A Counsel of Perfection

It is clear that the weary man must have a chair to sit on, the hungry man a table to dine at; nor would the most sensitive judgment condemn him for buying ugly ones, were no others to be had; but objects of art are a counsel of perfection. It is quite possible to go without them; and the proof is that many do go without them who honestly think to possess them in abundance.

—Edith Wharton & Ogden Codman, Jr., The Decoration of Houses

The Champions of Authority

Writers who possess any freedom of mind, may be known from each other by the peculiar character of their style and sentiments; but the champions who are inlisted in the service of Authority, commonly wear the uniform of the regiment.

——Edward Gibbon, A Vindication of Some Passages in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

The Fate of the Uplifting Book

It happens only too often that the uplifter of the public mind is balked by a disinclination on the part of the public mind to meet him or her half-way. The uplifter does his share. He produces the uplifting book. But the public, instead of standing still to be uplifted, wanders off to browse on coloured supplements and magazine stories.

——P. G. Wodehouse, Their Mutual Child