An Essay Picked by blupete

The Best of English Essays.
"On Love"
5K Bacon "It is impossible to love, and be wise ... Love is a child of folly. ... Love is ever rewarded either with the reciprocal, or with an inward and secret contempt." It was Bacon in this essay who wrote that for a person to be a "success" in the world, he or she best not ever fall in love.
"On An Unknown Country"
12K Belloc "... there is an Unknown Country lying beneath the places that we know, and appearing only in moments of revelation. ... perhaps those things we see in the few moments of intense emotion which come to us, we know not whence ..."
3K Bennett "There is a one-sided feud between artists and critics."
"Unclean Books"
4K Bennett "... he will never be taken seriously until he descends from purple generalities to the particular naming of names."
"The Stage-Coachmen Of England: A Bully Served Out"

23K Borrow "Truly the brutality and rapacious insolence of English coachmen had reached a climax; it was time that these fellows should be disenchanted, and the time -- thank Heaven! -- was not far distant. Let the craven dastards who used to curry favour with them, and applaud their brutality, lament their loss now that they and their vehicles have disappeared from the roads; I, who have ever been an enemy to insolence, cruelty, and tyranny, loathe their memory."
"Ramblings In Cheapside."

31K Butler "Reflecting in such random fashion, and strolling with no greater method, I worked my way back through Cheapside and found myself once more in front of Sweeting's window. Again the turtles attracted me. They were alive, and so far at any rate they agreed with me. Nay, they had eyes, mouths, legs, if not arms, and feet, so there was much in which we were both of a mind, but surely they must be mistaken in arming themselves so very heavily. Any creature on getting what the turtle aimed at would overreach itself and be landed not in safety but annihilation."
"A Tragic Incident At Ravenna"

6K Byron "He was shot at a little past eight o'clock, about two hundred paces from my door. I was putting on my great-coat to visit Madame la Contessa G. when I heard the shot. On coming into the hall, I found all my servants on the balcony, exclaiming that a man was murdered."
"The Altruist in Politics"
16K Cardozo "Socialism substitutes for individual energy the energy of the government ... for human personality the blind, mechanical power of the State. Such a system marks the end of individualism. ... It would make each man the image of his neighbor and would hold back the progressive, and, by uniformity of reward, gain uniformity of type."
"On History"

28K Carlyle "History ... is Philosophy teaching by Experience. ... the essence of innumerable Biographies. ... He who sees no world but that of courts and camps; and writes only how soldiers were drilled and shot, ... will pass for a more or less instructive Gazetteer ... [not] an Historian"
"Trial of Marie-Antoinette"

9K Carlyle "'Have you anything to say?' The Accused shook her head, without speech. Night's candles are burning out; and with her too Time is finishing, and it will be Eternity and Day. This Hall of Tinville's is dark, ill-lighted except where she stands. Silently she withdraws from it, to die."

11K Chesterton "It requires long years of plentitude and quiet, the slow growth of great parks, the seasoning of oaken beams, the dark enrichment of red wine in cellars and in inns, all the leisure and the life of England through many centuries, to produce at last the generous and genial fruit of English snobbishness. And it requires battery and barricade, songs in the streets, and ragged men dead for an idea, to produce and justify the terrible flower of French indecency."
The War"

12K Clutton-Brock "War: We are all men with the same power of making and destroying, with the same divine foresight mocked by the same animal blindness."
"On Friendship"

7K Clutton-Brock "Criticism ... becomes a treachery, for it implies that you are beginning to doubt these superiorities upon which your friendship is supposed to be based. ... It is because a man is your friend, and you like him so much and know him so well, that you are curious about him. You are in fact an expert upon him, ... because in the warmth of friendship his disguises melt away from him, and he shows himself to you just as he is."
"The Origin Of Species"

5K Darwin "It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us."
"Recapitulation and Conclusion"

25K Darwin "When we no longer look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as something wholly beyond his comprehension; when we regard every production of nature as one which has had a long history; when we contemplate every complex structure and instinct as the summing up of many contrivances, each useful to the possessor, in the same way as any great mechanical invention is the summing up of the labour, the experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen."
"Stage Coach"

