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Presence of mind   /prˈɛzəns əv maɪnd/   Listen
Presence of mind

noun
1.
Self-control in a crisis; ability to say or do the right thing in an emergency.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Presence of mind" Quotes from Famous Books



... hot, angry, or hurried, he was always at hand to help her; and in the hour of adversity, when the clock struck five, and no dinner was dished, and no kitchen maid with twenty pair of hands was to be had, Franklin would answer to her call, with flowers to garnish her dishes, and presence of mind to know, in the midst of the commotion, where everything that was wanting was to be found; so that, quick as lightning, all difficulties vanished before him. Yet when the danger was over, and the hour ...
— The Parent's Assistant • Maria Edgeworth

... he was—and he was a very young man—the doctor had presence of mind and energy, and he flung his whole soul and strength into the case. The beauty and solitariness of his patient roused his sympathy almost as if it had been the beauty of a woman; he felt drawn toward the ...
— "Seth" • Frances Hodgson Burnett

... always had presence of mind, and as the sport gathered up our hard earned shekels he grabbed me by the arm and hurried me from the building. He knew that a Bowery audience was apt to follow cat-calls with antique eggs and vegetables of last season's vintage, and five minutes later ...
— Side Show Studies • Francis Metcalfe

... darling. They are coming," pleaded Mrs. Carr, as she slipped her arm under Jane's head. At the first hint of any excitement she invariably lost her presence of mind and became distracted; and Jane's hysterical outbursts never failed to convince her, though they usually left the more skeptical Gabriella unmoved. "Don't you think you would feel better if you lay back ...
— Life and Gabriella - The Story of a Woman's Courage • Ellen Glasgow

... with the skill that was his alone he partly parried it, though my blade found his sword arm, just above the elbow joint; but as Simon's now useless hand fell to his side he saw his defeat, and, with matchless presence of mind, drove his spurs into his horse, and dashing off at full speed was lost to view ...
— Orrain - A Romance • S. Levett-Yeats

... Nevertheless, he quickly recovered his presence of mind and sought about for a justification of his previous verdict upon the negligence of ...
— The Regent • E. Arnold Bennett

... dreams. When the moment came and the wrecking machine was set to work, the vessel did not sink as fast as they had hoped: it listed, overturning people and things. Agrippina had time to understand the danger; with admirable presence of mind she jumped overboard and escaped by swimming, while, during the confusion on the boat, the hired murderers killed one of Agrippina's freedwomen, mistaking her for Agrippina herself. The ship finally sank; the murderers also took to the water; everything returned ...
— Characters and events of Roman History • Guglielmo Ferrero

... attempting to save his whip betwixt his knee and his saddle's skirt, as it slipped, he lost his stirrup,—in losing which he lost his seat;—and in the multitude of all these losses (which, by the bye, shews what little advantage there is in crossing) the unfortunate doctor lost his presence of mind. So that without waiting for Obadiah's onset, he left his pony to its destiny, tumbling off it diagonally, something in the stile and manner of a pack of wool, and without any other consequence from the fall, save that of being left (as it would have been) with ...
— The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman • Laurence Sterne

... furlough. Thither the Captain repaired, through the well trodden mud and slush of the camp ground. The party of young officers within the tent of the Adjutant-General appeared to be in a high state of enjoyment, and that functionary himself retained just presence of mind sufficient to assure the Captain, after hearing his statement and urgent inquiry—"that there was no time now to look—that there were so d—n many papers he could not keep the run of them. These things ...
— Red-Tape and Pigeon-Hole Generals - As Seen From the Ranks During a Campaign in the Army of the Potomac • William H. Armstrong

... brilliant political knowledge and presence of mind were the means of saving England from turmoil or worse. Hearing that the people were hungry and restless, Sarah rushed to the King. "What's to do?" she ...
— Terribly Intimate Portraits • Noel Coward

... Every one nodded in the affirmative, but no one was able to utter an audible word. They wondered that Katrina had the presence of mind to nudge Boerje, and make him get up and give his chair ...
— The Emperor of Portugalia • Selma Lagerlof

... bewildered by the preamble of the treaty which met her eye, but she did not lose her head. She folded the paper quickly, admiring the audacity and presence of mind of the youth, and feeling sure that after performing such a masterly stroke he would not fail to understand her. She therefore tapped him on the head with the ...
— Catherine de' Medici • Honore de Balzac

... suddenly and unexpectedly presented to her, without her at first being able to discover who it was that thus presented himself in such a guise, she was so struck with surprise and astonishment that she was in the utmost consternation and completely lost her presence of mind, remaining motionless even after I had fully appeared before her and approached her so that she must have recognised me. Aware that, if I was to profit by the opportunity, I must not lose a moment in ...
— Laura Middleton; Her Brother and her Lover • Anonymous

... sufficient presence of mind left to shake hands with Nelly and thank her for the game, and then she was in the midst of a happy throng of Southerners who shouted congratulations and told her she was a brick, and a wonder, and ...
— Judy of York Hill • Ethel Hume Patterson Bennett

... and might claim me by means of either man, beast, cold, accident or disease. I knew that nobody was near me to assist and that all my help was in the hands of God, in the power of my hands and feet, in the accuracy of my aim and in my presence of mind. However, I listened in vain. I did not notice the return of my stranger. Like yesterday he appeared all at once on the threshold. Through the steam I made out his laughing eyes and his fine face. He stepped into the hut and dropped with a good ...
— Beasts, Men and Gods • Ferdinand Ossendowski

... and a Persian kitten for the baby, were all taken, and the happy family left England July 1, 1876. With the crew, the whole number of persons on board was forty-three. Almost at the beginning of the voyage they encountered a severe storm. Captain Lecky would have been lost but for the presence of mind of Mabelle Brassey, the oldest daughter, who has her mother's courage and calmness. When asked if she thought she was going overboard, she answered, "I did not think at all, mamma, but ...
— Lives of Girls Who Became Famous • Sarah Knowles Bolton

