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Eighteenth Century



Portrait of Alexander Pope by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1722. Private Collection.
Alexander Pope Quotes

Say first, of God above or man below,
What can we reason but from what we know?
    —Essay on Man. Epistle i. Line 17-18.

'T is but a part we see, and not a whole.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle i. Line 60.

Heaven from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
All but the page prescrib'd, their present state.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle i. Line 77-8.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle i. Line 95.

In pride, in reasoning pride, our error lies.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle i. Line 123.

Men would be angels, angels would be gods.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle i. Line 126.

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.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle i. Line 289-294.

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

    —Essay on Man. Epistle ii. Line 1-2.

In faith and hope the world will disagree,
But all mankind's concern is charity.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle iii. Line 303-4.

Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
Lie in three words,—health, peace, and competence.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle iv. Line 79-80.

Honour and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part, there all the honour lies.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle iv. Line 193.

An honest man's the noblest work of God.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle iv. Line 247.

Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise?
'T is but to know how little can be known;
To see all others' faults, and feel our own.
    —Essay on Man. Epistle iv. Line 254-6.

Know then this truth (enough for man to know),—
"Virtue alone is happiness below."
    —Essay on Man. Epistle iv. Line 309-310.

Whether the charmer sinner it or saint it,
If folly grow romantic, I must paint it.
    —Moral Essays. Epistle ii. Line 15-16.

Men, some to business, some to pleasure take;
But every woman is at heart a rake.
    —Moral Essays. Epistle ii. Line 215-16.

Woman's at best a contradiction still.
    —Moral Essays. Epistle ii. Line 270.

The ruling passion, be it what it will,
The ruling passion conquers reason still.
    —Moral Essays. Epistle iii. Line 153-4.

Good sense, which only is the gift of Heaven,
And though no science, fairly worth the seven.
    —Moral Essays. Epistle iv. Line 43-4.

'T is with our judgments as our watches,—none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
    —Essay on Criticism. Part i. Line 9-10.

Pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
    —Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 4.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.
    —Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 15.

Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,
Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be.
    —Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 53-4.

True wit is Nature to advantage dress'd,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd.
    —Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 97-8.

Words are like leaves; and where they most abound,
Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.
    —Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 109-110.

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
'T is not enough no harshness gives offence,—
The sound must seem an echo to the sense.
    —Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 162-5.

To err is human, to forgive divine.
    —Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 325.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
    —Essay on Criticism. Part iii. Line 66.

The hungry judges soon the sentence sign,
And wretches hang that jurymen may dine.
    —The Rape of the Lock. Canto iii. Line 21-2.

Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.
    —The Rape of the Lock. Canto v. Line 34.

It is not poetry, but prose run mad.
    —Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. Prologue to the Satires. Line 186.

Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.
    —Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace. Epilogue to the Satires. Dialogue i. Line 136.

Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old.
    —Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace. Epistle i. Book ii. Line 35.

E'en copious Dryden wanted or forgot
The last and greatest art,—the art to blot.
    —Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace. Epistle i. Book ii. Line 280-1.

Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.
    —Epitaph intended for Sir Isaac Newton.

Curse on all laws but those which love has made!
Love, free as air at sight of human ties,
Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.
    —Eloisa to Abelard. Line 74-6.

Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call;
She comes unlooked for if she comes at all.
    —The Temple of Fame. Line 513-14.

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
    —Letter to Gay, Oct. 6, 1727.


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Restoration & 18th-century:

Samuel Butler
John Dryden
Samuel Pepys
John Bunyan
Aphra Behn
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
Mary Astell
William Congreve
Matthew Prior
Daniel Defoe
John Gay
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Jonathan Swift
Joseph Addison
Sir Richard Steele
James Thomson
Alexander Pope
Dr. Samuel Johnson
Thomas Gray
William Collins
Christopher Smart
Oliver Goldsmith
George Crabbe
William Cowper
James Boswell
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