10K Dickens "The four greys skimmed along, as if they liked it quite as well as Tom did; the bugle was in as high spirits as the greys; the coachman chimed in sometimes with his voice; the wheels hummed cheerfully in unison; the brass-work on the harness was an orchestra of little bells; and thus, as they went clinking, jingling, rattling, smoothly on, the whole concern, from the buckles of the leaders' coupling-reins to the handle of the hind boot, was one great instrument of music."
"My Copy Of Keats"

26K Dowling "I turn to Hyperion, as a blind man to the warmth of the sun. Some qualities of the poem I can appreciate; but always in its presence I am weighed down by the consciousness that my deficiency in some perception debars me from undreamed of privileges."
11K Emerson "If, at any time, it comes into my head that a present is due from me to somebody, I am puzzled what to give, until the opportunity is gone. Flowers and fruits are always fit presents."
11K Galsworthy "The thought is that while evolution is necessary and desirable for those that survive, the struggle is hard for those that do not survive."
"A Portrait"

36K Galsworthy "A pretty face, a beautiful figure, a mellow tune, the sight of dancing, a blackbird's song, the moon behind a poplar tree, starry nights, sweet scents, and the language of Shakespeare - all these moved him deeply, .. [He] had never even sought to make his mark in public affairs. To attain pre-eminence in any definite department of life would have warped and stunted too many of his instincts, removed too many of his interests; and so he never specialised in anything. [His life's goal was to lead] a sane, moderate, and harmonious existence."
"Some Platitudes Concerning Drama"

16K Galsworthy "Plot, action, character, dialogue! ... The art of writing true dramatic dialogue is an austere art, denying itself all license, grudging every sentence devoted to the mere machinery of the play, suppressing all jokes and epigrams severed from character, relying for fun and pathos on the fun and tears of life. From start to finish good dialogue is hand-made, like good lace; clear, of fine texture, furthering with each thread the harmony and strength of a design to which all must be subordinated."

8K Galsworthy "Art is that imaginative expression of human energy, which, through technical concretion of feeling and perception, tends to reconcile the individual with the universal, by exciting in him impersonal emotion. And the greatest Art is that which excites the greatest impersonal emotion in an hypothecated perfect human being."
"A City Night-Piece"
6K Goldsmith "The slightest misfortunes of the great, the most imaginary uneasinesses of the rich, are aggravated with all the power of eloquence, and held up to engage our attention and sympathetic sorrow. The poor weep unheeded, persecuted by every subordinate species of tyranny; and every law, which gives others security, becomes an enemy to them."
"Walt Whitman"
28K Gosse "Whitman is [like] ... an intellectual organism so simple that it takes the instant impression of whatever mood approaches it. Hence the critic who touches Whitman is immediately confronted with his own image stamped upon that viscid and tenacious surface. He finds, not what Whitman has to give, but what he himself has brought."
"The English Constitution"

14K Hallam "The essential checks upon the, royal authority were five in number. 1. The king could levy no sort of new tax upon his people [except upon the] ... assent and authority [of parliamnet] ... 2. [Indeed, all law was to come from parliament]. 3. No man could be committed to prison but by a legal warrant specifying his offence; and by a usage nearly tantamount to constitutional right, he must be speedily brought to trial ... 4. The fact of guilt or innocence on a criminal charge was determined in a public court ... 5. The officers and servants of the Crown ... might be sued in an action for damages ... [and] were liable to criminal process ..."
"On The Art Of Living With Others"

11K Helps "In the first place, if people are to live happily together, they must not fancy, because they are thrown together now, that all their lives have been exactly similar up to the present time, that they started exactly alike, and that they are to be for the future of the same mind. A thorough conviction of the difference of men is the great thing to be assured of in social knowledge: it is to life what Newton's law is to astronomy. Sometimes men have a knowledge of it with regard to the world in general: they do not expect the outer world to agree with them in all points, but are vexed at not being able to drive their own tastes and opinions into those they live with. Diversities distress them. They will not see that there are many forms of virtue and wisdom."
"The Crystal Vase"
26K Hewlett "And then we come to 1802, the great last year of a twin life; the last year of the five in which those two had lived as one soul and one heart. They were at Dove cottage, on something under £150 a year. Poems were thronging thick about them; they were living intensely. John was alive. Mary Hutchinson was at Sockburn. Coleridge was still Coleridge, not the bemused and futile mystic he was to become. As for Dorothy, she lives a thing enskied, floating from ecstasy to ecstasy."
"My Last Walk With The Schoolmistress"

