English quotations - PDF book by Robinson Smith

English quotations

 a collection of the more memorable passages and poems of English literature 




This book aims to be ' a composition and pattern of the best and honourable things ' in English literature. It is the result of a special reading of whatever in that literature might be supposed to contribute to this purpose. That my judgment in the matter of selection might be corrected and reinforced, I have examined essays and books about books, and articles in the better reviews for the last hundred years.

 In so far as I have made this judgment the sura and spirit of what finely lives from out our English past, I have succeeded; and I have failed in so far as I have admitted things that may be personally pleasing yet lack the permanence of true passion — ' tickling rimes ' that are not 'high and noble matter'. A book of this nature, the contribution of a race to the thought of the world, cannot be considered a work of art since it has no leading idea urging its development. Yet something of unity it possesses from the fact that all great ideas breathe a common spirit, and are, both in conception and manner of utterance, more or less allied.

This common spirit of which they all partake in the spirit of chivalric idealism, of high-minded devotion, of the consecrated life of the soul. In art, this spirit always expresses itself in terms of the imagination, that sense which is truer than common sense since it is the voice of the mind. Idealistic in spirit, imaginative in an embodiment, the best and bravest thoughts are, finally, measured and rhythmic in language.


That memorable utterances are idealistic chiefly implies that their message is a positive, not a negative, one. Doubts, dis- trusts, denials, all that tends to weaken man's position or limit his possibilities, pass away; but admirations, loves, hopes, braveries, all that tends to strengthen our faith or prolong our fervour, all that looks up or uplifts, these in their expression have meaning for generation after generation. 

Secondly, poets embody their ideas imaginatively, since their message is a message of the mind, that sees things abstractly in their relation to truth. The most universal imagination, however, though moving in highly idealized abstractions, will image itself in those realities that are tlie most permanent and pure in the individual life. Lastly, ideas, original and worth j^ of utterance, express themselves in rhythm, because the moods that give them birth are musical. 

The creating force of these ideas is the resolution of individual phenomena into the orderly movement of law. They are ' to their own music ' and ' voluntary move harmonious numbers'. If we add that the rhythms employed will, in general, be established rhythms, we merely attest that the laws of music to which the emotions evoked by poetry give their assent work still ^^^th the same distribution of emphasis as they have always worked, and that thought expressed in accordance with them become more immediately a part of the reader's consciousness.


the book details :
  • Author: Robinson Smith
  • Publication date:1907
  • Company:London: G. Routledge & sons, limited; New York, E.P. Dutton & co

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