Marginalia, no.189

Monsters of men as we are, dogs, wolves, tigers, fiends, incarnate devils, we do not only contend, oppress, and tyrannize ourselves, but as so many firebrands we set on and animate others: our whole life is a perpetual combat, a conflict, a set battle, a snarling fit.

~ Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

Among the chief joys of parenthood is hoodwinking children into the belief that the world is something better than “a snarling fit.” It’s a deception, I think, that can end by being true. Acquaintance with life’s brute zoology is forced on us all sooner or later. What the world never teaches is to presume well of others and be charitable toward ourselves. Retreat to a peaceable kingdom later in life is only possible if you start there to begin with.

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