Friday, October 30, 2009

Quotations from Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope:

He was alone in the world, and getting old; . . . . . . He felt as though the world were sinking from his feet; as though this, this was the time for him to turn with confidence to those hopes which he had preached with confidence to others. "What," said he to himself, "can a man's religion be worth if it does not support him against the natural melancholy of declining years?" And as he looked out through his dimmed eyes into the bright parterres of the bishop's garden, he felt that he had the support which he wanted.

But the venom of the chaplain's harangue had worked into his blood, and sapped the life of his sweet contentment.
"New men are carrying out new measures and are carting away the useless rubbish of past centuries!" What cruel words these had been; and how often are they now used with all the heartless cruelty of a Slope! A man is sufficiently condemned if it can only be shown that either in politics or religion he does not belong to some new school established within the last score of years. He may then regard himself as rubbish and expect to be carted away. A man is nothing now unless he has within him a full appreciation of the new era, an era in which it would seem that neither honesty nor truth is very desirable, but in which success is the only touchstone of merit. We must laugh at everything that is established. Let the joke be ever so bad, ever so untrue to the real principles of joking; nevertheless we must laugh—or else beware the cart. We must talk, think, and live up to the spirit of the times, and write up to it too, if that cacoethes be upon us, or else we are nought. New men and new measures, long credit and few scruples, great success or wonderful ruin, such are now the tastes ...

A man in the right relies easily on his rectitude and therefore goes about unarmed. His very strength is his weakness. A man in the wrong knows that he must look to his weapons; his very weakness is his strength. The one is never prepared for combat, the other is always ready. Therefore it is that in this world the man that is in the wrong almost invariably conquers the man that is in the right, and invariably despises him.

"I want the force of character which might enable me to stand against the spirit of the times."
"Every day that is added to my life increases my wish for peace and rest."

scribendi cacoethes

Rarely, rarely comest thou,
Spirit of Delight! ~ (Shelley)

Sometimes a bulbul sang for her in the morning. Occasionally it sang in the early afternoon, and if she was blessed it might sing for a few days in a row. Then it was gone. She wondered sometimes if it was a real bulbul, for she never could see it. But she was not given to such fancies and the sound was unmistakable: a breathless whistled tune of piercing sweetness.

The bulbul's visits were short and unpredictable. Many months passed between each of them. The cock was a more recent visitor – if visitor she could call him when his crowing came to her over such a distance. There were three or four cocks in the neighbourhood, each with its distinctive variant on co-co-ri-co. But from long custom their crowing had become part of the ambient sounds, greatly though she loved to hear a cock crow. For her there was only one crowing that stopped her in her tracks. It came from the newcomer she named her Goan cock.

His was not a well defined co-co-ri-co; rather it was an urgent flurry of notes. Such a sound she was used to hearing when, as a child, she spent time in her grandparents' home in Goa. In the very large high-ceilinged bedrooms of that house, darkness at night was thick enough to stitch, like a stage curtain of black velvet. No light came through the massive wooden shutters that each evening were unfolded noisily against the Dutch doors. The sun might rise in a blaze outside, but the bedroom would remain "in darkness buried deep" did not the cock crow its alarm and awaken her.

She loved that sound. How much she loved it she did not know until the occasion for visiting Goa was long, long gone. Only when she heard that sound again one morning did she know. It took her back a bittersweet journey to happy times with her grandmother a lifetime before. But the Goan cock was a rare bird, too, and could not be counted on to crow for her.

Rarest of all was the geranium that opened one day, very slowly, single flower by flower over a week. Once she had had a dozen or more colours of geraniums, whose spicy scent so revived her drooping spirit. Now there was only a thicket of plants among which those that flowered put forth just the one colour: a gaudy coral. Then came the morning when the first flower opened that was cherry red, translucent as glass in the bright sunshine. A single old and half-dried stem bore it, dashing all hopes of any other bloom. Would that it might put out a fresh young shoot . . . Meanwhile, and for a while, there was this magical posy.
Photo by Berenice da Gama-Rose

And of these little things she made her happiness.

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