No doubt hard work is a great police agent. If everybody were worked from morning till night, and then carefully locked up, the register of crime might be greatly diminished. But what would become of human nature? Where would be the room for growth in such a system of things? It is through sorrow and mirth, plenty and need, a variety of passions, circumstances, and temptations, even through sin and misery, that men's natures are developed.
Always win fools first. They talk much, and what they have once uttered they will stick to; whereas there is always time, up to the last moment, to bring before a wise man arguments that may entirely change his opinion.
Be cheerful [and grateful for the good that you have]: do not brood over fond hopes unrealized until a chain is fastened on each thought and wound around the heart. Nature intended you to be the fountain-spring of cheerfulness and social life, and not the mountain of despair and melancholy.
A great and frequent error in our judgment of human nature is to suppose that those sentiments and feelings have no existence, which may be only for a time concealed. The precious metals are not found at the surface of the earth, except in sandy places.
If you are often deceived by those around you, you may be sure that you deserve to be deceived; and that instead of railing at the general falseness of mankind, you have first to pronounce judgment on your own jealous tyranny, or on your own weak credulity.
There are few who would need advisers, if they were only accustomed to appeal to themselves in their calmest, holiest moments. If, when embarrassed with doubt as to any course of action, they would turn aside from the immediate tumult of the world, and from the vain speaking of those who "darken counsel by words without knowledge;" and would then commune with their hearts alone, at night, the heavens their silent counsellors, they would act not always in accordance with the wise men of this world, but with that wisdom which bringeth peace.
Those who are successfully to lead their fellow-men, should have once possessed the nobler feelings. We have all known individuals whose magnanimity was not likely to be troublesome on any occasion; but then they betrayed their own interests by unwisely omitting the consideration, that such feelings might exist in the breasts of those whom they had to guide and govern: for they themselves cannot even remember the time when in their eyes justice appeared preferable to expediency, the happiness of others to self-interest, or the welfare of a State to the advancement of a party.
It has always appeared to me, that there is so much to be done in this world, that all self-inflicted suffering which cannot be turned to good account for others, is a loss - a loss, if you may so express it, to the spiritual world.
The man who could withstand, with his fellow-men in single line, a charge of cavalry may lose all command of himself on the occurrence of a fire in his own house, because of some homely reminiscence unknown to the observing bystander.
Do not shun this maxim because it is common-place. On the contrary, take the closest heed of what observant men, who would probably like to show originality, are yet constrained to repeat. Therein lies the marrow of the wisdom of the world.
When we consider the incidents of former days, and perceive, while reviewing the long line of causes, how the most important events of our lives originated in the most trifling circumstances; how the beginning of our greatest happiness or greatest misery is to be attributed to a delay, to an accident, to a mistake; we learn a lesson of profound humility.
Rare almost as great poets, rarer, perhaps, than veritable saints and martyrs; are consummate men of business. A man, to be excellent in this way, requires a great knowledge of character, with that exquisite tact which feels unerringly the right moment when to act. A discreet rapidity must pervade all the movements of his thought and action. He must be singularly free from vanity, and is generally found to be an enthusiast who has the art to conceal his enthusiasm.
Any one who is much talked of be much maligned. This seems to be a harsh conclusion; but when you consider how much more given men are to depreciate than to appreciate, you will acknowledge that there is some truth in the saying.
There is an honesty which is but decided selfishness in disguise. The person who will not refrain from expressing his or her sentiments and manifesting his or her feelings, however unfit the time, however inappropriate the place, however painful this expression may be, lays claim, forsooth, to our approbation as an honest person, and sneers at those of finer sensibilities as hypocrites.
Always say a kind word if you can, if only that it may come in, perhaps, with singular opportuneness, entering some mournful man's darkened room, like a beautiful firefly, whose happy circumvolutions he cannot but watch, forgetting his many troubles.
A great many wise sayings have been uttered about the effects of solitary retirement; but the motives which impel men to seek it are not more various than the effects which it produces on different individuals. One thing is certain, that those who can with truth affirm that they are "never less alone than when alone," might generally add that they never feel more lonely than when not alone.
The most common-place people become highly imaginative when they are in a passion. Whole dramas of insult, injury, and wrong pass before their minds,--efforts of creative genius, for there is sometimes not a fact to go upon.
Love, like the opening of the heavens to the saints, shows for a moment, even to the dullest person, the possibilities of the human race. One has faith, hope, and charity for another being, perhaps but the creation of the imagination; still it is a great advance for a person to be profoundly loving, even in his or her imagination.
Infinite toil would not enable you to sweep away a mist; but by ascending a little, you may often look over it altogether. So it is with our moral improvement: we wrestle fiercely with a vicious habit, which could have no hold upon us if we ascended into a higher moral atmosphere.
No man, or woman, was ever cured of love by discovering the falseness of his or her lover. The living together for three long, rainy days in the country has done more to dispel love than all the perfidies in love that have ever been committed.