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It wastes me more than were my picture fashioned out of wax, stuck with a magical needle, and then buried.-J. WEBSTER.
The most unimaginative man must understand the Iliad. Homer gives him no choice, and requires from him no exertion, but takes the whole upon himself, and sets his images in so clear a light that it is impossible to be blind to them. The works of Milton cannot be comprehended or enjoyed unless the mind of the reader co-operates with that of the writer. He does not paint a finished picture, or play for a mere passive listener ; he sketches, and leaves others to fill up the outline.MACAULAY.
Pinch. Once, to constrain, also to cavil.
Thou pinchest at my mutability,
For I thee lent a drop of my richesse.—CHAUCER. To some she (Fortune) sendeth children, riches, wealth, Honour, worship, reverence, all his life, But yet she pincheth him with a shrewde wife.—Sir T. MORE.
December. He advanced in the shape of an old man in the extremity of age. The hair he had was so very white it seemed a real snow ; his eyes were red and piercing, and a great quantity of icicles hung in his beard; he was wrapped up in furs, but yet was so pinched with cold that his limbs were all contracted and his body bent to the ground, so that he could not have supported himself had it not been for Comus, the god of revels, and Necessity, the mother of Fate, who sustained him on each side.--Spectator.
Pittance. This word illustrates the advance of luxury; having signified, first, an allowance, then a moderate, and now an insufficient allowance.
My ear with a good pittance
Is fed with reading of romance.-GOWER. Make your whole repast out of one dish. If you indulge in a second, avoid drinking anything strong till you have finished your meal. A man could not well be accused of
gluttony if he stuck to his pittance—there would be no variety of tastes to solicit his palate, nor artificial provocations to relieve satiety. Were I to prescribe a rule for drinking, it should be formed on a saying quoted by Sir William Temple, • The first glass for myself, the second for my friends, the third for good humour, and the fourth for mine enemies.'--STEELE.
Another consequence of a redundant population is a very poor rate of wages. The average fellah's (or labourer's) hire in the country is about 5d. a day. Even in Egypt this is a miserable pittance.
I will not compare the fellah, as travellers do too often, with the English labourer. That he goes about halfnaked, that he never eats meat, that he lives in a windowless, one-roomed, mud hut, may seem to the English country gentleman signs of terrible suffering. But under an Egyptian sky a coat is a nuisance, butcher's meat a superfluity, and a covered sleeping-place is only necessary for two months in the winter; a long piece of blue cotton, about a yard broad, is all he wants for his body, and a smaller strip of white stuff to wrap round his head completes his attire. Unlimited bread, with onions, beans, cucumber, lettuce, to flavour it, is his staple food. A mud hut not much bigger than a bee-hive serves him and his family for a house. Still, even these small needs—and we should be glad to hear of education giving him a taste for more than these-need money, and 5d. a day can hardly make the fellah a happy man.—The Times, Jan. 6, 1876.
Pity. Occurs in old writers, like pietas, as natural affection between father and child, tenderness of disposition, &c.
Go little Bille, without title or date,
To all folk which list to have pitie.—LYDGATE.
A Drama. Each character must be a centre of repulsion to the rest, and it is their hostile interests brought into collision that must tug at their heart-strings and call forth every faculty of thought, speech, or action. The poet, to do justice to his 222
undertaking, must not only identify himself with each, but must take part with all by turns-must feel scorn, pity, love, hate, anger, remorse, revenge, ambition, in their most sudden and fierce extremes; he can only act in sympathy with the public mind and manners of his age, but these are not in sympathy, but in opposition to dramatic poetry.-HAZLITT.
Plant. At one time equivalent to 'colonize.'
Young plantations will never grow if straitened with such hard laws as commonwealths.—Bacon, Settlement of Virginia.
