"Have you told Julia this about Sebastian?"
"The substance of it; not quite like I told you. She never loved him, you know, as we do."
"Do." The word reproached me; there was no past tense in Cordelia's verb "to love."
"I'm sorry, Jasper," I said. "I know it must be embarrassing for you, but i happen to like this
bad set. I like getting drunk at luncheon, and though I haven't yet spent quite double my
allowance, I undoubtedly shall before the end of term. I usually have a glass of champagne about this
time. will you join me?"
How ungenerously in later life we disclaim the virtuous moods of our youth, living in retrospect long,
summer days of unreflecting dissipation, Dresden figures of pastoral gaiety! Our wisdom, we prefer to
think, is all of our own gathering, while, if the truth be told, it is, most of it, the last coin of
a legacy that dwindles with time.
on oxford's long vac
"It's a very long vacation," he said wistfully. "In my day we used to go on what were called
'reading parties,' always in mountainous areas. Why? Why," he repeated petulantly, "should alpine
scenery be though conducive to study?"
on the british class system
"It is purely out of respect for your Aunt Philippa that I dine at this length. She laid it down that
a three-course dinner was middle-class. 'If you let the servants get their way,' she said, 'you will
find yourself eating nightly off a single chop.'"
Dearest Charles,- I found a box of this paper at the back of a bureau so I must write to you as I
am mourning for my lost innocence. It never looked like living. The doctors despaired of it from
The view implicit in my education was that the basic narrative of Christianity had long been
exposed as a myth, and that opinion was now divided as to whether its ethical teaching was of present
value, a division in which the main weight went against it: religion was a hobby which some people
professed and others did not; at the best it was slightly ornamental, at the worst it was the province
of "complexes" and "inhibitions"--catchwords of the decade--and of the intolerance, hypocrisy, and sheer
stupidity attributed to it for centuries. No one had ever suggested to me that these quaint observances
expressed a coherent philosophical system and intransigeant historical claims; nor, had they done so,
would I have been much interested.
"Oh dear, it's very difficult being a Catholic." "Does it make much difference to you?"
"Of course. All the time." "Well, I can't say I've noticed it. Are you struggling against temptation? You don't seem much more
virtuous than me."
"I'm very, very much wickeder," said Sebastian indignantly.
"But, my dear Sebastian, you can't seriously believe it all."
"Can't I?" "I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass."
"Oh yes, I believe that. It's a lovely idea." "But you can't believe things because they're a lovely idea."
"But I do. That's how I believe."
"I wish I liked Catholics more." "They seem just like other people."
"My dear Charles, that's exactly what they're not--particularly in this country, where they're so few.
It's not just that they're a clique--as a matter of fact, they're about four cliques all blackguarding
each other half the time--but they've got an entirely different outlook on life; everything they think important
is different from other people. They try and hide it as much as they can, but it comes out all the time.
It's quite natural, really, that they should."
That was the change in her from ten years ago; that, indeed, was her reward, this haunting, magical sadness
which spoke straight to the heart and struck silence; it was the completion of her beauty.
on catholic families
Do you know last year, when I thought I was going to have a child, I'd decided to have it brought up
a Catholic? I hadn't thought about religion before; I haven't since; but just at that time, when I was
was waiting for the birth, I thought, 'That's the one thing I can give her. It doesn't seem to have done
me much good, but my child shall have it.'
We dined that night high up in the ship, in the restaurant, and saw through the bow windows the stars come
out and sweep across the sky as once, I remembered, I had seen them sweep above the towers and gables
Charm is the great English blight. It does not exist outside these damp islands. It spots and kills anything
it touches. It kills love; it kills art; I greatly fear, my dear Charles, it has killed you.
on the socially awkward
Even on that convivial evening I could feel my host emanating little magnetic waves of social uneasiness,
creating, rather, a pool of general embarrassment about himself in which he floated with loglike calm.