Thomas Love Peacock
- MR. PANSCOPE. (suddenly emerging from a deep reverie.) I have heard, with the most profound attention, everything which the gentleman on the other side of the table has thought proper to advance on the subject of human deterioration; and I must take the liberty to remark, that it augurs a very considerable degree of presumption in any individual, to set himself up against the authority of so many great men, as may be marshalled in metaphysical phalanx under the opposite banners of the controversy; such as Aristotle, Plato, the scholiast on Aristophanes, St Chrysostom, St Jerome, St Athanasius, Orpheus, Pindar, Simonides, Gronovius, Hemsterhusius, Longinus, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Paine, Doctor Paley, the King of Prussia, the King of Poland, Cicero, Monsieur Gautier, Hippocrates, Machiavelli, Milton, Colley Cibber, Bojardo, Gregory Nazianzenus, Locke, D'Alembert, Boccaccio, Daniel Defoe, Erasmus, Doctor Smollett, Zimmermann, Solomon, Confucius, Zoroaster, and Thomas-a-Kempis.
MR. ESCOT. I presume, sir, you are one of those who value an authority more than a reason.
MR. PANSCOPE. The authority, sir, of all these great men, whose works, as well as the whole of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the entire series of the Monthly Review, the complete set of the Variorum Classics, and the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions, I have read through from beginning to end, deposes, with irrefragable refutation, against your ratiocinative speculations, wherein you seem desirous, by the futile process of analytical dialectics, to subvert the pyramidal structure of synthetically deduced opinions, which have withstood the secular revolutions of physiological disquisition, and which I maintain to be transcendentally self-evident, categorically certain, and syllogistically demonstrable.
SQUIRE HEADLONG. Bravo! Pass the bottle. The very best speech that ever was made.
MR. ESCOT. It has only the slight disadvantage of being unintelligible.
MR. PANSCOPE. I am not obliged, Sir, as Dr Johnson remarked on a similar occasion, to furnish you with an understanding.
MR. ESCOT. I fear, Sir, you would have some difficulty in furnishing me with such an article from your own stock.
MR. PANSCOPE. 'Sdeath, Sir, do you question my understanding?
MR. ESCOT. I only question, Sir, where I expect a reply, which from what manifestly has no existence, I am not visionary enough to anticipate.
MR. PANSCOPE. I beg leave to observe, sir, that my language was perfectly perspicuous, and etymologically correct; and, I conceive, I have demonstrated what I shall now take the liberty to say in plain terms, that all your opinions are extremely absurd.
MR. ESCOT. I should be sorry, sir, to advance any opinion that you would not think absurd.
MR. PANSCOPE. Death and fury, Sir!
MR. ESCOT. Say no more, Sir - that apology is quite sufficient.
MR. PANSCOPE. Apology, Sir?
MR. ESCOT. Even so, Sir. You have lost your temper, which I consider equivalent to a confession that you have the worst of the argument.
MR. PANSCOPE. Lightnings and devils!
- Headlong Hall, chapter V (1816).
- Marriage may often be a stormy lake, but celibacy is almost always a muddy horsepond.
- Melincourt, chapter VII (1817).
- There are two reasons for drinking: one is, when you are thirsty, to cure it; the other, when you are not thirsty, to prevent it. The first is obvious, mechanical, and plebeian; the second is most refined, abstract, prospicient, and canonical.
- Melincourt, chapter XVI.
- The waste of plenty is the resource of scarcity.
- Melincourt, chapter XXIV.
- When Scythrop grew up, he was sent, as usual, to a public school, where a little learning was painfully beaten into him, and from thence to the university, where it was carefully taken out of him.
- Nightmare Abbey, chapter I (1818).
The mountain sheep are sweeter
But the valley sheep are fatter;
We therefore deemed it meeter
To carry off the latter.
We made an expedition;
We met a host, and quelled it;
We forced a strong position,
And killed the men who held it...
As we drove our prize at leisure,
The king marched forth to catch us:
His rage surpassed all measure,
But his people could not match us.
He fled to his hall-pillars;
And, ere our force we led off,
Some sacked his house and cellars,
While others cut his head off.
- "The War-Song of Dinas Vawr", stanzas 1 and 3, from The Misfortunes of Elphin, chapter XI (1829). In the same chapter this is described as "the quintessence of all the war-songs that ever were written, and the sum and substance of all the appetencies, tendencies, and consequences of military glory".
- Respectable means rich, and decent means poor. I should die if I heard my family called decent.
- Crotchet Castle, chapter III (1832).
- My quarrel with him is, that his works contain nothing worth quoting; and a book that furnishes no quotations, is, me judice [in my opinion], no book - it is a plaything.
- Crotchet Castle, chapter IX. Though not named, the author under discussion is clearly Sir Walter Scott.
- I never failed to convince an audience that the best thing they could do was to go away.
- Crotchet Castle, chapter XVIII.
- I almost think it is the ultimate destiny of science to exterminate the human race.
- Gryll Grange, chapter XIX (1860).