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Intelligent men do not decide any subject until they have carefully examined both or all sides of it. Fools, cowards, and those too lazy to think, accept blindly, without examination, dogmas and doctrines imposed upon them in childhood by their parents, priests, and teachers, when their minds were immature and they could not reason.
. . . Newton was an unquestioning believer in an all-wise creator of the universe, and in his own inability – like the boy on the seashore – to fathom the entire ocean in all its depths. He therefore believed that there were not only many things in heaven beyond his philosophy, but plenty on earth as well, and he made it his business to understand for himself what the majority of intelligent men of his time accepted without dispute (to them it was as natural as common sense) – the traditional account of the creation.
And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolations that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything; that only a fool can become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent nineteenth-century man must be, is morally bound to be, an essentially characterless creature; and a man of character, a man of action – an essentially limited creature. This is my conviction at the age of forty. I am forty now, and forty years – why, it is all of a lifetime, it is the deepest of old age. Living past forty is indecent, vulgar, immoral!
Oh, gentlemen, perhaps I really regard myself as an intelligent man only because throughout my entire life I’ve never been able to start or finish anything. Granted, granted I’m a babbler, a harmless, irksome babbler, as we all are. But what’s to be done if the sole and express purpose of every intelligent man is babble–that is, a deliberate pouring from empty into void.