As the strata of the earth preserve in succession the living creatures of past epochs, so the shelves of libraries preserve in succession the errors of the past and their expositions, which like the former were very lively and made a great commotion in their own age but now stand petrified and stiff in a place where only the literary palaeontologist regards them.
One of the most dangerous errors is that civilization is automatically bound to increase and spread. the lesson of history is the opposite; civilization is a rarity, attained with difficulty and easily lost. the normal state of humanity is barbarism, just as the normal surface of the planet is salt water. land looms large in our imagination and civilization in history books, only because sea and savagery are to us less interesting.
I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. when right, i shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. i ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional, and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not if seen in all its parts.
The mystic must be steadily told,-all that you say is just as true without the tedious use of that symbol as with it. Let us have a little algebra, instead of this trite rhetoric,-universal signs, instead of these village symbols,-and we shall both be gainers. The history of hierarchies seems to show that all religious error consisted in making the symbol too stark and solid, and was at last nothing but an excess of the organ of language.
And so, onwards... along a path of wisdom, with a hearty tread, a hearty confidence.. however you may be, be your own source of experience. throw off your discontent about your nature. forgive yourself your own self. you have it in your power to merge everything you have lived through- false starts, errors, delusions, passions, your loves and your hopes- into your goal, with nothing left over.
One of the truths about the world is that there are two superpowers, one a huge power which happens to have its boot on your neck; another, a smaller power which happens to have its boot on other people's necks. I think that anyone in the third world would be making a grave error if they succumbed to illusions about these matters
We will gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire a knowledge of the superficial nature of their thoughts, the narrowness of their views and of the number of their errors. Whoever attaches a lot of value to the opinions of others pays them too much honor.
And since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another.
I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. they may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. the people are the only censors of their governors; and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution.