Eric Rücker Eddison

British writer (1882-1945)
(Redirected from E. R. Eddison)

Eric Rücker Eddison (24 November 188218 August 1945), who wrote under the name E. R. Eddison, was an English fantasy writer most famous for his novels The Worm Ouroboros, Mistress of Mistresses and A Fish Dinner in Memison.

Eric Rücker Eddison circa 1922
The harvest of this world is to the resolute, and he that is infirm of purpose is ground betwixt the upper and the nether millstone.


  • Dismal and fearsome to view was this strong place of Carcë, most like to the embodied soul of dreadful night brooding on the waters of that sluggish river: by day a shadow in broad sunshine, the likeness of pitiless violence sitting in the place of power, darkening the desolation of the mournful fen; by night, a blackness more black than night herself.
    • Chapter 4, "Conjuring in the Iron Tower"
  • "And by my philosophy, O King, I am certified concerning these apparitions which you have raised for me, that they be illusions and phantasms only, able to terrify the soul indeed of him that knoweth not divine philosophy, but without bodily power or essence. Nor is aught to fear in such, save the fear itself wherewith they strike the simple."
    Then said the King, "By what token knowest thou this?"
    And the Lord Gro made answer unto him, "O King, as a child weaveth a daisy-chain, thus easily did you conjure up these shapes of terror. Not in such wise fareth he that calleth out of the deep the deadly terror indeed; but with toil and sweat and with straining of thought, will, heart, and sinew fareth he."
    The King smiled. "Thou sayest true. Now, therefore, since phantasmagoria maketh not thy heart to quail, I present thee a more material horror."
    • Chapter 4, "Conjuring in the Iron Tower"
  • And now when the retorts and beakers with their several necks and tubes and the appurtenances thereof were set in order, and the unhallowed processes of fixation, conjunction, deflagration, putrefaction, and rubefication were nearing maturity, and the baleful star Antares standing by the astrolabe within a little of the meridian signified the instant approach of midnight, the King described on the floor with his conjuring rod three pentacles inclosed within a seven-pointed star, with the signs of Cancer and of Scorpio joined by certain runes. And in the midst of the star he limned the image of a green crab eating of the sun. And turning to the seventy-third page of his great black grammarie the King recited in a mighty voice words of hidden meaning, calling on the name that it is a sin to utter.
    • Chapter 4, "Conjuring in the Iron Tower"
  • It was high noon when the Lord Gro came to his senses in that chamber. The strong spring sunshine poured through the southern window, lighting up the wreckage of the night. The tables were cast down and the floor strewn and splashed with costly essences and earths spilt from shattered phials and jars and caskets: aphroselmia, shell of gold, saffron of gold, asem, amianth, stypteria of Melos, confounded with mandragora, vinum ardens, sal armoniack, devouring aqua regia, little pools and scattered globules of quicksilver, poisonous decoctions of toadstools and of yewberries, monkshood, thorn-apple, wolf's bane and black hellebore, quintessences of dragon's blood and serpent's bile; and with these, splashed together and wasted, elixirs that wise men have died a-dreaming of: spiritus mundi, and that sovereign alkahest which dissolveth every substance dipped therein, and that aurum potabile which being itself perfect induceth perfection in the living frame. And in this welter of spoiled treasure were the great conjuring books hurled amid the ruin of retorts and aludels of glass and lead and silver, sand-baths, matrasses, spatulae, athanors, and other instruments innumerable of rare design, tossed and broken on the chamber floor.
    • Chapter 4, "Conjuring in the Iron Tower"
  • [T]he Lord Brandoch Daha fared fore and aft on the gangway about and about, as a caged panther fareth when feeding time is long overdue. And at whiles he clapped hand to the hilt of his long and glittering sword and rattled it in the scabbard. At length, standing over against Gaslark, and eyeing him with a mocking glance, "O Gaslark," he said, "this that hath befallen breedeth in me a cruel perturbation which carries my spirits outwards, stirring up a tempest in my mind and preparing my body to melancholy, and madness itself. The cure of this is only fighting. Wherefore if thou love me, Gaslark, out with thy sword and ward thyself. Fight I must, or this passion will kill me quite out. 'Tis pity to draw upon my friend, but sith we be banned from fighting with our enemies, what choice remaineth?"
