A City of Bells Quotes

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A City of Bells (Torminster, #1) A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge
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A City of Bells Quotes (showing 1-23 of 23)
“A bookseller," said Grandfather, "is the link between mind and mind, the feeder of the hungry, very often the binder up of wounds. There he sits, your bookseller, surrounded by a thousand minds all done up neatly in cardboard cases; beautiful minds, courageous minds, strong minds, wise minds, all sorts and conditions. There come into him other minds, hungry for beauty, for knowledge, for truth, for love, and to the best of his ability he satisfies them all....Yes....It's a great vocation....Moreover his life is one of wide horizons. He deals in the stuff of eternity and there's no death in a bookseller's shop. Plato and Jane Austen and Keats sit side by side behind his back, Shakespeare is on his right hand and Shelley on his left.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“Given belief in God, a good digestion and a mind in working order life's still a thing to be grateful for.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“In the utter peace and stillness the world seemed holding its breath, a little apprehensively, drawing near to the fire to warm itself. There was none of that sense of urgeful, pushing life that robs even a calm spring day of the sense of silence; life was over and the year was just waiting, harboring its strength for the final storms and turmoil of its death. The warmth and the color of maturity was there, exultant and burning, visible to the eyes, but the prophecy of decay was felt in a faint shiver of cold at morning and evening and a tiny sigh of the elms at midnight when a wandering ghost of a wind plucked a little of their gold away from them.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
tags: autumn
“Yet surely that story she had imagined was a real thing? If you created a story with your mind surely it was just as much there as a piece of needlework that you created with your fingers? You could not see it with your bodily eyes, that was all....the invisible world must be saturated with the stories that men tell both in their minds and by their lives. They must be everywhere, these stories, twisting together, penetrating existence like air breathed into the lungs, and how terrible, how awful, thought Henrietta, if the air breathed should be foul. How dare men live, how dare they think or imagine, when every action and every thought is a tiny thread to ar or enrich that tremendous tapestried story that man weaves on the loom that God has set up, a loom that stretches from heaven above to hell below, and from side to side of the universe...”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“I think it will last," said Grandfather. "In my experience when people once begin to read they go on. They begin because they think they ought to and they go on because they must. Yes. They find it widens life. We're all greed for life, you know, and our short span of existence can't give us all that we hunger for, the time is too short and our capacity not large enough. But in books we experience all life vicariously.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“These warm lovers of life, born under dancing stars, how without them was life tolerable for those, such as himself, whose bias was towards sadness, their stars cloud-hidden when their spirits woke to life....In this world, surely, there should always be a mating between the lovers of life and the endurers of it, in couples they should find a causeway for their feet and walk it together, the star-shine of the one comforting the darkness of the other.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“There had come to him one of those moments of quiet despair that lie in wait for even the happiest. Stealthy-footed they leap upon us, as we walk along the street, as we sit at evening with fruit and wine upon the table and laughter on our lips, as we wake suddenly from sleep in the hour before dawn; neither at our work nor our play nor our prayers are we safe, those moments can leap at any time out of the blackness around human life and suddenly the colors that we have nailed to our mast are there no longer and all that we have grasped is dust.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“Nothing whatsoever, not even the existence of God to His lovers, can be proved, but that every man, if he is to live at all finely, must deliberately adopt certain assertions as true, and those assertions should, for the sake of the enrichment of the human race, always be creative ones. He may, as life goes on, modify his beliefs, but he must never modify them on the side of destruction. It may be difficult, in the face of the problem of human suffering, to believe in God... but if you destroy God you do not solve your problem but merely leave yourself alone with it.... A ghastly loneliness.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“In the old days he had clutched life with such violence that the juice of it ran out between his fingers and was lost, but now he would touch it delicately, thankful for the good and accepting the ills with patience.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“He supposed he was one of those unfortunates born with a great capacity for suffering.... He opened his eyes a moment and they were dark with fear, for only one race was run as yet and there might be many others.... Then his newborn courage came back to him and he accepted his suffering as the price he must pay for the gift of creation that was his. And suffering, he had discovered, could be the gateway to renewal, than which no more glorious experience can be man's on earth.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“Peace....Henrietta was not quite sure what it was but she knew it was very important. If one wanted it, Grandfather had told her once, one must not hit back when fate hit hard but must allow the hammer-strokes to batter out a hollow place inside one into which peace, like cool water, could flow.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“It was not the size of things that mattered but their perfection, it was not what one had that was important, but what one made.