W. Gurney (William Gurney) Benham.

Cassell's book of quotations, proverbs and household words .. online

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When bad men combine, the good must
associate. lb.

Of this stamp is the cant of '*Not men
but measures"; a sort of charm bv which
many people get loose from every nonour-
able engagement. lb,

I remember an old scholastic aphorism,
whidi says, "that the man who lives wholly
detached from others must be either an
angel or a devil." When I see in any of
these detached gentlemen of our times the
angelic purity, power, and beneficence, I
sh^ admit them to be angels. lb.

He trespasses against his duty who sleeps
upon his watch, as well as he that goes over
to the enemy. /*•


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The plain high-road of finance.

Speech on American Taxation.

There ii no knowledge which ii not valu-
able. Jh,

Faleehood hai a perennial ipring. Ih.

A name that keeps the name of this
oonntiy respectable in every other. lb.

Let those who have betrayed htm [Lord
Chatham] by their adulation, insult him
with their malevolence. But what I do not
presume to censure, I may have leave to
lament. 7^.

It did so happen, that persons had a single
office divided between them, who had never
spoke to each other in theirlives, until they
found themselves, they knew not how,
pigging together, heads and points, in the
same truckle-bed. Jl,

For even then, Sir, even before this
splendid orb was entirely set, and whilst the
western^ horizon was in a blaze with his
descending glory, on the opposite quarter of
the heavens arose another luminary, and, for
his hour, became lord of the ascendant. lb,

€h-eat men are the guide-posts and land-
marks in the State. Jb.

Passion for fame ; a passion which is the
instinct of all great souls. lb.

An illness (not, as was then given out, a
political), but to my knowledge a very real
illness. ji,^

To tax and to please, no more than to
love and to be wise, is not given to men. lb.

I have in general no very exalted opinion
of the virtue of paper government.

Speech on OonoUlation with America.
{March tt, 1776.)

Hefined policv ever has been the parent of
confusion; and ever will be so, as long as
the world endures. /j.

The concessions of the weak are the con-
cessions of fear. Jb,

Through a wise and salutary neglect [of
the colonies], a generous nature has been
suffered to take her own way to perfection •
when I reflect upon these effects, when I see
bow profitable they have been to us, I feel
all the pride of power sink, and all pre-
sumption in the wisdom of human con-
trivances melt and die away within me.
My rigour relents. I pardon something to
the spirit of Uberty. Jb,

Abstract liberty, like other mere abstrac-
tions, IS not to be found. Jb,

All Protestantism, even the most cold and
pawive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion
most prevalent in our northern colonies is a
refinement on the principle of resistance ; it
M the dissidence of dissent, and the Pro-
testantism of the Protestant xeligion. lb.

Obedience is what makes government, and
not the names by which it is called. lb.

The mysterious virtue of wax and parch-
ment, lb.

The march of the human mind is slow.


All government, indeed eveiy hmnan
benefit and enjoyment, everv virtue, and
every prudent act, is founded on com-
promise and barter. lb.

Slavery they can have anywhere. It ii a
weed that gpx)ws in every sou. lb.

Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the
truest wisdom ; and a great empire and
littie minds go ill together. lb,

I know many have been taught to think,
that moderation, in a case like tins, is a soii
of treason.

Utter to the SheriCRi of BrIstoL

Between craft and credulity, the voice of
reason is stified. Jb.

If any ask me what a free^ government is,
I answer, that, for any practical purpose
it is what the people think so. lb.

Liberty, too, must be limited in order to
be possessed. A

Nothing in progression can rest on its
orimal plan. We might as well think of
recking a grown man in the cradle of an
infant lb.

Among a people generally corrupt, hberj^
cannot long exist. lb,

England and Ireland may flourish to-

f ether. The^ world is large enough for ni
oth. Let it be our care not to make
ourselves too littie for it.

Letter to Samuel Span, Esq., of BristoL
It is the interest of the commercial world
that wealth should be found everywhere.

