Why do so many ingenious theorists give fresh reasons every year for the decline of letter writing, and why do they assume, in derision of suffering humanity, that it has declined? They lament the lack of leisure, the lack of sentiment ... They talk of telegrams, and telephones, and postal cards, as if any discovery of science, any device of civilization, could eradicate from the human heart that passion for self-expression which is the impelling force of letters.
Wit is a pleasure-giving thing, largely because it eludes reason; but in the apprehension of an absurdity through the working of the comic spirit there is a foundation of reason, and an impetus to human companionship.
The tourist may complain of other tourists; but he would be lost without them. He may find them in his way, taking up the best seats in the motors, and the best tables in the hotel dining-rooms; but he grows amazingly intimate with them during the voyage, and not infrequently marries one of them when it is over.
An appreciation of words is so rare that everybody naturally thinks he possesses it, and this universal sentiment results in the misuse of a material whose beauty enriches the loving student beyond the dreams of avarice.
Sensuality, too, which used to show itself course, smiling, unmasked, and unmistakable, is now serious, analytic, and so burdened with a sense of its responsibilities that it passes muster half the time as a new type of asceticism.
abroad it is our habit to regard all other travelers in the light of personal and unpardonable grievances. They are intruders into our chosen realms of pleasure, they jar upon our sensibilities, they lessen our meager share of comforts, they are everywhere in our way, they are always an unnecessary feature in the landscape.
It is the steady and merciless increase of occupations, the augmented speed at which we are always trying to live, the crowding of each day with more work than it can profitably hold, which has cost us, among other things, the undisturbed enjoyment of friends. Friendship takes time, and we have no time to give it.
if a man be discreet enough to take to hard drinking in his youth, before his general emptiness is ascertained, his friends invariably credit him with a host of shining qualities which, we are given to understand, lie balked and frustrated by his one unfortunate weakness.
A villain must be a thing of power, handled with delicacy and grace. He must be wicked enough to excite our aversion, strong enough to arouse our fear, human enough to awaken some transient gleam of sympathy. We must triumph in his downfall, yet not barbarously nor with contempt, and the close of his career must be in harmony with all its previous development.
Anyone, however, who has had dealings with dates knows that they are worse than elusive, they are perverse. Events do not happen at the right time, nor in their proper sequence. That sense of harmony with place and season which is so strong in the historian--if he be a readable historian--is lamentably lacking in history, which takes no pains to verify his most convincing statements.
History is, and has always been trameled by facts. It may ignore some and deny others; but it cannot accommodate itself unreservedly to theories; it cannot be stripped of things evidenced in favor of things surmised.
The perfectly natural thing to do with an unreadable book is to give it away; and the publication, for more than a quarter of a century, of volumes which fulfilled this one purpose and no other is a pleasant proof, if proof were needed, of the business principles which underlay the enlightened activity of publishers.
By providing cheap and wholesome reading for the young, we have partly succeeded in driving from the field that which was positively bad; yet nothing is easier than to overdo a reformation, and, through the characteristic indulgence of American parents, children are drugged with a literature whose chief merit is its harmlessness.
Tea had come as a deliverer to a land that called for deliverance; a land of beef and ale, of heavy eating and abundant drunkenness; of gray skies and harsh winds; of strong-nerved, stout-purposed, slow-thinking men and women. Above all, a land of sheltered homes and warm firesides - firesides that were waiting - waiting for the bubbling kettle and the fragrant breath of tea.
There are people who balk at small civilities on account of their manifest insincerity. ... It is better and more logical to accept all the polite phraseology which facilitates intercourse, and contributes to the sweetness of life. If we discarded the formal falsehoods which are the currency of conversation, we should not be one step nearer the vital things of truth.