Monday, October 20, 2014

Quentin Durward by Sir Walter Scott (1823) Illu.

Well I can see a limited appeal for this book in today's audience. It is a little slow going but if you are a fan of the period then it is a wonderful review of the Louis XI and his world. With an internet connection nearby one can look up the dozens of references to other historic figures and events that Scott weaves into the narrative.

A nice old copy pub. 1906
And only two illustrations:
Interesting that Quentin disappears for about a quarter of the the book as the author develops the the story around Louis and Duke Charles of Burgundy.
I would say that a lot of the fiction is less intriguing than what really happened and that is why it is so interesting to look at the actual events while reading.

Scott's human insights are grand!
Very early on a paragraph caught my eye:
"The eldest and most remarkable of these men in dress and appearance, resembled the merchant or shopkeeper of the period. His jerkin, hose, and cloak were of a dark uniform colour, but worn so threadbare that the acute young Scot conceived that the wearer must be either very rich or very poor, probably the former. The fashion of the dress was close and short, a kind of garment which was not then held decorous among gentry, or even the superior class of citizens, who generally wore loose gowns which descended below the middle of the leg"
In the suburb of Detroit where I live there are some old money running around and in the very same way that the Scot conceived the shabby clothed gent could be either rich or poor we too have our share of them

In this paragraph Quentin is lectured by the Bohemian:
""Simply," replied the Zingaro, "that those who know aught of the Most Christian King, are aware that the purpose about which he is most anxious, is always that which he is least willing to declare. Let our gracious Louis send twelve embassies, and I will forfeit my neck to the gallows a year before it is due, if in eleven of them there is not something at the bottom of the ink horn more than the pen has written in the letters of credence.""
 A very period way of saying "more than meets the eye."

De Comines corrects his majesty on the merits of "moderation"
""At least I would have your Majesty be in a condition to discuss them all."
"Yet moderation, De Comines, moderation in success, is—no one knows better than you—necessary to its ultimate advantage."
"So please your Majesty, the merit of moderation is, I have observed, most apt to be extolled (praised) by the losing party. The winner holds in more esteem the prudence which calls on him not to leave an opportunity unimproved.""

Quentin's conversation with the Bohemian at his moment of death is captivating:
""Unhappy, most unhappy being! Think better! let me speed for a priest—these men will delay yet a little longer. I will bribe them to it," said Quentin. "What canst thou expect, dying in such opinions, and impenitent?"
"To be resolved into the elements," said the hardened atheist, pressing his fettered arms against his bosom; "my hope, trust, and expectation is that the mysterious frame of humanity shall melt into the general mass of nature, to be recompounded in the other forms with which she daily supplies those which daily disappear, and return under different forms—the watery particles to streams and showers, the earthy parts to enrich their mother earth, the airy portions to wanton in the breeze, and those of fire to supply the blaze of Aldebaran and his brethren.—In this faith have I lived, and I will die in it!—Hence! begone!—disturb me no farther!—I have spoken the last word that mortal ears shall listen to.""
 He is talking about dust to dust & ashes to ashes, Scott is able to calmly discuss the various views of the world and the after life with out judgment.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

J W Waterhouse by Anthony Hobson (1989)

OK not a vintage book, but a book about one of the great vintage Artists.

Hobson provides a nice chronology of the life of the great Waterhouse. His works have probably been seen by most of the civilized world even thought they don't know his name.

I became interested when he kept popping up every time I looked for images of the classics. Waterhouse unabashedly painted young women in vulnerable or tender moments, extracting these images from his extensive reading of the classics and of the great writers of his time. Now I need to pick up some Tennyson.

The book has a large (but not all) collection of his works, the website even has the locations of pieces on public view, now we make sure to see them as we travel. 

