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JEROME K. JEROME
Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow
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THE IDLE THOUGHTS
AN IDLE FELLOW.
by JEROME K. JEROME.
THE VERY DEAR AND WELL-BELOVED
OF MY PROSPEROUS AND EVIL DAYS—
TO THE FRIEND
WHO, THOUGH IN THE EARLY STAGES OF OUR ACQUAINTANCESHIP DID OFTTIMES
DISAGREE WITH ME, HAS SINCE BECOME TO BE MY VERY WARMEST COMRADE—
TO THE FRIEND
WHO, HOWEVER OFTEN I MAY PUT HIM OUT, NEVER (NOW) UPSETS ME IN
TO THE FRIEND
WHO, TREATED WITH MARKED COOLNESS BY ALL THE FEMALE MEMBERS OF MY
HOUSEHOLD, AND REGARDED WITH SUSPICION BY MY VERY DOG, NEVERTHELESS
SEEMS DAY BY DAY TO BE MORE DRAWN BY ME, AND IN RETURN TO MORE AND
MORE IMPREGNATE ME WITH THE ODOR OF HIS FRIENDSHIP—
TO THE FRIEND
WHO NEVER TELLS ME OF MY FAULTS, NEVER WANTS TO BORROW MONEY, AND
NEVER TALKS ABOUT HIMSELF—
TO THE COMPANION
OF MY IDLE HOURS, THE SOOTHER OF MY SORROWS, THE CONFIDANT OF MY JOYS
MY OLDEST AND STRONGEST
THIS LITTLE VOLUME
GRATEFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY
One or two friends to whom I showed these papers in MS. having observed that they were not half
bad, and some of my relations having promised to buy the book if it ever came out, I feel I have no
right to longer delay its issue. But for this, as one may say, public demand, I perhaps should not
have ventured to offer these mere “idle thoughts” of mine as mental food for the English-speaking
peoples of the earth. What readers ask nowadays in a book is that it should improve, instruct, and
elevate. This book wouldn’t elevate a cow. I cannot conscientiously recommend it for any useful
purposes whatever. All I can suggest is that when you get tired of reading “the best hundred books,”
you may take this up for half an hour. It will be a change.
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 that I ought not to do, but that she felt convinced
beyond a doubt that I should leave undone pretty well everything that I ought to do.
I am afraid I have somewhat belied half the dear old lady’s prophecy. Heaven help me! I have done
a good many things that I ought not to have done, in spite of my laziness. But I have fully confirmed
the accuracy of her judgment so far as neglecting much that I ought not to have neglected is
concerned. Idling always has been my strong point. I take no credit to myself in the matter—it is a
gift. Few possess it. There are plenty of lazy people and plenty of slow-coaches, but a genuine idler
is a rarity. He is not a man who slouches about with his hands in his pockets. On the contrary, his
most startling characteristic is that he is always intensely busy.
It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in
doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most
exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen.
Many years ago, when I was a young man, I was taken very ill—I never could see myself that
much was the matter with me, except that I had a beastly cold. But I suppose it was something very
serious, for the doctor said that I ought to have come to him a month before, and that if it (whatever
it was) had gone on for another week he would not have answered for the consequences. It is an
extraordinary thing, but I never knew a doctor called into any case yet but what it transpired that
another day’s delay would have rendered cure hopeless. Our medical guide, philosopher, and friend
is like the hero in a melodrama—he always comes upon the scene just, and only just, in the nick
of time. It is Providence, that is what it is.
Well, as I was saying, I was very ill and was ordered to Buxton for a month, with strict injunctions
to do nothing whatever all the while that I was there. “Rest is what you require,” said the doctor,
It seemed a delightful prospect. “This man evidently understands my complaint,” said I, and I
pictured to myself a glorious time—a four weeks’ dolce far niente with a dash of illness in it. Not
too much illness, but just illness enough—just sufficient to give it the flavor of suffering and make
it poetical. I should get up late, sip chocolate, and have my breakfast in slippers and a dressing-
gown. I should lie out in the garden in a hammock and read sentimental novels with a melancholy
ending, until the books should fall from my listless hand, and I should recline there, dreamily gazing
into the deep blue of the firmament, watching the fleecy clouds floating like white-sailed ships
across its depths, and listening to the joyous song of the birds and the low rustling of the trees. Or,
on becoming too weak to go out of doors, I should sit propped up with pillows at the open window
of the ground-floor front, and look wasted and interesting, so that all the pretty girls would sigh as
they passed by.
