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Unattainable   Listen
adjective
Unattainable  adj.  See attainable.






Collaborative International Dictionary of English 0.48








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"Unattainable" Quotes from Famous Books



... strength and trustful abandonment of a generous and exalted nature, and who is driven to infidelity perhaps even less by pressure of circumstances, than by the sheer force of her love, which will go on loving — loving what it can have, when that which it would rather have is for the time unattainable. His Pandarus is a gentleman, though a gentleman with a flaw in him; a man who, in his courtier-like good-nature, places the claims of comradeship above those of honour, and plots away the virtue of his niece, that he may appease ...
— The Canterbury Tales and Other Poems • Geoffrey Chaucer

... burning with unusual and illegal garishness, gives me light enough to examine my watch. It indicates the proximity of midnight. I realize that I am incredibly stiff and cold, and am tormented by visions of unattainable comforts. ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, February 16, 1916 • Various

... of the engines made and making show a great increase. 2. Speeds hitherto unattainable are now seen to be possible in vessels of all the various classes. 3. The consumption of fuel is reduced by 13.38 per cent. on the average; and numbers of vessels are now working on much less coal than that average, while the quality of the coal is in nearly all cases very inferior, ...
— Scientific American Suppl. No. 299 • Various

... some subtle, mysterious power every now and then coordinates our muscles and lets us achieve perfection for a single stroke, whereafter we tingle with remembrance and thrill with anticipation. Golf is the quest of the unattainable, it is a manifestation of the Divine Unrest, it spreads before us the soft green pathway down which we follow the Gleam. That is why you and I shall be giving it up forever on ...
— Penguin Persons & Peppermints • Walter Prichard Eaton

... that life at its topmost toss irks and pains. Beyond is ever the unattainable, the lure of the ...
— The Titan • Theodore Dreiser

... pleaded the Brethren, let us have a public inquiry. "If any man of undoubted sense and candour," they said, "will take the pains upon himself to fix the accusations against us in their real point of view, hitherto unattainable by the Brethren and perhaps the public too, then we will answer to the expectations of the public, as free and directly as may be expected from honest subjects of the constitution of these realms." The appeal led to nothing; the man of ...
— History of the Moravian Church • J. E. Hutton

... who belonged to no particular school, laid hold on the elements of skepticism contained in both the pre-Socratic schools of philosophy, and they declared that "the sophia" was not only unattainable, but that no relative degree of it was possible for the human faculties.[468] Protagoras of Abdera accepted the doctrine of Heraclitus, that thought is identical with sensation, and limited by it; he therefore declared that there is no criterion ...
— Christianity and Greek Philosophy • Benjamin Franklin Cocker

... felt deeply the attraction of a nature more under the control of high, ideal motives than was his own; he would not himself wash the feet of the poor; he would rather commit thirty mortal sins than be a leper; but a kingly saint may touch heights of piety which are unattainable by himself. And, at the same time, he makes us feel that Louis is not the less a man because he is a saint. Certain human infirmities of temper are his; yet his magnanimity, his sense of justice, his ardent devotion, his charity, ...
— A History of French Literature - Short Histories of the Literatures of the World: II. • Edward Dowden

... pencil with a shining copper gun-cap! "How I longed for that pencil! I tried to trade for buttons (all I had to offer in exchange), but it was too precious for my small barter, and I coveted it in vain." The wistful Celt began early to sigh for the unattainable. ...
— Our Friend John Burroughs • Clara Barrus

... possession, would equal the amount he had just deposited in one of its compartments. He had scarcely returned the treasure to his pocket, before he thought of the use to which he would apply the whole or a part of the money. It was a brilliant scheme. He had nursed it in his imagination as an unattainable enterprise, but now the money in ...
— All Adrift - or The Goldwing Club • Oliver Optic

... himself of her taste and acquirements, while she endeavoured to profit by his decision of character, and to eradicate some of the romantic notions, which had taken root in her mind, while in adversity she had brooded over visions of unattainable bliss. ...
— Posthumous Works - of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman • Mary Wollstonecraft

... apple tree beside the stream that flowed between a large and a small farm on the Three-Notched Road. As a boy, he would have been puzzled to choose between "Will you go to Heaven?" and "Will you go to Fontenoy?" The one seemed as remote, as unattainable, and as happy as the other. The advantage was possibly with Fontenoy, for he could picture that to himself. He could not have described the mansions in the skies, but, thanks to Jacqueline, he knew every room at Fontenoy. Before he was laid in it, he had known the blue room, the roses on the curtains, ...
— Lewis Rand • Mary Johnston

... is the reference to the sense of human interest. The principle expressed is incontrovertible—but there may be something beyond it. There may be an object in keeping with the principle—an object unattainable by the means ordinarily possessed by individuals, yet which, if attained, would lend a charm to the landscape-garden far surpassing that which a sense of merely human interest could bestow. A poet, having very unusual ...
— The Works of Edgar Allan Poe - Volume 2 (of 5) of the Raven Edition • Edgar Allan Poe

... different islands you need to take with you, as part of your baggage, saddle and bridle, and all the furniture of a horse. You can hire or buy a horse anywhere very cheaply; but saddles are often unattainable, and always difficult to either borrow or hire. "You might as well travel here without your boots as without your saddle," said a friend to me; and I found it literally true, not only for strangers, but for residents as well. Thus you may notice that the little steamer's hold, as she ...
— Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands • Charles Nordhoff

... roaring for our lives. The sea, in short, has honeycombed it, and renews her vows to be its ruin with every gale. Yet the 'Welcome' lasts our time, and will last that of many generations, who will continue, however, doubtless to believe that the sublimities of Nature are unattainable short of Switzerland. ...
— Some Private Views • James Payn

... splendid list of unattainable posts, Peter Plymley chooses, to illustrate his theme, the offices of Sheriff and Deputy-Sheriff in Ireland. No one he says, who is unacquainted with that country, can conceive the obstacles to justice which exclusion ...
— Sydney Smith • George W. E. Russell