Without a doubt one of his finest works. Waterhouse was good from an early age and came from a family of artists; it always helps.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper (1841) Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth

The Deerslayer; a fantastic story.
In spite of all the criticism that surrounds the Leather Stalking series The Deerslayer is a very well motivated story, it rolls along at a quick pace for the first 1/3rd and only then has small lapses of the famous tedious over descriptive paragraphs. This by no means takes away from a good story telling experience. I have only The Last of the Mohicans as my other reference to Cooper.

I have this big Illustrated copy from 1929 in perfect condition.

N. C. Wyeth is notable do to his tremendous output of paintings and interesting because his family traces back to 1645 arrival to the American continent.

Of all the illustrations in the book this one is my favorite; it is of sweet little Hetty setting out to rescue her father and Hurry. The stunning beauty of the canoe (as with all classic yacht forms) is so faithfully brought to (better than) life.

In chapter 25 The Deerslayer and Judith have a spirited discussion about the Afterlife; the compares two different but similar views of a "better place."

In chapter 26 The Deerslayer provides marriage advice to Hist; referencing "cloudy day in the Lodge" he recommends keeping the "window to your heart open" so that there will always room for sunshine to enter. Wise words indeed.

On the final page Cooper expounds on the ethereal nature of life and lives.

"From all these signs, it was probable the lake had not been visited since the occurrence of the final scene of our tale. Accident or tradition had rendered it again a spot sacred to nature, the frequent wars and the feeble population of the colonies still confining the settlements within narrow boundaries. Chingachgook and his friend left the spot with melancholy feelings. It had been the region of their First War Path, and it carried back the minds of both to scenes of tenderness, as well as to hours of triumph. They held their way towards the Mohawk in silence, however, to rush into new adventures, as stirring and as remarkable as those which had attended their opening careers on this lovely lake. At a later day they returned to the place, where the Indian found a grave.
Time and circumstances have drawn an impenetrable mystery around all else connected with the Hutters. They lived, erred, died, and are forgotten. None connected have felt sufficient interest in the disgraced and disgracing to withdraw the veil, and a century is about to erase even the recollection of their names. The history of crime is ever revolting, and it is fortunate that few love to dwell on its incidents. The sins of the family have long since been arraigned at the judgment seat of God, or are registered for the terrible settlement of the last great day.
The same fate attended Judith. When Hawkeye reached the garrison on the Mohawk he inquired anxiously after that lovely but misguided creature. None knew her—even her person was no longer remembered. Other officers had, again and again, succeeded the Warleys and Craigs and Grahams, though an old sergeant of the garrison, who had lately come from England, was enabled to tell our hero that Sir Robert Warley lived on his paternal estates, and that there was a lady of rare beauty in the Lodge who had great influence over him, though she did not bear his name. Whether this was Judith relapsed into her early failing, or some other victim of the soldier's, Hawkeye never knew, nor would it be pleasant or profitable to inquire. We live in a world of transgressions and selfishness, and no pictures that represent us otherwise can be true, though, happily, for human nature, gleamings of that pure spirit in whose likeness man has been fashioned are to be seen, relieving its deformities, and mitigating if not excusing its crimes"

 I so wished that Hawkeye would take Judith for his wife. To him however she is damaged goods. Cooper illustrates her vagaries in a single paragraph and not in detail enough to make it stick. I suppose looking at the simple lines "the gal has her vagaries" and that she has spent time in the settlements where she "has caught more than is for her good, from the settlers, and especially from the gallantifying officers" from our 21st cent view point these words mean too many things but in the 1840's may have been all one needed to say about a woman.

The essay, In Defense of Judith: A Re-Reading of Cooper's The Deerslayer as Social History provides discourse on some of the potential failings of our hero. He is intolerant of others failings but acknowledges none of his own.This is the best description of the times, issues, and realities Cooper has en devoured to illuminate for us.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney (1935)

The Circus is interesting... not sure it holds a top spot for me however it is insightful and fantastical. I will call it "Dark reality Fiction." The book as compared to the movie has no real plot line, instead it takes us thru several characters from the morning announcement in the local news through the end of the show that evening.

