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Quotes of the day: Sydney Smith

Published Tuesday, June 03, 2014 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Jun 03 2014

Sydney Smith (June 3, 1771 - February 22, 1845) was an English wit, writer and Anglican cleric. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort.

All great and extraordinary actions come from the heart.

Among the smaller duties of life I hardly know any one more important than that of not praising where praise is not due.

As the French say, there are three sexes- men, women and clergymen.

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and malice, and gratifies the passions from whence it sprang, we call the wisdom of our ancestors: when such laws are repealed, they will be cruelty and madness; till they are repealed, they are policy and caution.

Correspondences are like small clothes before the invention of suspenders; it is impossible to keep them up.

Do not assume that because I am frivolous I am shallow; I don't assume that because you are grave you are profound.

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.

Great men hallow a whole people and lift up all who live in their time.

Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.

I have no relish for the country; it is a kind of healthy grave.

It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little. Do what you can.

It requires a surgical operation to get a joke well into a Scotch understanding.

Life is to be fortified by many friendships. To love, and to be loved, is the greatest happiness of existence.

Manners are the shadows of virtues; the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow creatures love, and respect.

Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.

Men who prefer any load of infamy, however great, to any pressure of taxation, however light. (on American debts)

Never give way to melancholy; resist it steadily, for the habit will encroach.

No furniture so charming as books.

Poverty is no disgrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.

Praise is the best diet for us, after all.

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.

Some men have only one book in them; others, a library.

Take short views, hope for the best, and trust in God.

The history of the world shows us that men are not to be counted by their numbers, but by the fire and vigor of their passions...

The observances of the church concerning feasts and fasts are tolerably well-kept, since the rich keep the feasts and the poor keep the fasts.

The sign of old age, extolling the past at the expense of the present.

There is no man suddenly either excellently good or extremely evil.

Whatever you are from nature, keep to it; never desert your own line of talent. Be what nature intended you for, and you will succeed; be anything else, and you will be ten thousand times worse than nothing.

When I hear any man talk of an unalterable law, the only effect it produces upon me is to convince me that he is an unalterable fool.

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