    Gaslark laughed and seized him playfully by the arms, saying, "I will not fight with thee, how prettily soe'er thou ask it, Brandoch Daha, that savedst Goblinland from the Witches"...
    • Chapter 5, "King Gorice's Sending"
  • "So flieth folly before wisdom which is in wine," said the King. "The night is young: bring me botargoes, and caviare and toast."
    • Chapter 7, "Guests of the King in Carcë"
  • "And at the last, howsoe'er we shape our course, cometh the poppy that abideth all of us by the harbour of oblivion hard to cleanse. Dry withered leaves of laurel or of cypress tree, and a little dust. Nought else remaineth."
    • The Lord Gro, in Chapter 7, "Guests of the King in Carcë"
  • Prezmyra: "And this was my question, whether it be true that all animals of the land are in their kind in the sea? My Lord Corinius, or thou, my princely brother, can you resolve me?"
    "Why, so it is received, madam," said La Fireez. "And inquiry will show thee many pretty instances: as the sea-frog, the sea-fox, the sea-dog, the sea-horse, the sea-lion, the sea-bear. And I have known the barbarous people of Esamocia eat of a conserve of sea-mice mashed and brayed in a mortar with the flesh of that beast named bos marinus, seasoned with salt and garlic."
    • Chapter 7, "Guests of the King in Carcë"
  • "What be these mantichores of the mountains that eat men's brains?" asked the Lady Mevrian.
    "This book is so excellent well writ," said her brother, "that thine answer appeareth on this same page: 'The beeste Mantichora, whych is as muche as to saye devorer of Menne, rennith as I herde tell, on the skirt of the mowntaynes below the snow feldes. These be monstrous bestes, ghastlie and ful of horrour, enemies to mankinde, of a red coloure, with ij rowes of huge grete tethe in their mouthes. It hath the head of a man, his eyen like a ghoot, and the bodie of a lyon lancing owt sharpe prickles fro behinde. And hys tayl is the tail of a scorpioun. And is more delyverer to goo than is fowle to flee. And hys voys is as the roaryng of x lyons.'"
    • Chapter 8, "The First Expedition to Impland"
  • "Shall they make rhymes upon us that we of Demonland, whom men repute and hold the mightiest lords in all the world, hung sheepishly back from this high needful enterprise lest, our greatest captains being abroad, our enemies might haply take us at home a disadvantage? It shall not be said of the women of Demonland that they upheld such counsels."
    • Mevrian, in Chapter 8, "The First Expedition to Impland"
  • With those words spoken was Zeldornius grown yellow as old parchment, and his white moustachios bristled like a lion's. He sat silent awhile, then, resting upon Juss the cold and steady gaze of his blue eyes, "The world comes back to me," he said, "and this memory therewith, that they of Demonland were truth-tellers whether to friend or foe, and ever held it shame to cog and lie." All they bowed gravely and he said with a great lowe of anger in his eyes, "This Helteranius deviseth against me, it well appeareth, the self-same treachery whereof he was falsely accused to Jalcanaius Fostus. There were no likelier place to crush him than here on Salapanta ridge. If I stand here to abide his onset, the lie of the ground befriendeth me, and Jalcanaius cometh at his heels to gather the broken meats after I have made my feast."
    Brandoch Daha said in Juss's ear, "Our peacemaking taketh a pretty turn. Heels i' the air: monstrous unlady-like!"
    • Chapter 9, "Salapanta Hills"
  • So now she [Prezmyra] told him of her letters received from Corund out of Impland. "It is well seen, Lord," said she, "how in these days you do beat down all peoples under you, and do set up new tributary kings to add to your great praise in Carcë. O King, how long must this ill weed of Demonland offend us, going still untrodden under feet?"
