Charles Caleb Colton

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Charles Caleb Colton (1780 - 1832), British author, clergyman, and art collector


  • Men will wrangle for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it; anything but live for it.
    • Lacon, vol. I (1820) # 25
  • None are so fond of secrets as those who do not mean to keep them; such persons covet secrets as a spendthrift covets money, for the purpose of circulation.
    • Lacon, vol. I (1820) # 40
  • When you have nothing to say, say nothing; a weak defense strengthens your opponent, and silence is less injurious than a bad reply.
    • Lacon, vol. I (1820), # 183
  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    • Lacon, vol. I (1820), # 217
  • It is always safe to learn, even from our enemies, seldom safe to venture to instruct, even our friends.
    • Lacon, vol. I (1820), # 286
  • Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.
    • Lacon, vol. I (1820), # 322
  • Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak ones.
    • Lacon, vol. I (1820), # 324
  • If you would be known, and not know, vegetate in a village; If you would know, and not be known, live in a city.
    • Lacon, vol. I (1820), # 334
  • The debt which cancels all others.
    • Lacon, vol. II (1822), # 66


  • An act, by which we make one friend, and one enemy, is a losing game, because revenge is a much stronger principle than gratitude.
  • An upright minister asks, what recommends a man, a corrupt minister asks who.
  • Death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release, the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure, and the comforter of him whom time cannot console.
  • Deliberate with caution, but act with decision, and yield with graciousness, or oppose with firmness.
  • Drunkenness is the vice of a good constitution or a bad memory; of a constitution so treacherously good that it never bends until it break; or of a memory that recollects the pleasure of getting drunk, but forgets the pains of getting sober.
  • Ennui has made more gamblers than avarice, more drunkards than thirst, and perhaps as many suicides as despair.
  • Falsehood is often rocked by truth, but she soon outgrows her cradle, and discards her nurse.
  • For one man who sincerely pities our misfortunes, there are a thousand who sincerely hates our successes.
  • Habit will reconcile us to everything but change.
  • He that has never suffered adversity is but half acquainted with others, or with himself. Constant success shows us but one side of the world. For, as it surrounds us with friends, who will tell us only our merits, so it silences those enemies from whom alone we can learn our defects.
  • He that likes a hot dinner, a warm welcome, new ideas and old wine, will not often dine with the great.
  • Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible
  • How small a portion of our life is that we really enjoy. In youth we are looking forward to things that are to come; in old age, we are looking backwards to things that have gone past. In things that are present, even that is too often absorbed in vague determination to be vastly happy on some future day, when we have time.
  • If a cause be good, the most violent attack of its enemies will not injure it so much as an injudicious defense of it by its friends.
  • If rich, it is easy enough to conceal our wealth but, if poor, it is not quite so easy to conceal our poverty. We shall find it is less difficult to hide a thousand guineas, than one hole in our coat.
  • If you are under obligations to many, it is prudent to postpone the recompensing of one, until it be in your power to remunerate all; otherwise you will make more enemies by what you give, than by what you withhold.
  • In life we shall find many men that are great, and some that are good, but very few men that are both great and good.
  • In politics, as in religion, it so happens that we have less charity for those who believe the half of our creed than for those who deny the whole of it.
  • It is an easy and a vulgar thing to please the mob, and no very arduous task to astonish them, but, essentially, to benefit and to improve them is a work fraught with difficulty, and teeming with danger.
  • It is only when the rich are sick, that they fully feel the impotence of wealth.
  • King James held convocation at Perth and demanded of the Scotch barons that they should produce the charters by which they held their lands; they all with one simultaneous movement, rose up and drew their swords.
  • Law and equity are two things which God hath joined, but which man hath put asunder.
  • Life often presents us with a choice of evils, rather than of goods.
  • Love may exist with out jealousy, although this is rare; but jealousy can exist without love, and this is common, for jealousy can feed on that which is bitter, no less than that which is sweet, and is sustained by pride, as often as by affection.
  • Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them.
  • Many speak the truth when they say that they despise riches, but they mean the riches possessed by other men.
  • Marriage is a feast where the grace is sometimes better than the dinner.
  • Men are born with two eyes, but only one tongue, in order that they should see twice as much as they say.
  • Men spend their lives in anticipations, in determining to be vastly happy at some period or other when they have time. But the present time has one advantage over every other: it is our own. Past opportunities are gone, future have not come. We may lay in a stock of pleasures, as we would lay in a stock of wine; but if we defer the tasting of them too long, we shall find that both are soured by age!
  • Most men know what they hate, few know what they love.
  • Most of our misfortune are more supportable than the comments of our friends upon them.
  • Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time, which every day produces, and which most men throw away, but which nevertheless will make at the end of it no small deduction for the life of man.
