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Sydney Smith Quotes

An English writer and Anglican cleric.
(1771 - 1845)

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A comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience.

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.

A true sarcasm is like a swordstick - it appears, at first sight, to be much more innocent than it really is, till, all of a sudden, there leaps something out of it - sharp and deadly and incisive - which makes you tremble and recoil.

All affectation proceeds from the supposition of possessing something better than the rest of the world possesses. Nobody is vain of possessing two legs and two arms, because that is the precise quantity of either sort of limb which everybody possesses.

All mankind are happier for having been happy, so that if you make them happy new, you make them happy twenty years hence by the memory of it.

All musical people seem to be happy; it is to them the engrossing pursuit; almost the only innocent and unpunished passion.

Among the smaller duties of life, I hardly know any one more important than that of not praising where praise is not due. Reputation is one of the prizes for which men contend: it produces more labor and more talent than twice the wealth of a country could ever rear up. It is the coin of genius, and it is the imperious duty of every man to bestow it with the most scrupulous justice and the wisest economy.

As pedantry is an ostentatious obtrusion of knowledge, in which those who hear us cannot sympathize, it is a fault of which soldiers, sailors, sportsmen, gamesters, cultivators, and all men engaged in a particular occupation, are quite as guilty as scholars; but they have the good fortune to have the vice only of pedantry, while scholars have both the vice and the name for it too.

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

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.

Brevity to writing is what charity is to all other virtues; righteousness is nothing without the one, nor authorship without the other.

Children are excellent physiognomists, and soon discover their real friends. - Luttrell calls them all lunatics, and so in fact they are. - What is childhood but a series of happy delusions?

Contempt is commonly taken by the young for an evidence of understanding; but it is neither difficult to acquire, nor meritorious when acquired. To discover the imperfections of others is penetration; to hate them for their faults is contempt. We may be clear­sighted without being malevolent, and make use of the errors we discover, to learn caution, not to gratify satire.

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

Dislike of innovation proceeds sometimes from the disgust excited by false humanity, canting hypocrisy, and silly enthusiasm.

Do not try to push your way through to the front ranks of your profession; do not run after distinctions and rewards; but do your utmost to find an entry into the world of beauty.

Education gives fecundity of thought, copiousness of illustration, quickness, vigor, fancy, words, images, and illustrations; it decorates every common thing, and gives the power of trifling without being undignified and absurd.

Errors to be dangerous must have a great deal of truth mingled with them. - It is only from this alliance that they can ever obtain an extensive circulation. - From pure extravagance, and genuine, unmingled falsehood, the world never has, and never can sustain any mischief.

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.

Find fault when you must find fault in private, and if possible sometime after the offense, rather than at the time.

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