For a moment my soul was elevated from its debasing and miserable fears to which these sights were the monuments and the remembrances. For an instant I dared to shake off my chains, and look around me with a free and lofty spirit; but the iron had eaten into my flesh, and I sank again, trembling and hopeless, into my miserable self.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
There is no place for nostalgia in a progressive world. The new school not only ignores nostalgia, but condemns it. The world of yesterday is becoming an isolated world of remembrances and echoes so forbidden that, to decorate the present with it, you must often do so with a sense of humor or belong to a select group.
St. Andrews provided a gentle forgetfulness over the preceding painful years of my life. It remains a haunting and lovely time to me, a marrow experience. For one who during her undergraduate years was trying to escape an inexplicable weariness and despair, St. Andrews was an amulet against all manner of longing and loss, a year of gravely held but joyous remembrances.
Kay Redfield Jamison
The first and last weakness of his life, before him again. For a moment he felt himself blinded by his own memories; his own remembrances of the wits and wiles of Marian Halcombe that would steal into his thoughts; the sound of her laughter at his outrageous tales, the shadowed glance of distrust, the way her eyebrows would raise ever so slightly despite her resolution to seem disinterested in his foreign insights. She was the first woman he ventured to have complete equality in matching his tremendous cleverness.
O, heavenly Father: we thank thee for food and remember the hungry. We thank thee for health and remember the sick. We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless. We thank thee for freedom and remember the enslaved. May these remembrances stir us to service, That thy gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.
Abigail Van Buren
As she stooped over him, her tears fell upon his forehead. The boy stirred, and smiled in his sleep, as though these marks of pity and compassion had awakened some pleasant dream of a love and affection he had never known; as a strain of gentle music, or the rippling of water in a silent place, or the odour of a flower, or even the mention of a familiar word, will sometimes call up sudden dim remembrances of scenes that never were, in this life; which vanish like a breath; and which some brief memory of a happier existence, long gone by, would seem to have awakened, for no voluntary exertion of the mind can ever recall them.
I should like to ask you: - Does your childhood seem far off? Do the days when you sat at your mother's knee, seem days of very long ago?" Responding to his softened manner, Mr. Lorry answered: "Twenty years back, yes; at this time of my life, no. For, as I draw closer and closer to the end, I travel in the circle, nearer and nearer to the beginning. It seems to be one of the kind smoothings and preparings of the way. My heart is touched now, by many remembrances that had long fallen asleep, of my pretty young mother (and I so old!), and by many associations of the days when what we call the World was not so real with me, and my faults were not confirmed with me.
I should like to ask you:-Does your childhood seem far off? Do the days when you sat at your mother's knee, seem days of very long ago?" Responding to his softened manner, Mr. Lorry answered: "Twenty years back, yes; at this time of my life, no. For, as I draw closer to the end, I travel in the circle, nearer and nearer to the beginning. It seems to be one of the kind smoothings and preparings of the way. My heart is touched now, by my many remembrances that had long fallen asleep, of my pretty young mother (and I so old!), and by many associations of the days when what we call the World was not so real with me, and my faults were not confirmed in me." "I understand the feeling!" exclaimed Carton, with a bright flush. "And you are the better for it?" "I hope so.
As for me, I feel myself living and thinking in a room where everything is the creation and the language of lives profoundly different from mine, of a taste opposite to mine, where I find nothing of my conscious thought, where my imagination is excited by feeling itself plunged into the depths of the non-ego; I feel happy only when setting foot-on the Avenue de la Gare, on the Port, or on the Place de l'Eglise-in one of those provincial hotels with cold, long corridors where the wind from outside contends successfully with the efforts of the heating system, where the detailed geographic map of the district is still the sole ornament on the walls, where each noise helps only to make the silence appear by displacing it, where the rooms keep a musty perfume which the open air comes to wash, but does not eliminate, and which the nostrils inhale a hundred times in order to bring it to the imagination, which is enchanted with it, which has it pose like a model to try to recreate it with all the thoughts and remembrances that it contains...
My Dear Mrs Winter. (I had half a mind when I dipped my pen in the ink, to address you by your old natural Christian name.) The snow lies so deep on the Northern Railway, and the Posts have been so interrupted in consequence, that your charming note arrived here only this morning... I get the heartache again when I read your commission, written in the hand which I find now to be not in the least changed, and yet it is a great pleasure to be entrusted with it, and to have that share in your gentler remembrances which I cannot find it still my privilege to have, without a stirring of the old fancies... I am very very sorry you mistrusted me in not writing before your little girl was born; but I hope now you know me better you will teach her, one day, to tell her children, in times to come when they have some interest in wondering about it, that I loved her mother with the most extraordinary earnestness when I was a boy. I have always believed since, and always shall to the last, that there never was such a faithful and devoted poor fellow as I was. Whatever of fancy, romance, energy, passion, aspiration and determination belong to me, I never have separated and never shall separate from the hard hearted little woman - you - whom it is nothing to say I would have died for, with the greatest alacrity! I never can think, and I never seem to observe, that other young people are in such desperate earnest, or set so much, so long, upon one absorbing hope. It is a matter of perfect certainty to me that I began to fight my way out of poverty and obscurity, with one perpetual idea of you. This is so fixed in my knowledge that to the hour when I opened your letter last Friday night, I have never heard anybody addressed by your name or spoken of by your name, without a start. The sound of it has always filled me with a kind of pity and respect for the deep truth that I had, in my silly hobbledehoyhood, to bestow upon one creature who represented the whole world to me. I have never been so good a man since, as I was when you made me wretchedly happy. I shall never be half so good a fellow any more. This is all so strange now, both to think of, and to say, after every change that has come about; but I think, when you ask me to write to you, you are not unprepared for what it is so natural to me to recall, and will not be displeased to read it. I fancy, - though you may not have thought in the old time how manfully I loved you - that you may have seen in one of my books a faithful reflection of the passion I had for you, and may have thought that it was something to have been loved so well, and may have seen in little bits of "Dora" touches of your old self sometimes, and a grace here and there that may be revived in your little girls, years hence, for the bewilderment of some other young lover - though he will never be as terribly in earnest as I and David Copperfield were. People used to say to me how pretty all that was, and how fanciful it was, and how elevated it was above the little foolish loves of very young men and women. But they little thought what reason I had to know it was true and nothing more nor less. These are things that I have locked up in my own breast, and that I never thought to bring out any more. But when I find myself writing to you again "all to your self", how can I forbear to let as much light in upon them as will shew you that they are there still! If the most innocent, the most ardent, and the most disinterested days of my life had you for their Sun - as indeed they had - and if I know that the Dream I lived in did me good, refined my heart, and made me patient and persevering, and if the Dream were all of you - as God knows it was - how can I receive a confidence from you, and return it, and make a feint of blotting all this out!...