Corrupt influence, which is in itself the
perennial spring of all prodigality, and of
all disorder; which loads us, more than
millions of debt ; which takes away vigour
from our arms, wisdom from our councils,
and every shadow of authority and credit
from the most venerable parts of our con-

Speech on the Economical Reform.

{Hou$e of Commons, Feb. U, I7S0.)

They defend their errors as ii they were

defending their inherituioe. lb.

Gaming is a principle inherent in human

nature. It belongs to us all. lb.

Individuals pass like shadows; but the

commonwealth is fixed and stable. Jb.

As wealth is power, so all power will

infallibly draw wealth to itself by some

means or other. Jb,


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Eng« m nrntuimUy lowers of low company.

•PMdi on tkim KcoBomlaU Reform.

iM<m*e of GmtmonM, Ftb. 11, ITSO,)

P^JTd Soffolkl ^t last paid his tribute to
uie cnnunoo. treasiuy to which we all must
be taxed. n^

Those things which are not practicable are
wjt dcBtxaYile. Jh,

The people axe thamasten. lb.

'Kot a wsatbcTOoc^ on the top of the
edi&ce, exalted lor mj leTitj and Tersatility,
and of no use bat to indicate the shiftiDffsof
STcry fashionable gale.

•p asa h at Bristol (1780>.

Whilflt freedom ii true to itself, ererythinir

beoCTMB subject to it. iJ.

Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.

In doing good, we are generally cold, and
Mngmd, and sluggish; and of all things
afraid of being too much in the right. But
the works of malice and injustice are quite
m another style. They are finished with a
l»ld, masterly hand. Jb,

This Siren song of ambition. lb.

The worthy gentleman [Mr. Coombe],

who has beoi snatched frmn us at the

moDMet of the Section, and in the middle

€a the contest, while his desires were as

warm, and his hopes ss eager as ours, has

iieelingiy told us, what shadows we are, and

'what shadows we pursue.*

Bpssch at Bristol on Deollning the Poll.

He has put to hazard his ease, his securitr,
faxa interest, his power, eyen his darling
rity, for the benefit of a people whom


1 Mr. fta's Bast-India Bttl.

(^pai# ofCommont, Dte. i, nSS.)

Flattery corrupts both the receiver and
srrer ; and adulauon is not of more service
to ^ke people than to kings.

Kaflsetlons on the BsTolution In Prance.

Politics and the pulpit are terms that
have little agreement. No sound ought to
be beard in the church but the healing voice
of Christian charity. lb.

Surely the dmrch is a place where one
day's truce ou^t to be allowed to the
ffiasPTisinnii •jmI awimnaitiiMi cA in^nHt|«1 7^,

It is not plaassnt as com^iment; it is not
wholesome ss instmetion. lb.

People win tk^ look forward to posterity,
who never look backward to their ancestors.

•O1IO0 Is called by Homer a hunter of ahsdows,
hfoMilfsslisde. Od., 11. 679.

Oovemment is a contrivance qf human
wisdom to provide for human wants. Men
have a right that these wants should be
provided for by this wisdom. lb.

But the age of chivalry is gone. That of
sophisters, economists, and calculators, has
succeeded; and the glory of Europe is
ttctingtiished for ever. yj.

^^}\ *f ?S*' ^ senaibiUty of principle,
that chastitY of honour, which felt a s&m
like a wound. yj,

. Yioa itself lost half its eviL by lowur all
its^ossness. "j^.

Kings will be tyrants from policy, when
subjects are rebels from principle. lb.

laming will be cast into the mire, and
trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish
multitude. 7}^

Because half a dozen grasshoppers under
a fern make the field nng with their im-
portunate chink, whilst thousands of great
^ttle, reposed beneath the shadow of the
British oak, chew the cud and are sflent,
way do not imagine that thof e who make
the noise are the only inhabitants of the
field; that, of course, they are many in
number; or that, after all, they are other
than the little, shrivelled, meagre, hoppimr.
though loud and troublesome msects of the
hour. 7j

Man is by his constitution a rehirious
ammal. " p^^

A perfect democracy is therefore the most
■hameless thing in the world. lb.