... for you must know, that Evelyn, poor little Evelyn"—her voice was choked by sobs. The fear of so mighty a calamity as the loss of our adored infant made the current of my blood pause with chilly horror; but the remembrance of the mother restored my presence of mind. I sought the little bed of my darling; he was oppressed by fever; but I trusted, I fondly and fearfully trusted, that there were no symptoms of the plague. He was not three years old, and his illness appeared only one ...
— The Last Man • Mary Shelley

... with wrath at the indignities he had received, Gian Maria—in no mood for an interview that would have demanded coolness and presence of mind from a keener brain than his—received the envoy, a gloomy, priestly-faced Spaniard, in the throne-room of the Palace. The Duke was attended by Alvari, Santi, and Fabrizio da Lodi, whilst his mother, Caterina Colonna, occupied a chair of crimson ...
— Love-at-Arms • Raphael Sabatini

... wild babbler while your king lies dying before your eyes?" broke in Hokosa, in a shrill, unnatural voice; for almost palsied with fear as he was at Owen's mysterious words, he still retained his presence of mind. "Listen now: what is he, and what did he say? He is one who comes hither to preach a new faith to us; he comes, he says, on an embassy from the King of Heaven, who has power over all things, and who, so these white ...
— The Wizard • H. Rider Haggard

... between Lokeren and Ghent, we came upon six or seven fine military ambulances, all huddled together as if they sought safety in companionship (why none of them had been sent up to our village I can't imagine). Ursula Dearmer, with admirable presence of mind, commandeered one of these and went back with it to the village, so that we could take our load of wounded into Ghent. We did this, ...
— A Journal of Impressions in Belgium • May Sinclair

... knew how it was that the old Worcester tea-cup in her hand did not at this juncture fall flat on the ground into a thousand atoms at her brother's feet. It is certain that only a very strong exercise of self-control and presence of mind saved it ...
— Vera Nevill - Poor Wisdom's Chance • Mrs. H. Lovett Cameron

... examination of the unfortunate divine, Lord Chesterfield, on some pretence, placed the forged document in Dodd's hands, with the kind intention that he should take the opportunity of destroying it, but the latter wanted either the courage or the presence of mind enough to avail himself of the occasion. This, however, is scarcely an excuse, for, certainly, it was not for Dr Dodd to destroy the fatal document. If Lord Chesterfield had wished to suppress that vital evidence he could ...
— The Gaming Table: Its Votaries and Victims - Volume II (of II) • Andrew Steinmetz

... orders, with great presence of mind, about her body! directing her nurse and the maid of the house to put her in the coffin as soon as she is cold. Mr. Belford, she said, would know the ...
— Clarissa Harlowe, Volume 9 (of 9) - The History Of A Young Lady • Samuel Richardson

... his nerves never wholly recovered. His letters to Mr. Thomas Mitton and to Mrs. Hulkes (an esteemed friend and neighbour) are graphic descriptions of this disaster. But they do NOT tell of the wonderful presence of mind and energy shown by Charles Dickens when most of the terrified passengers were incapable of thought or action, or of his gentleness and goodness to the dead and dying. The Mr. Dickenson[14] mentioned in the letter to Mrs. Hulkes soon recovered. He always considers that he owes his ...
— The Letters of Charles Dickens - Vol. 2 (of 3), 1857-1870 • Charles Dickens

... bed he was told that his grandfather had something for him, and he stood at his knee to receive—a Bible! That it was to be the lead soldiers and the tin citadel he never for a moment doubted; and the surprise and disappointment were very great. He seems to have had presence of mind enough to conceal his feelings, and to kiss and thank the dear old man for his gift. But as he climbed slowly up the stairs, in front of his mother, and with his Bible under his arm, she overheard him sob to himself, and murmur, ...
— A Boy I Knew and Four Dogs • Laurence Hutton

... shot down by the blundering regulars, who fired into the woods wherever they saw a puff of smoke, unable to distinguish whether it rose from a red or a white man's rifle. Upon these brave rangers the brunt of the battle fell; and indeed, had it not been for their firmness and presence of mind, their skill and address in the arts and strategems of Indian warfare, which enabled them for a time to hold the enemy in check, hardly a remnant of Braddock's fine army would have survived to behold the going-down of ...
— The Farmer Boy, and How He Became Commander-In-Chief • Morrison Heady

... never could bear to see a woman cry, even a woman in blue spectacles; so I did not wait for Tibe to come up and recover presence of mind, as he probably would, but splashed down myself onto ...
— The Chauffeur and the Chaperon • C. N. Williamson

... me!" sighed Miss Jerrold in tones full of relief, "now, that was very clever. I do like presence of mind. ...
— Witness to the Deed • George Manville Fenn

... her presence of mind, in spite of her bewilderment at these sudden occurrences. She at once laid the girl on the sofa, removed her dripping bonnet and cloak, and poured a few drops of brandy between her lips, while she set the squire to work, to chafe ...
— With Wolfe in Canada - The Winning of a Continent • G. A. Henty

... was turned towards the girl, his brain busy with his thoughts of her and her wilfulness. From the tail of his eye he caught the first lunge of the bull, and that automatic mental adjustment to unexpected situations, which we call presence of mind, sent a knee-signal to Surry which that ...
— The Gringos • B. M. Bower

... and resolution we are naturally to speak of its kindred quality, PRESENCE OF MIND, which in a region of the unexpected like War must act a great part, for it is indeed nothing but a great conquest over the unexpected. As we admire presence of mind in a pithy answer to anything said ...
— On War • Carl von Clausewitz

... the country whose very name, at any rate in central Europe, had become a byword, and a synonym for failure; Belgrade became the cynosure and the rallying-centre of the whole Serbo-Croatian race. But Vienna and Budapest could only lose courage and presence of mind for the moment, and the undeniable success of the Serbian arms merely sharpened their appetite for revenge. In August 1913 Austria-Hungary, as is now known, secretly prepared an aggression on Serbia, but was restrained, partly by ...
— The Balkans - A History Of Bulgaria—Serbia—Greece—Rumania—Turkey • Nevill Forbes, Arnold J. Toynbee, D. Mitrany, D.G. Hogarth

