It is characteristic of our age to endeavour to replace virtues by technology. That is to say, wherever possible we strive to use methods of physical or social engineering to achieve goals which our ancestors thought attainable only by the training of character. Thus we try so far as possible to make contraception take the place of chastity, and anesthetics to take the place of fortitude; we replace resignation by insurance policies and munificence by the Welfare state. It would be idle romanticism to deny that such techniques and institutions are often less painful and more efficient methods of achieving the goods and preventing the evils which unaided virtue once sought to achieve and avoid. But it would be an equal and opposite folly to hope that the take-over of virtue by technology may one day be complete.
Most of the troubles of humanity are imaginary and should be laughed out of court. It is folly to cross a bridge until you come to it, or to bid the Devil good-morning until you meet him - perfect folly. All is well until the stroke falls, and even then, nine times out of ten, it is not so bad as anticipated. A wise man is the confirmed optimist.
Trust not any man with thy life, credit, or estate. For it is mere folly for a man to enthrall himself to his friend, as though, occasion being offered, he should not dare to become an enemy.
Those who are versed in the history of their country, in the history of the human race, must know that rigorous state prosecutions have always preceded the era of convulsion; and this era, I fear, will be accelerated by the folly and madness of our rulers. If the people are discontented, the proper mode of quieting their discontent is, not by instituting rigorous and sanguinary prosecutions, but by redressing their wrongs and conciliating their affections. Courts of justice, indeed, may be called in to the aid of ministerial vengeance; but if once the purity of their proceedings is suspected, they will cease to be objects of reverence to the nation; they will degenerate into empty and expensive pageantry, and become the partial instruments of vexatious oppression. Whatever may become of me, my principles will last forever. Individuals may perish; but truth is eternal. The rude blasts of tyranny may blow from every quarter; but freedom is that hardy plant which will survive the tempest and strike an everlasting root into the most unfavorable soil.
He is no true man who ever treats women with anything but the profoundest respect. She is no true woman who cannot inspire and does not take care to enforce this. Any real rivalry of the sexes is the sheerest folly and most unnatural nonsense.
The wisdom of one generation will be folly in the next.
To build Utopias in defiance of scientific principles is only a fool's errand. If false hopes are momentarily good for morale, we must ultimately pay for such folly in episodes of disillusionment, cynicism and despair.