... part of them, we apprehend, will be found to be composed of the following elements: (1) The antisocial principles, and distempered sensibility of Rousseau—his discontent with the present constitution of society—his paradoxical morality, and his perpetual hankerings after some unattainable state of voluptuous virtue and perfection. (2) The simplicity and energy (horresco referens) of Kotzebue and Schiller. (3) The homeliness and harshness of some of Cowper's language and versification, interchanged occasionally with the innocence of Ambrose Philips, or the quaintness of Quarles ...
— Famous Reviews • Editor: R. Brimley Johnson

... the solution of these problems is unattainable through experience, we must not permit ourselves to say that it is uncertain how the object of our inquiries is constituted. For the object is in our own mind and cannot be discovered in experience; and we have only to take care that ...
— The Critique of Pure Reason • Immanuel Kant

... a man manifest; not puny resolve, not crude determinations, not errant purpose—but that strong and indefatigable Will which treads down difficulties and danger, as a boy treads down the heaving frost-lands of winter; which kindles his eye and brain with a proud pulse-beat toward the unattainable. Will ...
— A Series of Lessons in Raja Yoga • Yogi Ramacharaka

... was her forte, and that she possessed powers of comprehension, in regard to financial matters connected with the payment of debts and dividends, such as she had all her previous life believed to be unattainable anywhere, save in the Bank of England or on the ...
— Under the Waves - Diving in Deep Waters • R M Ballantyne

... intimately acquainted with the character of our countrymen, must acknowledge that their zeal for book learning, not only is strong and ardent, when opportunities of scholastic education occur, but that it increases in proportion as these opportunities are rare and unattainable. The very name and nature of Hedge Schools are proof of this; for what stronger point could be made out, in illustration of my position, than the fact, that, despite of obstacles, the very idea of which would crush ordinary ...
— The Hedge School; The Midnight Mass; The Donagh • William Carleton

... placed a gulf between them again, on the other side of which she stood unattainable. It was inconceivable that only a few moments ago he had crushed her in his arms. The knowledge that he had done this thing, and that she was looking at him now as if it had never happened, filled him with a smothering sense ...
— The Alaskan • James Oliver Curwood

... asked, is to recompense this abnegation of all the pleasures of life, this cold surrender of all mundane interests, this stretching forward to an unknown goal which seems ever more unattainable? For, unlike some of the anthropomorphic creeds, Occultism offers to its votaries no eternally permanent heaven of material pleasure, to be gained at once by one quick dash through the grave. As has, in fact, often been the case many ...
— Five Years Of Theosophy • Various

... Kilgour came out and walked down the avenue on the way to her work. Dodd stared after her until she was out of sight. Shame and anger and desire mingled in the steady gaze he leveled on her; in her crisp freshness she represented both the longed-for and the unattainable. He was conscious of a new sentiment in regard to her. In the past his impatience had been tempered by the comforting knowledge that she had promised herself to him—that she was his to own, to possess after a bit of tantalizing procrastination. Now he ...
— The Landloper - The Romance Of A Man On Foot • Holman Day

... are some gentlemen in the House who seem to consider it already certain that the ultimate success to which I am looking is unattainable: they suppose us contending only for the restoration of the French monarchy, which they believe to be impracticable, and deny to be desirable for this country. We have been asked in the course of this debate, do you think you can impose monarchy upon France, against the will of the nation? ...
— Selected Speeches on British Foreign Policy 1738-1914 • Edgar Jones

... There was nothing too good for them, he sometimes observed, provided it could be got. But there was one profound difference in their respective temperaments, Hazel sometimes reflected. Bill would shrug his wide shoulders, and forget or forego the unattainable, where she would chafe and fume. She was ...
— North of Fifty-Three • Bertrand W. Sinclair

... biting than in their lower altitude. If he point to heights yet to attain, the majority will disbelieve him or say, "Our present height was good enough for our ancestors, it is good enough for us. Why sacrifice a good thing and make yourself ridiculous scrambling after what in the end may prove unattainable?" If you discover new truths you will certainly be called a subverter of old ones. And this is entirely natural. The upward path was ...
— The Whence and the Whither of Man • John Mason Tyler

... dreams and apprehensions which embody themselves in the horrid worship of Shiva, and in invocations to propitiate the destroyer; so the followers of Buddha, unsatisfied with the vain pretensions of unattainable perfection, struck down by their internal consciousness of sin and insufficiency, and seeing around them, instead of the reign of universal happiness and the apotheosis of intellect and wisdom, nothing but the ravages of crime and the sufferings produced by ignorance, ...
— Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and • James Emerson Tennent

... exist only in his imagination. The beloved is consciously or unconsciously aware of this, and endeavors to fulfil the high ideal; and in the contemplation of the transcendent qualities that his mind has created, the lover is raised to heights otherwise unattainable. ...
— Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great, Volume 5 (of 14) • Elbert Hubbard

... unattainable to a woman all the other creatures take on the hue of being valuable from the ...
— The Tinder-Box • Maria Thompson Daviess

... quarter of a mile away, to know that almost within reach were a cool bath, a good supper, a clean bed, and all the comforts, if not the luxuries, of life, and yet to feel that, so far as we were concerned, they were as unattainable as if the ship were in the Bay ...
— Campaigning in Cuba • George Kennan

... where talent is mediocrity; Paris, with its thunders and its splendors and its seething of passion;—Paris, supreme focus of human endeavor, with its madnesses of art, its frenzied striving to express the Inexpressible, its spasmodic strainings to clutch the Unattainable, its soarings of soul-fire to the heaven of ...
— Chita: A Memory of Last Island • Lafcadio Hearn

... I any near prospect of seeing them. I do not venture to wish it, for fear of growing discontented. The girls are happy, and so am I; and we do not repine because we cannot reach an unattainable pleasure." ...
— Principle and Practice - The Orphan Family • Harriet Martineau

... "You have my oath that the secret you have confided to me shall be held sacred, and you have thereby secured her from every outbreak of my passion. She stands so high above me that I can only adore her as my saint, can love her only as one loves the unattainable stars!" ...
— The Daughter of an Empress • Louise Muhlbach

