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The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

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‘The Dunciad’ (1742) bk. 4, l. 303

Love-whisp’ring woods, and lute-resounding waves.

‘The Dunciad’ (1742) bk. 4, l. 306

She marked thee there,

Stretched on the rack of a too easy chair, And heard thy everlasting yawn confess The pains and penalties of idleness.

‘The Dunciad’ (1742) bk. 4, l. 341

Thy truffles, Perigord! thy hams, Bayonne!

‘The Dunciad’ (1742) bk. 4, l. 558

See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled, Mountains of casuistry heaped o’er her head! Philosophy, that leaned on Heav’n before, Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more. Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,

And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense!

‘The Dunciad’ (1742) bk. 4, l. 641

Religion blushing veils her sacred fires, And unawares Morality expires.

‘The Dunciad’ (1742) bk. 4, l. 649

Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored; Light dies before thy uncreating word:

Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall; And universal darkness buries all.

‘The Dunciad’ (1742) bk. 4, l. 653

Vital spark of heav’nly flame! Quit, oh quit this mortal frame: Trembling, hoping, ling’ring, flying, Oh the pain, the bliss of dying!

‘The Dying Christian to his Soul’ (1730).

What beck’ning ghost, along the moonlight shade Invites my step, and points to yonder glade?

‘Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady’ (1717) l. 1

Is it, in heav’n, a crime to love too well?

‘Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady’ (1717) l. 6

Is there no bright reversion in the sky,

For those who greatly think, or bravely die?

‘Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady’ (1717) l. 9

Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes; The glorious fault of angels and of gods.

‘Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady’ (1717) l. 13

On all the line a sudden vengeance waits, And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates.

‘Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady’ (1717) l. 37

Oh happy state! when souls each other draw, When love is liberty, and nature, law:

All then is full, possessing and possessed, No craving void left aching in the breast.

‘Eloisa to Abelard’ (1717) l. 91

Of all affliction taught a lover yet, ’Tis sure the hardest science to forget!

How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense, And love th’ offender, yet detest th’ offence?

‘Eloisa to Abelard’ (1717) l. 189.

How happy is the blameless Vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot.

‘Eloisa to Abelard’ (1717) l. 207

You beat your pate, and fancy wit will come: Knock as you please, there’s nobody at home.

‘Epigram: “You beat your pate”‘ (1732)

I am his Highness’ dog at Kew; Pray, tell me sir, whose dog are you?

‘Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog which I gave to his Royal Highness’ (1738)

Sir, I admit your gen’ral rule That every poet is a fool:

But you yourself may serve to show it, That every fool is not a poet.

‘Epigram from the French’ (1732)

To observations which ourselves we make, We grow more partial for th’ observer’s sake.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Cobham’ (1734) l. 11

Like following life thro’ creatures you dissect, You lose it in the moment you detect.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Cobham’ (1734) l. 39

’Tis from high life high characters are drawn; A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Cobham’ (1734) l. 87

’Tis education forms the common mind, Just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Cobham’ (1734) l. 101

Search then the Ruling Passion: There, alone, The wild are constant, and the cunning known; The fool consistent, and the false sincere.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Cobham’ (1734) l. 174

‘Odious! in woollen! ’twould a saint provoke!’

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Cobham’ (1734) l. 242

‘One would not, sure, be frightful when one’s dead— And—Betty—give this cheek a little red.’

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Cobham’ (1734) l. 246

Old politicians chew on wisdom past, And totter on in business to the last.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Cobham’ (1734) l. 248

A very heathen in the carnal part,

Yet still a sad, good Christian at her heart.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To a Lady’ (1735) l. 67

Chaste to her husband, frank to all beside, A teeming mistress, but a barren bride.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To a Lady’ (1735) l. 71

Virtue she finds too painful an endeavour, Content to dwell in decencies for ever.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To a Lady’ (1735) l. 163

Still round and round the ghosts of Beauty glide, And haunt the places where their honour died. See how the world its veterans rewards!

A youth of frolics, an old age of cards.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To a Lady’ (1735) l. 241

And mistress of herself, though china fall.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To a Lady’ (1735) l. 268

Woman’s at best a contradiction still.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To a Lady’ (1735) l. 270

Who shall decide, when doctors disagree, And soundest casuists doubt, like you and me?

