S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Life is, in fact, a system of relations rather than a positive and independent existence; and he who would be happy himself, and make others happy, must carefully preserve these relations. He cannot stand apart in surly and haughty egotism: let him learn that he is as much dependent on others as others are on him. A law of action and reaction prevails, from which he can be no more exempt than his more modest fellow-men; and, sooner or later, arrogance, in whatever sphere of the intellectual or moral development it may obtain, will, nay must, meet its appropriate punishment. The laws of nature, and the demonstrations of mathematics, are not more certain than those of our spiritual life, whether manifested in the individual or in society.
But this evil of isolation belongs not exclusively to the one transcendent genius, or to the favoured few who have gained the highest eminences of thought or labour. Those who have advanced only a little way beyond their acquaintance in literary, artistic, or scientific attainments, are not a little proud of their acquisitions, and sometimes set up for much greater people than they really are. They claim privileges to which they have but a very slender title, if any, and become boastful, presumptuous, and overbearing. Alas! in the crudity of their knowledge, they are unaware of the lamentable extent of their ignorance, as also of the fatal boundary which necessarily limits the information of the most learned and the most knowing. They have not been taught with how much truth Socrates made the celebrated affirmation that All he knew was that he knew nothing.