And twice a day I should go down in a Bath chair to the Colonnade to drink the waters. Oh, those
waters! I knew nothing about them then, and was rather taken with the idea. “Drinking the waters”
sounded fashionable and Queen Anne-fied, and I thought I should like them. But, ugh! after the first
three or four mornings! Sam Weller’s description of them as “having a taste of warm flat-irons”
conveys only a faint idea of their hideous nauseousness. If anything could make a sick man get well
quickly, it would be the knowledge that he must drink a glassful of them every day until he was
recovered. I drank them neat for six consecutive days, and they nearly killed me; but after then I
adopted the plan of taking a stiff glass of brandy-and-water immediately on the top of them, and
found much relief thereby. I have been informed since, by various eminent medical gentlemen, that
the alcohol must have entirely counteracted the effects of the chalybeate properties contained in the
water. I am glad I was lucky enough to hit upon the right thing.
But “drinking the waters” was only a small portion of the torture I experienced during that
memorable month—a month which was, without exception, the most miserable I have ever spent.
During the best part of it I religiously followed the doctor’s mandate and did nothing whatever,
except moon about the house and garden and go out for two hours a day in a Bath chair. That did
break the monotony to a certain extent. There is more excitement about Bath-chairing—especially
if you are not used to the exhilarating exercise—than might appear to the casual observer. A sense
of danger, such as a mere outsider might not understand, is ever present to the mind of the occupant.
He feels convinced every minute that the whole concern is going over, a conviction which becomes
especially lively whenever a ditch or a stretch of newly macadamized road comes in sight. Every
vehicle that passes he expects is going to run into him; and he never finds himself ascending or
descending a hill without immediately beginning to speculate upon his chances, supposing—as
seems extremely probable—that the weak-kneed controller of his destiny should let go.
But even this diversion failed to enliven after awhile, and the ennui became perfectly unbearable. I
felt my mind giving way under it. It is not a strong mind, and I thought it would be unwise to tax it
too far. So somewhere about the twentieth morning I got up early, had a good breakfast, and walked
straight off to Hayfield, at the foot of the Kinder Scout—a pleasant, busy little town, reached
through a lovely valley, and with two sweetly pretty women in it. At least they were sweetly pretty
then; one passed me on the bridge and, I think, smiled; and the other was standing at an open door,
making an unremunerative investment of kisses upon a red-faced baby. But it is years ago, and I
dare say they have both grown stout and snappish since that time. Coming back, I saw an old man
breaking stones, and it roused such strong longing in me to use my arms that I offered him a drink
to let me take his place. He was a kindly old man and he humored me. I went for those stones with
the accumulated energy of three weeks, and did more work in half an hour than he had done all day.
But it did not make him jealous.
Having taken the plunge, I went further and further into dissipation, going out for a long walk every
morning and listening to the band in the pavilion every evening. But the days still passed slowly
notwithstanding, and I was heartily glad when the last one came and I was being whirled away from
gouty, consumptive Buxton to London with its stern work and life. I looked out of the carriage as
we rushed through Hendon in the evening. The lurid glare overhanging the mighty city seemed to
warm my heart, and when, later on, my cab rattled out of St. Pancras’ station, the old familiar roar
that came swelling up around me sounded the sweetest music I had heard for many a long day.
I certainly did not enjoy that month’s idling. I like idling when I ought not to be idling; not when it
is the only thing I have to do. That is my pig-headed nature. The time when I like best to stand with
my back to the fire, calculating how much I owe, is when my desk is heaped highest with letters
that must be answered by the next post. When I like to dawdle longest over my dinner is when I
have a heavy evening’s work before me. And if, for some urgent reason, I ought to be up particularly
early in the morning, it is then, more than at any other time, that I love to lie an extra half-hour in
Ah! how delicious it is to turn over and go to sleep again: “just for five minutes.” Is there any human
being, I wonder, besides the hero of a Sunday-school “tale for boys,” who ever gets up willingly?