... innocent and say, 'Is that Platonic friendship?' So he would have to subside. I know he thought some of my indifference was assumed, for when he told me about Miss Culpepper he thought I would be vexed. I was vexed, but I had presence of mind not to show it. I only laughed and made no comment at all—asked him what time it was, I believe. Then when he looked so disappointed and sulky, I knew I was right, and I patted Sallie Cox on the head for being so clever—so clever as not to care, ...
— The Love Affairs of an Old Maid • Lilian Bell

... I had presence of mind enough to try to hide my dismay. The semi-darkness was a fortunate thing for me. "How is the ...
— Sylvia's Marriage • Upton Sinclair

... quite at his ease at first in receiving his guests, especially those whom he did not know by sight. But when the dancing began, and he had secured the fair hand of Mrs. M'Catchley for the initiary quadrille, his courage and presence of mind returned to him; and, seeing that many people whom he had not received at all seemed to enjoy themselves very much, he gave up the attempt to receive those who came after,—and that was a great relief to ...
— My Novel, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... Our young friend smiled, meeting the other's eyes, and, having made Juno blush, proceeded to patronise her. "I'll do it"—she put out a competent hand. Her ladyship only submitted, confused and bewildered, all presence of mind quite gone; and the next moment the telegram was in the cage again and its author out of the shop. Then quickly, boldly, under all the eyes that might have witnessed her tampering, the extraordinary little person at Cocker's made the proper change. People were really ...
— In the Cage • Henry James

... would pay what was demanded, she would be returned and, aside from a few days of discomfort and hardship, she would be none the worse off for her experience. Reasoning thus it was not difficult to maintain her composure and presence of mind. ...
— The Mucker • Edgar Rice Burroughs

... suffused with blushes: then, instantly recovering her presence of mind, she said in a rapid, earnest tone, "He who is coming knows nothing concerning the jewels, and will be surprised to find a stranger with me. Perhaps he may even recognize you—perhaps he ...
— Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf • George W. M. Reynolds

... back upon me, yet I was about to cry out again, when, mustering all my presence of mind and all my failing courage, I recognized that I had better employment of my energies, and began to swim straight ahead, desperately determined to face all the horrors of this place—to die hard ...
— The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu • Sax Rohmer

... that the Bathing here has a drawback. I refer, of course, to the Under Tow, which has caused some Untoward accidents. Those who have experienced it, say it is impossible to keep your Feet when caught by the Under Tow. Presence of mind is indispensable in such a case, but, unfortunately, timid swimmers are too apt to lose their Heads as well as their feet. Some of the lady visitors are Beautiful Swimmers, and their Divers Charms excite universal admiration. ...
— Punchinello, Vol. 1, No. 22, August 27, 1870 • Various

... vessel had scarcely cleared the mouth of the Thames when a sudden storm came on, she was driven out of her course, and, in the darkness of the night, she struck on the Goodwin Sands. The captain, losing his presence of mind, seemed incapable of giving coherent orders, and it is probable that the vessel would have become a total wreck, had not one of the passengers suddenly taken the command and directed the working of the ship, himself taking the helm while the danger ...
— Self Help • Samuel Smiles

... little Patteson was pressed up so close to the Royal carriage that he became entangled in the wheel, and was on the point of being dragged under it, when the Queen, with ready presence of mind, held out her hand: he grasped it, and was able to regain his feet in safety, but did not recover his perceptions enough to make any sign of gratitude before the carriage passed on. He had all a boy's shyness about the adventure; but perhaps it served to quicken the ...
— Life of John Coleridge Patteson • Charlotte M. Yonge

... difficulty in finding our way back to the ice rooms; the fears of our followers had now completely got the better of them; they lost their presence of mind, and, consequently, their way; and it was not till after we had wandered about for more than an hour that we hit upon the ledge which eventually led us to the drop which we had originally descended by means of the ladder of turbans. At the head of this drop we had left a couple of men to haul ...
— A Peep into Toorkisthhan • Rollo Burslem

... without a word, the monument remains intact, and generations have had bequeathed to them an example of what presence of mind may effect, not with nerve, sinew, or bodily prowess, but with the tongue. The Convent of the Visitation, to which Montmorency's widow retired, and in the chapel of which she raised this memorial, is now converted into a Lycee. It is a handsome building and ...
— East of Paris - Sketches in the Gatinais, Bourbonnais, and Champagne • Matilda Betham-Edwards

... difficulties at first, he not being considered old enough; but at last he was gazetted to one in the 1st Batt., 44th Regt., and this Battalion was ordered to New Orleans, Hon. Col. Mullins (Lord Ventry's son), commanding, who, being seized with a panic on the field, disgraced himself, lost his presence of mind on seeing the destruction the Americans were dealing out to the British troops, by firing behind their cotton bags, and was in consequence the cause of the death of Hon. Col. Pakenham, brother-in-law to the Duke of Wellington. Miss Pakenham was a celebrated beauty, and ...
— Picturesque Quebec • James MacPherson Le Moine

... my might, but my heels went up, and my head went down so rapidly that my hold broke, and I plunged head foremost into the water, some twenty-five feet below, with such velocity that it seemed to me I never would stop. When I came to the surface again, being a fair swimmer, and not having lost my presence of mind, I swam around until a bucket was let down for me, and I was drawn up without a scratch or injury. I do not believe there was a man on board who sympathized with me in the least when they found me uninjured. I rather enjoyed the joke myself. The ...
— Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete • U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, P. H. Sheridan

