Category Archives: Books

Armies (from “The Indian Armies,” 1850)

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“To make a service so situated, perfectly efficient, and capable of rendering the utmost advantage to the State, no unnecessary exclusive spirit should be shown towards it; and surely it is but reasonable to expect that officers who alike serve their country should have no humiliating distinctions drawn between them. At the same time, it would be only justice that the fair claims of the King’s service should in no way be overlooked while they are in India.

”There is another circumstance also most hurtful to the feelings and interests of the Company’s officers, and that is, the Company’s armies of the three Presidencies being always under Commanders-in-Chief of another service, who frequently, far from having any sympathy or numerous associations with them, are utter strangers, and have few or no relations or friends in this foreign service, of which they have not
only become the head, but are moreover the official guardians of its rights and feelings, and honor.

The Indian Armies, 1850

Argument (from “Fineo and Fiamma,” 1864)

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Fineo, a member of a noble family of Savona, (an ancient city near Genoa,) and Fiamma, a lady of rank whose family live at Genova, (Genoa,) are lovers. They are opposed by their parents through a spirit of rivalry. The lady’s brother and Fineo being in the king’s service and both on duty at Genoa, the former provokes a duel with the latter, and thus causes him to be condemned to death. The sentence is finally commuted, but Fineo is lashed to a boat and left to the mercy of the sea. Fiamma, through a sense of honor, submits herself to a similar fate. They are both taken by different crews of Moors, who meet, fight, and Fineo’s captors prove victors. The lovers are taken to the king of the Moors, who, after hearing the story of their misery, releases them, and sends them in safety to Italy. —Finale.

‘There never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.’ — Shakespeare.

Fineo and Fiamma, 1864

Court (from Thomas More’s “Utopia,” 1516)

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Raphael: “Now in a court composed of people who envy everyone else and admire only themselves, if a man should suggest something he had read of in other ages or seen in far places, the other counselors would think their reputation for wisdom was endangered, and they would look like simpletons, unless they could find fault with his proposal. If all else failed, they would take refuge in some remark like this: ‘The way we’re doing it is the way we’ve always done it, this custom was good enough for our fathers, and I only hope we’re as wise as they were.’ And with this deep thought they would take their seats, as though they had said the last word on the subject—implying, forsooth, that it would be a very dangerous matter if a man were found to be wiser in any point than his forefathers were. As a matter of fact, we quietly neglect the best examples they have left us; but if something better is proposed, we seize the excuse of reverence for times past and cling to it desperately. Such proud, obstinate, ridiculous judgments I have encountered many times, and once even in England.”

Utopia (Third Edition) (Norton Critical Editions), 1516

Utopia (Third Edition) (Norton Critical Editions) Book Cover Utopia (Third Edition) (Norton Critical Editions)
Thomas More
W. W. Norton & Company
August 31, 2010

Inspiring, provocative, prophetic, and enigmatic, Utopia is the literary masterpiece of a visionary statesman and one of the most influential books of the modern world.

Based on Thomas More’s penetrating analysis of the folly and tragedy of the politics of his time and all times, Utopia (1516) is a seedbed of alternative political institutions and a perennially challenging exploration of the possibilities and limitations of political action.

King of England, Henry the Eighth

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The most invincible King of England, Henry the Eighth of that name, a prince adorned with the royal virtues beyoned any other, had recently some differences of no slight import with Charles, the most serene Prince of Castille, and sent me into Flanders as his spokesman to discuss and settle them. I was companion and associate to that incomparable man Cuthbert Tunstall, whom the King has recently created Master of the Rolls, to everyone’s great satisfaction. I will say nothing in praise of this man, not because I fear the judgment of a friend might be questioned, but because his learning and integrity are greater than I can describe and too well-known everywhere to need my commendation—unless I would, according to the proverb, “Light up the sun with a lantern.”

