The mind of the greatest man on earth is not so independent of circumstances as not to feel inconvenienced by the merest buzzing noise about him; it does not need the report of a cannon to disturb his thoughts. The creaking of a vane or a pulley is quite enough. Do not wonder that he reasons ill just now; a fly is buzzing by his ear; it is quite enough to unfit him for giving good counsel.
The combination of phenomena is beyond the grasp of the human intellect. But the impulse to seek cause is innate in the soul of man. And the human intellect, with no inkling of the immense variety and complexity of circumstances conditioning a phenomenon, any one of which may be separately conceived as the cause of it, snatches at the first and most easily understood approximation, and says here is the cause.
The mind which is free from passions is a citadel, for man has nothing more secure to which he can fly for refuge and for the future be inexpugnable. He then who has not seen this is an ignorant man: but he who has seen it and does not fly to this refuge is unhappy.
Man is the only animal with the powers of laughter, a privilege which was not bestowed on him for nothing. Let us then laugh while we may, no matter how broad the laugh may be, and despite of what the poet says about the loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind. The mind should occasionally be vacant, as the land should sometimes lie fallow, and for precisely the same reason.