There are persons who are never easy unless they are putting your books and papers in order--that is, according to their notions of the matter--and hide things lest they should be lost, where neither the owner nor anybody else can find them. This is a sort of magpie faculty. If anything is left where you want it, it is called litter. There is a pedantry in housewifery, as well as in the gravest concerns. Abraham Tucker complained that whenever his maid servant had been in his library, he could not see comfortably to work again for several days.
A man who does not endeavour to seem more than he is will generally be thought nothing of. We habitually make such large deductions for pretence and imposture that no real merit will stand against them. It is necessary to set off our good qualities with a certain air of plausibility and self-importance, as some attention to fashion is necessary.
If goodness were only a theory, it were a pity it should be lost to the world. There are a number of things, the idea of which is a clear gain to the mind. Let people, for instance, rail at friendship, genius, freedom, as long as they will -the very names of these despised qualities are better than anything else that could be substituted for them, and embalm even the most envenomed satire against them.
Persons without education certainly do not want either acuteness or strength of mind in what concerns themselves, or in things immediately within their observation; but they have no power of abstraction, no general standard of taste, or scale of opinion. They see their objects always near, and never in the horizon. Hence arises that egotism which has been remarked as the characteristic of self-taught men.
By conversing with the mighty dead, we imbibe sentiment with knowledge. We become strongly attached to those who can no longer either hurt or serve us, except through the influence which they exert over the mind. We feel the presence of that power which gives immortality to human thoughts and actions, and catch the flame of enthusiasm from all nations and ages.
What I mean by living to one's-self is living in the world, as in it, not of it: it is as if no one know there was such a person, and you wished no one to know it: it is to be a silent spectator of the mighty scene of things, not an object of attention or curiosity in it; to take a thoughtful, anxious interest in what is passing in the world, but not to feel the slightest inclination to make or meddle with it.