17K Holmes "I don't know anything sweeter than this leaking in of Nature through all the cracks in the walls and floors of cities. ... The trees look down from the hillsides and ask each other, as they stand on tiptoe, -- ' What are these people about?' And the small herbs at their feet look up and whisper back, -- 'We will go and see.'"
"A Message To Garcia"

28K Hubbard "It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing- ..."
"Science And Culture"
39K Huxley, T. H. "... applied science ... consists of deductions from those general principles, established by reasoning and observation, ... No one can safely make these deductions until he has a firm grasp of the principles. ... the machinery of society is at least as delicate as that of a spinning-jenny, and as little likely to be improved by the meddling of those who have not taken the trouble to master the principles of its action."
"My Winter Garden"

55K Kingsley "... and when one finds one's self on the wrong side of forty, and the first gray hairs begin to show on the temples ... why, one makes a virtue of necessity: and if one still lusts after sights, takes the nearest, and looks for wonders, not in the Himalayas or Lake Ngami, but in the turf on the lawn and the brook in the park ... [one will gain] a respect for simple labors, a thankfulness for simple pleasures, a sympathy with simple people, and possibly, my trusty friend, with me and my little tours about that moorland which I call my winter-garden ..."
19K Lubbock "... a frank pleasant manner will often clench a bargain more effectually than a half per cent."
"Catchwords And Claptrap"

26K Macaulay
"Most of the better writers of verse and prose, in all countries, seek more or less after precision, and have gained in truth what they have perhaps lost in loveliness. Claptrap, facile and inaccurate symbolism, the repetition of the tag and the slogan, are to be found mainly just now in third-rate literature, in popular speech, and in the less educated press. In these places one finds, on a lower plane, the same intention - the lazy and sentimental desire to convey an effect by using catchwords."
"The Task Of The Modern Historian"
28K Macaulay
(Thomas Babington)
"[Historians] have fallen into the error of distorting facts to suit general principles. They arrive at the theory from looking at some of the phenomena, and the remaining phenomena they strain or curtail to suit the theory. ... -- a little exaggeration, a little suppression, a judicious use of epithets, a watchful and searching skepticism with respect to the evidence on one side, a convenient credulity with respect to every report or tradition on the other ... If it [a charge] cannot be denied, some palliating supposition is suggested, or we are at least reminded that some circumstance now unknown may have justified what at present appears unjustifiable. ... [Evidence which] supports the darling hypothesis ... [that] inconsistent with it [are left behind]."
95K Macaulay "He [the Machiavellian character] never excites the suspicion of his adversaries by petty provocations. His purpose is disclosed, only when it is accomplished. His face is unruffled, his speech is courteous, till vigilance is laid asleep, till a vital point is exposed, till a sure aim is taken; and then he strikes for the first and last time. ... To do an injury openly is, in his estimation, as wicked as to do it secretly, and far less profitable. With him the most honorable means are those which are the surest, the speediest, and the darkest. He cannot comprehend how a man should scruple to deceive those whom he does not scruple to destroy. He would think it madness to declare open hostilities against rivals whom he might stab in a friendly embrace, or poison in a consecrated wafer."
"The Puritans"
12K Macaulay "... the Puritan was made up of two different men, the one all self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion; the other proud, calm, inflexible, sagacious. ... People, who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth visages, and heard nothing from them but their groans and their whining hymns, might laugh at them. But those had little reason to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate, or in the field of battle. These fanatics brought to civil and military affairs a coolness of judgment and an immutability of purpose which some writers have thought inconsistent with their religious zeal, but which were in fact the necessary effects of it. The intensity of their feelings on one subject made them tranquil on every other. One overpowering sentiment had subjected ... had cleared their minds from every vulgar passion and prejudice, and raised them above the influence of danger and of corruption."
"Impeachment Of Warren Hastings"

