For the superior morality, of which we hear so much, we too would desire to be thankful: at the same time, it were but blindness to deny that this superior morality is properly rather an inferior criminality, produced not by greater love of Virtue, but by greater perfection of Police; and of that far subtler and stronger Police, called Public Opinion.
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- Wonderful Force of Public Opinion! We must act and walk in all points as it prescribes; follow the traffic it bids us, realize the sum of money, the degree of influence it expects of us, or we shall be lightly esteemed; certain mouthfuls of articulate wind will be blown at us, and this what mortal courage can front?
- The condition of the most passionate enthusiast is to be preferred over the individual who, because of the fear of making a mistake, won’t in the end affirm or deny anything.
- To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself.
- A man perfects himself by working. Foul jungles are cleared away, fair seed-fields rise instead, and stately cities; and with the man himself first ceases to be a jungle, and foul unwholesome desert thereby. The man is now a man.
- No sooner does a great man depart, and leave his character as public property, than a crowd of little men rushes towards it. There they are gathered together, blinking up to it with such vision as they have, scanning it from afar, hovering round it this way and that, each cunningly endeavoring, by all arts, to catch some reflex of it in the little mirror of himself.
- Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one.