In mortals there is a care for trifles which proceeds from love and conscience, and is most holy; and a care for trifles which comes of idleness and frivolity, and is most base. And so, also, there is a gravity proceeding from thought, which is most noble, and a gravity proceeding from dullness and mere incapability of enjoyment, which is most base.
There is a perennial nobleness, and even sacredness, in work. Were a man ever so benighted, or forgetful of his high calling, there is always hope in him who actually and earnestly works; in idleness alone is there perpetual despair.
The extreme inequality of our ways of life, the excess of idleness among some and the excess of toil among others, the ease of stimulating and gratifying our appetites and our senses, the over-elaborate foods of the rich, which inflame and overwhelm them with indigestion, the bad food of the poor, which they often go without altogether, so that they over-eat greedily when they have the opportunity; those late nights, excesses of all kinds, immoderate transports of every passion, fatigue, exhaustion of mind, the innumerable sorrows and anxieties that people in all classes suffer, and by which the human soul is constantly tormented: these are the fatal proofs that most of our ills are of our own making, and that we might have avoided nearly all of them if only we had adhered to the simple, unchanging and solitary way of life that nature ordained for us.
According to the biblical tradition the absence of work -- idleness -- was a condition of the first man's state of blessedness before the Fall. The love of idleness has been preserved in fallen man, but now a heavy curse lies upon him, not only because we have to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow, but also because our sense of morality will not allow us to be both idle and at ease. Whenever we are idle a secret voice keeps telling us to feel guilty. If man could discover a state in which he could be idle and still feel useful and on the path of duty, he would have regained one aspect of that primitive state of blessedness. And there is one such state of enforced and irreproachable idleness enjoyed by an entire class of men -- the military class. It is this state of enforced and irreproachable idleness that forms the chief attraction of military service, and it always will.
The superstition that all our hours of work are a minus quantity in the happiness of life, and all the hours of idleness are plus ones, is a most ludicrous and pernicious doctrine, and its greatest support comes from our not taking sufficient trouble, not making a real effort, to make work as near pleasure as it can be.
Purity of mind and idleness are incompatible.
Give me the boy who rouses when he is praised, who profits when he is encouraged and who cries when he is defeated. Such a boy will be fired by ambition; he will be stung by reproach, and animated by preference; never shall I apprehend any bad consequences from idleness in such a boy.
Faith is the door to mysteries. What the bodily eyes are to sensory objects, faith is to the eyes of the intellect that gaze at hidden treasures.