There are some men to whom getting up at the proper time is an utter impossibility. If eight o’clock
happens to be the time that they should turn out, then they lie till half-past. If circumstances change
and half-past eight becomes early enough for them, then it is nine before they can rise. They are
like the statesman of whom it was said that he was always punctually half an hour late. They try all
manner of schemes. They buy alarm-clocks (artful contrivances that go off at the wrong time and
alarm the wrong people). They tell Sarah Jane to knock at the door and call them, and Sarah Jane
does knock at the door and does call them, and they grunt back “awri” and then go comfortably to
sleep again. I knew one man who would actually get out and have a cold bath; and even that was of
no use, for afterward he would jump into bed again to warm himself.
I think myself that I could keep out of bed all right if I once got out. It is the wrenching away of the
head from the pillow that I find so hard, and no amount of over-night determination makes it easier.
I say to myself, after having wasted the whole evening, “Well, I won’t do any more work to-night;
I’ll get up early to-morrow morning;” and I am thoroughly resolved to do so—then. In the morning,
however, I feel less enthusiastic about the idea, and reflect that it would have been much better if I
had stopped up last night. And then there is the trouble of dressing, and the more one thinks about
that the more one wants to put it off.
It is a strange thing this bed, this mimic grave, where we stretch our tired limbs and sink away so
quietly into the silence and rest. “O bed, O bed, delicious bed, that heaven on earth to the weary
head,” as sang poor Hood, you are a kind old nurse to us fretful boys and girls. Clever and foolish,
naughty and good, you take us all in your motherly lap and hush our wayward crying. The strong
man full of care—the sick man full of pain—the little maiden sobbing for her faithless lover—
like children we lay our aching heads on your white bosom, and you gently soothe us off to by-by.
Our trouble is sore indeed when you turn away and will not comfort us. How long the dawn seems
coming when we cannot sleep! Oh! those hideous nights when we toss and turn in fever and pain,
when we lie, like living men among the dead, staring out into the dark hours that drift so slowly
between us and the light. And oh! those still more hideous nights when we sit by another in pain,
when the low fire startles us every now and then with a falling cinder, and the tick of the clock
seems a hammer beating out the life that we are watching.
But enough of beds and bedrooms. I have kept to them too long, even for an idle fellow. Let us
come out and have a smoke. That wastes time just as well and does not look so bad. Tobacco has
been a blessing to us idlers. What the civil-service clerk before Sir Walter’s time found to occupy
their minds with it is hard to imagine. I attribute the quarrelsome nature of the Middle Ages young
men entirely to the want of the soothing weed. They had no work to do and could not smoke, and
the consequence was they were forever fighting and rowing. If, by any extraordinary chance, there
was no war going, then they got up a deadly family feud with the next-door neighbor, and if, in
spite of this, they still had a few spare moments on their hands, they occupied them with discussions
as to whose sweetheart was the best looking, the arguments employed on both sides being battle-
axes, clubs, etc. Questions of taste were soon decided in those days. When a twelfth-century youth
fell in love he did not take three paces backward, gaze into her eyes, and tell her she was too
beautiful to live. He said he would step outside and see about it. And if, when he got out, he met a
man and broke his head—the other man’s head, I mean—then that proved that his—the first
fellow’s—girl was a pretty girl. But if the other fellow broke his head—not his own, you know,
but the other fellow’s—the other fellow to the second fellow, that is, because of course the other
fellow would only be the other fellow to him, not the first fellow who—well, if he broke his head,
then his girl—not the other fellow’s, but the fellow who was the— Look here, if A broke B’s
head, then A’s girl was a pretty girl; but if B broke A’s head, then A’s girl wasn’t a pretty girl, but
B’s girl was. That was their method of conducting art criticism.
Nowadays we light a pipe and let the girls fight it out among themselves.
They do it very well. They are getting to do all our work. They are doctors, and barristers, and
artists. They manage theaters, and promote swindles, and edit newspapers. I am looking forward to
the time when we men shall have nothing to do but lie in bed till twelve, read two novels a day,
have nice little five-o’clock teas all to ourselves, and tax our brains with nothing more trying than
discussions upon the latest patterns in trousers and arguments as to what Mr. Jones’ coat was made
of and whether it fitted him. It is a glorious prospect—for idle fellows.
On being in love
You’ve been in love, of course! If not you’ve got it to come. Love is like the measles; we all have to go
through it. Also like the measles, we take it only once. One never need be afraid of catching it a second time.
The man who has had it can go into the most dangerous places and play the most foolhardy tricks with perfect
safety. He can picnic in shady woods, ramble through leafy aisles, and linger on mossy seats to watch the
sunset. He fears a quiet country-house no more than he would his own club. He can join a family party to go
down the Rhine. He can, to see the last of a friend, venture into the very jaws of the marriage ceremony itself.
