The Cheapest of All to Entertain


The cheap test of what is called a run now-a-days is no evidence of a flourishing profession. A certain class of people must go to the theatre to fill in their evenings; and, above all, it must be remembered that the London theatres are the theatres for the kingdom, and that the audiences are changing every night. The manager is catering for England, Ireland, and Scotland, and a sprinkling from the Continent. This is another result of a fatal centralisation, and, it may be added, of the “sensation” system now in fashion. These costly spectacles will not pay unless exhibited for so many hundred nights. Sight is a much more costly sense than hearing; the eye is more extravagant than the ear, as any manager knows; but no manager has discovered as yet,—none at least have had the courage to act on the discovery,—that the mind is the cheapest of all to entertain.

——“P.F.” in the Saint Pauls Magazine, November, 1867.

Bred for Misery and Ruin


As we sow, we reap. Let the reader go into the children’s side of any prison in England, or, I grieve to add, of many workhouses, and judge whether those are monsters who disgrace our streets, people our hulks and penitentiaries, and overcrowd our penal colonies, or are creatures whom we have deliberately suffered to be bred for misery and ruin.

——Charles Dickens, Preface to Martin Chuzzlewit.

Church Lady, A.D. 400

Among those who anticipated the sentence [against the followers of John Chrysostom] by flight was an old maid named Nicarete, who deserves mention as a curious figure of the time. She was a philanthropist who devoted her means to works of charity, and always went about with a chest of drugs, which she used to dispense gratis, and which pious rumour said were always effectual. She reminds us of charitable ladies of modern times who distribute tracts, have a craze for homoeopathy, and hang on the lips of some favourite clergyman.

—Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire

On Writing English


Should a man (or a woman) desire to practice the profession of a lawyer, he spends several years in a lawyer’s office, reads many books on legal subjects, and passes several examinations set by legal professionals. A like procedure obtains, should he desire to become a doctor, a civil engineer, an architect or a professor. Should he desire to be an artist, he must visit Paris and study under the best masters and from the best work of those who have become the acknowledged masters in painting and sculpture. But should he desire to become an author—he simply sits down and scribbles off a manuscript; then he arises with a look of satisfaction upon his countenance and mails the pen-production to the editor of some magazine, the name of which he knows by hearsay.

——John A. Cooper in The Canadian Magazine.

The Only Cure for the Trust Evil


As for the ethical side, there is no cure but in an increasing scorn of unfair play—an increasing sense that a thing won by breaking the rules of the game is not worth the winning. When the business man who fights to secure special privileges, to crowd his competitor off the track by other than fair competitive methods, receives the same summary, disdainful ostracism by his fellows that the doctor or lawyer who is “unprofessional,” the athlete who abuses the rules, receive, we shall have gone a long way toward making commerce a fit pursuit for our young men.

——Ida M. Tarbell, quoted in The Craftsman (edited by Gustav Stickley), April, 1908.