Pearls by Alex Andreyev
I have said we are wrestling with tremendous problems, more important to the masses of men than art or poetry; the problems of human life; of human happiness. But it is a sordid combat, with sordid forces, in a sordid arena. It is as intensely practical as trying to reach a life-raft after shipwreck. We are searching for Truth. We have killed that credulity which peopled the thickets with fauns and made of the murmurous rivulets the voices of nymphs. We have even killed Hell and Heaven as particular retreats for particular people, but a knowledge of truth need not and cannot kill the imagination. Imagination is not synonymous with credulity or superstition. It is the vital spark of the human mind and it remains for us to speculate upon what wonderful forms it will flame into when again it leaps upward. If I could leave a phrase to stimulate those who are upward-minded, I would say not only is there "no profit where is no pleasure ta'en. In brief, sir study what you most affect." But, also, there is no pleasure where there is no profit taken. In brief, sir, read what is worth studying. Only that is worth reading.
In considering the question of mental cultivation, I often think of De Quincey's simile of the pearl-necklace which has been broken and the wearer sits in a boat in calmest sea, unconscious of the fact. One by one, the precious jewels slip off and hasten back to the eternal depths. The necklace is Life and the pearls are the hours which make it.
--from On the Making of Books (1911), by C. E. S. Wood