Quotations by Smith, Sydney


Great men hallow a whole people and lift up all who live in their time.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
“Ireland.” The Edinburgh Review (1820)
Added on 12-Dec-08 | Last updated 12-Dec-08
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The object of preaching is, constantly to remind mankind of what mankind are constantly forgetting; not to supply the defects of human intelligence, but to fortify the feebleness of human resolutions.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
“The Judge That Smites Contrary to the Law,” sermon (28 Mar1824)

In <i>The Works of the Rev. Sydney Smith</i> (1860)

Added on 2-Sep-08 | Last updated 2-Sep-08
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Poverty, sir, is no disgrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
(Attributed)

Quoted in Potter Briscoe, Sydney Smith: His Wit and Wisdom (1900). Hayward (1858) says that Smith attributed this to "a fellow-passenger in a stage coach"

Added on 23-Jan-09 | Last updated 23-Jan-09
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Heaven never helps the men who will not act.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
(Attributed)

Also attrib. to Sophocles.

Added on 19-Aug-10 | Last updated 19-Aug-10
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Poverty is no disgrace to a man, but it is confoundedly inconvenient.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
(Attributed)

In J. Potter Briscoe, ed., Sydney Smith: His Wit and Wisdom (1900)
Added on 8-Aug-12 | Last updated 8-Aug-12
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No furniture so charming as books.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
(Attributed)

Quoted in Lady Holland (Smith's daughter), Memoir, Vol. 1, ch. 9 (1855). See also Beecher.
Added on 2-Nov-17 | Last updated 2-Nov-17
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Did you ever hear my definition of marriage? It is, that it resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
A Memoir of The Reverend Sydney Smith: by His Daughter, Vol. I, ch. 11 (1855)
    (Source)
Added on 10-Apr-09 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little. Do what you can.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy, “Lectures at the Royal Institution” (1804-1806), Lecture 19 (1850)
Added on 17-Nov-08 | Last updated 17-Jun-16
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Among the smaller duties of life I hardly know any one more important than that of not praising where praise is not due.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy, “Lectures at the Royal Institution” (1804-1806), Lecture IX (1850)
Added on 9-Jan-09 | Last updated 9-Jan-09
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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.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy, Lecture IX (1850)

Lectures at the Royal Institution (1804-1806)
Added on 20-Jul-07 | Last updated 20-Jul-07
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Serenely full, the epicure would say,
Fate cannot harm me,—I have dined to-day.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. 1, Recipe for Salad (1855)
Added on 24-Apr-09 | Last updated 24-Apr-09
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Live always in the best company when you read.    

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. I, ch. 10 (1855)

Full text.

Added on 21-Nov-08 | Last updated 21-Nov-08
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Never give way to melancholy; resist it steadily, for the habit will encroach.
 

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. I, ch. 10 (1855)

Full text.

Added on 20-Dec-08 | Last updated 20-Dec-08
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Live always in the best company when you read.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. I, ch. 10 (1855)

Full text.

Added on 20-Feb-09 | Last updated 20-Feb-09
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He was a one-book man. Some men have only one book in them; others, a library.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. I, ch. 11 (1855)

Full text.

Added on 16-Jan-09 | Last updated 16-Jan-09
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In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. I, ch. 11 (1855)

Full text.

Added on 13-Mar-09 | Last updated 13-Mar-09
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We know nothing of tomorrow; our business is to be good and happy today.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. I, ch. 12 (1855)

Full text.

Added on 2-Jan-09 | Last updated 2-Jan-09
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Preaching has become a byword for long and dull conversation of any kind; and whoever wishes to imply, in any piece of writing, the absence of everything agreeable and inviting, calls it a sermon.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. I, ch. 3 (1855)

Full text.

Added on 20-Mar-09 | Last updated 20-Mar-09
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Ah, you flavour everything; you are the vanilla of society.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, vol. I, ch. 9 (1855)

Full text.

Added on 30-Jan-09 | Last updated 30-Jan-09
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Moralists tell you of the evils of wealth and station, and the happiness of poverty. I have been very poor the greatest part of my life, and have borne it as well, I believe, as most people, but I can safely say that I have been happier every guinea I have gained.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, vol. I, ch. 9 (1855)

Full text.

Added on 6-Feb-09 | Last updated 6-Feb-09
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That sign of old age, extolling the past at the expense of the present.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. 1, ch. 11 (1855)
    (Source)
Added on 6-Mar-09 | Last updated 10-Jul-14
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Avoid shame but do not seek glory — nothing so expensive as glory.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Memoir, vol. 1, ch. 4 “Lady Holland” (1855)
Added on 3-Apr-09 | Last updated 3-Apr-09
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Manners are the shadows of virtues; the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow creatures love, and respect.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Sermons, “Sermon XII” (1809)
Added on 11-Sep-08 | Last updated 11-Sep-08
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The moment the very name of Ireland is mentioned, the English seem to bid adieu to common feeling, common prudence, and common sense, and to act with the barbarity of tyrants, and the fatuity of idiots.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
The Letters of Peter Plymley, #2 (1807)
Added on 7-Jul-10 | Last updated 7-Jul-10
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I am for frank explanations with friends in cases of affronts.  They sometimes save a perishing friendship, and even place it on a firmer basis than at first; but secret discontent must always end badly.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
The Wit and Wisdom of Sydney Smith
Added on 21-Sep-10 | Last updated 21-Sep-10
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My idea of heaven is eating paté de foie gras to the sound of trumpets.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
In H. Pearson, The Smith of Smiths, ch. 10 (1934)
Added on 17-Apr-09 | Last updated 17-Apr-09
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What a pity it is that we have no amusements in England but vice and religion!

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
In Hesketh Pearson, The Smith of Smiths, ch. 10 (1934)
Added on 27-Feb-09 | Last updated 27-Feb-09
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It is a bore, I admit, to be past seventy, for you are left for execution, and are daily expecting the death-warrant; but … it is not anything very capital we quit. We are, at the close of life, only hurried away from stomach-aches, pains in the joints, from sleepless nights and unamusing days, from weakness, ugliness, and nervous tremors; but we shall all meet again in another planet, cured of all our defects.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Letter (13 Sep 1842)
Added on 27-Mar-09 | Last updated 27-Mar-09
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A comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Letter (29 Sep 1843)
Added on 13-Feb-09 | Last updated 13-Feb-09
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