The perfect historian is he in whose work the character and spirit of the age is exhibited in miniature. He relates no fact, he attributes no expression to his characters, which is not authenticated by sufficient testimony. But by judicious selection, rejection and arrangement, he gives to truth those attractions which have been usurped by fiction. In his narrative a due subordination is observed: some transactions are prominent; others retire. But the scale on which he represents them is increased or diminished, not according to the dignity of the persons concerned in them, but according to the degree in which they elucidate the condition of society and the nature of man.
—Essay on History
Success is in the blood.
There are men whom Fate can never keep down–they march jauntily forward, and take by divine right the best of everything that earth affords. But their success is not attained by the Doctor Samuel Smiles Connecticut policy. They do not lie in wait, nor scheme, nor fawn, nor seek to adapt their sails to catch the breeze of popular favor. Still, they are ever alert and alive to any good that may come their way, and when it comes they simply appropriate it, and tarrying not, move steadily forward.
Good health! Whenever you go out of doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of your head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every hand-clasp. Do not fear being misunderstood and never waste a minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would like to do, and then without violence of direction you will move straight to the goal.
Fear is the rock on which we split, and hate is the shoal on which many a bark is stranded. When we are fearful, the judgment is as unreliable as the compass of a ship whose hold is full of iron ore; when we hate, we have unshipped the rudder; and if we stop to meditate on what the gossips say, we have allowed a hawser to befoul the screw.
Keep your mind on the great and splendid thing you would like to do; and then, as the days go gliding by, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfilment of your desire, just as the coral-insect takes from the running tide the elements that it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual. Thought is supreme, and to think is often better than to do.
Preserve a right mental attitude–the attitude of courage, frankness and good-cheer.
To think rightly is to create.
Darwin and Spencer have told us that this is the method of Creation. Each animal has evolved the parts it needed and desired. The horse is fleet because it wishes to be; the bird flies because it desires to; the duck has a web-foot because it wants to swim. All things come through desire, and every sincere prayer is answered. Many people know this, but they do not believe it thoroughly enough so that it shapes their lives.
We want friends, so we scheme and chase ‘cross lots after strong people, and lie in wait for good folks–or alleged good folks–hoping to attach ourselves to them. The only way to secure friends is to be one.
And before you are fit for friendship you must be able to do without it. That is to say, you must have sufficient self-reliance to take care of yourself, and then out of the surplus of your energy you can do for others. The man who craves friendship, and yet desires a self-centered spirit more, will never lack for friends.
If you would have friends, cultivate solitude instead of society. Drink in the ozone; bathe in the sunshine; and out in the silent night, under the stars, say to yourself again and yet again, “I am a part of all my eyes behold!” And the feeling will surely come to you that you are no mere interloper between earth and sky; but that you are a necessary particle of the Whole. No harm can come to you that does not come to all, and if you shall go down, it can only be amid a wreck of worlds.