I found a perfect condition 2nd printing, the book was originally printed with illustrations by Boris Artzybasheff. Boris was a genius in the the graphic arts field although I feel the Circus renderings are not his best.

I have read no other book that introduced as many new words (to me) as this short story. If you ever wished the English language had a word for this or that you may find it here. Finney, a man of the world was either well educated or a trickster, he introduces so many characters from ancient mythology.
Imagine 1935 for a moment, a time distant enough from the WWI and the collapse of the vision of the greatness of Man's emergence from the dark ages, and with all the seeds of the WWII sprouting right in front of you.
Imangine too, trying to read this thing in 1935... you would have to had read it in the library, only the most well read would have known the slightest background to the mythological references. For us, we lay back in the lounge chair and look up each new and incredible reference with ease on our ISomething. It is really a short story but when you take in the "look up" time it can take a while to get through; and that's OK.

Some meaningful quotes:
   "Madame, the role of skeptic becomes you not; there are things in the world not even the experience of a whole life spent in Abalone could conceive of." I think of this when I see a beauty queen on Fox explaining how Bowe Bergdahl should have done this or could have done that; seriously, your experience in back room with the other models provides you with the life experience to comment on this situation, shame on you. (I am aware that in fact these people are making a fortune inflaming their base and not really trying to understand anything)

   I a sequence while discussing the Mermaid with another banal character described as all Americans do, by their occupation, Dr Lao explains how he would like to release her and how he feels about that release: "Oh God if I could have only seen her when I was a young man! The contemplation of her beauty might have changed my whole life, Beauty can do that can't it?
He goes on to explain how he wishes she might thank him for releasing her. As an old man I dream of how a younger woman might treat me as well.

   Regarding the Hedge Hound, Breed, breed, breed. Fill and refill the wombs of the world. Tumescence and ejaculation. Flinging out spore and seed and egg and bud. Quickening and birth. Sterility and death. That is life, I thought,... He goes on to ask the weather there is an animal that is not governed by such a cycle. Finney creates such a creature in the Hedge Hound. I for one contemplate how truly poor the process of Evolution is regarding the current pathetic status of the world after all of the "refilling" that has been done so far. In addition I have often wondered what kind of place this would be if the Sex drive weren't quite so overwhelming?

   I can't figure out how Satan Mekratrig got into this book because the only reference seems to come from a 1968 book by Robert Heinlein? Anyhow an interesting investigation could be made into this character too.

   I am convinced that it requires a second read; I do like Finney's take on the absurdity of it all.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (1900)

My third Conrad in the last four books I have indulged in, Lord Jim is the longest and most complicated of the three.

Once again I am struck by the amazing world that was the end of the 1800's; an incomprehensibly large globe with places and people that really were a long way away and very different from "us." I don't get the impression that Conrad ever thought that the world would get any smaller than the one he sailed thru or that he could conceive of a world as small as the one in which we live in; his stories are of people that flee from their civilized world and can actually get to a place of total and complete remoteness.

FYI, both Schomberg and to a large extent Marlow show up in this tail.

Jim becomes master of a native community not unlike Kurtz but unlike Kurtz is a good and benevolent leader and a "romantic" till the end. And Jim is not unlike Axel in "Victory" who isolates himself on a desolate island only to have outside forces intrude and destroy what he has gained.

Jim's simple and seemingly rational decision (under great peer pressure) to save himself and jump from the Patna becomes the Scarlet Letter of his life.  Having come from a part of the world where the "rule of law" exists he is held accountable for his actions on the Patna and cannot escape this branding. And so in a world that is unfathomably large poor Jim cannot escape his tormentors no matter how far he travels until he gets to the remote and dinghy island of Patusan.

Conrad posits a situation where there is no way for us (the reader) to be certain what we would have done either. Jim's particular situation was not entirely of his own making however as we see several times over he is a poor judge of character and as a result puts himself into unrecoverable states.