He can keep his head through the whirl of a ravishing waltz, and rest afterward in a dark conservatory,
catching nothing more lasting than a cold. He can brave a moonlight walk adown sweet-scented lanes or a
twilight pull among the somber rushes. He can get over a stile without danger, scramble through a tangled
hedge without being caught, come down a slippery path without falling. He can look into sunny eyes and not
be dazzled. He listens to the siren voices, yet sails on with unveered helm. He clasps white hands in his, but
no electric “Lulu -like force holds him bound in their dainty pressure.
No, we never sicken with love twice. Cupid spends no second arrow on the same heart. Love’s handmaids
are our life-long friends. Respect, and admiration, and affection, our doors may always be left open for, but
their great celestial master, in his royal progress, pays but one visit and departs. We like, we cherish, we are
very, very fond of—but we never love again. A man’s heart is a firework that once in its time flashes
heavenward. Meteor-like, it blazes for a moment and lights with its glory the whole world beneath. Then the
night of our sordid commonplace life closes in around it, and the burned-out case, falling back to earth, lies
useless and uncared for, slowly smoldering into ashes. Once, breaking loose from our prison bonds, we dare,
as mighty old Prometheus dared, to scale the Olympian mount and snatch from Phoebus’ chariot the fire of
the gods. Happy those who, hastening down again ere it dies out, can kindle their earthly altars at its flame.
Love is too pure a light to burn long among the noisome gases that we breathe, but before it is choked out we
may use it as a torch to ignite the cozy fire of affection.
And, after all, that warming glow is more suited to our cold little back parlor of a world than is the burning
spirit love. Love should be the vestal fire of some mighty temple—some vast dim fane whose organ music
is the rolling of the spheres. Affection will burn cheerily when the white flame of love is flickered out.
Affection is a fire that can be fed from day to day and be piled up ever higher as the wintry years draw nigh.
Old men and women can sit by it with their thin hands clasped, the little children can nestle down in front,
the friend and neighbor has his welcome corner by its side, and even shaggy Fido and sleek Titty can toast
their noses at the bars.
Let us heap the coals of kindness upon that fire. Throw on your pleasant words, your gentle pressures of the
hand, your thoughtful and unselfish deeds. Fan it with good-humor, patience, and forbearance. You can let
the wind blow and the rain fall unheeded then, for your hearth will be warm and bright, and the faces round
it will make sunshine in spite of the clouds without.
I am afraid, dear Edwin and Angelina, you expect too much from love. You think there is enough of your
little hearts to feed this fierce, devouring passion for all your long lives. Ah, young folk! don’t rely too much
upon that unsteady flicker. It will dwindle and dwindle as the months roll on, and there is no replenishing the
fuel. You will watch it die out in anger and disappointment. To each it will seem that it is the other who is
growing colder. Edwin sees with bitterness that Angelina no longer runs to the gate to meet him, all smiles
and blushes; and when he has a cough now she doesn’t begin to cry and, putting her arms round his neck, say
that she cannot live without him. The most she will probably do is to suggest a lozenge, and even that in a
tone implying that it is the noise more than anything else she is anxious to get rid of.
Poor little Angelina, too, sheds silent tears, for Edwin has given up carrying her old handkerchief in the inside
pocket of his waistcoat.
Both are astonished at the falling off in the other one, but neither sees their own change. If they did they
would not suffer as they do. They would look for the cause in the right quarter—in the littleness of poor
human nature—join hands over their common failing, and start building their house anew on a more earthly
and enduring foundation. But we are so blind to our own shortcomings, so wide awake to those of others.
Everything that happens to us is always the other person’s fault. Angelina would have gone on loving Edwin
forever and ever and ever if only Edwin had not grown so strange and different. Edwin would have adored
Angelina through eternity if Angelina had only remained the same as when he first adored her.
It is a cheerless hour for you both when the lamp of love has gone out and the fire of affection is not yet lit,
and you have to grope about in the cold, raw dawn of life to kindle it. God grant it catches light before the
day is too far spent. Many sit shivering by the dead coals till night come.
