As a great part of the uneasiness of matrimony arises from mere trifles,, it would be wise in every young married man to enter into an agreement with his wife, that in all disputes of this kind the party who was most convinced they were right should always surrender the victory. By which means both would be more forward to give up the cause.
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As the malicious disposition of mankind is too well known, and the cruel pleasure which they take in destroying the reputation of others, the use we are to make of this knowledge is, to afford no handle for reproach; for bad as the world is, it seldom falls on anyone who hath not given some slight cause for censure.
I look upon the vulgar observation, 'That the devil often deserts his friends, and leaves them in the lurch,' to be a great abuse on that gentleman's character. Perhaps he may sometimes desert those who are only his cup acquaintance; or who, at most, are but half his; but he generally stands by those who are thoroughly his servants, and helps them off in all extremities, till their bargain expires.
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And here, I believe, the wit is generally misunderstood. In reality, it lies in desiring another to kiss your a- for having just before threatened to kick his; for I have observed very accurately, that no one ever desires you to kick that which belongs to himself, nor offers to kiss this part in another.
[A]s it is impossible that any man endowed with rational faculties, and being in a state of freedom, should willingly agree, without some motive of love or friendship, absolutely to sacrifice his own interest to that of another; it becomes necessary to impose upon him, to persuade him, that his own good is designed, and that he will be a gainer by coming into those schemes, which are, in reality, calculated for his destruction. And this, if I mistake not, is the very essence of that excellent art, called the art of politics.
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Adams dealt him so sound a Compliment over his Face with his Fist, that the Blood immediately gushed out of his Nose in a Stream. The Host being unwilling to be outdone in Courtesy, especially by a Person of Adams's Figure, returned the Favour with so much Gratitude, that the Parson's Nostrils likewise began to look a little redder than usual.
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I have often wondered, Sir, [... ] to observe so few Instances of Charity among Mankind; for tho' the Goodness of a Man's Heart did not incline him to relieve the Distresses of his Fellow-Creatures, methinks the Desire of Honour should move him to it. What inspires a Man to build fine Houses, to purchase fine Furniture, Pictures, Clothes, and other things at a great Expence, but an Ambition to be respected more than other People? Now would not one great Act of Charity, one Instance of redeeming a poor Family from all the Miseries of Poverty, restoring an unfortunate Tradesman by a Sum of Money to the means of procuring a Livelihood by his Industry, discharging an undone Debtor from his Debts or a Goal, or any such Example of Goodness, create a Man more Honour and Respect than he could acquire by the finest House, Furniture, Pictures or Clothes that were ever beheld? For not only the Object himself who was thus relieved, but all who heard the Name of such a Person must, I imagine, reverence him infinitely more than the Possessor of all those other things: which when we so admire, we rather praise the Builder, the Workman, the Painter, the Laceman, the Taylor, and the rest, by whose Ingenuity they are produced, than the Person who by his Money makes them his own.
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...the act of eating,which hath by several wise men been considered as extremely mean and derogatory from the philosophic dignity, must be in some measure performed by the greatest prince, hero, or philosopher upon earth; nay, sometimes Nature hath been so frolicsome as to exact of these dignified characters a much more exorbitant share of this office than she hath obliged those of the lowest orders to perform.
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Sir, money, money, the most charming of all things; money, which will say more in one moment than the most elegant lover can in years. Perhaps you will say a man is not young; I answer he is rich. He is not genteel, handsome, witty, brave, good-humored, but he is rich, rich, rich, rich, rich -that one word contradicts everything you can say against him.
The raillery which is consistent with good-breeding is a gentle animadversion of some foible, which, while it raises the laugh in the rest of the company, doth not put the person rallied out of countenance, or expose him to shame or contempt. On the contrary, the jest should be so delicate that the object of it should be capable of joining in the mirth it occasions.
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Domestic happiness is the end of almost all our pursuits, and the common reward of all our pains. When men find themselves forever barred from this delightful fruition, they are lost to all industry, and grow careless of all their worldly affairs. Thus they become bad subjects, bad relations, bad friends, and bad men.
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There is a sort of knowledge beyond the power of learning to bestow, and this is to be had in conversation; so necessary is this to the understanding the characters of men, that none are more ignorant of them than those learned pedants whose lives have been entirely consumed in colleges and among books; for however exquisitely human nature may have been described by writers the true practical system can be learned only in the world.
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Contempt of others is the truest symptom of a base and bad heart,--while it suggests itself to the mean and the vile, and tickles there little fancy on every occasion, it never enters the great and good mind but on the strongest motives; nor is it then a welcome guest,--affording only an uneasy sensation, and bringing always with it a mixture of concern and compassion.
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And here, I believe, the wit is generally misunderstood. In reality, it lies in desiring another to kiss your a-- for having just before threatened to kick his; for I have observed very accurately, that no one ever desires you to kick that which belongs to himself, nor offers to kiss this part in another.
The man who is wantonly profuse of his promises ought to sink his credit as much as a tradesman would by uttering a great number of promissory notes payable at a distant day. The truest conclusion in both cases is, that neither intend or will be able to pay. And as the latter most probably intends to cheat you of your money, so the former at least designs to cheat you of your thanks.
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Want compassion is not to be numbered among the general faults of mankind. The black ingredient which fouls our disposition is envy. Hence our eyes, it is to be feared, are seldom turned up to those who are manifestly greater, better, wiser, or happier than ourselves, without some degree of malignity, we commonly look downward on the mean and miserable with sufficient benevolence and pity.
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Perhaps the summary of good-breeding may be reduced to this rule. "Behave unto all men as you would they should behave unto you." This will most certainly oblige us to treat all mankind with the utmost civility and respect, there being nothing that we desire more than to be treated so by them.
As it is the nature of a kite to devour little birds, so it is the nature of some minds to insult and tyrannize over little people; this being the means which they use to recompense themselves for their extreme servility and condescension to their superiors; for nothing can be more reasonable than that slaves and flatterers should exact the same taxes on all below them which they themselves pay to all above them.
It is an error common to many to take the character of mankind from the worst and basest amongst them; whereas, as an excellent writer has observed, nothing should be esteemed as characteristical, of a species but what is to be found amongst the best and the most perfect individuals of that species.
A lover, when he is admitted to cards, ought to be solemnly silent, and observe the motions of his mistress. He must laugh when she laughs, sigh when she sighs. In short, he should be the shadow of her mind. A lady, in the presence of her lover, should never want a looking-glass; as a beau, in the presence of his looking-glass, never wants a mistress.
There are persons of that general philanthropy and easy tempers, which the world in contempt generally calls good-natured, who seem to be sent into the world with the same design with which men put little fish into a pike pond, in order only to be devoured by that voracious water-hero.
The good or evil we confer on others very often, I believe, recoils on ourselves; for as men of a benign disposition enjoy their own acts of beneficence equally with those to whom they are done, so there are scarce any natures so entirely diabolical as to be capable of doing injuries without paying themselves some pangs for the ruin which they bring on their fellow-creatures.
Fashion is the great governor of this world; it presides, not only in matters of dress and amusement, but in law, physic, politics, religion, and all other things of the gravest kind; indeed, the wisest of men would be puzzled to give any better reason why particular forms in all these have been at certain times universally received, and at others universally rejected, than that they were in or out of fashion.
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As it often happens that the best men are but little known, and consequently cannot extend the usefulness of their examples a great way, the biographer is of great utility, as, by communicating such valuable patterns to the world, he may perhaps do a more extensive service to mankind than the person whose life originally afforded the pattern.