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Charles Caleb Colton Quotes

British author, clergyman, and art collector.
(1780 - 1832)

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A coxcomb begins by determining that his own profession is the first; and he finishes by deciding that he is the first in his profession.

A few drops of oil will set the political machine at work, when a ton of vinegar would only corrode the wheels and canker the movements.

A great mind may change its objects, but it cannot relinquish them; it must have something to pursue; variety is its relaxation, and amusement its repose.

A house may draw visitors, but it is the possessor alone that can detain them.

A law overcharged with severity, like a blunderbuss overcharged with powder, will each of them grow rusty by disuse, and neither will be resorted to, from the shock and recoil that must inevitably follow their explosion.

A man who knows the world will not only make the most of everything he does know, but of many things he does not know; and will gain more credit by his adroit mode of hiding his ignorance, than the pedant by his awkward attempt to exhibit his erudition.

A man who succeeds to his father's reputation must be greater than him, to be considered as great; but he that succeeds to his father's riches, will have to encounter no such deduction. The popular opinion adds to our means, but diminishes our merits; and it is not an unsafe rule to believe less than you hear with respect to a man's fortune, and more than you hear with respect to his fame.

A man's profundity may keep him from opening on a first interview, and his caution on a second; but I should suspect his emptiness, if he carried on his reserve to a third.

A society composed of none but the wicked could not exist; it contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction, and, without a flood, would be swept away from the earth by the deluge of its own iniquity. The moral cement of all society is virtue; it unite and preserves, while vice separates and destroys. The good may well be termed the salt of the earth, for where there is no integrity there can be no confidence; and where there is no confidence there can be no unanimity.

A windmill is eternally at work to accomplish one end, although it shifts with every variation of the weathercock, and assumes ten different positions in a day.

Accustom yourself to submit on every occasion to a small present evil, to obtain a greater distant good. This will give decision, tone, and energy to the mind, which, thus disciplined, will often reap victory from defeat, and honor from repulse.

Adroit observers will find that some who affect to dislike flattery may yet be flattered indirectly by a well-seasoned abuse and ridicule of their rivals.

Afflictions sent by providence melt the constancy of the noble minded, but confirm the obduracy of the vile, as the same furnace that liquifies the gold, hardens the clay.

After hypocrites, the greatest dupes the devil has are those who exhaust an anxious existence in the disappointments and vexations of business, and live miserably and meanly only to die magnificently and rich. - They serve the devil without receiving his wages, and for the empty foolery of dying rich, pay down their health, happiness, and integrity.

Agur said, "Give me neither poverty nor riches"; and this will ever be the prayer of the wise. Our incomes should be like our shoes: if too small, they will gall and pinch us, but if too large, they will cause us to stumble and to trip. But wealth, after all, is a relative thing, since he that has little, and wants less, is richer than he that has much, but wants more. True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander.

All excess brings on its own punishment, even here. - By certain fixed, settled, and established laws of him who is the God of nature, excess of every kind destroys that constitution which temperance would preserve. - The debauchee offers up his body a living sacrifice to sin.

All poets pretend to write for immortality, but the whole tribe have no objection to present pay and present praise. Lord Burleigh is not the only statesman who has thought one hundred pounds too much for a song, though sung by Spenser; although Oliver Goldsmith is the only poet who ever considered himself to have been overpaid.

Ambition is the avarice of power; and happiness herself is soon sacrified to that very lust of dominion which was first encouraged only as the best means of obtaining it.

Ambition makes the same mistake concerning power, that avarice makes as to wealth. She begins by accumulating it as a means to happiness, and finishes by continuing to accumulate it as an end.

An enslaved press is doubly fatal; it not only takes away the true light, for in that case we might stand still, but it sets up a false one that decoys us to our destruction.

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