Interesting things read recently that I would like to share with you
Thursday 25 May 2006, by
– Poetry is not the thing said, but the way of saying it.
- A. E. Housman
– The proper study of mankind is man.
- Alexander Pope (Essay on Man II,2)
– The ways of God aren’t as dainty as those of the Bishop of Salisbury.
- J. Cowper Powys, Wolf Solent, Vintage ed., p. 48
– It isn’t till we are old that we begin to tell ourselves we’re not.
- Henry James, The Middle Years, The World’s Classics ed., p. 146
– For evil to triumph it is necessary only for good men to do nothing.
- Edmond Burke
– A man used to vicissitudes is not easily dejected.
- Samuel Johnson
– Few things are impossible to diligence and skill.
- Samuel Johnson
– Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance off being drowned.
- Samuel Johnson
– Nothing is little to him that feels it with great sensibility.
- Samuel Johnson
– Every man’s affairs, however little, are important to himself.
- Samuel Johnson
– A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.
- Samuel Johnson
– A young man should read five hours in a day, and so may acquire a good deal of knowledge.
- Samuel Johnson
– I mind my belly very studiously and very carefully, for I look upon it that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else.
- Samuel Johnson
– The Irish are a fair people : they never speak well of one another.
- Samuel Johnson
– Much may be made of a Scotsman, if he be caught young enough.
- Samuel Johnson
– That fellow seems to me to have but one idea, and that is a wrong one.
- Samuel Johnson
– How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?
- Samuel Johnson
– Intellectual pre-eminence is the highest superiority, and nations derive their highest reputation from the splendour and dignity of their writers.
- Samuel Johnson
– I should, many a good day, have blown my brains out, but for the recollection that it would have given pleasure to my mother-in-law.
– Tragedy concerneth a high fellow
– to hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.
- Shakespeare, Sonnet 23
– The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, strategems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted.
- Shakespeare, The merchant of Venise V.I. 83-88
– Your spirit has never been content within the narrow confines which nature has imposed on us.
- Cicero to Julius Caesar
– Homo homini deus est (man is a God to man): this is the great practical principle: this is the axis on which revolves the history of the world.
- Ludwig Feuerbach, in The Essence of Christianity
– Suppose a language which has no uncertainty, no whims of idiom, no cumbrous forms, no fitful shimmer of many-hued significance, no hoary archaisms ’familiar with forgotten years’ - a patent deodorized and non-resonant language which effects the purpose of communication as perfectly and rapidly as algebraic signs. Your language may be a perfect medium of expression to science, but will never express life, which is a great deal more than science.
– George Eliot, in Essays
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville (1851)
– all other earthly hues - every stately or lovely emblazoning - the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods - yea and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls.
- ed. Penguin Classics p. 212)
– Is it that by its indefinitiveness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way?
- p. 212
– Habit - strange thing! what cannot habit accomplish?
- p. 305)
– All men live envelopped in whalebones. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortels realize the silent, sudden ever-present pents of life.
- p. 306
– So, when on one side you hoist in Locke’s head, you go over that way; but now, on the other side, hoist in Kant’s and you come back again; but in very poor plight. Thus some minds keep for ever trimming bod. Oh ye foolish! throw all those thunder-heads overboard, and then you will float light and bright.
- p. 357
– To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.
- p. 497
Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope (1857)
– The first thought of anyone introducing a book such as Barchester Towers is to envy the reader. The person so introduced is, one presumes, coming to this great novel for the first time. What a pleasure awaits! But I have a second thought. Before writing these words, I read the novel once again - it occupied me for a long aeroplane trip across the United States and many odd hours in a hotel room on the West Coast. It could have been for the fifth or sixth time. So far from envying the Trollope novice, I found myself feeling blessed. I was enjoying it even more than on earlier encounters. So, dear reader, as Trollope himself says a shade too often, if you have been here before, welcome back. Barchester Towers, not alone among Trollope’s works, is meant to be read at, say, ten-year intervals over a whole adult lifetime.
- from the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, by John Kenneth Galbraith
Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens (1857)
– There was people of pretty well all sorts of trades you could name, all wanting to work, and not able to get it. There was old people, after working all their lives, going and being shut up in the Workhouse, much worse fed and lodged and treated altogether than - Mr. Plornish said manufacturers, but appeared to mean malefactors. Why, a man didn’t know where to turn himself, for a crumb of comfort. As to who was to blame for it, Mr. Plornish didn’t know who was to blame for it. He could tell you who suffered, but he couldn’t tell you whose fault it was. (*) It wasn’t his place to find out, and who’d mind what he said, if he did find out? He only know’d that it wasn’t put right by them what undertook that line of business and that it didn’t come right of itself. And in brief his illogical opinion was, that if you couldn’t do nothing for him, you had better take nothing from him for doing of it; so far as he could make out, that was about what it come to.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 158
(*) the initial title for Little Dorrit was Nobody’s Fault
– The last of the Patriarchs had always been a mighty eater, and he disposed of an immense quantity of solid food with the benignity of a good soul who was feeding someone else.
- p. 173
– Mr. Planks, who was always in a hurry, and who referred at intervals to a little dirty note-book which he kept beside him (perhaps containing the names of the defaulters he meant to look up by way of dessert), took in his victuals with a good deal of noise, a good deal of dropping about, and a puff and a snort occasionally, as if he were nearly ready to steam away.
- p. 173
– ‘We don’t know,’ said Clenham, almost in the tone of a man in pain, that he will not make her happy.’
‘;We don’t know,’ returned his partner; that the earth will last another hundred years, but we think it highly probable.’
- p. 327
– ‘If John Barnacle,’ said Mrs. Gowan after the degeneracy of the times had been fully ascertained, ‘if John Barnacle had but abandoned his most unfortunate idea of conciliating the mob, all would have been well, and I think the country would have been preserved.’
The old lady with the high nose assented, but added that if August Stilkstocking had in a general way ordered the cavalry out with instructions to charge, she thought the country would have been preserved.
The noble Refrigerator assented, but added that if William Barnacle and Tudor Stilkstocking, when they came over to one another and formed their ever memorable coalition, had boldly muzzled the newspapers, and rendered it penal for any Editor-person to presume to discuss the conduct of any appointed authority abroad or at home, he thought the country would have been preserved.
- p. 333
– A tranquil summer sunset shone upon him as he approached the end of his walk, and passed through the meadows by the river-side. He had that sense of peace, and of being lightened of a weight of care, which country quiet awakens in the dwellers in towns. Everything within his view was lovely and placid. The rich foliage of the trees, the luxuriant grass diversified with wild flowers, the little green islands in the river, the beds of rushes, the water-lilies floating on the surface of the stream, the distant voices in boats borne musically towards him on the ripple of the water and the evening air, were all expressive of rest. In the occasional leap of fish, or dip of an oar, or twittering of a bird not yet at roost, or distant barking of a dog, or lowing of a cow - in all such sounds, there was the prevailing breath of rest, which seemed to encompass him in every scent that sweetened the fragrant air. The long lines of red and gold in the sky, and the glorious track of the descending sun, were all divinely calm. Upon the purple tree-tops far away, and on the open height near at hand up which the shades were slowly creeping, there was an equal hush. Between the real landscape and its shadow in the water, there was no division ; both were so untroubled and clear, and, while so fraught with solemn mystery of life and death, so hopefully reassuming to the gazer’s soothed heart, because so tenderly and mercifully beautiful.
- p. 353
– For a gentleman who had this splendid work [to coin money] cut out for him, Mr. Merdle looked a little common, and rather as if, in the course of his vast transactions, he had accidentally made an interchange of heads with some inferior spirit. He presented himself before the two ladies in the course of a dismal stroll through his mansion, which had no apparent object but escape from the presence of the chief butler.
- p. 417
– He came in, and stood looking out at a distant window, with his hands crossed under his uneasy coat-cuffs, clasping his wrists as if he were taking himself into custody. In this attitude he fell into a reverie, from which he was only aroused by his wife’s calling to him from her ottoman, where they had been for some quarter-of-an-hour alone.
‘Eh? Yes?’ said Mr. Merdle, turning towards her. ‘What is it?’
‘What is it?’ repeated Mrs. Merdle. ’It is, I suppose, that you have not heard a word of my complaint.’
‘Your complaint, Mrs Merdle?’ said Mr. Merdle. ‘I didn’t know that you were suffering from a complaint. What complaint?’
‘A complaint of you,’ said Mrs. Merdle.
‘Oh! A complaint of me,’ said Mr. Merdle. ‘What is the - what have I - what may you have to complain in me, Mrs Merdle?’
In his withdrawing, abstracted, pondering way, it took him some time to shape this question. As a kind of faint attempt to convince himself that he was the master of the house, he concluded by presenting his forefinger to the parrot, who expressed his opinion on that subject by instantly driving his bill into it.
- p. 417
– Am I not a man and a brother?
- Motto on the border of a 1768 Wedgwood medallion, representing a negro in chains (referred to in Little Dorrit, p. 447)
– Mrs General was the daughter of a clerical dignitary in a cathedral town, where she had led the fashion until she was as near forty-five as a single lady can be.
– There is no playing fast and loose with the truth, in any game, without growing the worse for it.
- p. 511
– Love lives in cottages as well as courts.
- p. 526 (English proverb)
– Thought is free.
- p. 554 (English proverb)
– All people knew (or thought they knew) that he had made himself immensely rich, and, for that reason alone, prostrated themselves before him more degradedly and less excusably than the darkest savage creeps out of his hole in the ground to propitiate, in some log or reptile, the Deity of his benighted soul.
- p. 581
– And now, fragments of ruinous enclosure, yawning window-gap and crazy wall, deserted houses, leaking wells, broken water-tanks, spectral cypress-trees, patches of tangled vine, and the changing of the track to a long, irregular, disordered lane, where everything was crumbling away, from the unsightly buildings to the jolting road - now, these objects showed that they were nearing Rome.
- p. 666
– He who touches pitch will be defiled.
- English proverb (referred to in Little Dorrit, p. 839)
– Mr Meagles went upon this pilgrimage, and encountered a number of adventures. Not the least of his difficulties was, that he never knew what was said to him, and that he pursued his enquiries among people who never knew what he said to them. Still, with an unshaken confidence that the English tongue was somehow the mother tongue of the whole world, only the people were too stupid to know it, Mr. Meagles harangued innkeepers in the most voluble manner, entered into loud explanations of the most complicated sort, and utterly renounced replies in the native language of the respondents, on the ground that they were all bosh’.
- p. 840
– Every failure teaches a man something, if he will learn.
- p. 856
– They went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and in shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted, and chafed, and made their usual uproar.
