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Observe, I do not mean to suggest that the custom of lying has suffered any decay or interruption—no, for the Lie, as a Virtue, A Principle, is eternal; the Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man's best and surest friend, is immortal, and cannot perish from the earth while this club remains. My complaint simply concerns the decay of the art of lying. No high-minded man, no man of... more...

There existed formerly, in diplomatic circles, a curious custom, since fallen into disuse, entitled the Pêle Mêle, contrived doubtless by some distracted Master of Ceremonies to quell the endless jealousies and quarrels for precedence between courtiers and diplomatists of contending pretensions.  Under this rule no rank was recognized, each person being allowed at banquet, fête, or other public ceremony only such place as... more...

In a little place called Le Monastier, in a pleasant highland valley fifteen miles from Le Puy, I spent about a month of fine days.  Monastier is notable for the making of lace, for drunkenness, for freedom of language, and for unparalleled political dissension.  There are adherents of each of the four French parties—Legitimists, Orleanists, Imperialists, and Republicans—in this little mountain-town; and they all hate,... more...

THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN Somewhere in the back of every man's mind there dwells a strange wistful desire to be thought a Perfect Gentleman. And this is much to his credit, for the Perfect Gentleman, as thus wistfully contemplated, is a high ideal of human behavior, although, in the narrower but honest admiration of many, he is also a Perfect Ass. Thus, indeed, he comes down the centuries—a sort of Siamese Twins, each miraculously visible only... more...

ON BEING IDLE. Now, this is a subject on which I flatter myself I really am au fait. The gentleman who, when I was young, bathed me at wisdom's font for nine guineas a term—no extras—used to say he never knew a boy who could do less work in more time; and I remember my poor grandmother once incidentally observing, in the course of an instruction upon the use of the Prayer-book, that it was highly improbable that I should ever do much... more...


A CRITICISM OF THE HEGELIAN PHILOSOPHY OF RIGHT As far as Germany is concerned the criticism of religion is practically completed, and the criticism of religion is the basis of all criticism. The profane existence of error is threatened when its heavenly oratio pro aris et focis has been refuted. He who has only found a reflexion of himself in the fantastic reality of heaven where he looked for a superman, will no longer be willing to find... more...

THE FIRE If I were 'seeing over' a house, and found in every room an iron cage let into the wall, and were told by the caretaker that these cages were for me to keep lions in, I think I should open my eyes rather wide. Yet nothing seems to me more natural than a fire in the grate. Doubtless, when I began to walk, one of my first excursions was to the fender, that I might gaze more nearly at the live thing roaring and raging behind it; and I... more...

   Delivered before the Alumni of Hamilton College, Clinton, N. Y.,   Wednesday, June 26, 1872 Twenty-one years ago in this house I heard a voice calling me to ascend the platform, and there to stand and deliver. The voice was the voice of President North; the language was an excellent imitation of that used by Cicero and Julius Caesar. I remember the flattering invitation—it is the classic tag that clings to... more...

WHAT IS MAN? I a. Man the Machine. b. Personal Merit (The Old Man and the Young Man had been conversing. The Old Man had asserted that the human being is merely a machine, and nothing more. The Young Man objected, and asked him to go into particulars and furnish his reasons for his position.) Old Man. What are the materials of which a steam-engine is made? Young Man. Iron, steel, brass, white-metal, and so on. O.M. Where are these found?... more...

WALKING-STICK PAPERS PROLOGUE ON CARRYING A CANE Some people, without doubt, are born with a deep instinct for carrying a cane; some consciously acquire the habit of carrying a cane; and some find themselves in a position where the matter of carrying a cane is thrust upon them. Canes are carried in all parts of the world, and have been carried—or that which was the forefather of them has been carried—since human history began.... more...