….the enemy who burned the great library of Alexandria without so much as a fine for all that is overdue. Oh, Septimus! — can you bear it? All the lost plays of the Athenians! Two hundred at least by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides — thousands of poems — Aristotle’s own library!….How can we sleep for grief?
By counting our stock. Seven plays from Aeschylus, seven from Sophocles, nineteen from Euripides, my lady! You should no more grieve for the rest than for a buckle lost from your first shoe, or for your lesson book which will be lost when you are old. We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?Thomasina and Septimus, Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
- LADY CROOM: You have been reading too many novels by Mrs Radcliffe, that is my opinion. This is a garden for The Castle of Otranto or The Mysteries of Udolpho --
- CHATER: The Castle of Otranto, my lady, is by Horace Walpole.
- NOAKES: (Thrilled) Mr Walpole the gardener?!
- LADY CROOM: Mr Chater, you are a welcome guest at Sidley Park but while you are one, The Castle of Otranto was written by whomsoever I say it was, otherwise what is the point of being a guest or having one?