Sunday, August 20, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845)


English clergyman, critic, philosopher and wit.
Sydney Smith
Manners are the shadows of virtues; the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow creatures love, and respect.
Smith quotes
That knuckle-end of England—that land of Calvin, oatcakes, and sulphur.
Smith
Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.




Smith Sydney quotes
Every increase of knowledge may possibly render depravity more depraved, as well as it may increase the strength of virtue. It is in itself only power; and its value depends on its application.
Smith Sydney
It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little.
Sydney Smith quotes
He has spent all his life in letting down empty buckets into empty wells; and he is frittering away his age in trying to draw them up again.
Sydney Smith
If you could be alarmed into the semblance of modesty, you would charm everybody; but remember my joke against you about the Moon and the Solar System;—"Damn the solar system! bad light — planets too distant — pestered with comets — feeble contriviance; — could make a better with great ease."
Smith Sydney quotes
The object of preaching is, constantly to remind mankind of what mankind are constantly forgetting; not to supply the defects of human intelligence, but to fortify the feebleness of human resolutions.
Smith
Bishop Berkeley destroyed this world in one volume octavo; and nothing remained after his time, but mind — which experienced a similar fate from the hand of Mr. Hume, in 1737.
Smith Sydney
But now persecution is good, because it exists; every law which originated in ignorance and malice, and gratifies the passions from whence it sprang, we call the wisdom of our ancestors: when such laws are repealed, they will be cruelty and madness; till they are repealed, they are policy and caution.
Sydney Smith
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl
And, scarce suspected, animate the whole.




Sydney Smith quotes
The history of the world shows us that men are not to be counted by their numbers, but by the fire and vigour of their passions; by their deep sense of injury; by their memory of past glory; by their eagerness for fresh fame; by their clear and steady resolution of ceasing to live, or of achieving a particular object, which, when it is once formed, strikes off a load of manacles and chains, and gives free space to all heavenly and heroic feelings. All great and extraordinary actions come from the heart. There are seasons in human affairs, when qualities fit enough to conduct the common business of life, are feeble and useless; and when men must trust to emotion, for that safety which reason at such times can never give. These are the feelings which led the ten thousand over the Carduchian mountans; these are the feelings by which a handful of Greeks broke in pieces the power of Persia: they have, by turns, humbled Austria, reduced Spain; and in the fens of the Dutch, and on the mountains of the Swiss, defended the happiness, and revenged the oppressions, of man! God calls all the passions out in their keenness and vigour, for the present safety of mankind. Anger, and revenge, and the heroic mind, and a readiness to suffer;— all the secret strength, all the invisible array, of the feelings,— all that nature has reserved for the great scenes of the world. For the usual hopes, and the common aids of man, are all gone! Kings have perished, armies are subdued, nations mouldered away! Nothing remains, under God, but those passions which have often proved the best ministers of His vengeance, and the surest protectors of the world.
Sydney Smith
The fact is that in order to do any thing in this world worth doing, we must not stand shivering on the bank thinking of the cold and the danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.
Smith quotes
Preaching has become a byword for long and dull conversation of any kind; and whoever wishes to imply, in any piece of writing, the absence of everything agreeable and inviting, calls it a sermon.
Smith Sydney
Ah, you flavour everything; you are the vanilla of society.
Smith Sydney quotes
Dean Swift's rule is as good for women as for men — never to talk above a half minute without pausing, and giving others an opportunity to strike in.
Sydney Smith
Never give way to melancholy; resist it steadily, for the habit will encroach.
Sydney Smith quotes
Macaulay is like a book in breeches...He has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful.
Sydney Smith
Daniel Webster struck me much like a steam-engine in trousers.
Smith Sydney
It is a very wise rule in the conduct of the understanding, to acquire early a correct notion of your own peculiar constitution of mind, and to become well acquainted, as a physician would say, with your idiosyncrasy. Are you an acute man, and see sharply for small distances? or are you a comprehensive man, and able to take in, wide and extensive views into your mind? Does your mind turn its ideas into wit? or are you apt to take a common-sense view of the objects presented to you? Have you an exuberant imagination, or a correct judgment? Are you quick, or slow? accurate, or hasty? a great reader, or a great thinker? It is a prodigious point gained if any man can find out where his powers lie, and what are his deficiencies, — if he can contrive to ascertain what Nature intended him for: and such are the changes and chances of the world, and so difficult is it to ascertain our own understandings, or those of others, that most things are done by persons who could have done something else better. If you choose to represent the various parts in life by holes upon a table, of different shapes, — some circular, some triangular, some square, some oblong, — and the persons acting these parts by bits of wood of similar shapes, we shall generally find that the triangular person has got into the square hole, the oblong into the triangular, and a square person has squeezed himself into the round hole. The officer and the office, the doer and the thing done, seldom fit so exactly, that we can say they were almost made for each other.


© 2009–2013Quotes Privacy Policy | Contact