[Unlike some of the other of Help's epigrammatic statements I've added to the Victorian Web, this one is part (in this case one half) of a longer mini-essay. — George P. Landow.

decorated initial Selfishness, when it is punished by the world, is mostly punished because it is connected with egotism. A man may help himself to an exorbitant portion of the good things of this life, if he will only keep quiet about it, and not obtrude himself upon people's notice. The cat takes the best place in the room, and nobody grudges it to her, because her purring satisfaction is not loudly obtruded on the company. But to bask like a cat in the warmest place, and scream like a parrot in its cage, will never do.

It is not by any means, of necessity, that selfishness and egotism are combined: they are two distinct qualities. But frequently they run into one another; and then selfishness is liable to be punished for the faults of its noisy mate. [176-77]


[Helps, Sir Arthur]. Brevia: Short Essays and Aphorisms by the Author of “Friends in Council”. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1871. The reverse of the title page has the following: “Chiswick Press: — printed by Whittingham and Wilkins, Tooks Court, Chancery Lane [London].”

Last modified 5 December 2011