- the closing sentence
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (1859)
– It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
- the opening paragraph
– ‘I wonder,‘; said Mr. Lorry, pausing in his looking about, ‘that he keeps that reminder of his sufferings by him!‘;
’And why wonder at that?’; was the abrupt inquiry that made him start.
It proceeded from Miss Pross, the wild red woman, strong of hand, whose acquaintance he had first made at the Royal George Hotel at Dover, and had since improved.
’I should have thought -’ Mr. Lorry began.
’Pooh! You’d have thought!’; said Miss Pross; and Mr. Lorry left off.
’How do you do?’; inquired that lady then - sharply, and yet as if to express that she bore him no malice.
’I am pretty well, I thank you,’; answered Mr. Lorry, with meekness, ’how are you?’;
’Nothing to boast of, ’ said Miss Pross.
’Ah, indeed!’; said Miss Pross. ’I am very much put out about my Ladybird.’;
’For gracious sake, say something else beside ‘indeed’, or you’ll fidget me to death’; said Miss Pross: whose character (dissociated from stature) was shortness.
’Really, then?’; said Mr. Lorry as an amendment.
’Really, is bad enough,’; returned Miss Pross, ’but better. Yes, I am very much put out.’;
’May I ask the cause?’;
’I don’t want dozens of people who are not at all worthy of Ladybird, to come here looking after her,’; said Miss Pross.
’Do dozens come for that purpose?’;
’Hundreds,’; said Miss Pross.
It was characteristic of this lady (as of some other people before her time and since) that whenever her original proposition was questioned, she exaggerated it.
’Dear me!’; said Mr. Lorry, as the safest remark he could think of.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 98
– ’It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.’;
- the closing sentence
Adam Bede, by George Eliot (1859)
– If you know how much of human speech is mere purposeless impulse or habit, you will not wonder when I tell you that this identical objection had been made, and had received the same kind of answer, many hundred times in the course of the fifteen years that Mr Irwine’s sister Anne had been an invalid. Splendid old ladies, who take a long time to dress in the morning, have often slight sympathy with sickly daughters.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 58
– The thirtieth of July was come, and it was one of those half-dozen warm days which sometimes occur in the middle of a rainy English summer.
- p. 149
– There are few prophets in the world; few sublimely beautiful women; few heroes.
– p. 180
– All honour and reverence to the divine beauty of form! Let us cultivate it to the utmost in men, women, and children — in our gardens and in our houses. But let us love that other beauty too, which lies in no secret of proportion, but in the secret of deep human sympathy. Paint us an angel, if you can, with a floating violet robe, and a face paled by the celestial light, paint us yet oftener a Madonna, turning her mild face upward and opening her arms to welcome the divine glory, but do not impose on us any aesthetic rules which shall banish from the region of Art those old women scraping carrots with their work-worn hands, those heavy clowns taking holiday in a dingy por house, those rounded backs and stupid weather-beaten faces that have bent over the spade and done the rough work of the world — those homes with their tin pans, their brown pitchers, their rough curs, and their clusters of onions. In this world there are so many of these common, coarse people, who have no picturesque sentimental wretchedness! It is so needful we should remember their existence, else we may happen to leave them quite out of our religion and philosophy, and frame lofty theories which only fit a world of extremes.
- p. 180
– You might have known it was Sunday if you had only waked up in the farmyard. The cocks and hens seemed to know it, and made only crooning subdued noises; the very bull-dog looked less savage, as if he would have been satisfied with a smaller bite than usual. The sunshine seemed to call all things to rest and not to labour.
- p. 187
– "Ah, there’s no knowing what may happen before Lady Day,’ said Mrs Irwine. It struck me on Arthur’s birthday that the old man was a little shaken: he’s eighty-three, you know. It’s really an unconscionable age. It’s only women who have a right to live as long as that.’
- p. 351
The Mill on The Floss, by George Eliot (1860)
– Mr. Tulliver did not willingly write a letter, and found the relation between spoken and written language, briefly known as spelling, one of the most puzzling things in this puzzling world.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 138
– ’Mr. Stelling was ... not quite competent to his high offices; but incompetent gentlemen must live, and without private fortune, it is difficult to see how they could all live genteely if they had nothing to do with education or government.
- p. 178
– The desire to know that one has not looked an absolute fright during a few hours of conversation may be construed as lying within the bounds of a laudable benevolent consideration for others. And Lucy had so much of this benevolence in her nature that I am inclined to think her small egoisms were impregnated with it, just as there are people not altogether unknown to you, whose small benevolences have a predominant and somewhat rank odour of egoism.
- p. 384
– Was not Stephen Guest right in his decided opinion that this slim maiden of eighteen was quite the sort of wife a man would not be likely to repent of marrying?-a woman who was loving and thoughtful for other women, not giving them Judas-kisses with eyes askance on their welcome defects, but with real care and vision for their half-hidden pains and mortifications, with long ruminating enjoyment of little pleasures prepared for them?
- p. 385
Stephen was not surprised to find himself in love with her, and was conscious of excellent judgment in preferring her to Miss Leyburn, the daughter of the county member, although Lucy was only the daughter of his father’s subordinate partner, besides, he had had to defy and overcome a slight unwillingness and disappointment in his father and sisters - a circumstance which gives a young man an agreeable consciousness of his own dignity.
- p. 385
– One gets a bad habit of being unhappy.
- p. 388
– The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history.
- p. 400
– ’You really have enjoyed the music tonight, haven’t you, Maggie?’;
’O yes, that is what prevents me from feeling sleepy. I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music. At other times one is conscious of carrying a weight.’;
- p. 401
– ’Character’ - says Novalis, in one of his questionable aphorisms - ’character is destiny’. But not the whole of our destiny. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was speculative and irresolute, and we have a great tragedy in consequence. But if his father had lived to a good old age, and his uncle had died an early death, we can conceive Hamlet’s having married Ophelia and got through life with a reputation of sanity notwithstanding many soliloquies, and some moody sarcasms towards the fair daughter of Polonius, to say nothing of the frankest incivility to his father-in-law.
- p. 418
– I should like to know what is the proper function of women if it is not to make reasons for husbands to stay at home and still stronger reasons for bachelors to go out.
- p. 421
Silas Marner, by George Eliot (1861)
– You hardly know your own mind enough to make both your legs walk one way.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 72
– The evil principle deprecated in that religion, is the orderly sequence by which the seed brings forth a crop after its kind.
- p. 74
– Justice Malam was naturally regarded in Tarley and Raveloe as a man of capacious mind, seeing that he could draw much wider conclusions without evidence than could be expected of his neighbours who were not on the Commission of the Peace.
- p. 75
– Mrs Winthrop was one of these she was in all respects a woman of scrupulous conscience, so eager for duties that life seemed to offer them too scantily unless she rose ar half-past four, though this threw a scarcity of work over the more advanced hours of the morning which it was a constant problem with her to remove.
- p. 80
– It seemed surprising that Ben Withrop, who loved his quart-pot and his joke, got along so well with Dolly; but she took her husband’s jokes and joviality as patiently as everything else, considering that ’men would be so,’ and viewing the stronger sex in the light of animals whom it had pleased Heaven to make naturally troublesome, like bulls and turkey-cocks.
- p. 80
– "That’s Christmas music," she said, when Aaron had ended, and had secured his piece of cake again. "There’s no other music equil to the Christmas music - "Hark the erol angils sing. And you may judge what it is at church, Master Mamer, with the bassoon and the voices, as you can’t help thinking you’ve got to a better place a’ready—for 1 wouldn’t speak illo’ this world, seeing as Them purus in it as knows best—but what wi’ the drink, and the quarrelling, and the bad illnesses, and the hard dying, as I’ve seen times and times, one’s thankful to hear of a better.
- p. 85
– But Anxiety went on, though in noisy Christmas company; refusing to be utterly quieted even by much drinking.
- p. 88
– She actually said ’mate’ for ’meat,’ ’’appen’ for ’perhaps,’ and ’oss’ for ’horse,’ which, to young ladies living in good Lytherly society, who habitually said ’orse, even in domestic privacy, and only said ’appen on the right occasions, was necessarily shocking.
- p. 93
– In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child’s.
- p. 131
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (1861)
– Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgina wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.
- Penguin Classics ed., page 1
– ‘Hold your noise!’ cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among the graves at the side of the church porch. ’Keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throat!’
A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin.
’O! Don’t cut my throat, sir,’ I pleaded in terror. ’Pray don’t do it, sir.’
- p. 2
– ’Drat that boy,’ interposed my sister, frowning at me over her work, ’what a questioner he is. Ask no questions, and you’ll be told no lies.’
It was not very polite to herself, I thought, to imply that I should be told lies by her, even if I did ask questions. But she never was polite, unless there was company.
- p. 14
– In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong. I had had no intercourse with the world at that time, and I imitated none of its many inhabitants who act in this manner. Quite an untaught genius, I made the discovery of the line of action for myself.
- p. 41
– One night, I was sitting in the chimney corner with my slate, expending great effort on the production of a letter to Joe. I think it must have been a full year after our hunt upon the marshes, for it was a long time after, and it was winter and a hard frost. With an alphabet on the hearth at my feet for reference, I contrived in an hour or two to print and smear this epistle:
’mI deEr JO i opE U r krWitE wEll i opE i shAl soN B haBelL 4 2 teeDge U JO aN theN wE shOrl b sO glOdd aN wEn i M preNgtD 2 u JO woT larX an blEvE ME inF xn PiP.’
There was no indispensable necessity for my communicating with Joe by letter, inasmuch as he sat beside me and we were alone. But, I delivered this written communication (slate and all) with my own hand, and Joe received it as a miracle of erudition.
’I say, Pip, old chap!’ cried Joe, opening his blue eyes wide, ’what a scholar you are! An’t you?’
’I should like to be,’ said I, glancing at the slate as he held it: with a misgiving that the writing was rather hilly.
- p. 44
– Though she called me ’boy’ so often, and with a carelessness that was far from complimentary, she was of about my own age. She seemed much older than I, of course, being a girl, and beautiful and self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been one-and-twenty, and a queen.
- p. 56
– ’Look at me,’ said Miss Havisham. ’You are not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?’
I regret to state that I was not afraid of telling the enormous lie comprehended in the answer ’No’.
- p. 58
– My sister’s bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter.
- p. 63
– In a by-yard there was a wilderness of empty casks, which had a certain sour remembrance of better days lingering about them; but it was too sour to be accepted as a sample of the beer that was gone - and in this respect I remember those recluses as being like most others.
- p. 63
– ’Do you want to be a gentleman, to spite her or to gain her over?’ Biddy quietly asked me, after a pause.
