to seize the morning hours for creation

“It was still the habit of Marius, encouraged by his experience that sleep is not only a sedative but the best of stimulants, to seize the morning hours for creation, making profit when he might of the wholesome serenity which followed a dreamless night. “The morning for creation,” he would say; “the afternoon for the perfecting labour of the file; the evening for reception—the reception of matter from without one, of other men’s words and thoughts—matter for our own dreams, or the merely mechanic exercise of the brain, brooding thereon silently, in its dark chambers.””

— Walter Pater, Marius the Epicurean

Half-ignorant, they turn’d an easy wheel

With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt
In torched mines and noisy factories
And many once proud-quivered loins did melt
In blood from stinging whip; — with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
And went all naked to the hungry shark;
For them his ears gush’d blood; for them in death
The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
Half-ignorant, they turn’d an easy wheel,
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.”

— John Keats, Isabella, stanzas XIV-XV

What a farce it all is!

‘Does one ever know? Would it not be better, perhaps, to live and die unknown? What a sell it would be if artistic glory existed no more than the Paradise which is talked about in catechisms and which even children nowadays make fun of! We, who no longer believe in the Divinity, still believe in our own immortality. What a farce it all is!’

— Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

Some women get up quarrels

“Some women get up quarrels with their husbands just because they love them. Indeed, I knew a woman like that: she seemed to say that because she loved him, she would torment him and make him feel it. You know that you may torment a man on purpose through love. Women are particularly given to that, thinking to themselves ‘I will love him so, I will make so much of him afterwards, that it’s no sin to torment him a little now.’”

— Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground

Not a very bad word it was, but bad enough.

“And Mr. Bensington went up and down the room, regardless of his corns, and spoke to her quite firmly and angrily without the slightest effect. He said that nothing ought to stand in the way of the Advancement of Science, and she said that the Advancement of Science was one thing and having a lot of tadpoles in a flat was another; he said that in Germany it was an ascertained fact that a man with an idea like his would at once have twenty thousand properly-fitted cubic feet of laboratory placed at his disposal, and she said she was glad and always had been glad that she was not a German; he said that it would make him famous for ever, and she said it was much more likely to make him ill to have a lot of tadpoles in a flat like theirs; he said he was master in his own house, and she said that rather than wait on a lot of tadpoles she’d go as matron to a school; and then he asked her to be reasonable, and she asked _him_ to be reasonable then and give up all this about tadpoles; and he said she might respect his ideas, and she said not if they were smelly she wouldn’t, and then he gave way completely and said—in spite of the classical remarks of Huxley upon the subject—a bad word. Not a very bad word it was, but bad enough.”

— H.G. Wells, The Food of the Gods

That dreaming sigh, and warm caress

And Hugo is gone to his lonely bed,
To covet there another’s bride;
But she must lay her conscious head
A husband’s trusting heart beside.
But fevered in her sleep she seems,
And red her cheek with troubled dreams,
And mutters she in her unrest
A name she dare not breathe by day,
And clasps her Lord unto the breast
Which pants for one away:
And he to that embrace awakes,
And, happy in the thought, mistakes
That dreaming sigh, and warm caress,
For such as he was wont to bless;
And could in very fondness weep
O’er her who loves him even in sleep.

— George Gordon, Lord Byron, Parisina

the most promising water-colour sketch she had ever begun

“and finally he dammed the river. He dammed it right across with a few vigorous doorfuls of earth—he must have worked like an avalanche—and down came a most amazing spate through the shrubbery and washed away Miss Spinks and her easel and the most promising water-colour sketch she had ever begun, or, at any rate, it washed away her easel and left her wet to the knees and dismally tucked up in flight to the house, and thence the waters rushed through the kitchen garden, and so by the green door into the lane and down into the riverbed again by Short’s ditch.”

— H.G. Wells, The Food of the Gods