Thus it is - that, by the comparative blindness of man in each preceding period, the like blindness in each succeeding period is secured: without the trouble or need of reflection, men, by opulence rendered indolent, and by indolence and self-indulgence doomed to ignorance, follow their leaders - as sheep follow sheep, and geese geese.
Employment, which Galen calls "Nature's physician," is so essential to human happiness that indolence is justly considered as the mother of misery.
Our minds are so constructed that we can keep the attention fixed on a particular object until we have, as it were, looked all around it; and the mind that possesses this faculty in the highest degree of perfection will take cognizance of relations of which another mind has no perception. It is this, much more than any difference in the abstract power of reasoning, which constitutes the vast difference between the minds of different individuals. This is the history alike of the poetic genius and of the genius of discovery in science. “I keep the subject,” said Sir Isaac Newton, “constantly before me, and wait until the dawnings open by little and little into a full light.” It was thus that after long meditation he was led to the invention of fluxions, and to the anticipation of the modern discovery of the combustibility of the diamond. It was thus that Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood, and that those views were suggested by Davy which laid the foundation of that grand series of experimental researches which terminated in the decomposition of the earths and alkalies.
The failure of the mind in old age is often less the results of natural decay, than of disuse. Ambition has ceased to operate; contentment bring indolence, and indolence decay of mental power, ennui, and sometimes death. Men have been known to die, literally speaking, of disease induced by intellectual vacancy.
Temperance, that virtue without pride, and fortune without envy, that gives indolence of body with an equality of mind; the best guardian of youth and support of old age; the precept of reason as well as religion, and physician of the soul as well as the body; the tutelary goddess of health and universal medicine of life.
Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy. Action is no less necessary than thought to the instructive tendencies of the human frame.
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
A phlegmatic insensibility is as different from patience, as a pool from a harbor. Into the one, indolence naturally sinks us; but if we arrive at the other it is by encountering many an adverse wind and rough wave, with a more skilful pilot at the helm than self, and a company under better command than the passions.
In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. ... In short, a law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice.
In our own time the whole of Greece has been subject to a low birth rate and a general decrease of the population, owing to which cities have become deserted and the land has ceased to yield fruit, although there have neither been continuous wars nor epidemics...For as men had fallen into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice, and indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they married to rear the children born to them, or at most as a rule but one or two of them, so as to leave these in affluence and bring them up to waste their substance, the evil rapidly and insensibly grew.
I will suppose, then, not that Deity, who is sovereignly good and the fountain of truth, but that some malignant demon, who is at once exceedingly potent and deceitful, has employed all his artifice to deceive me; I will suppose that the sky, the air, the earth, colors, figures, sounds, and all external things, are nothing better than the illusions of dreams, by means of which this being has laid snares for my credulity; I will consider myself as without hands, eyes, flesh, blood, or any of the senses, and as falsely believing that I am possessed of these; I will continue resolutely fixed in this belief, and if indeed by this means it be not in my power to arrive at the knowledge of truth, I shall at least do what is in my power, viz, [suspend my judgment ], and guard with settled purpose against giving my assent to what is false, and being imposed upon by this deceiver, whatever be his power and artifice. But this undertaking is arduous, and a certain indolence insensibly leads me back to my ordinary course of life; and just as the captive, who, perchance, was enjoying in his dreams an imaginary liberty, when he begins to suspect that it is but a vision, dreads awakening, and conspires with the agreeable illusions that the deception may be prolonged; so I, of my own accord, fall back into the train of my former beliefs, and fear to arouse myself from my slumber, lest the time of laborious wakefulness that would succeed this quiet rest, in place of bringing any light of day, should prove inadequate to dispel the darkness that will arise from the difficulties that have now been raised.
To dread no eye and to suspect no tongue is the great prerogative of innocence - an exemption granted only to invariable virtue.
It is not the office of art to spotlight alternatives, but to resist by its form alone the course of the world, which permanently puts a pistol to men's heads.
The true gain is always in the struggle, not the prize. What we become must always rank as a far higher question than what we get.
I tell you there is no such thing as creative hate!
We have more strength than will; and it is often merely for an excuse we say things are impossible.
When a teacher of the future comes to point out to the youth of America how the highest rewards of intellect and devotion can be gained, he may say to them, not by subtlety and intrigue not by wire pulling and demagoguery not by the arts of popularity not by skill and shiftiness in following expediency but by being firm in devotion to the principles of manhood and the application of morals and the courage of righteousness in the public life of our country by being a man without guile and without fear, without selfishness, and with devotion to duty, devotion to his country.