When I was young I had an elderly friend who used often to ask me to stay with him in the country. He was a religious man and he read prayers to the assembled household every morning. But he had crossed out in pencil all the passages that praised God. He said that there was nothing so vulgar as to praise people to their faces and, himself a gentleman, he could not believe that God was so ungentlemanly as to like it.
Man's desire for the approval of his fellows is so strong, his dread of their censure so violent, that he himself has brought his enemy (conscience) within his gates; and it keeps watch over him, vigilant always in the interests of its master to crush any half-formed desire to break away from the herd.
All important persons have about them someone in a subordinate position who has their ear. These dependents are very susceptible to slights, and, when they are not treated as they think they should be, will by well-directed shafts, constantly repeated, poison the minds of their patrons against those who have provoked their animosity. It is well to keep in with them.
There are men whose sense of humour is so ill developed that they still bear a grudge against Copernicus because he dethroned them from the central position in the universe. They feel it a personal affront that they can no longer consider themselves the pivot upon which turns the whole of created things.
Some American delusions: 1) That there is no class-consciousness in the country. 2) That American coffee is good. 3) That Americans are business-like. 4) That Americans are highly-sexed and that redheads are more highly sexed than others.
It must be that there is something naturally absurd in a sincere emotion, though why there should be I cannot imagine, unless it is that man, the ephemeral inhabitant of an insignificant planet, with all his pain and all his striving is but a jest in an eternal mind.