“He had no settled plan of life, nor looked forward at all, but merely lived from day to day. Yet he read a great deal in a desultory manner, without any scheme of study, as chance threw books in his way, and inclination directed him through them.”
“Nay, Sir, it was not the WINE that made your head ache, but the SENSE that I put into it'
'What, Sir! will sense make the head ache?'
'Yes, Sir, (with a smile,) when it is not used to it.”
“Everything about his character and manners was forcible and violent; there never was any moderation; many a day did he fast, many a year did he refrain from wine; but when he did eat, it was voraciously; when he did drink wine, it was copiously. He could practise abstinence, but not temperance.”
“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”
“He made two or three peculiar observations; as when shewn the botanical garden, 'Is not EVERY garden a botanical garden?”
“Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.”
“His OFELLUS in the Art of Living in London, I have heard him relate, was an Irish painter, whom he knew at Birmingham, and who had practiced his own precepts of economy for several years in the British capital. He assured Johnson, who, I suppose, was then meditating to try his fortune in London, but was apprehensive of the expence, 'that thirty pounds a year was enough to enable a man to live there without being contemptible. He allowed ten pounds for cloaths and linen. He said a man might live in a garret at eighteen-pence a week; few people would inquire where he lodged; and if they did, it was easy to say, "Sir, I am to be found at such a place." By spending three-pence in a coffee-house, he might be for some hours every day in very good company; he might dine for six-pence, breakfast on bread and milk for a penny, and do without supper. On clean-shirt day he went abroad, and paid visits.”
“Mr. Langton one day asked him [Samuel Johnson] how he had acquired so accurate a knowledge of Latin, in which, I believe, he was exceeded by no man of his time; he said, 'My master whipt me very well. Without that, Sir, I should have done nothing.' He told Mr. Langton, that while Hunter was flogging his boys unmercifully, he used to say, 'And this I do to save you from the gallows.' Johnson, upon all occasions, expressed his approbation of enforcing instruction by means of the rod. 'I would rather (said he) have the rod to be the general terrour to all, to make them learn, than tell a child, if you do thus, or thus, you will be more esteemed than your brothers or sisters. The rod produces an effect which terminates in itself. A child is afraid of being whipped, and gets his task, and there's an end on't; whereas, by exciting emulation and comparisons of superiority, you lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you make brothers and sisters hate each other.”
“Almighty GOD, the giver of wisdom, without whose help resolutions are vain, without whose blessing study is ineffectual; enable me, if it be thy will, to attain such knowledge as may qualify me to direct the doubtful, and instruct the ignorant; to prevent wrongs and terminate contentions; and grant that I may use that knowledge which I shall attain, to thy glory and my own salvation, for JESUS CHRIST'S sake. Amen.”
“The baby's large eyes settled on him, and though this has been one of his happiest nights in his whole life, it made him melancholy. He had read somewhere that babies are instinctively drawn to faces, that they will fixate even on drawings or abstract, facelike shapes, and round objects with markings that might resemble eye-mouth-nose. It was information that struck him as terribly sad, terribly lonely - to imagine the infants of the world scoping the blurry atmosphere above them for faces the way primitive people scrutinized the stars for patterns, the way castaways stare at the moon, the blinking of a satellite. It made him sad to think of the baby gathering information - a mind, a soul, slowly solidifying around these impressions, coming to understand cause and effect, coming out of a blank or fog into reality. Into a reality. The true terror, Jonah thought, the true mystery of life was not that we are all going to die, but that we were all born, that we were all once little babies like this, unknowing and slowly reeling in the world, gathering it loop by loop like a ball of string. The true terror was that we once didn't exist and then, through no fault of our own, we had to.”
“HESTER’S POOL WAS ALSO FORBIDDEN IN CAL’S world, which was only one of the reasons it was irresistible.”
“Did he mean me or Jenny Mullendore was a slut?" Joanne wondered. "Because honestly, I don't see how she has the time for slut activities with those two preschoolers of hers. Me, I've got lots of time.”
“Curl moaned. Mattie rocked. Propelled by the sound, Mattie rocked her out of that bed, out of that room, into a blue vastness just underneath the sun and above time. She rocked her over Aegean seas so clean they shine like crystal, so clear the fresh blood of sacrificed babies torn from their mothers arms and given to Neptune could be seen like pink froth on the water. She rocked her on and on, past Dachau, where soul-gutted Jewish mothers swept their children's entrails off laboratory floors. They flew past the spilled brains of Senegalese infants whose mothers had dashed them on the wooden sides of slave ships. And she rocked on.
She rocked her into her childhood and let her see murdered dreams. And she rocked her back, back into the womb, to the nadir of her hurt, and they found it-a slight silver splinter, embedded just below the surface of her skin. And Mattie rocked and pulled-and the splinter gave way, but its roots were deep, gigantic, ragged, and they tore up flesh with bits of fat and muscle tissue clinging to them. They left a huge hole, which was already starting to pus over, but Mattie was satisfied. It would heal.”
“It’s a curse to have a mind if it is illegal to use it. It’s a curse to have intelligence if you are forced to cloak it in a lifetime of wilful stupidity.”
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