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Bathurst’ (1733) l. 1

But thousands die, without or this or that, Die, and endow a college, or a cat.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Bathurst’ (1733) l. 97

The ruling passion, be it what it will, The ruling passion conquers reason still.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Bathurst’ (1733) l. 155

Who sees pale Mammon pine amidst his store,

Sees but a backward steward for the poor; This year a reservoir, to keep and spare,

The next a fountain, spouting through his heir, In lavish streams to quench a country’s thirst,

And men and dogs shall drink him ’till they burst.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Bathurst’ (1733) l. 173

In the worst inn’s worst room, with mat half-hung, The floors of plaister, and the walls of dung,

On once a flock-bed, but repaired with straw, With tape-tied curtains, never meant to draw, The George and Garter dangling from that bed Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red, Great Villiers lies.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Bathurst’ (1733) l. 299

Consult the genius of the place in all.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Burlington’ (1731) l. 57

Still follow sense, of ev’ry art the soul,

Parts answering parts shall slide into a whole.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Burlington’ (1731) l. 65

To rest, the cushion and soft Dean invite, Who never mentions Hell to ears polite.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Burlington’ (1731) l. 149

Another age shall see the golden ear Imbrown the slope, and nod on the parterre, Deep harvests bury all his pride has planned, And laughing Ceres re-assume the land.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Burlington’ (1731) l. 173

’Tis use alone that sanctifies expense,

And splendour borrows all her rays from sense.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Lord Burlington’ (1731) l. 179

Statesman, yet friend to Truth! of soul sincere, In action faithful, and in honour clear;

Who broke no promise, served no private end, Who gained no title, and who lost no friend.

‘Epistles to Several Persons’ ‘To Mr. Addison’ (1720) l. 67

Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigued I said, Tie up the knocker, say I’m sick, I’m dead, The dog-star rages!

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 1

You think this cruel? take it for a rule,

No creature smarts so little as a fool.

Let peals of laughter, Codrus! round thee break, Thou unconcerned canst hear the mighty crack. Pit, box, and gall’ry in convulsions hurled, Thou stand’st unshook amidst a bursting world.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 83.

Destroy his fib, or sophistry; in vain, The creature’s at his dirty work again.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 91

As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,

I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 127.

The Muse but served to ease some friend, not wife, To help me through this long disease, my life.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 131.

Pretty! in amber to observe the forms

Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms; The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare, But wonder how the devil they got there?

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 169

And he, whose fustian’s so sublimely bad, It is not poetry, but prose run mad.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 187

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer; Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike, Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 201 (referring to Addison).

But still the great have kindness in reserve, He helped to bury whom he helped to starve.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 247 (on a noble patron)

Let Sporus tremble—’What? that thing of silk, Sporus, that mere white curd of ass’s milk? Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?

Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?’

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 305 (on Lord Hervey)

Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings, This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 309 (on Lord Hervey)

Eternal smiles his emptiness betray,

As shallow streams run dimpling all the way.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 315 (on Lord Hervey)

And he himself one vile antithesis.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 325 (on Lord Hervey)

A cherub’s face, a reptile all the rest.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 331 (on Lord Hervey)

Unlearn’d, he knew no schoolman’s subtle art, No language, but the language of the heart.

‘An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot’ (1735) l. 398 (on his own father)

Such were the notes, thy once-loved Poet sung, Till Death untimely stopped his tuneful tongue.

‘Epistle to Robert Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer’ (1721) l. 1

She went, to plain-work, and to purling brooks, Old-fashioned halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks: She went from op’ra, park, assembly, play,

To morning-walks, and prayers three hours a day; To pass her time ’twixt reading and Bohea,

To muse, and spill her solitary tea,

Or o’er cold coffee trifle with the spoon, Court the slow clock, and dine exact at noon.

‘Epistle to Miss Blount, on her leaving the Town, after the Coronation’ (of King George I, 1715) (1717)

Nature, and Nature’s laws lay hid in night. God said, Let Newton be! and all was light.

‘Epitaph: Intended for Sir Isaac Newton’ (1730).

Of manners gentle, of affections mild; In wit, a man; simplicity, a child;

With native humour temp’ring virtuous rage, Formed to delight at once and lash the age.

