Rebels, especially successful rebels, are of necessity bad subjects and worse governors. Our ungrateful duty was to rid ourselves of our tried and true allies and replace them with that ninety per cent of the population who had been too solid to rebel - and on whose solidity the new government must rest.

–T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom


Poor Archie broke down entirely and, flinging himself into a chair, laid his face on the table, sobbing like a girl. Rose had never seen a man cry before, and it was so unlike a woman's gentler grief that it moved her very much.

—Louisa May Alcott, Rose in Bloom.


Principal requisites of earthly happiness which no one can deny according to Tolstoy:
1. Life close to nature - clean air, sunlight, natural sounds, fresh food
2. Physical labor - congenial, free, necessary, giving appetite and sleep
3. Family life - one wife, care of kids
4. Free, friendly communication with men as equals
5. Health and a painless death

—Leo Tolstoy, What I Believe


Dear! dear! to see how gentlefolks can afford to throw away their happiness! Now, if you were poor people, there would be none of this. To talk of unworthiness, and not caring about one another, when I know there are not such a kind-hearted lady and gentleman in the whole province, not any that love one another half so well, if the truth was spoken!

—Ann Radcliff, The Mysteries of Udulpho, Vol.4, Ch.13, p.589.

The problem with Emerson

By fate, not option, frugal Nature gave
One scent to hyson and to wall-flower,
One sound to pine-groves and to waterfalls,
One aspect to the desert and the lake.
It was her stern necessity: all things
Are of one pattern made; bird, beast and flower,
Song, picture, form, space, thought and character
Deceive us, seeming to be many things,
And are but one. Beheld far off, they part
As God and devil; bring them to the mind,
They dull its edge with their monotony.
To know one element, explore another,
And in the second reappears the first.
The specious panorama of a year
But multiplies the image of a day,—
A belt of mirrors round a taper’s flame;
And universal Nature, through her vast
And crowded whole, an infinite paroquet,
Repeats one note.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Xenophanes.


Quintilian once said 'the senses are less afflicted by physical suffering than by the thought of it.' Certainly for most men the preparation for death has been more tormenting than the pangs themselves. To contemplate a future death calls for a courage that is slow, and consequently difficult to acquire. The truth is we only have to prepare ourselves against our preparations for death. If you do not know how to die, never mind—nature will give you full and adequate instruction in the fullness of time. It is not for death that we should prepare ourselves; it is too momentary. A quarter of an hour's suffering, without any negative consequences to follow, does not deserve special attention.  The proper study of life is itself.

—Michel de Montaigne, Essays, On Physiognomy, p329.

King Sheave

In days of yore out of deep Ocean
to the Longobards, in the land dwelling
that of old they held amid the isles of the North,
a ship came sailing, shining-timbered
without oar and mast, eastward floating.
The sun behind it sinking westward
with flame kindled the fallow water.
Wind was wakened. Over the world's margin
clouds greyhelmed climbed slowly up
wings unfolding wide and looming,
as mighty eagles moving onward
to eastern Earth omen bearing.
Men there marvelled, in the mist standing
of the dark islands in the deeps of time:
laughter they knew not, light nor wisdom;
shadow was upon them, and sheer mountains
stalked behind them stern and lifeless,
evilhaunted. The East was dark.

The ship came shining to the shore driven
and strode upon the strand, till its stem rested
on sand and shingle. The sun went down.
The clouds overcame the cold heavens.
In fear and wonder to the fallow water
sadhearted men swiftly hastened
to the broken beaches the boat seeking,
gleaming-timbered in the grey twilight.
They looked within, and there laid sleeping
a boy they saw breathing softly:
his face was fair, his form lovely,
his limbs were white, his locks raven
golden-braided. Gilt and carven
with wondrous work was the wood about him.
In golden vessel gleaming water
stood beside him; strung with silver
a harp of gold neath his hand rested;
his sleeping head was soft pillowed
on a sheaf of corn shimmering palely
as the fallow gold doth from far countries
west of Angol. Wonder filled them.

The boat they hauled and on the beach moored it
high above the breakers; then with hands lifted
from the bosom its burden. The boy slumbered.
On his bed they bore him to their bleak dwellings
darkwalled and drear in a dim region
between waste and sea. There of wood builded
high above the houses was a hall standing
forlorn and empty. Long had it stood so,
no noise knowing, night nor morning,
no light seeing. They laid him there,
under lock left him lonely sleeping
in the hollow darkness. They held the doors.
Night wore away. New awakened
as ever on earth early morning;
day came dimly. Doors were opened.
Men strode within, then amazed halted;
fear and wonder filled the watchmen.
The house was bare, hall deserted;
no form found they on the Hoor lying,
but by bed forsaken the bright vessel
dry and empty in the dust standing.

The guest was gone. Grief o'ercame them.
In sorrow they sought him, till the sun rising
over the hills of heaven to the homes of men
light came bearing. They looked upward
and high upon a hill hoar and treeless
the guest beheld they: gold was shining
in his hair, in hand the harp he bore;
at his feet they saw the fallow-golden
cornsheaf lying. Then clear his voice
a song began, sweet, unearthly,
words in music woven strangely,
in tongue unknown. Trees stood silent
and men unmoving marvelling hearkened.

