False naturalness

The false kind of naturalness harps always on the distinction between the natural and the artificial. The higher kind of naturalness ignores that distinction. To the child the tree and the lamp-post are as natural and as artificial as each other; or rather, neither of them is natural but both are supernatural. For both are splendid and unexplained.

— Heretics (1905).

Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Towering inequalities”

The towering inequalities in wealth, wisdom, or beauty become all-important to the imagination if there is no cosmic background to dwarf them all. And people will not think about the cosmic background if the background is black. Only the universal can make fraternity possible. Only faith can make the universal endurable.

— The Illustrated London News, 13 January 1912.

Published in: on November 20, 2013 at 6:21 am  Leave a Comment  

“The small laws”

The more sincere and passionate and even headlong a lad is the more certain he is to be conventional. The bolder and freer he seems the more the traditions of the college or the rules of the club will hold him with their gyves of gossamer; and the less afraid he is of his enemies the more cravenly he will be afraid of his friends. Herein lies indeed the darkest period of our ethical doubt and chaos. The fear is that as morals become less urgent, manners will become more so; and men who have forgotten the fear of God will retain the fear of Littimer. We shall merely sink into a much meaner bondage. For when you break the great laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.

— Charles Dickens (1906).

Published in: on November 13, 2013 at 11:47 am  Comments (1)  

“To get him to do it”

For the mere desire to “make a protest,” which merely means to enjoy an emotion, I have no respect whatever. The only object of telling a man to do something is to get him to do it. And if you tell him to do it when you know perfectly well that it will make him do the opposite, I will not only call your enthusiasm hysterical, I will take the liberty of calling it insincere.

— The Illustrated London News, 2 December 1911.

Published in: on November 6, 2013 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment