Monday, October 29, 2012

We learn from the prologue to this rare and charming little volume how true and genuine a bibliomaniac was Richard de Bury, for he tells us there, that a vehement love amor excitet of books had so powerfully seized all the faculties of his mind, that dismissing all other avocations, he had applied the ardor of his thoughts to the acquisition of books. Expense to him was quite an afterthought, and he begrudged no amount to possess a volume of rarity or antiquity. Wisdom, he says, is an infinite treasure infinitus theasaurus the value of which, in his opinion, was beyond things; for how, he asks, can the sum be too great which purchases such vast delight. We cannot admire the purity of his Latin so much as the enthusiasm that pervades it; but in the eyes of the bibliophile this will amply compensate for his minor imperfections. When expatiating on the value of his books he appears to unbosom, as it were, all the inward rapture of love.

F. Somner Merryweather, Bibliomania in the Middle Ages (Kindle edition, locations 1294-1301)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The typical American city of 1963 had appallingly little choice in things to eat. In a large city, you would be able to find a few restaurants serving Americanized Chinese food, a few Italian restaurants serving spaghetti and pizza, and a few restaurants with a French name, which probably meant that they had French onion soup on the menu. But if you were looking for a nice little Szechuan dish or linguine with pesto or sautéed fois gras, forget it. A Thai curry? The first Thai restaurant in the entire nation wouldn't open for another eight years. Sushi? Raw fish? Are you kidding?

Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (Kindle edition: p. 3 / location 80)
And what happened to the intellectuals? They were kept out in the cold, eating their hearts out as they watched ignorant, vulgar nobodies making history. Their eyes strained for signs of failure, of the collapse of the common man's universe. Every financial crisis was seen as a herald of approaching doom, and every manifestation of social unrest as a harbinger of an impending upheaval.

Thomas Bethell, Eric Hoffer: The Longshoreman Philosopher (Kindle edition: p. 259 / location 4737)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The dying scene opened upon the king's vision in a very abrupt and sudden manner. He has been somewhat unwell during a certain day in February, when he was about fifty-four years of age. His illness, however, did not interrupt the ordinary orgies and carousels of his palace. It was Sunday. In the evening a very gay assembly was convened in the apartments, engaged in deep gaming, and other dissolute and vicious pleasures. The king mingled in these scenes, though he complained of being unwell. His head was giddy--his appetite was gone--his walk was unsteady. When the party broke up at midnight, he went into one of the neighboring apartments, and they prepared for him some light and simple food suitable for a sick man, but he could not take it. He retired to his bed, but he passed a restless and uneasy night. He arose, however, the next morning, and attempted to dress himself, but before he finished the work he was suddenly struck by that grim and terrible messenger and coadjutor of death--apoplexy--as by a blow. Stunned by the stroke, he staggered and fell.

Jacob Abbott, History of King Charles the Second of England (109-110)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blood-brotherhood practices were also a part of the traditional culture of Albania, where they were often employed by two men who needed each other's aid, especially in matters of feuding. To seal their alliance, the two men would prick their fingers with knives, and then mutually lick up each other's blood, or else mix the blood into a glass of rakia which both then drank. The men were then regarded as true blood-relations, their children forbidden to marry each other.

Nathan F. Miller and Jack Donovan, Blood-Brotherhood and Other Rites of Male Alliance (Kindle edition, 1697 of 4365)