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However I might say with the poet, ‘My mind to me a kingdom is,’ yet I have little ambition ‘to set a throne or chair of state in the understandings of other men.’ The ideas we cherish most exist best in a kind of shadowy abstraction, and derive neither force nor interest from being exposed to public view.They are old familiar acquaintance, and any change in them, arising from the adventitious ornaments of style or dress, is little to their advantage.See how the rich fallows, the bare stubble-field, the scanty harvest-home, drag in Rembrandt’s landscapes!
No angry passions rise to disturb the silent progress of the work, to shake the hand, or dim the brow: no irritable humours are set afloat: you have no absurd opinions to combat, no point to strain, no adversary to crush, no fool to annoy — you are actuated by fear or favour to no man.
There is ‘no juggling here,’ no sophistry, no intrigue, no tampering with the evidence, no attempt to make black white, or white black: but you resign yourself into the hands of a greater power, that of Nature, with the simplicity of a child, and the devotion of an enthusiast —‘study with joy her manner, and with rapture taste her style.’ The mind is calm, and full at the same time. In tracing the commonest object, a plant or the stump of a tree, you learn something every moment.
Innocence is joined with industry, pleasure with business; and the mind is satisfied, though it is not engaged in thinking or in doing any mischief., or in reading them afterwards; though I own I now and then meet with a phrase that I like, or a thought that strikes me as a true one.
But after I begin them, I am only anxious to get to the end of them, which I am not sure I shall do, for I seldom see my way a page or even a sentence beforehand; and when I have as by a miracle escaped, I trouble myself little more about them.
You need not play tricks, or purposely mistake: with all your pains, you are still far short of the mark.
Patience grows out of the endless pursuit, and turns it into a luxury.
The shepherds pipe their farewell notes in the fresh evening air.
And is this bright vision made from a dead, dull blank, like a bubble reflecting the mighty fabric of the universe?
After I have once written on a subject, it goes out of my mind: my feelings about it have been melted down into words, and I forget.
I have, as it were, discharged my memory of its old habitual reckoning, and rubbed out the score of real sentiment.