Eight Decades: Essays and Episodes

Agnes Repplier is yet another unsung writer and forgotten essayist; this is a collection of essays written mostly during the period between the wars and thus slightly fixated on international involvement, asking how the US can remain neutral if we know anything about history. I found the earlier essays quite lovely– her life recap (Eight Decades) and praise of Horace:

Under the protection of Maecenas, Horace lived his life serenely, and his talents ripened to perfection. His lovely odes gave the same delight then that they give now; his Roman soul venerated what was admirable, and strove for what was attainable. He spent the best months of the year in the country, where, unhurried by engagements and unharassed by acquaintances, he wrote with delight and deliberation. Like Marcus Aurelius, he was able to be alone; but he was far too wise to make himself that lopsided thing called a recluse. He felt with Montaigne the rare delight of dividing his life between the solace afforded him by nature and the stimulus afforded him by men.

(Horace) clung tenaciously to his liberty, and he achieved it because he stood ready to sacrifice, if need be, all luxuries, comforts, and pleasures for its sake. He would not write his verse and he would not live his life to order…. His soul requires the freedom to make its own choice. “Every man must measure himself by his own rule and standard.”

Repplier’s other essays cover Victorian squeamishness, the condescension of borrowers, praises of cats, living in town vs country. Very recommended, and I’m diving into her biography shortly.