January 31, 2007: Gibbon on History, and Natural Monarchy - 0 Comments

"Antoninus diffused order and tranquility over the greatest part of the earth. His reign is marked by the rare advantage of furnishing very few materials for history; which is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind."

"The victory over the senate was easy and inglorious. Every eye and every passion were directed to the supreme magistrate, who possessed the arms and treasure of the state; whilst the senate, neither elected by the people, nor guarded by military force, nor animated by public spirit, rested its declining authority on the frail and crumbling basis of ancient opinion. The fine theory of a republic insensibly vanished, and made way for the more natural and substantial feelings of monarchy."

Gibbon, Decline & Fall Vol. I, 1776.

January 29, 2007: Gibbon on Critics, and Toleration - 0 Comments

"But the provincials of Rome, trained by a uniform artificial foreign education, were engaged in a very unequal competition with those bold ancients, who, by expressing their genuine feelings in their native tongue, had already occupied every place of honour. The name of Poet was almost forgotten; that of Orator was usurped by the sophists. A cloud of critics, of compilers, of commentators, darkened the face of learning, and the decline of genius was soon followed by the corruption of taste."

"The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord."

January 25, 2007: Goldsmith on The Chase - 0 Comments

"HARDCASTLE: Ay, Kate, but there is still an obstacle. It's more than an even wager he may not have you.
MISS HARDCASTLE: My dear papa, why will you mortify one so?--Well, if he refuses, instead of breaking my heart at his indifference, I'll only break my glass for its flattery, set my cap to some newer fashion, and look out for some less difficult admirer."
- Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer, 1773.

January 23, 2007: Greene on Small Talk - 1 Comments

"Father Crompton was not used to dining out. One had the impression that this was a duty on which he found it hard to keep his mind. He had very limited small talk, and his answers fell like trees across the road."
- Greene, The End of the Affair, 1951.

January 15, 2007: Dostoevsky on Falling - 0 Comments

"I fell inadvertently into deep thought."
- Dostoevsky, The Adolescent, 1875.

January 1, 2007: Milton on Deliciousness and Beauty - 0 Comments

"I would not taste thy treasonous offer; none
But such as are good men can give good things;
And that which is not good, is not delicious
To a well-governed and wise appetite."

"Beauty is nature's coin; must not be hoarded,
But must be current."

-- Milton, Comus, 1634.