... is unattainable about any of the greater problems, and if you try to get to the bottom of them by argument, there is no bottom there; and therefore you make the matter worse. But I would say what is known, and ...
— Addresses • Henry Drummond

... and towering structure? Must not some grovel that others may soar? Is not all drudgery repulsive? Yet must it not be performed? Are not negroes habitually enslaved by each other in Africa? Does not their enslavement here secure an aggregate of labor and production that would else be unattainable? Are we not enabled by it to supply the world with Cotton and Tobacco and ourselves with Rice and Sugar? In short, is not to toil on white men's plantations the negro's true destiny, and Slavery the condition wherein he contributes ...
— The Continental Monthly, Vol. 2, No 3, September, 1862 - Devoted to Literature and National Policy. • Various

... come. Such a story might have been very cynically treated; but it is not so done, the whole tone is kindly and consolatory, and the disenchanted man submissively takes the lesson, and understands that things far away are to be loved for their own sake, and that the unattainable is not truly unattainable, when we can make the beauty of it our own. Indeed, throughout all these two volumes, though there is much practical scepticism, and much irony on abstract questions, this kindly and consolatory spirit is never absent. There is much that is cheerful and, after a sedate, ...
— Lay Morals • Robert Louis Stevenson

... soothed the pain of Hare's sun-blinded eyes. It was a relief to have the unattainable horizon line blotted out. But by-and-by the opaque gloom brought home to him, as the day had never done, the reality of his solitude. He was alone in this immense place of barrenness, and his dumb companions were the world to him. Wolf ...
— The Heritage of the Desert • Zane Grey

... were as the abode of giants compared with Crombie's contracted quarters; but he drew comfort from what she said, thinking how such sentiments might make it possible to win even so unattainable an heiress into some modest home ...
— Short Story Classics (American) Vol. 2 • Various

... the fashion or the prevailing style. You know as well as I that, unless you are a near-millionaire, you cannot possibly keep up with the many and various changes demanded by current fashion. Then why worry yourself by trying? Why spend your small income upon the unattainable, or upon that which, even if you could attain it, you would ...
— Quit Your Worrying! • George Wharton James

... mystery and glory. Then I addressed the sun, desiring the soul equivalent of his light and brilliance, his endurance and unwearied race. I turned to the blue heaven over, gazing into its depth, inhaling its exquisite colour and sweetness. The rich blue of the unattainable flower of the sky drew my soul towards it, and there it rested, I for pure colour is rest of heart. By all these I prayed; I felt an emotion of the soul beyond all definition; prayer is a puny thing to it, and the word is a rude sign to the feeling, ...
— The Story of My Heart • Richard Jefferies

... to-day most delights to honour is Helena Lapidoth Swarth, whose works increase in worth and beauty every year. Her command of the Dutch language and her power of wresting from it literary resources which are unattainable by any other writer have made her the admiration of all critics of penetration. Louis Couperas is also another living poet of mark, who, however, does not confine himself to formal versification, for his prose is ...
— Dutch Life in Town and Country • P. M. Hough

... profess. For what does the religion of the Quakers hold out to them as the best attainment in life? Is it not spiritual knowledge? Is it not that knowledge, which shall fit them best for the service of their Maker? But such knowledge is utterly unattainable while a money-getting spirit exists; for it has been declared by the highest authority, that we cannot ...
— A Portraiture of Quakerism, Volume III (of 3) • Thomas Clarkson

... by the sword of any son of Philip. But, in our daydreams, it is not unpleasant sometimes to imagine the possibility of such a feat. It was, as we all know, very generally believed, in distant antiquarian times, that occasionally dead men could be induced to rise, and impart all sorts of otherwise unattainable information to the living. This creed, however, has not been limited to those ancient times, for, in our own days, many sane persons still profess to believe in the possibility of summoning the spirits of the departed from the other world back to this sublunary sphere. ...
— Archaeological Essays, Vol. 1 • James Y. Simpson

... free? Has merit its reward? Is there any unity of national purpose, transcending party divisions? If it were necessary to give a categorical "Yes" or "No" to these questions, the answer would be "No." Sane energizing politics, and the sovereign ascendancy of a sane public opinion, are absolutely unattainable in Ireland or anywhere else without Home Rule. It is all the more to the credit of Irishmen that, in the face of stupendous difficulties, and in a marvellously short space of time since the attainment, barely twenty years ago, of the elementary conditions of social peace, they have gone so far ...
— The Framework of Home Rule • Erskine Childers

... it symbolizes the moral fact of the Unattainable, the flying Perfect, around which the hands of man can never meet, at once the inspirer and the condemner of every success, may conveniently serve us to connect many illustrations of human ...
— Essays • Ralph Waldo Emerson

... something different that was needed; something that would bring him up with dead abruptness against a blank wall, and leave him with a taste of life that was dust and ashes unless he found a way through. Either that or some sweet, wild, unattainable desire, that might drive him to work and ambition by ...
— Winding Paths • Gertrude Page

... battle, and, when they were ready, coolly sent in requisitions for chloroform, which, having been (contrary to the dictates of humanity and to the customs of civilized nations) long since declared by their government "contraband of war," was almost unattainable, and used by our Confederate surgeons only in extreme cases. In all minor, and in some severe, operations the surgeons relied upon the manly fortitude of the patients, and, God bless our brave boys, they bore this cruel test with a courage fully as worthy to be recorded as ...
— Memories - A Record of Personal Experience and Adventure During Four Years of War • Fannie A. (Mrs.) Beers

... remain in the cities of Cuba later than the latter period, as the fever season then commences. The invalid will find that very many physical comforts, and some things deemed imperative at home, must be sacrificed here as quite unattainable: such, for instance, as good beds, strict cleanliness, good milk, and sweet butter. The climatic advantages must suffice for such deprivations. During the greater portion of the year it is dry and hot, the rainy ...
— Due South or Cuba Past and Present • Maturin M. Ballou

