Arthur Helps

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Arthur Helps in 1858
"Council". Caricature by Carlo Pellegrini (caricaturist) published in Vanity Fair in 1874

Sir Arthur Helps (10 July 1813 – 7 March 1875) was an English writer and dean of the Privy Council.



Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd. (1835)


Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd (Glasgow: Wilson & McCormick, 1883)

  • The unfortunate Ladurlad did not desire the sleep that for ever fled his weary eyelids with more earnestness than most people seek the deep slumber of a decided opinion.
    • p. 10.
    • The concluding phrase of this aphorism is quoted by John Stuart Mill in the second chapter of On Liberty: "A contemporary author has well spoken of 'the deep slumber of a decided opinion.'"
  • There is hardly a more common error than that of taking the man who has one talent, for a genius.
    • pp. 11–12.
  • Do not mistake energy for enthusiasm; the softest speakers are often the most enthusiastic of men.
    • p. 45.
  • Our knowledge of human nature is for the most part empirical; and it would often be better, if, instead of endeavouring to say some new things ourselves, we were to confirm without more words the sayings of another.
    • p. 50
  • The most enthusiastic man in a cause is rarely chosen as the leader.
    • p. 56.
  • Tact is the result of refined sympathy.
    • P. 56.
  • How often we should stop in the pursuit of folly, if it were not for the difficulties that continually beckon us onwards.
    • p. 62.
  • No man ever praised two persons equally—and pleased them both.
    • p. 63.
  • The knowledge of others which experience gives us, is of slight value when compared with that which we obtain from having proved the inconstancy of our own desires.
    • p. 67.

Essays written in the Intervals of Business, (1841)


Arthur Helps, Essays written in the Intervals of Business (1841)

  • Even the most careless people have a sort of aversion to signing things which they have never considered.
    • ‘Of Councils, Commissions, and, in general, of ... ’ p.116.
  • You must work for yourself; for what you reject may be as important for you to have seen and thought about, as what you adopt.
    • ‘On the Transaction of Business’, p. 85.

Friends in Council (First Series), (1847),


Arthur Helps, Friends in Council (First Series), (1847)

  • Friendship is often outgrown; and his former child’s clothes will no more fit a man than some of his former friendships.
    • ‘Unreasonable Claims in Social Affections and Relations’, Chapter IX.
  • The more truth you can get into any business, the better. Let the other side know the defects of yours, let them know how you are to be satisfied, let there be as little to be found as possible (I should say nothing), and if your business be an honest one, it will be best tended in this way.
    • ‘Truth’, Chapter I.

Companions of My Solitude. (1851)


London: William Pickering, 1851

  • Self-indulgence takes many forms; and we should bear in mind that there may be a sullen sensuality as well as a gay one.
    • pp. 27–28.
  • It has always appeared to me that there is so much to be done in this world, that all self-inflicted suffering which cannot be turned to good account for others, is a loss—a loss, if you may so express it, to the spiritual world.
    • p. 30.
  • Love, like the opening of the heavens to the Saints, shows for a moment, even to the dullest man, the possibilities of the human race. He has faith, hope, and charity for another being, perhaps but a creation of his imagination: still it is a great advance for a man to be profoundly loving even in his imagination.
    • pp. 119–120.

Brevia: Short Essays and Aphorisms. (1871)


Arthur Helps, Brevia: Short Essays and Aphorisms. (1871)

  • Any one who is much talked of, must be much maligned. This seems to be a harsh conclusion; but when you consider how much more given men are to depreciate than to appreciate, you will acknowledge that there is some truth in the saying.
    • p. 6
  • The envious man desires some good which another possesses; the jealous man would often be content to be without the good so that that other did not possess it.
    • p.31.
  • A very useful book might be written with the sole object of advising what parts of what books should be read. It should not be a book of elegant extracts, but should merely refer to the passages which are advised to be read. It might also indicate what are the chief works upon any given subject. For example, take rent; the important passages in Adam Smith, Ricardo, Jones, Mill, and other writers, should be referred to.
    • p. 37
  • There is nothing so easily made offensive as good reasoning; and men of clear logical minds, if not gifted at the same time with tact, make more enemies than men with bad hearts and unsound understandings.
    • p. 114
  • Soothe the present as much as we may; look forward as hopefully as we can to the future, still the dreadful past must overshadow us.
    • p. 116
  • Some persons, instead of making a religion for their God, are content to make a god of their religion.
    • p. 141.
  • The greatest luxury of riches is that they enable you to escape so much good advice. The rich are always advising the poor; but the poor seldom return the compliment.
    • p. 181
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