T. H. White

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T H White lecturing on one of his novels in Boston College as a special guest.

Terence Hanbury White (29 May 1906 – 17 January 1964) was an English author best known for his Arthurian novels.

See also: The Once and Future King


  • God is love, the parson whined.
    Yes, and is he also blind?
    • "Love Is Blind".
  • God is love, the bishops tell.
    Yes, I know, But love is hell.
    • "All For Love".
  • Helen whose face was fatal must have wept
    Many salt tears to keep her eyes so bright
    Many long nights alone: and every night
    Men died, she cried, and happy Paris kept
    Sweet Helen.
    • "PARIS".
  • Be kind, Helen, I am so tired of thinking;
    There are so many difficult corridors of thought,
    With equal iron banisters leading back again:
    So many stone stairs, Helen, up which I sought
    To rediscover the windy sky, and stand, blinking,
    In the lost sunlight: as bright as pain,
    Helen. I would give almost anything now
    Even for pain.
    • "Lost".
  • Little child
    Who was me once,
    My pity on you—
    And reverence.

    If we could meet
    Where I once strayed,
    The betrayer
    And the betrayed.

    If we could win back
    In Time's defiance,
    Would you be afeared of me,
    Ten-year-old Terence?

    No, you would not fear.
    You would love, trust,
    Cherish, admire
    This tedious dust.

    For oh! we were all brimming once
    With the sun-sparkled dew.
    One heart could have loved this hulk—
    The ignorant heart of you.
    • "To My Self, Forty Years Ago".
  • The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch somebody else doing it wrong, without comment.
    • The Godstone and the Blackymor (1959), p. 161.

England Have My Bones (1936)

  • The fisherman fishes as the urchin eats cream buns, from lust.
  • Dogs, like very small children, are quite mad.
  • Aviators live by hours, not by days.
  • I would recommend a solo flight to all prospective suicides. It tends to make clear the issue of whether one enjoys being alive or not.

Originally titled The Witch in the Wood

  • Ther days may come,/Ther days may go,/But still the light of Mem'ry weaves/Those gentle dreams/Of long ago
  • Perhaps we all give the best of our hearts uncritically -- to those who hardly think about us in return.
  • She (Maria) lived in an enormous house in the wilds of Northamptonshire, which was about four times longer than Buckingham Palace, but was falling down.
  • When she (Maria) had come abreast of the little island of Mistress Masham's Repose, she began to feel piratical. Swouns and Slids, she said to herself, but you could slap her vitals if she did not careen there, and perhaps dig up some buried treasure while about it.
  • He (the Professor) was a failure but did his best to hide it. One of his failings was that he could barely write, except in a twelfth century hand, in Latin, with abbreviations.
  • They (the enemy) pottered off through Idiot's Utterly, High Hiccough, Malpaquet Middling and Mome.
  • And shall the Schoolmen die?
    And shall the Schoolmen die?
    Five hundred men of Lilliput
    Will know the reason why.
A posthumous publication based upon White's notes of ideas for completing The Once and Future King.
  • "The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn".
  • "Is there anything more terrible than perpetual motion, than doing and doing and doing, without a reason, without a consciousness, without a change, without an end?"
  • "Yes, that is the equality of man. Slaughter anybody who is better than you are, and then we shall be equal soon enough. All equally dead".
  • “He caught a glimpse of that extraordinary faculty in man, that strange, altruistic, rare, and obstinate decency which will make writers or scientists maintain their truths at the risk of death. Eppur si muove, Galileo was to say; it moves all the same. They were to be in a position to burn him if he would go on with it, with his preposterous nonsense about the earth moving round the sun, but he was to continue with the sublime assertion because there was something which he valued more than himself. The Truth. To recognize and to acknowledge What Is. That was the thing which man could do, which his English could do, his beloved, his sleeping, his now defenceless English. They might be stupid, ferocious, unpolitical, almost hopeless. But here and there, oh so seldome, oh so rare, oh so glorious, there were those all the same who would face the rack, the executioner, and even utter extinction, in the cause of something greater than themselves. Truth, that strange thing, the jest of Pilate's. Many stupid young men had thought they were dying for it, and many would continue to die for it, perhaps for a thousand years. They did not have to be right about their truth, as Galileo was to be. It was enough that they, the few and martyred, should establish a greatness, a thing above the sum of all they ignorantly had.”
  • “I can imagine nothing more terrifying than an Eternity filled with men who were all the same. The only thing which has made life bearable…has been the diversity of creatures on the surface of the globe.”
  • "We find that at present the human race is divided into one wise man, nine knaves, and ninety fools out of every hundred. That is, by an optimistic observer. The nine knaves assemble themselves under the banner of the most knavish among them, and become 'politicians'; the wise man stands out, because he knows himself to be hopelessly outnumbered, and devotes himself to poetry, mathematics, or philosophy; while the ninety fools plod off under the banners of the nine villains, according to fancy, into the labyrinths of chicanery, malice and warfare. It is pleasant to have command, observes Sancho Panza, even over a flock of sheep, and that is why the politicians raise their banners. It is, moreover, the same thing for the sheep whatever the banner. If it is democracy, then the nine knaves will become members of parliament; if fascism, they will become party leaders; if communism, commissars. Nothing will be different, except the name. The fools will be still fools, the knaves still leaders, the results still exploitation. As for the wise man, his lot will be much the same under any ideology. Under democracy he will be encouraged to starve to death in a garret, under fascism he will be put in a concentration camp, under communism he will be liquidated.”
  • “Neither force, nor argument, nor opinion," said Merlyn with the deepest sincerity, "are thinking. Argument is only a display of mental force, a sort of fencing with points in order to gain a victory, not for truth. Opinions are the blind alleys of lazy or of stupid men, who are unable to think. If ever a true politician really thinks a subject out dispassionately, even Homo stultus will be compelled to accept his findings in the end. Opinion can never stand beside truth. At present, however, Homo impoliticus is content either to argue with opinions or to fight with his fists, instead of waiting for the truth in his head. It will take a million years, before the mass of men can be called political animals.”
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