American-born English Essayist, Critic and Man of Letters
"Dark and distorting are the minds of people who dislike us; and when we meet them, we make dismal reflections."
"Don't laugh at a youth for his affections; he is only trying on one face after another to find a face of his own."
"There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second."
"We grow with the years more fragile in body but morally stouter, and can throw off the chill of a bad conscience almost at once."
"What is more mortifying than to feel that you've missed the plum for want of courage to shake the tree?"
"Don't let young people confide in you their aspirations; when they drop them, they will drop you."
"Two weeks before his death, a friend asked him half-jokingly if he had discovered any meaning in life. 'Yes,' he replied, ' there is a meaning, at least for me, there is one thing that matters - to set a chime of words tinkling in the minds of a few fastidious people.'"
"Uncultivated minds are not full of wild flowers, like uncultivated fields. Villainous weeds grow in them and they are the haunt of toads."
"That we should practice what we preach is generally admitted; but anyone who preaches what he and his hearers practice must incur the greatest moral disapprobation."
"There is one thing that matters, to set a chime of words tinkling in the minds of a few fastidious people."
"Hearts that are delicate and kind and tongues that are neither, these make the finest company in the world."
"This nice and subtle happiness of reading, this joy not chilled by age, this polite and unpunished vice, this selfish, serene life-long intoxication."
"How many of our daydreams would darken into nightmares, were there any danger of their coming true."
"A slight touch of friendly malice and amusement towards those we love keeps our affections for them from turning flat."
"All our lives we are putting pennies - our most golden pennies - into penny-in-the-slot machines that are almost always empty."
"All my life, as down an abyss without a bottom. I have been pouring van loads of information into that vacancy of oblivion I call my mind."
"All reformers, however strict their social conscience, live in houses just as big as they can pay for."
"How can they say my life is not a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten?"
"I cannot forgive my friends for dying: I do not find these vanishing acts of theirs at all amusing."
"I hate Spiders - I dislike all kinds of Insects. Their cold intelligence, their empty, stereotyped, unremitted industry repel me. And I am not altogether happy about the future of the Human Race; when I think of the slow refrigeration of the Earth, the Sun's waning, and the ultimate, inevitable collapse of the Solar System, I have grave misgivings."
"Charming people live up to the very edge of their charm, and behave as outrageously as the world lets them."
"But how can one toil at the great task with this hurry and tumult of birds just outside the open window? I hear the Thrush, and the Blackbird, that romantic liar; then the delicate cadence, the wiry descending scale of the Willow-wren, or the Blackcap's stave of mellow music. All these are familiar?but what is that unknown voice, that thrilling note? I hurry out; the voice flees and I follow; and when I return and sit down again to my task, the Yellowhammer trills his sleepy song in the noonday heat; the drone of the Greenfinch lulls me into dreamy meditations. Then suddenly from his tree-trunks and forest recesses comes the Green Woodpecker, and mocks at me an impudent voice full of liberty and laughter. Why should all the birds of the air conspire against me? My concern is with the sad Human Species, with lapsed and erroneous Humanity, not with that inconsiderate, wandering, feather-headed race."
"Every author, however modest, keeps a most outrageous vanity chained like a madman in the padded cell of his breast."
"If we're told that an odd piece of our china is worth a hundred pounds, - how rare its beauty!"
"It is the dread of something happening, something unknown and dreadful, that makes us do anything to keep the flicker of talk from dying out."