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Richard E. Burton Quotes

American author and professor of English
(1861 - 1940)

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A mere madness - to live like a wretch that he may die rich.

A wise man will desire no more than he may get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly.

As dogs in a wheel, or squirrels in a cage, ambitious men still climb and climb, with great labor and incessant anxiety, but never reach the top.

As the ivy twines around the oak, so do misery and misfortune encompass the happiness of man. Felicity, pure and unalloyed, is not a plant of earthly growth; her gardens are the skies.

As threshing separates the wheat from the chaff, so does affliction purify virtue.

Be fearful only of thyself, and stand in awe of none more than of thine own conscience. - There is a Cato in every man - a severe censor of his manners. - And he that reverences this judge will seldom do anything he need repent of.

Conquer thyself. Till thou hast done this, thou art but a slave; for it is almost as well to be subjected to another's appetite as to thine own.

Conscience is a great ledger book in which all our offences are written and registered, and which time reveals to the sense and feeling of the offender.

Covetous men are fools, miserable wretches, buzzards, madmen, who live by themselves, in perpetual slavery, fear, suspicion, sorrow, discontent, with more of gall than honey in their enjoyments; who are rather possessed by their money than possessors of it; bound 'prentices to their property; mean slaves and drudges to their substance.

Employment, which Galen calls "Nature's physician," is so essential to human happiness that indolence is justly considered as the mother of misery.

Every other sin hath some pleasure annexed to it, or will admit of some excuse, but envy wants both. - We should strive against it, for if indulged in it will be to us as a foretaste of hell upon earth.

Food improperly taken, not only produces diseases, but affords those that are already engendered both matter and sustenance; so that, let the father of disease be what it may, intemperance is its mother.

Gluttony is the source of all our infirmities and the fountain of all our diseases. As a lamp is choked by a superabundance of oil, and a fire extinguished by excess of fuel, so is the natural health of the body destroyed by intemperate diet.

Have not too low thoughts of thyself. The confidence a man hath of his being pleasant in his demeanor is a means whereby he infallibly cometh to be such.

I have no wife or children, good or bad, to provide for; a mere spectator of other men's fortunes and adventures, and how they play their parts; which, methinks, are diversely presented unto me, as from a common theatre or scene.

Idleness is the bane of body and mind, the nurse of naughtiness, the chief author of all mischief, one of the seven deadly sins, the cushion upon which the devil chiefly reposes, and a great cause not only of melancholy, but of many other diseases; for the mind is naturally active; and if it be not occupied about some honest business, it rushes into mischief or sinks into melancholy.

If adversity hath killed his thousands, prosperity hath killed his ten thousands; therefore adversity is to be preferred. The one deceives, the other instructs; the one is miserably happy, the other happily miserable; and therefore many philosophers have voluntarily sought adversity and commend it in their precepts.

Let the world have whatever sports and recreations please them best, provided they be followed with discretion.

Misery assails riches, as lightning does the highest towers; or as a tree that is heavy laden with fruit breaks its own boughs, so do riches destroy the virtue of their possessor.

No cord or cable can draw so forcibly, or bind so fast, as love can do with a single thread.

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