... and hastened from the grave. Hitherto he had remained master of himself; but when, with his dreadful treasure, he was scrambling up, when the stones crumbling noisily under his feet, and he, covered with sand, fell backwards on Verkhoffsky's corpse, then presence of mind left the sacrilegious. It seemed as if a flame had seized him, and spirits of hell, dancing and grinning, had surrounded him. With a heavy groan he tore himself away, crawled half senseless out of the suffocating ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXXII. - June, 1843.,Vol. LIII. • Various

... writes to say that the worst quarter of a minute he ever spent was while tarpon fishing off the coast of Florida, when a gigantic tarpon, weighing some 400 lbs., leaped into the boat with its mouth wide open. With great presence of mind the famous organist thrust into the monster's gaping jaws a full score of STRAUSS'S Elektra, which he was studying between the casts, and the tarpon at once leaped out of the boat and was never seen ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 146, January 7, 1914 • Various

... could not conceal her disquietude, and this increased the suspicions that had already been aroused. The inn-keeper, who was a zealous patriot, compelled her to go with him to the district Commissioner. Her presence of mind deserted her; and her incoherent replies and her reticence caused her arrest. The Commissioner intended to send her to Nantes; but she begged so hard to be sent to Paris, instead, that he finally granted her request. That same evening a party of prisoners ...
— Which? - or, Between Two Women • Ernest Daudet

... awaited the blow with tranquillity; he threatened with his up-lifted crutch; I thought he was going to knock me down. Holding myself closely united to God, I beheld it without pain. He did not strike me for he had presence of mind enough to see what indignity it would be. In his rage he threw it at me. It fell near me, but it did not touch me. He then discharged himself in language as if I had been a street beggar, or the most infamous of creatures. I kept profound ...
— The Autobiography of Madame Guyon • Jeanne Marie Bouvier de La Motte Guyon

... 1857. Dear Mamma: My foreboding about steering was on the last day nearly verified by an accident which was more deplorable than culpable the effects of which would have been ruinous had not the presence of mind of No. 7 in the boat rescued us from the very jaws of defeat. The scene is one which never can fade from my remembrance and will be connected always with the gentlemanly conduct of the crew in neither using opprobrious language nor gesture towards your unfortunate son but treating him with ...
— The Humour of Homer and Other Essays • Samuel Butler

... not lose her presence of mind, however. As soon as ever they reached the house, she sent the two children straight up to Maudie's room, a plainly furnished little room opening out of the day-nursery, and told them to wait there till she came to them. Then she went at once to see their mother, and some time passed before ...
— Hoodie • Mary Louisa Stewart Molesworth

... vocally; and seldom have more penetrating sounds issued from human throats. Coincidentally, Marjorie, quite baresark, laid hands upon the largest stick within reach and fell upon Penrod with blind fury. He had the presence of mind to flee, and they went round and round the caldron, while Mitchy-Mitch feebly endeavoured to follow—his appearance, in this pursuit, being pathetically like that of a bug fished out of ...
— Penrod • Booth Tarkington

... an account of the trial from a gentleman who was present, who described Elwall as 'a tall man, with white hair, a large beard and flowing garments, who struck everybody with respect. He spoke about an hour with great gravity, fluency, and presence of mind.' The trial took place, he said, in 1726. 'It is impossible,' adds Priestley (Works, ed. 1831, ii. 417), 'for an unprejudiced person to read Elwall's account of his trial, without feeling the greatest veneration for the writer.' ...
— Life Of Johnson, Vol. 2 • Boswell, Edited by Birkbeck Hill

... presence of mind to affect being entirely engrossed by the objects before me, and strolled slowly down the shop again. I paused for a moment to hear whether I was followed, and was relieved when I heard no step. You may be sure I did not waste more time in that shop, where ...
— The Room in the Dragon Volant • J. Sheridan Le Fanu

... but two or three minutes to crush out the last smoldering spark among the ruined lilies, for the flames had been effectually smothered by Katherine's presence of mind in wrapping the portiere about them and ...
— Katherine's Sheaves • Mrs. Georgie Sheldon

... the thoughts of even the most depraved naturally carry them beyond the limits of time; and by these thoughts, I believe, the soul of every one was absorbed; yet the men lost not their presence of mind. Suddenly, the voice of the look-out was heard amid the roar of the breakers, calling our attention to a dark breach in the line of foam that stretched out before us, which he fancied to be a channel between the rocks. ...
— Notes of a Twenty-Five Years' Service in the Hudson's Bay Territory - Volume II. (of 2) • John M'lean

... Mr. Effingham, "that it is owing to your presence of mind and steadiness that more blood ...
— Homeward Bound - or, The Chase • James Fenimore Cooper

... lightning, seeing that death was inevitable if I remained lying there a moment longer, I sprang upon my legs, and gave the miscreant such a sharp back-hander in the face with my double-bound fists that he lost his presence of mind, and gave me a moment's opportunity to run away; which, by the Lord, I lost no time in doing, taking very good care, by holding my hands on one side, not to allow the dangling rope to trip me up. I was almost naked, and quite bare upon ...
— What Led To The Discovery of the Source Of The Nile • John Hanning Speke

... allowed herself to be caught. Perhaps he had only suspected the truth when he presented himself at the house. He had suddenly announced the death of the Count de Chalusse; she had betrayed herself; and any doubts he might have entertained were dispelled. "If I had only had sufficient presence of mind to deny it," she murmured. "If I had only been courageous enough to reply that I knew absolutely nothing about the person he spoke of. Ah! then he would have gone away convinced that he ...
— Baron Trigault's Vengeance - Volume 2 (of 2) • Emile Gaboriau

... donkey towards his ordinary place of residence, is a very different thing, and a feat much more easily to be accomplished, than taking him from it. It requires a great deal of foresight and presence of mind in the one case, to anticipate the numerous flights of his discursive imagination; whereas, in the other, all you have to do, is, to hold on, and place a blind confidence in the animal. Mr. Cymon Tuggs adopted the latter expedient on his return; and ...
— Sketches by Boz - illustrative of everyday life and every-day people • Charles Dickens