‘Epitaph: On Mr Gay in Westminster Abbey’ (1733)

Some are bewildered in the maze of schools,

And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 26

Some have at first for wits, then poets passed, Turned critics next, and proved plain fools at last.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 36

First follow Nature, and your judgement frame By her just standard, which is still the same: Unerring Nature, still divinely bright,

One clear, unchanged, and universal light, Life, force and beauty must to all impart,

At once the source and end and test of art.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 68

Great wits may sometimes gloriously offend, And rise to faults true critics dare not mend. From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part And snatch a grace beyond the reach of art.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 152.

A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 215.

Hills peep o’er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 232

Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see, Thinks what ne’er was, nor is, nor e’er shall be.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 253

Poets like painters, thus unskilled to trace The naked nature and the living grace, With gold and jewels cover ev’ry part, And hide with ornaments their want of art. True wit is Nature to advantage dressed,

What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 293

As some to church repair,

Not for the doctrine, but the music there.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 342

And ten low words oft creep in one dull line.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 347

Then, at the last and only couplet fraught

With some unmeaning thing they call a thought, A needless Alexandrine ends the song,

That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 354

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, As those move easiest who have learned to dance. ’Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,

The sound must seem an echo to the sense.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 362

But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,

The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar. When Ajax strives, some rock’s vast weight to throw, The line too labours, and the words move slow.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 368

Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move, For fools admire, but men of sense approve.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 390

What woeful stuff this madrigal would be, In some starved hackney sonneteer, or me? But let a Lord once own the happy lines, How the wit brightens! how the style refines!

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 418

Some praise at morning what they blame at night; But always think the last opinion right.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 430

To err is human; to forgive, divine.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 525

All seems infected that th’infected spy, As all looks yellow to the jaundiced eye.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 558

Men must be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown proposed as things forgot.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 574

The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, With loads of learned lumber in his head.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 612

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711) l. 625

Awake, my St John! leave all meaner things To low ambition, and the pride of kings. Let us (since Life can little more supply Than just to look about us and to die) Expatiate free o’er all this scene of man;

A mighty maze! but not without a plan.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 1

Eye Nature’s walks, shoot Folly as it flies, And catch the Manners living as they rise.

Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; But vindicate the ways of God to man.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 13

Observe how system into system runs, What other planets circle other suns.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 25

Who sees with equal eye, as God of all, A hero perish, or a sparrow fall, Atoms or systems into ruin hurled,

And now a bubble burst, and now a world.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 87

Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never Is, but always To be blest.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 95

Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutored mind Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind; His soul proud Science never taught to stray Far as the solar walk, or milky way;

Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv’n,

Behind the cloud-topped hill, an humbler heav’n.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 99

But thinks, admitted to that equal sky, His faithful dog shall bear him company.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 111

Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes, Men would be angels, angels would be gods.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 125

Why has not man a microscopic eye? For this plain reason, man is not a fly.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 193

The spider’s touch, how exquisitely fine! Feels at each thread, and lives along the line.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 217

All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body, Nature is, and God the soul.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 267

All nature is but art, unknown to thee;

All chance, direction, which thou canst not see; All discord, harmony, not understood;

All partial evil, universal good:

And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason’s spite, One truth is clear, ‘Whatever is, is right.’

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 1 (1733) l. 289

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man.

Placed on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise, and rudely great:

With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, With too much weakness for the stoic’s pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act or rest,

In doubt to deem himself a gd, or beast; In doubt his mind or body to prefer, Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks too little, or too much.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 2 (1733) l. 1.

Created half to rise, and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;

Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled; The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 2 (1733) l. 15

Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule— Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 2 (1733) l. 29

Fixed like a plant on his peculiar spot, To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 2 (1733) l. 63

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As, to be hated, needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 2 (1733) l. 217

The learn’d is happy nature to explore, The fool is happy that he knows no more.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 2 (1733) l. 263

Behold the child, by Nature’s kindly law Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw.

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 2 (1733) l. 275

Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage; And beads and pray’r-books are the toys of age: Pleased with this bauble still, as that before; Till tired he sleeps, and life’s poor play is o’er!

‘An Essay on Man’ Epistle 2 (1733) l. 279

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