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I was a solitary, shy, priggish youth. I had no experience of the social pleasures of boyhood and did not miss them. But I liked mathematics, and mathematics was suspect because it has no ethical content. I came also to disagree with the theological opinions of my family, and as I grew up I became increasingly interested in philosophy, of which they profoundly disapproved. Every time the subject came up they repeated with unfailing regularity, 'What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind.' After some fifty or sixty repetitions, this remark ceased to amuse me.
I have never belonged wholeheartedly to country or State, to my circle of friends or even to my own family... Such isolation is sometimes bitter, but I do not regret being cut off from the understanding and sympathy of other men. I lose something by it,to be sure, but I am compensated for it in being rendered independent of the customs, opinions and prejudices of others, and am not tempted to rest my peace of mind upon such shifting foundations.
Christ is one of the 'family' now. I often wonder if God recognizes his own son the way we've dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He's regular peppermint stick now, all sugar crystal and saccharine - when he isn't making veiled references to certain commercial products that ever worshiper absolutely needs.
Our civility, England determines the style of, inasmuch as England is the strongest of the family of existing nations, and as we are the expansion of that people. It is that of a trading nation; it is a shopkeeping civility. The English lord is a retired shopkeeper, and has the prejudices and timidities of that profession.
Just as little can we afford to follow the doctrinaires of an impossible - and incidentally of a highly undesirable - social revolution which, in destroying individual rights - including property rights - and the family, would destroy the two chief agents in the advance of mankind, and the two chief reasons why either the advance or the preservation of mankind is worthwhile.
We are a wretched family, and ought to be exterminated. We slept here to rest our poor boy on his journey to Bournemouth, and my poor dear wife sickened with scarlet fever, and has had it pretty sharply, but is recovering well. There is no end of trouble in this weary world. (Owing to the illness from scarlet fever of one of his boys, he [Darwin] took a house at Bournemouth in the autumn. He wrote to Dr. Gray from Southampton).
We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies — all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.
March 1, 1830, Abraham having just completed his twenty-first year, his father and family, with the families of the two daughters and sons-in-law of his stepmother, left the old homestead in Indiana and came to Illinois....Here they built a log cabin, into which they removed, and made sufficient of rails to fence ten acres of ground, fenced and broke the ground, and raised a crop of sown corn upon it the same year. These are, or are supposed to be, the rails about which so much is being said just now, though these are far from being the first or only rails ever made by Abraham.
It is cold anarchy to say that all men are to meddle in all men'smarriages. It is cold anarchy to say that any doctor may seize andsegregate anyone he likes. But it is not anarchy to say that a fewgreat hygienists might enclose or limit the life of all citizens,as nurses do with a family of children. It is not anarchy, it istyranny; but tyranny is a workable thing.
The good citizen is the man who, whatever his wealth or his poverty, strives manfully to do his duty to himself, to his family, to his neighbor, to the States; who is incapable of the baseness which manifests itself either in arrogance or in envy, but who while demanding justice for himself is no less scrupulous to do justice to others.
I would that our farmers when they cut down a forest felt some of that awe which the old Romans did when they came to thin, or letin the light to, a consecrated grove (lucum conlucare), that is, would believe that it is sacred to some god. The Roman made an expiatory offering, and prayed, Whatever god or goddess thou art to whom this grove is sacred, be propitious to me, my family, and children, etc.
NOTICE. To the next Burglar. There is nothing but plated ware in this house, now and henceforth. You will find it in that brass thing in the dining room over in the corner by the basket of kittens. If you want the basket, put the kittens in the brass thing. Do not make a noise—it disturbs the family. You will find rubbers in the front hall, by that thing which has the umbrellas in it, chiffonier, I think they call it, or pergola, or something like that. Please close the door when you go away. Very truly yours, S.L. Clemens