’I don’t know,’ I moodily answered.
’Because, if it is to spite her,’ Biddy pursued, ’I should think - but you know best - that might be better and more independently done by caring nothing for her words. And if it is to gain her over, I should think - but you know best - she was not worth gaining over.’
Exactly what I myself had thought, many times. Exactly what was perfectly manifest to me at the moment. But how could I, a poor dazed village lad, avoid that wonderful inconsistency into which the best and wisest of men fall every day?
- p. 129
– We Britons had at that time particularly settled that it was treasonable to doubt our having and our being the best of everything: otherwise, while I was scared by the immensity of London, I think I might have had some faint doubts whether it was not rather ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty.
- p. 163
– ’Is it a very wicked place?’ I asked, more for the sake of saying something than for information.
’You may get cheated, robbed and murdered in London. But there are plenty of people anywhere, who’ll do that for you’.
- p. 172
– Herbert Pocket had a frank and easy way with him that was very taking. I had never seen anyone then, and I have never seen anyone since, who more strongly expressed to me, in every look and tone, a natural incapacity to do anything secret and mean. There was something wonderfully hopeful about his general air, and something that at the same time whispered to me he would never be very successful or rich.
- p. 178
– Her father was a country gentleman down in your part of the world, and was a brewer. I don’t know why it should be a crack thing to be a brewer; but it is indispensable that while you cannot possible be genteel and bake, you may be as genteel as never was and brew. You see it every day.
- p. 180
– ’Take another glass of wine, and excuse my mentioning that society as a body does not expect one to be so strongly conscientious in emptying one’s glass, as to turn it bottom upwards with the rim on one’s nose.’
- p. 180
– But that he was not to be, without ignorance or prejudice, mistaken for a gentleman, my father most strongly asseverates; because it is a principle of his that no man who was not a gentleman at heart ever was, since the world began, a true gentleman in manner. He says, no varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself.
- p. 181
– Lifting the latch of a gate, we passed direct into a little garden overlooking the river, where Mr. Pocket’s children were playing about. And unless I deceive myself on a point where my interests or prepossessions are certainly not concerned, I saw that Mr. and Mrs Pocket’s children were not growing up or being brought up, but were tumbling up.
- p. 186
– ’Master Alick and Miss Jane,’ cried one of the nurses to two of the children, ’if you go a bouncing up against them bushes you’ll fall over into the river and be drownded, and what’ll your pa say then!’
- p. 186
– All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers.
- p. 225
– The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all, I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I loved her none the less because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection.
- p. 232
– I’ll tell you,’ said she, in the same hurried, passionate whisper, ’what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the soul to the smiter - as I did!’
- p. 240
– Still my position was a distinguished one, and I was not at all dissatisfied with it, until Fate threw me in the way of that unlimited miscreant, Trabb’s boy.
Casting my eyes along the street at a certain point of my progress, I beheld Trabb’s boy approaching, lashing himself with an empty blue bag. Deeming that a serene and unconscious contemplation of him would best beseem me, and would be most likely to quell his evil mind, I advanced with that expression of countenance, and was rather congratulating myself on my success, when suddenly the knees of Trabb’s boy smote together, his hair uprose, his cap fell off, he trembled violently in every limb, staggered out into the road, and crying to the populace, ’Hold me! I’m so frightened!’; feigned to be in a paroxysm of terror and contrition, occasioned by the dignity of my appearance. As I passed him, his teeth loudly chattered in his head, and with every mark of extreme humiliation, he prostrated himself in the dust.
This was a hard thing to bear, but this was nothing. I had not advanced another two hundred yards, when, to my inexpressible terror, amazement, and indignation, I again beheld Trabb’s boy approaching. He was coming round a narrow corner. His blue bag was slung over his shoulder, honest industry beamed in his eyes, a determination to proceed to Trabb’s with cheerful briskness was indicated in his gait. With a shock he became aware of me, and was severely visited as before, but this time his motion was rotatory, and he staggered round and round me with knees more afflicted, and with uplifted hands as if beseeching for mercy. His sufferings were hailed with the greatest joy by a knot of spectators, and I felt utterly confounded.
I had not got as much further down the street as the post-office, when I again beheld Trabb’s boy shooting round by a back way. This time, he was entirely changed. He wore the blue bag in the manner of my great-coat, and was strutting along the pavement towards me on the opposite side of the street, attended by a company of delighted young friends to whom he from time to time exclaimed with a wave of his hand, ’Don’t know yah!’; Words cannot state the amount of aggravation and injury wreaked upon me by Trabb’s boy, when, passing abreast of me, he pulled up his shirt-collar, twined his side-hair, struck an arm akimbo, and smirked extravagantly by, wriggling his elbows and body, and drawling to his attendants, ’Don’t know yah, don’t know yah, pon my soul don’t know yah!’;. The disgrace attendant on his immediately afterwards taking to crowing and pursuing me across the bridge with crows, as from an exceedingly dejected fowl who had known me when I was a blacksmith, culminated the disgrace with which I left the town, and was, so to speak, ejected by it into the open country.
- p. 245
– The bill paid, and the waiter remembered, and the ostler not forgotten, and the chambermaid taken into consideration - in a word, the whole house bribed into a state of contempt and animosity, and Estella’s purse much lightened - we got into our post-coach and drove away.
- p. 268
– at about two o’clock in the morning, he became so deeply despondent again as to talk of buying a rifle and going to America, with a general purpose of compelling buffaloes to make his fortune.
- p. 273
– We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.
- p. 274
– The Aged prepared such a haystack of buttered toast, that I could scarcely see him over it as it simmered on an iron stand hooked on to the top-bar; while Miss Skiffins brewed such a jorum of tea, that the pig in the back premises became strongly excited, and repeatedly expressed his desire to participate in the entertainment.
- p. 296
– "You stock and stone!" exclaimed Miss Havisham. "You cold, cold heart!"
"What?" said Estella, preserving her attitude of indifference as she leaned against the chimney-piece and only moving her eyes; "do you reproach me for being cold? You?"
"Are you not?" was the fierce retort.
"You should know," said Estella. "I am what you have made me. Take all the praise, take all the blame; take all the success, take all the failure; in short, take me."
– And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of remorse, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world?
- p. 399
– But they were both happily relieved by the opportune appearance of Mike, the client with the fur caps and the habit of wiping his nose on his sleeve, whom I had seen on the very first day of my appearance within these walls. This individual, who, either in his own person or in that of some member of his family, seemed to be always in trouble (which in that place meant Newgate), called to announce that his eldest daughter was taken up on suspicion of shoplifting. As he imparted this melancholy circumstance to Wemmick, Mr. Jaggers standing magisterially before the fire and taking no share in the proceedings, Mike’s eye happened to twinkle with a tear.
’What are you about?’ demanded Wemmick, with the utmost indignation. ’What do you come snivelling here for?’
’I didn’t go to do it, Mr. Wemmick.’
’You did,’ said Wemmick. ’How dare you? You’re not in a fit state to come here, if you can’t come here without spluttering like a bad pen. What do you mean by it?’
’A man can’t help his feelings, Mr. Wemmick’ pleaded Mike.
’His what?’ demanded Wemmick quite savagely. ’Say that again!’
’Now, look here my man,’ said Mr. Jaggers, advancing a step, and pointing to the door. ’Get out of this office. I’ll have no feelings here. Get out.’
’It serves you right,’ said Wemmick, ’Get out.’
So the unfortunate Mike very humbly withdrew, and Mr. Jaggers and Wemmick appeared to have re-established their good understanding, and went to work again with an air of refreshment upon them as if they had just had lunch.
- p. 415
Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens (1865)
– Mr. Podsnap was well to do, and stood very high in Mr. Podsnap’s opinion. Beginning with a good inheritance, he had married a good inheritance, and had thriven exceedingly in the Marine Insurance way, and was quite satisfied. He never could make out why everybody was not quite satisfied, and he felt conscious that he set a brilliant social example in being particularly well satisfied with most things, and, above all, with himself.
Thus happily acquainted with his own merit and importance, Mr. Podsnap settled that whatever he put behind him he put out of existence. There was a dignified conclusiveness - not to add a grand convenience - in this way of getting rid of disagreeables which had done much towards establishing Mr. Podsnap in his lofty place in Mr. Podsnap’s satisfaction. ’I don’t want to know about it; I don’t choose to discuss it; I don’t admit it!’; Mr. Podsnap had even acquired a peculiar flourish of his right arm in often clearing the world of its most difficult problems, by sweeping them behind him (and consequently sheer away) with those words and a flushed face. For they affronted him.
Mr. Podsnap’s world was not a very large world, morally; no, nor ever geographically: seeing that although his business was sustained upon commerce with other countries, he considered other countries, with that important reservation, a mistake, and of their manners and customs would conclusively observe, ’Not English!’; when, Presto! With a flourish of the arm, and a flush of the face, they were swept away.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 131
– The wind sawed, and the sawdust whirled. The shrubs wrung their many hands, bemoaning that they had been over-persuaded by the sun to bud; the young leaves pined; the sparrows repented of their early marriages, like men and women; the colours of the rainbow were discernable, not in floral spring, but in the faces of the people whom it nibbled and pinched. And ever the wind sawed, and the sawdust whirled.
- p. 147
– ’This is not a flowery neighbourhood. It’s anything but that. And yet as I sit at work, I smell miles of flowers. I smell roses, till I think I see the rose-leaves lying in heaps, bushels, on the floor. I smell fallen leaves, till I put down my hand - so - and expect to make them rustle. I smell the white and the pink May in the hedges, and all sorts of flowers that I never was among. For I have seen very few flowers indeed, in my life.’;
’Pleasant fancies to have, Jenny dear!’; said her friend: with a glance towards Eugene as if she would have asked him whether they were given the child in compensation for her losses.
’So I think, Lizzie, when they come to me. And the birds I hear! Oh!’; cried the little creature, holding out her hand and looking upward, ’how they sing!’;
There was something in the face and action for the moment, quite inspired and beautiful. Then the chin dropped musingly upon the hand again.
