William Hazlitt

William Hazlitt

William Hazlitt (10 April 1778 – 18 September 1830) was an English writer, drama and literary critic, painter, social commentator, and philosopher. He is now considered one of the greatest critics and essayists in the history of the English language, placed in the company of Samuel Johnson and George Orwell. He is also acknowledged as the finest art critic of his age.

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A wise traveler never despises his own country.

Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own.

If I have not read a book before it is for all intents and purposes new to me whether it was printed yesterday or three hundred years ago.

A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.

We can scarcely hate anyone that we know.

I would like to spend the whole of my life traveling, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend at home.

Reflection makes men cowards.

Fame is the inheritance, not of the dead but of the living. It is we who look back with lofty pride to the great names of antiquity.

You know more of a road by having traveled it, than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.

Wit is the salt of conversation, not the food.

The public have neither shame or gratitude.

Hope is the best possession. None are completely wretched but those who are without hope. Few are reduced so low as that.

A nickname is the heaviest stone that the devil can throw at a man. It is a bugbear to the imagination, and though we do not believe in it, it still haunts our apprehensions.

The dupe of friendship and the fool of love, have I not reason to hate and to despise myself? Indeed I do, and chiefly for not having hated and despised the world enough.

Genius, like humanity, rusts for want of use.

There is a secret pride in every human heart that revolts at tyranny. You may order and drive an individual, but you cannot make him respect you.

A grave blockhead should always go about with a lively one - they show one another off to the best advantage.

No truly great person ever thought themselves so.

Defoe says that there were a hundred thousand country fellows in his time ready to fight to the death against popery, without knowing whether popery was a man or a horse.

The incentive to ambition is the love of power.

We are not hypocrites in our sleep.

To be happy we must be true to nature and carry our age along with us.

Good temper is one of the greatest preservers of the features.

The way to get on in the world is to be neither more nor less wise neither better nor worse than your neighbours.

Anyone who has passed though the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape.

There is nothing good to be had in the country or if there is they will not let you have it.

When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy it ceases to be a subject of interest.

No one ever approaches perfection except by stealth and unknown to themselves.

We often choose a friend as we do a mistress - for no particular excellence in themselves but merely from some circumstance that flatters our self-love.

To a superior race of being the pretensions of mankind to extraordinary sanctity and virtue must seem... ridiculous.

The smallest pain in our little finger gives us more concern than the destruction of millions of our fellow beings.

There are no rules for friendship. It must be left to itself. We cannot force it any more than love.

Great thoughts reduced to practice become great acts.

Prejudice is the child of ignorance.

Everything is in motion. Everything flows. Everything is vibrating.

The English (it must be owned) are rather a foul-mouthed nation.

Though familiarity may not breed contempt it takes off the edge of admiration.

As is our confidence so is our capacity.

The soul of a journey is liberty perfect liberty to think feel do just as one pleases.

There is no one thoroughly despicable. We cannot descend much lower than an idiot, and an idiot has some advantages over a wise man.

A scholar is like a book written in a dead language. It is not everyone that can read in it.

We grow tired of everything but turning others into ridicule and congratulating ourselves on their defects.

One shining quality lends a lustre to another or hides some glaring defect.

Dr. Johnson was a lazy learned man who liked to think and talk better than to read or write, who however wrote much and well but too often by rote.

Every man in his own opinion forms an exception to the ordinary rules of morality.

The world judge of men by their ability in their profession and we judge of ourselves by the same test: for it is on that on which our success in life depends.

Without the aid of prejudice and custom I should not be able to find my way across the room.

Even in the common affairs of life in love friendship and marriage how little security have we when we trust our happiness in the hands of others!

Old friendships are like meats served up repeatedly cold comfortless and distasteful. The stomach turns against them.

People of genius do not excel in any profession because they work in it they work in it because they excel.

Those who make their dress a principal part of themselves will in general become of no more value than their dress.

We do not see nature with our eyes but with our understandings and our hearts.

We can bear to be deprived of everything but our self-conceit.

The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.

Look up laugh loud talk big keep the color in your cheek and the fire in your eye adorn your person maintain your health your beauty and your animal spirits.

Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself. He who has a contempt for poetry cannot have much respect for himself or for anything else.

To be capable of steady friendship or lasting love are the two greatest proofs not only of goodness of heart but of strength of mind.

Satirists gain the applause of others through fear not through love.

