Wine heightens indifference into love, love into jealousy, and jealousy into madness. It often turns the good-natured man into an idiot, and the choleric into an assassin. It gives bitterness to resentment, it makes vanity insupportable, and displays every little spot of the soul in its utmost deformity.
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Courage that grows from constitution very often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it, and when it is only a kind of instinct in the Soul breaks out on all occasions without judgment or discretion. That courage which proceeds from the sense of our duty, and from the fear of offending Him that made us, acts always in a uniform manner, and according to the dictates of right reason.
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A statue lies hid in a block of marble, and the art of the statuary only clears away the superfluous matter and removes the rubbish. The figure is in the stone; the sculptor only finds it. What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul. The philosopher, the saint, or the hero,--the wise, the good, or the great man,--very often lies hid and concealed in a plebeian, which a proper education might have disinterred, and have brought to light.
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There is a kind of grandeur and respect which the meanest and most insignificant part of mankind endeavor to procure in the little circle of their friends and acquaintance. The poorest mechanic, nay, the man who lives upon common alms, gets him his set of admirers, and delights in that superiority which he enjoys over those who are in some respects beneath him. This ambition, which is natural to the soul of man, might, methinks, receive a very happy turn; and, if it were rightly directed, contribute as much to a person's advantage, as it generally does to his uneasiness and disquiet.
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Content has a kindly influence on the soul of man, in respect of every being to whom he stands related. It extinguishes all murmuring, repining, and ingratitude toward that Being who has allotted us our part to act in the world. It destroys all inordinate ambition; gives sweetness to the conversation, and serenity to all the thoughts; and if it does not bring riches, it does the same thing by banishing the desire of them.
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Men who profess a state of neutrality in times of public danger, desert the common interest of their fellow subjects; and act with independence to that constitution into which they are incorporated. The safety of the whole requires our joint endeavours. When this is at stake, the indifferent are not properly a part of the community; or rather are like dead limbs, which are an encumbrance to the body, instead of being of use to it.
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Though there is a benevolence due to all mankind, none can question but a superior degree of it is to be paid to a father, a wife, or child. In the same manner, though our love should reach to the whole species, a greater proportion of it should exert itself towards that community in which Providence has placed us. This is our proper sphere of action, the province allotted us for the exercise of our civil virtues, and in which alone we have opportunities of expressing our goodwill to mankind.
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A man governs himself by the dictates of virtue and good sense, who acts without zeal or passion in points that are of no consequence; but when the whole community is shaken, and the safety of the public endangered, the appearance of a philosophical or an affected indolence must arise either from stupidity or perfidiousness.
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The discreet man finds out the talents of those he converses with, and knows how to apply them to proper uses. Accordingly, if we look into particular communities and divisions of men, we may observe that it is the discreet man, not the witty, nor the learned, nor the brave, who guides the conversation, and gives measures to the society.
There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace. Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth evil, both equally unexpected.
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I always rejoice when I see a tribunal filled with a man of an upright and inflexible temper, who in the execution of his country's laws can overcome all private fear, resentment, solicitation, and even pity it self. Whatever passion enters into a sentence or decision, so far will there be in it a tincture of injustice. In short, justice discards party, friendship, kindred, and is therefore always represented as blind, that we may suppose her thoughts are wholly intent on the equity of a cause, without being diverted or prejudiced by objects foreign to it.
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Ladies are always of great use to the party they espouse, and never fail to win over numbers to it. Lovers, according to Sir William Petty's computation, make at least the third part of sensible men of the British nation; and it has been an uncontroverted maxim in all ages, that though a husband is sometimes a stubborn sort of a creature, a lover is always at the devotion of his mistress. By this means, it lies in the power of every fine woman, to secure at least half a dozen able-bodied men to his Majesty's service.
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It is very wonderful to see persons of the best sense passing hours together in shuffling and dividing a pack of cards with no conversation but what is made up of a few game-phrases, and no other ideas but those of black or red spots arranged together in different figures. Would not a man laugh to hear any one of his species complaining that life is short?
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A man who is furnished with arguments from the mint, will convince his antagonist much sooner than one who draws them from reason and philosophy. - Gold is a wonderful clearer of the understanding; it dissipates every doubt and scruple in an instant; accommodates itself to the meanest capacities; silences the loud and clamorous, and cringes over the most obstinate and inflexible. - Philip of Macedon was a man of most invincible reason this way. He refuted by it all the wisdom of Athens; confounded their statesmen; struck their orators dumb; and at length argued them out of all their liberties.
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Every one knows the veneration which was paid by the Jews to a name so great, wonderful, and holy. They would not let it enter even into their religious discourses. What can we then think of those who make use of so tremendous a name, in the ordinary expression of their anger, mirth, and most impertinent passions?
Music, the greatest good that mortals know, And all of heaven we have below. Music can noble hints impart, Engender fury, kindle love; 40 With unsuspected eloquence can move, And manage all the man with secret art. When Orpheus strikes the trembling lyre The streams stand still, the stones admire; The listening savages advance, The world and lamb around him trip The bears in aukward measures leap, And tigers mingle in the dance The moving woods attended as he played And Rhodope was left without a shade.
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It must be so,-Plato, thou reasonest well! Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire, This longing after immortality? Or whence this secret dread and inward horror Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul Back on herself, and startles at destruction? 'T is the divinity that stirs within us; 'T is Heaven itself that points out an hereafter, And intimates eternity to man. Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
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