The men of England— the men, I mean,
of light and leading in England. R

_ The^were possessed with a sjurit of prose
lytism m the most fanatical degree. Ih,

Nobility is a jgraceful ornament to the
avil order It is the Corinthian capital of
polished society jj^

Superstition is the religion of feeble minds.

Eloouence may exist without a propor-
tionable degree of wisdouL lb.
Difficulty is a severe instructor. lb.
He that wrestles with as strengthens our
nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our an-
tagonist is our helper. /^^

Our patience will achieve more than our
force. jj^

Good order Is the foundation of all irood
thmgs. *7;j^

The only infalUble criterion of wisdom to
vulgar judgments—suooesB.

Letter to a Member of the

lational Assembly (ini).

Cromwell was a man in whom ambition

had not wholly suppressed, but only sus-

p<mded, the sentiments of religion. lb


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They ^ no always labour can haye no true

Judgment Letter to a Member of the

Rational Assembly (1791).

These are amonnt the effects of un-
remitted labour, when men exhaust their
attention, bum out their candles, .and are
left in the dark. lb,

Angtj friendship is sometimes as bad as
calm enmity.
JLn Appeal ftem the Hew to the Old Whigs*

Eveiy revolution contains in it something
of evil. Jo,

The onlj liberty I mean, is a Uberty con-
nected with order; that not only exists
along with order and virtue, but which
cannot exist at all vnthout them.

Speech at his arrival at Bristol.
{Get, IS, 1774.)
The silent touches of time.

Letter to Matthew Smith.
{Describinff Wsitmimter Abbey,)

We aii may run, God knows where, in

chase of glory, over the boundless space of

that wild heath, whose horizon aJways flies

before us. A Letter to Wm. Elliot, Esq.

{May t6, 1795.)

The labouring people are only poor be-
cause they are numerous.

Thon^ts and Details on Scarcity.
To innovate is not to reform.

A Letter to a Moble Lord (1796).

These gentle historians, on the contrary,
dip their^ pens in nothing but the milk of
human kindness. lb.

The kinff, and his faithful subjects, the
Lords and Commons of this realm— the
triple cord, which no man can break. Xb,

If we command our wealth, we shall be
rich and free ; if our wealth commands us,
we are poor indeed.

Letters en a Regicide Peace.

Nothing is so rash as fear; and the
counsels of pusillanimity rery rarely put
off, whilst they are always sure to aggravate,
the evils from which they would fly.

No, 1 (1796).

Example is the school of mankind, and
they will learn at no other. Jb,

Never, no never, did Nature say one thing,
and Wisdom say another. Jvo. S {1797) .

Wen is it known that ambition can creep
as well as soar. JS,

People OTuhed by law have no hopes but
from power. If laws are their enemies, they

will be enemies to laws; and those who
have much to hope ^d nothing to lose will
always be dangerous, more or lees.

Letter to the Hon. C. J. Fox.
{Oct, 8, 1777.)

We view the establishment of the English
colonies on principles of liberty as that
which is to render this kingdom veneiable
to future ages.

Addfeu to the British (ktlonlsta
in Berth America (1777).

The coquetry of public opinion, which ham
her caprioes, and must have her way.

Letter to Thoi. Borgh. {JDee,^ 1779,)

Laws, like houses, lean on one another.

Tracts on the Popery Lawa.
Chap, S, part /.

In an forms of government the people ia
the true legislator. Jb,

There are two, and only two, foundations
of law, . . . equity and utility. iJ.

Veneration of antiquity is congenial to
the human mind. Chap, 5, pari f .

Nothing is so fatal to religion as In-

difference, which is, at least, hSd infidelity.

Letter to Wm. SmIUil

{Jan, t9, 1795.)

Somebody has said that a king may make
a nobleman, but he cannot make a gentle-
man, ji^

The grand instructor, Ttme.

Letter to Sir H. Langrlaha.
(May t6, 1795.)

You and I and everybody must now knd
then ply to the occasion, and take what can
be got. j^^

A very great part of the mischiefs that
vex the world arises from words.