... Count Gamba and his companions being taken before Yusuff Pasha at Patras, expected to share the fate of certain unfortunate prisoners whom that stern chief had sacrificed the preceding year at Prevesa; and their fears would probably have been realised but for the intrepid presence of mind displayed by the Count, who, assuming a haughty style, accused the Ottoman captain of the frigate of a breach of neutrality, in detaining a vessel under English colours, and concluded by telling the Pasha that he ...
— The Life of Lord Byron • John Galt

... march back to their cells. It was midnight as the condemned Girondists were led from the bar of the Palace of Justice back to the dungeons of the Conciergerie, there to wait till the swift-winged hours should bring the dawn which was to guide their steps to the guillotine. Their presence of mind had now returned, and their bosoms glowed with the loftiest enthusiasm. In fulfillment of a promise they had made their fellow-prisoners, to inform them of their fate by the echoes of their voices, they burst into the Marseillaise Hymn. The vaults of the Conciergerie rang with ...
— Madame Roland, Makers of History • John S. C. Abbott

... happen to you as it did to the csokonai, not long ago. Some wags exchanged his sermon-book for one on cookery, and he did not notice it until he began to read in the pulpit: 'The vinegar was—' Then he saw that he was reading a recipe for pickled gherkins. He had the presence of mind, however, to continue, '—was offered to the Saviour, who said, "It is finished."' And on that text he extemporized a discourse that astounded the ...
— The Nameless Castle • Maurus Jokai

... it!" he cried, bringing his arms in contact with a small Venetian vase which Esther, with great presence of mind, just managed to catch ...
— Children of the Ghetto • I. Zangwill

... trouble we have given him, when I assure him of the gratitude of the Lord Keeper for the greatest service which one man ever rendered to another—for the life of my child—for my own life, which he has saved by his bravery and presence of mind. He will, I am sure, permit us to request——" "Request nothing of ME, my lord," said the stranger, in a stern and peremptory tone; "I am ...
— Bride of Lammermoor • Sir Walter Scott

... urgently needed, and when the stress is past, and the aid no longer necessary, overwhelming the sufferers with caresses. I will not stand by and see my fellow-man drowning, without stretching out a hand to help him, till he has, by his own efforts and presence of mind, reached the shore in safety, and then encumber him with aid. With suffering Greece, now is the crisis of her fate—her great, it may be her last struggle. Sir, while we sit here deliberating, her destiny may be decided. The ...
— Life and Public Services of John Quincy Adams - Sixth President of the Unied States • William H. Seward

... nature as to demand of him a different reception. [Footnote: Wm. Jones, Seneca chief.] He seemed to be armed at every point, as with a coat of mail, against the arrows of his assailants. Their most powerful weapons would be turned aside by his presence of mind, and matchless skill, ...
— An account of Sa-Go-Ye-Wat-Ha - Red Jacket and his people, 1750-1830 • John Niles Hubbard

... was a man of courage, and presence of mind, and much resource: otherwise he would not have been appointed for this business; nevertheless he trembled greatly when he heard what I had to tell him. But I took good care to keep back the name of young Marwood de Whichehalse; ...
— Lorna Doone - A Romance of Exmoor • R. D. Blackmore

... had seized the whole army. All presence of mind and sense of honor seemed to be lost. Every one thought only of saving his life, and of escaping from the conquering arms of the invincible French. Here and there, it is true, officers succeeded by supplications and remonstrances in stopping the fugitives, and in forming them into small detachments, ...
— Napoleon and the Queen of Prussia • L. Muhlbach

... Jacob, as the boat shot a fall, some eight feet in depth, with the rapidity of an arrow. For a moment it was tossed and whirled about in the seething waves below, and then, thanks to Jacob's presence of mind and Harry's obedience to his orders, it emerged safely into the smooth water below the bridge. Harry now gave up one of the sculls to Jacob, and the two boys rowed hard down ...
— Friends, though divided - A Tale of the Civil War • G. A. Henty

... certainly saved his sight. A week later, with the help of the doctor's lotions, all danger was over. How lucky it was that I took it into my head to keep some way off! My isolation, as I stood looking into the glass case of chemicals, left me all my presence of mind, all my readiness of resource. What are the others doing, those who got splashed through standing too near the chemical bomb? I return to the lecture hall. It is not a cheerful spectacle. The master has come off badly: his shirtfront, waistcoat and trousers are covered ...
— The Life of the Fly - With Which are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography • J. Henri Fabre

... the present occasion the advent of the Italian was an inexpressible relief. Mrs. Willoughby was not prepared for a scene like this. The manners, the language, and the acts of Rufus K. Gunn had filled her with simple horror. She was actually bewildered, and her presence of mind was utterly gone. As for Minnie, she was quite helpless, and sat, looking frightened. The Baron Atramonte might have been one of the excellent of the earth—he might have been brave and loyal and just and true and tender, but his manner was one to which ...
— The American Baron • James De Mille

... like a lion, forcing his way through the furious crowd, attacked in the most brutal way on every side, yet ever struggling on if only by inches. Never once did his steadfastness waver, never for a single instant did his spirit sink. His unfailing presence of mind enabled him to get through what would have been impossible to most men, his great height and strength stood him in good stead, while the meanness and the injustice of the attack, the immense odds against which he was fighting nerved ...
— We Two • Edna Lyall

... was momentarily confused. He had to recall that his invalidism, not his checker prowess, was in question. He regained his presence of mind; he coughed feebly, reaching a hand tenderly back to a point ...
— The Wrong Twin • Harry Leon Wilson

... addressing a jury, he could use them to effect in cross-examination. "You were born and bred in Manchester, I perceive," he said to a witness. "Yes."—"I knew it," said Erskine carelessly, "from the absurd tie of your neckcloth." The witness' presence of mind was gone, and he was made to unsay the greatest part of his evidence in chief. Another witness confounding 'thick' whalebone with 'long' whalebone, and unable to distinguish the difference after counsel's ...
— Law and Laughter • George Alexander Morton

