Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either egotism, selfishness, evil –or else an absolute ignorance.
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- Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim. It is, one is told, the unforgivable sin, but it is a sin the corrupt or evil man never practices. He always has hope. He never reaches the freezing-point of knowing absolute failure. Only the man of goodwill carries always in his heart this capacity for damnation.
- A murderer is regarded by the conventional world as something almost monstrous, but a murderer to himself is only an ordinary man. It is only if the murderer is a good man that he can be regarded as monstrous.
- I have often noticed that a bribe has that effect — it changes a relation. The man who offers a bribe gives away a little of his own importance; the bribe once accepted, he becomes the inferior, like a man who has paid for a woman.
- However great a man’s fear of life, suicide remains the courageous act, the clear-headed act of a mathematician. The suicide has judged by the laws of chance — so many odds against one that to live will be more miserable than to die. His sense of mathematics is greater than his sense of survival. But think how a sense of survival must clamor to be heard at the last moment, what excuses it must present of a totally unscientific nature.
- Behind the complicated details of the world stand the simplicities: God is good, the grown-up man or woman knows the answer to every question, there is such a thing as truth, and justice is as measured and faultless as a clock. Our heroes are simple: they are brave, they tell the truth, they are good swordsmen and they are never in the long run really defeated. That is why no later books satisfy us like those which were read to us in childhood –for those promised a world of great simplicity of which we knew the rules, but the later books are complicated and contradictory with experience; they are formed out of our own disappointing memories.
- Morality comes with the sad wisdom of age, when the sense of curiosity has withered.