A chord, stronger or weaker, is snapped asunder in every parting, and time's busy fingers are not practiced in re-splicing broken ties. Meet again you may; will it be in the same way? With the same sympathies? With the same sentiments? Will the souls, hurrying on in diverse paths, unite once more, as if the interval had been a dream? Rarely, rarely!
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Nine times out of ten it is over the Bridge of Sighs that we pass the narrow gulf from youth to manhood. That interval is usually marked by an ill placed or disappointed affection. We recover and we find ourselves a new being. The intellect has become hardened by the fire through which it has passed. The mind profits by the wrecks of every passion, and we may measure our road to wisdom by the sorrows we have undergone.
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A man who cannot win fame in big own age will have a very small chance of winning it from posterity. True, there are some half-dozen exceptions to this truth among millions of myriads that attest it; but what man of common sense would invest any large amount of hope in so unpromising a lottery?
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It is a wonderful advantage to a man, in every pursuite or avocation, to secure an adviser in a sensible woman. In woman there is at once a subtle delicacy of tact, and a plain soundness of judgement, which are rarely combined to an equal degree in man. A woman, if she be really your friend, will have a sensitive regard for your character, honor, repute. She will seldom counsel you to do a shabby thing: for a woman friend always desires to be proud of you.
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When some one sorrow, that is yet reparable, gets hold of your mind like a monomania,--when you think, because Heaven has denied you this or that, on which you had set your heart, that all your life must be a blank,--oh, then diet yourself well on biography,--the biography of good and great men. See how little a space one sorrow really makes in life. See scarce a page, perhaps, given to some grief similar to your own, and how triumphantly the life sails on beyond it.
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We may observe in humorous authors that the faults they chiefly ridicule have often a likeness in themselves. Cervantes had much of the knight-errant in him; Sir George Etherege was unconsciously the Fopling Flutter of his own satire; Goldsmith was the same hero to chambermaids, and coward to ladies that he has immortalized in his charming comedy; and the antiquarian frivolities of Jonathan Oldbuck had their resemblance in Jonathan Oldbuck's creator.
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A fiction which is designed to inculcate an object wholly alien to the imagination sins against the first law of art; and if a writer of fiction narrow his scope to particulars so positive as polemical controversy in matters ecclesiastical, political or moral, his work may or may not be an able treatise, but it must be a very poor novel.
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The more I think of a people calmly developing, in regions excluded from our sight and deemed uninhabitable by our sages, powers surpassing our most disciplined modes of force, and virtues to which our life, social and political, becomes antagonistic in proportion as our civilisation advances - the more devoutly I pray that ages may yet elapse before there emerge into sunlight our inevitable destroyers.
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Woman makes half the sorrows which she boasts the privilege to sooth. Woman consoles us, it is true, while we are young and handsome; when we are old and ugly, woman snubs and scolds us. On the whole, then, woman in this scale, the weed in that. Jupiter! Hang out thy balance, and weigh them both; and if thou give the preference to woman, all I can say is, the next time Juno ruffles thee, O Jupiter, try the weed.
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You will remember that Albertus Magnus, after describing minutely the process by which spirits may be invoked and commanded, adds emphatically that the process will instruct and avail only to the few - that a man must be born a magician! - that is, born with a peculiar physical temperament, as a man is born a poet. Rarely are men in whose constitution lurks this occult power of the highest order of intellect - usually in the intellect there is some twist, perversity, or disease.' ("The House And The Brain")
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And that date, too, is far off?' 'Far off; when it comes, think your end in this world is at hand!' 'How and what is the end? Look east, west, south and north.' 'In the north, where you never yet trod, towards the point whence your instincts have warned you, there a spectre will seize you. 'Tis Death! I see a ship - it is haunted - 'tis chased - it sails on. Baffled navies sail after that ship. It enters the regions of ice. It passes a sky red with meteors. Two moons stand on high, over ice-reefs. I see the ship locked between white defiles - they are ice-rocks. I see the dead strew the decks - stark and livid, green mold on their limbs. All are dead, but one man - it is you! But years, though so slowly they come, have then scathed you. There is the coming of age on your brow, and the will is relaxed in the cells of the brain. Still that will, though enfeebled, exceeds all that man knew before you, through the will you live on, gnawed with famine; and nature no longer obeys you in that death-spreading region; the sky is a sky of iron, and the air has iron clamps, and the ice-rocks wedge in the ship. Hark how it cracks and groans. Ice will imbed it as amber imbeds a straw. And a man has gone forth, living yet, from the ship and its dead; and he has clambered up the spikes of an iceberg, and the two moons gaze down on his form. That man is yourself; and terror is on you - terror; and terror has swallowed your will. And I see swarming up the steep ice-rock, grey grisly things. The bears of the north have scented their quarry - they come near you and nearer, shambling and rolling their bulk, and in that day every moment shall seem to you longer than the centuries through which you have passed. And heed this - after life, moments continued make the bliss or the hell of eternity.' 'Hush, ' said the whisper; 'but the day, you assure me, is far off - very far! I go back to the almond and rose of Damascus! - sleep!' ("The House And The Brain
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And the bubbles of light again rose and fell, and in their disordered, irregular, turbulent maze, mingled with the wan moonlight. And now from these globules themselves as from the shell of an egg, monstrous things burst out; the air grew filled with them; larvae so bloodless and so hideous that I can in no way describe them except to remind the reader of the swarming life which the solar microscope brings before his eyes in a drop of water - things transparent, supple, agile, chasing each other, devouring each other - forms like nought ever beheld by the naked eye. As the shapes were without symmetry, so their movements were without order. In their very vagrancies there was no sport; they came round me and round, thicker and faster and swifter, swarming over my head, crawling over my right arm, which was outstretched in involuntary command against all evil beings. ("The House And The Brain")
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In early youth, if we find it difficult to control our feelings, so we find it difficult to vent them in the presence of others. On the spring side of twenty, if anything affects us, we rush to lock ourselves up in our room, or get away into the street or the fields; in our earlier years we are still the savages of nature, and we do as the poor brutes do. The wounded stag leaves the herd; and if there is anything on a dog's faithful heart, he slinks away into a corner.
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Say what we will, you may be sure that ambition is an error; its wear and tear of heart are never recompensed, -it steals away the freshness of life, -it deadens its vivid and social enjoyments, -it shuts our souls to our own youth, -and we are old ere we remember that we have made a fever and a labor of our raciest years.
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To liveOn means not yours--be brave in silks and laces,Gallant in steeds; splendid in banquets; allNot yours. Given, uninherited, unpaid for;This is to be a trickster; and to filchMen's art and labour, which to them is wealth,Life, daily bread;--quitting all scores with "friend,You're troublesome!" Why this, forgive me,Is what, when done with a less dainty grace,Plain folks call "Theft.
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Art employs method for the symmetrical formation of beauty, as science employs it for the logical exposition of truth; but the mechanical process is, in the last, ever kept visibly distinct, while in the first it escapes from sight amid the shows of color and the curves of grace.
Out of the ashes of misanthropy benevolence rises again; we find many virtues where we had imagined all was vice, many acts of disinterested friendship where we had fancied all was calculation and fraud--and so gradually from the two extremes we pass to the proper medium; and, feeling that no human being is wholly good or wholly base, we learn that true knowledge of mankind which induces us to expect little and forgive much. The world cures alike the optimist and the misanthrope.
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