’I dare say my birds sing better than other birds, and my flowers smell better than other flowers. For when I was a little child,’; in a tone as though it were ages ago, ’the children that I used to see early in the morning were very different from any others that I ever saw. They were not like me; they were not chilled, anxious, ragged or beaten; they were never in pain. They were not like the children of the neighbours; they never made me tremble all over, by setting up shrill noises, and they never mocked me. Such numbers of them too! All in white dresses, and with something shining on the borders, and on their heads, that I have never been able to imitate with my work, though I know it so well. They used to come down in long bright slanting rows, and say all together, ’Who is this in pain! Who is this in pain!’ When I told them who it was, they answered, ’Come and play with us!’ When I said ’I never play! I can’t play!’ they swept about me and took me up, and made me light. Then it was all delicious ease and rest till they laid me down and said, all together, ’Have patience, and we will come again.’ Whenever they came back, I used to know they were coming before I saw the long bright rows, by hearing them ask, all together a long way off, ’Who is this in pain! Who is this in pain!’ And I used to cry out, ’O my blessed children, it’s poor me. Have pity on me. Take me up and make me light!’’;
- p. 238
– A man stumbled against him as he turned away, who mumbled some maudlin apology. Looking after this man, Eugene saw him go in at the door by which he himself had just come out.
On the man’s stumbling into the room, Lizzie rose to leave it.
’Don’t go away, Miss Hexam,’; he said in a submissive manner, speaking thickly and with difficulty. ’Don’t fly from unfortunate man in shattered state of health. Give poor invalid honor of your company. It ain’t - ain’t catching.’;
Lizzie murmured that she had something to do in her own room, and went away upstairs.
’How’s my Jenny?’; said the man, timidly. ’How’s my Jenny Wren, best of children, object dearest affections broken-hearted invalid?’;
To which the person of the house, stretching out her arm in an attitude of command, replied with irresponsive asperity: ’Go along with you! Go along into your corner! Get into your corner directly!’;
The wretched spectacle made as if he would have offered some remonstrance, but not venturing to resist the person of the house, thought better of it, and went and sat down on a particular chair of disgrace.
’Oh-h-h!’; cried the person of the house, pointing her little finger, ’You bad old boy! Oh-h-h you naughty, wicked creature! What do you mean by it?’;
The shaking figure, unnerved and disjointed from head to foot, put out its two hands a little way, as making overtures of peace and reconciliation. Abject tears stood in its eyes, and stained the blotched red of its cheeks. The swollen lead-coloured under lip trembled with a shameful whine. The whole indecorous threadbare ruin, from the broken shoes to the prematurely-grey scanty hair, grovelled. Not with any sense worthy to be called a sense, of this dire reversal of the places of parent and child, but in a pitiful expostulation to be let off from a scolding.
’I know your tricks and your manners,’; cried Miss Wren. ’Í know where you’ve been to!’; (which indeed it did not require discernment to discover). ’Oh, you disgraceful old chap!’;
The very breathing of the figure was contemptible, as it laboured and rattled in that operation, like a blundering clock.
’Slave, slave, slave, from morning to night,’; pursued the person of the house, ’and all for this! What do you mean by it?’;
There was something in that emphasized ’What,’; which absurdly frightened the figure. As often as the person of the house worked her way round to it - even as soon as he saw that it was coming - he collapsed in an extra degree.
’I wish you had been taken up, and locked up,’; said the person of the house. ’I wish you had been poked into cells and black holes, and run over by rats and spiders and beetles. I know their tricks and their manners, and they’d have tickled you nicely. Ain’t you ashamed of yourself?’;
’Yes, my dear,’; stammered the father.
’Then,’; said the person of the house, terrifying him by a grand muster of her spirits and forces before recurring to the emphatic word, ’What do you mean by it?’;
’Circumstances over which had no control,’; was the miserable creature’s plea in extenuation.
’I’ll circumstance you and control you too,’; retorted the person of the house, speaking with vehement sharpness, ’if you talk in that way. I’ll give you in charge to the police, and have you fined five shillings when you can’t pay, and then I won’t pay the money for you, and you’ll be transported for life. How should you like to be transported for life?’;
’Shouldn’t like it. Poor shattered invalid. Trouble nobody long,’; cried the wretched figure.
’Come, come!’; said the person of the house, tapping the table near her in a business-like manner, and shaking her head and her chin; ’you know what you’ve got to do. Put down your money this instant.’;
- p. 239
– "We are thankful to come here for rest, sir," said Jenny. "You see, you don’t know what the rest of this place is to us, does he, Lizzie? It’s the quiet, and the air."
"The quiet!" repeated Fledgeby, with a contemptuous tum of his head towards the City’s roar. "And the air!" with a "Poof!" at the smoke.
"Ahl" said Jenny. "But it’s so high. And you see the clouds rushing on above the narrow streets, not minding them, and you see the golden arrows pointing at the mountains in the sky from which the wind comes, and you feel as if you were dead."
The little creature looked above her, holding up her slight transparent hand.
"How do you feel when you are dead?" asked Fledgeby, much perplexed.
"Oh, so tranquil" cried the little creature, smiling. "Oh, so peaceful and so thankful And you hear the people who are alive, crying, and working, and calling to one another down in the close dark streets, and you seem to pity them sol And such a chain has fallen from you, and such a strange good sorrowful happiness comes upon you!"
Her eyes fell on the old man, who, with ltis hands folded, quietly looked on.
"Why it was only just now," said the little creature, pointing at him, "that I fancied I saw him come out of his grave! He toiled out at that low door so bent and wom, and then he took his breath and stood upright, and looked all round him at the sky, and the wind blew upon him, and his life down in the dark was over! - Till he was called back to life," she added, looking round at Fledgeby with that lower look of sharpness. "Why did you call him back?"
"He was long enough coming, anyhow," grumbled Fledgeby. "But you are not dead, you know," said Jenny Wren. "Get down to life!"
- p. 279
– If Wegg had been worse paid for his office, or better qualified to discharge it, he would have considered these visits complimentary and agreeable, but, holding the position of a handsomely-remunerated humbug. he resented them. This was quite according to rule, for the incompetent servant, by whomsoever employed, is always against his employer. Even those born governors, noble and right honourable creatures, who have been the most imbecile in high places, have uniformly shown themselves the most opposed (sometimes in belying distrust, sometimes in vapid insolence) to their employer. What is in such wise true of the public master and servant, is equally true of the private master and servant all the world over.
- p. 294
– The doctor came in too, to see how it fared with Johnny. And he and Rokesmith stood together, looking down with compassion on him.
’What is it, Johnny?’; Rokesmith was the questioner, and put an arm around the poor baby as he made a struggle.
’Him!’; said the little fellow. ’Those!’;
The doctor was quick to understand children, and, taking the horse, the ark, the yellow bird, and the man in the Guards, from Johnny’s bed, softly placed them on that of his next neighbour, the mite with the broken leg.
With a weary and yet a pleased smile, and with an action as if he stretched his little figure out to rest, the child heaved his body on the sustaining arm, and seeking Rokesmith’s face with his lips said:
’A kiss for the boofer lady’;.
Having now bequeathed all he had to dispose of, and arranged his affairs in this world, Johnny, thus speaking, left it.
- p. 327
– Pleasant Riderhood had it, in the blood, or had been trained, to regard seamen, within certain limits, as her prey. Show her a man in a blue jacket, and, figuratively speaking, she pinned him instantly. Yet all things considered, she was not of an evil mind or an unkindly disposition. For, observe how many things were to be considered according to her own unfortunate experience. Show Pleasant Riderhood a Wedding in the street, and she only saw two people taking out a regular license to quarrel and fight. Show her a Christening, and she saw a little heathen personage having a quite superfluous name bestowed upon it, inasmuch as it would be commonly addressed by some abusive epithet: which little personage was not in the least wanted by anybody, and would be shoved and banged out of everybody’s way, until it should grow big enough to shove and bang. Show her a Funeral, and she saw an unremunerative ceremony in the nature of a black masquerade, conferring a temporary gentility on the performers, at an immense expense, and representing the only formal party ever given by the deceased. Show her a live father, and she saw but a duplicate of her own father, who from her infancy had been taken with fits and starts of discharging his duty to her, which duty was always incorporated in the form of a fist or leather strap, and being discharged hurt her. All things considered, therefore, Pleasant Riderhood was not so very, very bad. There was even a touch of romance in her - of such romance as could creep into Limehouse Hole - and maybe sometimes of a summer evening, when she stood with folded arms at her shop-door, looking from the reeking street to the sky where the sun was setting, she may have had some vaporous visions of far-off islands in the southern seas or elsewhere (not being geographically particular), where it would be good to roam with a congenial partner among groves of bread-fruit, waiting for ships to be wafted from the hollow ports of civilization. For, sailors to be got the better of, were essential to Miss Pleasant’s Eden.
- p. 345
– A grey dusty withered evening in London city has not a hopeful aspect. The closed warehouses and offices have an air of death about them, and the national dread of colour has an air of mourning. The towers and steeples of the many house-encompassed churches, dark and dingy as the sky that seems descending on them, are no relief to the general gloom; a sun-dial on a church-wall has the look, in its useless black shade, of having failed in its business enterprise and stopped payment for ever; melancholy waifs and strays of house-keepers and porters sweep melancholy waifs and strays of papers and pins into the kennels, and other more melancholy waifs and strays explore them, searching and stooping and poking for anything to sell. The set of humanity outward from the City is as a set of prisoners departing from gaol, and dismal Newgate seems quite as fit a stronghold for the mighty Lord Mayor as his own state-dwelling.
- p. 386
– Taking her eyes off her newspaper, and pausing with a suspended expression of countenance, as if she must finish the paragraph in hand before undertaking any other business whatever, Miss Abbey demanded, with some slight asperity: ’Now then, what’s for you?’;
’Could we see Miss Potterson?’; asked the old man, uncovering his head.
’You not only could, but you can and you do,’; replied the hostess.
- p. 433
– What to believe, in the course of his reading, was Mr. Boffin’s chief literary difficulty indeed; for some time he was divided in his mind between half, all, or none; at length, when he decided, as a moderate man, to compound with half, the question still remained, which half? And that stumbling-block he never got over.
- p. 470
– Most illogical, inconsequential, and light-handed this; but travellers in the valley of the shadow of death are apt to be light-headed; and worn-out old people of low estate have a trick of reasoning as indifferently as they live, and doubtless would appreciate our Poor Law more philosophically on an income of ten thousand a year.
- p. 504
– But, for all that, they had a very pleasant walk. The trees were bare of leaves, and the river was bare of water lilies; but the sky was not bare of its beautiful blue, and the water reflected it, and a delicious wind ran with the stream, touching the surface crisply. Perhaps the old mirror was never yet made by human hands, which, if all the images it has in its time reflected could pass across its surface again, would fail to reveal some scene of horror or distress. But the great serene mirror of the river seemed as if it might have reproduced all it had ever reflected between those placid banks, and brought nothing to the light save what was peaceful, pastoral, and blooming.
