In 1486 Juliana Berners had written that strict regard to the proper application of nouns of multitude distinguishes gentlemen from ungentlemen. While Garrick had died murmuring “Oh dear,” Pope had irrelevantly remarked, “Friendship itself is but a part of virtue.” The Lady of Shalott had died because her affections were not returned, but Dymphna, the tutelar saint of the insane, was murdered by her own father for resisting his incestuous passion. The unicorn is the only animal that ventures to attack the elephant; Joseph Priestley was a unitarian. The variety of life was boundless and astonishing. Shelf after shelf lined with books, filled with the preserved knowledge and wisdom of generations—but what did it all add up to? As far as Mr. Wheelan could judge from the scribblings on the wall above the porcelain stall before which he was now standing, not even to a correct spelling of those words which are by common consent improper.
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