    The King answered her not a word. Only his lip showed a gleam of teeth, as of a tiger's troubled at his meal.
    • Chapter 17, "The King Flies His Haggard"
  • Meanwhile Corinius, mounted on a great white liard like silver with black ear-tips, mane, and tail, and all four feet black as coal, drew up to the Lady Sriva and spoke with her apart, saying secretly so that none but she might hear, "Next time thou shalt not carry it so, but I will have thee when and where I would. Thou mayst gull the Devil with thy perfidiousness, but not me a second time, thou lying cozening vixen."
    She answered softly, "Beastly man, I did perform the very article of mine oath, and left thee an open door last night. If thou didst look to find me within, that were beyond aught I promised. And know for that I'll seek a greater than thou, and a nicer to my liking: one less ready to swap each kitchen slut on the lips. I know thy practice, my lord, and thy conditions."
    His face flamed red. "Were that my custom, I'd now amend it. Thou art so true a runt of their same litter, they shall all be loathly to me as thou art loathly."
    "Mew!" said she, "wittily spoke, i' faith; and right in the manner of a common horse-boy. Which indeed thou art."
    • Chapter 17, "The King Flies His Haggard"
  • Corinius came to Lord Gro and said to him, "To thee will I entrust mine embassage to this Mevrian. Thou shalt go with a flag of truce to gain thee entry to the castle; or if they will not admit thee, then bid her parley with thee without the wall. Then shalt thou use what fantastic courtier's jargon nature and thine invention shall lightliest counsel thee, and say, 'Corinius, by the grace of the great King and the might of his own hand king of Demonland, sitteth as thou well mayst see in power invincible before this castle. But he willed me let thee know that he is not come for to make war against ladies and damosels, and be thou of this sure, that neither to thee nor to none of thy fortress he will nought say nor hurt. Only this honour he proffereth thee, to wed thee in sweet marriage and make thee his queen in Demonland.' Whereto if she say yea, well and good, and we will go up peaceably into Krothering and possess it and the woman. But if she deny me this, then shalt thou say unto her right fiercely that I will set on against the castle like a lion, and neither rest nor give over until I have beaten it all to a ruin about her ears and slain the folk with the edge of the sword. And that which she refuseth me to have in peaceful love and kindness I will have of my own violent deed, that she and her stiff-necked Demons may know that I am their king, and master of all that is theirs, and their own bodies but chattels to serve my pleasure."
    [Gro delivers the message, and Mevrian speaks to it]
    Gro saw that she mocked, and be was troubled at heart. "Madam," said he, and his voice shook somewhat, "take not in too great scorn this vile part in me. Verily this I brought thee is the most shamefullest message, and flatly against my will did I deliver it unto thee..."
    But the Lord Gro returned again to the camp and to Corinius, who asked him how he had sped.
    He answered, she did utterly refuse it.
    "So," said Corinius; "doth the puss thump me off? Then pause my hot desires an instant, only the more thunderingly to clap it on. For I will have her. And this coyness and pert rejection hath the more fixedly confirmed me."
    • Chapter 19, "The Parley Before Krothering"
  • [Heming and Cargo, two sons of Corund, have conspired with Gro to rescue Mevrian. Mevrian is wearing Cargo's armor.] But Corinius his eye lighting on them stopped and hailed them, catching them each by an arm, and crying, "Heming, thou'rt drunk! Cargo, thou'rt drunk, sweet youth! 'Tis a damnable folly, drink as drunk as you be, and these bonny wenches I've provided you. How shall I satisfy 'em, think ye, when they come to me with their plaints to-morn, that each must sit with a snoring drunkard's head in her lap the night long?"
    Mevrian, as if she had all her part by rote, was leaned this while heavily upon Heming, hanging her head.
    Heming could think on nought likelier to say, than, "Truly, O Corinius, we be sober."
    "Thou liest," said Corinius. "'Twas ever sign manifest of drunkenness to deny it. Look you, my lords, I deny not I am drunk. Therefore is sign manifest I am drunk, I mean, sign manifest I am sober. But the hour calleth to other work than questioning of these high matters. Set on!"
