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Sir William Temple Quotes

An English statesman and essayist.
(1628 - 1699)

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"Sleep is so like death," says Sir Thomas Browne, "that I dare not trust myself to it without prayer." They both, when they seize the body, leave the soul at liberty; and wise is he that remembers of both, that they can be made safe and happy only by virtue.

A man that only translates, shall never be a poet: nor a painter, that only copies; nor a swimmer, that swims always with bladders; so people that trust wholly to others' charity, and without industry of their own, will always be poor.

A man's wisdom is his best friend; folly his worst enemy.

All courageous animals are carnivorous, and greater courage is to be expected in a people whose food is strong and hearty, than in the half-starved of other countries.

All the precepts of Christianity agree to teach and command us to moderate our passions, to temper our affections toward all things below; to be thankful for the possession, and patient under the loss whenever he that gave shall see fit to take away.

Books, like proverbs, receive their chief value from the stamp and esteem of the ages through which they have passed.

Contentment with the divine will is the best remedy we can apply to misfortunes.

Health is the soul that animates all the enjoyments of life, which fade and are tasteless without it.

I have always looked upon alchemy in natural philosophy, to be like over enthusiasm in divinity, and to have troubled the world much to the same purpose.

I have long thought, that the different abilities of men, which we call wisdom or prudence for the conduct of public affairs or private life, grow directly out of that little grain of good sense which they bring with them into the world; and that the defect of it in men comes from some want in their conception or birth.

In conversation, humor is more than wit, and easiness more than knowledge. Few desire to learn, or think they need it. - All desire to be pleased, or at least to be easy.

It is a great blessing to possess what one wishes, said one to an ancient phi­losopher. - It is a greater still, was the reply, not to desire what one does not possess.

It is a very poor, though common pretence to merit, to make it appear by the faults of other men; a mean wit or beauty may pass in a room where the rest of the company are allowed to have none; it is something to sparkle among diamonds; but to shine among pebbles is neither credit nor value worth the pretending.

Learning passes for wisdom among those who want both.

Leisure and solitude are the best effect of riches, because the mother of thought. Both are avoided by most rich men, who seek company and business, which are signs of being weary of themselves.

No possessions are good, but by the good use we make of them; without which wealth, power, friends, and servants, do but help to make our lives more unhappy.

Oddities and singularities of behavior may attend genius, but when they do, they are its misfortunes and blemishes. - The man of true genius will be ashamed of them; at least he will never affect to distinguish himself by whimsical peculiarities.

Oh, temperance, thou fortune without envy; thou universal medicine of life, that clears the head and cleanses the blood, eases the stomach, strengthens the nerves, and perfects digestion.

Some of the fathers went so far as to esteem the love of music a sign of predestination, as a thing divine, and reserved for the felicities of heaven itself.

Submission is the only reasoning between a creature and its maker and contentment in his will is the best remedy we can apply to misfortunes.

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