I cannot believe that any man who deserved fame ever labored for it; that is, directly. For, as fame is but the contingent of excellence, it would be like an attempt to project a shadow, before its substance was obtained.
It is my greatest misfortune to be too lazy, and by the few mortifications I have already set with on that account I predict many evils in my future life. I have always the inclination to do what I ought; but by continually procrastinating for tomorrow the business of today, I insensibly delay, until at the end of one month I find myself in the same place as when I began it.
All effort at originality must end either in the quaint or the monstrous. For no man knows himself as an original; he can only believe it on the report of others.
If the whole world should agree to speak nothing but truth, what an abridgment it would make of speech! And what an unravelling there would be of the invisible webs which men, like so many spiders, now weave about each other!
An original mind is rarely understood, until it has been reflected from some half-dozen congenial with it, so averse are men to admitting the true in an unusual form; whilst any novelty, however fantastic, however false, is greedily swallowed.
Reverence is an ennobling sentiment; it is felt to be degrading only by the vulgar mind, which would escape the sense of its own littleness by elevating itself into an antagonist of what is above it. He that has no pleasure in looking up is not fit so much as to look down. Of such minds are mannerists in Art; in the world, tyrants of all sorts.
If I prove extravagant, I shall be more so from ignorance than willfulness. I am not wholly insensible to the pleasures of the world, therefore shall not be governed entirely by necessity; but I flatter myself, at least, in being able to restrain their gratification within due bonds.