At an early age Jim has fantasies of heroic acts in action but he fails early on in his 1st real chance to be a hero. After the Patna he wishes to return to his old pursuit of greatness but is incapable of shaking the verdict of the court and is tormented by his inability to redeem himself, until he gets to Patusan. His redemption is fairly complete there, they do not know about the Patna and would not believe it anyway. So in fact he does achieve a complete break from his past actions by traveling to the ends of the earth, something far more difficult for us in todays world.

In his unending efforts to help (or eventually rid himself of) Jim, Marlow visits his old friend Stein. Their conversation leeds Marlow to an understanding and a wonderful bit of advise on life:
   '"I understand very well. He is romantic."
'He had diagnosed the case for me, and at first I was quite startled to find how simple it was; and indeed our conference resembled so much a medical consultation—Stein, of learned aspect, sitting in an arm-chair before his desk; I, anxious, in another, facing him, but a little to one side—that it seemed natural to ask—
'"What's good for it?"
'He lifted up a long forefinger.
'"There is only one remedy! One thing alone can us from being ourselves cure!" The finger came down on the desk with a smart rap. The case which he had made to look so simple before became if possible still simpler—and altogether hopeless. There was a pause. "Yes," said I, "strictly speaking, the question is not how to get cured, but how to live."

In this enlightening passage Conrad spells out one of the realities of the adventurous life in the late 1800's: 
    I knew very well he was of those about whom there is no inquiry; I had seen better men go out, disappear, vanish utterly, without provoking a sound of curiosity or sorrow. The spirit of the land, as becomes the ruler of great enterprises, is careless of innumerable lives. Woe to the stragglers! We exist only in so far as we hang together. He had straggled in a way; he had not hung on; but he was aware of it with an intensity that made him touching, just as a man's more intense life makes his death more touching than the death of a tree. 

Conrad's world has people whom are unfailingly true on one end and those sunken to absolute evil on the other, and the rest of us in the middle.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899)

I have read the Heart several times but it keeps me coming back for another look. I am doing a deep dive into Conrad with Victory, The Heart, and now Lord Jim. His stories are what I would call real time blogs of what was the new thinking surrounding his time and place.

After the Out of Africa experience I decided to continue with the "last gasp" of  Imperialism theme; going from East Africa to West Africa and up the Congo.

I picked up an Eaton Press Leather bound 1980 printing with illustrations by Robert Shore and introduction by Leo Gurko. Leo's intro is outstanding, a huge insight into a story that requires multiple readings to own. He helps us see "darkness and light" juxtapositions used thru-out the story, everything is described in opposing terms.

I did not know that Conrad was given to using characters over from one tale to another until I ran into Captain Marlo in Lord Jim!
Conrad was really just writing from experience; he did all this stuff!

Conrad (in the spirit of his time) seems very aware that the "savages" may be human, and the "civilized" persons may be the most savage of the lot. No other book guides us thru the world of civilization and out of it, out into a vastness, a vastness that can only be written about, a vastness that like the early American West can only be imagined. Yes I understand that a person can be lost in a ravine 100 yards from the road and never be found, I'm not talking that, I'm talking about a whole portion of the earth that was empty of human traffic.

It now occurs to me that the road to world over-population was really begun at the turn of the 1900's when the medical establishments had finally figured out the basics. So now we live in an immensely overpopulated world, a place that has no secrets, has no uncharted waters, and no where to adventure to, at least not in the way the 1900's man could. With YouTube as our guide we can see and hear the outer world, from the couch.

During the description of Kurtz that ends with "he was hollow to the core" Conrad eludes to the "whisper" of a place or situation that allows us to set free inhibitions that without Internal (or as important) External checks and balances (at least for some) allows one to take a turn down a darker road. As in drug counseling it is stated that "it starts out easy in a comfortable place" but only those that see the unfortunate potential outcome turn back. Kurtz had striped the gears, jumped the tracks, and gone over to the other side... of humanity to inhumanity; a place where under just the right circumstances almost any of might join him.

