Quotes by William Hazlitt

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William Hazlitt (10 April 1778 - 18 September 1830) was an English writer remembered for his humanistic essays and literary criticism, often esteemed the greatest English literary critic after Samuel Johnson. Indeed, Hazlitt's writings and remarks on Shakespeare's plays and characters are rivaled only by those of Johnson in their depth, insight, originality, and imagination.

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Belief is with them mechanical, voluntary: they believe what they are paid for -- they swear to that which turns to account. Do you suppose, that after years spent in this manner, they have any feeling left answering to the difference between truth and falsehood?

To be remembered after we are dead, is but poor recompense for being treated with contempt while we are living.
The mind of man is like a clock that is always running down, and requires to be constantly wound up.
No truly great person ever thought themselves so.
Every man, in his own opinion, forms an exception to the ordinary rules of morality.
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.
Nothing is more unjust or capricious than public opinion.
No one ever approaches perfection except by stealth, and unknown to themselves.
We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.
The art of pleasing consists in being pleased.
The essence of poetry is will and passion.
The poetical impression of any object is that uneasy, exquisite sense of beauty or power that cannot be contained within itself; that is impatient of all limit; that (as flame bends to flame) strives to link itself to some other image of kindred beauty or grandeur; to enshrine itself, as it were, in the highest forms of fancy, and to relieve the aching sense of pleasure by expressing it in the boldest manner.
A Whig is properly what is called a Trimmer -- that is, a coward to both sides of the question, who dare not be a knave nor an honest man, but is a sort of whiffing, shuffling, cunning, silly, contemptible, unmeaning negation of the two.
If a person has no delicacy, he has you in his power.
Prejudice is the child of ignorance.
The most learned are often the most narrow minded.
No wise man can have a contempt for the prejudices of others; and he should even stand in a certain awe of his own, as if they were aged parents and monitors. They may in the end prove wiser than he.
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.
A scholar is like a book written in a dead language. It is not every one that can read in it.
We can bear to be deprived of everything but our self-conceit.
We talk little when we do not talk about ourselves.
If the world were good for nothing else, it is a fine subject for speculation.
There is no one thoroughly despicable. We cannot descend much lower than an idiot; and an idiot has some advantages over a wise man.
Mankind are an incorrigible race. Give them but bugbears and idols -- it is all that they ask; the distinctions of right and wrong, of truth and falsehood, of good and evil, are worse than indifferent to them.
Taste is nothing but an enlarged capacity for receiving pleasure from works of imagination.
The slaves of power mind the cause they have to serve, because their own interest is concerned; but the friends of liberty always sacrifice their cause, which is only the cause of humanity, to their own spleen, vanity, and self-opinion.
The busier we are the more leisure we have.
Learning is, in too many cases, but a foil to common sense; a substitute for true knowledge. Books are less often made use of as spectacles to look at nature with, than as blinds to keep out its strong light and shifting scenery from weak eyes and indolent dispositions. The learned are mere literary drudges.
There is nothing more likely to drive a man mad, than the being unable to get rid of the idea of the distinction between right and wrong, and an obstinate, constitutional preference of the true to the agreeable.
The best way to procure insults is to submit to them.
The are of will-making chiefly consists in baffling the importunity of expectation.
Lest he should wander irretrievably from the right path, he stands still.
There are many who talk on from ignorance rather than from knowledge, and who find the former an inexhaustible fund of conversation.
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.
The public have neither shame or gratitude.
Grace is the absence of everything that indicates pain or difficulty, hesitation or incongruity.
If goodness were only a theory, it were a pity it should be lost to the world. There are a number of things, the idea of which is a clear gain to the mind. Let people, for instance, rail at friendship, genius, freedom, as long as they will --the very names of these despised qualities are better than anything else that could be substituted for them, and embalm even the most envenomed satire against them.
There are persons who cannot make friends. Who are they? Those who cannot be friends. It is not the want of understanding or good nature, of entertaining or useful qualities, that you complain of: on the contrary, they have probably many points of attraction; but they have one that neutralizes all these --they care nothing about you, and are neither the better nor worse for what you think of them. They manifest no joy at your approach; and when you leave them, it is with a feeling that they can do just as well without you. This is not sullenness, nor indifference, nor absence of mind; but they are intent solely on their own thoughts, and you are merely one of the subjects they exercise them upon. They live in society as in a solitude.
There are few things in which we deceive ourselves more than in the esteem we profess to entertain for our friends. 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.
The most violent friendships soonest wear themselves out.
Old friendships are like meats served up repeatedly, cold, comfortless, and distasteful. The stomach turns against them.
I like a friend the better for having faults that one can talk about.
Our friends are generally ready to do everything for us, except the very thing we wish them to do.
The person whose doors I enter with most pleasure, and quit with most regret, never did me the smallest favor.
Though familiarity may not breed contempt, it takes off the edge of admiration.
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.
The love of fame is almost another name for the love of excellence; or it is the ambition to attain the highest excellence, sanctioned by the highest authority, that of time.
There are names written in her immortal scroll at which Fame blushes!
General principles are not the less true or important because from their nature they elude immediate observation; they are like the air, which is not the less necessary because we neither see nor feel it.
One shining quality lends a luster to another, or hides some glaring defect.
He talked on for ever; and you wished him to talk on for ever.
It is hard for any one to be an honest politician who is not born and bred a Dissenter.
A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means.
Life is the art of being well deceived.
Cunning is the art of concealing our own defects, and discovering the weaknesses of others.
Without the aid of prejudice and custom, I should not be able to find my way across the room.
There is a heroism in crime as well as in virtue. Vice and infamy have their altars and their religion.
We are very much what others think of us. The reception our observations meet with gives us courage to proceed, or damps our efforts.
We are all of us, more or less, the slaves of opinion.

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