... than it would have done a year ago, by reason of the small sums he had handled lately; but it was a good deal less than his golden dreams had painted the bulb to be worth in the time when it seemed unattainable, and he was paying debts and providing for Julia out of the proceeds of the imaginary sale. Still, he finally decided to ask it and wrote to that effect, and after some waiting for the ...
— The Good Comrade • Una L. Silberrad

... Walton, with but fifty cents in his pocket, could not resist. He wanted money sorely. Besides, he had a chance to win a hundred dollars additional, and this would enable him to gratify several wishes which had hitherto seemed unattainable. ...
— Tom, The Bootblack - or, The Road to Success • Horatio Alger

... necessarily always living with his father and mother, he took constant part in their conversation, and was far more learned in things than in books. In the place where they were settled, trustworthy boy society was unattainable, and they had felt their little son, in danger of being spoilt and made forward from his very goodness and brightness—wrote Meta, 'If you find him a forward imp, recollect it is my fault for having ...
— The Trial - or, More Links of the Daisy Chain • Charlotte M. Yonge

... meant to prove the Divine character of the Mission of Moses, would have rendered the matter itself doubtful, which God, it is true, did not intend then to reveal; but which on the other hand, He certainly would not render unattainable. ...
— Literary and Philosophical Essays • Various

... truth which no human memory, though it were the memory of Mithridates, could retain? Good sense is shown, above all things, in seeking the practicable which is within our power, by preference to a more exquisite ideal which is unattainable. Not, I grant, in moral or religious things. Then I willingly allow, we are forbidden to sit down contented with imperfect attempts, or to make deliberate compromises with the slightest known evil in principle. To this doctrine I heartily subscribe. But surely in matters ...
— The Posthumous Works of Thomas De Quincey, Vol. II (2 vols) • Thomas De Quincey

... self-satisfaction through negation, through a serene surrender of the unattainable. As the Epicureans counseled, they increase their happiness by lessening their desires. The content which middle-aged people exhibit is not so frequently to be traced to the dazzling character of ...
— Human Traits and their Social Significance • Irwin Edman

... end the Boer reply would die away altogether, only to break out with augmented violence, and with an accuracy which increased our respect for their training. Huge shells—the largest that ever burst upon a battlefield—hurled from distances which were unattainable by our fifteen-pounders, enveloped our batteries in smoke and flame. One enormous Creusot gun on Pepworth Hill threw a 96-pound shell a distance of four miles, and several 40-pound howitzers outweighted our field guns. And on the ...
— The Great Boer War • Arthur Conan Doyle

... into his eyes, the devil of some ancestral savagery, which would destroy what is desired but unattainable. He swung round, his hand went to his pocket, something clacked, and his arm shot ...
— Huntingtower • John Buchan

... strictly and cruelly enforced, making it penal to pick up rough dirty lumps containing small quantities that might be thrown out with the ashes of the brine-houses on the high-roads; when the price of this necessary was so increased by the tax upon it as to make it an expensive, sometimes an unattainable, luxury to the working man, Government did more to demoralise the popular sense of rectitude and uprightness than heaps of sermons could undo. And the same, though in smaller measure, was the consequence ...
— Sylvia's Lovers, Vol. I • Elizabeth Gaskell

... outside. "There's the frontier. Space. The one thing that could bring human wars to an end. A vast, limitless frontier which could drive men's spirits upward and outward for the rest of time. And that frontier seemed unattainable. It was blocked off by a wall, by the jaws of a trap. Oh, they tried. After the first war the work began. The second war contributed unimaginably to the technical knowledge. But after the second war, they could go no further. ...
— Bear Trap • Alan Edward Nourse

... patience, perseverance, practical good sense, every disposition of head and heart, with which no association of any kind is efficacious or even viable, have died out for lack of exercise. Henceforth spontaneous, pacific, and fruitful co-operation, as practiced by a free people, is unattainable; men have arrived at social incapacity and, consequently, at political incapacity.—In fact they no longer choose their own constitution or their own rulers; they put with these, willingly or not, according as accident or usurpation furnishes them: now the public power belongs ...
— The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 5 (of 6) - The Modern Regime, Volume 1 (of 2)(Napoleon I.) • Hippolyte A. Taine

... relaxed; if they became corrupted by that very world which they promised to purify and deliver from the dominion of Mammon—this is only what has happened again and again, what must happen as long as men are men. In every age the prophet has always asked for the unattainable, always pointed to a higher level than human nature could breathe in, always insisted on a measure of self-renunciation which saints in their prayers send forth the soul's lame hands to clutch-in their ecstasy of aspiration hope that they may some day arrive ...
— The Coming of the Friars • Augustus Jessopp

... picture as the two young lovers looked out upon the world of promise! It was well thus, for much too soon in life, humanity experiences the same old story of unsatisfied ambitions and weary struggles after the unattainable. ...
— The Harris-Ingram Experiment • Charles E. Bolton

... and then she remembered where she was, and began to think of breakfast. But there were no berries but the poisonous dog-wood, and nothing else to be seen but leaves and grass and bushes. Hungry snapped up a few grasshoppers, and looked longingly at an unattainable squirrel, who was flying from tree-top to tree-top; then they went ...
— The Junior Classics • Various

... is not unattainable, some members in this academy give a sufficient proof. And, be assured, that if this power is not acquired whilst you are young, there will be no time for it afterwards: at least, the attempt will be attended with as much difficulty as those experience who learn to read or write after ...
— Seven Discourses on Art • Joshua Reynolds

... simplicity, to silence a woman's objections and aspirations by knocking her down. I have heard it said that this apparently brutal action has anything but the maddening effect tenderly nurtured persons might suppose, and that the patient is soothed and satisfied with a rapidity and completeness unattainable by other and more polite methods. Do you suppose," he went on, flicking a twig off a tree with his whip as we passed, "that the intellectual husband, wrestling intellectually with the chaotic yearnings of his intellectual wife, ever achieves the result aimed ...
— Elizabeth and her German Garden • "Elizabeth", AKA Marie Annette Beauchamp

