Solitude

Solitude has but one disadvantage - it is apt to give one too high an opinion of one’s self. In the world we are sure to be often reminded of every known or supposed defect we may have.

Death is the tyrant of the imagination. His reign is in solitude and darkness, in tombs and prisons, over weak hearts and seething brains. He lives, without shape or sound, a phantasm, inaccessible to sight or touch - a ghastly and terrible apprehension.

One can be instructed in society; one is inspired only in solitude.

Talents are best nurtured in solitude; character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.

To this war of every man, against every man, this is also consequent that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law: where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the two cardinal virtues. Justice, and injustice, are none of the faculties neither of the body, nor mind. If they were, they might be in a man that were alone in the world, as well as his sense, and passions. They are qualities, that relate to men in society, not in solitude. It is consequent also to the same condition, that there be no propriety, no dominion, no mine and thing distinct; but only that to be every man’s, that he can get; and for so long, as he can keep it.

The way a man speaks lays bare the texture of his mind, the goodness of his heart, the inner pain or the sweet serenity that are his companions in solitude.

If the mind loves solitude, it has thereby acquired a loftier character, and it becomes still more noble when the taste is indulged in.

Solitude is dangerous to reason, without being favorable to virtue.

Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.

In the world a man lives in his own age; in solitude, in all the ages.

Men fear silence as they fear solitude, because both give them a glimpse of the terror of life's nothingness.

The contemplative life has nothing to tell you except to reassure you and say that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and dare to advance without fear into the solitude of your own heart... you will truly recover the light and capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanation because it is too close to be explained.

Learning, if rightly applied, makes a young man thinking, attentive, industrious, confident and wary; and an old man cheerful and useful. It is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, an entertainment at all times; it cheers in solitude, and gives moderation and wisdom in all circumstances.

Solitude is the mother of anxieties.

A good conscience fears no witnesses, but a guilty conscience is solicitous even in solitude. If we do nothing but what is honest, let all the world know it; but if otherwise, what does it signify to have nobody else know it so long as I know it myself? Miserable is he who slights that witness!

Solitude and company may be allowed to take their turns: the one creates in us the love of mankind, the other that of ourselves; solitude relieves us when we are sick of company, and conversation when we are weary of being alone, so that the one cures the other. There is no man so miserable as he that is at a loss how to use his time.

Solitude cherishes great virtues and destroys little ones.

Only great minds can afford a simple style...One can acquire everything in solitude-except character.

A moral decision is the loneliest thing that exists. Knowledge is shed abroad everywhere. Anybody may dip his cup into that great sea and take out what he can. It is a public appropriation from a public store. But what the man himself must do as a moral being, what ordering he shall make of his life, what allegiance he shall choose, what cause he shall cleave to - this is decided in that solitude where his soul in authentic presence lives with no other companion than the Final Authority which he recognizes as supreme.

Solitary we must be in life's great hours of moral decisions; solitary in pain and sorrow; solitary in old age and in our going forth at death. Fortunate the man who has learned what to do in solitude and brought himself to see what companionship he may discover in it, what fortitude, what content.