Need help tracking down a quote!

Dear Fellow Geniuses,

I have been perplexed all day by the origins of a certain quote defending the reading of fiction as a harmless pasttime. It’s from (probably) early- to mid- 1800s England, and points out that reading is a comfort to bored clerks and bookkeepers, staves off monotony, allows a harmless escape, etc. It might be and expanded version of Trollope’s “The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade,” but I can’t find an expanded version of that quote anywhere on the Web.

This is, of course, research for the most brilliant book ever written, so your efforts will be adancing the cause of civilization.


Ken M.

:confused: & perplexed about the zero posts next to poster’s name…

(sorry about the hijack Ken)

Violet- Don’t you know this board runs on a TRS-80 with 4k of ram? I’ve been telling them if they would just upgrade to a VIC-20 this shit wouldn’t happen.

“T h e h a b i t o f r e a d i n g i s t h e o n l y e n j o y m e n t i n w h i c h t h e r e i s n o a l l o y ; i t l a s t s w h e n a l l o t h e r p l e a s u r e s f a d e”


You might like this page:

But since no source will tell where Mr. Trollope’s quote is to be found among his works, I’m beginning to doubt whether he ever said it at all.

The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.–Anthony Trollope

Found on the first match on my first search on yahoo. Two whacks with the “mysterious nun-free ruler of doom”. Try looking next time, number five.

From this webpage (near bottom):

“Men and women say that they will read, and think so,–those, I mean, who have acquired no habit of reading,–believing the work to be, of all works, the easiest. It may be work, they think, but of all works it must be the easiest of achievement. Given the absolute faculty of reading, the task of going through the pages of a book must be, of all tasks, the most certainly within the grasp of the man or woman who attempts it! Alas, no;–if the habit be not there, of all tasks it is the most difficult. If a man have not acquired the habit of reading till he be old, he shall sooner in his old age learn to make shoes than learn the adequate use of a book. And worse again;–under such circumstances the making of shoes shall be more pleasant to him than the reading of a book. Let those who are not old,–who are still young, ponder this well.”
From “The Claverings” by Anthony Trollope (p.379)

Perhaps the “alloy” quote is in the nearby vicinity of the above paragraph. <gazes into crystal ball> I forsee a library trip for you (unless some Good Doper has a Claverings copy and could follow up.)

All of the elements you suggest are to be found in GK Chesterton’s A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls, although it was written later than the time frame you mention.

Even if it isn’t what you were remembering, it makes damn good reading.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Don’t we hear that about TV and movies today?

…and I forgot to give you a link to that essay