Letter to Richard Burke, (e. 1795,)

AU titles terminate in prescription. Jh,

' Dissent, not satisfied with toleration, is
not oonsaenoe, but ambition.

Speech on the Acts of Uniformity.
(Soute of ComtHonSf Feb,, IHt,)

If it is not right to hurt, it is neither right
nor wise to menace.

Speech on a BiU for the relief of

Protestant Dissenters.

(Mouu of Commons, 177S,)

Toleration is good for aU, or it is good for
none. n,^

They make it a principle of their irreHgioii
outwardly to oontorm to any religion. Jh,


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Old idigious factions are Tolcauoes burnt
^ BpMoli <M\ th% Petition of tht

(HbwM of Commonf/May 11, 1792.)

Bangen "by being despised gxx>w great


Yaily and provident fear is the mother of

■afety. Ih,

The greater the poifrer the more dangeroua

the abuse. ipMch on the motion on the

Middlesex Election.

{^B^ome of Commons, Feb 7, 1771.)

PieacripUon is the most sohd of all titles.

Reform of Representation in tlie

House of Commons.

{Speech: May 7,1789.)

The individoal is foolish ; the multitude,
for the moment is foolish, when the^ act
vithoat deliberation; but the spMecies ia
^rise, and, when time is given to it, as a
species it always acts rigbt Ih.

The greatest inquest of the nation [the
JSzitish House of Commons].

Impeachment of Warren Hastings.
{Feb, 15, 1788.)

Crimet not against forms, but against
'tKoae etonal laws of justice, which are our
c^ile and our birthright. Ih,

The fint step to empire is revolution, by
irhich power is conferred. {Fsb, 16, 1788.)

Law and arbitrary power are in eternal
iiiiiifj. Ih,

Religious persecution may shield itself
under the guise of a mistacen and over-
xealoos piety. {Feb, 17, 1788.)

3£odesty does not long sunriTe innocence.


One that confounds good and evil is an
coeay to the good. Ih,

Thank Ood, g^ilt was never a rational
Hung. Ih,

There never was a bad man that had
a.l2ility for good service. lb.

All o^ressoTS . . . attribute the fmstra-
tioQ cft their desires to the want of sufficient
rigour. Then they redouble the efforts of
tbeir impotent cruelty. Ih,

A thing may look specious in theory, and

▼et be ruinous in practice; a thing may

look evU m theory, and yet be in practice

excellent. {Feb. if, 1788.)

Inhuny was never incurred for nothing.

^ {April t5,17h.)

An event has happened, upon which it is

difficnit to speak, and imposmble to be

eflcnt. (^«y ^' ^^•)

Ohecurity Olnstnted by a further ob-

•curi^. ^'

A Pindaric book keeper, an arithmetician
in the clouds. Ih,

Besolved to die in the last dyke of pre-
varication, {may 7, 1/89.)

What is an inaccurate accountant good
for? ** Silly man, that dost not know thy
oVn silly trade ! " was once well said ; but
the trade here is not silly. lb.

There is but one law for all, namely, that
law which governs all law, the law of our
Creator, the law of humanitf, justice,
equity — the law of nature and of nations.

{May t8, 1794,)

Men that are greatly guilty are never
wise. {May 90, 1794.)

No, not a good imitation of Johnson. It
has all Ms pom^, without his force ; it has
all the nodosities of the oak without its
strength; it has all the contortions of the
sibyl, without the. inspiration.

Remark on someone tayiny thai Croft* t
** life ofDr, Young "tooi a good imtta-
tion of Johnson, {Prior* s **Life of
£urkey* p. 468,)

Salisbttry (1645-1716).
His strength lay in his knowledge of

History of his own Times (171S>^
Of Lord Shaftesbury.


To that loved land, where'er he goes,

His tenderest thoughts are cast ;
And dearer still, through absence, grows

The memory of the past

ROBERT BURNS (1769>1796).
The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul.

My gnefs it seems to join ;
The leafless trees my fancy please.

Their fate resembles mine ! Winter

But, Thou art good ; and goodness still
Delighteth to forgive.

k Prayer in the Prospect of Deatlw
I wasna fou, but just had plenty.