15K Macaulay "The High Court of Parliament was to sit, according to forms handed down from the days of the Plantagenets, on an Englishman accused of exercising tyranny over the lord of the holy city of Benares, and over the ladies of the princely house of Oude. The place was worthy of such a trial. It was the great hall of William Rufus, the hall which had resounded with acclamations at the inauguration of thirty kings, the hall which had witnessed the just sentence of Bacon ..."
"Dr. Johnson And His Times"

19K Macaulay "To lodge in a garret up four pair of stairs, to dine in a cellar among footmen out of place, to translate ten hours a day for the wages of a ditcher, to be hunted by bailiffs from one haunt of beggary and pestilence to another ..."
"Don Quixote"

28K Raleigh "All men have a vein of Quixotry somewhere in their nature. They can be counted on, in most things, to follow the beaten path of interest and custom, till suddenly there comes along some question on which they refuse to appeal to interest; they take their stand on principle, and are adamant."
"An Introduction To Historical Essays"
24K Rhys, Ernest "Pass now to a very solid staple landmark in the English scene -- London, whose first Commune, as it was called -- Communa Regis -- was, curiously enough, set up by law, while the king, Richard I., was on crusade and out of London and the kingdom. Stubbs leads us to view this incorporation of London as marking two significant changes: (1) the victory of the communal principle over the old shire organization, and (2) the triumph of the London merchant, over the noble. That was in the years 1191-1200; and already the law had let in the common man as a judicial asset in the jury ordered in criminal cases by the Assize of Clarendon."
"The Sources Of Idealism"

13K Shaw "To the one [the idealist], human nature, naturally corrupt, is held back from ruinous excesses only by self-denying conformity to the ideals. To the other [the realist] these ideals are only swaddling clothes which man has outgrown, and which insufferably impede his movements. No wonder the two cannot agree."
"The Collective Wisdom"

12K Spencer "Every legislative act presupposes a diagnosis and a prognosis. ... mere empirical generalizations which men draw from their dealings with their fellows suffice to give them some ideas of the proximate effects which new enactments will work: and, seeing these, they think they see as far as needful. Discipline of physical science, however, would help to show them the utter inadequacy of calculating consequences based on simple data. And if there needs proof that calculations of consequences so based are inadequate, we have it in the enormous labor annually entailed on the Legislature in trying to undo the mischiefs it has previously done."

10K Squire "In reality it is not merely absurd to keep rubbish merely because it is printed: it is positively a public duty to destroy it."
"Popular Authors"
28K Stevenson Here a writer of very popular novels, still to this day, examines the "mind of the uneducated reader." "The people (it has been said) like rapid narrative. ... It has been said that they like incident, not character. ... It is said again that the people like crime. ... [Popular authors] hammer away at murder and abduction unapplauded."
"On The Choice
Of a Profession"
17K Stevenson "... wisdom has nothing to do with the choice of a profession. ... the poor young animal, Man, turned loose into this roaring world, herded by robustious guardians, taken with the panic before he has wit enough to apprehend its cause, and soon flying with all his heels in the van of the general stampede."
"The Forgotten Man"
15K Sumner "The type and formula of most schemes of philanthropy or humanitarianism is this: A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D. ... I call C The Forgotten Man."
"Nil Nisi Bonum"

19K Thackeray Thackeray writes his essay in praise of Washington Irving and Thomas Babington Macaulay. As to Irving: "gentle, generous, good-humored, affectionate, self-denying" ... As to Macaulay: "this great scholar, he reads twenty books to write a sentence; he travels a hundred miles to make a line of description."."
"The Master"

10K Tomlinson "Our steamer moved out at midnight, in a drive of wind and rain. There were bewildering and unrelated lights about us. Peremptory challenges were shouted to us from nowhere. Sirens blared out of dark voids. And there was the skipper on the bridge, ... his face, alert, serene, with ... the pride of those who look direct into the eyes of an opponent, and care not at all."
"The Break-Up Of A Great Drought"

5K White "The grass became brown, and in many places was killed down to the roots; there was no hay; myriads of swarming caterpillars devoured the fruit trees; the brooks were all dry; water for cattle had to be fetched from ponds and springs miles away; the roads were broken up; the air was loaded with grit; and the beautiful green of the hedges was choked with dust."

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Peter Landry