... observe with alarm the quickened motion of our horses. Ten years' experience had made my eye learned in the valuing of motion; and I saw that we were now running thirteen miles an hour. I pretend to no presence of mind. On the contrary, my fear is, that I am miserably and shamefully deficient in that quality as regards action. The palsy of doubt and distraction hangs like some guilty weight of dark unfathomed ...
— Miscellaneous Essays • Thomas de Quincey

... was so overcome by the spectacle that she retained barely enough presence of mind to drag forward a wooden chair upon which Cynthia sank in a condition evidently bordering upon syncope. It was a critical moment; she must not give the intruder an opportunity to escape. She knew the intruder by that impulse of desertion, and she clung the tighter ...
— A Christmas Accident and Other Stories • Annie Eliot Trumbull

... Whitehaven, her captain was heavy hearted. He felt that he had had the opportunity to strike a heavy blow at the British shipping, but had nevertheless inflicted only a trifling hurt. Angry with himself for not having better planned the adventure, and discontented with his lieutenant for not having by presence of mind prevented the fiasco, he felt that peace of mind could only be obtained by some deed of ...
— The Naval History of the United States - Volume 1 (of 2) • Willis J. Abbot

... fell immediately, to all appearance dead. All those on foot now jumped into the ravine, to cut him up. But they had scarcely begun, when the animal recovered himself so far as to rise upon his knees; and he would undoubtedly have destroyed several of the men, had not one of them, with great presence of mind, cut the sinew of the animal's hind leg. To this precaution they were indebted, under God, ...
— Stories about Animals: with Pictures to Match • Francis C. Woodworth

... Madame Regimbart thought he was going to faint. He regained his self-possession with an effort, and had even sufficient presence of mind to ask two or three questions about the occurrence. Regimbart was grieved at the affair, considering that it would injure the cause of Democracy. Arnoux had always been lax in his conduct and disorderly ...
— Sentimental Education, Volume II - The History of a Young Man • Gustave Flaubert

... Had presence of mind been possible at that moment, Elizabeth could have slipped quickly behind the binder and passed outside the ring the charging animals were making, but as it was, she simply ran blindly back once more to another and more ...
— The Wind Before the Dawn • Dell H. Munger

... a little rallied on the extreme susceptibility which had led her as it were to identify herself with the scene. Gerald remarked that on recovering her presence of mind, she at first looked as if she fancied herself the subject of sarcasm, and would have resented the liberty; but finding there was nothing pointed in the manner of those who addressed her, finished by joining, yet with some appearance of constraint, ...
— The Canadian Brothers - or The Prophecy Fulfilled • John Richardson

... the girl were in a different key from all the rest. They were tolerant, conciliatory, tenderly persuasive. The rest was suavely sinister; it made her hesitate; but Pocket had the presence of mind to bid her a cheery good-night, and she ...
— The Camera Fiend • E.W. Hornung

... elsewhere; kicks to pieces Broglio's Chair-Profile, kicks out especially the bottom part which ruins both foot and back, these being disjointed thereby, and each exposed to be taken in rear;—and of course astonishes Broglio not a little; but does not steal his presence of mind. ...
— History of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Vol. XX. (of XXI.) • Thomas Carlyle

... father's side. Then he could say quietly, "Father, the house is on fire, but do not be alarmed;" and his father would soon put everything right. After which he would turn to Ambrose and say, "My son, you have saved our lives by your courage and presence of mind. Henceforth I know that ...
— Penelope and the Others - Story of Five Country Children • Amy Walton

... want to do now is to put on your invisible cap an' your seven league boots an' go like lightnin' through the Mexican camp. Remember that you can talk their lingo like a native, an' don't forget, neither, to keep always about you a great big piece of presence of mind that you can use ...
— The Texan Scouts - A Story of the Alamo and Goliad • Joseph A. Altsheler

... happened that as Wanda was riding in Hyde Park quite early one morning before there were many people about, her thoroughbred English mare took fright, and threatened to throw the plucky rider, who did not for a moment lose her presence of mind, from the saddle. Before her groom had time to come to her assistance, a man in a Hungarian braided coat rushed from the path, and caught hold of the animal's reins. When the mare had grown quite quiet, he was about to go away with a slight bow, but Frau von ...
— The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume III (of 8) • Guy de Maupassant

... the shadow of a suspicion of Mercy was at the bottom of the strange sense of uneasiness which had now deprived them alike of their habitual courtesy and their habitual presence of mind. It was as practically impossible for any one of the three to doubt the identity of the adopted daughter of the house as it would be for you who read these lines to doubt the identity of the nearest and dearest relative you have in the world. Circumstances had fortified Mercy ...
— The New Magdalen • Wilkie Collins

... and his pursuer into the wildest recesses of the mountains. The chase was close and desperate, and certainly might have been fatal to Reillaghan, had M'Kenna thought of using the gun. His terror, however, exhausted him, and overcame his presence of mind to such a degree, that so far from using the weapon in his defence, he threw it aside, in order to gain ground upon his pursuer. This he did but slowly, and the pursuit was as yet uncertain. At length Owen found the distance between ...
— The Hedge School; The Midnight Mass; The Donagh • William Carleton

... alarm of fire. The variety of circumstances under which that danger may be presented can only be successfully met by properly stationed, well-trained and disciplined men, judiciously directed by the Captain, and superintended by officers whose coolness and presence of mind are proof against every form and degree of danger, which alone will enable them to adopt and execute the best plans ...
— Ordnance Instructions for the United States Navy. - 1866. Fourth edition. • Bureau of Ordnance, USN

... surrounded in a moment, was speedily in the lock-up. It was the first rebuff that the hero had received, and straightway his tact and ingenuity left him. The evidence was faulty, the prosecution declined, and naught was necessary for escape save presence of mind. Even friends were staunch, and had Barrington told his customary lie, his character had gone unsullied. Yet having posed for his friends as a student of the law, at Bow Street he must needs declare himself a doctor, and the needless discrepancy ruined him. Though he escaped the ...
— A Book of Scoundrels • Charles Whibley

