S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Jean Paul F. Richter.
A man takes contradiction and advice much more easily than people think, only he will not bear it when violently given, even though it be well founded. Hearts are flowers; they remain open to the softly-falling dew, but shut up in the violent down-pour of rain.
A truly Christian man can look down like an eternal sun upon the autumn of his existence: the more sand has passed through the hour-glass of life, the more clearly can he see through the empty glass. Earth, too, is to him a beloved spot, a beautiful meadow, the scene of his childhoods sports, and he hangs upon this mother of our first life with the love with which a bride, full of childhoods recollections, clings to a beloved mothers breast, the evening before the day on which she resigns herself to the bridegrooms heart.
Oh, this contentment shown by a man although the sunset clouds of life were gathering around him, inspires new life into the hypochondriacal spectator or listener, whose melancholy minor chords usually, in the presence of an old man, begin to vibrate tremendously, as if he were a sign-post to the grave! But, in reality, a cheerful, vigorous old man discloses to us the immortality of his being: too tough to be mown down even by deaths keen scythe, and pointing to us the way into the second world.
And now the most beautiful dawn that mortal can behold arose upon his spirit,the dawn of a new composition. For the book that a person is beginning to create or design contains within itself half a life, and God only knows what an expanse of futurity also. Hopes of improvementideas which are to insure the development and enlightenment of the human raceswarm with a joyful vitality in his brain, as he softly paces up and down in the twilight, when it has become too dark to write.
Man has an unfortunate weakness in the evil hour after receiving an affront to draw together all the moon-spots on the other person into an outline of shadow, and a night-piece, and to transform a single deed into a whole life; and this only in order that he may thoroughly relish the pleasure of being angry. In love, he has fortunately the opposite faculty of crowding together all the light parts and rays of its object into one focus by means of the burning glass of imagination, and letting the sun burn without its spots; but he too generally does this only when the beloved and often censured being is already beyond the skies. In order, however, that we should do this sooner and oftener, we ought to act like Wincklemann, but only in another way. As he, namely, set aside a particular half-hour of each day for the purpose of beholding and meditating on his too happy existence in Rome, so we ought daily or weekly to dedicate and sanctify a solitary hour for the purpose of summing up the virtues of our families, our wives, our children, and our friends, and viewing them in this beautiful crowded assemblage of their good qualities. And, indeed, we should do so for this reason, that we may not forgive and love too late, when the beloved beings are already departed hence and are beyond our reach.
Do not command children under six years of age to keep anything secret, not even the pleasure you may be preparing as a surprise for a dear friend. The cloudless heaven of youthful open-heartedness should not be overcast, not even by the rosy dawn of shyness,otherwise children will soon learn to conceal their own secrets as well as yours.
Begin the education of the heart not with the cultivation of noble propensities, but with the cutting away of those which are evil. When once the noxious herbs are withered and rooted out, then the more noble plants, strong in themselves, will shoot upwards. The virtuous heart, like the body, becomes strong and healthy more by labour than nourishment.
When in your last hour (think of this) all faculty in the broken spirit shall fade away and sink into inanity,imagination, thought, effort, enjoyment,then will the flower of belief, which blossoms even in the night, remain to refresh you with its fragrance in the last darkness.
Nothing is more moving to man than the spectacle of reconciliation: our weaknesses are thus indemnified, and are not too costly, being the price we pay for the hour of forgiveness; and the archangel who has never felt anger, has reason to envy the man who subdues it. When thou forgivest, the man who has pierced thy heart stands to thee in the relation of the sea-worm that perforates the shell of the mussel, which straightway closes the wound with a pearl.
We learn our virtues from the bosom friends who love us; our faults from the enemy who hates us. We cannot easily discover our real form from a friend. He is a mirror, on which the warmth of our breath impedes the clearness of the reflection.
The happiness of life consists, like the day, not in single flashes (of light), but in one continuous mild serenity. The most beautiful period of the hearts existence is in this calm equable light, even although it be only moonshine or twilight. Now the mind alone can obtain for us this heavenly cheerfulness and peace.
