S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Sir Walter Scott
The willow which bends to the tempest often escapes better than the oak which resists it; and so in great calamities it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of a loftier character.
The most learned, acute, and diligent student cannot, in the longest life, obtain an entire knowledge of this one volume. The more deeply he works the mine, the richer and more abundant he finds the ore; new light continually beams from this source of heavenly knowledge, to direct the conduct, and illustrate the work of God and the ways of men; and he will at last leave the world confessing that the more he studied the Scriptures, the fuller conviction he had of his own ignorance, and of their inestimable value.
The vast and inexhaustible variety of knavery, folly, affectation, humour, etc., etc., as mingled with each other, or as modified by difference of age, sex, temper, education, profession, and habit of body, are all within the royalty of the modern comic dramatist . The ancients were much more limited in their circle of materials.
The pith of conversation does not consist in exhibiting your own superior knowledge on matters of small importance, but in enlarging, improving, and correcting the information you possess, by the authority of others.
The progress of a private conversation between two persons of different sexes is often decisive of their fate, and gives it a turn very distinct perhaps from what they themselves anticipated. Gallantry becomes mingled with conversation, and affection and passion come gradually to mix with gallantry. Nobles, as well as shepherd swains, will, in such a trying moment, say more than they intended, and queens, like village maidens, will listen longer than they should.
I will suppose that you have no friends to share or rejoice in your success in life,that you cannot look back to those to whom you owe gratitude, or forward to those to whom you ought to afford protection; but it is no less incumbent on you to move steadily in the path of duty; for your active exertions are due not only to society, but in humble gratitude to the Being who made you a member of it, with powers to serve yourself and others.
A lovers hope resembles the bean in the nursery-tale: let it once take root, and it will grow so rapidly that in the course of a few hours the giant Imagination builds a castle on the top, and by-and-by comes Disappointment with the curtal-axe, and hews down both the plant and the superstructure.
Historical novels may operate advantageously on the minds of two classes of readers: first, upon those whose attention to history is awakened by the fictitious narrative, and whom curiosity stimulates to study, for the purpose of removing the wheat from the chaff, the true from the fabulous. Secondly, those who are too idle to read, save for the purpose of amusement, may in these works acquire some acquaintance with history, which, however inaccurate, is better than none.
Distance in truth produces in idea the same effect as in real perspective: objects are softened and rounded, and rendered doubly graceful; the harsher and more ordinary points of character are melted down; and those by which it is remembered are the more striking outlines, that mark sublimity, grace, or beauty. There are mists, too, in the mental, as in the natural horizon, to conceal what is less pleasing in distant objects; and there are happy lights to stream in full glory upon those points which can profit by brilliant illumination.
Guilt, though it may attain temporal splendour, can never confer real happiness. The evident consequences of our crimes long survive their commission, and, like the ghosts of the murdered, forever haunt the steps of the malefactor.
It was that gay and splendid confusion in which the eye of youth sees all that is brave and brilliant, and that of experience much that is doubtful, deceitful, false, and hollow; hopes that will never be gratified, promises that will never be fulfilled, pride in the disguise of humility, and insolence in that of frank and generous bounty.
It is true that I neither can nor do pretend to the observation of complete accuracy even in matters of outward costume, much less in the more important points of language and manners. But the same motive which prevents my writing the dialogue of the piece in Anglo-Saxon or in Norman French, and which prohibits my sending forth this essay printed with the types of Caxton or Wynken de Worde, prevents my attempting to confine myself within the limits of the period to which my story is laid. It is necessary for exciting interest of any kind that the subject assumed should be, as it were, translated into the manners as well as the language of the age we live in . In point of justice therefore to the multitudes who will, I trust, devour this book with avidity, I have so far explained ancient manners in modern language, and so far detailed the characters and sentiments of my persons, that the modern reader will not find himself, I should hope, much trammelled by the repulsive dryness of mere antiquity. In this, I respectfully contend, I have in no respect exceeded the fair license due to the author of a fictitious composition . It is true that this license is confined within legitimate bounds: the author must introduce nothing inconsistent with the manners of the age.