Dissimulation in youth is the forerunner of perfidy in old age; its first appearance is the fatal omen of growing depravity and future shame. It degrades parts and learning obscures the luster of every accomplishment and sinks us into contempt. The path of falsehood is a perplexing maze. After the first departure from sincerity, it is not in our power to stop; one artifice unavoidably leads on to another, till, as the intricacy of the labyrinth increases, we are left entangled in our snare.
Affectation proceeds from one of these two causes - vanity or hypocrisy; for as vanity puts us on affecting false characters, in order to purchase applause; so hypocrisy sets us on an endeavor to avoid censure, by concealing our vices under an appearance of their opposite virtues.
Corrupt as men are, they are yet so much the creatures of reflection, and so strongly addicted to sentiments of right and wrong, that their attachment to a public cause can rarely be secured, or their animosity be kept alive, unless their understandings are engaged by some appearance of truth and rectitude.
It is in life that we have to ‘perfect’ ourselves. If we limit ‘this life’ to one single journey between birth and death there is not enough time. People give up trying, just because of this appearance of things. They do not bend the life round in a circle, but leave the whole matter to the ‘hereafter’. We cannot grasp that beyond the ‘end’ lies the beginning... Beyond our life we meet - our life. We cannot turn in any other direction!
What is man’s life compared to the life of the whole Universe? If man’s life is nothing but a minute part of the life of the whole world if he inserted into the cycle of all the Universe so that his appearance and reappearance is dependent upon the gigantic cosmic processes that belong to the Universe, what chance has he of altering anything in his destiny?
Nothing is more free than the imagination of man; and though it cannot exceed that original stock of ideas furnished by the internal and external senses, it has unlimited power of mixing, compounding, separating, and dividing these ideas, in all the varieties of fiction and vision. It can feign a train of events, with all the appearance of reality, ascribe to them a particular time and place, conceive them as existent, and paint them out of itself with every circumstance, that belongs to any historical fact, which it believes with the greatest certainty.
The same space of time seems shorter as we grow older - that is, the days, the months, and the years do so; whether the hours do so is doubtful, and the minutes and seconds to all appearance remain about the same... In youth we may have an absolutely new experience, subjective or objective, every hour of the day. Apprehension is vivid, retentiveness strong, and our recollection of that time, like those of a time spent in rapid and interesting travel, are of something intricate, multitudinous, and long-drawn-out. But as each passing year converts some of this experience into automatic routine which we hardly notice at all, the days and the weeks smooth themselves out in recollection to contentless units, and the years grow hollow and collapse.
If you wish to be like the gods on earth, to be free in the realms of the dead, pluck not the fruit from the garden! In appearance it may glisten to the eye; but the perishable pleasure of possession quickly avenges the curse of curiosity.
Truth is the most powerful thing in the world, since even fiction itself must be governed by it, an can only please by its resemblance. The appearance of reality is necessary to make any passion agreeably represented, and to be able to move others we must be moved ourselves, or at least seem to be so, upon some probably grounds.