As to the value of conversions, God alone can judge. God alone can know how wide are the steps which the soul has to take before it can approach to a community with Him, to the dwelling of the perfect, or to the intercourse and friendship of higher natures.
I respect the man who knows distinctly what he wishes. The greater part of all the mischief in the world arises from the fact that men do not sufficiently understand their own aims. They have undertaken to build a tower, and spend no more labour on the foundation than would be necessary to erect a hut.
It is certain that if every one could early enough be made to feel how full the world is already of excellence, and how much must be done to produce anything worthy of being placed beside what has already been produced, of a hundred youths who are now poetizing scarcely one would feel enough courage, perseverance, and talent to work quietly for the attainment of a similar mastery. Many young painters would never have taken their pencils in hand if they could have felt, known, and understood, early enough, what really produced a master like Raphael.
People are always talking about originality; but what do they mean? As soon as we are born the world begins to work upon us; and this goes on to the end. And, after all, what can we call our own, except energy, strength, and will? If I could give an account of all that I owe to great predecessors and contemporaries, there would be but a small balance in my favour.