When young, we trust ourselves too much, and we trust others too little when old. Rashness is the error of youth, timid caution of age. Manhood is the isthmus between the two extremes; the ripe and fertile season of action, when alone we can hope to find the head to contrive, united with the hand to execute.
That politeness which we put on, in order to keep the assuming and the presumptuous at a proper distance will generally succeed. But it sometimes happens that these obtrusive characters are on such excellent terms with themselves that they put down this very politeness to the score of their own great merits and high pretensions, meeting the coldness of our reserve with a ridiculous condescension of familiarity, in order to set us at ease with ourselves.
We strive as hard to hide our hearts from ourselves as from others, and always with more success; for in deciding upon our own case we are both judge, jury, and executioner, and where sophistry cannot overcome the first, or flattery the second, self-love is always ready to defeat the sentence by bribing the third.
Falsehood, like a drawing in perspective, will not bear to be examined in every point of view, because it is a good imitation of truth, as a perspective is of the reality, only in one. But truth, like that reality of which the perspective is the representation, will bear to be scrutinized in all points of view, and though examined under every situation, is one and the same.
The consequences of things are not always proportionate to the apparent magnitude of those events that have produced them. Thus the American Revolution, from which little was expected, produced much; but the French Revolution, from which much was expected, produced little.
Honesty is not only the deepest policy, but the highest wisdom; since, however difficult it may be for integrity to get on, it is a thousand times more difficult for knavery to get off; and no error is more fatal than that of those who think that Virtue has no other reward because they have heard that she is her own.