The Italian prose tale had begun to exercise that influence as early as Chaucer's time: but circumstances and atmosphere were as yet unfavourable for its growth.
The hardest thing to attain... is the appreciation of difference without insisting on superiority.
When people cannot write good literature it is perhaps natural that they should lay down rules how good literature should be written.
I do not think anything serious should be done after dinner, as nothing should be before breakfast.
When [wines] were good they pleased my sense, cheered my spirits, improved my moral and intellectual powers, besides enabling me to confer the same benefits on other people. (Notes on a Cellar Book)
But dinner is dinner, a meal at which not so much to eat - it becomes difficult to eat much at it as you grow older - as to drink, to talk, to flirt, to discuss, to rejoice "at the closing of the day". I do not think anything serious should be done after it, as nothing should before breakfast.
Let us also once more rejoice in, and thank God for, the fact that we know nothing about Homer, and practically nothing about Shakespeare.
The Book of History is the Bible of Irony.
We shall not busy ourselves with what men ought to have admired, what they ought to have written, what they ought to have thought, but with what they did think, write, admire.
Oratory is, after all, the prose literature of the savage.
Criticism is the endeavour to find, to know, to love, to recommend, not only the best, but all the good, that has been known and thought and written in the world.
So, then, there abide these three, Aristotle, Longinus, and Coleridge.
Majorities are generally wrong, if only in their reasons for being right.
The Odyssey is, indeed, one of the greatest of all stories, it is the original romance of the West; but the Iliad, though a magnificent poem, is not much of a story.
Alcoholic drinks, rightly used, are good for body and soul alike, but as a restorative of both there is nothing like brandy.
It is the unbroken testimony of all history that alcoholic liquors have been used by the strongest, wisest, handsomest, and in every way best races of all times.
One of the best known, and one of the least intelligible, facts of literary history is the lateness, in Western European Literature at any rate, of prose fiction, and the comparative absence, in the two great classical languages, of what we call by that name.
But the eighteenth century, on the whole, loathed melancholy.
But even gold is not everything: and only a fanatic, and a rather foolish fanatic, would say that this style of fiction summed up and exhausted all the good that fiction could give and do.
Miss Austen had shown the infinite possibilities of ordinary and present things for the novelist.
To pass to the deluge, and beyond it, and to come to close quarters with our proper division, the origin of Romance itself is a very debatable subject, or rather it is a subject which the wiser mind will hardly care to debate much.
The transition state of manners and language cannot be too often insisted upon: for this affected the process at both ends, giving the artist in fictitious life an uncertain model to copy and unstable materials to work in.
But at the time when he wrote, Englishmen, with the rarest exceptions, wrote only in French or Latin; and when they began to write in English, a man of genius, to interpret and improve on him, was not found for a long time.
Nothing is more curious than the almost savage hostility that Humour excites in those who lack it.
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