    • Chapter 24, "A King in Krothering"
  • [Gro has abandoned Witchland and knows they consider him a traitor.] Gro said in himself, "'How shall not common opinion account me mad, so rash and presumptuous dangerously to put my life in hazard? Nay, against all sound judgement; and this folly I enact in that very season when by patience and courage and my politic wisdom I had won that in despite of fortune's teeth which obstinately hitherto she had denied me: when after the brunts of divers tragical fortunes I had marvellously gained the favour and grace of the King, who very honourably placed me in his court, and tendereth me, I well think, so dearly as he doth the balls of his two eyes."
    He put off his helm, baring his white forehead and smooth black curling locks to the airs of morning, flinging back his head to drink deep through his nostrils the sweet strong air and its peaty smell. "Yet is common opinion the fool, not I," he said. "He that imagineth after his labours to attain unto lasting joy, as well may he beat water in a mortar. Is there not in the wild benefit of nature instances enow to laugh this folly out of fashion? A fable of great men that arise and conquer the nations: Day goeth up against the tyrant night. How delicate a spirit is she, how like a fawn she footeth it upon the mountains: pale pitiful light matched with the primeval dark. But every sweet hovers in her battalions; and every heavenly influence: coolth of the wayward little winds of morning, flowers awakening, birds a-carol, dews a-sparkle on the fine-drawn webs the tiny spinners hang from fern-frond to thorn, from thorn to wet dainty leaf of the silver birch; the young day laughing in her strength, wild with her own beauty; fire and life and every scent and colour born anew to triumph over chaos and slow darkness and the kinless night.
    "But because day at her dawning hours hath so bewitched me, must I yet love her when glutted with triumph she settles to garish noon? Rather turn as now I turn to Demonland, in the sad sunset of her pride. And who dares call me turncoat, who do but follow now as I have followed this rare wisdom all my days: to love the sunrise and the sundown and the morning and the evening star? since there only abideth the soul of nobility, true love, and wonder, and the glory of hope and fear."
    • Chapter 25, "Lord Gro and the Lady Mevrian"
  • Surely no children of men were these, footing it on that secret lawn beside that fountain's brink, nor no creatures of mortal kind. Such it may be were the goats and kids and soft-eyed does that on their hind-legs merrily danced among them; but never such those others of manly shape and with pointed hairy ears, shaggy legs, and cloven hooves, nor those maidens white of limb beneath the tread of whose feet the blue gentian and the little golden cinquefoil bent not their blossoms, so airy-light was their dancing. To make them music, little goat-footed children with long pointed ears sat on a hummock of turf-clad rock piping on pan-pipes, their bodies burnt to the hue of red earth by the wind and the sun. But, whether because their music was too fine for mortal ears, or for some other reason, Gro might hear no sound of that piping. The heavy silence of the waste white noon was lord of the scene, while the mountain nymphs and the simple genii of sedge and stream and crag and moorland solitude threaded the mazes of the dance.
    • Chapter 25, "Lord Gro and the Lady Mevrian"
  • And he said smiling, "Divine lady, all my days have I had danger for my bedfellow, and peril of death for my familiar friend; whilom leading a delicate life in princely court, where murther sitteth in the wine-cup and in the alcove; whilom journeying alone in more perilous lands than this, as witness the Moruna, where the country is full of venomous beasts and crawling poisoned serpents, and the divels be as abundant there as grasshoppers on a hot hillside in summer. He that feareth is a slave, were he never so rich, were he never so powerful. But he that is without fear is king of all the world. Thou hast my sword. Strike. Death shall be a sweet rest to me. Thraldom, not death, should terrify me."