Utopia (Third Edition) (Norton Critical Editions), 1516

Something Like a Gallows

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On looking with spy-glasses, something like a gallows was seen on the low sandy point which forms the entrance to the port, with something suspended from it. This certainly was not there when the schooner left, and whether intended for a mark, or what else, could not be decided, even after she had gained her anchorage. The schooner again at anchor, Lieutenant McIntosh was once more directed to take the largest of the boats, proceed in, and bring out the men, if they had been caught. As the boat neared the low sandy point, it was discovered that what had attraced so much attention on first making the land, was a gallows with a body suspended from it. Again the Lieutenant was received with courtesy, and was informed that the men were all ready to be given up, with the exception of the leader, who was hanging on the gallows on the point. ‘Tell your commander,’ said Lafitte…

A Visit to Lafitte, 1847

The Sharp Iron Part

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Emin set his horse on a gentle trot, and came near another monastery on the right of a very smooth plain, within half a mile from his abode; and on the left was a flock of sheep, which the author did not conceive to be the property of Etmiatzin. The shepherds took him to be a Turk; and he took them to be Mahometans. They set a dozen large furious dogs before and behind to annoy him from going on; and attacked him so close as almost to pull him down from his horse. He bore the insult about five minutes, endeavoring, with great patience, to avoid mischief, till the poor beast could not move forward, and one of the dogs jumped up and fixed his teeth in the horse’s upper lip. This provoked him at last to shoot the dog with a pistol, the gift of his friend lord Bolinbroke; the rest ran away and cleared the passage; and the shepherds stood back threatening him in Turkish, as he had committed a murder in killing a valuable dog of the Three Churches. It happened very luckily both for Emin and for those saucy fellows, that at the time of firing the pistol, he broke the butt in two, and the sharp iron part ran almost through the palm of his right hand; by which he was so much disabled, that it entirely took away his strength, and prevented him fortunately from cutting down all six of them in a heat of passion; he not in the least imagining the stupid unchristian consequence of it.

Emin, Life and Adventures, 1792

Preface to a Fable

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This fable my lord devised, to the end that he might exhibit therein, a model or description of a college, instituted for the interpreting of nature, and the producing of great and marvelous works, for the benefit of men; under the name of Solomon’s house, or the college of the six days works. And even so far his lordship has proceeded, as to finish that part. Certainly the model is more vast and high, than can possibly be imitated in all things; notwithstanding most things therein are within men’s power to effect. His lordship thought also in this present fable, to have composed a frame of laws, or of the best state or mold of a commonwealth; but foreseeing it would be a long work, his desire of collecting the natural history diverted him, which he preferred many degrees before it.

Rawley, Preface: New Atlantis, 1626

Consider (“Think Well On’t; or Reflections on the Great Truths,” 1736)

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Consider, fifthly, how the cross lying flat on the ground, they lay our dear Redeemer stretched out upon it, who like a meek lamb makes no resistance. And first drawing his right hand to the place designed to fix it on, they drive with their hammers a sharp gross nail through the palm of his hand, forcing its way with incredible torment through the sinews, veins, muscles and bones, of which the hand is composed, into the hard wood of the cross. In the meantime the whole body, to favor that wound and the pierced sinews, was naturally drawn towards the right side, but was no long permitted to remain so; for immediately these cruel butchers laying hold of his other arm, and hand, violently drag him towards the left side, in order to nail that hand also to the place designed for it. Then pulling down his legs, they fasten his sacred feet in like manner with nails to the wood. And all this with such violent cruelty, that ‘tis thought with stretching and pulling they very much strained his whole body, and disjointed it in many parts, according to that of the royal prophet: “They have dug my hands and feet; they have numbered all my bones,” Psalm 21.

Think Well On’t; or Reflections on the Great Truths, 1736

Chariot (from Sir Francis Bacon’s “New Atlantis,” 1626)

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51HZ0NSjHdL._AA160_The chariot was all of cedar, gilt, and adorned with crystal; save that the fore-end had panels of sapphires, set in borders of gold; and the hinder-end the like of emeralds of the Peru color. There was also a sun of gold, radiant, upon the top, in the midst; and on the top before, a small cherub of gold, with wings displayed. The chariot was covered with cloth of gold tissued upon blue. He had before him fifty attendants, young men all, in white satin loose coats to the mid leg; and stockings of white silk; and shoes of blue velvet; and hats of blue velvet; with fine plumes of diverse colors, set round like hatbands. Next before the chariot, when two men, bareheaded, in linen garments down to the foot, girt, and shoes of blue velvet; who carried, the one a crosier, the other a pastoral staff like a sheep hook: neither of them of metal, but the crosier of balmwood, the pastoral staff of cedar.

Sir Francis Bacon: The New Atlantis, 1626