- p. 514
– ’You charm me, Mortimer, with your reading of my weaknesses. (By-the-by, that very word, Reading, in its critical use, always charms me. An actress’s Reading of a chambermaid, a dancer’s Reading of a hornpipe, a singer’s Reading of a song, a marine-painter’s Reading of the sea, the kettle-drum’s Reading of an instrumental passage, are phrases ever youthful and delightful.)’;
- p. 532
– It was a Saturday evening, and at such a time the village dogs, always much more interested in the doings of humanity than in the affairs of their own species, were particularly active. At the general shop, at the butcher’s and at the public house, they evinced an inquiring spirit never to be satiated. Their especial interest in the public-house would seem to imply some latent rakishness in the canine character; for little was eaten there, and they, having no taste for beer or tobacco (Mrs. Hubbard’s dog is said to have smoked, bur proof is wanting), could only have been attracted by sympathy with loose convivial habits. Moreover, a most wretched fiddle played within; a fiddle so unutterably vile, that one can long-bodied cur, with a better ear than the rest, found himself under compulsion at intervals to go round the comer and howl. Yet, even he returned to the public-house on each occasion with the tenacity of a confirmed drunkard.
- p. 673
– ’I reflected - clearly reflected for the first time - that in bending my neck to the yoke I was willing to wear, I bent the unwilling necks of the whole Jewish people. For it is not, in Christian countries, with the Jews as with other peoples. Men say, ’This is a bad Greek, but there are good Greeks. This is a bad Turk, but there are good Turks.’ Not so with the Jews. Men find the bad among us easily enough - among what peoples are the bad not easily found? - but they take the worst of us as samples of the best; they take the lowest of us as presentations of the highest; and they say ’All Jews are alike.’ If, doing what I was content to do here, because I was grateful for the past and have small need of money now, I had been a Christian, I could have done it, compromising no one but my individual self. But doing it as a Jew, I could not choose but compromise the Jews of all conditions and all countries.
- p. 707;
The Last Chronicle of Barset, by Anthony Trollope (1867)
– It is freezing as hard as it can freeze, and they might as well try to hunt in Lapland as here.
"They’ll console themselves with skating,” said Mrs Dale.
"Have you ever observed, Grace,’ said Miss Dale, “how much amusement gentlemen require, and how imperative it is that some other game should be provided when one game fails?”
“Not particularly,” said Grace.
"Oh, but it is so. Now, with women, it is supposed that they can amuse themselves or live without amusement. Once or twice in a year, perhaps something is done for them. There is an arrow shooting party, or a ball, or a picnic. But the catering for men’s sport is never-ending, and is always paramount to everything else. And yet the pet game of the day never goes off properly. In partridge time, the partridges are wild, and won’t come to be killed. In hunting time the foxes won’t run straight-the wretches. They show no spirit, and will take to ground to save their brushes. Then comes a nipping frost, and skating is proclaimed; but the ice is always rough, and the woodcocks have deserted the country. And as for salmon - when the summer comes round I do really believe that they suffer a great deal about the salmon. I’m sure they never catch any. So they go back to their clubs and their cards, and their billiards, and abuse their cooks and blackball their friends.”
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 91
– ’You believe, then,’ said Mr Crawley, speaking very slowly, that I did steal the money. Speak out, Dan; I shall not be angry. As you go you are honest men, and I want to know what such of you think about it.”
"He don’t think nothing of the kind,’ said the woman, almost getting out of bed in her energy. ’If he’d athought the like o’ that in his head, I’d read ’un such a lesson he’d never think again the longest day he had to live.”
- p. 121
– Mrs Dobbs Broughton probably loved her husband in a sensible, humdrum way, feeling him to be a bore, knowing him to be vulgar, aware that he often took a good deal more wine than was good for him, and that he was almost as uneducated as a hog Yer she loved him, and showed her love by taking care that he should have things for dinner which he liked to eat.
- p. 267
– After this the archdeacon walked away, and would not argue the matter any further with his wife at that moment. He knew very well that he could not get the better of her, and was apt at such moments to think that she took an unfair advantage of him by keeping her temper.
- p. 565
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens (1870)
– An ancient English Cathedral town? How can the ancient English Cathedral town be here? The well-known massive grey square tower of its old cathedral? How can that be here! There is no spike of rusty iron in the air, between the eye and it, from any point of the real prospect. What is the spike that intervenes, and who has it set up? Maybe, it is set up by the Sultan’s orders for the impaling of a horde of Turkish robbers, one by one. It is so, for cymbals clash, and the Sultan goes by to his palace in long procession. Ten thousand scimitars flash in the sunlight, and thrice ten thousand dancing-girls strew flowers. Then, follow white elephants caparisoned in countless gorgeous colours, and infinite in number and attendants. Still, the Cathedral tower rises in the background, where it cannot be, and still no writhing figure is on the grim spike. Stay! Is the spike so low a thing as the rusty spike on the top of a post of an old bedstead that has tumbled all awry? Some vague period of drowsy laughter must be devoted to the consideration of this possibility.
Shaking from head to foot, the man whose scattered consciousness has thus fantastically pieced itself together, at length rises, supports his trembling frame upon his arms, and looks around. He is in the meanest and closest of small rooms.
- the opening paragraph
– A drowsy city, Cloisterham, whose inhabitants seem to suppose, with an inconsistency more strange than rare, that all its changes lie behind it, and that there are no more to come.
– the smallest worm will turn, being trodden on
- Shakespeare, Henry VI pt. 3, II.ii.17 (referred to in Edwin Drood, p. 58)
– "So long as a man rides his hobby-horse peacefully and quietly along the king’s Highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him, -, pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?"
- Laurence Sterne, Tristam Shandy, vol. I, ch. 7 (referred to in Edwin Drood, p. 237)
– A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful, with the lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds, scents from gardens, woods and fields - or rather, from the one great garden of the whole cultivated island in its yielding time - penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its earthly odour, and preach the Resurrection and the Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago grow warm, and flecks of brightness dart into the sternest marble corners of the building, fluttering there like wings.
- the beginning of the last page of of the first half of Edwin Drood, written by Dickens on the day he died unexpectedly at the age of 58.
The Eustace Diamonds, by Anthony Trollope (1870)
– It was admitted by all her friends, and also by her enemies - who were in truth the more numerous and active body of the two - that Lizzie Greystock had done very well with herself.
- the opening sentence
– ’She looks like a beautiful animal that you are afraid to caress for fear it should bite you; - an animal that would be beautiful if its eyes were not so restless, and its teeth so sharp and so white.’;
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 147
– Lady Fawn talked about Parliament, and professed to pity a poor lover who was so bound to his country that he could not see his mistress above once a fortnight. ’But there’ll be a good time coming next month,’; she said; - for it was near July. ’Though the girls can’t make their claims felt, the grouse can.’;
- p. 202
– To be alone with a girl to whom he is not engaged, is a man’s delight; - to be alone with the man to whom she is engaged is the woman’s.
- p. 204
– ’I daresay the play may be very bad,’; she said, ’but it can hardly be so bad as real life.’;
- p. 505
– Evil-doing will be spoken of with bated breath and soft words even by policemen, when the evil-doer comes in a carriage, and with a title.
- p. 714
Middlemarch, by George Eliot (1872)
– ’No, dear, no,’ said Dorothea, stroking her sister’s check. ’Souls have complexions too what will suit one will not suit another
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 12
– ’How very beautiful these gems are!’ said Dorothea, under a new current of feeling, as sudden as the gleam. ’It is strange how deeply colours seem to penetrate one, like scent. I suppose that is the reason why gems are used as spiritual emblems in the Revelation of St John
They look like fragments of heaven.
- p. 13
– The mistakes that we male and female mortals make when we have our own way might fairly raise some wonder that we are so fond of it.
- p. 73
– Mary was fond of her own thoughts, and could amuse herself well sitting in twilight with her hands in her lap; for, having early had strong reason to believe that things were not likely to be arranged for her peculiar satisfaction, she wasted no time in astonishment and annoyance at that fact.
- p. 314
– Having made this rather lofty comparison I am less uneasy in calling attention to the existence of low people by whose interference, however little we may like it, the course of the world is very much determined. It would be well, certainly, if we could help to reduce their number, and something might perhaps be done by not lightly giving occasion to their existence.
- p. 412
– When was sciolism ever dissociated from laxity?
- p. 421
– But it is one thing to like defiance, and another thing to like its consequences.
- p. 462
_To be candid, in Middlemarch phraseology, meant to use an early opportunity of letting your friends know that you did not take a cheerful view of their capacity, their conduct, or their position, and a robust candour never waited to be asked for its opinion.
- p. 741
– Du Erde warst auch diese Nacht beständig
Und athmest neu erquickt zu meinen Füssen,
Beginnest schon mit Lust mich zu umgeben.
Du regst und rührst ein kräftiges Beschliessen
Zum höchsten Dasein immerfort zu streben.
(Thou, Earth, also stood unshaken this night,
And now breathe refreshed before me,
Beginning to surround me with pleasures
You arouse and move in me a strong resolution,
Constantly to strive towards the highest existence.)
- p. 791, citation from Goethe’s Faust Part 2 at the head of Chapter 81, untranslated.
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (1874)
– To persons standing alone on a hill during a clear midnight such as this—the roll of the world eastward is almost a palpable movement. The sensation may be caused by the panoramic glide of the stars past earthly objects, which is perceptible in a few minutes of stillness or by a fancy that the better outlook upon space afforded by a hill emphasizes terrestrial revolution, or by the wind; or by the solitude; but whatever be its origin the impression of riding along is vivid and abiding. The poetry of motion is a phrase much in use, and to enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, first enlarging the consciousness with a sense of difference from the mass of civilized mankind, who are horizontal and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars. After such a nocturnal reconnaissance among these astral clusters, aloft from the customary haunts of thought and vision, some men may feel raised to a capability for eternity at once.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 9
– One afternoon it began to freeze, and the frost increased with evening, which drew on like a stealthy tightening of bonds. It was a time when in cottages the breath of the sleepers freezes to the sheets, when round the drawing room fire of a thick-walled mansion the sitters’ hacks are cold even whilst their faces are all aglow. Many a small bird went to bed supperless that night among the bare boughs.
- p. 18
– "It was not exactly the fault of the hut," she observed, speaking in a tone which showed her to be that novelty among women-one who finished a thought before beginning the sentence which was to convey it.
- p. 19
– He wished she knew his impressions, but he would as soon have thought of carrying an odour in a net as of attempting to convey the intangibilities of his feeling in the coarse meshes of language. So he remained silent.
- p. 19
- "I have tried hard all the time I’ve been thinking: for a marriage would be very nice in one sense. People would talk about me, and think I had won my battle, and I should feel triumphant, and all that. But a husband—“
"Why, he’d always be there, as you say: whenever I looked up, there he’d be."