... life" and the "attainment of eternal life"? Does this imply a twofold reward, and consequently a twofold object of merit? Theologians deny that such was the intention of the Council, because the right to a reward evidently coincides with the right to the payment of the same. An unattainable eternal life would be a chimera.(1334) Nevertheless, the distinction is not superfluous, since the attainment of eternal life does not coincide with the gaining of merit but must be put off until death, and even then depends upon the condition of the soul: "si tamen in gratia decesserit" ...
— Grace, Actual and Habitual • Joseph Pohle

... did not mind. She was too deeply distressed to care what they did. The contents of the hamper were now of no use to her. The "good fire, the comfortable bed, the warm beverage" that she had vehemently demanded were unattainable, she knew, and she cared for nothing ...
— Self-Raised • Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth

... life of man, and promised no peace for the soul here or hereafter until its innate capabilities for wisdom, love, and power for good are developed and exercised. His precepts and example would be foolishness and a stumbling-block, his character an unattainable ideal, were it other than the first fruit ripened on the tree of life, the promise ...
— The Arena - Volume 4, No. 24, November, 1891 • Various

... yellow book" which aroused his curiosity among the frippery of a Florentine stall, was as grotesquely casual an inception as poem ever had. But it was one of those accidents which, suddenly befalling a creative mind, organise its loose and scattered material with a magical potency unattainable by prolonged cogitation. The story of Pompilia took shape in the gloom and glare of a stormy Italian night of June 1860, as he watched from the balcony of Casa Guidi. The patient elaboration of after-years wrought into consummate ...
— Robert Browning • C. H. Herford

... only did she relieve Mary of the housekeeping, and help Lily with the household tasks, which she adored, but she had practically taken the place of nurse to the children, leaving Mary hours of freedom for her work which would otherwise have been unattainable. ...
— The Nest Builder • Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale

... inferences as to the limits of our sidereal system. Hence, notwithstanding the wonderful instrumental advances of the nineteenth century, knowledge of the exact form and extent of our universe seems more unattainable than it seemed ...
— A History of Science, Volume 3(of 5) • Henry Smith Williams

... false substructure had crumbled at the test. She loved another; had suddenly become as unattainable as the stars—and was lost to ...
— The Promise - A Tale of the Great Northwest • James B. Hendryx

... nothingness—dust to dust, ashes to ashes. Because of my mother alone have I been able to keep intact the faith of my early days. It still seems to me that when I have finished playing my poor part in life, when I no longer run in the overgrown paths that lead to the unattainable, when I am through amusing humanity with my conceits and my sorrows, I will go there where my mother, who has gone before me, is, and she will receive me; and the smile of serenity that she now wears in my memory will have ...
— The Story of a Child • Pierre Loti

... Bibliomania, a fund of amusing anecdote, as well as of instructive detail, presents itself. We may travel in a carriage and four—from morn 'till night—and sweep county after county, in pursuit of all that is exquisite, and rare, and precious, and unattainable in other quarters: but I doubt if our horses' heads can be turned in a direction better calculated to answer all the ends in view ...
— Bibliomania; or Book-Madness - A Bibliographical Romance • Thomas Frognall Dibdin

... are applied to an end, absolutely indispensable to any even tolerable system of discipline, and yet absolutely unattainable upon any commensurate scale in any other university of Europe. They are applied to the personal settlement and domestication of the students within the gates and walls of that college to whose discipline they are amenable. Everywhere else the young men live where they please and as they ...
— Memorials and Other Papers • Thomas de Quincey

... serene air, which their consciousness of power gives them. As in this case, so in all others, aim always at the highest; get always into the highest company, and address yourself particularly to the highest in it. The search after the unattainable philosopher's stone has occasioned a thousand useful discoveries, which otherwise ...
— The PG Edition of Chesterfield's Letters to His Son • The Earl of Chesterfield

... cruelly with the child—she would have nothing else to depend upon in her battle with the world. Poor Emily A feeble, overgrown child, needing fresh air, which she could not get, needing food of a better kind, just as unattainable. Large-eyed, thin-checked Emily; she, too, already in the clutch of the great brute world, the helpless victim of a civilisation which makes its food of those the heart most pities. How well if her last sigh had been drawn ...
— A Life's Morning • George Gissing

... powerful enemies, especially in Jackson and his partisans, and politicians dreaded his ascendency, and feared that as President he would be dictatorial, though not perhaps arbitrary like Jackson. He would have been a happier man if he had not so eagerly coveted a prize which it seems is unattainable by mere force of intellect, and is often conferred apparently by accidental circumstances. It is too high an office to be sought, either by genius or services, except in the military line; but even General Scott, the real hero of the Mexican war, failed in his ambitious ...
— Beacon Lights of History, Volume XII • John Lord

... your last you ask me after my articles of domestic wants; I believe they are as usual: the bull-dogs, magnesia, soda-powders, tooth-powders, brushes, and every thing of the kind which are here unattainable. You still ask me to return to England: alas! to what purpose? You do not know what you are requiring. Return I must, probably, some day or other (if I live), sooner or later; but it will not be for pleasure, nor can it end in good. You enquire after my health and SPIRITS ...
— Life of Lord Byron, Vol. IV - With His Letters and Journals • Thomas Moore

... happily for us unattainable, three hours after our arrival in Munich found Jimmie proudly marching three sailor-hat and shirt-waist ...
— Abroad with the Jimmies • Lilian Bell

... usual duties, and the most alarming symptoms manifested themselves. There was a remarkable loss of nervous and muscular force; his limbs refused their support; his appetite failed; the recollection of ordinary phrases involved distinct and painful effort; sleep became unattainable, except under the influence of powerful narcotics, and even that brief slumber was rendered valueless by the incessant convulsive twitching of ...
— Fat and Blood - An Essay on the Treatment of Certain Forms of Neurasthenia and Hysteria • S. Weir Mitchell

... were like stars and her lips were like soft hills rising out of dim, star-lit plains. "She is unattainable, she is far off like the stars," he thought. "She is unattainable like the stars but unlike the stars she breathes, she lives, like myself she ...
— The Best Short Stories of 1921 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story • Various

