Important Quotations Explained
1. I oppose to what is passing this ramrod of beaten steel. I will
not submit to this aimless passing of billycock hats and Homburg hats and
all the plumed and variegated head-dresses of women . . . and the words that
trail drearily without human meaning; I will reduce you to
2. Should I seek out some tree? Should I desert these form rooms and
libraries, and the broad yellow page in which I read Catullus, for woods and
fields? Should I walk under beech trees, or saunter along the river bank,
where the trees meet united like lovers in the water? But nature is too
vegetable, too vapid. She has only sublimities and vastitudes and water and
leaves. I begin to wish for firelight, privacy, and the limbs of one
3. Beneath us lie the lights of the herring fleet. The cliffs vanish.
Rippling small, rippling grey, innumerable waves spread beneath us. I touch
nothing. I see nothing. We may sink and settle on the waves. The sea will
drum in my ears. The white petals will be darkened with sea water. They will
float for a moment and then sink. Rolling me over the waves will shoulder me
under. Everything falls in a tremendous shower, dissolving me.
4. How tired I am of stories, how tired I am of phrases that come
down beautifully with all their feet on the ground! Also, how I distrust
neat designs of life that are drawn upon half sheets of notepaper. . . .
What delights me . . . is the confusion, the height, the indifference, and
the fury. Great clouds always changing, and movement; something sulphurous
and sinister, bowled up, helter-skelter; towering, trailing, broken off,
lost, and I forgotten, minute, in a ditch. Of story, of design, I do not see
a trace then.
5. Our friends, how seldom visited, how little known—it is true; and
yet, when I meet an unknown person, and try to break off, here at this
table, what I call ‘my life,’ it is not one life that I look back upon; I am
not one person; I am many people; I do not altogether know who I am—Jinny,
Susan, Neville, Rhoda, or Louis: or how to distinguish my life from
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