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“Hugh Anthony, in his new nautical overcoat with brass buttons, neither knew nor cared what he looked like, but was comforted in his heated state by a whistle on a white cord. For years he had been telling his grandparents that a whistle should always accompany marine attire and now at last, just in time for the festival, this remark had sunk in. With his lovely eyes fixed on the altar and an expression of great spiritual beauty on his face he was wondering just when to blow the whistle. Should he accompany the last hymn on it or should he blow one shrill blast in the middle of the Dean's sermon? It was difficult to decide. He must, as Grandfather said one should, wait and be guided.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“There was always a little difficulty as to who should decorate what, all the ladies having the lowest opinion of each other's decorative powers. There was especial difficulty over the side chapel vases . . . If there is one thing in the world that every woman is quite sure no other woman but herself can do it is vases. . . The vases on the high altar were of course, as always, the duty of the wife or daughter of the Canon in residence (though goodness knew that poor Nell Roderick could no more make dahlia stick upright than fly), but the side chapel vases were only filled on benefactors' day and there was no real precedence as to who did them. Mrs Elphinstone, as wife of the Senior Canon, naturally thought she should, and Miss Roderick thought she should because she was doing the high altar vases and might as well do the lot together, and Mrs Allenby thought she should because she had once been to the Scilly Isles and therefore must know more about flowers than anyone else, and no one knew why Mrs Phillips, who was only the organists's wife, thought she should . . . The Archdeacon had no female dependents.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“He strolled to the front door and stood watching, letting the picture of Felicity grave itself so deeply on his mind that when with the passing of time it would seem to other people that she had grown old and lost her beauty it would not seem so to him.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“How is it that artists keep their powers of perception even in the days when life darkens?" he asked himself. Thinking about it and taking as his model Grandfather, an artist in religion who had given to its study the devotion and the hours of discipline that a violinist devotes to his instrument, he thought that their perception was born of the faculty of wonder, deepening to meditation and to penetrating sight and so strong that it could last out a lifetime. Grandfather wondered, all day and every day, at the wisdom of God and the beauty of the world, and Ferranti had wondered at the waste and pain and frustration of life.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“Henrietta, at heart a contemplative person, enjoyed alarums and excursions for a short while only. For her a background of quiet was essential to happiness. It had been fun to stay with Felicity, to be petted and spoiled by her friends, to be applauded by big audiences in a crowded theater, to have lovely things to eat and go to the zoo whenever she liked, but it had completely upset her equilibrium and she had felt as though she had been turned upside down so that everything that was worth while in her mind fell out. She, like everyone else, had to find out by experience in what mode of life she could best adjust herself to the twin facts of her own personality and the moment of time in which destiny had planted it, and she was lucky perhaps that she found out so early.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“Never again, she vowed, would she live a noisy life that killed her dreams. They were her reason for living, the only thing that she had to give to the world, and she must live in the way that suited them best.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“He had left a certain mode of life and chosen another and between that life and this a river ran, as impassable as the river of death. And now he wanted to get back madly, desperately, but he couldn't, not even though he knew that the river was nothing but the inhibitions of his own mind.... A normal man who has lived utterly alone for a long time ceases to be normal. A solitary who has cut himself off from human contact comes to have a terror of his fellow humans. A coward who had abandoned all responsibility is afraid to shoulder it again. A failure cannot trust to success. A sufferer who has been broken by life dare not be friends with it again.... It was only his own mind that kept him back but a man's mind can be his greatest friend or his greatest enemy, according as it serves or binds his will, and his was his enemy. Its terrors controlled him. He was bound hand and foot by his own weakness. It was no use. He was a good as dead. "I cannot get back.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“Ferranti's thoughts had been his. As before he had understood his remorse so now he understood the mental chains that had imprisoned him. The poor wretch could not move. Misery had become apathy and apathy had brought the inevitable paralysis of the will.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“We're all too apt to think that things are as we feel them to be, forgetting that they have an objective value apart from what we feel about them. An embittered mind colors the world black for its owner yet that does not alter the fact that the world is a treasure house of beauty and love.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
“For a few minutes the anxiety that tormented him had vanished, leaving his mind as serene as the beauty he looked at. Very lovely, he thought, are the sudden moments of relief that come in the midst of strain, those moments of forgetfulness when we are "teased out of thought" by a bird or a flower or the sight of old roofs in the sun; lovely though so transient, the reversal of those brief moments of misery that visit us even in the midst of joy.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells
tags: joy, misery
“What we are made to do we seldom do well, what we do of our own choice we make a success of for very pride.”
Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells

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