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Index: Archived content

Ernest Renan.

George Saintsbury: ‘[Renan’s]] gospel may certainly be said to be a vague gospel, and the enemy may contend that Morgane la Fée is architect and clerk of the works at the buildings which he so industriously edifies with graceful words and, at the same time, with a vast quantity of solid learning. But of his literary skill there can be no question, and scarcely less of the admirable character of his intentions.’

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Of wisdom and folly in art.

John Ruskin: ‘Over [the] three kingdoms of ima­gination, art, and science, there reigns a virtue or faculty, which from all time, and by all great people, has been recognised as the appointed ruler and guide of every method of labour, or pas­sion of soul; and the most glorious recompense of the toil, and crown of the ambition of man. “She is more precious than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Lay fast hold upon her; let her not go; keep her, for she is thy life.”‘

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Balthasar Gracian.

E. Grant Duff: ‘Those who look into his book for themselves will find here and there a maxim which will remind them of the age in which he live as the subject of Philip II, Philip III, and Philip IV, but such exceptional cases are rare, and most people will rise from the perusal of the work understanding much better how Spain became great, than how she fell. It ought to be remembered, too, that, as I have already said, the maxims were not collected into one whole by Gracian himself, but by his friend, Lastanosa, to whom also is to be attributed the proud, though perhaps not too proud, title.’

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‘Jane Austen’ and ‘Jane Austen at home’.

Thomas Kebbel: ‘The danger to which a young lady is exposed by imagining too readily that a polite gentleman is in love with her; and the danger to which a young gentleman is exposed by imagining too readily that a good-natured girl is in love with him; the misunderstandings that arise from careless conversation, from exaggerated reserve, from overrated pretensions, from all the little mistakes which create the common embarrassments of ordinary society; these are the minor mischiefs which [Jane Austen’s] pen is devoted to setting in their proper light, and no man or woman turned forty will deny that such work may be of great utility, or that anybody who chooses to read her novels with a view to practical instruction may learn a great deal from them. ‘

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A Defence of Modern Spiritualism.

Alfred Russel Wallace: ‘The spiritual theory, as a rule, has only been adopted as a last resource, when all other theories have hopelessly broken down; and when fact after fact, phenomenon after phenomenon, has presented itself, giving direct proof that the so called dead are still alive. The spiritual theory is the logical outcome of the whole of the facts. Those who deny it, in every instance with which I am acquainted, either from ignorance or disbelief leave half the facts out of view. ‘

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The morality of the profession of letters.

Robert Louis Stevenson: ‘When any subject falls to be discussed, some scribbler on a paper has the invaluable opportunity of beginning its discussion in a dignified and human spirit; and if there were enough who did so in our public press, neither the public nor the Parliament would find it in their minds to drop to meaner thoughts. The writer has the chance to stumble, by the way, on something pleasing, something interesting, something encouraging, were it only to a single reader. He will be unfortunate, indeed, if he suit no one. He has the chance, besides, to stumble on something that a dull person shall be able to comprehend; and for a dull person to have read anything and, for that once, comprehended it, makes a marking epoch in his education.’

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Swinburne on Keats.

A.C. Swinburne: ‘”The Ode to a Nightingale”, one of the final masterpieces of human work in all time and for all ages, is immediately preceded in all editions now current by some of the most vulgar and fulsome doggrel ever whimpered by a vapid and effeminate rhymester in the sickly stage of whelphood.’

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Robert Louis Stevenson: Portrait by Lloyd Osbourne.

  Published to accompany ‘A Man of Letters‘ in The Fortnightly Review.

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Literature in the other Jubilee year.

H. D. Traill: One has resolutely to think away all the brass bands and banners, as of a Salvation Army procession, which confuse and vulgarise the advance of English literature, before we can discern the truth which fortunately is at bottom indisputable, that during the Sixty Years of the Queen’s reign that advance has been real and great.

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Of the ‘pathetic fallacy’.

By John Ruskin. NOW, THEREFORE, PUTTING these tiresome and absurd words1 quite out of our way, we may go on at our ease to examine the point in question,–namely, the difference between the ordinary, proper, and true appearances of things to us; and the extraordinary, or false appearances, when we are under the influence of […]

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Metaphor and poetic mendacity.

Roden Noel: When…we attribute to nature a sympathy with our moods, whether of joy or sorrow, we are not under an amiable delusion; the intuition is true, although the shape it assumes may not always be scientifically correct. Nature, like man, has her bright, rich, joyous, and her desolate, decaying phases; in joy we feel the former most, in sorrow we feel and discern more especially the latter. We may indulge these feelings to a morbid degree and see things too brightly or too gloomily; but the sense of a sympathy in nature has its basis in fact.

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Thomas Hardy: The Convergence of the Twain.

Thomas Hardy: In a solitude of the sea / Deep from human vanity, / And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

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Bookshop Memories.

By George Orwell. WHEN I WORKED in a second-hand bookshop—so easily pictured, if you don’t work in one, as a kind of paradise where charming old gentlemen browse eternally among calf-bound folios—the thing that chiefly struck me was the rarity of really bookish people. Our shop had an exceptionally interesting stock, yet I doubt whether […]

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Currente Calamo Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed tempus leo accumsan tellus elementum non tempus nulla viverra. Aliquam erat volutpat. Quisque blandit magna urna. Fusce et nulla vitae massa venenatis tempus. Praesent vitae arcu vel nunc semper molestie. Morbi pulvinar, dui nec imperdiet consequat, leo eros egestas metus, a imperdiet est sem at dui. […]

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On ancestor worship and other peculiar beliefs.

Herbert Spencer: The rudimentary form of all religion is the propitiation of dead ancestors, who are supposed to be still existing, and to be capable of working good or evil to their descendants.

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