Along comes the Eldorado Exploring Expedition
 "This devoted band called itself the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, and I believe they were sworn to secrecy. Their talk, however, was the talk of sordid buccaneers: it was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage; there was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them,"
So yes Imperialism is institutionalized piracy; move into a virgin territory, gather the easy pickings and move on. In Conrad's "Victory"the ill fated venture was called the Tropical Belt Coal Company, but best of all is in "Lord Jim" where a couple of schemers intend on scooping up an island made up entirely of bird droppings; free for the taking!

And Conrad at his best:
"Destiny. My destiny! Droll thing life is—that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself—that comes too late—a crop of in-extinguishable regrets."
Argh matey, them words ring true!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Out of Africa by Baroness Karen von Blixen (1938)

After seeing the movie again I decided to put to use my 1st ed. copy of OoA. The 1st 1/2 is much like a documentary and reminds one little of the movie, however the middle quickens, and the end is thick and very moving. Mostly it is a series of short descriptions of events, often jumping forward and backward in time, the movie fills in a few things that she surely was too embarrassed to write in the book. I highly recommend it because the viewpoint is so unique.

The Baroness is extremely insightful at times; she sees the big picture in the small things everywhere she looks. She witnessed and was a part of the the last years in which the Colonial powers "took and held" anything they wanted. The last places on earth that were unchanged from thousands of years ago were tele-ported into the future, and not in a good way.

The matter of fact way in which she speaks of hunting, killing, death, and dying is unusual to many of us who are so insulated from farm life. The Baroness muses on the Normans as having "not a single Southern trait" thus there continued fascination with all things south.

The world was moving from the Napoleonic war style to the mechanized style during the whole time that The Baroness was in Africa; imagine, the automobile and the aeroplane going from unheard of to commonplace in just a decade.

All throughout, The Baroness compares the Native mind to the European mind. She describes the Masai as being both aristocratic and proletariat at the same time and so when the bourgeoisie from Europe descended upon them they had many miss understandings.

On a singular note she describes Old Knudsen as a "singularly good hater" don't we all know some of those folks.

She discusses how Berkeley and Denys are from a different era imagine that, I always thought I was from a  different era, and here they are in the era I would have loved the most!

"When the design of my life is completed, shall I, shall other people see a stork?"

"Pride is faith in the idea that God had when he made us."

Pooran Singh
Blixen's description of the Craftsman Pooran Singh rings true to me; he can make or fix just about anything. I understand the the Indian man she describes completely; I would have been him in another life.

Her long preparations for leaving Africa caused much reflection. I was reading while I was in preparations for leaving Chrysler after 28 years. She said that she did not leave Africa as much as Africa left her. All I know is that during the last two weeks I watched as Chrysler receded from me; discussions and subjects that had been my total interest in the past had a time frame beyond my last day and so did I could not be interested even if I wanted to.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Victory by Joseph Conrad (1915)

I am very happy with Victory; the story motors along a little jerkily for the 1st 3rd but really picks up steam through the rest of the book; it becomes quiet compelling and hard to put down.

I am a Conrad fan and need a vintage copy of the Heart to get back into that.Conrad's insights into the seedy side of human nature are amazing.

Conrad's characters are extreme, like distant points on a circle, they are as different from one another as they can be. And then they are placed in a far away place so as to further isolate them another level. Each one is "from someplace" and this informs the reader as to their motivation or mindset.

To me there was an intriguing multiple references to the "English Gentleman" this is something that we may think we know about but through Conrad's continual references I am beginning to realize I may not have a clue. I am wondering if there is a classic that would enlighten me with a more in-depth description and analysis of the "English Gentleman."

Conrad has a wonderful abillity to leave the reader with multiple scenerios swimming around in his or her head as each paragraph unfolds... what would I do?

Strangley enough this 1923 printing was improperly assembled! Two of page grouppings were swaped and I had to read through them both untill I figured out what happened... so I tore them out and rearranged it myself.