But, there, of what use is it to preach? Who that feels the rush of young love through his veins can think it
will ever flow feeble and slow! To the boy of twenty it seems impossible that he will not love as wildly at
sixty as he does then. He cannot call to mind any middle-aged or elderly gentleman of his acquaintance who
is known to exhibit symptoms of frantic attachment, but that does not interfere in his belief in himself. His
love will never fall, whoever else’s may. Nobody ever loved as he loves, and so, of course, the rest of the
world’s experience can be no guide in his case. Alas! alas! ere thirty he has joined the ranks of the sneerers.
It is not his fault. Our passions, both the good and bad, cease with our blushes. We do not hate, nor grieve,
nor joy, nor despair in our thirties like we did in our teens. Disappointment does not suggest suicide, and we
quaff success without intoxication.
We take all things in a minor key as we grow older. There are few majestic passages in the later acts of life’s
opera. Ambition takes a less ambitious aim. Honor becomes more reasonable and conveniently adapts itself
to circumstances. And love—love dies. “Irreverence for the dreams of youth” soon creeps like a killing frost
upon our hearts. The tender shoots and the expanding flowers are nipped and withered, and of a vine that
yearned to stretch its tendrils round the world there is left but a sapless stump.
My fair friends will deem all this rank heresy, I know. So far from a man’s not loving after he has passed
boyhood, it is not till there is a good deal of gray in his hair that they think his protestations at all worthy of
attention. Young ladies take their notions of our sex from the novels written by their own, and compared with
the monstrosities that masquerade for men in the pages of that nightmare literature, Pythagoras’ plucked bird
and Frankenstein’s demon were fair average specimens of humanity.
In these so-called books, the chief lover, or Greek god, as he is admiringly referred to—by the way, they do
not say which “Greek god” it is that the gentleman bears such a striking likeness to; it might be hump-backed
Vulcan, or double-faced Janus, or even driveling Silenus, the god of abstruse mysteries. He resembles the
whole family of them, however, in being a blackguard, and perhaps this is what is meant. To even the little
manliness his classical prototypes possessed, though, he can lay no claim whatever, being a listless effeminate
noodle, on the shady side of forty. But oh! the depth and strength of this elderly party’s emotion for some
bread-and-butter school-girl! Hide your heads, ye young Romeos and Leanders! this blase old beau loves
with an hysterical fervor that requires four adjectives to every noun to properly describe.
It is well, dear ladies, for us old sinners that you study only books. Did you read mankind, you would know
that the lad’s shy stammering tells a truer tale than our bold eloquence. A boy’s love comes from a full heart;
a man’s is more often the result of a full stomach. Indeed, a man’s sluggish current may not be called love,
compared with the rushing fountain that wells up when a boy’s heart is struck with the heavenly rod. If you
would taste love, drink of the pure stream that youth pours out at your feet. Do not wait till it has become a
muddy river before you stoop to catch its waves.
Or is it that you like its bitter flavor—that the clear, limpid water is insipid to your palate and that the pollution
of its after-course gives it a relish to your lips? Must we believe those who tell us that a hand foul with the
filth of a shameful life is the only one a young girl cares to be caressed by?
That is the teaching that is bawled out day by day from between those yellow covers. Do they ever pause to
think, I wonder, those devil’s ladyhelps, what mischief they are doing crawling about God’s garden, and
telling childish Eves and silly Adams that sin is sweet and that decency is ridiculous and vulgar? How many
an innocent girl do they not degrade into an evil-minded woman? To how many a weak lad do they not point
out the dirty by-path as the shortest cut to a maiden’s heart? It is not as if they wrote of life as it really is.
Speak truth, and right will take care of itself. But their pictures are coarse daubs painted from the sickly
fancies of their own diseased imagination.
We want to think of women not—as their own sex would show them—as Lorleis luring us to destruction,
but as good angels beckoning us upward. They have more power for good or evil than they dream of. It is
just at the very age when a man’s character is forming that he tumbles into love, and then the lass he loves
has the making or marring of him. Unconsciously he molds himself to what she would have him, good or
bad. I am sorry to have to be ungallant enough to say that I do not think they always use their influence for
the best. Too often the female world is bounded hard and fast within the limits of the commonplace. Their
ideal hero is a prince of littleness, and to become that many a powerful mind, enchanted by love, is “lost to
life and use and name and fame.”
And yet, women, you could make us so much better if you only would. It rests with you, more than with all
the preachers, to roll this world a little nearer heaven. Chivalry is not dead: it only sleeps for want of work to
do. It is you who must wake it to noble deeds. You must be worthy of knightly worship.
