Quotes from Descent into Hell

Charles Williams ·  222 pages

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“It may be a movement towards becoming like little children to admit that we are generally nothing else.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“Love was even more mathematical than poetry. It was the pure mathematics of the spirit.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“She endured her own nature and supposed it to be the burden of another's.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“Pardon,Periel, like Love, is only ours for fun: essentially we don't and can't.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“. Nature's so terribly good. Don't you think so, Mr. Stanhope?"
Stanhope was standing by, silent, while Mrs. Parry communed with her soul and with one or two of her neighbours on the possibilities of dressing the Chorus. He turned his head and answered, "That Nature is terribly good? Yes, Miss Fox. You do mean 'terribly'?"
"Why, certainly," Miss Fox said. "Terribly--dreadfully--very."
"Yes," Stanhope said again. "Very. Only--you must forgive me; it comes from doing so much writing, but when I say 'terribly' I think I mean 'full of terror'. A dreadful goodness."
"I don't see how goodness can be dreadful," Miss Fox said, with a shade of resentment in her voice. "If things are good they're not terrifying, are they?"
"It was you who said 'terribly'," Stanhope reminded her with a smile, "I only agreed."
"And if things are terrifying," Pauline put in, her eyes half closed and her head turned away as if she asked a casual question rather of the world than of him, "can they be good?"
He looked down on her. "Yes, surely," he said, with more energy. "Are our tremors to measure the Omnipotence?”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“There was presented to him at once and clearly an opportunity for joy--casual, accidental joy, but joy. If he could not manage joy, at least he might have managed the intention of joy, or (if that also were too much) an effort towards the intention of joy. The infinity of-grace could have been contented and invoked by a mere mental refusal of anything but such an effort. He knew his duty--he was no fool--he knew that the fantastic recognition would please and amuse the innocent soul of Sir Aston, not so much for himself as in some unselfish way for the honour of history. Such honours meant nothing, but they were part of the absurd dance of the world, and to be enjoyed as such. Wentworth knew he could share that pleasure. He could enjoy; at least he could refuse not to enjoy. He could refuse and reject damnation.

With a perfectly clear, if instantaneous, knowledge of what he did, he rejected joy instead. He instantaneously preferred anger, and at once it came; he invoked envy, and it obliged him. He crushed the paper in a rage, then he tore it open, and looked again and again-there it still was. He knew that his rival had not only succeeded, but succeeded at his own expense; what chance was there of another historical knighthood for years? Till that moment he had never thought of such a thing. The possibility had been created and withdrawn simultaneously, leaving the present fact to mock him. The other possibility--of joy in that present fact--receded as fast. He had determined, then and for ever, for ever, for ever, that he would hate the fact, and therefore facts.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“A man cannot love himself; he can only idolize it, and over the idol delightfully tyrannize - without purpose. The great gift which the simple idolatry of self gives is lack of further purpose”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“She said, still perplexed at a strange language: "But how can I cease to be troubled? will it leave off coming because I pretend it wants you? Is it your resemblance that hurries up the street?"
"It is not," he said, "and you shall not pretend at all. The thing itself you may one day meet-never mind that now, but you'll be free from all distress because that you can pass on to me. Haven't you heard it said that we ought to bear one another's burdens?"
"But that means-" she began, and stopped.
"I know," Stanhope said. "It means listening sympathetically, and thinking unselfishly, and being anxious about, and so on. Well, I don't say a word against all that; no doubt it helps. But I think when Christ or St. Paul, or whoever said bear, or whatever he Aramaically said instead of bear, he meant something much more like carrying a parcel instead of someone else. To bear a burden is precisely to carry it instead of. If you're still carrying yours, I'm not carrying it for you--however sympathetic I may be.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“But no verse, not Stanhope's, not Shakespeare's, not Dante's could rival the original, and this was the original, and the verse was but the best translation of a certain manner of its life. The glory of poetry could not outshine the clear glory of the certain fact, and not any poetry could hold as many meanings as the fact.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“but he did not change his purpose, nor did the universe invite him to change. It accepted the choice; no more preventing him than it prevents a child playing with fire or a fool destroying his love. It has not our kindness or our decency; if it is good, its goodness is of another kind than ours.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“If the redeemed sing, presumably someone must write the songs.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“, Stanhope delayed a moment behind Miss Fox to add: "The substantive, of course, governs the adjective; not the other way round."
"The substantive?" Pauline asked blankly.
"Good. It contains terror, not terror good. I'm keeping you. Good-bye, Periel," and he was gone.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

“Everything lovely in you for a perpetual companion, so that you'd never be frightened or disappointed or ashamed any more. There are tales that can give you yourself completely and the world could never treat you so badly then that you wouldn't neglect it. One can get everything by listening or looking in the right way: there are all sorts of turns.”
― Charles Williams, quote from Descent into Hell

About the author

Charles Williams
Born place: in London, The United Kingdom
Born date September 20, 1886
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