Magazine article The Spectator

Out of the Commonplace

Magazine article The Spectator

Out of the Commonplace

Article excerpt

The following extracts are taken from George Lyttelton's Commonplace Book, edited by James Ramsden (Stone Trough Books, The Old Rectory, Settrington, York, YO17 8NP, Tel: 01904 670323, Fax: 01944 768465, L15, pp. 161, ISBN 095295348X)

Zeuxis was said to have painted grapes on a boy's head so well that the birds came and pecked them. Sir G. Kneller said that if the boy too had been well painted the birds wouldn't have dared approach.

An accurate daguerrotype portrait of a commonplace face, a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden with neat borders and delicate flowers; but no glance of a vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen in their elegant but confined houses.

C. Bronte (1848) on Pride and Prejudice

Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known.

Henry James on Kipling (1892)

I thought he perhaps contained the seeds of an English Balzac; but I have given that up in proportion as he has come down steadily from the simple in subject to the more simple - from the Anglo-Indians to the natives, from the natives to the Tommies, from the Tommies to the quadrupeds, from the quadrupeds to the fish, and from the fish to the engines and screws. …

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