Nature cuts queer capers with menâ€™s phizzes at times, and confounds all the deductions of philosophy. Character does not put all its goods, sometimes not any of them, in its shop-window.
There is a wide difference between general acquaintance and companionship. You may salute a man and exchange compliments with him daily, yet know nothing of his character, his inmost tastes and feelings.
A great deal of the joy of life consists in doing perfectly, or at least to the best of one's ability, everything which one attempts to do... The smallest thing well done, becomes artistic.
Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than pleasures of youth.
To be contented,--what, indeed, is it? Is it not to be satisfied,--to hope for nothing, to aspire to nothing, to strive for nothing,--in short to rest in inglorious ease, doing nothing for your country, for your own or others' material, intellectual, or moral improvement, satisfied with the condition in which you or they are placed? Such a state of feeling may do very well where nature has fixed an inseparable and ascertained barrier,--a "thus far, shalt thou go and no farther,"--to our wishes, or where we are troubled by ills past remedy. In such cases it is the highest philosophy not to fret or grumble, when, by all our worrying and self-teasing, we cannot help ourselves a jot or tittle, but only aggravate and intensify an affliction that is incurable. To soothe the mind down into patience is then the only resource left us, and happy is he who has schooled himself thus to meet all reverses and disappointments. But in the ordinary circumstances of life this boasted virtue of contentment.
As frost, raised to its utmost intensity, produces the sensation of fire, so any good quality, overwrought and pushed to excess, turns into its own contrary.
One well-cultivated talent, deepened and enlarged, is worth 100 shallow faculties. The first law of success in this day, when so many things are clamoring for attention, is concentration-to bend all the energies to one point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.
Tolerance is another word for difference.
Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of habit.
Only a mediocre person is always at his best.
Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.
God has so framed us as to make freedom of choice and action the very basis of all moral improvement, and all our faculties, mental and moral, resent and revolt against the idea of coercion.
Out of the same substances one stomach will extract nutriment, another poison; and so the same disappointments in life will chasten and refine one man's spirit, and embitter another's.
Unless a man has trained himself for his chance, the chance will only make him ridiculous.
Goodness is the only value that seems in this world of appearances to have any claim to be an end in itself. Virtue is its own reward.
People ask for criticism, but they only want praise.
We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.
I was miserable, of course, for I was seventeen, and so I swung into action and wrote a poem, and it was miserable, for that's how I thought poetry worked: you digested experience and shat literature.
Punctuality is a compliment you pay to the intelligent and a rebuke you administer to the stupid.
What are the precise characteristics of an epigram it is not easy to define. It differs from a joke, in the fact that the wit of the latter dies in the words, and cannot therefore be conveyed in another language; while an epigram is a wit of ideas, and hence is translatable. Like aphorisms, songs and sonnets, it is occupied with some single point, small and manageable; but whilst a song conveys a sentiment, a sonnet, a poetical, and an aphorism a moral reflection, an epigram expresses a contrast.
If truth is a value it is because it is true and not because it is brave to speak it.
Reverie is the groundwork of creative imagination; it is the privilege of the artist that with him is not as with other men an escape from reality, but the means by which he accedes to it.
What keeps persons down in the world, besides lack of capacity, is not a philosophical contempt of riches or honors, but thoughtlessness and improvidence, a love of sluggish torpor, and of present gratification. It is not from preferring virtue to wealth--the goods of the mind to those of fortune--that they take no thought for the morrow; but from want of forethought and stern self-command. The restless, ambitious man too often directs these qualities to an unworthy object; the contented man is generally deficient in the qualities themselves. The one is a stream that flows too often in a wrong channel, and needs to have its course altered, the other is a stagnant pool.
Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.