... what pleasure it would now have given him to protract, during a promenade to my hotel, our delightful conversation! But infirmities teach us to curtail our pleasures, and many things that seem natural to man's bodily configuration are found to be unattainable. He seldom left his rooms; the stairs—the diabolical stairs! Would I at least accept his card and rest assured how gladly he would receive me and do all in his power ...
— Old Calabria • Norman Douglas

... Indeed, though, every second of the time, I was living so vividly, so cruelly, in the past, I made one heartbroken acknowledgment of the present by beginning with the anachronism of a dry Martini cocktail, which, twelve years previous, was unknown and unattainable in that haunted gallery. That cocktail was a sort of desperate epitaph. It meant that I was alone—alone with my ghosts. Yet it had a certain resurrecting influence, and as I sat there proceeding dreamily with my meal, one face and another would flash before me, and memory after memory ...
— Vanishing Roads and Other Essays • Richard Le Gallienne

... became a sharer in parliamentary toils and triumphs; and what sustained his young hero through something of the same sort of trial was also his own support. He too had his Dora, at apparently the same hopeless elevation; striven for as the one only thing to be attained, and even more unattainable, for neither did he succeed nor happily did she die; but the one idol, like the other, supplying a motive to exertion for the time, and otherwise opening out to the idolater, both in fact and fiction, a highly unsubstantial, happy, foolish time. I used to laugh and tell him I had no ...
— The Life of Charles Dickens, Vol. I-III, Complete • John Forster

... the obvious, his passion for the thing beyond his grasp, his worship of the far-fetched, the intangible, the obscure. Thus she thought to inflame his curiosity by hinting that Frida Tancred was incomprehensible, while she touched the very soul of desire by representing her as unattainable. All this was no doubt very clever of Mrs. Fazakerly; but it was not quite what he ...
— The Return of the Prodigal • May Sinclair

... concurrence of public opinion. Such a concurrence in the strong and vigorous measures necessary for the purpose could not then be expected but from satisfying the country, by the strongest and most decided proofs, that peace on terms in any degree admissible was unattainable. ...
— Selected Speeches on British Foreign Policy 1738-1914 • Edgar Jones

... monogram embossed either in the corner or the center, and with some special envelopes to match. Ordinary paper, purchasable from a regular shop, didn't seem good enough to be handled by those slender white fingers he had longed to kiss. There was nothing good enough for them, and anything less than the unattainable ...
— Mixed Faces • Roy Norton

... poor tortured cripple, in the wards of this hospital; compare it with the very brightest lot possible for him in the dwellings of the lower, or even of the middle classes of the metropolis; then recollect that these hospital luxuries, which would be unattainable by him elsewhere, are but a tithe of those which you, in his situation, would consider absolute necessaries, without which a life of suffering, ay, even of health, were intolerable—and do unto others this day, as you would that others should do ...
— Sermons on National Subjects • Charles Kingsley

... by the names of Aprositus, [354] or the Inaccessible; and which, according to friar Diego Philipo, in his book on the Incarnation of Christ, shows that it possessed the same quality in ancient times of deluding the eye and being unattainable to the feet of mortals. [355] But whatever belief the ancients may have had on this subject, it is certain that it took a strong hold on the faith of the moderns during the prevalent rage for discovery; nor ...
— The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (Vol. II) • Washington Irving

... invention of the great Republic. To have knit up all the nations of the earth in a common superstition is no mean achievement, and it is impossible to withhold a fervent admiration from the rhetoric which has thus attained what seemed, before its hour, the unattainable. ...
— American Sketches - 1908 • Charles Whibley

... of Sofronia and Olindo in the Gerusalemme, which points in carefully constructed innuendoes to his affection. It can even be conceded that Tasso, who was wont to indulge fantastic visions of unattainable greatness, may have raised his hopes so high as sometimes to entertain the possibility of winning her hand. But if he did dally with such dreams, the realities of his position must in sober moments have ...
— Renaissance in Italy, Volumes 1 and 2 - The Catholic Reaction • John Addington Symonds

... prophetic of Goethe the man. But the singer and the seeker, the two main tendencies of his being, are already apparent in early life. Of moral traits, the most conspicuous in the child is a power of self-control,—a moral heroism, which secured to him in after life a natural leadership unattainable by mere intellectual supremacy. An instance of this self-control is recorded among the anecdotes of his boyhood. At one of the lessons which he shared with other boys, the teacher failed to appear. The young people awaited his coming for a while, but toward the ...
— Beacon Lights of History, Volume XIII • John Lord

... the human heart be set; To virtue nothing serves as check or let The moon, attaining unattainable, is led By virtue to her seat ...
— The Little Clay Cart - Mrcchakatika • (Attributed To) King Shudraka

... for a moment that I saw before me the very spirit of Father Antoine. But as the man said nothing, and the next instant averted his gaze, I hardened my heart and pushed on behind him, and passing the usher, found myself as by magic in the presence which had seemed a while ago as unattainable by my wits as it was necessary to ...
— A Gentleman of France • Stanley Weyman

... it harder to lose out of life the man or woman whom one loves, or to see him or her happy in the love of another. Is the hopelessness of the impossible less or greater than the hopelessness of the unattainable? ...
— The Honorable Peter Stirling and What People Thought of Him • Paul Leicester Ford

... reflections on the shore, gazing towards the unattainable coast of France, a pleasant-looking cousinly stranger, in seamen's dress, accosted him, and, after some pleasant conversation, very civilly invited him up a lane into a house of rather secret entertainment. Pleased to be befriended in this his strait, Israel yet looked inquisitively upon the ...
— Israel Potter • Herman Melville

... establishment. The letters of the commissioners were treated as attempts to sow divisions among the people of which they might afterwards avail themselves, and thus effect by intrigue, what had been found unattainable ...
— The Life of George Washington, Vol. 3 (of 5) • John Marshall

... whom everything disgusts because they dream of something better, to whom the bloom is off everything, and who always are impressed with the uselessness, the commonness of their own achievements—these come to regard literary art as a thing unattainable and mysterious, scarcely to be detected save in a few pages by ...
— The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume VIII. • Guy de Maupassant

