Friday, 31 October 2014

...of libraries

I felt the excitement tinged with gloom and foreboding that I first experienced when I was ten and joined the town library (called formidably Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute) and could not get in without passing the wicked-looking stuffed moa standing at the foot of the stairs, and a sharp-tongued librarian who sat behind a grille dispensing tickets and fines and books and keeping her eye on the adjoining Reading Room where the old men sat, petrified by the SILENCE notices.
It seemed to me that books must be wonderful treasures if they were to be reached only at the end of such a forbidding journey, and that books were only for brave people who were not afraid of giant stuffed birds with glass eyes.
And the fact that there were notices demanding Silence when one would never have dreamed of speaking made it seem, that the room contained secret presences which had to be controlled and which related in a strange way the death and painstaking reconstruction of the moa and the mice-like letters that were wired with meaning and resurrected to make words, and placed in imposing attitudes on the pages of the books. So it was for her own protection that the librarian hid behind a grille and pinned notices on the wall; she had to make every effort to subdue more than the timid subscribers tiptoeing between the shelves.

[Faces in the Water, Frame, J.]

...of pride

There were no people in strait jackets in Ward Two. Cynics used to say there was no need for them as the worst patients had perished in the fire; yet the more experience one had of Ward Two the more one realised that, in any case, strait jackets were treatments, or restraining processes of the past. Whereas in Treecroft the best-cooked meals (and the most plentiful), the gayest pictures, the brightest bedspreads were to be found in Ward Seven where the so called "sensible" patients lived, in Cliffhaven the brightest ward was Ward Two - that is, in terms of purely chromatic dispersion! And let no one imagine that the framed glassed landscapes on the walls suffered from the attacks of the disturbed patients. Although the surroundings were not openly studied or even admired by the patients, they were not abused. Windows might be broken in the course of a day yet the pictures remained untouched and the flowers stayed in their vases. It seemed that the more articulate members of the ward exuded a fertile pride that spread and flourished silently even in the midst of what one might have called the desert of the most withdrawn patients.

[Faces in the Water, Frame. J]

...of old men

Sunday was a pleasant day compared with the rest of the week. No shock treatment, church in the morning, in the afternoon a walk in the grounds perhaps up past the poplars away up the hill past the wooden building where some of the men lived, the old doddering ones who could only sit out in the sun and the younger mongols and imbeciles who gave a simple help around the farm and in the garden. A rope clothesline sagging with their striped ward clothes was stretched between two poles at the back door. Sometimes we saw a face peering at us from the curtain less windows; or a little group sitting in the sun staring, their lips moving in the way old people have, as if in their life they have never been able to say what they needed to say of have never had anyone to say it to, and now when they are old they babble on and on not minding the words, only to get it said in time. While you are alive and persist in the sovereign act of living you are surrounded by invisible courtiers of being which keep your self spruce and well fed, as the bees attend their queen; but when you are near death these courtiers neglect you or even join forces to kill you and acquire the inner, unkempt look of the dying. The unkemptness of these old men showed from within, beyond the shabby appearance of their braces hitching their pants anyhow, their unbuttoned flies, their flannel shirts bunched out, hanging loose.
When we passed their dining room and looked in at the bare wooden tables already laid for tea with the thick cup, plate and spoon at each place, I was depressed by the dreariness of a day where tea is prepared for immediately after dinner. After tea, no doubt, the old men were put to bed at once, in the daylight. I wanted to go in the dining room and put a white cloth and flowers on the long tables. The authorities in some of the hospital wards of the world had learned - it had been reported in the newspapers, with headlines - that flowers "helped." Could they have helped in this men's ward? Perhaps not. It seemed to be a place where there was no one home. I was reminded of the times my father used to come home from work and my mother was perhaps in the garden or the lavatory or talking to one of the neighbours over the fence, and a look of panic would cross my father's face as he walked into the empty kitchen.
"Where's Mum?" he would say.
And I was reminded of a poem we used to say at school, a mysterious poem beginning "'Is there anybody there?' said the traveler, knocking on the moonlit door." A traveler could knock for years at the door of that dismal ward; he could even shout, like the traveler in the poem, "Tell them I came!" and he could get no answer. The old men were dead though their mouths moved and they snaffled their tea and Borstal cake; though they sat in the gentle sun with their long sharp afternoon shadows, their only companions, lying motionless and dumb beside them.

