“‘Of course you’ve never been married,’ she said, putting me in my place among the rows of excellent women.”*

From: Sanditon (1817), the unfinished novel by Jane Austen:

“…such excellent useful women and have so much energy of character that where any good is to be done, they force themselves on exertions…I told you my sisters were excellent women, Miss Heywood.”

*From: Excellent Women (1952), by Barbara Pym:

“…No, I’m afraid not. She told me that she never went to church.”

‘I hope you were able to say a word, Mildred,’ said Julian, fixing me with what I privately called his ‘burning’ look. ‘We shall rely on you to do something there.’

‘Oh, I don’t suppose I shall see anything of her except at the dustbins,’ I said lightly.

‘Perhaps her husband will come to church. Naval officers are often religious, I believe.’

They that go down to the sea in ships: and occupy their business in great waters; These men see the works of the Lord: and His wonders in the deep,’ Julian said, half to himself.

I did not like to spoil the beauty of the words by pointing out that as far as we knew Rockingham Napier had spent most of his service arranging the Admiral’s social life. Of course he might very well have seen the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep…

…Later, as I lay in bed, I found myself thinking about Mrs Napier and the man I had seen with her. Was he perhaps a fellow anthropologist? I could still hear their voices in the room underneath me, raised almost as if they were quarrelling. I began to wonder about Rockingham Napier, when he would come and what he would be like. Cooking, Victorian glass paper-weights, charm . .. and then there was the naval element. He might arrive with a parrot in a cage. I suppose that, apart from encounters on the stairs, we should probably see very little of each other. Of course there might be some embarrassment about the sharing of the bathroom, but I must try to conquer it. I should certainly have my bath early so as to avoid clashing. I might perhaps buy myself a new and more becoming dressing-gown, one that I wouldn’t mind being seen in, something long and warm in a rich colour … I must have dropped off to sleep at this point, for the next thing I knew was that I had been woken up by the sound of the front door banging. I switched on the light and saw that it was ten minutes to one. I hoped the Napiers were not going to keep late hours and have noisy parties. Perhaps I was getting spinsterish and ‘set’ in my ways, but I was irritated at having been woken. I stretched out my hand towards the little bookshelf where I kept cookery and devotional books, the most comforting bedside reading. My hand might have chosen Religio Medici, but I was rather glad that it had picked out Chinese Cookery and I was soon soothed into drowsiness.”

From Wikipedia:

“Dorothy L. Sayers in her novel Gaudy Night has Harriet Vane discover that Peter Wimsey is reading Religio Medici. It helps her better understand his character and motivations.

Patricia Highsmith’s novel Strangers on a Train references a morocco-bound copy of the work, and Guy reflects on his favorite passages.”

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