He was intelligent enough to feel quite humble, to wish not to be in the least hard or voracious, not to insist on his own side of the bargain, to warn himself in short against arrogance and greed. ... Personally, he considered, he hadn't the vices in question -- and that was so much to the good. His race, on the other hand, had them handsomely enough, and he was somehow full of his race. Its presence in him was like the consciousness of some inexpugnable scent in which his clothes, his whole person, his hands and the hair of his head, might have been steeped as in some chemical bath: the effect was nowhere in particular, yet he constantly felt himself at the mercy of the cause.

Henry James, The Golden Bowl, chapter 1.

"Oh, you deep old Italians!"

"There you are," he returned. ... "That's the responsible note."

"What on earth are you talking about?"

"Of my real, honest fear of being 'off' some day, of being wrong, without knowing it. That's what I shall always trust you for -- to tell me when I am. No --with you people it's a sense. We haven't got it -- not as you have."

"I should be interested," she presently remarked, "to see some sense you don't possess."

Well, he produced one on the spot. "The moral, dear Mrs. Assingham. I mean, always, as you others consider it. I've of course something that in our poor dear backward old Rome sufficiently passes for it. But it's no more like yours than the tortuous stone staircase -- half-ruined into the bargain! -- in some castle of our quattrocento is like the 'lightning elevator' in one of Mr. Verver's fifteen-storey buildings. Your moral sense works by steam -- it sends you up like a rocket. Ours is slow and steep and unlighted, with so many of the steps missing that -- well, that it's as short, in almost any case, to turn around and come down again."

"Trusting," Mrs. Assingham smiled, "to get up some other way?"

"Yes -- or not to have to get up at all."

Henry James, The Golden Bowl, chapter 2.

To live in the world of creation -- to get into it and stay in it -- to frequent it and haunt it -- to think intensely and fruitfully -- to woo combinations and inspirations into being by a depth and continuity of attention and meditation -- this is the only thing.

Henry James

... a squalid, savage-looking peasant, a tattered ruffian of the most orthodox Italian aspect.

Henry James

... a gray, sedentary grind, whose charm was all at the core.

Henry James on making art

... that blessed internal peace and confidence, that acquiescentia in seipso, as Spinoza used to call it, that wells up from every part of the body of a muscularly well-trained human being, and soaks the indwelling soul of him with satisfaction.

William James


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