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BOOKS (FIRST LINES)
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[ Also see Books Books (Last Lines) Books (Quotes) Quotations ]

The year 1866 was signalized by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten.
      - Jules Verne,
        Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Arms, and the man I sing, who, forced by fate,
  And haughty Juno's unrelenting hate,
    Expelled and exiled, left the Trojan shore.
      [Lat., Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
        Italiam, fato profugus, Laviniaque venit
          Litora, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto
            Vi superum saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram.]
      - Virgil or Vergil (Publius Virgilius Maro Vergil),
        The Aeneid, (Dryden's translation)

I sing of arms and the man.
      - Virgil or Vergil (Publius Virgilius Maro Vergil),
        The Aeneid

Once upon a time in Westphalia, in the castle of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh, there lived a young boy whom nature had endowed with the gentlest of dispositions. His soul was written upon his countenance. He was quite sound in his judgement, and he had the most straightforward of minds.
      - Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire),
        Candide (ch. 1),
        (Roger Pearson translation)

The Jebel es Zubleh is a mountain fifty miles and more in length, and so narrow that its tracery on the map gives it a likeness to a caterpillar crawling from the south to the north. Standing on its red-and-white cliffs, and looking off under the path of the rising sun, one sees only the Desert of Arabia, where the east winds, so hateful to vinegrowers of Jericho, have kept their playgrounds since the beginning. Its feet are well covered by sands tossed from the Euphrates, there to lie, for the mountain is a wall to the pasture-lands of Moab and Ammon on the west-lands which else had been of the desert a part.
      - Lewis (Lew) Wallace,
        Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ [1880]

Over this country, when the giant Eagle flings the shadow of his wing, the land is darkened. So compact is it that the wing covers all its extent in one pause of the flight. The sea breaks on the pale line of the shore; to the Eagle's proud glance waves run in to the foot of the hills that are like rocks planted in green water.
      - Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole, Rogue Herries [1930]

"I am asking you again to marry me as I did a fortnight ago."
      - Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole, Wintersmoon [1928]

"Hullo! No!--Yes!--upon my soul, it is Jacob! Why, Delafield, my dear fellow, how are you?"
      - Mrs. Humphry Ward (pseudonym of Mary Augusta Ward) (nee Arnold),
        Lady Rose's Daughter [1903] (ch. 1)

It was a brilliant afternoon towards the end of May. The spring had been unusually cold and late, and it was evident from the general aspect of the lonely Westmoreland valley of Long Whindale that warmth and sunshine had only just penetrated to its bare green recesses, where the few scattered trees were fast rushing into their full summer dress, while at their feet, and along the bank of the stream, the flowers of March and April still lingered, as though they found it impossible to believe that their rough brother, the east wind, had at last deserted them.
      - Mrs. Humphry Ward (pseudonym of Mary Augusta Ward) (nee Arnold),
        Robert Elsmere [1888]

"He ought to be here," said Lady Tranmore, as she turned away from the window.
      - Mrs. Humphry Ward (pseudonym of Mary Augusta Ward) (nee Arnold),
        The Marriage of William Ashe [1905]

About ten o'clock one Sunday morning, the dazzling sunbeams irradiating a dismal back attic in one of the courts adjoining Oxford Street, London, at length awoke a young man lying in bed.
      - Samuel Warren, 10,000 a Year [1841] (ch. 1),
        later abridged version by Cyrus Brady titled Tittlebat Titmouse

"Was anyone hurt?"
  "No one I am thankful to say," said Mrs. Beaver, "except two housemaids who lost their heads and jumped through a glass roof into the paved court."
      - Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh,
        A Handful of Dust [1934]

"We, Seth, Emperor of Azania, Chief of Chiefs of Sakuyu, Lord of Wanda and Tyrant of the Seas, Bachelor of the Arts of Oxford University, being in this the twenty-fourth year of our life, summoned by the wisdom of Almighty God and the unanimous voice of our people to the throne of our ancestors, do hereby proclaim . . ." Seth paused in his dictation and gazed out across the harbour where in the fresh breeze of early morning the last dhow was setting sail for the open sea. "Rats," he said; "stinking curs. They are all running away."
      - Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh,
        Black Mischief [1932]

Mr. Sniggs, the Junior Dean, and Mr. Postlethwaite, the Domestic Bursar, sat alone in Mr. Sniggs's room overlooking the garden quad at Scone College.
      - Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh,
        Decline and Fall [1928]

While still a young man, John Courteney Boot had, as his publisher proclaimed, "achieved an assured and enviable position in contemporary letters.
      - Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh, Scoop [1938]

"Indeed," continued the professor, glancing demurely down at his notes, "if one were the editor of a column of --er advice to young girls, such as I believe is to be found, along with the household hints and the dress patterns, on the ladies' page of most of our newspapers--if one were the editor of such a column, he might crystallize the remarks I have been making this morning into a warning--never marry a man with a passion for principles."
      - Henry Kitchell Webster, The Real Adventure [1915]
         (book 1, ch. 1)

Dear Judy:
  Your letter is here. I have read it twice, and with amazement. Do I understand that Jervis has given you, for a Christmas present, the making over of the John Grier Home into a model institution, and that you have chosen me to disburse the money? Me--I, Sallie McBride, the head of an orphan asylum! My poor people, have you lost your senses, or have you become addicted to the use of opium, and is this the raving of two fevered imaginations? I am exactly as well fitted to take care of one hundred children as to become the curator of a zoo.
      - Jean Webster, Dear Enemy [1915]

Almost before the big motor-car stopped, the girl sprang out.
      - Carolyn Wells (Mrs. Hadwin Houghton),
        The White Alley [1915] (Chapter I)

I saw a gray-haired man a figure of hale age, sitting at a desk and writing.
      - H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells),
        In the Days of the Comet [1906]

It was the sixth day of Mr. Direck's first visit to England, and he was at his acutest perception of differences. He found England in every way gratifying and satisfactory, and more of a contrast with things American than he had ever dared to hope.
      - H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells),
        Mr. Britling Sees It Through [1916]

As I sit down to write here amidst the shadows of vine-leaves under the blue sky of southern Italy it comes to me with a certain quality of astonishment that my participation in these amazing adventures of Mr. Cavor was, after all, the outcome of the purest accident.
      - H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells),
        The First Men in the Moon [1901]

In the middle years of the nineteenth century there first became abundant in this strange world of ours a class of men, men tending for the most part to become elderly, who are called, and who are very properly called, but who dislike extremely to be called--"Scientists."
      - H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells),
        The Food of the Gods [1904]

The stranger came early in February one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over the down, walking as it seemed from Bramblehurst railway station and carrying a little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand.
      - H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells),
        The Invisible Man [1897]

The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.
      - H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells),
        The Time Machine [1895]

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
      - H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells),
        The War of the Worlds [1898]


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