Henry Taylor

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Sir Henry Taylor KCMG (18 October 180027 March 1886) was an English civil servant, author and dramatist.



Philip van Artevelde (1834)

  • I have not skill
    From such a sharp and waspish word as "No"
    To pluck the sting.
    • Act I, sc. 1. (no; this is from scene 2)
  • Such souls,
    Whose sudden visitations daze the world,
    Vanish like lightning, but they leave behind
    A voice that in the distance far away
    Wakens the slumbering ages.
    • Act I, sc. 5.
  • We figure to ourselves
    The thing we like; and then we build it up,
    As chance will have it, on the rock or sand,—
    For thought is tired of wandering o’er the world,
    And homebound Fancy runs her bark ashore.
    • Act I, sc. 5.
  • He that lacks time to mourn, lacks time to mend.
    Eternity mourns that. ’Tis an ill cure
    For life’s worst ills, to have no time to feel them.
    Where sorrow ’s held intrusive and turned out,
    There wisdom will not enter, nor true power,
    Nor aught that dignifies humanity.
    • Act I, sc. 5.
  • An unreflected light did never yet
    Dazzle the vision feminine.
    • Act I, sc. 5.
  • The world knows nothing of its greatest men.
    • Act I, sc. 5.
  • His food
    Was glory, which was poison to his mind
    And peril to his body.
    • Act I, sc. 5.
  • Such souls,
    Whose sudden visitations daze the world,
    Vanish like lighting, but they leave behind
    A voice that in the distance far away
    Wakens the slumbering ages.
    • Act I, sc. 7.

The Statesman (1836)

  • In our judgment of men, we are to beware of giving any great importance to occasional acts. By acts of occasional virtue weak men endeavour to redeem themselves in their own estimation, vain men to exalt themselves in that of mankind.
    • Ch. 3. p. 20
  • Shy and proud men … are more liable than any others to fall into the hands of parasites and creatures of low character. For in the intimacies which are formed by shy men, they do not choose, but are chosen.
    • Ch. 4. p. 27
  • Conscience is, in most men, an anticipation of the opinions of others.
    • Ch. 9. p. 63
  • Many magnify in words the importance of public duties, but few appreciate them in feeling; and that, not so much for want of feeling, as for want of carrying it out to whatever results the understanding reaches.
    • Ch. 9. p. 64
  • Climbing the bole of the tree, a man clings with all his arms and legs, and lays hold of every knob and sliver. When he mounts amongst the branches, it should be with a more easy alacrity. A man will often be apt at the one operation, yet awkward at the other. Nor is it, indeed, common to meet with a man of such a character as can be carried from a low condition of life through successive ascents, with an aptitude for every condition into which he passes; and thus it is that men who rise well will often stand infirmly. But for want of due consideration being given to the nature of men and circumstances, it is a usual thing to hear, not only regret but surprise expressed, when a man who has attained an elevated position in life exhibits in that position those very defects of character through which he is there.
    • Ch. 14. p. 91
  • Considering the temptations under which politicians are placed, of changing their opinions, or rather their professions of opinion, from motives of self interest, the world will not give them credit for motives of honest conviction, unless when the change shall be to their manifest loss and disadvantage.
    • Ch. 17. p. 121
  • To flesh your friend’s curiosity, and then endeavour to leave him with a hûc usque, is exposing your faculty of reticence to an unnecessary trial.
    • Ch. 18. p. 130
  • Shy and unready men are great betrayers of secrets; for there are few wants more urgent for the moment than the want of something to say.
    • Ch. 18. p. 131
  • Where there are large powers with little ambition (which will happen sometimes, though seldom) nature may be said to have fallen short of her purposes; for she has given the machinery without the vis motrix.
    • Ch. 19. p. 132
  • The pretext for indecisiveness is commonly mature deliberation; but in reality indecisive men occupy themselves less in deliberation than others; for to him who fears to decide, deliberation (which has a foretaste of that fear) soon becomes intolerably irksome, and the mind escapes from the anxiety of it into alien themes.
    • Ch. 21. p. 144
  • Good nature and kindness towards those with whom they come in personal contact, at the expense of public interests, that is of those whom they never see, is the besetting sin of public men.
    • Ch. 23. p. 176
  • The hope, and not the fact, of advancement, is the spur to industry.
    • Ch. 23. p. 187
  • There are few things more important in the business of the state, than that the results of inquiry and research should be realised by those who have had the conduct of it.
    • Ch. 25. p. 198
  • Few things will occasion a statesman so much embarrassment as a prevailing opinion that he will yield that to importunity which he ought to proffer to less forward parties upon juster grounds, and that whether he grants or refuses no harm can be done by asking.
    • Ch. 29. p. 219
  • In a statesman’s transactions there are many things which cannot be communicated otherwise than by manner without inconvenient commitment or controversy; and that will be the most serviceable manner which can be expressive or inexpressive at pleasure, and be used as a dark lantern to his meanings.
    • Ch. 31. p. 235
  • It has been said of compliments, that men are most flattered by having the merits attributed to them which they least possess; but as it is only by liars that such compliments can be proffered, so it is only with fools that they can find a favourable acceptation.
    • Ch. 31 p. 236
  • For no syren did ever so charm the ear of the listener, as the listening ear has charmed the soul of the syren.
    • Ch. 31. p. 239
  • The craving for office with which statesmen are so often reproached is, perhaps, in the more active of them, quite as much a craving for business as for emolument or power; and their unseasonable love of business grows out of their forfeiture of the love of leisure. Rarely as well as fortunately endowed by nature is that man who can love one or the other according to his occasions.
    • Ch. 33. p. 254

Notes from Life (1853)

  • The philosophy which affects to teach us a contempt of money does not run very deep; for, indeed, it ought to be still more clear to the philosopher than it is to ordinary men, that there are few things in the world of greater importance.
    • Money.
  • He who gives only what he would as readily throw away gives without generosity; for the essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice.
    • Money.
  • When you give, therefore, take to yourself no credit for generosity, unless you deny yourself something in order that you may give.
    • Money.
  • Prodigality is indeed the vice of a weak nature, as avarice is of a strong one; it comes of a weak craving for those blandishments of the world which are easily to be had for money, and which, when obtained, are as much worse than worthless as a harlot's love is worse than none.
    • Money.
  • The art of living easily as to money, is to pitch your scale of living one degree below your means.
    • Money.
  • Wisdom is corrupted by ambition, even when the quality of the ambition is intellectual. For ambition, even of this quality, is but a form of self-love…
    • Wisdom.
  • Fear, indeed, is the mother of foresight…
    • Wisdom.
  • Of all the uses of adversity which are sweet, none are sweeter than those which grow out of disappointed love…
    • The Ways of the Rich and Great.
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