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Catherine assented — and a very warm panegyric from her on that
lady’s merits closed the subject. The Tilneys were soon engaged
in another on which she had nothing to say. They were viewing
the country with the eyes of persons accustomed to drawing, and
decided on its capability of being formed into pictures, with all
the eagerness of real taste. Here Catherine was quite lost. She
knew nothing of drawing — nothing of taste: and she listened to
them with an attention which brought her little profit, for they
talked in phrases which conveyed scarcely any idea to her. The
little which she could understand, however, appeared to contradict
the very few notions she had entertained on the matter before. It
seemed as if a good view were no longer to be taken from the top
of an high hill, and that a clear blue sky was no longer a proof
of a fine day. She was heartily ashamed of her ignorance. A
misplaced shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always
be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind is to come with an
inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible
person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have
the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as
–Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey vol. 1, ch. 14 (1803)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”