No man can have much kindness for his species, who does not habituate himself to consider upon each successive occasion of social intercourse how that occasion may be most beneficently improved.
Books have by their very nature but a limited operation; though, on account of their permanence, their methodical disquisition, and their easiness of access, they are entitled to the foremost place.
A thinking man, if he will recollect his intellectual history, will find that he has derived inestimable advantage from stimulus and surprise of colloquial suggestions; and if we review the history of literature, will perceive the minds of great acuteness and ability have commonly existed in a cluster.
If once the unambitious and candid circles of enquiring men be swallowed up in the insatiate gulf of noisy assemblies, the opportunity of improvement is instantly annihilated. Activity of thought is shackled by the fear that our associates should disclaim us.
Human beings should meet together, not to enforce, but to enquire. Truth disclaims the alliance of marshalled numbers.
WILLIAM GODWIN 1793