You must be higher than ourselves. It was for Una that the Red Cross Knight did war. For no painted, mincing
court dame could the dragon have been slain. Oh, ladies fair, be fair in mind and soul as well as face, so that
brave knights may win glory in your service! Oh, woman, throw off your disguising cloaks of selfishness,
effrontery, and affectation! Stand forth once more a queen in your royal robe of simple purity. A thousand
swords, now rusting in ignoble sloth, shall leap from their scabbards to do battle for your honor against
wrong. A thousand Sir Rolands shall lay lance in rest, and Fear, Avarice, Pleasure, and Ambition shall go
down in the dust before your colors.
What noble deeds were we not ripe for in the days when we loved? What noble lives could we not have lived
for her sake? Our love was a religion we could have died for. It was no mere human creature like ourselves
that we adored. It was a queen that we paid homage to, a goddess that we worshiped.
And how madly we did worship! And how sweet it was to worship! Ah, lad, cherish love’s young dream
while it lasts! You will know too soon how truly little Tom Moore sang when he said that there was nothing
half so sweet in life. Even when it brings misery it is a wild, romantic misery, all unlike the dull, worldly
pain of after-sorrows. When you have lost her—when the light is gone out from your life and the world
stretches before you a long, dark horror, even then a half-enchantment mingles with your despair.
And who would not risk its terrors to gain its raptures? Ah, what raptures they were! The mere recollection
thrills you. How delicious it was to tell her that you loved her, that you lived for her, that you would die for
her! How you did rave, to be sure, what floods of extravagant nonsense you poured forth, and oh, how cruel
it was of her to pretend not to believe you! In what awe you stood of her! How miserable you were when you
had offended her! And yet, how pleasant to be bullied by her and to sue for pardon without having the slightest
notion of what your fault was! How dark the world was when she snubbed you, as she often did, the little
rogue, just to see you look wretched; how sunny when she smiled! How jealous you were of every one about
her! How you hated every man she shook hands with, every woman she kissed—the maid that did her hair,
the boy that cleaned her shoes, the dog she nursed—though you had to be respectful to the last-named! How
you looked forward to seeing her, how stupid you were when you did see her, staring at her without saying a
word! How impossible it was for you to go out at any time of the day or night without finding yourself
eventually opposite her windows! You hadn’t pluck enough to go in, but you hung about the corner and gazed
at the outside. Oh, if the house had only caught fire—it was insured, so it wouldn’t have mattered—and you
could have rushed in and saved her at the risk of your life, and have been terribly burned and injured!
Anything to serve her. Even in little things that was so sweet. How you would watch her, spaniel-like, to
anticipate her slightest wish! How proud you were to do her bidding! How delightful it was to be ordered
about by her! To devote your whole life to her and to never think of yourself seemed such a simple thing.
You would go without a holiday to lay a humble offering at her shrine, and felt more than repaid if she only
deigned to accept it. How precious to you was everything that she had hallowed by her touch—her little
glove, the ribbon she had worn, the rose that had nestled in her hair and whose withered leaves still mark the
poems you never care to look at now.
And oh, how beautiful she was, how wondrous beautiful! It was as some angel entering the room, and all else
became plain and earthly. She was too sacred to be touched. It seemed almost presumption to gaze at her.
You would as soon have thought of kissing her as of singing comic songs in a cathedral. It was desecration
enough to kneel and timidly raise the gracious little hand to your lips.
Ah, those foolish days, those foolish days when we were unselfish and pure-minded; those foolish days when
our simple hearts were full of truth, and faith, and reverence! Ah, those foolish days of noble longings and
of noble strivings! And oh, these wise, clever days when we know that money is the only prize worth striving
for, when we believe in nothing else but meanness and lies, when we care for no living creature but ourselves!
On being in the blues
I can enjoy feeling melancholy, and there is a good deal of satisfaction about being thoroughly
miserable; but nobody likes a fit of the blues. Nevertheless, everybody has them; notwithstanding
which, nobody can tell why. There is no accounting for them. You are just as likely to have one on
the day after you have come into a large fortune as on the day after you have left your new silk
umbrella in the train. Its effect upon you is somewhat similar to what would probably be produced
by a combined attack of toothache, indigestion, and cold in the head. You become stupid, restless,
and irritable; rude to strangers and dangerous toward your friends; clumsy, maudlin, and
quarrelsome; a nuisance to yourself and everybody about you.
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