Maurice Baring quotations – “Good things”

Maurice Baring with his
pet budgerigar 'Dempsey.'

Found in Paul Horgan's Maurice Baring Restored (Heinemann, London 1970) a collection of quotations - snippets from the work of the great (and somewhat neglected) writer. Horgan calls these pages 'Good Things.' Maurice Baring was very good on music and art, his Beethoven story has probably been told by others but is still poignant.

We have selected a few of the very best... There are many quotation sites on the web, most have just one 'quote' from him: 'Memory is the greatest of artists, and effaces from your mind what is unnecessary.' The following are from Paul Horgan's selection.

There is no amount of praise which a man and an author cannot bear with equanimity. Some authors can even stand flattery. (From the dedicatory letter of Dead Letters)

Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.

Art was Flaubert's religion; he served it with all his might; and, although he wrote but little, he died of overwork. (French Literature)

If you would know what the Lord God thinks of money, you have only to look at those to whom he gives it.

He pointed out, too, how difficult it would be to break off the engagement at the eleventh hour.
'But that's just the beauty of the eleventh hour. That's what it's there for, surely,' she said. (Cats Cradle)

The French put things so well - so clearly. They are not afraid of platitude.'(Cats Cradle)

One has to accept sorrow for it to be of any healing power, and that is the most difficult thing in the world… A Priest once said to me, "When you understand what accepted sorrow means, you will understand everything. It is the secret of life". (Darby and Joan)

Nothing is more nauseating than praise from people one dislikes. (The Grey Stocking)

A story told by Maurice Baring, quoted by Enid Bagnold in The Times, 14 November 1962:
One doctor to another: 'About the termination of pregnancy - I want your opinion. The father was syphilitic. The mother tuberculous. Of the four children born the first was blind, the second died, the third was deaf and dumb, the fourth was also tuberculous. What would you have done? - 'I would have ended the pregnancy.' - 'Then you would have murdered Beethoven.' 

I think it was 1896, I was present at a performance of Magda in Paris at the Renaissance by Sarah; in her own phrase, 'le Dieu était lá…' (The Puppet Show of Memory).

In the Drury Lane pantomime… Dan Leno played a harp solo, which I think is the funniest thing I ever saw on the stage. He had a subtle, early Victorian, Byronic way of playing, refined and panic-stricken… (The Puppet Show of Memory).

Catullus… gives one the impression of a man almost inarticulate, so much has he to say. (Have you Anything to Declare?)

In a letter to Ethel Smyth, 2 September 1922: 'One of the greatest, the supreme pleasures in life, is, I think, to take up a book, saying to oneself, it is no use reading that now as I know and remember it too well, and then beginning it to find that you have forgotten so much of it that the second or third reading is better than the first.' 

One afternoon while I was at the Acropolis I met a peasant and had a little talk with him. I had with me in a little book Sappho's Ode to Aphrodite and asked him to read it aloud, which he did, remarking that it was in patois. (The Puppet Show of Memory).

The ideal bookcase would be that in which you could plunge a hand into in the dark and be sure of extracting something readable. (The Puppet Show of Memory).

Lord Saint-Edith said he couldn't understand people thinking Bacon had written Shakespeare's plays. If they said Shakespeare had written the works of Bacon as a pastime he could understand it. (Passing By)

One thought on “Maurice Baring quotations – “Good things”

  1. Tommi Uschanov

    This isn't even one of the more embellished versions of the Beethoven story around. But unfortunately, Ludwig was only the third child (and not the fifth), both of the older ones (and not just one) having died in infancy – a statistically normal fate for any family in the 18th century, indicating nothing about the chances for the next child. His father was not syphilitic (as far as is known) but was a notorious alcoholic. His mother developed tuberculosis and died of it – when Ludwig was already sixteen.

    Oh well…


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