As for some of my favorite Quotes:

   Hatred does get ones blood to boil!
You see we had on the whole liked him well enough. And liking is not sufficient to keep going the interest one takes in a human being. With hatred, apparently, it is otherwise. Schomberg couldn't forget Heyst. The keen, manly Teutonic creature was a good hater. A fool often is.

  I too have become enchanted by the dream of the "Islands" through my readings:

The islands are very quiet. One sees them lying about, clothed in their dark garments of leaves, in a great hush of silver and azure, where the sea without murmurs meets the sky in a ring of magic stillness. A sort of smiling somnolence broods over them; the very voices of their people are soft and subdued, as if afraid to break some protecting spell.

   And this wonderful summary of "Women"
It astonished Heyst. No wonder, it flashed through his mind, women can deceive men so completely. The faculty was inherent in them; they seemed to be created with a special aptitude.
   I am noticing now tiny theme regarding some males attitudes towards women at least maybe gentlemen in the 1800's; there seems like there may have been a class of men who shunned women altogether, like Mr. Jones.

   The best (or only) description of us in the Coffin:
And then he smiled at his naiveness; for, being over five and thirty years of age, he ought to have known that in most cases the body is the unalterable mask of the soul, which even death itself changes but little, till it is put out of sight where no changes matter any more, either to our friends or to our enemies.

   Here a little truism regarding "pay for work"
"There!" began Ricardo quietly. "That's just what a man like you would say. You are that tame! I follow a gentleman. That ain't the same thing as to serve an employer. They give you wages as they'd fling a bone to a dog, and they expect you to be grateful. It's worse than slavery. You don't expect a slave that's bought for money to be grateful. And if you sell your work—what is it but selling your own self? You've got so many days to live and you sell them one after another. Hey? Who can pay me enough for my life? Ay! But they throw at you your week's money and expect you to say 'thank you' before you pick it up."
   Ay, but what else can we do?

  A little reference to religion:
"I won't bother you with the story. It was a custom-house affair, strange as it may sound to you. He would have preferred to be killed outright—that is, to have his soul dispatched to another world, rather than to be robbed of his substance, his very insignificant substance, in this. I saw that he believed in another world because, being cornered, as I have told you, he went down on his knees and prayed. What do you think of that?"
Heyst paused. She looked at him earnestly.
"You didn't make fun of him for that?" she said.
Heyst made a brusque movement of protest
"My dear girl, I am not a ruffian," he cried. Then, returning to his usual tone: "I didn't even have to conceal a smile. Somehow it didn't look a smiling matter. No, it was not funny; it was rather pathetic; he was so representative of all the past victims of the Great Joke.    I have to admit I have never heard it referred to as the Great Joke but that was a time of questioning.

   This is, I suppose, why I like Conrad:
He raised her hand to his lips, and let them rest on it for a space, during which she moved a little closer to him. After the lingering kiss he did not relinquish his hold.
"To slay, to love—the greatest enterprises of life upon a man! And I have no experience of either. You must forgive me anything that may have appeared to you awkward in my behavior, inexpressive in my speeches, untimely in my silences."

   An amazing insight into Duplicity as a viable form of self presevation:
 Duplicity—the refuge of the weak and the cowardly, but of the disarmed, too! Nothing stood between the enchanted dream of her existence and a cruel catastrophe but her duplicity. It seemed to her that the man sitting there before her was an unavoidable presence, which had attended all her life. He was the embodied evil of the world. She was not ashamed of her duplicity. With a woman's frank courage, as soon as she saw that opening she threw herself into it without reserve, with only one doubt—that of her own strength. She was appalled by the situation; but already all her aroused femininity, understanding that whether Heyst loved her or not she loved him, and feeling that she had brought this on his head, faced the danger with a passionate desire to defend her own.

Monday, February 24, 2014

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)

What an astounding book, I was sorry it had to end. After months of reading I was so involved with the characters that I did not want it to stop.

I will agree that Dickens can run on and sometimes you knew you were in for a long slog but what is reading for? The turns and twists are delightful.

