Monday, May 06, 2013


Five Hundred Mutes

Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), letter to **********, in The Letters of the Late Laurence Sterne to His Most Intimate Friends (London: A. Millar, W. Law, and R. Carter, 1794), pp. 253-254:
My neighbours think me often alone,—and yet at such times I am in company with more than five hundred mutes—each of whom, at my pleasure, communicates his ideas to me by dumb signs—quite as intelligibly as any person living can do by uttering of words.——They always keep the distance from me which I direct,—and with a motion of my hand, I can bring them as near to me as I please.—I lay hands on fifty of them sometimes in an evening, and handle them as I like:—they never complain of ill-usage,——and when dismissed from my presence,——though ever so abruptly——take no offence. Such convenience is not to be enjoyed—nor such liberty to be taken—with the living: we are bound—in point of good-manners, to admit all our pretended friends when they knock for an entrance, and dispense with all the nonsense or impertinence which they broach till they think proper to withdraw: nor can we take the liberty of humbly and decently opposing their sentiments, without exciting their disgust, and being in danger of their splenetic representation after they have left us.

Albert Josef Franke (1860-1924),
Aufmerksame Lectüre

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