Literary Digressions

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A Dictionary of Modern English Usage

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A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H. W. Fowler Oxford at the Clarendon Press, London, 1926 Split Infinitives. The English-speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know and condemn; (4) those who know and approve; and (5) those who know and distinguish. 1. Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority, and are a happy ... (Continue reading)

The Children’s Catechism

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The Catholic Church and Philosophy by Fr. Vincent McNabb, OP London, Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, Ltd. Publishers to the Holy See, 1927 But indeed it is not the priest only who received a grounding in philosophy as a preparation for life. Even the Catholic child—I had almost said, especially the Catholic child—in the poor schools is supposed to have an implicit knowledge of philosophy which is a high compliment to its intelligence. The Catholic Church speaks nobly of children reaching the age ... (Continue reading)

The Ethics of Elfland

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Orthodoxy, Chapter 4: “The Ethics of Elfland” by G. K. Chesterton When the business man rebukes the idealism of his office-boy, it is commonly in some such speech as this: “Ah, yes, when one is young, one has these ideals in the abstract and these castles in the air; but in middle age they all break up like clouds, and one comes down to a belief in practical politics, to using the machinery one has and getting on with the world ... (Continue reading)

A True Account of the Life and Death of St. Edmund Arrowsmith

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A young man had contracted an incestuous match with his cousin before a Protestant Minister. Fr. Arrowsmith, who performed his functions in those parts, often reproved the unhappy youth, but a person obstinately entangled in sin cannot forgive a monitor. This raised the malice of the incestuous young man and his mother; and as they were acquainted with the place which this holy man visited, they betrayed him to a Justice of the Peace who instantly issued a ... (Continue reading)

Wanderings

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from Wanderings in South America, the North-West of the United States, and the Antilles, in the years 1812, 1810, 1820, and 1824. With Original Instructions for the perfect preservation of Birds, Etc. for Cabinets of Natural History Note: Charles Waterton was a ninth descendant of St. Thomas More. He was born in 1782, and established the first reserve for conservation of birds and other wildlife, and was a devout Catholic. The following is from his description of his schooling at a ... (Continue reading)

The Miraculous Medal: Origin, History, Circulation, Results

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Extracts of letters written by Sisters of Charity during the War of Secession, from 1861 to 1865: “Military Hospital (House of Refuge), St. Louis, Missouri. Many of our poor soldiers scarcely knew of the existence of God, and had never even heard baptism mentioned. But, when the Sisters explained to them the necessity of this sacrament, and the goodness of God, who, by means of it, cleanses us from the original stain, and adopts us as His children, they ... (Continue reading)

King Henry V and the Hermit of Dreux

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First published in The Morning Post, 24 September 1798; afterward in The Anthology, 1799. based on the following history: “While Henry V lay at the siege of Dreux, an honest Hermit, unknown to him, came and told him the great evils he brought on Christendom by his unjust ambition, who usurped the kingdom of France, against all; manner of right, and contrary to the will of God; wherefore in his ... (Continue reading)

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Lost Lectures

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So the first thing to do was to be coached in arithmetic and algebra. I was taught these subjects by an old specialist who lived in the Broad-High, or in Campion’s Piece. I think he had been in his day a Senior Classic. He was saturated in the amenities of the lower mathematics, and was redolent of old-world trigonometry. He was so highly optimistic and so afraid of depreciating his pupils’ capacity that he never believed they could ... (Continue reading)

Caliban’s Guide to Letters on Political Appeals

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It was one of Dr. Caliban’s chief characteristics—and perhaps the main source of his power over others—that he could crystallise, or—to use the modern term—“wankle,” the thought of his generation into sharp unexpected phrases. Among others, this was constantly upon his lips: “We live in stirring times.” If I may presume to add a word to the pronouncements of my revered master, I would rewrite the sentence thus: “We live in stirring—AND CHANGEFUL—times.” It is not only an element of adventure, ... (Continue reading)

Low notes on a high level

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“I’m a reasonable man,” Mr. Dobb was saying. “And it seems to me I’m adopting a reasonable attitude. Here am I, in my sixties, still working away, hoping to improve the human lot. I like good cigars. They are now a fantastic price, about fifteen times what they were when I first began buying them. And why? Chiefly because the Government has raised the duty on them to a monstrous height. But I pay this duty—I don’t smuggle ... (Continue reading)

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