[Faces in the Water, Frame, J.]

...of the institutionalised

This process is supervised by Mrs. Everett and Mrs. Pilling who share control of kitchen affairs and are responsible for the fire. It is Mrs. Pilling (the most trusted patient in the ward) who also arranges the making of toast over the open fire in the morning, the collecting of bread and cream, the carrying out to the side door of the full pig-tin ready for the golden-haired pig-boy to pick up on his way to the farm driving the leisurely old cart horse. When the tin has been loaded on the back he rummages through the food, bypassing the cold skills bog of leftover porridge and reaching for the more appetising dainties of discarded toast and sodden pieces of currant bun, all of which he stuffs hungrily in his mouth and, chewing contentedly, climbs again to the front of the cart and with a tug of the reins and a "Gee-up" sets the morose but patient horse on his way. Mrs. Pilling in her undemonstrative silent manner has an understanding with the pig-boy and though she recoils from his habits she has a stolid tolerance and respect for other people's peculiarities and is inclined to act out of character herself in order to preserve someone else's individuality.
She sometimes leaves a slice of staff cake on the pig-tin. It seems that she has no husband no children no relatives. She never has visitors. She never speaks of her personal concern; one is seldom aware that she has any. She has lived for many years in the hospital and has a small room at the end of the T.B. corridor; one is surprised on passing it to notice that it has a cosy appearance as far as that is possible in a room in a mental hospital. She is allowed to keep her overcoat. It hangs behind the door. There is a feminine smell of powder and clothes. At one time someone must have given her a potted plant; it now stands on a chair in one corner, and an old calendar of five years ago, presumably kept for its old-fashioned English country scene, hangs over the hole in the centre of the door so that the nurses may not peep in at her in the night She is allowed that privacy.
Her sobriety, her apparent acceptance of a way of life that will continue until she dies - these frighten me. She seems like someone who could set up camp in a graveyard and continue to boil the billy, eat and sleep soundly and perhaps spend the day polishing the tombstones or weeding the graves. One watches her for a ripple of herself as one watches an eternally calm lake for evidence of the rumoured creature inhabiting perhaps "deeper than ever plummet sounded". One needs a machine like a bathysphere to find Mrs. Pilling. A bathysphere of fear? Of love?

[Faces in the Water, Frame, J.]

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

...of inaccuracy

In any event, none of the few other books I have noticed over there interests me remarkably either.
Although I am perhaps forgetting the one-volume selection from among the Greek plays, which is an edition I had never seen before.
Conversely, I have no more intention of ever opening something called The Origin of Table Manners than I do of reading the book about grass.
One other is actually called The Eiffel Tower, of all nonsense subjects.
There is naturally nothing in any of the plays about anyone menstruating, incidentally.
Although when one comes right down to it, one can often make an educated guess about that sort of thing despite the silence.
One has a fairly acute inkling as to when Cassandra may be having her period, for instance.
Cassandra is feeling out of sorts again, one can even imagine Troilus or certain of the other Trojans now and again saying.
Then again, Helen could be having hers even when she still possesses that radiant dignity, being Helen.
My own generally makes my face turn puffy.
One is next to positive that Sappho would have never beaten around the bush about any of this, on the other hand.
Which could well explain why certain of her poems were used as the stuffing for mummies, even before the friars got their hands on those that were left.

[Wittgenstein's Mistress, Markson, D.]

