Quotes Authority


‘We saw the twinkle of night-fires all along the guard towers, and the line of the black catapults growing smaller and smaller in the distance. All these things we knew till we were weary; but that night they seemed very strange to us, because the next day we knew we were to be their masters.’


This is from “The Winged Hats” in Puck of Pook’s Hill.

Parnesius and his friend Pertinax have been made Captains of the Wall (Hadrian’s Wall) against the onslaughts of wild northern invaders, by Maximus who aims to make himself Emperor of Rome.

They know that they do not have enough men to be sure of victory, and that Maximus may well fail. But in the meantime they are steadfast against the ‘winged hats’.

…(he) said to me: “Serve Caesar. You are not canvas I can cut to advantage at present. But if you serve Caesar you will be obeying at least some sort of law.” He talked as though I were a barbarian. Weak as I was, I could have snapped his back with my bare hands. I told him so. “I don’t doubt it,” he said. “But that is neither here nor there … what concerns you now is that, by taking service, you will be rid from the fear that has ridden you all your life…”


This is from “The Manner of Men” in Limits and Renewals.

Sulinor, a Roman sea captain, is recounting how he had carried the Apostle Paul as a prisoner to Rome, on a voyage in which his ship was wrecked.

Paul had shown great steadfastness and leadership. Here he is remembering how Paul had urged him to keep faith with Caesar.

“You can tell your mates that even in that place, at that time, hanging on the wet, weedy edge of death, our Bishop, a Christian, counselled me, a heathen, to stand by my fathers’ Gods. I tell you now that a faith which takes care that every man shall keep faith, even though he may save his soul by breaking faith, is the faith for a man to believe in.”


This is from “The Conversion of St. Wilfrid” in Rewards and Fairies. 

Archbishop Wilfrid of York had been seeking to convert Meon, chief of the wild South Saxons to Christianity. When, out fishing, they are wrecked and near death, Wilfrid urges Meon to keep faith with his ancient gods.

Meon is mightily impressed, as he tells his people, and they  become Christians.