeping, still awake,
Pleasing most when most I speak;
The delight of old and young,
Though I speak without a tongue.
Nought but one thing can confound me,
Many voices joining round me,
Then I fret, and rave, and gabble,
Like the labourers of Babel.
- An Echo [Echo]
The violets ope their purple heads;
The roses blow, the cowslip springs.
- Answer to a Scandalous Poem (l. 150)
Atlas, we read in ancient song,
Was so exceeding tall and strong,
He bore the skies upon his back,
Just as the pedler does his pack;
But, as the pedler overpress'd
Unloads upon a stall to rest,
Or, when he can no longer stand,
Desires a friend to lend a hand,
So Atlas, lest the ponderous spheres
Should sink, and fall about his ears,
Got Hercules to bear the pile,
That he might sit and rest awhile.
- Atlas; or, the Minister of State [Gods]
Of all the girls that e'er was seen,
There's none so fine as Nelly.
- Ballad on Miss Nelly Bennet [Women]
Instead of dirt and poison, we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax, thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light.
- Battle of the Books,
fable on the merits of the bee (the ancients) and the spider (the moderns)
How we apples swim.
- Brother Protestants [Apples]
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