Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.
Let us be grateful to Adam, our benefactor. He cut us out of the "blessing" of idleness and won for us the "curse" of labor.
Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.
Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered- either by themselves or by others.
There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.
Intellectual "work" is misnamed; it is a pleasure, a dissipation, and is its own highest reward.
Be virtuous and you will be eccentric.
In Boston they ask, "How much does he know?" In New York, "How much is he worth?" In Philadelphia, "Who were his parents?"
We may not pay Satan reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents. A person who has for untold centuries maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order.
The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
To do something, say something, see something, before anybody else- these are things that confer a pleasure compared with which other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other ecstacies cheap and trivial.
My books are water; those of the great geniuses is wine. Everybody drinks water.
Martyrdom covers a multitude of sins.
We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.
The very ink in which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
Always do right- this will gratify some and astonish the rest.
He is useless on top of the ground; he ought to be be under it, inspiring the cabbages.
France has neither winter nor summer nor morals- apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country.
The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become, until he goes abroad.
Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
What is there that confers the noblest delight? What is that which swells a man's breast with pride above that which any other experience can bring to him? Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have walked; that you are beholding what human eye has not seen before; that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere. To give birth to an idea, to discover a great thought- an intellectual nugget, right under the dust of a field that many a brain-plough had gone over before. To find a new planet, to invent a new hinge, to find a way to make the lightnings carry your messages. To be the first- that is the idea.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied.
You try to tell me anything about the newspaper business! Sir, I have been through it from Alpha to Omaha, and I tell you that the less a man knows the bigger the noise he makes and the higher the salary he commands
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear- not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave; it is merely a loose application of the word. Consider the flea!- incomparably the bravest of all the creatures of God, if ignorance of fear were courage
The dullard's envy of brilliant men is always assuaged by the suspicion that they will come to a bad end
-Sir Max Beerbohm (1872-1956), British author. Zuleika Dobson, ch. 4 (1911).
And as for sickness: would we not almost be tempted to ask whether we can in any way do without it? Only great pain is, as the teacher of great suspicion, the ultimate liberator of the spirit. . . . It is only great pain, that slow protracted pain which takes its time and in which we are as it were burned with green wood, that compels us philosophers to descend into our ultimate depths and to put from us all trust, all that is good-hearted, palliated, gentle, average, wherein perhaps our humanity previously reposed. I doubt whether such pain "improves"- but I do know it deepens us
-Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher. The Gay Science, Preface, aph. 3 (rev. ed., 1887).
The American experience stirred mankind from discovery to exploration. From the cautious quest for what they knew (or thought they knew) was out there, into an enthusiastic reaching to the unknown. These are two substantially different kinds of human enterprise
-Daniel J. Boorstin (b. 1914), U.S. historian. Reith Lectures, Oct. 1975 (published in The Exploring Spirit: America and the World Experience, Lecture 1 (1976).
George Bernard Shaw is supposed to have said that Austin Osman Spare's medicine was too strong for the normal man