    • Chapter 25, "Lord Gro and the Lady Mevrian"
  • Gro was stretched on the brink of the cliff, face downward, propped on his two elbows, studying those dark waters. "Surely," he said, "the great mountains of the world are a present remedy if men did but know it against our modern discontent and ambitions. In the hills is wisdom's fount. They are deep in time. They know the ways of the sun and the wind, the lightning's fiery feet, the frost that shattereth, the rain that shroudeth, the snow that putteth about their nakedness a softer coverlet than fine lawn: which if their large philosophy question not if it be a bridal sheet or a shroud, hath not this unpolicied calm his justification ever in the returning year, and is it not an instance to laugh our carefulness out of fashion? of us, little children of the dust, children of a day, who with so many burdens do burden us with taking thought and with fears and desires and devious schemings of the mind, so that we wax old before our time and fall weary ere the brief day be spent and one reaping-hook gather us home at last for all our pains."
    • Chapter 25, "Lord Gro and the Lady Mevrian"
  • But Brandoch Daha said lightly, "Fear not, my Lord Gro, we'll reject no honest redes of so wise a counsellor as thou. But," and here was a light in the eye of him made Gro startle, "did any man with serious intent dare bid me do a dastard deed, he should have my sword through the dearest part of's body."
    • Chapter 27, "The Second Expedition to Impland"
  • Gently she drew her hand from Gro's, and he strove not to retain it. She eased forward the reins. Gro mounted and followed her. They rode quietly down to the road and so southward side by side to the harbour. Ere they came within earshot of the quay, Mevrian spake and said, "Thou'lt not think me graceless nor forgetful, my lord. All that is mine, O ask it, and I'll give it thee with both hands. But ask me not that I have not to give, or if I gave should give but false gold. For that's a thing not good for thee nor me, nor I would not do it to an enemy, far less to thee my friend."
    • Chapter 27, "The Second Expedition to Impland"
  • And now in a soft voice she began supplication to the Gods which are from everlasting, calling upon them in turn by their holy names, upon gray-eyed Pallas, and Apollo, and Artemis the fleet Huntress, upon Aphrodite, and Here, Queen of Heaven, and Ares, and Hermes, and the dark-tressed Earthshaker. Nor was she afraid to address her holy prayers to him who from his veiled porch beside Acheron and Lethe Lake binds to his will the devils of the under-gloom, nor to the great Father of All in Whose sight time from the beginning until to-day is but the dipping of a wand into the boundless ocean of eternity.
    • Chapter 28, "Zora Rach Nam Psarrion"
  • The Queen said, "Remember: when thou shalt see the lord thy brother in his own shape, that is no illusion. Mistrust all else. And the almighty Gods preserve and comfort thee."
    Therewith the hippogriff, as if maddened with the day-beams, plunged like a wild horse, spread wide its rainbow pinions, reared, and took wing. But the Lord Juss was sprung astride of it, and the grip of his knees on the ribs of it was like brazen clamps. The firm land seemed to rush away beneath him to the rear; the lake and the shore and islands thereof showed in a moment small and remote, and the figures of the Queen and his companions like toys, then dots, then shrunken to nothingness, and the vast silence of the upper air opened and received him into utter loneliness. In that silence earth and sky swirled like the wine in a shaken goblet as the wild steed rocketed higher and higher in great spirals. A cloud billowy-white shut in the sky before them; brighter and brighter it grew in its dazzling whiteness as they sped towards it, until they touched it and the glory was dissolved in a gray mist that grew still darker and colder as they flew till suddenly they emerged from the further side of the cloud into a radiance of blue and gold blinding in its glory.
  • Thou art nothing. And all thy desires and memories and loves and dreams, nothing. The little dead earth-louse were of greater avail than thou, were it not nothing as thou art nothing. For all is nothing: earth and sky and sea and they that dwell therein. Nor shall this illusion comfort thee, if it might, that when thou art abolished these things shall endure for a season, stars and months return, and men grow old and die, and new men and women live and love and die and be forgotten. For what is it to thee, that shalt be as a blown-out flame? and all things in earth and heaven, and things past and things for to come, and life and death, and the mere elements of space and time, of being and not being, all shall be nothing unto thee; because thou shalt be nothing, for ever.
