True resignation, which always brings with it the confidence that unchangeable goodness will make even the disappointment of our hopes, and the contradictions of life, conducive to some benefit, casts a grave but tranquil light over the prospect of even a toilsome and troubled life.
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Many causes may vitiate a writer's judgement of his own works. On that which has cost him much labour he sets a high value, because he is unwilling to think that he has been diligent in vain: what has been produced without toilsome efforts is considered with delight as a proof of vigorous faculties and fertile invention; and the last work, whatever it be, has necessarily most of the grace of novelty.
It is a sad weakness in us, after all, that the thought of a person's death consecrates him or her anew to us. It is as if life were not sacred too, as if it were comparatively a small thing to fail in love and reverence to the brother or sister who has to climb the whole toilsome mountain with us. It seems as if all our tears and tenderness were due to the one who is spared that hard journey.
Why persist in walking difficult and toilsome paths? There is no repose where you are seeking it. Search as you like, it is not where you are looking. You are seeking a happy life in the realm of death, and it will not be found there. How could life be happy where there is no life at all?
Leisure, the highest happiness upon earth, is seldom enjoyed with perfect satisfaction, except in solitude. Indolence and indifference do not always afford leisure; for true leisure is frequently found in that interval of relaxation which divides a painful duty from an agreeable recreation; a toilsome business from the more agreeable occupations of literature and philosophy.
Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann
No true work since the world began was ever wasted; no true life since the world began has ever failed. Oh, understand those two perverted word, failure and success and measure them by the eternal, not the earthly, standard. When after thirty obscure, toilsome, unrecorded years in the shop of the village carpenter, one came forth to be pre-eminently the man of sorrows, to wander from city to city in homeless labors, and to expire in lonely agony upon the shameful cross -- was that a failure.
So it is with sorrow, each thinks his own present grief the most severe. For of this he judges by his own experience. He that is childless considers nothing so sad as to be without children; he that is poor, and has many children, complains of the extreme evils of a large family. He who has but one, looks upon this as the greatest misery, because that one, being set too much store by, and never corrected, becomes willful, and brings grief upon his father. He who has a beautiful wife, thinks nothing so bad as having a beautiful wife, because it is the occasion of jealousy and intrigue. He who has an ugly one, thinks nothing worse than having a plain wife, because it is constantly disagreeable. The private man thinks nothing more mean, more useless, than his mode of life. The soldier declares that nothing is more toilsome, more perilous, than warfare; that it would he better to live on bread and water than endure such hardships. He that is in power thinks there can be no greater burden than to attend to the necessities of others. He that is subject to that power, thinks nothing more servile than living at the beck of others. The married man considers nothing worse than a wife, and the cares of marriage. The unmarried declares there is nothing so wretched as being unmarried, and wanting the repose of a home. The merchant thinks the husbandman happy in his security. The husbandman thinks the merchant so in his wealth. In short, all mankind are somehow hard to please, and discontented and impatient.