<< "It's always so difficult to know what to do for the best," Fyne assured me. It is. Good intentions stand in their own way so much. Whereas if you want to do harm to any one you needn't hesitate. You have only to go on. No one will reproach you with your mistakes or call you a confounded, clumsy meddler. >> from Chance
<< A man who has had his way is seldom happy, for generally he finds that the way does not lead very far on this earth of desires which can never be fully satisfied. >> from Chance
Zoë Wanamaker, Geraldine McEwan and Elaine Paige in A Murder Is Announced
"What sort of a place is Chipping Cleghorn?" asked Sir Henry. "A large, sprawling, picturesque village. Butcher, baker, grocer, quite a good antique shop--two tea shops . . . Cottages formerly lived in by agricultural laborers now converted and lived in by elderly spinsters and retired couples . . . " "I know," said Sir Henry. "Nice old pussies and retired colonels. Yes, if they noticed that advertisement they'd all come sniffing round at 6:30 to see what was up. Lord, I wish I had my own particular old pussy here. Wouldn't she like to get her nice ladylike teeth into this? Right up her street it would be." " Who's your own particular pussy, Henry? An aunt?" "No." Sir Henry sighed. "She's no relation." He said reverently: "She's just the finest detective God ever made. Natural genius cultivated in a suitable soil." He turned upon Craddock. "Don't you despise the old pussies in this village of yours my boy," he said. "In case this turns out to be a high-powered mystery, which I don't suppose for a moment it will, remember that an elderly unmarried woman who knits and gardens is streets ahead of any detective sergeant . . ."
from A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie, 1950
I think the detective story is by far the best upholder of the democratic doctrine in literature. I mean, there couldn't have been detective stories until there were democracies, because the very foundation of the detective story is the thesis that if you're guilty you'll get it in the neck and if you're innocent you can't possibly be harmed. No matter who you are. There was no such conception of justice until after 1830. There was no such thing as a policeman or a detective in the world before 1830, because the modern conception of the policeman and detective, namely, a man whose only function is to find out who did it and then get the evidence that will punish him, did not exist. ... In Paris before the year 1800 — read the Dumas stories — there were gangs of people whose business was to go out and punish wrongdoers. But why? Because they had hurt De Marillac or Richlieu or the Duke or some Huguenot noble, not just because they had harmed society. It is only the modern policeman that is out to protect society.
from "Invitation to Learning," CBS radio, January 1942 (Rex Stout appeared with Jaques Barzun and Elmer Davis on Mark Van Doren's popular show.
I heartily recommend Mary McCarthy's "Portrait of the Intellectual as a Yale Man," one of the stories in The Company She Keeps. It's not nearly as well known as her "Man in the Brooks Brother Shirt," buit it is excellent in just the same way. Here's a little taste. -- DL
<< The inconsistencies he found whenever he examined his own thoughts troubled him a good deal. He found, for example, that he liked to drink and dance and go to medium-smart night clubs with medium-pretty girls. Yet he believed with Veblen that there was no greater folly than conspicuous consumption, and his eyes and ears told him that people were hungry while he had money in his pocket..This was a problem all well-to-do radicals had to face, and there were any number of ways of dealng wth it. You could stop being a radical, or you could give your money away. Or you could give a little of it away and say, "I owe something to myself," or give none of it away and say, "I'm not a saint, and besides I have something more important than money to contribute." >>
From Bryan Garner, ed, Garner's Modern American Usage (Oxford University Press):
The spurious rule about not ending sentences with prepositions is a remnant of Latin grammar, in which a preposition was the one word that a writer could not end a sentence with. But Latin grammar should never straitjacket English grammar. If the superstition is a "rule" at all, it is a rule of rhetoric and not of grammar, the idea being to end sentences with strong words that drive a point home. That principle is sound, but not to the extent of meriting lockstep adherence or flouting established idiom.
Winston Churchill's witticism about the absurdity of this bugaboo should have laid it to rest. When someone once upbraided him for ending a sentence with a preposition, he rejoined, "That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put." Avoiding a preposition at the end of the sentence sometimes leads to just such a preposterous monstrosity.