    • Ch. 28 : Zora Rach Nam Psarrion, p. 427
  • And the Lord Juss cried aloud in his agony, "Fling me to Tartarus, deliver me to the black infernal Furies, let them blind me, seethe me in the burning lake. For so should there yet be hope. But in this horror of Nothing is neither hope nor life nor death nor sleep nor waking, for ever. For ever."
    • Ch. 28 : Zora Rach Nam Psarrion, p. 427
  • The Lady Prezmyra leaned back to look again on her own mirrored loveliness. Her proud mouth sweetened to a smile. "Wilt thou learn me common women's wisdom?" said she, and there was yet more voluptuous sweetness trembling in her voice. "I will tell thee a story, as thou hast told them me in the old days in Norvasp to wile me to bed. Hast thou not heard tell how old Duke Hilmanes of Maltraëny, among some other fantasies such as appear by night unto many in divers places, had one in likeness of a woman with old face of low and little stature or body, which did scour his pots and pans and did such things as a maid servant ought to do, liberally and without doing of any harm? And by his art he knew this thing should be his servant still, and bring unto him whatsoever he would, so long time as he should be glad of the things it brought him. But this duke, being a foolish man and a greedy, made his familiar bring him at once all the year's seasons and their several goods and pleasures, and all good things of earth at one time. So as in six months' space, he being sated with these and all good things, and having no good thing remaining unto him to expect or to desire, for very weariness did hang himself. I would never have ta'en me an husband, nurse, and I had not known that I was able to give him every time I would a new heaven and a new earth, and never the same thing twice."
    • Chapter 30, "Tidings of Melikaphkhaz"
  • And ere that was done, came a little page running to her chamber door, and when it was opened to him, stood panting from his running and said, "The king your husband bade me tell you, madam, and pray you go down to him i' the great hall. It may be ill news, I fear."
    "Thou fearest, pap-face?" said the Queen. "I'll have thee whipped if thou bringest thy fears to me. Dost know aught? What's the matter?"
    "The ship's much battered, O Queen. He is closeted with our Lord the King, the skipper. None dare speak else. 'Tis feared the high Admiral-----"
    "Feared!" cried she, swinging round for the nurse to put about her white shoulders her mantle of sendaline and cloth of silver, that shimmered at the collar with purple amethysts and was scented with cedar and galbanum and myrrh.
    • Chapter 30, "Tidings of Melikaphkhaz"
  • Lord Gro was in that battle with the Demons. He ran Didarus through the neck with his sword, so that he fell down and was dead.
    Corund, when he saw it, heaved up his axe, but changed his intention in the manage, saying, "O landskip of iniquity, shalt thou kill beside me the men of mine household? But my friendship sitteth not on a weather vane. Live, and be a traitor."
    But Gro, being mightily moved with these words, and staring at great Corund wide-eyed like a man roused from a dream, answered, "Have I done amiss? 'Tis easy remedied." Therewith he turned about and slew a man of Demonland. Which Spitfire seeing, he cried out upon Gro in a great rage for a most filthy traitor, and bloodily rushing in thrust him through the buckler into the brain.
    In such wise and by such a sudden vengeance did the Lord Gro most miserably end his life-days. Who, being a philosopher and a man of peace, careless of particular things of earth, had followed and observed all his days steadfastly one heavenly star; yet now in the bloody battle before Carcë died in the common opinion of men a manifold perjured traitor, that had at length gotten the guerdon of his guile.
    • Chapter 31, "The Demons Before Carcë"
  • "Hath your greatness," she said, "so much outgrown your wit, that you think I will abide to be your pensioner, that have been a Princess in Pixyland, a Queen of far-fronted Impland, and wife to the greatest soldier in this bold of Carcë, which till this day hath been the only scourge and terror of the world? O my lords of Demonland, good comfortable fools, speak to me no more, for your speech is folly. Go, doff your hats to the silly hind that runneth on the mountain; pray her gently dwell with you amid your stalled cattle, when you have slain her mate. Shall the blackening frost, when it hath blasted and starved all the sweet garden flowers, say to the rose, Abide with us; and shall she harken to such a wolfish suit?"