... my father's princely reputation in the school. At times, especially when the holidays arrived and I was left alone with Julia, I had fits of mournfulness, and almost thought the boys happier than I was. Going home began to seem an unattainable thing to me. Having a father, too, a regular father, instead of a dazzling angel that appeared at intervals, I considered a benefaction, in its way, some recompense to the boys, for their not possessing one like mine. My anxiety was relieved ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... long, lazy limbs. "And now let me tell you, friend, that my league of The Scarlet Pimpernel never attempted the impossible, and to try and drag the Queen out of the clutches of these murderous rascals now, is attempting the unattainable." ...
— I Will Repay • Baroness Emmuska Orczy

... diseased with vain longings after unattainable advantages, no medicine can be prescribed, but an impartial inquiry into the real worth of that which is so ardently desired. It is well known, how much the mind, as well as the eye, is deceived by distance; ...
— The Works of Samuel Johnson in Nine Volumes - Volume IV: The Adventurer; The Idler • Samuel Johnson

... dumb and sullen capacity for infinite self-sacrifice which makes Russians different from any other race, and which has yet to be reckoned with in the history of the world. For it will tend to the greatest good of the greatest number, and is a power for national aggrandisement quite unattainable by ...
— Barlasch of the Guard • H. S. Merriman

... employ them. And yet, notwithstanding this consciousness that we are necessarily and irremediably the bound prisoners of ignorance, and that all the great truths lie outside our prison, we can almost be content that, in most cases, it should be so—not, however, with regard to those great unattainable truths which lie in the track of Calvinism. They seem too important to be wanted, and yet want them we must—and we beat our very heads against the cruel barrier which separates ...
— Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume 2 - Historical, Traditional, and Imaginative • Alexander Leighton

... Forgive the fervour that would forge beyond The limits set to mortal joy and pain. Knowing the soul's unmeasured loneliness, My passion must be mingled with distress, As I, despairing, struggle to draw near What is as unattainable as dear. ...
— Last Poems • Laurence Hope

... representations of narrow-minded bigots, who paint the Deity from their own gloomy conceptions, the young are too often frighted from the paths of virtue; despairing of ideal perfections, they give up all virtue as unattainable, and start aside from the road which they falsely ...
— The History of Emily Montague • Frances Brooke

... as I could in a most unattainable chamber that was allotted to me, and hurried back to the drawing-room in the hope that I might get a few private words with Agnes. I was not disappointed. She, too, had hurried down, and in a few words I learned that this abominable Bludyer was paying her his coarse attentions, and with, apparently, ...
— A Stable for Nightmares - or Weird Tales • J. Sheridan Le Fanu

... "Sommaire," and the "Maniere et Fasson," can at last be read in elegant editions, faithful counterparts of the originals in every point save typographical appearance. The same may be said of such celebrated but hitherto unattainable rarities as the "Tigre" of 1560, scrupulously reproduced in fac-simile, by M. Charles Read, of Paris, from the copy belonging to the Hotel-de-Ville, and the fugitive songs and hymns which M. Bordier has gathered in ...
— The Rise of the Hugenots, Vol. 1 (of 2) • Henry Martyn Baird

... its truth the clear thinker must not only accept it, but must accept all legitimate deductions from it. If it seems true to us we must believe it. Absolute demonstrable truth, except in the simplest of matters is almost unattainable. The best we can ordinarily get is a close approach to certainty, and with this we must be content. In many matters, indeed in most matters, we must trust the judgment of others who are better trained in a particular ...
— The Meaning of Evolution • Samuel Christian Schmucker

... influence; perhaps, my father had been too sanguine, and had misinterpreted polite general promises into special engagements. However it was, the bailiffs came into his house one morning, while help from a government situation, or any situation, was as unattainable as ever—came to take him to prison: to seize everything, in execution, even to the very bed on which my mother (then seriously ill) was lying. The whole fabric of false prosperity which he had been building up to make ...
— Basil • Wilkie Collins

... balls and concerts there are yet the queen's and prince of Wales's breakfasts or garden-parties, which come off about 3 P.M. These are the most exclusive and unattainable of all the court entertainments. There are two or three of these in a season, and out of all London society only a couple of hundred are invited. There are certain persons who are always invited, and others who are eligible and are invited occasionally. A large ...
— Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XII. No. 30. September, 1873 • Various

... desire of applause, pride, the sense of superiority—gnawing discontent where that superiority is not recognized—morbid susceptibility, which comes with all new feelings—the underrating of simple pleasures apart from the intellectual—the chase of the imagination, often unduly stimulated, for things unattainable below—all these are surely amongst the first temptations that beset ...
— The International Monthly, Volume 3, No. 2, May, 1851 • Various

... without it I should die of inanition; but do you suppose I care any more for those who give it to me than a Chinese idol does for—whoever swings incense before it? Are you devoted to your butcher and milkman? We desire only the unpossessed or unattainable, "something afar from the sphere of our sorrow." But, though unconsciously, I may have been piqued by this manner of his. It was new; not a word, not a glance; I believed it was carelessness, and resolved—merely for the sake of conquering, I fancied, ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 27, January, 1860 • Various

... that during the six months' absence of the BEAGLE, only one boat had arrived there, and that, H.M.S. PELORUS from the Indian station. Communication with the home country was sadly needed, apart from the wish for news. Necessary articles of home manufacture or importation were becoming unattainable. ...
— The History of Australian Exploration from 1788 to 1888 • Ernest Favenc

... Sir Lionel and Pauline—two despairing people who long for the unattainable. Why should they not be mated? It is perhaps possible, and would be a master stroke of genius on my part. Jove! I'll see what I can do! Great pity to have all the plotting on ...
— Miss Caprice • St. George Rathborne

... shoulders, got up and walked out of the carpenter's shop. He had accomplished one part of his infamous design, at least. With every symptom of the most exquisite torture of mind I recalled throughout that day and night the lovely, fleeting, unattainable image of Aurelia Gualandi. She was fatally present, every bend and turn of her head, every motion of her bosom, the weaving of her hands, every flutter of her breath, every sigh, every flash of her eyes danced before me, mocking, deluding, beckoning, beguiling, ...
— The Fool Errant • Maurice Hewlett