"Of course he would—I that is."
"Well, what I mean is that I shouldn’t mind being a bride at a wedding if I could be one without having a husband. But since a woman can’t show off in that way by herself I shan’t marry—at least yet."
- p. 27
– This dog had originally belonged to a shepherd of inferior morals and dreadful temper, and the result was that George knew the exact degree of condemnation signified by cursing and swearing of all descriptions better than the wickedest old man in the neighbourhood. Long experience had so precisely taught the animal the difference between such exclamations as "Come in!" and "D—ye, come in!" that he knew to a hair’s breadth the rate of trotting back from the ewes’ tails that each call involved, if a staggerer with the sheep-crook was to be escaped. Though old, he was clever and trustworthy still.
The young dog, George’s son, might possibly have been the image of his mother, for there was not much resemblance between him and George. He was learning the sheep-keeping business, so as to follow on at the flock when the other should die, but had got no further than the rudiments as yet - still finding an insuperable difficulty in distinguishing between doing a thing well enough and doing it too well. So earnest and yet so wrong-headed was this young dog he had no name in particular and answered with perfect readiness to any pleasant interjection) that, if sent behind the flock to help them on, he did it so thoroughly that he would have chased them across the county with the greatest pleasure if not called off, or reminded when to stop by the example of old George.
- p. 30
– George’s son had done his work so thoroughly that he was considered too good a workman to live —and was, in fact, taken and tragically shot at twelve o’clock that same day—another instance of the untoward fate which so often attends dogs and other philosophers who follow out a train of reasoning to its logical conclusion, and attempt perfectly consistent conduct in a world made up so largely of compromise.
- p. 33
– Gabriel’s farm had been stocked by a dealer on the strength of Oak’s promising look and character who was receiving a percentage from the farmer till such time as the advance should be cleared off. Oak found that the value of stock, plant and implements which were really his own would be about sufficient to pay his debts, leaving himself a free man with the clothes he stood up in, and nothing more.
- p. 34
– "True, true, as the old woman said," observed a brisk young man — Mark Clark by name, a genial and pleasant gentleman whom to meet was to know, to know was to drink with, and to drink with was to pay for.
- p. 49
– "Heh-heh-heh!" laughed the married man with a hideous effort of appreciation, for he was as irrepressibly good-humoured under ghastly snubs as a parliamentary candidate on the hustings.
- p. 71
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain (1876)
– Tom was a glittering hero once more - the pet of the old, the envy of the young. His name even went into immortal print, for the village paper magnified him. There were some that believed he would be President, yet, if he escaped hanging.
- The Modern Library ed., p. 172
– Huck was always willing to take a hand in any enterprise that offered entertainment and required no capital, for he had a troublesome superabundance of that sort of time which is not money.
- p. 174
The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy (1878)
– The heaven being spread with this pallid screen, the earth with the darkest vegetation, their meeting-line at the horizon was clearly marked. In such contrast the heath wore the appearance of an instalment of night which had taken up its place before its astronomical hour was come: darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon, while day stood distinct in the sky. Looking upwards, a furze-cutter would have been inclined to continue work; looking down, he would have decided to finish his faggot and go home. The distant rims of the world and of the firmament seemed to be a division in time no less than a division in matter. The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half-an-hour to eve; it could in like manner retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of storms scarcely generated, and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking and dread.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 9
– “Where has he been living all these years?”
“In that rookery of pomp and vanity, Paris, I believe."
- p. 104
– I suppose you will be like your father; like him, you are getting weary of doing well."
"No,’ said her son, ’I am not weary of that, though I am weary of what you mean by it. Mother, what is doing well?
Mrs. Yeobright was far too thoughtful a woman to be content with ready definitions, and, like the "What is wisdom?" of Plato’s Socrates, and the “What is truth?” of Pontius Pilate. Yeobright’s burning question received no answer.
- p. 175
The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James (1881)
– Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
- the opening sentence
– At present, obviously, nevertheless, he was not likely to displace himself, his journeys were over and he was taking the rest that precedes the great rest.
- Modern Library Classics ed., p. 5
– “I’ve been comfortable so many years that I suppose I’ve got so used to it I don’t know it."
"Yes, that’s the bore of comfort," said Lord Warburton. "We only know when we’re uncomfortable."
- p. 7
– Henrietta, on her side, failed a little to justify Isabel’s declaration with regard to her indifference to masculine opinion; for poor Ralph appeared to have presented himself to her as an irritating problem, which it would be almost immoral not to work out.
- p. 82
– She knew how to think—an accomplishment rare in women, and she had thought to very good purpose. Of course, too, she knew how to feel; Isabel couldn’t have spent a week with her without being sure of that. This was indeed Madame Merle’s great talent, her most perfect gift. Life had told upon her, she had felt it strongly, and it was part of the satisfaction to be taken in her society that when the girl talked of what she was pleased to call serious matters this lady understood her so easily and quickly. Emotion, it is true, had become with her rather historic, she made no secret of the fact that the fount of passion, thanks to having been rather violently tapped at one period, didn’t flow quite so freely as of yore. She proposed moreover, as well as expected, to cease feeling, she freely admitted that of old she had been a little mad, and now she pretended to be perfectly sane.
- p. 178
– There were both satisfactions and drawbacks; the drawbacks were numerous strangers were too apt to see such a world as all romantic. It met the case soothingly for the human, for the social failure—by which he meant the people who couldn’t “realise," as they said, on their sensibility: they could keep it about them there, in their poverty, without ridicule, as you might keep an heirloom or an inconvenient entailed place that brought you in nothing. Thus there were advantages in living in the country which contained the greatest sum of beauty. Certain impressions you could get only there. Others, favourable to life, you never got, and you got some that were very bad. But from time to time you got one of a quality that made up for everything, Italy, all the same, had spoiled a great many people, he was even fatuous enough to believe at times that he himself might have been a better man if he had spent less of his life there. It made one idle and dilettantish and second-rate, it had no discipline for the character, didn’t cultivate in you, otherwise expressed, the successful social and other cheek that flourished in Paris and London. "We’re sweetly provincial," said Mr. Osmond, and I’m perfectly aware that I myself am as rusty as a key that has no lock to fit it. It polishes me up a little to talk to you-not that I venture to pretend I can turn that very complicated lock I suspect your intellect of being! But you’ll be going away before I’ve seen you three times, and I shall perhaps never see you after that. That’s what it is to live in a country that people come to. When they’re disagreeable here it’s bad enough, when they’re agreeable it’s still worse As soon as you like them they’re off again!
- p. 245
– Henrietta wandered away with Me. Bantling, whom it was apparently delightful to her to hear speak of Julius Cæsar as a "cheeky old boy."
- p. 273
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (1884)
– The stars was shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me and I couldn’t make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that’s on its mind and can’t make itself understood, and so can’t rest easy in its grave and has to go about that way every night grieving. I got so down-hearted and scared, I did wish I had some company. Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was all shrivelled up. I didn’t need anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off of me. I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep the witches away. But I hadn’t no confidence. You do that when you’ve lost a horse-shoe that you’ve found, instead of nailing it up over the door, but I hadn’t ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep off bad luck when you’d killed a spider.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 11
– Seemed like I’d die if I couldn’t scratch. Well, I’ve noticed that thing plenty of times since. If you are with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you ain’t sleepy - if you are anywheres where it won’t do for you to scratch, why you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places.
- p. 13
Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy (1891)
– I will just add that the story is sent out in all sincerity of purpose, as representing on the whole a true sequence of things and I would ask any too genteel reader who cannot endure to have it said what everybody thinks and feels, to remember a well-worn sentence of St. Jerome’s: If an offence come out of the truth, better is it that the offence come than that the truth be concealed!
- from the introductory Explanation by the author
– The village of Marlott lay amid the north-eastern undulations of the beautiful Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor aforesaid, an engirdled and secluded region, for the most part untrodden as yet by tourist or landscape painter, though within a four hours journey from London.
- the first paragraph
– With no longer a companion to distract her, Tess fell more deeply into reverie than ever, her back leaning against the hives. The mute procession past her of trees and hedges became attached to fantastic scenes outside reality, and the occasional heave of the wind became the sigh of some immense sad soul, conterminous with the universe in space, and with history in time,
- the Penguin Classics edition, p. 32
– It was a hazy sunrise in August. The denser nocturnal vapours, attacked by the warm beams, were dividing and shrinking into isolated fleeces within hollows and coverts, where they waited till they should be dried away to nothing.
The sun, on account of the mist, had a curious sentient, personal look, demanding the masculine pronoun for its adequate expression. His present aspect, coupled with the lack of all human forms in the scene, explained the old-time heliolatries in a moment. One could feel that a saner religion had never prevailed under the sky. The luminary was a golden-haired, beaming-faced, mild-eyed, God-like creature, gazing down in the vigour and intentness of youth upon an earth that was brimming with interest for him.
- p. 86
– The thought of Pascal’s was brought home to him: "À mesure qu’on a plus d’esprit, on trouve qu’il y a plus d’hommes originaux. Les gens du commun ne trouvent pas de différence entre les hommes"(*). The typical and unvarying Hodge ceased to exist. He had been disintegrated into a number of varied fellow-creatures — beings of many minds, beings infinite in difference; some happy, many serene, a few depressed, one here and there bright even to genius, some stupid, others wanton, others austere; some mutely Miltonic, some potentially Cromwellian; into men who had private views of each other, as he had of his friends; who could applaud or condemn each other, amuse or sadden themselves by the contemplation of each other’s foibles or vices, men every one of whom walked in his own individual way the road to dusty death.
(*) The more intelligent a man is, the more likely he is to appreciate distinctiveness in others. Ordinary people discern no difference between men. (untranslated in the text)
- p. 118
– When she ceased the auricular impressions from their previous endearments seemed to hustle away into the corners of their brains, repeating themselves as echoes from a time of supremely purblind foolishness.
- p. 227
– The mill still worked on, food being a perennial necessity; the abbey had perished, creeds being transient. One continually sees the ministration of the temporary outlasting the ministration of the eternal.
- p. 233
– They walked on together, and soon reached the farmhouse, which was almost sublime in its dreariness. There was not a tree within sight: there was not at this season, a green pasture-nothing but fallow and turnips everywhere; in large fields divided by hedges plashed to unrelieved levels.
- p. 284
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
- There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
- The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are!
- The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing.
- As for believing things, I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.
- With an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stock-broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized.
- She tried to found a salon, and only succeeded in opening a restaurant.
- You like everyone; that is to say, you are indifferent to every one.