My nice old copy was inexpensive at a local estate sale. Probably from 1895, unfortunately no illustrations.

Life lessons; many that would have served well me in my younger days! There is no doubt that David was a mama's boy but no problem... we all have our character defects, if we would only admit them.

Two 420 page books in one! Unbelievable! I thought for sure the second halve would be just a drag on the first but oh no, it has it's adult life charm all to itself. The ending, by the way reminded me of the ending of "Raising Arizona."

I know for sure I am not the 1st person to be blown away by Dickens; and am certainly not the last.

We wait a long time for David to grow up enough to chastise Mr. Murdstone; but oh it felt good.

Some of my favorite excerpts:

   A trifle of good advise from Betsey:
'Trot,' said my aunt in conclusion, 'be a credit to yourself, to me, and Mr. Dick, and Heaven be with you!' 
I was greatly overcome, and could only thank her, again and again, and send my love to Mr. Dick. 'Never,' said my aunt, 'be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.'
   Ah, to say this to someone, and have them listen...

   The good Doctor states prophetically:
'Annie, my dear,' said he, looking at his watch, and filling his glass, 'it is past your cousin jack's time, and we must not detain him, since time and tide—both concerned in this case—wait for no man. Mr. Jack Maldon, you have a long voyage, and a strange country, before you; but many men have had both, and many men will have both, to the end of time. The winds you are going to tempt, have wafted thousands upon thousands to fortune, and brought thousands upon thousands happily back.'
   Dickens purposefully leaves out the part about those winds swallowing a few good men too.

   David recalls seeing an old schoolmate:
Adams is going to be called to the bar almost directly, and is to be an advocate, and to wear a wig. I am surprised to find him a meeker man than I had thought, and less imposing in appearance. He has not staggered the world yet, either; for it goes on (as well as I can make out) pretty much the same as if he had never joined it.
   Hmm, "pretty much the same as if he had never joined it."

    And now a little insight into the mind of the "Privileged" from Steerforth:
'It's a bad job,' he said, when I had done; 'but the sun sets every day, and people die every minute, and we mustn't be scared by the common lot. If we failed to hold our own, because that equal foot at all men's doors was heard knocking somewhere, every object in this world would slip from us. No! Ride on! Rough–shod if need be, smooth–shod if that will do, but ride on! Ride on over all obstacles, and win the race!'
   Mustn't be afraid of the common lot!

   Oh the wicked and broken Miss Dartle, another example of privilege cloistered in an Ivory Tower:
'Oh, shame, Miss Dartle! shame!' I said indignantly. 'How can you bear to trample on his undeserved affliction!'
'I would trample on them all,' she answered. 'I would have his house pulled down. I would have her branded on the face, dressed in rags, and cast out in the streets to starve. If I had the power to sit in judgement on her, I would see it done. See it done? I would do it! I detest her. If I ever could reproach her with her infamous condition, I would go anywhere to do so. If I could hunt her to her grave, I would. If there was any word of comfort that would be a solace to her in her dying hour, and only I possessed it, I wouldn't part with it for Life itself.'
   David is shocked and offended by the "true" Miss Dartle's inner rage; she being another in a rather long list of Steerforth's victims. 

   And again as with the other Elite portrayed by Dickens we have a very detached statement by Jack Maldon:
'There's a long statement in the papers, sir, about a murder,' observed Mr. Maldon. 'But somebody is always being murdered, and I didn't read it.'
A display of indifference to all the actions and passions of mankind was not supposed to be such a distinguished quality at that time, I think, as I have observed it to be considered since. I have known it very fashionable indeed. I have seen it displayed with such success, that I have encountered some fine ladies and gentlemen who might as well have been born caterpillars. Perhaps it impressed me the more then, because it was new to me, but it certainly did not tend to exalt my opinion of, or to strengthen my confidence in, Mr. Jack Maldon.
   David's "education" regarding the privileged class continues. Don't get me wrong, I can be as indifferent as the next guy but this is evidence that the problem goes along with the beast.