...of plagiarism

I am wearing underpants, but only because the seat of this chair has no cushion.
I have also just brought blueberries in from the kitchen.
Was it really some other person I was so anxious to discover, when I did all of that looking, or was it only my own solitude that I could not abide?
Wandering through this endless nothingness. Once in a while, when I was not mad, I would turn poetic instead. I honestly did let myself think about things in such ways.
The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me. For instance I thought about them like that, also.
In a manner of speaking, I thought about them like that.
Actually I underlined that sentence in a book, named the Pensees, when I was in college.
Doubtless I underlined the sentence about wandering through an endless nothingness in somebody else's book, as well.

[Wittgenstein's Mistress, Markson, D.]

...of hesitation

What's going on? You'd think... didn't you notice it?... It seems to me that I sensed... In what he said?... No, it's more in his silence... when he was listening to us I felt, I should not have been surprised if there had issued from his lips... - Oh no, what will you imagine next? It was nothing... I was elsewhere... the most I could have done would have been to repeat without thinking what I was saying... Others said that first, not I... others who have proved that they were not... but who does not have such moments? He himself perhaps... - What did you say? Who are you talking about?... -No, not about him, of course... but I just wanted to point out that none of us is totally preserved from... We should be forgiven... One moment of vacuity, of inattention, is not enough for... - Oh, yes it is. There's many a case in which almost nothing... where there's smoke there's fire... sufficed to mark an entire life... - Yes, I know, but I... - What do you mean you? Nobody, you know that, even among "somebodies," can enjoy complete immunity when it's a matter of... - But I, what I meant to say... No, what am I talking about? I didn't mean to say anything... - Ah, you see, you're hesitating, spluttering, I was not wrong... you can thank me. I stopped you in time... I sensed, I never mistake it... there was in your expression, in your silence, yes... a sort of reticence... a second more... with the devil at your elbow... and words were going to come out...
- No, not I, I couldn't say anything, for the simple reason that I hadn't thought anything. No, I assure you, not spoken by me... I, what words?... Why, I'm surprised... After all, what are those words? Where did you get them? How did they come into your mind? - Oh I don't know... I must have heard... - Heard where? From whom? - I forget... - Think. That's serious, because if you did not hear them... Well... So speak them then, those words that you imagined, that you "felt" forming in me, rising to my lips... All right, all right, let's not insist... This time it will not be chalked up against you... You believed, just believed you perceived, that's what is a bit awkward... yes, it was an hallucination... but you must watch yourself, that's disquieting... You know quite well what that is, what you imagined, what you believed you heard: That's what fools say.

["Fools Say", Sarraute, N.]

...of disapproval

That hand dangling, slowly swaying above the small change spread out on the open palm... they too see it, they have seen it, they have been able to observe it at close range, their eyes too have followed, taken in the skimpy form of a deplorable tight-fist... they've seen her, the innocent defenceless girl, led on by him, not daring to turn back toward them, her nearest and dearest, to call on them for help... Stealthily they followed her, they slipped in behind her until they reached the den where she was sequestered, riveted to him, debased... they carefully inspected the entire place and then left on tiptoe, their eyes filled with tears, weeping over her, her wasted life, her broken heart... Seized with terror, she tears herself away from him... torn in twain, mutilated, gasping for breath, she forces herself to follow them, clings to them, begs them... They should not abandon her, if they'll only come back with her, it doesn't matter, they can come in... they should look even more closely... they should help her to recover, rediscover... there was in him such richness, such real wealth, these should be found... they must remember, they had seen them, they too, like her, they had been dazzled by them... Is it possible that by itself, a single gesture like that one could... they are already ashamed, aren't they, they who are so indulgent, so broad-minded, to have attached such importance to something so petty? Merely to have noticed such a trifle, couldn't this also show pettiness in them? She would blush to confess this to him, he would have every reason to scorn her...
They remain motionless, silent... she seizes their hands, hugs their knees... Just a word, a look, to reassure her, they can still save her... They shake their heads... Alas, my poor child, what can we do about it? What can we do in the face of the rules by which we are governed, precepts founded on wisdom, on experience that harks back to remote Antiquity? This one: you know it well, what's the use trying to forget it? She stops her ears... Gently, firmly, they remove her hands... You must have the courage to listen: Ab unglue leonem.

