Thursday, June 29, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

John Buchan (1875 – 1940)


Scottish novelist, poet, and politician; he was Governor-General of Canada from 1935 to 1940.
John Buchan
Last night I had looked into the heart of darkness, and the sight had terrified me. What part should I play in the great purification? Most likely that of the Biblical scapegoat.
Buchan quotes
[On the newspapers of the Craw Press:] Their politics are an opiate to prevent folk thinking.
Buchan
I mused upon the ironic fate which had compelled a mathematical genius to make his sole confidant of a philistine lawyer, and induced that lawyer to repeat it confusedly to an ignoramus at twilight on a Scotch hill.




Buchan John quotes
Oh, it sounds ridiculous, I know, in Britain in the twentieth century, but I learned in the war that civilization anywhere is a very thin crust.
Buchan John
How if Space is really full of things we cannot see and as yet do not know? How if all animals and some savages have a cell in their brain or a nerve which responds to the invisible world? How if all Space be full of these landmarks, not material in our sense, but quite real? A dog barks at nothing, a wild beast makes an aimless circuit. Why? Perhaps because Space is made up of corridors and alleys, ways to travel and things to shun? For all we know, to a greater intelligence than ours the top of Mont Blanc may be as crowded as Piccadilly Circus.
John Buchan quotes
When all is said, we are ruled by the amateurs and the second-rate. The methods of our departments would bring any private firm to bankruptcy. The methods of Parliament pardon me would disgrace any board of directors. Our rulers pretend to buy expert knowledge, but they never pay the price for it that a business man would pay, and if they get it they have not the courage to use it. Where is the inducement for a man of genius to sell his brains to our insipid governors?
And yet knowledge is the only power now as ever. A little mechanical device will wreck your navies. A new chemical combination will upset every rule of war. It is the same with our commerce. One or two minute changes might sink Britain to the level of Ecuador, or give China the key of the world's wealth. And yet we never dream that these things are possible. We think our castles of sand are the ramparts of the universe.
John Buchan
Leithen's story had bored and puzzled me at the start, but now it had somehow gripped my fancy. Space a domain of endless corridors and Presences moving in them! The world was not quite the same as an hour ago. It was the hour, as the French say, "between dog and wolf," when the mind is disposed to marvels.
Buchan John quotes
Every wife is like Mary the Blessed and may bear a saviour of mankind. The road is long, but the ways of Heaven are sure.
Buchan
We none of us know our ancestors beyond a little way. We all of us may have kings' blood in our veins.
Buchan John
I once played the chief part in a rather exciting business without ever once budging from London. And the joke of it was that the man who went out to look for adventure only saw a bit of the game, and I who sat in my chambers saw it all and pulled the strings. 'They also serve who only stand and wait,' you know.
John Buchan
If the Lord sends us war, we have got to face it like men, but God forbid we should manufacture war, and use it as an escape from our domestic difficulties. You can't expect a blessing on that.




John Buchan quotes
The promise had not failed her. . . . She had won everything from life, for she had given the world a master. Words seemed to speak themselves in her ear . . . "Bethink you of the blessedness. Every wife is like the Mother of God and has the hope of bearing a saviour of mankind."
John Buchan
'There's a queer performance going on in the other world,' he said. 'It's unbelievable. I never dreamed of such a thing. I I don't quite know how to put it, and I don't know how to explain it, but but I am becoming aware that there are other beings other minds moving in Space besides mine.'
Buchan quotes
Civilisation is a conspiracy. What value would your police be if every criminal could find a sanctuary across the Channel, or your law courts, if no other tribunal recognised their decisions? Modern life is the silent compact of comfortable folk to keep up pretences. And it will succeed till the day comes when there is another compact to strip them bare
Buchan John
The Scottish Communist is a much misunderstood person. When he is a true Caledonian, and not a Pole or an Irishman, he is simply the lineal descendant of the old Radical. The Scottish Radical was a man who held a set of inviolable principles on which he was entirely unable to compromise. It did not matter what the principles were; the point was that they were like the laws of Sinai, which could not be added to or subtracted from. When the Liberal party began to compromise, he joined Labour; when Labour began to compromise, by a natural transition he became a Communist. Temperamentally he has not changed. He is simply the stuff which in the seventeenth century made the unyielding Covenanter, and in the eighteenth the inflexible Jacobite. He is honesty incarnate, but his mind lacks flexibility.
Buchan John quotes
A great storm destroys much that is precious, but it may also clear the air and blow down trees which might have been obscuring the view and making our life stuffy, and reveal in our estate possibilities of development that we had not thought of.
John Buchan
I felt myself in the presence of something enormously big, as if a small barbarian was desecrating the colossal Zeus of Pheidias with a coal hammer. But I also felt it inhuman, and I hated it, and I clung to that hatred.
"You fear nothing and you believe nothing," I said. "Man, you should never have been allowed to live."
John Buchan quotes
I am not courageous. To be brave means that you have conquered fear, but I have never had any fear to conquer. Believe me, Mr Leithen, I am quite impervious to threats. You come to me to-night and hold a pistol to my head. You offer me two alternatives, both of which mean failure. But how do you know that I regard them as failure? I have had what they call a good run for my money. No man since Napoleon has tasted such power. I may be willing to end it. Age creeps on and power may grow burdensome. I have always sat loose from common ambitions and common affections. For all you know I may regard you as a benefactor.
John Buchan
It is only a dying cause which can attain to perfect taste.
Buchan John
The things we call aristocracies and reigning houses are the last places to look for masterful men. They began strongly, but they have been too long in possession. They have been cosseted and comforted and the devil has gone out of their blood. Don't imagine that I undervalue descent. It is not for nothing that a great man leaves posterity. But who is more likely to inherit the fire the elder son with his flesh-pots or the younger son with his fortune to find?


© 2009–2013Quotes Privacy Policy | Contact