Hope is the ruddy morning of joy, recollection is its golden tinge; but the latter is wont to sink amid the dews and dusky shades of twilight; and the bright blue day which the former promises, breaks indeed, but in another world, and with another sun.
Be every minute, man, a full life to thee! Despise anxiety and wishing, the future and the past! If the second-pointer can be no road-pointer, with an Eden for thy soul, the month-pointer will still be less so,for thou livest not from month to month, but from second to second! Enjoy thy existence more than thy manner of existence, and let the dearest object of thy consciousness be this consciousness itself! Make not the present a means of thy future; for this future is nothing but a coming present; and the present which thou despisest was once a future which thou desiredst.
Why does the evening, does the night, put warmer love in our hearts? Is it the nightly pressure of helplessness? or is it the exalting separation from the turmoils of life, that veiling of the world in which for the soul nothing then remains but souls?is it therefore that the letters in which the loved name stands written on our spirit appear like phosphorous writing by night, on fire, while by day, in their cloudy traces, they but smoke?
There are so many tender and holy emotions flying about in our inward world, which, like angels, can never assume the body of an outward act; so many rich and lovely flowers spring up which bear no seed, that it is a happiness poetry was invented, which receives into its limbus all these incorporeal spirits, and the perfume of all these flowers.
It is a common error, of which a wise man will beware, to measure the work of our neighbour by his conduct towards ourselves. How many rich souls might we not rejoice in the knowledge of, were it not for our pride!
Man has an unlucky tendency in his evil hour after having received an injury, to rake together all the moon-spots on his antagonist, and thus change a single deed into a whole life, so as more fully to relish the pleasure of wrath. Fortunately, with regard to love, he has the opposite tendency,that of pressing together all the lightsall the rays emitted from the beloved object,by the burning-glass of fantasy, into one focus, and making of them one radiant sun without any spots. But, alas, man too often does so for the first time when his beloved oneyes, often blamed onehas passed beyond the cloudy sky of his life.
Now, in order that we may act thus sooner and oftener, we should follow Winckelmanns example; only in another way: viz., as this man spent one half-hour every day barely in contemplating and reflecting upon his unfortunate existence in Rome, so ought we daily or weekly to dedicate and sanctify a solitary hour to the reckoning up of all the virtues of ones belongings,wife, children, friends,and contemplating them then in a beautiful collection. And we should do so now, that we may not pardon and love in vain and too late, after the beloved one has been taken from us to a better world.
A man can even here be with God, so long as he bears God within him. We should be able to see without sadness our most holy wishes fade like sunflowers, because the sun above us still forever beams, eternally makes new, and cares for all; and a man must not so much prepare himself for eternity as plant eternity in himself: eternity, serene, pure, full of depth, full of light, and of all else.
If self-knowledge be a path to virtue, virtue is a much better one to self-knowledge. The more pure the soul becomes, it will, like precious stones that are sensible to the contact of poison, shrink from the fetid vapours of evil impressions.
Sin and hedge-hogs are born without spikes, but how they wound and prick after their birth we all know. The most unhappy being is he who feels remorse before the (sinful) deed, and brings forth a sin already furnished with teeth in its birth, the bite of which is soon prolonged into an incurable wound of the conscience.
To love all mankind, from the greatest to the lowest (or meanest), a cheerful state of being is required; but in order to see into mankind, into life, and, still more, into ourselves, suffering is requisite.
The learned man is only useful to the learned; the wise man is equally useful to the wise and the simple. The merely learned man has not elevated his mind above that of others; his judgments are not more penetrating, his remarks not more delicate, nor his actions more beautiful than those of others; he merely uses other instruments than his own; his hands are employed in business of which the head sometimes takes little note. It is wholly different with the wise man: he moves far above the common level,he observes everything from a different point of view; in his employments there is always an aim, in his views always freedom, and all with him is above the common level.