... the rapidity with which she had regained her self-control and presence of mind after the violent emotion she had so ...
— Frank Fairlegh - Scenes From The Life Of A Private Pupil • Frank E. Smedley

... no response. The listeners mistook his seriousness for satire, and broke out afresh at the excellence of such a joke; and recovering his presence of mind as quickly as he had lost it, he changed his tone, thanked those alike who had laughed with him, and who had wept with the "Lord of Tears;" and desired that the cup be consecrated to that genius of complex poetry which is tragedy and comedy in one. It was sacrilege, he ...
— A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.) • Mrs. Sutherland Orr

... wounds and death, carried provisions to the combatants, removed the wounded to the hospitals, and were everywhere active in deeds of mercy and daring. One of them, a young woman of low rank but intrepid soul, gained world-wide celebrity by an act of unusual courage and presence of mind. ...
— Historical Tales - The Romance of Reality - Volume VII • Charles Morris

... stretch; and the tide having taken me out of my reckoning, I brought up, as the sailors say, opposite the gentlemen's bathing-machines. What could I do? It was as impossible to walk along the beach as to fight back against the current. Presence of mind, Kate, is the salient point of the heroic character; the door of a machine was open, and I popped in. My dear, there were all his clothes, his hair-brush, his button-hook, his wig, and, would you believe it? an instrument for curling his whiskers! I put everything on except the wig, crowned myself ...
— Kate Coventry - An Autobiography • G. J. Whyte-Melville

... exile and wandering in Dalarne with a view of stirring up the people to fight for Fatherland and Freedom, was saved by the presence of mind of a Dalecarlian woman, and so escaped the troops sent by the Tyrant to ...
— Gerda in Sweden • Etta Blaisdell McDonald

... around your waist; take Dorothy in your arms!" gasped the Cowardly Lion out of the corner of his mouth. Sir Hokus, though completely dazed, had just enough presence of mind to obey, and the next minute the Cowardly Lion, growling between his teeth like a good fellow, was dashing through the group of Pokes, the other end of ...
— The Royal Book of Oz • L. Frank Baum

... a case of swim or sink. Terrified as she was, she had presence of mind to keep her hands and feet going. To her surprise, she did not sink. She had only a little ways to go and made it without very ...
— A Little Florida Lady • Dorothy C. Paine

... know I have no charge of household matters." A woman whose house was on fire threw a looking-glass out of the window, and carried a pair of andirons several rods to a safe place beside a stone wall. "Presence of mind and courage in distress are more than armies to ...
— Architects of Fate - or, Steps to Success and Power • Orison Swett Marden

... then settled gray and very still. Except that his eyes moved, flashing from the photographs to the headlines, he might have been a man hewn of granite. "One more reason why the Snoqualmie highway should be improved," he read. "Narrow escape of the Morganstein party. Mrs. Weatherbee's presence of mind." And, half-way down the page, "Mrs. Weatherbee modestly assumes an incognito when interviewed by a representative of ...
— The Rim of the Desert • Ada Woodruff Anderson

... then to speak to either woman, lest I should bring her into trouble. But I said to Charley that we must not leave the boy to die. Charley, who knew what to do much better than I did, and whose quickness equalled her presence of mind, glided on before me, and presently we came up with Jo, just ...
— Bleak House • Charles Dickens

... vote of a pension for life of 10,000 francs in favor of M. de Govers, His Majesty's second page, for bringing to the Hotel de Ville the joyful news of the birth of the King of Rome.. .. Everybody was charmed with his grace and presence of mind."—Faber, "Notices sur l'interieur de France," p.25. "I know of a tolerably large town which could not light its lamps in 1804, on account of having sent its mayor to Paris at the expense of the commune to see ...
— The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 6 (of 6) - The Modern Regime, Volume 2 (of 2) • Hippolyte A. Taine

... the part of the Catholics, both sides had recourse to arms. In one of the first encounters, the great champion of the reformation was slain, 11th October, 1531. As a leader, Zuinglius displayed great firmness, deep learning, and astonishing presence of mind. Though he opposed the doctrines of the Romish church, he greatly differed from the German reformer, and each, unhappily, paid little respect to the opinions of the other. His followers continued to increase; and in bearing his name they maintained doctrines on original sin, ...
— The Book of Religions • John Hayward

... dawn by a party of the enemy, who fired at and pursued him. The fugitive being fortunate enough to escape their search, they returned to the house and charged the family with harbouring one of the proscribed traitors. An old woman had presence of mind enough to maintain that the man they had seen was the shepherd. 'Why did he not stop when we called to him?' said the soldier. 'He is as deaf, poor man, as a peat-stack,' answered the ready-witted domestic. 'Let him be sent for directly.' The real shepherd ...
— Waverley, Or 'Tis Sixty Years Hence, Complete • Sir Walter Scott

... plays which require presence of mind, and which demand immediate attention to what is actually going forward, in which children, capable of the greatest degree of abstract attention, are most apt to be defective. They have many ideas, but none of them ready, and their knowledge is useless, because it is recollected a moment ...
— Practical Education, Volume I • Maria Edgeworth

... has to play, then, it has often happened, the case is altered; she finds herself altogether unprepared, and is overcome with terror and alarm. All the felicity of her married life may then hang on a few chances, her husband's skill and consideration, her own presence of mind. Hirschfeld records the case of an innocent young girl of seventeen—in this case, it eventually proved, an invert—who was persuaded to marry but on discovering what marriage meant energetically resisted her ...
— Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 6 (of 6) • Havelock Ellis

... seems to follow him, and there is a visible sympathy between him and it. Sometimes, when the snow lies light, and but five or six inches deep, you may give chase and come up with one on foot. In such a case he will show a remarkable presence of mind, choosing only the safest direction, though he may lose ground by it. Notwithstanding his fright, he will take no step which is not beautiful. His pace is a sort of leopard canter, as if he were in nowise impeded by the snow, but were husbanding his strength all the ...
— Excursions • Henry D. Thoreau