    So speaking she drank the cup; and turning from those lords of Demonland as a queen turneth her from the unregarded multitude, kneeled gently down by Corund's bier, her white arms clasped about his head, her face pillowed on his breast.
    • Chapter 32, "The Latter End of All the Lords of Witchland"
  • Now he conducted her through his armouries where he kept his weapons and weapons for his fighting men and all panoply of war. There he showed her swords and spears, maces and axes and daggers, orfreyed and damascened and inlaid with jewels; byrnies and baldricks and shields; blades so keen, a hair blown against them in a wind should be parted in twain; charmed helms on which no ordinary sword would bite. And Juss said unto the Queen, "Madam, what thinkest thou of these swords and spears? For know well that these be the ladder's rungs that we of Demonland climbed up by to that signiory and principality which now we hold over the four corners of the world." She answered, "O my lord, I think nobly of them. For an ill part it were while we joy in the harvest, to contemn the tools that prepared the land for it and reaped it."
  • Your great Italian clock measures the silence with its ticking: 'Another, gone! another, gone! another, gone!' Commonly, I have grown to hate such tickings, hideous to an old man as the grinning memento mori at the feast. But now, (perhaps the shock has deadened my feelings), I could almost cheat reason to believe there was in very truth eternity in these things: substance and everlasting life in what is more transient and unsubstantial than a mayfly, empirical, vainer than air, weak bubbles on the flux.
    • The Overture (the narrator viewing the body of his friend Lessingham lying in state)
  • I heard her say, faint as the breath of night-flowers among the stars: 'The fabled land of ZIMIAMVIA. Is it true, will you think, which poets tell us of that fortunate land: that no mortal foot may tread it, but the blessed souls do inhabit it of the dead that be departed: of them that were great upon earth and did great deeds when they were living, that scorned not earth and the delights and the glories of earth, and yet did justly and were not dastards nor yet oppressors?'
    'Who knows?' I said. 'Who dares say he knows?'
    • The Overture
  • 'I will give your ladyship the answer I gave before,' said that old man, who had sat motionless, serene and undisturbed, darting his bright and eager glance from painter to sitter and to painter again, and smiling as if with the aftertaste of ancient wine. 'You do marvel that his grace will still consume himself with striving to fix in art, in a seeming changelessness, those self-same appearances which in nature he prizeth by reason of their very mutability and subjection to change and death. Herein your ladyship, grounding yourself first unassailably upon most predicamental and categoric arguments in celarent, next propounded to me a syllogism in barbara, the major premiss whereof, being well and exactly seen, surveyed, overlooked, reviewed and recognized, was by my demonstrations at large convicted in fallacy of simple conversion and not per accidens; whereupon, countering in brahmantip, I did in conclusion confute you in bokardo, showing, in brief, that here there is no marvel; since 'tis women's minds alone are ruled by clear reason: men's are fickle and elusive as the jack-o'-lanterns they pursue.'
    'A very complete and metaphysical answer,' said she. 'Seeing 'tis given on my side, I'll let it stand without question; though (to be honest) I cannot tell what the dickens it means.'
    'To be honest, madam,' said the Duke, 'I paint because I cannot help it.'
    • The learned Vandermast explains why the Duke is a painter. Chapter 2, "The Duke of Zayana"
  • Can a woman not keep her lover without she study to always please him with pleasure? Pew! then let her give up the game. Or shall my lover think with pleasing of me to win me indeed? Faugh! he payeth me then; doth he think I am for hire?
    • Fiorinda, in Chapter 7, "A Night-Piece on Ambremerine"
  • The black arrowed swoop of the moment swung high into the unceilinged future, ten, fifty, sixty years, may be: then, past seeing, up to that warmthless unconsidered mock-time, when nothing shall be left but the memorial that fits all (except, if there be, the most unhappiest) of human kind: I was not, I lived and loved, I am not.
    • A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941)