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EXAMINATIONS: A Commonplace Book Tour.

The following are from my Commonplace Books; if you have any similar quotations I would love to hear of them.


The Staff.

The Examinations Officer:

            I don’t pretend to be infallible - I leave that to my juniors.
                                                                                                Wilkie Collins, No Name.’

The Person who dislikes the Exam timetable:

The possession of a grievance is the one state of human blessedness.
                                                                                                AnthonyTrollope,‘ TheVicar of Bullhampton.’  

The Person for whom the next invigilator has failed to materialise:

We should refrain from making harsh judgements of a person, just because he happens to be a dirty, rotten, no good son-of-a-bitch!
Eysenck, ‘Know your own Personality.’


On finding out that a colleague has missed an invigilation:

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?
Jane Austen, ‘Pride and Prejudice.


Of numerous candidates:

Having nothing to construct, he could always deal with generalities.
Anthony Trollope, ‘Phineas Finn.’


Of a particular candidate of your selection:

Nature was absorbed in making cabbages when [- - - - ] was born, and the good man [or woman] suffered the consequences of a vegetable preoccupation in the mind of the Mother of us all.
Wilkie Collins, ‘The Woman in White’


On having marked a huge pile of scripts:

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out of the same door wherein I went.
                                                            The ‘Rubaiyat’ of Omar Khayyam.


On candidates answering multiple choice tests in half the allotted time:

The power of doing any thing with quickness is much prized by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance.
Jane Austen, ‘Pride and Prejudice.’


On an examinee coming 5th instead of a deserved 15th:

..the greater throw may turn by chance from the weaker hand.
Merchant of Venice, II i 35.

The Candidates.

On cribbing:

...when you have made your fortune by the good offices of a friend, you are advised to discard him as soon as you can.
Henry Fielding, ‘Tom Jones.’

On essays: I am, in reality, the founder of a new province of writing, so I am at liberty to make what laws I please therein.
Henry Fielding, ‘Tom Jones.’

On revision:

0 call back yesterday, bid time return.
Richard II, III ii 69.


On self-deception after the History results:

History: An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
Ambrose Bierce, ‘The Devils Dictionary.’

On almost the same theme:

Historians ….. who suffer much from the occupational disease of believing themselves to be so much cleverer than the dead.
LCB Seaman, ‘Victorian England’

On self-deception after a bad Languages exam:

..the knowledge of languages is a trifle at best, and the accomplishment of none but a pedant.
William Beckford, ‘Vathek.’

On hoping to do better:

Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor.
Ovid, ‘Metamorphoses.’


On exhorting youth to activity:

It is a good divine that follows his own instructions.
Merchant of Venice, I i 80.

On understanding youth:

At the age of seventeen, the metaphysics of the soul are shadowy.
Edmund Gosse, Father and Son.’


On offering youth advice, despite our understanding of them:

Then the Old Man of the Earth stooped over the floor of the cave, raised a huge stone from it, and left it leaning. It disclosed a great hole.

                        ‘That is the way,’ he said.

                        ‘But there are no stairs.’

                        ‘You must throw yourself in. There is no other way.’

                                                                    George MacDonald, ‘The Golden Key.’

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