["Fools Say", Sarraute, N.]

...of machination

From their barely opened lips it issued... a murmur, a hardly perceptible whisper... - His chin is growing longer, yes, I'm afraid, he'll have an undershot jaw... - Ah, like Uncle Francois... and they grew silent... A look, a sign exchanged between them must have put them on their guard, incited them to be prudent... Once more they have enveloped him in silence, once more they have put on the magic cap that gives him the feeling of not being seen, as though in place of his body, of his face, there were an empty space that their glances pass through, in which nothing hinders them... nothing that comes from him reaches, or disturbs the calm, opaque surface of their eyes.

"His"... They look, they observe, situated at a good distance, a form that he can't see, in which he is imprisoned, enclosed, circumscribed, demarcated, separated, designated by that word that they apply to him: his.

["Fools Say", Sarraute, N.]

...of banishment

"Jonathan Livingston Seagull," said the Elder, "Stand to Centre for shame in the sight of your fellow gulls!"
It felt like being hit with a board. His knees went weak, his feathers sagged, there was a roaring in his ears. Centred for shame? Impossible! The Breakthrough! They can't understand! They're wrong, they're wrong!
"... for his reckless irresponsibility," the solemn voice intoned, "violating the dignity and tradition of the Gull Family..."
To be centred for shame meant that he would be cast out of gull society, banished to a solitary life on the Far Cliffs.
"... one day, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, you shall learn that irresponsibility does not pay. Life is the unknown and the unknowable, except that we are put into this world to eat, to stay alive as long as we possibly can."
A seagull never speaks back to the Council Flock, but it was Jonathan's voice raised. "Irresponsibility? My brothers!" he cried. "Who is more responsible than a gull who finds and follows meaning, a higher purpose for life? For a thousand years we have scrabbled after fish heads, but now we have a reason to live - to learn, to discover, to be free! Give me one chance, let me show you what I've found... "
The Flock might as well have been stone.
"The Brotherhood is broken," the gulls intoned together, and with one accord they solemnly closed their ears and turned their backs upon him.

[Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Bach, R.]

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

...of defiance

In reality, nothing was ever so extraordinary as the merchandise the stranger produced: most of his curiosities, which were not less admirable for their workmanship than splendour, had, besides, their several virtues described on a parchment fastened to each. There were slippers, which, by spontaneous springs, enabled the feet to walk; knives, that cut without motion of the hand; sabres, that dealt the blow at the person they were wished to strike; and the whole enriched with gems, that were hitherto unknown.
The sabres, especially, the blades of which, emitted a dazzling radiance, fixed, more than all the rest, the Caliph's attention; who promised himself to decipher, at his leisure, the uncouth characters engraven on their sides. Without, therefore, demanding their price, he ordered all the coined gold to be brought from his treasury, and commanded the merchant to take what he pleased. The stranger obeyed, took little, and remained silent.
Vathek, imagining that the merchant's taciturnity was occasioned by the awe which his presence inspired, encouraged him to advance; and asked him, with an air of condescension, who he was? whence he came? and where he obtained such beautiful commodities? The man, or rather monster, instead of making a reply, thrice rubbed his forehead, which as well as his body, was blacker than ebony; four times clapped his paunch, the projection of which was enormous; opened wide his huge eyes, which glowed like firebrands; began to laugh with a hideous noise, and discovered his long amber-coloured teeth, be streaked with green.
The Caliph, though a little startled, renewed his inquiries, but without being able to procure a reply. At which, beginning to be ruffled, he exclaimed: 'Knowest thou, wretch, who I am, and at whom thou art aiming thy gibes?' - Then, addressing his guards, - 'Have ye heard him speak? - is he dumb?' - 'He hath spoken,' they replied, 'but to no purpose.' 'Let him speak then again,' said Vathek, 'and tell me who he is, from whence he came, an where he procured these singular curiosities; or I swear, by the ass of Balaam, that I will make him rue his pertinacity.'
This menace was accompanied by one of the Caliph's angry and perilous glances, which the stranger sustained without the slightest emotion; although his eyes were fixed on the terrible eye of the Prince.

