Most men have learned to read to serve a paltry convenience, as they have learned to cipher in order to keep accounts and not be cheated in trade; but of reading as a noble intellectual exercise they know little or nothing; yet this only is reading, in a high sense, not that which lulls us as a luxury and suffers the nobler faculties to sleep the while, but what we have to stand on tip-toe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to.
For be a man's intellectual superiority what it will, it can never assume the practical, available supremacy over other men, without the aid of some sort of external arts and entrenchments, always, in themselves, more or less paltry and base.
True to his conception of independent intellectual activity, he abstained from a legal career, refused important ecclesiastical office, and contented himself with paltry benefices which implied no spiritual or administrative duties, because he was resolved to follow the one purpose of his lifeself-culture.
So insignificant at that moment seemed to him all the interests that engrossed Napoleon, so mean did his hero himself with his paltry vanity and joy in victory appear, compared to the lofty, equitable, and kindly sky which he had seen and understood, that he could not answer him.
If we refused, or rather used up, such paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly inform us how this might be done.
But they were guerillas, not regulars; they had no good officers, no serviceable artillery, and very little money; and all the foreign powers to whom Rakoczy turned for assistance (excepting France, who fed them occasionally with paltry subsidies) would not commit themselves to a formal alliance with rebels who were defeated in every pitched battle they fought.
Human griefs seem little worth assuaging; human happiness too paltry (at the best) to be worth increasing.
Moreover, the diet neglected to pay for the maintenance even of this paltry 2000, with the result that they mutinied and compelled their leader to retreat through the heart of Muscovy to Smolensk.