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Benjamin Disraeli

Reading Books


I have observed that, after writing a book, my mind always makes a great spring. I believe that the act of composition produces the same invigorating effect upon the mind which some exertion does upon the body. Even the writing of Manstein produced a revolution in my nature, which cannot be traced by any metaphysical analysis. In the course of a few days, I was converted from a worldling into a philosopher. I was indeed ignorant, but I had lost the double ignorance of the Platonists; I was no longer ignorant that I was ignorant. No one could be influenced by a greater desire of know-ledge, a greater passion for the beautiful, or a deeper regard for his fellow-creatures. And I well remember when, on the evening that I wrote the last sentence of this more intellectual effort, I walked out upon the ter-race with that feeling of satisfaction which accompanies the idea of a task completed. So far was I from being excited by the hope of having written a great work, that I even meditated its destruction; for the moment it was terminated, it seemed to me that I had become suddenly acquainted with the long-concealed principles of my art, which, without doubt, had been slenderly practised in this production. My taste, as it were in an instant, be-came formed; and I felt convinced I could now produce some lasting creation.

I thought no more of criticism. The breath of man has never influenced me much, for I depend more upon myself than upon others. I want no false fame. It would be no delight to me to be considered a prophet, were I conscious of being an impostor. I ever wish to be undeceived; but if I possess the organization of a poet, no one can prevent me from exercising my faculty, any more than he can rob the courser of his fleetness, or the nightingale of her song.

The profound thinker always suspects that he is superficial. Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius. Nothing is more fatal than to be seduced into composition by the first flutter of the imagination. This is the cause of so many weak and unequal works, of so many worthy ideas thrown away, and so many good purposes marred. Yet there is a bound to meditation; there is a moment when further judgment is useless. There is a moment when a heavenly light rises over the dim world you have been so long creating, and bathes it with life and beauty. Accept this omen that your work is good, and revel in the sunshine of composition. Contarini Fleming.


Take a pair of pistols and a pack of cards, a cookery-book and a set of new quadrilles; mix them up with half an intrigue and a whole marriage, and divide them into three equal portions. The Young Duke.

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