[Vathek, Beckford, W.]

...of repression

Notwithstanding the sensuality in which Vathek indulged, he experienced no abatement in the love of his people, who though that a sovereign giving himself up to pleasure, was as able to govern, as one who declared himself an enemy to it. But the unquiet and impetuous disposition of the Caliph would not allow him to rest there. He had studied so much for his amusement in the life-time of his father, as to acquire a great deal of knowledge, though not a sufficiency to satisfy himself; for he wished to know every thing; even sciences that did not exist. He was fond of engaging in disputes with the learned, but did not allow them to push their opposition with warmth. He stopped with presents the mouths of those whose mouths could be stopped; whilst others, whom his liberality was unable to subdue, he sent to prison to cool their blood; a remedy that often succeeded.

[Vathek, Beckford, W.]

...of phantoms

It is morning, very early, but inside the large empty house it is already warm, particularly as one climbs toward the upper floors where the sun's rays are concentrated all through the scorching afternoons of midsummer. The house looks inhabited, judging at least by the articles of female clothing hung as if in haste on the coatstands in the hall, but all is silence. And the whole place seems deserted: the immense wooden staircase with its monumental bannister, the first-floor gallery, the intricate corridors of the second floor, the successive rooms whose doors David H. throws open one after another, he too making no sound, as if hoping to catch someone just waking up, or drowsing in a world still peopled by airy phantoms, delicate silhouettes in long voile dresses and hats with broad translucent brims who glide softly through grey meadows iridescent with dew, imperceptible droplets of dew lining each blade of grass and shining against the light of the low-slanting morning sun, warm already though hardly higher than the crest of the gentle slope up which the narrow path leads to the house. The worn rope sandals D.H. is wearing are soundless on the beaten earth of the path, soundless too as he steps over the threshold, pushing open - just enough for him to pass through - the heavy door he finds ajar, soundless as he crosses the deserted hall, soundless climbing the short straight flights of the wooden staircase, soundless still as D.H. opens the door of a room and stands in the embrasure, having pushed the leaf through half its arc. Like all the other rooms in the house it looks inhabited, looks at least as if it were inhabited not long ago: an unmade bed, its tangled sheets seemingly pushed back a moment before by the young sleeper, only recently emerged from dreams that seem to linger in a drowsiness she is reluctant to shake off as her bare feet, moving with the improbable step of the sleepwalker, cross the faded flowers of the carpet to the rustic washstand where the girl slowly pours the contents of the water jug into the white china bowl, bending over the bowl after she has done so for a glimpse of her motionless face, her still sleepy but unblinking eyes, her fine features, sullen as an absent child's, her long, long neck, and one gleaming shoulder bared by the full-length, loosely cut tulle nightdress having slipped over her skin. Then, with the same slowness, she stretches out the other arm (the one with the shoulder concealed), which emerges from a flared sleeve cut off a little below the elbow, and brings the tips other long fingers closer and closer to the limpid surface. Soon her movements cease completely and she stays like that, her gaze dwelling unsleepingly on her slender, irregularly open hand, now suspended above the immaterial, solidified, inaccessible water. Some seconds, or some hours, or some years later the white hand has smashed the liquid mirror and obliterated the reflected image, the long transparent nightdress, the face bent over, the wide-open eyes. And when D.H. pushes the door the room is empty, like the rest of the house. The water in the bowl, clear of any impurity as yet, is calm again, but its surface now reflects only the tiny panes of the casement, beyond which the early-morning sun shines on the sloping meadows bright with white frost or dew where the phantom girls in long muslin dresses and sunbonnets glide with the light behind them, their feet hardly touching the iridescent grass. Inside the room, against the light, the invisible golden dust continues to descend silently through the still air, causing no more than a slight diffusion of the light, afterwards landing, at length, on every horizontal or only gently sloping surface, on the washstand with its abandoned utensils, on the carpet with its faded areas of colour forming arabesques that are already unidentifiable, on the wrought-iron bed with its intertwined white volutes, its disarranged covers, its chiffon sheets...