... this confused demeanour to the shock which he had himself shared at finding the daughter of Besso a captive, and a captive under circumstances of doubt and difficulty, could not reconcile such distraction, such an absence of all resources and presence of mind, with the exuberant means and the prompt expedients which in general were the characteristics of his companion, under circumstances ...
— Tancred - Or, The New Crusade • Benjamin Disraeli

... intelligence, the company in some degree recovered from their fears, which had been productive of some most singular instances of a total want of presence of mind; thus, the bachelor friend had, for a long time, supported in his arms Mrs Kenwigs's sister, instead of Mrs Kenwigs; and the worthy Mr Lillyvick had been actually seen, in the perturbation of his spirits, to kiss Miss Petowker several times, behind the room-door, as calmly ...
— The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby • Charles Dickens

... Miss Mowbray's maid, hitherto too much fluttered and alarmed to have much presence of mind, now recollected a back-stair which communicated with her mistress's room from the garden, and suggested she might have ...
— St. Ronan's Well • Sir Walter Scott

... of good sense, but their great discovery had gone to their heads, so that now they spoke like children. They had enough presence of mind, however, to lay the moss carefully back in place so as to hide the mineral vein. Then, after taking careful note of ...
— Short Stories of Various Types • Various

... Bonaparte governed France; he excused himself for having frequently expressed himself, perhaps with too much freedom, and contrasted in an indirect manner the character of a Breton with that of a Corsican; in short, he exhibited at Once a great deal of mind, and the most perfect presence of mind, at a moment so critical. Regnier at that time united the ministry of police with that of justice, in the room of Fouchc, who had been disgraced. He repaired to Saint Cloud on leaving the tribunal. The emperor asked him what sort of speech Moreau had made: "Contemptible," said he. "In that ...
— Ten Years' Exile • Anne Louise Germaine Necker, Baronne (Baroness) de Stael-Holstein

... months he had no reason to alter his opinion. Thanks to his presence of mind, the Prentice family had no terrors for him. Heart- whole and fancy free, he led the easy life of a man of leisure, a condition of things suddenly upset by the arrival of Miss Grace Lindsay to take up a post at the elementary school. Mr. Barrett ...
— Deep Waters, The Entire Collection • W.W. Jacobs

... 3: As Ambrose says on Luke 1:11: "We are disturbed, and lose our presence of mind, when we are confronted by the presence of a superior power." And this happens not only in bodily, but also in imaginary vision. Wherefore it is written (Gen. 15:12) that "when the sun was setting, a deep sleep ...
— Summa Theologica, Part III (Tertia Pars) - From the Complete American Edition • Thomas Aquinas

... somehow as if there were three sexes. My interlocutor's pencil was poised, my private responsibility great. I simply sat staring, none the less, and only found presence of mind to say: "Is ...
— The Death of the Lion • Henry James

... cook and, reading her instructions in his eye, began to temporize. Ten minutes later the crew of the Elizabeth Barstow in various attitudes of astonishment beheld their commander going ashore with his cook. The mate so far forgot himself as to whistle, but with great presence of mind cuffed the boy's ...
— Short Cruises • W.W. Jacobs

... agreeably at work, measuring the past danger, exulting in the present relief, numbering with ecstasy their ultimate chances of escape. For the voyage in the man-of-war they were now safe; yet a few more days of peril, activity and presence of mind in San Francisco, and the whole horrid tale was blotted out; and Wicks again became Kirkup, and Goddedaal became Carthew—men beyond all shot of possible suspicion, men who had never heard of the Flying Scud, who had never been in ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 13 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... What I did as lieutenant, a dozen other officers doubtless wished to do, only I was the first to put it in execution; and it is not worthy being made the subject of a narration to your majesty. Besides, the captain of La Severe is a brave officer, who on that day lost his presence of mind. Alas, madame, we all know that the most courageous are not always equally brave. He wanted but ten minutes to recover himself; my determination not to surrender gave him the breathing time, his natural courage returned to him, and he showed himself the bravest ...
— The Queen's Necklace • Alexandre Dumas pere

... the general confusion Anthony Wallner did not lose his presence of mind. He had posted twenty sharpshooters in front of the windows, behind which the soldiers were standing, and, with rifles raised, they threatened death to all who should dare to approach the windows. Hence, the soldiers bad retired into the back part of the rooms, and were deliberating ...
— Andreas Hofer • Lousia Muhlbach

... lad, as with great presence of mind he held his right arm aloft with the last bomb ...
— With Haig on the Somme • D. H. Parry

... bewildered and frightened me so that I lost sight of Jones. Danger threatened and passed me almost before I was aware of it. Out of the dust a mass of tossing manes, foam-flecked black horses, wild eyes and lifting hoofs rushed at me. Satan, with a presence of mind that shamed mine, leaped back and hugged the wall. My eyes were blinded by dust; the smell of dust choked me. I felt a strong rush of wind and a mustang grazed my stirrup. Then they had passed, on the ...
— The Last of the Plainsmen • Zane Grey

... give birth to captivating sympathies or invincible repulsion. But to give birth to these sympathies, to strike the spark that is to set light to this explosion of infinite gratitude and joyful love—what art, what tact, what delicacy, and at the same time what presence of mind ...
— Serge Panine • Georges Ohnet

... specially a hunting party, and Lizzie was to be introduced to the glories of the field. In giving her her due, it must be acknowledged that she was fit for the work. She rode well, though she had not ridden to hounds, and her courage was cool. She looked well on horseback, and had that presence of mind which should never desert a lady when she is hunting. A couple of horses had been purchased for her, under Lord George's superintendence,—his conjointly with Mrs. Carbuncle's,—and had been at the ...
— The Eustace Diamonds • Anthony Trollope

... its mark. Both Carleton and Archie were hit, the former badly. The young officer dropped back into his seat. