Small debts are like small shot; they are rattling on every side, and can scarcely be escaped without a wound: great debts are like cannon; of loud noise, but little danger.
— Samuel Johnson, extract from a letter to Joseph Simpson, cited in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 1, 1824
A Letter to his Son
[D]ress is a very foolish thing; and yet it is a very foolish thing for a man not to be well dressed, according to his rank and way of life; and it is so far from being a disparagement to any man’s understanding, that it is rather a proof of it, to be as well dressed as those whom he lives with: the difference in this case, between a man of sense and a fop, is, that the fop values himself upon his dress; and the man of sense laughs at it, at the same time that he knows he must not neglect it. There are a thousand foolish customs of this kind, which not being criminal must be complied with, and even cheerfully, by men of sense. Diogenes the Cynic was a wise man for despising them; but a fool for showing it. Be wiser than other people, if you can; but do not tell them so.
— Philip Stanhope, letter to his son, November 9, 1745, cited in Letters Written by Lord Chesterfield to his Son, 1872
Envious of Others
The lion craved the fox’s art;
The fox the lion’s force and heart;
The cock implored the pigeou’s flight,
Whose wings were rapid, strong, and light;
The pigeon strength of wing despised,
And the cock’s matehless valour prized;
The fishes wish’d to graze the plain;
The beasts to skim beneath the main:
Thus, envious of another’s state,
Each blamed the partial hand of Fate.
— John Gay, “The Eagle and Assembly of Animals”, The Fables of John Gay Illustrated, 1857
Adversity and Prosperity
They overlook truth in the judgment they pass on adversity and prosperity. The temptations that attend the former they can easily see, and dread at a distance; but they have no apprehensions of the dangerous consequences of the latter.
— Francis Atterbury, Encyclopedia Londonensis, Vol. 18, 1821