[Topology of a Phantom City, Robbe-Grillet, A.]

...of a dialogue with animals

- 'Twas by a poor ass who had just turned in with a couple of large panniers upon his back, to collect eleemosunary turnip tops and cabbage leaves; and stood dubious, with his two forefeet on the inside of the threshold, and with his two hinder feet towards the street, as not knowing very well whether he was to go in, or no.
Now, 'tis an animal (be in what hurry I may) I cannot bear to strike - there is a patient endurance of sufferings, wrote so unaffectedly in his looks and carriage, which pleads so mightily for him, that it always disarms me; and to that degree, that I do not like to speak unkindly to him: on the contrary, meet him where I will - whether in town or country - in cart or under panniers - whether in liberty or bondage - I have ever something civil to say to him on my part; and as one word begets another (if he has as little to do as I) - I generally fall into conversation with him; and surely never is my imagination so busy as in framing his responses from the etchings of his countenance - and where those carry me not deep enough - in flying from my own heart into his, and seeing what is natural for an ass to think - as well as a man, upon the occasion. In truth, it is the only creature of all classes of beings below me, with whom I can do this: for parrots, jackdaws, etc. - I never exchange a word with them - nor with the apes, etc. for pretty near the same reason; they act by rote, as the others speak by it, and equally make me silent: nay my dog and my cat, though I value them both - (and for my dog he would speak if he could) - yet some how or other, they neither of them possess the talents for conversation - I can make nothing of a discourse with them, beyond the proposition, the reply, and rejoinder, which terminated my father's and my mother's conversations, in his beds of justice - and those utter'd - there's an end of the dialogue.
- But with an ass, I can commune for ever.
Come Honesty! said I, - seeing it was impracticable to pass betwixt him and the gate - art thou for going in, or going out?
The ass twisted his head round to look up the street -
Well - replied I - we'll wait a minute for thy driver:
- He turned his head thoughtful about, and looked wistfully the opposite way -
I understand thee perfectly; answered I - if thou tamest a wrong step in this affair, he will cudgel thee to death - Well! a minute is but a minute, and if it saves a fellow creature a drubbing, it shall not be set down as ill-spent.

[The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Sterne, L.]

...of an unwritten page

To conceive this right, - call for pen and ink - here's paper ready to your hand. - Sit down, Sir, paint her to your own mind - as like your mistress as you can - as unlike your wife as your conscience will let you - 'tis all one to me - please but your own fancy in it.

- Was there anything in Nature so sweet! - so exquisite! - Then, dear Sir, how could my uncle Toby resist it?
Thrice happy book! thou wilt have one page, at least, within thy covers, which MALICE will not blacken, and which IGNORANCE cannot misrepresent.

[The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Sterne, L.]

