To judge rightly of our own worth we should retire from the world so as to see both its pleasures and pains in their proper light and dimensions — thus taking the heart from off this world and its allurements, which so dishonor the understanding as to turn the wisest of men into fools and children.
In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself; in the world it seeks or accepts of a few treacherous supports — the feigned compassions of one, the flattery of a second, the civilities of a third, the friendship of a fourth; they all deceive, and bring the mind back to retirement, reflection, and books.
People who are always taking care of their health are like misers, who are hoarding up a treasure which they have never spirit enough to enjoy.
Most of us are aware of and pretend to detest the barefaced instances of that hypocrisy by which men deceive others, but few of us are upon our guard or see that more fatal hypocrisy by which we deceive and over-reach our own hearts.
Lessons of wisdom have never such power over us as when they are wrought into the heart through the groundwork of a story which engages the passions. Is it that we are like iron, and must first be heated before we can be wrought upon? Or is the heart so in love with deceit, that where a true report will not reach it, we must cheat it with a fable in order to come at the truth?
All womankind, from the highest to the lowest love jokes; the difficulty is to know how they choose to have them cut; and there is no knowing that, but by trying, as we do with our artillery in the field, by raising or letting down their breeches, till we hit the mark.
The happiness of life may be greatly increased by small courtesies in which there is no parade, whose voice is too still to tease, and which manifest themselves by tender and affectionate looks, and little kind acts of attention.
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