SOME1 days ago I met in a country-house which I was visiting, two learned men who have a great reputation here. Their characters astonished me. The conversation of the first, justly estimated, reduced itself to this: What I have said is true, because I have said it. The conversation of the second went the other way about: What I have not said is not true, because I have not said it.
I liked the first pretty well; for it is not of the least consequence to me, however stiff in opinion a man may be; but I cannot endure impertinence. The first defends his opinions; that is to say, his own property; the second attacks the opinions of others; that is to say, the property of the whole world.
Oh, my dear Rica,2 how badly vanity serves those who have a larger share of it than is necessary for self-preservation! Such people wish to be admired by dint of offending. They wish to be superior, but they do not even attain to mediocrity.
Come hither to me, modest men, that I may embrace you! You are the charm, the delight of life. You think that you are nobodies; but I tell you that you possess the one thing needful. You think that no one is humiliated by you, and you humiliate the whole world. And when I compare you in my mind with those imperious people whom I see everywhere, I drag them from their judgment seat, and throw them at your feet.