Middle-earth had known for many ages
neither song nor singer; no sight so fair
had eyes of mortal, since the earth was young,
seen when waking in that sad country
long forsaken. No lord they had,
no king nor counsel, but the cold terror
had dwelt in the desert, the dark shadow
that haunted the hills and the hoar forest.
Dread was their master. Dark and silent,
long years forlorn, lonely waited
the hall of kings, house forsaken
without fire or food.

                       Forth men hastened
from their dim houses. Doors were opened
and gates unbarred. Gladness wakened.
To the hill they thronged, and their heads lifting
on the guest they gazed. Greybearded men
bowed before him and blessed his coming
their years to heal; youths and maidens,
wives and children welcome gave him.
His song was ended. Silent standing
he looked upon them. Lord they called him;
king they made him, crowned with golden
wheaten garland, white his raiment,
his harp his sceptre. In his house was fire,
food and wisdom; there fear came not.
To manhood he grew, might and wisdom.

Sheave they called him, whom the ship brought them,
a name renowned in the North countries
ever since in song. For a secret hidden
his true name was, in tongue unknown
of far countries where the falling seas
wash western shores beyond the ways of men
since the world worsened. The word is forgotten
and the name perished.

                        Their need he healed,
and laws renewed long forsaken.
Words he taught them wise and lovely -
their tongue ripened in the time of Sheave
to song and music. Secrets he opened
runes revealing. Riches he gave them,
reward of labour, wealth and comfort
from the earth calling, acres ploughing,
sowing in season seed of plenty,
hoarding in garner golden harvest
for the help of men. The hoar forests
in his days drew back to the dark mountains;
the shadow receded, and shining corn,
white ears of wheat, whispered in the breezes
where waste had been. The woods trembled.

Halls and houses hewn of timber,
strong towers of stone steep and lofty,
golden-gabled, in his guarded city
they raised and roofed. In his royal dwelling
of wood well-carven the walls were wrought;
fair-hued figures filled with silver,
gold and scarlet, gleaming hung there,
stories boding of strange countries,
were one wise in wit the woven legends
to thread with thought. At his throne men found
counsel and comfort and care's healing,
justice in judgement. Generous-handed
his gifts he gave. Glory was uplifted.
Far sprang his fame over fallow water,
through Northern lands the renown echoed
of the shining king, Sheave the mighty.

Seven sons he begat, sires of princes,
men great in mind, mighty-handed
and high-hearted. From his house cometh
the seeds of kings, as songs tell us,
fathers of the fathers, who before the change
in the Elder Years the earth governed,
Northern kingdoms named and founded,
shields of their peoples: Sheave begat them:
Sea-danes and Goths, Swedes and Northmen,
Franks and Frisians, folk of the islands,
Swordmen and Saxons, Swabes and English,
and the Langobards who long ago
beyond Myrcwudu a mighty realm
and wealth won them in the Welsh countries
where Ælfwine Eadwine's heir
in Italy was king. All that has passed.

—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lost Road.


Two women who have secrets are fond of chattering together about them. This brought them closer together; and Thérèse, by dividing her attentions, sometimes caused me to feel that I was alone, for I could no longer regard as a society the relations between us three. Had she been furnished with a store of knowledge it would have filled up her time and my own agreeably, and prevented us from ever noticing the length of a tête-à-tête. Not that our conversation ever flagged, or that she showed any signs of weariness during our walks; but we had not a sufficient number of ideas in common to make a great stock. We could no longer speak incessantly of our plans, which henceforth were limited to plans of enjoyment. The objects around us inspired me with reflections which were beyond her comprehension. An attachment of twelve years had no longer need of words; we knew each other too well to be able to find anything fresh. The only resource left was gossip, scandal, and feeble jokes. It is in solitude especially that one feels the advantage of living with someone who knows how to think. I had no need of this resource to amuse myself in her society; but she would have needed it, in order to be able always to amuse herself in mine. I felt under restraint in my own house – this is saying everything. The atmosphere of love ruined simple friendship We enjoyed an intimate intercourse without living in intimacy.

—The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Go through with the drama in hand as best you can, and don't spoil it all just because you happen to think of another one that would be better. For it is impossible to make everything good unless all men are good, and that I don't expect to see for quite a few years yet.

—Sir Thomas More, Utopia, Part I, p36.

Timeless Social Issues

"First, suppress every form of parasite. Three-quarters of the soil is waste land; clear up France. Put an end to useless pastures, divide the communal lands. Let every man have a piece of ground, and every piece of ground have a man. It would multiply the products of society a hundredfold. France, at the present time, only gives her peasants meat four days in the year; if well cultivated, she ought to feed three hundred millions of men,—all Europe. Utilize nature, that great auxiliary so much scorned. Make all the winds, all the waterfalls, all the magnetic effluvia work for you. The globe has a network of subterranean veins; in this network there is a prodigious circulation of water, oil, and fire; pierce the veins of the globe, and let this water gush forth for your fountains, this oil for your lamps, this fire for your hearths. Reflect on the motion of the waves, the flux and reflux, the ebb and flow of the tides. What is the ocean? An enormous force wasted. How stupid the earth is not to make use of the ocean."

"And woman—what use do you make of her?"

"Let her be what she is, the servant of man."

"Yes. On one condition, that man shall be the servant of woman."

"That is to say that you want for man and for woman──"


"Are you dreaming? The two beings are different."

"I said equality. I did not say identity."

"You go too fast."

"Perhaps it is because I am somewhat pressed for time," said Gauvain, with a smile.

—Victor Hugo, Ninety-Three, translated by A. L. Burt Company [Lowell Blair's is better but not online].