Literary dissipation is no less destructive of sympathy with the living world, than sensual dissipation. Mere intellect is as hard-hearted and as heart-hardening as mere sense; and the union of the two, when uncontrolled by the conscience and without the softening, purifying influences of the moral affections, is all that is requisite to produce the diabolical ideal of our nature.
If I might control the literature of the household, I would guarantee the well-being of the church and state.
The great standard of literature, as to purity and exactness of style, is the Bible.
Books only partially represent their authors; the writer is always greater than his work.
The selection of a subject is to the author what choice of position is to the general,—once skillfully determined, the battle is already half won. Of a few writers it may be said, that they are popular in despite of their subjects—but of a great many more, that they are popular because of them.
In the literature of the world there is not one popular book which is immoral that continues to exist two centuries after it is produced; for in the heart of nations the false does not live so long, and the true is ethical to the end of time.
In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern.
A country which has no national literature, or a literature too insignificant to force its way abroad, must always be, to its neighbors at least, in every important spiritual respect, an unknown and unestimated country.
The beaten paths of literature lead safeliest to the goal, and the talent pleases us most which submits to shine with new gracefulness through old forms.—Nor is the noblest and most peculiar mind too noble or peculiar for working by prescribed laws.
A beautiful literature springs from the depth and fulness of intellectual and moral life, from an energy of thought and feeling, to which nothing, as we believe, ministers so largely as enlightened religion.
The study of literature nourishes youth, entertains old age, adorns prosperity, solaces adversity, is delightful at home, and unobtrusive abroad.
Other relaxations are peculiar to certain times, places, and stages of life, but the study of letters is the nourishment of our youth, and the joy of our old age. They throw an additional splendor on prosperity, and are the resource and consolation of adversity; they delight at home, and are no embarrassment abroad; in short, they are company to us at night, our fellow travelers on a journey, and attendants in our rural recesses.
Literature has her quacks no less than medicine, and they are divided into two classes; those who have erudition without genius, and those who have volubility without depth; we get second-hand sense from the one, and original nonsense from the other.
Literature has now become a game in which the booksellers are the kings; the critics, the knaves; the public, the pack; and the poor author, the mere table or thing played upon.
There, is first, the literature of knowledge; and, secondly, the literature of power. The function of the first is, to teach; of the second is, to move; the first is a rudder, the second an oar or a sail. The first speaks to the mere discursive understanding; the second speaks ultimately to the higher understanding or reason, but always through affections of pleasure and sympathy.
There is such a thing as literary fashion, and prose and verse have been regulated by the same caprice that cuts our coats and cocks our hats.
Literature happens to be the only occupation in which wages are not given in proportion to the goodness of the work done.
He who would understand the real spirit of literature should not select authors of any one period alone, but rather go to the fountain head, and trace the little rill as it courses along down the ages broadening and deepening into the great ocean of thought which the men of the present are exploring.
Literature is a fragment of a fragment; of all that ever happened, or has been said, but a fraction has been written, and of this but little is extant.
The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation; the two keep pace in their downward tendency.
Literary history is the great morgue where all seek the dead ones whom they love, or to whom they are related.
Let your literary compositions be kept from the public eye for nine years at least.
Such superiority do the pursuits of literature possess above every other occupation, that even he who attains but a mediocrity in them, merits the preeminence above those who excel the most in the common and vulgar professions.
In literature, today, there are plenty of good masons but few good architects.
The literature of an age is but the mirror of its prevalent tendencies.
The triumphs of the warrior are bounded by the narrow theater of his own age; but those of a Scott or a Shakespeare will be renewed with greater and greater luster in ages yet unborn, when the victorious chieftain shall be forgotten, or shall live only in the song of the minstrel and the page of the chronicler.
When literature is the sole business of life, it becomes a drudgery. When we are able to resort to it only at certain hours, it is a charming relaxation. In my earlier days I was a banker's clerk, obliged to be at the desk every day from ten till five o'clock; and I shall never forget the delight with which, on returning home, I used to read and write during the evening.
Literature is the immortality of speech.
Literature is a great staff, but a sorry crutch.
The literature of a people must spring from the sense of its nationality; and nationality is impossible without self-respect, and self-respect is impossible without liberty.
I never knew a man of letters ashamed of his profession.
Nothing lives in literature but that which has in it the vitality of creative art; and it would be safe advice to the young to read nothing but what is old.