And ne'er did Heaven so much a voyage bless,
If you can plant but there with like success.—COWLEY. Every man in looking at a landscape paints to himself the scene of imaginable felicity he likes best. A merchant looks at an asylum from the toils of business, a mother looks out some healthy and sheltered spot for her children, an improver plants, a poet feels ; a landscape is everything to everybody, it is one person's property as well as another's, it gratifies every man's desire and fills up every man's heart.-SYDNEY SMITH.
Plat. Flat, plain. Survives only in such compound words as plat-form, grass-plat.
Ye mote with the plat sword again
GOWER, Confessio Amantis, Bk. i. Look at a little green grass-plat before the house ; nothing can be more insignificant. Magnify it into a field, we are not much struck with it. Let it be a smooth, uniform, boundless plain, stretching on every side further than the eye can reach, and it becomes a sublime object; immensity of any kind excites the notion of power and the distant sense of fear.-SYDNEY SMITH.
Platform. The following quotations from old authors may account for the well-known American use of the word.
To secure himself a pardon he went and discovered the whole platform of the conspiracy.-LYLY.
The platforms and patterns which are found in the nature of monarchies, the original submission and their motives and occasions, the platforms are these.—BACON.
He likes to see humanity brought home from the universality of precepts and general terms to the reality of persons, of tones and actions, and to have it raised from the grossness of sense to the lofty and striking platform of the imagination. He likes to feel the pulse of nature beating in all times and places alike. The smile of good-natured surprise at folly, the tear of pity at misfortune, do not misbecome the face of man or woman. The stage at once gives a body to our thoughts, and refinement and expansion to our sensible impressions ; it has not the pride and remoteness of abstract science, it has not the petty egotism of vulgar life.-HAZLITT.
Plausible. Now used in the unfavourable sense of specious'; but once, 'worthy of approval.'
To require certainty of succession is most plausible to all people.—Lord BURLEIGH.
To require marriage is most natural, most easy, most plausible to the Queen's Majesty.--Id.
Burke. His constant admonition to England respecting America was, Talk not of your abstract rights of government, I hate the very sound of them ; follow experience and common sense.' He did not regard a form of government as good because it was plausible upon paper, but rather looked to its workings.MACAULAY.
Play. Literally, reversing its secondary sense, to ply, work, exercise.
The Queen herself accustomed aye
In the same barge to playe.-CHAUCER. The eagle with every other ravenous bird abounds among the precipices of Hoy. A clergyman told us that a man was lately alive, who, when an infant, was transported over a broad sound or arm of the sea to an eagle's nest in the hill of
Hoy. Pursuit being instantly made, and the eagle's nest being known, the infant was found there playing with the eaglets.— Sir W. SCOTT.
Plot. A plan.
Expert men can execute and perhaps judge of particulars one by one, but the general counsels and the plots and marshalling of affairs come best from those who are learned.-Bacon.
Mr. Surveyor brought us a plot for the building of our council chamber.-J. EVELYN.
Those few good people who have no other plot in their religion but to serve God and save their souls, do want such assistance of ghostly counsel as may serve their emergent needs and assist their endeavours in the acquist of virtue.-J. TAYLOR.
The advantage of a strong pulse is not to be supplied by any labour, art, or concert. It is like the climate which easily rears a crop which no glass or irrigation or tillage can elsewhere rival. So a broad, healthy, massive understanding seems to lie on the shore of unseen rivers, of unseen oceans, which are covered with barks that night and day are drifted to this point—that is, poured into its lap, which other men lie plotting for.— EMERSON.
Plump. Convex. The substantive, which is now obsolete, was used for a collection, or cluster.
For those convex glasses supply the defect of plumpness in the eye; and the contrary happens in short-sighted men, whose eyes are too plump.Sir I. NEWTON.
Th’ imperial bird of Jove;
DRYDEN, Virgil's Æneid, 12. A ploughman marries a ploughwoman because she is plump, generally uses her ill, thinks his children an incumbrance, very often flogs them, and for sentiment has nothing more nearly approaching to it than the ideas of broiled bacon and mashed potatoes. This is the state of the lower orders of mankind deplorable, but true.-SYDNEY SMITH.