... been engaged to sing a Mass, and whilst they chanted, my mind continued to roam, seeking the unattainable, seeking that which Rameses had been unable to find. Unexpectedly, at the very moment when the priest began to intone the Pater Noster, I thought of the deep sea as the only clean and holy receptacle for the vase containing my ashes. If it were dropped where the sea is deepest ...
— Memoirs of My Dead Life • George Moore

... like Stonehenge, are still afoot, the rest clean vanished. In may be the Museum numbers a full set; and Mr. Ionides perhaps, or else her gracious Majesty, may boast their great collections; but to the plain private person they are become, like Raphaels, unattainable. I have, at different times, possessed Aladdin, The Red Rover, The Blind Boy, The Old Oak Chest, The Wood Daemon, Jack Sheppard, The Miller and his Men, Der Freischuetz, The Smuggler, The Forest ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 9 • Robert Louis Stevenson

... he is adapted by nature. This life has become such a mockery that people talk of heaven as a state in which every person will be free to do the things he likes best—as if that blissful condition were utterly unattainable here. ...
— The Curse of Education • Harold E. Gorst

... on the floor of the Senate, "is endurable only because unattainable. The only things on earth that make this world interesting are its sporting chances, its misfortunes, and ...
— The Gay Rebellion • Robert W. Chambers

... remind you, too, how this intention of continuous growth is marked by the gifts that are bestowed upon us in Jesus Christ. He gives us—and it is by no means the least of the gifts that He bestows—an absolutely unattainable aim as the object of our efforts. For He bids us not only be 'perfect, as our Father in Heaven is perfect,' but He bids us be entirely conformed to His own Self. The misery of men is that they pursue aims so narrow and so shabby that they can be attained, and are therefore ...
— Expositions Of Holy Scripture - Volume I: St. Luke, Chaps. I to XII • Alexander Maclaren

... insight that was quick in suggestions and expedients. Perhaps she overrated other qualities of his in her admiration of the practical readiness which kept his amiability from seeming weak. But the practical had so often been the unattainable with her that it was not strange she should overrate it, and that she should rest upon it in him with a trust that included all he chose ...
— Henry James, Jr. • William Dean Howells

... mentally, to the woman, because he was not accustomed to them and he was not at all sure that he wanted to be accustomed; they did not fit in with the life he lived. He felt dimly that, in a way, they were like the heaven his mother had taught him—altogether perfect and altogether unattainable and not to be thought of with any degree of familiarity. So his memory of the woman was indistinct, as of something which did not properly belong to the picture. He clung instead to the memory of the warm stove, and the strip of carpet, ...
— The Long Shadow • B. M. Bower

... which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction. The idea of the tale has been presented unblemished, because undisturbed; and this is an end unattainable by the novel. Undue brevity is just as exceptionable here as in the poem; but undue length is ...
— A Manual of the Art of Fiction • Clayton Hamilton

... but one idea among them, and that was a freezer. The bookcase, glazed and locked, repudiated all familiarities. Mr Pitt, in bronze, on the top, with no trace of his celestial origin' about him, guarded the unattainable treasure like an enchanted Moor. A dusty urn at each high corner, dug up from an ancient tomb, preached desolation and decay, as from two pulpits; and the chimney-glass, reflecting Mr Dombey and his portrait at one blow, ...
— Dombey and Son • Charles Dickens

... the little bride, positively commanded her to lie down, and be quiet, and submit to be nursed and cherished. For Mrs. Berry well knew that ten minutes alone with the hero could only be had while the little bride was in that unattainable position. ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... admits this freely, and yet undertakes to make statements about supersensible worlds. It seems indeed almost impossible that a person should admit in a certain sense the reasons why knowledge of superphysical worlds is unattainable, and should yet speak about ...
— An Outline of Occult Science • Rudolf Steiner

... couldn't yet read; and he found this terrible drawback told fatally against his further progress. Whenever he wanted to learn something that he didn't quite understand, he was always referred for information to a Book. Oh, those books; those mysterious, unattainable, incomprehensible books; how they must have bothered and worried poor intelligent and aspiring but still painfully ignorant young George Stephenson! Though he was already trying singularly valuable experiments in his own way, he hadn't yet even ...
— Biographies of Working Men • Grant Allen

... gates which the war would open to him—to go where Death ambushed the reckless or the brave, and take the stroke meant for him, on a field of honour all too kind to himself and soothing to those good friends who would mourn his going, those who hoped for him the now unattainable things. ...
— The Judgment House • Gilbert Parker

... troubling him. Suddenly the whole situation came back to him, tenfold clearer than before. He saw at once beyond all possibility of contradiction that he could not shoot Marian, no matter who ordered him to do it; that for him the ideal of a perfect soldier was altogether unattainable, and that he was obliged to admit to himself that his entire life was a failure. The public might praise and acclaim him, but he was essentially a fraud and could ...
— Captain Jinks, Hero • Ernest Crosby

... rather an exceptional than an average character. I hope, at least, the experience of few has been such as mine was, or that few have felt their sufferings as I felt mine. They nearly shook my mind; relief was so hopeless, redress so unattainable. But, my dear, I do not wish to dishearten; I only wish to warn you, and to prove that the single should not be too anxious to change their state, as they may change for ...
— Shirley • Charlotte Bronte

... wish; perhaps only, still more inarticulate, as a dumb, altogether unconscious want. This is the supportable approximation they would rest patient with, That by their work they might be kept alive to work more!—This once grown unattainable, I think your approximation may consider itself to have reached the insupportable stage; and may prepare, with whatever difficulty, reluctance and astonishment, for one of two things, for changing ...
— Past and Present - Thomas Carlyle's Collected Works, Vol. XIII. • Thomas Carlyle



Words linked to "Unattainable" :   undoable, unachievable, unattainableness, impossible



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