   In affairs of the heart David too easily falls in love but is devoted to the end. In this scene Dora's new minders (after the accidental death of her father) expound a concise opinion of young Love.
'The light—for I call them, in comparison with such sentiments, the light—inclinations of very young people,' pursued Miss Lavinia, 'are dust, compared to rocks. It is owing to the difficulty of knowing whether they are likely to endure or have any real foundation,
   Lifelong sometimes irrevocable decisions made when we are very young...

   David expounds on his own "theory of life:"
I do not hold one natural gift, I dare say, that I have not abused. My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest. I have never believed it possible that any natural or improved ability can claim immunity from the companionship of the steady, plain, hard–working qualities, and hope to gain its end. There is no such thing as such fulfilment on this earth.
Some happy talent, and some fortunate opportunity, may form the two sides of the ladder on which some men mount, but the rounds of that ladder must be made of stuff to stand wear and tear; and there is no substitute for thorough–going, ardent, and sincere earnestness. Never to put one hand to anything, on which I could throw my whole self; and never to affect depreciation of my work, whatever it was; I find, now, to have been my golden rules.   I especially like the "two rungs" concept.

   Never a more concise description of the object or outcome from marriage could be made:
'These are early days, Trot,' she pursued, 'and Rome was not built in a day, nor in a year. You have chosen freely for yourself'; a cloud passed over her face for a moment, I thought; 'and you have chosen a very pretty and a very affectionate creature. It will be your duty, and it will be your pleasure too—of course I know that; I am not delivering a lecture—to estimate her (as you chose her) by the qualities she has, and not by the qualities she may not have. The latter you must develop in her, if you can. And if you cannot, child,' here my aunt rubbed her nose, 'you must just accustom yourself to do without 'em. But remember, my dear, your future is between you two. No one can assist you; you are to work it out for yourselves. This is marriage, Trot; and Heaven bless you both, in it, for a pair of babes in the wood as you are!'
   The truth as only Betsey can provide it, however, David's own description later on stuck with me even more.

   This goes to illuminate Dickens's "facts of marriage" theory:
When I walked alone in the fine weather, and thought of the summer days when all the air had been filled with my boyish enchantment, I did miss something of the realization of my dreams; but I thought it was a softened glory of the Past, which nothing could have thrown upon the present time. I did feel, sometimes, for a little while, that I could have wished my wife had been my counsellor; had had more character and purpose, to sustain me and improve me by; had been endowed with power to fill up the void which somewhere seemed to be about me; but I felt as if this were an unearthly consummation of my happiness, that never had been meant to be, and never could have been.
   I suspect many if not most marriages give little or no consideration such as this.

   An interesting note regarding the nature of ones "eventual outcome:"
Having some foundation for believing, by this time, that nature and accident had made me an author, I pursued my vocation with confidence.
   As much as we would like to believe in our guiding our own destiny I am afraid that "nature and accident" with a sprinkling of nurture and environment have far more to do with how most of us turn out.

   Here is Dickens taking on the righteous using his Murdstone character:
'Mrs. Chillip does go so far as to say,' pursued the meekest of little men, much encouraged, 'that what such people miscall their religion, is a vent for their bad humours and arrogance. And do you know I must say, sir,' he continued, mildly laying his head on one side, 'that I DON'T find authority for Mr. and Miss Murdstone in the New Testament?'
'I never found it either!' said I.
'In the meantime, sir,' said Mr. Chillip, 'they are much disliked; and as they are very free in consigning everybody who dislikes them to perdition, we really have a good deal of perdition going on in our neighbourhood! However, as Mrs. Chillip says, sir, they undergo a continual punishment; for they are turned inward, to feed upon their own hearts, and their own hearts are very bad feeding. Now, sir, about that brain of yours, if you'll excuse my returning to it. Don't you expose it to a good deal of excitement, sir?'
   Indeed their own hearts are bad feeding!

More to come...