Can’t Get No Pattisfaction

Mark Pattison, Memoirs (VII):

“I had from youth up a restless desire to be always improving myself, other people, all things, all received ways of doing anything. This was a mental instinct which lay far below any adopted opinions in politics, and has been a cause of no little trouble to me. It is impossible for me to see anything done without an immediate suggestion of how it might be better done. I cannot travel by railway without working out in my mind a better time-table than that in use. On the other hand, this restlessness of the critical faculty has done me good service when turned upon myself. I have never enjoyed any self-satisfaction in anything I have ever done, for I have inevitably made a mental comparison with how it might have been better done. The motto of one of my diaries, ‘Quicquid hie operis fiat poenitet,’ may be said to be the motto of my life. The same is true of anything I may have written. I write, rewrite, revise, and then with difficulty let it go to press, seeing how much better another review would make it.”

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Mark Pattison by Alexander MacDonald (1900)

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