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Laurence Sterne Quotes


An Irish-born English novelist and an Anglican clergyman.
(1713 - 1768)

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A dwarf who brings a standard along with him to measure his own size, take my word, is a dwarf in more articles than one.
 

A great deal of virtue, at least the outward appearance of it, is not so much from any fixed principle, as the terror of what the world will say, and the liberty it will take upon the occasions we shall give.
[Virtue]
 

A man cannot dress, without his ideas get clothed at the same time.
 

A word - a look, which at one time would make no impression - at another time wounds the heart; and like a shaft flying with the wind, pierces deep, which, with its own natural force, would scarce have reached the object aimed at.
[Feelings]
 

Alas! if the principles of contentment are not within us, the height of station and worldly grandeur will as soon add a cubit to a man's stature as to his happiness.
 

Algebra is the metaphysics of arithmetic.
 

An actor should be able to create the universe in the palm of his hand.
 

An English man does not travel to see English men.
 

An injury unanswered, in time grows weary of itself and dies away in voluntary remorse. In bad dispositions, capable of no restraint but fear, it has a different effect; the silent digestion of one wrong provokes a second.
[Injury]
 

As monarchs have a right to call in the specie of a state, and raise its value by their own impression; so are there certain prerogative geniuses, who are above plagiaries, who cannot be said to steal, but, from their improvement of a thought, rather to borrow it, and repay the commonwealth of letters with interest; and may more properly be said to adopt than to kidnap a sentiment, by leaving it heir to their own fame.
[Plagiarism]
 

Beauty hath so many charms one knows not how to speak against it; and when a graceful figure is the habitation of a virtuous soul - when the beauty of the face speaks out the modesty and humility of the mind, it raises our thoughts up to the great Creator; but after all, beauty, like truth, is never so glorious as when it goes the plainest.
[Beauty]
 

Before an affliction is digested, consolation comes too soon; and after it is digested, it comes too late; but there is a mark between these two, as fine almost as a hair, for a comforter to take aim at.
 

Both music and painting add a spirit to devotion, and elevate the ardor.
[Music]
 

But this is neither here nor there why do I mention it? Ask my pen, it governs me, I govern not it.
 

Courtship consists in a number of quiet attentions, not so pointed as to alarm, nor so vague as not to be understood.
 

Death opens the gate of fame, and shuts the gate of envy after it. - It unloosens the chain of the captive, and puts the bondsman's task in another's hands.
[Death]
 

Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still, slavery, thou art a bitter draught.
[Slavery]
 

Every time a man smiles, and much more when he laughs, it adds something to his fragment of life.
[Cheerfulness]
 

Fishwomen cry noble oysters. They certainly are full as noble as any family blazoned out in Collin's peerage. If not of as ancient an house, of as old a bed at least. And to show their richness too, pearls and they are congenial.
[Nobility]
 

For every ten jokes you acquire a hundred enemies.
[Jokes]
 


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