...of nostalgia

A delusive, delicious consultation or two of this kind, betwixt my uncle Toby and Trim, upon the demolition of Dunkirk, for a moment rallied back the ideas of those pleasures, which were slipping from under him: - still - still all went on heavily - the magic left the mind the weaker - STILLNESS, with SILENCE  at her back, entered the solitary parlour, and drew their gauzy mantle over my uncle Toby's head; - and LISTLESSNESS, with her lax fibre and undirected eye, sat quietly down beside him in his arm chair. - No longer Amberg, and Rhinberg, and Limbourg, and Huy, and Bonn, in one year, - and the prospect of Landen, and Trerebach, and Drusen, and Dendermond, the next, - hurried on the blood: - No longer did saps, and mines, and blinds, and gabions, and palisadoes, keep out this fair enemy of man's repose: - No more could my uncle Toby, after passing the French lines, as he eat his egg at supper, from thence break into the heart of France, - cross over the Oyes, and with all Picardie open behind him, march up to the gates of Paris, and fall asleep with nothing but ideas of glory: - No more was he to dream, he had fixed the royal standard upon the tower of the Bastile, and awake with it streaming in his head.

[The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Sterne, L.] 

...of slander

What a jovial and a merry world would this be, may it please your worships, but for that inextricable labyrinth of debts, cares, woes, want, grief, discontent, melancholy, large jointures, impositions, and lies!
Doctor Slop, like a son of a w-, as my father called him for it, - to exalt himself, - debased me to death, - and made ten thousand times more of Susannah's accident, than there was any grounds for; so that in a week's time, or less, it was in every body's mouth, That poor Master Shandy * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * entirely. - And FAME, who loves to double every thing, - in three days more, had sworn positively she saw it, - and all the world, as usual, gave credit to her evidence - "That the nursery window had not only * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *; - but that * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *'s also."
Could the world have been sued like a BODY-CORPORATE, - my father had brought an action upon the case, and trounced it sufficiently; but to fall foul of individuals about it - as every should who had mentioned the affair, did it with the greatest pity imaginable; - 'twas like flying in the very face of his best friends: - And yet to acquiesce under the report, in silence - was to acknowledge it openly, - at least in the opinion of one half of the world; and to make a bustle again, in contradicting it, - was to confirm it as strongly in the opinion of the other half.-

[The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Sterne, L.]

...of burning ears

My mother was going very gingerly in the dark along the passage which led to the parlour, as my uncle Toby pronounced the word wife. - 'Tis a shrill, penetrating sound of itself, and Obadiah had helped it by leaving the door a little a-jar, so that my mother heard enough of it, to imagine herself the subject of the conversation: so laying the edge of her finger across her two lips - holding in her breath, and bending her head a little downwards, with a twist of her neck - (not towards the door, but from it, by which means her ear was brought to the chink) - she listened with all her powers: - the listening slave, with the Goddess of Silence at his back, could not have given a finer thought for an intaglio.
In this attitude I am determined to let her stand for five minutes: till I bring up the affairs of the kitchen (as Rapin does those of the church) to the same period.

[The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Sterne, L.]

...of brotherly love

My father lay stretched across the bed as still as if the hand of death had pushed him down, for a full hour and a half, before he began to play upon the floor with the toe of that foot which hung over the bed-side; my uncle Toby's heart was a pound lighter for it. - In a few moments, his left-hand, the knuckles of which had all the time reclined upon the handle of the chamber-pot, came to its feeling - he thrust it a little more within the valance - drew up his hand, when he had done, into his bosom - gave a hem! - My good uncle Toby, with infinite pleasure answered it; and full gladly would have ingrafted a sentence of consolation upon the opening it afforded; but having no talents, as I said, that way, and fearing moreover that he might set out with something which might make a bad matter worse, he contented himself with resting his chin placidly upon the cross of his crutch.
Now whether the compression shortened my uncle Toby's face into a more pleasurable oval, - or that the philanthropy of his heart, in seeing his brother beginning to emerge out of the sea of his afflictions, had braced up his muscles, - so that the compression upon his chin only doubled the benignity which was there before, is not hard to decide. - My father, in turning his eyes, was struck with such a gleam of sun-shine in his face, as melted down the sullenness of his grief in a moment.

[The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Sterne, L.]