Francis Marion Crawford

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Francis Crawford

Francis Marion Crawford (August 2, 1854 – April 9, 1909) was an American writer noted for his many novels, especially those set in Italy, and for his classic weird and fantastic stories.


'Marzio's Crucifix (1887)[edit]

  • There is a scale in the meaning of the word socialist. In France it means about the same thing as a communist, when one uses plain language. When one uses the language of Monsieur Drumont, it means a Jew. In England a socialist is equal to a French conservative republican. In America it means a thief. In Germany it means an ingenious individual of restricted financial resources, who generally fails to blow up some important personage with wet dynamite. In Italy a socialist is an anarchist pure and simple, who wishes to destroy everything existing for the sake of dividing a wealth which does not exist at all. It also means a young man who orders a glass of water and a toothpick at a cafe, and is able to talk politics for a considerable time on this slender nourishment.

Don Orsino (1891)[edit]

  • The lover of romance may lie in the sun, caring not for the time of day and content to watch the butterflies that cross his blue sky on the way from one flower to another. But the historian is an entomologist who must be stirring. He must catch the moths, which are his facts, in the net which is his memory, and he must fasten them upon his paper with sharp pins, which are dates.
  • It is easier to bear suffering when one clearly understands all its causes, and distinguishes just how great a part of it is inevitable and how great a part may be avoided or mitigated.
  • We know little of the lives of others, but we are apt to think that other people understand our own very well, including our good deeds if we have done any, and we expect full measure of credit for these, and the utmost allowance of charity for our sins. In other words we desire our neighbour to combine a power of forgiveness almost divine with a capacity for flattery more than parasitic.

The Novel: What It Is (1893)[edit]

  • A novel is a marketable commodity, of the class collectively termed “luxuries,” as not contributing directly to the support of life or the maintenance of health. It is of the class "artistic luxuries" because it does not appeal to any of the three material senses — touch, taste, smell; and it is of the class "intellectual artistic luxuries,” because it is not judged by the superior senses — sight and hearing.
  • So far as supply and demand are concerned, books in general and works of fiction in particular are commodities and subject to the same laws, statutory and traditional, as other articles of manufacture. A toy-dealer would not venture to sell real pistols to little boys as pop-guns, and a gun-maker who should try to sell the latter for army revolvers would get into trouble, even though he were able to prove that the toy was as expensive to manufacture as the real article, or more so, silver-mounted, chiselled, and lying in a Russia-leather case. I am not sure that the law might not support the purchaser in an action for damages if he discovered at a critical moment that his revolver was a plaything. It seems to me that there is a similar case in the matter of novels. A man buys what purports to be a work of fiction, a romance, a novel, a story of adventure, pays his money, takes his book home, prepares to enjoy it at his ease, and discovers that he has paid a dollar for somebody’s views on socialism, religion, or the divorce laws.
  • There are indeed certain names and prefixes to names which suggest serious reading, independently of the words printed on the title-page of the book. If the Archbishop of Canterbury, or General Booth, or the Emperor William published a novel, for instance, the work might reasonably be expected to contain an exposition of personal views on some question of the day. But in ordinary cases the purpose-novel is a simple fraud, besides being a failure in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand.
  • A community of vices is a closer and more direct bond between human beings than a community of virtues.
  • Why must a novel-writer be either a “realist” or a “romantist”? And, if the latter, why “romanticist” any more than “realisticist”? Why should a good novel not combine romance and reality in just proportions? Is there any reason to suppose that the one element must necessarily shut out the other?
  • It may fairly be claimed that humanity has, within the past hundred years, found a way of carrying a theatre in its pocket; and so long as humanity remains what it is, it will delight in taking out its pocket-stage and watching the antics of the actors, who are so like itself and yet so much more interesting. Perhaps that is, after all, the best answer to the question, “What is a novel?” It is, or ought to be, a pocket-stage. Scenery, light, shade, the actors themselves, are made of words, and nothing but words, more or less cleverly put together. A play is good in proportion as it represents the more dramatic, passionate, romantic, or humorous sides of real life. A novel is excellent according to the degree in which it produces the illusions of a good play—but it must not be forgotten that the play is the thing, and that illusion is eminently necessary to success.
  • Modern civilisation has created modern vices, modern crimes, modern virtues, austerities, and generosities. The crimes of to-day were not dreamed of a hundred years ago, any more than the sublimity of the good deeds done in our time to remedy our time’s mistakes. And between the angel and the beast of this ending century lie great multitudes of ever-shifting, ever-changing lives, neither very bad nor very good, but in all cases very different from what lives used to be in the good old days when time meant time and not money.

'A Cigarette-Maker's Romance (1894)[edit]

  • We are in the world and, before we know where we are, we are on one of the paths which we must traverse in our few score years between birth and death. Moreover, each man's path leads up to the theatre on the one side and down from it on the other. The inexorable manager, Fate, requires that each should go through with his comedy or his drama, if he be judged worthy of a leading part, with his scene or his act in another man's piece, if he be fit only to play the walking gentleman, the dumb footman, or the mechanically trained supernumerary who does duty by turns as soldier, sailor, courtier, husbandman, conspirator or red-capped patriot. A few play well, many play badly, all must appear and the majority are feebly applauded and loudly hissed. He counts himself great who is received with such an uproar of clapping and shout of approval as may drown the voice of the discontented; he is called fortunate who, having missed his cue and broken down in his words, makes his exit in the triumphant train of the greater actor upon whom all eyes are turned; he is deemed happy who, having offended no man, is allowed to depart in peace upon his downward road.
  • There are secret humiliations to which no man would submit, as such, but from which love, when it is real, can take away the sting and the poison.

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