  • Mystery magnifies danger, as the fog does the sun.
  • No man can purchase his virtue too dear, for it is the only thing whose value must ever increase with the price it has cost us. Our integrity is never worth so much as when we have parted with our all to keep it.
  • No roads are so rough as those that have just been mended, so no sinners are so intolerant as those that have just turned saints.
  • Of the professions it may ge said that the soldiers are becoming too popular, parsons too lazy, physicians too mercenary, and lawyers too powerful.
  • Our incomes are like our shoes; if too small, they gall and pinch us; but if too large, they cause us to stumble and to trip.
  • Our very best friends have a tincture of jealousy even in their friendship; and when they hear us praised by others, will ascribe it to sinister and interested motives if they can.
  • Pedantry crams our heads with learned lumber, and takes out our brains to make room for it.
  • Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, nor good enough to be trusted with unlimited power.
  • Rats and conquerors must expect no mercy in misfortune.
  • Riches may enable us to confer favours, but to confer them with propriety and grace requires a something that riches cannot give.
  • Royal favorites are often obliged to carry their complaisance farther than they meant. They live for their master's pleasure and they die for his convenience.
  • That writer does the most, who gives his reader the most knowledge, and takes from him the least time.
  • The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late.
  • The clashing interests of society, and the double, yet equal and contrary demands arising out of them, where duty and justice are constantly opposed to gratitude and inclination, these things must make the profession of a statesman, an office neither easy nor enviable. It often happens that such men have only a choice of evils, and that in adopting either, the discontent will be certain and the benefit precarious. It is seldom that statesmen have the option of choosing between a good and an evil; and still more seldom that they can boast of that fortunate situation, where, like the great Duke of Marlborough, they are permitted to choose between two things that are good. His Grace was hesitating whether he should take a prescription recommended by the duchess; "I will be hanged," said she, "If it does not cure you." Dr. Garth, who was present, instantly exclaimed, "Take it then, Your Grace, it is sure to good, one way or the other!"
  • The excesses of our youth are drafts upon our old age, payable with interest about thirty years after date.
  • The gamester, if he die a martyr to his profession, is doubly ruined. He adds his soul to every other loss, and by the act of suicide, renounces earth to forfeit Heaven.
  • The good opinion of our fellow men is the strongest, though not the purest, motive to virtue.
  • The greatest friend of Truth is time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion Humility.
  • The hate we can all bear with the most Christian patience is the hate of those who envy us.
  • The intoxication of anger, like that of the grape, shows us to others, but hides us from ourselves.
  • The rich are more envied by those who have a little, than by those who have nothing.
  • The seeds of repentance are sown in youth by pleasure, but the harvest is reaped in age by pain.
  • The sun should not set upon our anger; neither should he rise upon our confidence. We should forgive freely, but forget rarely. I will not be revenged, and this I owe to my enemy; but I will remember, and this I owe to myself.
  • The two most precious things on this side of the grave are our reputation and our life. But it is to be lamented that the most contemptible whisper may deprive us of the one, and the weakest weapon of the other. A wise man, therefore, will be the more anxious to deserve a fair name than to possess it, and this will teach so to live, as not to be afraid to die.
  • There are some men whose enemies are to be pitied much and their friends more.
  • There are two modes of establishing our reputation: to be praised by honest men, and to be abused by rogues. It is best, however, to secure the former, because it will invariably be accompanied by the latter.
  • There is a paradox in pride: it makes some men ridiculous, but prevents others from becoming so.
  • Those who have resources within themselves, who can dare to live alone, want friends the least, but, at the same time, best knows how to prize them the most. But no company is far preferable to bad, because we are more apt to catch the vices of others rather than their virtues, as disease is farm more contagious than health.
  • To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet.
  • To know a man, observe how he wins his object, rather than how he loses it; for when we fail our pride supports us; when we succeed, it betrays us.
  • To know exactly how much mischief may be ventured upon with impunity is knowledge sufficient for a little great man.
  • To know the pains of power, we must go to those who have it; to know its pleasures, we must go to those who are seeking it: The pains of power are real its pleasures imaginary.
  • True friendship is like sound health, the value of it is seldom known until it be lost.
  • War kills men, and men deplore the loss; but war also crushes bad principles and tyrants, and so saves societies.
  • We are more inclined to hate one another for points on which we differ, than to love one another for points on which we agree.
  • We ask advice, but we mean approbation.
    • Lacon
  • We hate some persons because we do not know them; and we will not know them because we hate them.
  • We ought not to be over anxious to encourage innovation, in cases of doubtful improvement, for an old system must ever have two advantages over a new one; it is established, and it is understood.
  • Friendship often ends in love; but love in friendship — never.

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