The title women and fiction might mean, and you may have meant it to mean, women and what they are like, or it might mean women and the fiction that they write; or it might mean women and the fiction that is written about them, or it might mean that somehow all three are
inextricably mixed together and you want me to consider them in that light.
I should never be able to fulfil what is, I understand, the first duty of a lecturer to hand you after an hour's
discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks and keep on the mantelpiece for ever.
shirked the duty of coming to a conclusion upon these two questions—women and fiction remain, so far as I am concerned, unsolved problems.
One can only give one's audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the
idiosyncrasies of the speaker.
On the further bank the willows wept in perpetual
lamentation, their hair about their shoulders.
It swayed, minute after minute, hither and thither among the reflections and the weeds, letting the water lift it and sink it until—you know the little tug—the sudden
conglomeration of an idea at the end of one's line: and then the cautious hauling of it in, and the careful laying of it out?
Nor did I at first understand that the
gesticulations of a curious-looking object, in a cut-away coat and evening shirt, were aimed at me.
His face expressed horror and
As I regained the path the arms of the Beadle sank, his face assumed its usual
repose, and though turf is better walking than gravel, no very great harm was done.
What idea it had been that had sent me so
audaciously trespassing I could not now remember.
Indeed, among all the dead (I give you my thoughts as they came to me), Lamb is one of the most
congenial; one to whom one would have liked to say, Tell me then how you wrote your essays?
To think of Milton changing the words in that poem seemed to him a sort of
affectation of the style, with its imitation of the eighteenth century, hampers one, so far as I can remember; unless indeed the eighteenth-century style was natural to Thackeray—a fact that one might prove by looking at the manuscript and seeing whether the alterations were for the benefit of the style or of the sense.
I must have opened it, for instantly there issued, like a guardian angel barring the way with a flutter of black gown instead of white wings, a
deprecating, silvery, kindly gentleman, who regretted in a low voice as he waved me back that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the College or furnished with a letter of introduction.
Venerable and calm, with all its treasures safe locked within its breast, it sleeps complacently and will, so far as I am concerned, so sleep for ever.
Venerable and calm, with all its treasures safe locked within its breast, it sleeps
complacently and will, so far as I am concerned, so sleep for ever.
Old stories of old deans and old
dons came back to mind, but before I had summoned up courage to whistle—it used to be said that at the sound of a whistle old Professor — instantly broke into a gallop—the venerable congregation had gone inside.
But it was then the age of faith, and money was poured liberally to set these stones on a deep foundation, and when the stones were raised, still more money was poured in from the
coffers of kings and queens and great nobles to ensure that hymns should be sung here and scholars taught.
...only the gold and silver flowed now, not from the coffers of the king, but from the chests of merchants and manufacturers, from the purses of men who had made, say, a fortune from industry, and returned, in their wills, a
bounteous share of it to endow more chairs, more lectureships, more fellowships in the university where they had learnt their craft.
...only the gold and silver flowed now, not from the coffers of the king, but from the chests of merchants and manufacturers, from the purses of men who had made, say, a fortune from industry, and returned, in their wills, a bounteous share of it to
endow more chairs, more lectureships, more fellowships in the university where they had learnt their craft.
Gaudy blossoms flowered in window-boxes.
The partridges, many and various, came with all their
retinue of sauces and salads, the sharp and the sweet, each in its order; their potatoes, thin as coins but not so hard; their sprouts, foliated as rosebuds but more succulent.
And no sooner had the roast and its retinue been done with than the silent servingman, the Beadle himself perhaps in a milder
manifestation, set before us, wreathed in napkins, a confection which rose all sugar from the waves.
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
The very reason why that poetry excites one to such abandonment, such
rapture, is that it celebrates some feeling that one used to have (at luncheon parties before the war perhaps), so that one responds easily, familiarly, without troubling to check the feeling, or to compare it with any that one has now.
What was the truth about these houses, for example, dim and festive now with their red windows in the dusk, but raw and red and
squalid, with their sweets and their bootlaces, at nine o'clock in the morning?
