The banana owes its popularity to bad qualities in ourselves. Nature planted it abundantly in those parts of the earth in which it is impossible not to be lazy. Any one who eats a banana at an English table is one of the laziest persons in the company. One has to peel an apple or a pear but the banana peels itself.
Painting is complete as a distraction. Nothing, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. No one who is fond of painting finds the slightest inconvenience in standing to paint for three or four hours at a stretch.
Dreams do not follow the laws of logic. The categories of space and time are neglected. In our dreams we are the creators of a world where time and space, which limit all the activities of our body, have no power.
Alice peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it. She was considering whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.
A scholar should bear in mind is that a book ought not to be read for mere amusement. A young man should discipline himself never to read for mere amusement. And once the habit of the discipline has been formed, he will even find it impossible to read for mere amusement.
I had stepped into a new life. In a single day I had matured astonishingly. Till then I had cared very little about plants and flowers, but now I found myself eagerly interested in every blossom of the wayside.
Any estimate of a modern novel is valueless unless it is based on knowledge of the great work of the past. But at the same time our estimates of the great work of the past are always being altered in the light of the novels of today. Tradition is a living force, which changes as it takes in more and more work of the present.
He was free from ambition. He rose from position to position not because he thrust himself on the attention of his employers, but because his employers insisted on promoting him. He was naturally a man of creative energy and could not help being conspicuous among ordinary human beings.
The test of a great man is his humility. All great men not only know their business, but know that they know it. They know that they are right in their opinions: only they do not think much of themselves on that account.
One day he hit upon Lane’s translation of The Thousand and One Nights. He was captured by the illustrations and began to read the stories that dealt with magic. Insensibly he formed the most delightful habit in the world, the habit of reading. He didn’t know that he was creating for himself an unreal world which would make the real world a source of disappointment.
Not a few read from habit. Of that lamentable company am I. I fly to my book as the opium-smoker to his pipe. I would sooner read the catalogue of a department or a tourist’s guide book than nothing at all.
Laziness is associated with warmth ―with summer and islands in the South Seas. But I should say that the antipathy to work becomes greater as the temperature falls. There is something of the hibernating animal in each of us, and our energies fall asleep with the first wind of November.
I am disturbed by the thought of the number of people whom I have to thank for what they gave me or for what they were to me. How many of them have said farewell to life without my thanking for receiving from them so much kindness and so much care!
When we take the life of the individual and measure it against the immensity of the universe, the life of the individual has no real importance. He is here indeed to serve his community, his race, his planets, his universe and, passing the torch of life to others, to die and be forgotten.
The brain is naturally lazy and takes the line of least resistance. The mental world of the ordinary man consists of beliefs which he has accepted without questioning. To him, new ideas, and opinions which cast doubt on established beliefs seem evil because they are disagreeable.
It was not until after my father’s death that I had a new revelation of the extent of my mimicry of him. I realized with surprise that I had been imitating his literary style as well as his penmanship.
There was not a breath of wind on the land o river. In the middle of the river, a fish would leap now and then with a short splash, the very loudness of which was swallowed up by the overpowering silence.
In the late summer of that year, we lived in a house in a village. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders and the water was clear. Troops went by the house and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.
Our nation is greater in poetry than in prose. In the work of individuals any Englishman seems more striking in his verse than in his prose. He appears much more a powerful a personage in his verse than in his prose.
Man exists less by the actions performed during his life than by the wake he leaves behind him like a shooting star. After his death, that which was best in him, which he gave to his circle of friends and relations, will never die completely.
Englishmen are closer than most peoples to those reservoirs from which poetry springs. If the Englishman’s home is his castle, so to an unsociable extent is his mind. Respecting the intellectual and emotional privacy of his neighbours, he expects a similar forbearance towards himself. The Englishman keeps drawing up his ideas from his own private well for his own private use.
It seems to be taken for granted that the more things we remember the happier we are. But forgetfulness also plays a part in making human beings happy. Some of the unhappiest people in the world are those who cannot forget injuries inflicted on them in the past. Others are equally miserable because they cannot forget wrongs they have done others.
The English are not gifted artistically. They are not intellectual. They have a horror of abstract thought, they feel no need for any philosophy or systematic “world-view.” Nor is this because they are “practical.” One has only to look at their methods of town-planning and water-supply, their obstinate clinging to everything that is out of date and a nuisance, to see how little they care about mere efficiency.