Sunday, May 16, 2010


The Best of Company

Extracts from Thomas Love Peacock, Melincourt, or Sir Oran Haut-Ton (1817):

Chapter 2:
"I must confess, my dear," said the Honourable Mrs. Pinmoney, "there is a great deal of comfort in your way of living, that is, there would be in good company; but you are so solitary—"

"Here is the best of company," said Anthelia smiling, and pointing to the shelves of the library.

The Hon. Mrs. Pinmoney. Very true: books are very good things in their way; but an hour or two at most is quite enough of them for me: more can serve no purpose but to muddle one's head.
Chapter 4 (on meeting Sylvan Forester):
"Aha!" said Sir Telegraph, "your old way, now I recollect—always fond of railing at civilised life, and holding forth in praise of savages and what you called original men."
Chapter 7 (Mr. Fax):
"Bachelors and spinsters I decidedly venerate. The world is overstocked with featherless bipeds."
Chapter 13 (Desmond):
"I delighted in the poets of Greece and Rome, but I thought that the igneus vigor et coelestis origo of their conceptions and expressions was often utterly lost sight of in the microscopic inspection of philological minutiae. I studied Greek, as the means of understanding Homer and Aeschylus: I did not look on them as mere secondary instruments to the attainment of a knowledge of their language. I had no conception of the taste that could prefer Lycophron to Sophocles because he had the singular advantage of being obscure; and should have been utterly at a loss to account for such a phenomenon, if I had not seen that the whole system of public education was purposely calculated to make inferior minds recoil in disgust and terror from the vestibule of knowledge, and superior minds consume their dangerous energies in the difficiles nugae and labor ineptiarum of its adytum."
Chapter 16 (the Rev. Mr. Portpipe):
"There are two reasons for drinking: one is, when you are thirsty, to cure it; the other, when you are not thirsty, to prevent it. The first is obvious, mechanical, and plebeian; the second is most refined, abstract, prospicient, and canonical. I drink by anticipation of thirst that may be. Prevention is better than cure. Wine is the elixir of life. 'The soul,' says St. Augustine, 'cannot live in drought.' What is death? Dust and ashes. There is nothing so dry. What is life? Spirit. What is Spirit? Wine."
Chapter 23 (Lord Anophel Achthar, who turns out to be the villain of the tale):
"Confound your Greek and Latin! you know there is nothing I hate so much; and I thought you did so too, or you have finished your education to no purpose at college."
Chapter 24:
Sir Telegraph Paxarett. Upon my word, Forester, you will almost talk me out of my barouche, and then what will become of me? What shall I do to kill time?

Mr. Forester. Read ancient books, the only source of permanent happiness left in this degenerate world.

Sir Telegraph Paxarett. Read ancient books! That may be very good advice to some people: but you forget that I have been at college, and finished my education.
Chapter 31 (spoken by "the poeticopolitical, rhapsodicoprosaical, deisidaemoniacoparadoxographical, pseudolatreiological, transcendental meteorosophist, Moley Mystic, Esquire, of Cimmerian Lodge," a caricature of Coleridge):
"But the spirit of Antichrist is abroad:—the people read!—nay, they think!! The people read and think!!! The public, the public in general, the swinish multitude, the many-headed monster, actually reads and thinks!!!! Horrible in thought, but in fact most horrible!"
Chapter 39 (Mr. Feathernest):
"Oh for the happy ignorance of former ages! when the people were dolts, and knew themselves to be so. An ignorant man, judging from instinct, judges much better than a man who reads, and is consequently misinformed."

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?