More Wilkie Collins

Some quotations from The Guilty River (1886):

1. The hero’s stepmother describes their Member of Parliament, who has been unlucky in love (VI):

“. . . quite broken-hearted about Lady Lena; gone away to America to shoot bears.”

2. The hero on himself (VII):

The habits that I had contracted, among my student friends in Germany, made tobacco and beer necessary accompaniments to the process of thinking. I had nearly exhausted my cigar, my jug, and my thoughts, when I saw two men approaching me from the end of the terrace.

3. The (very handsome, and deaf) villain addresses the heroine (XIII):

“Are you one of the few women who dislike an ugly man? Women in general, I can tell you, prefer ugly men. A handsome man matches them on their own ground, and they don’t like that. ‘We are so fond of our ugly husbands; they set us off to such advantage.’ Oh, I don’t report what they say; I speak the language in which they think.”

4. The hero again (XVII):

When the detective police force encounters intelligence instead of stupidity, in seven cases out of ten the detective police force is beaten.

Here are two more quotations from A Rogue’s Life (1856), which I read a few weeks ago:

5. The rogue-narrator lists the principal categories of “professedly hard-hearted persons” who will be uninterested in the story of his love for the heroine (VII):

. . . monks, misogynists, political economists . . .

6. One of the more surprising bits of A Rogue’s Life was the parenthetical description of “a frugal curate’s dinner” (XII):

. . . bit of fish, two chops, mashed potatoes, semolina pudding, half-pint of sherry . . .

That seems like quite a lot for one frugal meal. Perhaps the chops were very small.

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