To give a reason for anything is to breed a doubt of it.

The love of liberty is the love of others, the love of power is the love of ourselves.

To get others to come into our ways of thinking we must go over to theirs, and it is necessary to follow in order to lead.

Grace is the absence of everything that indicates pain or difficulty, hesitation or incongruity.

Grace in women has more effect than beauty.

An honest man speaks the truth though it may give offence, a vain man in order that it may.

The most insignificant people are the most apt to sneer at others. They are safe from reprisals. And have no hope of rising in their own self esteem but by lowering their neighbors.

Zeal will do more than knowledge.

A hair in the head is worth two in the brush.

There is no prejudice so strong as that which arises from a fancied exemption from all prejudice.

I like a friend the better for having faults that one can talk about.

The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure very much.

Rules and models destroy genius and art.

It is not fit that every man should travel, it makes a wise man better and a fool worse.

Some people break promises for the pleasure of breaking them.

I'm not smart but I like to observe. Millions saw the apple fall but Newton was the one who asked why.

Those who can command themselves command others.

Envy among other ingredients has a mixture of the love of justice in it. We are more angry at undeserved than at deserved good-fortune.

Our friends are generally ready to do everything for us except the very thing we wish them to do.

The busier we are the more leisure we have.

Man is a make-believe animal: he is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part.

If the world were good for nothing else it is a fine subject for speculation.

Do not keep on with a mockery of friendship after the substance is gone - but part while you can part friends. Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming.

We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.

The perfect joys of heaven do not satisfy the cravings of nature.

He who undervalues himself is justly undervalued by others.

The person whose doors I enter with most pleasure, and quit with most regret, never did me the smallest favor.

There are few things in which we deceive ourselves more than in the esteem we profess to entertain for our firends. It is little better than a piece of quackery. The truth is we think of them as we please that is as they please or displease us.

There is a heroism in crime as well as in virtue. Vice and infamy have their altars and their religion.

Prosperity is a great teacher, adversity a greater.

To think ill of mankind and not wish ill to them is perhaps the highest wisdom and virtue.

Life is the art of being well deceived, and in order that the deception may succeed it must be habitual and uninterrupted.

The more we do the more we can do.

Learning is its own exceeding great reward.

Dandyism is a variety of genius.

The art of pleasing consists in being pleased.

We find many things to which the prohibition of them constitutes the only temptation.

We are very much what others think of us. The reception our observations meet with gives us courage to proceed or damps our efforts.

The seat of knowledge is in the head, of wisdom in the heart. We are sure to judge wrong if we do not feel right.

Cunning is the art of concealing our own defects and discovering other people's weaknesses.

The most learned are often the most narrow minded.

Those who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves.

No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history.

The least pain in our little finger gives us more concern and uneasiness than the destruction of millions of our fellow-beings.

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.

The humblest painter is a true scholar, and the best of scholars the scholar of nature.

A hypocrite despises those whom he deceives but has no respect for himself. He would make a dupe of himself too if he could.

If you give an audience a chance they will do half your acting for you.

Love turns with a little indulgence to indifference or disgust, hatred alone is immortal.

We must be doing something to be happy.

The mind of man is like a clock that is always running down and requires to be constantly wound up.

Few things tend more to alienate friendship than a want of punctuality in our engagements. I have known the breach of a promise to dine or sup to break up more than one intimacy.

Gracefulness has been defined to be the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.

If we wish to know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare. If we wish to see the insignificance of human learning we may study his commentators.

It is hard for any one to be an honest politician who is not born and bred a Dissenter.

Some one is generally sure to be the sufferer by a joke.

Those who speak ill of the spiritual life although they come and go by day are like the smith's bellows: they take breath but are not alive.

No young man ever thinks he shall die.

It is better to be able neither to read nor write than to be able to do nothing else.

To be remembered after we are dead is but poor recompense for being treated with contempt while we are living.

The true barbarian is he who thinks everything barbarous but his own tastes and prejudices.

The player envies only the player the poet envies only the poet.

Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life.

The truly proud man knows neither superiors or inferiors. The first he does not admit of - the last he does not concern himself about.

If you think you can win you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.

That which is not shall never be, that which is shall never cease to be. To the wise these truths are self-evident.

Grace has been defined as the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.

Almost every sect of Christianity is a perversion of its essence to accommodate it to the prejudices of the world.

He will never have true friends who is afraid of making enemies.