Archive for January, 2013



You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip.

J. M. Barrie, Rectorial Address, St. Andrew’s University (1922)



Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.

James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time” (1963)


seek for the lessons

All our people loved their dead President. His kindly nature and lovable traits of character, and his amiable consideration for all about him will long live in the minds and hearts of his countrymen. He loved them in return with such patriotism and unselfishness that in this hour of their grief and humiliation he would say to them: ‘It is God’s will; I am content. If there is a lesson in my life of death, let it be taught to those who still live, and leave the destiny of their country in their keeping.’ Let us, then, as our dead is buried out of our sight, seek for the lessons and the admonitions that may be suggested by the life and death which constitutes our theme.

Grover Cleveland, address to the students of Princeton University, The Authentic Life of President McKinley (1901)

Note: McKinley was elected to two terms, but he was assassinated shortly into his second term. These remarks are in response to his untimely death. McKinley, though obscure now, seems to have been widely-popular in his day.



We need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more than we did California.

William McKinley, remark to personal secretary George Cortelyou (1898)

Note: Today is the 170th anniversary of President William McKinley’s birthday. I’d guess that he is slightly better-known than Millard Fillmore, if not only because of Glee. And I have no idea if this comment was intended to be as funny as I find it. Especially given that I live in California these days 🙂 #occasionalpersonalcomment


modern art

Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before.

Edith Wharton, The Writing of Fiction (1925)



I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)



…she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


that kind of beauty

Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.

George Elliot, Middlemarch (1874)


some lucky chance

I agree with you that it is in vain to ruminate upon, or even reflect upon the authors of our present misfortune. We should rather exert ourselves, and look forward with hopes, that some lucky chance may yet turn up in our favor.

George Washington, in a letter to Robert Morris just before the Delaware crossing (1776)



This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.

William Goldman, The Princess Bride (1973)



…literature is quite as stubbornly unrealistic: it considers sane its desire for the impossible.

Roland Barthes, Lecture in Inauguaration of the Chair of Literary Seminology, Collège de France (1977)


unrequited love

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.

Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (1985)



It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.

Roald Dahl, Matilda (1988)


your face

I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.

Lauren Bacall, in the Daily Telegraph (London) (1988)

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