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#6574The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
-- Wm. Shakespeare, "Henry VI", Part IV
#6575The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and
enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to
lend money.
-- Mark Twain, "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"
#6576The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
-- Mark Twain
#6577The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that
procession but carrying a banner.
-- Mark Twain
#6578The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first.
-- Blaise Pascal
#6579The Least Perceptive Literary Critic
The most important critic in our field of study is Lord Halifax. A
most individual judge of poetry, he once invited Alexander Pope round to
give a public reading of his latest poem.
Pope, the leading poet of his day, was greatly surprised when Lord
Halifax stopped him four or five times and said, "I beg your pardon, Mr.
Pope, but there is something in that passage that does not quite please me."
Pope was rendered speechless, as this fine critic suggested sizeable
and unwise emendations to his latest masterpiece. "Be so good as to mark
the place and consider at your leisure. I'm sure you can give it a better
After the reading, a good friend of Lord Halifax, a certain Dr.
Garth, took the stunned Pope to one side. "There is no need to touch the
lines," he said. "All you need do is leave them just as they are, call on
Lord Halifax two or three months hence, thank him for his kind observation
on those passages, and then read them to him as altered. I have known him
much longer than you have, and will be answerable for the event."
Pope took his advice, called on Lord Halifax and read the poem
exactly as it was before. His unique critical faculties had lost none of
their edge. "Ay", he commented, "now they are perfectly right. Nothing can
be better."
-- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
#6580The Least Successful Collector
Betsy Baker played a central role in the history of collecting. She
was employed as a servant in the house of John Warburton (1682-1759) who had
amassed a fine collection of 58 first edition plays, including most of the
works of Shakespeare.
One day Warburton returned home to find 55 of them charred beyond
legibility. Betsy had either burned them or used them as pie bottoms. The
remaining three folios are now in the British Museum.
The only comparable literary figure was the maid who in 1835 burned
the manuscript of the first volume of Thomas Carlyle's "The Hisory of the
French Revolution", thinking it was wastepaper.
-- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"
#6581The lovely woman-child Kaa was mercilessly chained to the cruel post of
the warrior-chief Beast, with his barbarian tribe now stacking wood at
her nubile feet, when the strong clear voice of the poetic and heroic
Handsomas roared, 'Flick your Bic, crisp that chick, and you'll feel my
steel through your last meal!'
-- Winning sentence, 1984 Bulwer-Lytton bad fiction contest.
#6582The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact...
-- Wm. Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
#6583The man who sets out to carry a cat by its tail learns something that
will always be useful and which never will grow dim or doubtful.
-- Mark Twain
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