Death and Dr. Hornbook*

The auld kirk-hammer strak the bell
Some wee short hour ayont the twal. lb.
Wee sleekit, oowrin', tim*rous beestie.
Oh, what a panic's in thy breastie !

To a House.

I'm trulv sorry man's dominion
Has broken nature's social union,
Andjustifies the ill opinion,

Which makes thee startle
At me, thv poor earth -bom companion,

And fellow-mortal ! lb.


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The best-laid Bchemes o* mice and men

(Hng aft a-gley.
And lea*e us nought but grief and pain

For promised joy. j© a Mouse.

Nature's law
That man was made to mourn.

Man was made to mourn.

Man*8 inhumamty to man

Makes countless thousands mourn. lb,
O Death ! the poor man's dearest friend —

The kindest and the best. lb,

Th' expectant wee things, toddlin' stacher
To meet their dad, wi' flichterin' noise
and glee,
His wee bit ingle, blinking bonnily.
His clean hearthstane, nis thrifty wifie's
The lisping infant prattling on his knee,

Does a* his weary carking cares beguile.
And makes him quite forget his labour and
his toil. The Cotter's Baturday litfht.

And each for other's weelfare kindly spiers.

The social hours, swift- winged, unnoticed,
fleet. lb.

The mother, wi' her needle and her shears.
Oars auld claes look amaist aa weel's the
new lb.

They never sought in vain that sought the
Lord aright. Jb,

I've pac^d much this weary, mortal round.
And sage experience bids me this declare—
" If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure
One cordial in this melancholy vale,
'Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair.
In other's arms, breathe out the tender
Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents
the evening gale." Jb,

A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth!

The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia's food.

The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace.
The big ha' Bible, anoe his father's pride.

He wales a portion with judicious care ;
And " Let us worship Gk>d ! " he says, with

solemn air. /^.

Compared with these, Italian trills are tame ;
The tickled ear no heartfelt raptures raise !

Compared with this, how poor religion's

In all the pomp of method, and of art ! lb.
Devotion's every grace, except the heart.

lb. .

From scenes like these old Scotia's grandeoi


That makes her loved at home, revered


Princes and lords are but the breath of kings .

*'An honest man's the noblest work of

God." lb.

And still my delight is in proper young men.

The JoUy Beggars.

The ladies' hearts he did trepan. lb.

He swore bv a' was swearing worth,

To speet nim like a nliver,
Unless he wad, from tnat time forth,

Belinquish her for ever. lb*

Partly wi' love o'eroome sae sair.

And partly she was drunk Jb,

He was a care-defying blade

As ever Bacchus listed.
Though Fortune sair upon him laid,

His heart she ever missed it.
He had nae wish but— to be ^lad,

Nor want but— when he thirsted. /*.
He hated nought but — to be sad. lb.

Their tricks and craft hae put me daft,

They've ta'en me in, ana a' that,
But clear your decks, and — Here's the sex !

I like the jads for a' that. lb.

Life is all a variorum.

We regard not how it goes !
Let them cant about decorum

Who have characters to lose. lb.

Pleasure's devious way. The Vision.

Misled by Fancjr's meteor-ray,

By passion dnven ;
Butyet the light that led astray

Was light ^m Heaven. lb.

And, like a passing thought, she fled

In light away. Jb,

Blow, blow, ye winds, with heavier gust !
And freeze, thou bitter-biting frost !
Descend, ye chilly, smothering snows !
Not all your rape, as now united, shows
More hiu*d unkmoness, unrelenting,
Vengeful malice, unrjspenting,
Than heaven-illnminea man on brother man

bestows. 1 Winter MlghU

O ye who, sunk in beds of down,
Feel not a want but what yourselves create.
Think for a moment on his wretched fate.
Whom friends and fortune quite disoirn !

Affliction's sons are brothers in distress,
A brother to relieve, how exquisite the bliss !

His locked, lettered, braw brass collar
Showed him the gentleman and scholar.

Tho Twa Dogs.

