“More than half a century of existence has taught me that most of the wrong and folly which darken earth is due to those who cannot possess their souls in quiet; that most of the good which saves mankind from destruction comes of life that is led in thoughtful stillness.” George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft.
That might be the most beautiful passage about apes and their destructiveness ever written. * * * * * * *
I also wrote the following back in 2004:
I recently read a ratty old copy of George Gissing’s The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (c. 1903). One of the most pleasurable books I’ve read. A few excerpts:
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For not, surely, by deliberate effort of thought does a man grow wise. The truths of life are not discovered by us. At moments unforeseen, some gracious influence descends upon the soul, touching it to an emotion which, we know not how, the mind transmutes into thought. This can happen only in a calm of the senses, a surrender of the whole being to passionless contemplation.
I know just as little about myself as I do about the Eternal Essence.
One of the bitter curses of poverty: it leaves no right to be generous.
How good it is to desire little, and to have a little more than enough.
May I look back on life as a long task duly completed–a piece of biography; faulty enough, but good as I could make it–and, with no thought but one of contentment, welcome the repose to follow when I have breathed the word ‘Finis.’