I spare you the twists and turns of my
cogitations, for no conclusion was found on the road to Headingley, and I ask You to suppose that I soon found out my mistake about the turning and retraced my steps to Fernham.
It was the time between the lights when colours undergo their intensification and purples and golds burn in window-panes like the beat of an excitable heart; when for some reason the beauty of the world revealed and yet soon to perish (here I pushed into the garden, for, unwisely, the door was left open and no beadles seemed about), the beauty of the world which is so soon to perish, has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart
Somebody was in a hammock, somebody, but in this light they were phantoms only, half guessed, half seen, raced across the grass—would no one stop her?—and then on the terrace, as if popping out to breathe the air, to glance at the garden, came a bent figure,
formidable yet humble, with her great forehead and her shabby dress—could it be the famous scholar, could it be J— H— herself?
Next came beef with its attendant greens and potatoes—a
homely trinity, suggesting the rumps of cattle in a muddy market, and sprouts curled and yellowed at the edge, and bargaining and cheapening and women with string bags on Monday morning.
And if anyone complains that prunes, even when mitigated by custard, are an uncharitable vegetable (fruit they are not), stringy as a
miser's heart and exuding a fluid such as might run in
misers' veins who have denied themselves wine and warmth for eighty years and yet not given to the poor, he should reflect that there are people whose charity embraces even the prune.
And if anyone complains that prunes, even when mitigated by custard, are an uncharitable vegetable (fruit they are not), stringy as a miser's heart and
exuding a fluid such as might run in misers' veins who have denied themselves wine and warmth for eighty years and yet not given to the poor, he should reflect that there are people whose charity embraces even the prune.
Briefly, then, I told Miss Seton about the masons who had been all those years on the roof of the chapel, and about the kings and queens and nobles bearing sacks of gold and silver on their shoulders, which they shovelled into the earth; and then how the great financial
magnates of our own time came and laid cheques and bonds, I suppose, where the others had laid ingots and rough lumps of gold.
That was the way it was done, presumably, sixty years ago, and it was a
prodigious effort, and a great deal of time was spent on it.
At the thought of all those women working year after year and finding it hard to get two thousand pounds together, and as much as they could do to get thirty thousand pounds, we burst out in scorn at the
reprehensible poverty of our sex.
Mary's mother—if that was her picture—may have been a
wastrel in her spare time (she had thirteen children by a minister of the church), but if so her gay and dissipated life had left too few traces of its pleasures on her face.
Mary's mother—if that was her picture—may have been a wastrel in her spare time (she had thirteen children by a minister of the church), but if so her gay and
dissipated life had left too few traces of its pleasures on her face.
She was a homely body; an old lady in a plaid shawl which was fastened by a large
cameo; and she sat in a basket-chair, encouraging a spaniel to look at the camera, with the amused, yet strained expression of one who is sure that the dog will move directly the bulb is pressed.
Now if she had gone into business; had become a manufacturer of artificial silk or a magnate on the Stock Exchange; if she had left two or three hundred thousand pounds to Fernham, we could have been sitting at our ease to-night and the subject of our talk might have been archaeology, botany, anthropology, physics, the nature of the atom, mathematics, astronomy,
...we might have looked forward without
undue confidence to a pleasant and honourable lifetime spent in the shelter of one of the liberally endowed professions.
We might have been exploring or writing; mooning about the venerable places of the earth; sitting
contemplative on the steps of the Parthenon, or going at ten to an office and coming home comfortably at half-past four to write a little poetry.
One thought of all the books that were assembled down there; of the pictures of old
prelates and worthies hanging in the panelled rooms; of the painted windows that would be throwing strange globes and crescents on the pavement; of the tablets and memorials and inscriptions; of the fountains and the grass; of the quiet rooms looking across the quiet quadrangles.
And (pardon me the thought) I thought, too, of the admirable smoke and drink and the deep armchairs and the pleasant carpets: of the
urbanity, the geniality, the dignity which are the offspring of luxury and privacy and space.
And (pardon me the thought) I thought, too, of the admirable smoke and drink and the deep armchairs and the pleasant carpets: of the urbanity, the
geniality, the dignity which are the offspring of luxury and privacy and space.
One seemed alone with an