In Highland sang.
Was made lang syne— Lord knows how lane.


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Eialunieflt, aonne, bawB'nt faoe
iyegatbim friends m ilka place.

And wbat poor cot- folk pit their painch in,
I own iVs past my cxmiprehension. J a

BatKvman bodies are no fools.
Tor a* their ooUegee and schools,
Tbat when nate real ills perplex them,
They mmk eno'w themsels to vex them. lb.
There* ft nc parade, sic pomp and art,
The yyj can scarcely reach the heart 19,
Oh wsd some power the gif tie gie us
To tee onxsels as others see us !
It wad frae mony a blunder fne us,

And foolish notion. To a Lonss.
The rigid righteous is a fool,
The rigid wise anither.

Address to the Unco Ould*
IKKonnt what scant occasion gave

The purity ye pride in.
And (what*B aft mair than a* the lave)

Tour better art o* hiding. lb,

A. dear-loTod lad^ convenience snug,

A treacherous inclination —
SuL let me whisper i* your lug,
Ye*re aihlins nae temptation.
Tien gently scan your brother man,
n gentler sister woman ;



_ I ttiejT may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human. lb.

Then at the balance let's be mute,

W e nerfer can adjust it ;

'What's done we partly may compute.
But know not whaVs resisted. lb.

'Wee; modest, crimson-tipped flower.

To a Mountain Daisy.

Stem Bum*s ploughshare drives, elate.

Full on thy bloom.* lb.

Ufe and Iots are all a dream. Lament.

Oh! scenes in strong remembrance set !

Bccnea nerer, nerer to return ! lb.

O life ! thou art a galling load,

Along a rough, a weary road.

To wretches such as 1 ! Despondency.

Snt facts are chiels that winna ding,

And downs be disputed. A Dream.

Here some are thinkin' on their sins.
And some upo* their claes.

The Holy Fair.
The poor inhabitant below
Was quick to learn, and wise to know,
And keoily felt the friendly glow.

And softer flame ;
Bat tfaooghtlees follies laid him low,
And stained his name !

A Bard^s Epitaph.
JVvdeot, cantions self-control
Is wisdom's root.


* Sm Toung's •• Night Thoughts," », W.

On every hand it wiH allowed be

He's just— nae better Uian he should be.

A Dedication to Oawln Hamilton.

He had twa f auts, or maybe three,

Yet what remead P
Ae honest social man want we :

TamSamson*s dead!

Tkun BamsoB*B Ele^y.

The thundering guns are heard on OTsry side,
The wounded ooreys, reeling, scatter wide ;
The feathered field -mates, bound by

Nature's tie,
Sires, motheis, children, in one carnage lie.
The Brigs of Ayr.

The flent a pride, nae pride had he.
Nor sauce, nor state, that I could see,
Mair than an honest ploughman.

Lines on meetUitf with Lord Dasr.

The mair they talk I*m kenned the better,
E*en let them clash I

The Poet's Welooras to his
Ulsgittmats ChUd.
Life is but a day at most,
Spnmg from night, in darkness lost.

Lines written In Friars-Carse Hermitage.

Hope not sunshine erery hour,

Fear not clouds will always lower.

Happiness is but a name, a

Majce content and ease thy aim. lb,

A towmont, sirs, is gane to wreck !

O Eighty-eight, in uiy sma* space

What dure events hae taken pUce !

Of what enjoyments thou hast reft us !

In what a pickle thou hast left us !

Eletfy on 1788.

With knowledge so vast, and with judgment

so strong^
No man with the half of 'em e*er went far

With passions so potent, and fancies so

No man with the half of *em e*er went quite

right. Sketch : inscribed to C J. Fox.

Good Lord, what is man? for as simple he

Do but try to develop his hooks and his

With his depths and his shaUows, his good

and his evil ;
All in all he's a problem must puzzle the
deviL lb.

If there's a hole in a' your coats,

I rede you tent it r
A chiers amang you takin' notes.

Online LibraryW. Gurney (William Gurney) BenhamCassell's book of quotations, proverbs and household words .. → online text (page 7 of 198)