- I quite sympathize with the rage of the English democracy against what they call the vices of the upper orders. The masses feel that drunkenness, stupidity, and immorality should be their own special property, and that if any one of us makes an ass of himself, he is poaching on their preserves. When poor Southwark got into the divorce court, their indignation was quite magnificent.
- If one puts forward an idea to a true Englishman—always a rash thing to do—he never dreams of considering whether the idea is right or wrong. The only thing he considers of any importance is whether one believes it oneself.
- I think you are wrong, Basil, but I won’t argue with you. It is only the intellectually lost who ever argue.
- The thoroughly well-informed man—that is the modern ideal. And the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-à-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value.
- The worst of having a romance of any kind is that it leaves one so unromantic.
- Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love’s tragedies.
- It is so tedious a subject that one would have to talk seriously about it.
- People say sometimes that beauty is only superficial. That may be so, but at least it is not so superficial as thought is.
- The only difference between a caprice and a lifelong passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.
- (He) had retired from the diplomatic service in a capricious moment of annoyance on not being offered the Embassy at Paris, a post to which he considered that he was fully entitled by reason of his birth, his indolence, the good English of his dispatches, and his inordinate passion for pleasure.
- His principles were out of date, but there was a good deal to be said for his prejudices.
- I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones.
- Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.
- I don’t desire to change anything in England except the weather.
- Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.
- He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.
- She was usually in love with somebody, and, as her passion was never returned, she had kept all her illusions.
- I like Wagner’s music better than anybody’s. It is so loud that one can talk the whole time without other people hearing what one says.
- A grande passion is the privilege of people who have nothing to do. That is the one use of the idle classes of a country.
- When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others.
- He says things that annoy me. He gives me good advice.
- Women defend themselves by attacking, just as they attack by sudden and strange surrenders.
- Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.
- Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.
- The real drawback to marriage is that it makes one unselfish. And unselfish people are colourless.
- I asked the question for the best reason possible, for the only reason, indeed, that excuses one for asking any question—simple curiosity.
- When we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not always happy.
- Being adored is a nuisance. Women treat us just as humanity treats its gods. They worship us, and are always bothering us to do something for them.
- A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?
- I love acting. It is so much more real than life.
- There is a fatality about good resolutions—that they are always made too late.
- The one charm of the past is that it is the past.
- Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.
- We live in an age that reads too much to be wise, and that thinks too much to be beautiful.
- I love scandals about other people, but scandals about myself don’t interest me. They have not got the charm of novelty.
- The wild desire to live, most terrible of all man’s appetites.
- One regrets the loss even of one’s worst habits. Perhaps one regrets them the most. They are such an essential part of one’s personality.
- To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.
The Way of all Flesh, by Samuel Butler (1903)
– O schoolmasters—if any of you read this book-bear in mind when any particularly timid, drivelling urchin is brought by his papa into your study, and you treat him with the contempt which he deserves, and afterwards make his life a burden to him for years bear in mind that it is exactly in the disguise of such a boy as this that your future chronicler will appear. Never see a wretched little heavy-eyed mite sitting on the edge of a chair against your study wall without saying to yourselves, "Perhaps this boy is he who, if I am not careful, will one day tell the world what manner of man I was." If even two or three schoolmasters learn this lesson and remember it, the preceding chapters will not have been written in vain.
- The Modern Library Classics ed., p. 129
– The advantage of doing one’s praising for oneself is that one can lay it on so heavy and thick and exactly in the right places.
- p. 157
– Some people say that their school days were the happiest of their lives. They may be right, but I always look with suspicion upon those whom I hear saying this. It is hard enough to know whether one is happy or unhappy now, and still harder to compare the relative happiness or unhappiness of different times of one’s life; the utmost that can be said is that we are fairly happy so long as we are not distinctly aware of being miserable. As I was talking with Ernest one day not so long since about this, he said he was so happy now that he was sure he had never been happier, and did not wish to be so, but that Cambridge was the first place where he had ever been consciously and continuously happy.
- p. 209
– A man can stand being told that he must submit to a severe surgical operation, or that he has some disease which will shortly kill him, or that he will be a cripple or blind for the rest of his life; dreadful as such tidings must be, we do not find that they unnerve the greater number of mankind; most men, indeed, go coolly enough even to be hanged, but the strongest quail before financial ruin, and the better men they are, the more complete, as a general rule, is their prostration. Suicide is a common consequence of money losses, it is rarely sought as a means of escape from bodily suffering. If we feel that we have a competence at our backs, so that we can die warm and quietly in our beds, with no need to worry about expense, we live our lives out to the dregs, no matter how excruciating our torments, Job probably felt the loss of his flocks and herds more than that of his wife and family, for he could enjoy his flocks and herds without his family, but not his family-not for long-if he had lost all his money. Loss of money indeed is not only the worst pain in itself, but it is the parent of all others. Let a man have been brought up to a moderate competence, and have no specialty; then let his money be suddenly taken from him, and how long is his health likely to survive the change in all his little ways which loss of money will entail? How long again is the esteem and sympathy of friends likely to survive ruin? People may be very sorry for us, but their attitude towards us hitherto has been based upon the supposition that we were situated thus or thus in money matters, when this breaks down there must be a restatement of the social problem so far as we are concerned; we have been obtaining esteem under false pretences.
- p. 306
– I now did what I ought to have done before, that is to say, I called on my own tailor whom I had dealt with for over a quarter of a century and asked his advice. He declared Ernest’s plan to be hopeless. "If," said Mr. Larkins, for this was my tailor’s name, "he had begun at fourteen, it might have done, but no man of twenty-four could stand being turned to work into a workshop full of tailors, he would not get on with the men, nor the men with him; you could not expect him to be ’hail fellow, well mer’ with them, and you could not expect his fellow workmen to like him if he was not. A man must have sunk low through drink or natural taste for low company, before he could get on with those who have had such a different training from his own."
Mr. Larkins said a great deal more and wound up by taking me to see the place where his own men worked. This is a paradise," he said, "compared to most workshops. What gentleman could stand this air, think you, for a fortnight?”
I was glad enough to get out of the hot, fetid atmosphere in five minutes, and saw that there was no brick of Ernest’s prison to be loosened by going and working among tailors in a workshop.
Mr. Larkins wound up by saying that even if my protégé were a much better workman than he probably was, no master would give him employment, for fear of creating a bother among the men.
I left, feeling that I ought to have thought of all this myself, and was more than ever perplexed as to whether I had not better let my young friend have a few thousand pounds and send him out to the colonies.
- p. 329
– I grant that the tendency of the times is to exaggerate the good which teaching can do, but in trying to teach too much, in most matters, we have neglected others in respect of which a little sensible teaching would do no harm
- p. 337
– If Universities were not the worst teachers in the world I should like to see professorships of speculation established at Oxford and Cambridge. When I reflect, however, that the only things worth doing which Oxford and Cambridge can do well are cooking, cricket, rowing and games, of which there is no professorship, I fear that the establishment of a professorial chair would end in teaching young men neither how to speculate, nor how not to speculate, but would simply turn them out as bad speculators.
- p. 368
– His house, he says, is wherever there is a good hotel. When he is in town he likes to work and to be quiet. When out of town he feels that he has left little behind him that can go wrong, and he would not like to be tied to a single locality. "I know no exception," he says, "to the rule that it is cheaper to buy milk than to keep a cow."
- p. 420
Cancer Ward, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1962)
– The permanent mutter - information you hadn’t asked for alternating with the music you hadn’t chosen (and quite unrelated to the mood you happened to be in) - was a theft of time, a diffusion and an entropy of the spirit, convenient and agreeable to the inert but intolerable to those with initiative. Epicurus’s fool with eternity in hand would probably find listening to the radio the only way to bear it.
- Vintage Classics ed., p. 273
– To Oleg exile was full of laughter and elation, and for that the Kadmins, an old couple he knew, were mainly responsible. The husband, Nikolai Ivanovitch, was a gynaecologist and his wife was called Elena Alexandrovna. Whatever happened to the exiled Kadmins, they kept saying, ’Isn’t that fine? Things are so much better than they used to be. How lucky we are to have landed in such a nice part of the world!’;
If they managed to get hold of a loaf of white bread - how wonderful! If they found a two-volume edition of Puastovsky in the bookshop - splendid! There was a good film on at the centre that day - marvellous! A dental technician had arrived to provide new dentures - excellent! Another gynaecologist had been sent there, a woman, an exile too - very good! Let her do the gynaecology and the illegal abortions, Nikolai Ivanovitch would take care of the general practice. There’d be less money but more peace of mind. And the sunsets over the steppe, orange, pink, flame-red, crimson and purple - superlative! Nikolai Ivanovitch, a small, slender man with greying hair, would take his wife by the arm (she was plump and growing heavy, partly through ill-health; he was as quick as she was slow) and they would march off solemnly past the last house of the village to watch the sun go down.
- p. 289
– In Ush-Terek in the year 1954, when the hydrogen bomb was already invented and people were chasing after standard lamps in the capital, this paraffin lamp on the round home-made table transformed the little clay hovel into a luxurious drawing-room of two centuries ago. What a triumph! As the three of them sat round it, Elena Alexandrovna would remark with feeling, ’You know, Oleg, life is so good. Apart from childhood, these have been the happiest days of my life.’;
And obviously she was right. It is not our level of prosperity that makes for happiness but the kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world. Both attitudes lie within our power, so that a man is happy as long as he chooses to be happy, and no one can stop him.
- p. 290
– The men in the ward were talking about the exiled minorities. Vadim had raised his head from his geology, looked at Rusanov, shrugged his shoulders and said so quietly that only Rusanov could hear, ’There must have been something in it. They wouldn’t exile people for nothing in our country.’;
By making such a correct observation Vadim had shown himself a thoroughly intelligent man of unshakeable principles.
- p. 334
Love and Garbage, by Ivan Klima (1986)
– I recently read an article in an American weekly about how fourteen complete idiots incapable of speech had learned "jerkish". That was the name of a language of 225 words, developed in Atlanta for mutual communications between humans and chimpanzees - for there was no doubt, the author of the article believed, that more and more unfortunate creatures would be able to talk to each other in jerkish. It occurred to me immediately that at last a language had been found in which the spirit of our age could speak, and because that language would spread rapidly from pole to pole, to the east and to the west, it would be the language of the future.
- Vintage ed., p. 48
– I was enjoying life, and so I rushed from one experience to another, until I became like some obsessive eater who, out of sheer greed for the next course, is unable to savour the one he is eating.
- p. 50
– I wanted to fall asleep, but I could feel the night creeping around me softly, like a cat out hunting, nothing mattering to it except its intended prey.
- p. 52
– The vision of paradise persists within us, and with it also the vision of togetherness. For in paradise there is no such thing as isolation, man lives there in the company of angels and in the proximity of God. In paradise we shall be ranged in a higher and eternal order, which eludes us on earth, where we are cast, where we are outcast.
- p. 179
– Out of his isolation man can be liberated not only by love but also by hate. Hate is mistakenly regarded as the opposite of love, whereas in reality it stands alongside love and the opposite of both of them is loneliness. We often believe that we are tied to someone by love, and meanwhile we’re only tied to them by hate, which we prefer to loneliness.
Hate will remain with us so long as we do not accept that loneliness is our only possible, or indeed necessary, fate.
- p. 180
– I want to wash up, but she asks me to leave everything and come to her. She’s lying down. I hold her hand. She looks at me, her eyes, as always, draw me into depths where there isn’t room for anything else, for anything except her.
- p. 183
– On the little table by the bed lie a few books. I pick up the one on top - short stories by Borges. I read her one of them. It is about a young man who is crucified for an illicit love affair.
The plot sounds outrageous to our ears, we’ve got used to the notion there’s no such thing as illicit love, or, more accurately, that all’s fair in love.
- p. 183
– Even a person who manages to lie his way through his whole life cannot escape from that one moment of truth, the moment from which there is no escape, from which he cannot lie or buy his way out.
- p. 187
– Kafka endeavoured to be honest in his writing, in his profession and in his love. At the same time he realised, or at least suspected, that a person who wants to live honestly chooses torture and renunciation, a monastic life devoted to a single God, and sacrifices everything for it. He could not, at the same time, be an honest writer and an honest lover, let alone husband, even though he longed to be both. For a very brief instant he was deluded into believing that he could manage both, and that was when he wrote most of his works. Every time, however, he saw through the illusion, he froze up, and stopped motionless in torment. He’d then either lay his manuscript aside and never return to it, or sever all his ties and ask his lovers to leave him.
- p. 188
– In his depression he began to reminisce about the years he’d spent in the forced labour camp. Among the prisoners there’d been so many unforgettable characters, who, even in these conditions, were aiming at higher things. Some of them had there, in the camp, received the sacrament of baptism, he himself had secretly baptised a few of them. Thinking back to those days it was clear to him that, in spite of all he’d been through, God’s love had not abandoned mankind. He believed, for just that reason, that he’d spent the best or at least the most meaningful years of his life there.
- p. 197
– The mountain tops were beginning to emerge from the darkness and the sky above them was turning pale. The mountain rose straight up, it towered, virtually eternal, into a sky that was even more eternal, while we mortals, here only for a single winking of the divine eye, have, in our longing to fill our lives, in our longing for ecstasy, filled our brief moment with suffering.
- p. 201
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)
– Mma Ramotswe smiled at her old friend. You can go through life and make new friends every year - every month practically - but there was never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel.
She reached out and touched Dr Maketsi on the arm, gently, as old friends will sometimes do when they have nothing more to say.
- David Philip ed., p. 212
– He said nothing. There were times when you simply had to speak, or you would have your lifetime ahead to regret not speaking. But every time he had tried to speak to her of what was in his heart, he had failed. He had already asked her to marry him and that had not been a great success. He did not have a great deal of confidence, at least with people; cars were different, of course.
"I am very happy sitting here with you..."
She turned to him. "What did you say?"
"I said, please marry me, Mma Ramotswe. I am just J.L.B. Matekoni, that’s all, but please marry me and make me happy."
"Of course I will," said Mma Ramotswe.
- the closing paragraph
Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee (1999)
– He lives within his income, within his temperament, within his emotional means. Is he happy? By most measurements, yes, he believes he is. However, he has not forgotten the last chorus of Oedipus: "Call no man happy until he is dead".
- Vintage ed., p. 2
– Although he devotes hours of each day to his new discipline, he finds its first premise, as enunciated in the Communications 101 handbook, preposterous: "Human society has created language in order that we may communicate our thoughts, feelings and intentions to each other." His own opinion, which he does not air, is that the origins of speech lie in song, and the origins of song in the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul.
- p. 3
– He continues to teach because it provides him with a livlihood; also because it teaches him humility, brings it home to him who he is in the world. The irony does not escape him: that the one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothing.
- p. 5
– He sighs. The young in one another’s arms, heedless, engrossed in the sensual music. No country, this, for old men. He seems to be spending a lot of time sighing. Regret: a regrettable note on which to go out.
- p. 190
The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton (2002)
– A man must swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead.
- Chamforth (quoted in The Art of Travel, Hamish Hamilton ed., p. 7)
– Nature was at her most benevolent. It was as if, in creating this small horseshoe bay, she had chosen to atone for her ill-temper in other regions and decided for once to display only her munificence. The trees provided shade and milk, the floor of the sea was lined with shells, the sand was powdery and the colour of sun-ripened wheat, and the air - even in the shade - had enveloping, profound warmth to it so unlike the fragility of northern European heat, always prone to cede, even in midsummer, to a more assertive, proprietary chill.
- p. 17
– In another paradox that Des Esseintes would have appreciated, it seems we may best be able to inhabit a place when we are not faced with the additional challenge of having to be there.
- p. 23
– Nowhere is the appeal of the airport more concentrated than in the television screens which hang in rows from terminal ceilings announcing the departure and arrival of flights and whose absence of aesthetic self-consciousness, whose workmanlike casing and pedestrian typefaces, do nothing to disguise their emotional charge or imaginative allure. Tokyo, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Warsaw, Seattle, Rio. The screens bear all the poetic resonance of the last line of James Joyce’s Ulysses: at once a record of where the novel was written and, no less importantly, a symbol of the cosmopolitan spirit behind its composition: ’Trieste, Zurich, Paris’.
- p. 39
– It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.
- p. 59
– If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.
- p. 60
– Humbolt was to be away from Europe for five years. On his return, he settled in Paris and over the next twenty years published a thirty-volume account of his travels entitled ’Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent’. The length of the work was an accurate measure of Humboldt’s achievements. Surveying these, Ralph Waldo Emerson was to write: ’Humboldt was one of those wonders of the world, like Aristotle, like Julius Caesar, like the Admirable Crichton, who appear from time to time as if to show us the possibilities of the human mind, the force and the range of the faculties - a universal man’.
- p. 105
– Humboldt’s early biographer, F.A. Schwarzenberg, subtitled his life of Humboldt ’What May be Accomplished in a Lifetime’, and summarized the areas of his extraordinary curiosity: ‘1. The knowledge of the earth and its inhabitants. 2. The discovery of the higher laws of nature, which govern the universe, men, animals, plants, and minerals. 3. The discovery of new forms of life. 4. The discovery of territories hitherto but imperfectly known, and their various productions. 5. The acquaintance with new species of the human race - their manners, language and historical traces of their culture.‘
- p. 107
– Anything I learnt [from my travels] would have to be justified by private benefit rather than by the interest of others. My discoveries would have to enliven me: They would have in some way to prove ‘life-enhancing’;.
The term was Nietzsche’s. In the autumn of 1873, Friedrich Nietzsche composed an essay in which he distinguished between collecting facts like an explorer or academic and using already well-known facts for the sake of inner, psychological enrichment. Unusually for a university professor, he denigrated the former activity and praised the latter. Entitling his essay ‘On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life’, Nietzsche began with the extraordinary assertion that collecting facts in a quasi-scientific way was a sterile pursuit. The real challenge was to use facts to enhance life. He quoted a sentence from Goethe: ‘I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity’.
- p. 112
– Travel twists our curiosity according to a superficial geographical logic, as superficial as if a university course were to prescribe books according to their size rather than subject matter.
- p. 125
– There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue ...
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
- Wordsworth, Ode to Immortality
This belief in small critical moments in nature explains Wordsworth’s unusually specific way of subtitling many of his poems. Foe example, the subtitle of Tintern Abbey, On revisiting the banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798, cites the exact day, month and year to suggest that a few moments in the countryside overlooking a valley could number among the most significant and useful of one’s life, and be as worthy of precise remembrance as a birthday or a wedding.
- p. 154
– We find the Works of Nature still more pleasant, the more they resemble those of Art.
- Joseph Addison, 1712 (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 212)
– From his interest in beauty and in its possession, Ruskin arrived at five central conclusions. Firstly, that beauty is the result of a complex number of factors that affect the mind psychologically and visually. Second, that humans have an innate tendency to respond to beauty and to desire to possess it. Thirdly, that there are many lower expressions of this desire for possession, including the desire to buy souvenirs and carpets, to carve one’s name in pillars and to take photographs. Fourthly, that there is only one way to possess beauty properly and that is through understanding it, through making ourselves conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) that are responsible for it. And lastly, that the most effective way of pursuing this conscious understanding is by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, through writing or drawing them, irrespective of whether we happen to have any talent for doing so.
- p. 220
– A man is born an artist as a hippopotamus is born a hippopotamus; and you can no more make yourself one than you can make yourself a giraffe.
- John Ruskin (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 221)
– A tradesman who had studied at the Working Men’s College reported what Ruskin had told him and his fellow students at the end of their course: ‘Now, remember, gentlemen, that I have not been trying to teach you to draw, only to see. Two men are walking through Clare Market, one of them comes out at the other end not a bit wiser than when he went in; the other notices a bit of parsley hanging over the edge of a butter-woman’s basket, and carries away with him images of beauty which in the course of his daily work he incorporates with it for many a day. I want you to see things like these.’
- p. 222
– Let two persons go out for a walk; the one a good sketcher, the other having no taste of the kind. Let them go down a green lane. There will be a great difference in the scene as perceived by the two individuals. The one will see a lane and trees; he will perceive the trees to be green, though he will think nothing about it; he will see that the sun shines, and that it has a cheerful effect; and that’s all! But what will the sketcher see? His eye is accustomed to search into the cause of beauty, and penetrate the minutest parts of loveliness. He looks up, and observes how the showery and sub-divided sunshine comes sprinkled down among the gleaming leaves overhead, till the air is filled with the emerald light. He will see here and there a bough emerging from the veil of leaves, he will see the jewel brightness of the emerald moss and the variegated and fantastic lichens, white and blue, purple and red, all mellowed and mingled into a single garment of beauty. Then come the cavernous trunks and the twisted roots that grasp with their snake-like coils at the steep bank, whose turfy slope is inlaid with flowers of a thousand dyes. Is not this worth seeing? Yet if you are not a sketcher you will pass along the green lane, and when you come home again, have nothing to say or to think about it, but that you went down such and such a lane.
- John Ruskin (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 230)
– The sole cause of a man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.
- Pascal, Pensées, 136 (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 243)