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ARCHIVED ENTRIES FOR SEPTEMBER 2015

September  30,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

'Yes, I see what you mean.  It looks a bit fumbled here and there.  No, not quite that.  A little tentative.  That's not the word, either.  Insincere.  But that's exactly what I complain of in all Campbell's stuff.  It makes its effect all right, but when you come to look into it, it doesn't stand up to inspection.  I call that a thoroughly Campbellish piece of work.  A poor Campbell, if you like, but full of Campbellisms.'

'I know,' said Graham.  'It reminds me of what the good lady said about Hamlet - that it was all quotations.'

'G. K. Chesterton says,' put in Wimsey, 'that most people with a very well-defined style write at times what look like bad parodies of themselves.  He mentions Swinburne, for instance - that bit about "From lilies and languors of virtue to the raptures and roses of vice."  I expect painters do the same.'

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

September  29,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

'That's exactly what one expects from the Campbells of this world,' said Waters.  'The trick degenerates into a mannerism, and they paint caricatures of their own style.  As a matter of fact, it's apt to happen to anybody.  Even Corot, for instance.  I went to a Corot exhibition once, and 'pon my soul, after seeing a hundred or so Corots gathered together, I began to have my doubts.  And he was a master.'

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

September  28,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

'There's a bit about him in the Sunday Chronicle this week.  I've got it somewhere.  Oh, yes - it says he is a great loss to the artistic world.  "His inimitable style", it says.  Still, I suppose they have to say something.  "Highly individual technique": that's a good phrase.  "Remarkable power of vision and unique colour-sense placed him at once in the first rank."  I notice that people who die suddenly generally seem to be in the first rank.' 

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

September  27,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

'They want to find the last person who saw the man alive,' said Wimsey, promptly.  'It's always done.  It's part of the regular show.  You get it in all the mystery stories.  Of course, the last person to see him never commits the crime.  That would make it too easy.  One of these days I shall write a book in which two men are seen to walk down a cul-de-sac, and there is a shot and one man is found murdered and the other runs away with a gun in his hand, and after twenty chapters stinking with red herrings, it turns out that the man with the gun did it after all.'

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

September  26,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The inspector opened his notebook.

'Your name is Halcock, is't no?' he began.

The butler corrected him.

'H'alcock,' he said reprovingly.

'H, a, double-l?' suggested the inspector.

'There is no h'aitch in the name, young man.  H'ay is the first letter, and there is h'only one h'ell.'

'I beg your pardon,' said the inspector.

'Granted,' said Mr Alcock.

'Well, noo, Mr Alcock, juist as a pure formality, ye understand, whit time did Mr Gowan leave Kirkcudbright on Monday night?'

'It would be shortly after h'eight.'

'Whae drove him?'

'Hammond, the chauffeur.'

'Ammond?' said the Inspector.

'Hammond,' said the butler, with dignity.  'H'albert Hammond is his name - with a h'aitch.'

'I beg your pardon,' said the inspector.

'Granted, said Mr Alcock.

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

September  25,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

'I understand,' said the constable, 'that ye refuse cateegoorically tae state whaur ye were on last Monday nicht.'

'Got it at last!' cried Graham.  'We're slow but sure in this country, Wimsey.  That's right.  I refuse categorically, absolutely, in toto and entirely.  Make a note of it in case you forget it.'

The constable did so with great solemnity.

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

September  24,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Wimsey nodded.  She was lying, he thought.  Farren's objections to Campbell had been notorious.  But she was the kind of woman who, if once she set out to radiate sweetness and light, would be obstinate in her mission.  He studied the rather full, sulky mouth and narrow, determined forehead.  It was the face of a woman who would see only what she wished to see - who would think that one could abolish evils from the world by pretending that they were not there.  Such things, for instance, as jealousy or criticism of herself.  A dangerous woman, because a stupid woman.  Stupid and dangerous, like Desdemona.

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

September  23,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

It was a marvellous day in late August, and Wimsey's soul purred within him as he pushed the car along.  The road from Kirkcudbright to Newton Stewart is of a varied loveliness hard to surpass, and with a sky full of bright sun and rolling cloud banks, hedges filled with flowers, a well-made road, a lively engine and the prospect of a good corpse at the end of it, Lord Peter's cup of happiness was full.  He was a man who loved simple pleasures. 

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

September  22,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

'Och, that's a'richt,' said McAdam.  'Ye meant no harm, Mr Waters.  What'll ye have?'

'Oh, a double Scotch,' replied Waters, with rather a shame-faced grin.

'That's right,' said Wimsey, 'drown remembrance of the insult in the wine of the country.'

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers

September  21,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

If I have accidentally given any real person's name to a nasty character, please convey my apologies to that person, and assure him or her that it was entirely unintentional.  Even bad characters have to be called something. 

--Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers (preface)

September  16,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

The spiritual kind of rescue was a genuine need with him.  There may be coarse hypocrites who consciously affect beliefs and emotions for the sake of gulling the world, but Bulstrode was not one of them.  He was simply a man whose desires had been stronger than his theoretic beliefs, and who had gradually explained the gratification of his desires into satisfactory agreement with those beliefs.  If this be hypocrisy, it is a process which shows itself occasionally in us all, to whatever confession we belong, and whatever we believe in the future perfection of our race or in the nearest date fixed for the end of the world; whether we regard the earth as a putrefying nidus for a saved remnant, including ourselves, or have a passionate belief in the solidarity of mankind.

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

September  15,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Expenditures--like ugliness and errors--becomes a totally new thing when we attach our own personality to it, and measure it by that wide difference which is manifest (in our own sensations) between ourselves and others.  Lydgate believed himself to be careless about his dress, and he despised a man who calculated the effects of his costume; it seemed to him only a matter of course that he had abundance of fresh garments--such things were naturally ordered in sheaves.

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

September  14,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

Eighteen months ago Lydgate was poor, but had never known the eager want of small sums, and felt rather a burning contempt for any one who descended a step in order to gain them.  He was now experiencing something worse than a simple deficit; he was assailed by the vulgar hateful trial of a man who has bought and used a great many things which might have been done without, and which he is unable to pay for, though the demand for payment has become pressing.

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

[N.B.:  Who knew that Lydgate was the paradigm of the modern college student?]

September  8,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

"You must be sure of two things: you must love your work, and not be always looking over the edge of it, wanting your play to begin.  and the other is, you not be ashamed of your work, and think it would be more honorable to you to be doing something else.  You must have a pride in your work and in learning to do it well, and not be always saying, There's this and there's that--if I had this or that to do, I might make something of it."

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

September  7,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Still," said Rosamond, "I do not think it is a nice profession, dear."  We know that she had much quiet perseverance in her opinion.

"It is the grandest profession in the world, Rosamond," said Lydgate, gravely.  "And to say that you love me without loving the medical man in me, is the same sort of thing as to say that you like eating a peach, but don't like its flavor.  Don't say that again, dear, it pains me."

"Very well, Dr. Grave-face," said Rosy, dimpling, "I will declare in future that I dote on skeletons and body-snatchers, and bits of things in phials, and quarrels with everybody, that end in your dying miserably."

"No, n., not so bad as that," said Lydgate, giving up remonstrance and petting her resignedly.

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

September  6,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Mr. Brooke of Tipton has already given me his concurrence, and a pledge to contribute yearly; he has not specified the sum--probably not a great one.  But he will be a useful member of the board."

A useful member was perhaps to be defined as one who would originate nothing, and always vote with Mr. Bulstrode.

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

September  5,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

But even his proud outspokenness was checked by the discernment that it was as useless to fight against the interpretations of ignorance as to whip the fog; and "good fortune" insisted on using those interpretations.

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

[N.B.:  In other words, actually, the words of Upton Sinclair:  "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."  For our scientists, just substitute "government grant" for "salary."]

September  4,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

He distrusted her affection; and what loneliness is more lonely than distrust?

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

September  3,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

He had also taken too much in the shape of muddy political talk, a stimulant dangerously disturbing to his farming conservatism, which consisted in holding that whatever is, is bad, and any change is likely to be worse.

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

[N.B.:  Probably one of the best, concise definitions of the conservative worldview.  All I would add:  "but if there must be change, let it be slow and incremental so that revisions, and, indeed, reversions, may be swift."]

September  2,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

If we had to describe a man who is retrogressive in the most evil sense of the word--we should say, he is one who would dub himself a reformer of our constitution, while every interest for which he is immediately responsible is going to decay : a philanthropist who cannot bear one rogue to be hanged, but does not mind five honest tenants being half-starved : a man who shrieks at corruption, and keeps his farms at rack-rent : who roars himself red at rotten boroughs, and does not mind if every field on his farms has a rotten gate : a man very open-hearted to Leeds and Manchester, no doubt; he would give any number of representatives who will pay for their seats out of their own pockets : what he objects to giving, is a little return on rent-days to help a tenant to buy stock, or an outlay on repairs to keep the weather out at a tenant's barn-door or make his house look a little less like an Irish cottier's.  But we all know the way's definition of a philanthropist : a man whose charity increases directly as the square of the distance.

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

[N.B.:  In the original, this entire passage is italicized just to underline how important this point was to Eliot--she is much more in the tradition of Austen than Alinsky.]

September  1,  2015

Patrick: Lagniappe

In warming himself at French social theories he had brought away no smell of scorching.  We may handle even extreme opinions with impunity, while our furniture, our dinner-giving, and preference for armorial bearings in our own case, link us indissolubly with the established order.

--Middlemarch by George Eliot

[N.B.:  I think there is a modern term for this condition involving a luxury automobile.  A Ferrari Federalist?  A Lamborghini Libertarian?  No, those do not sound quite right.]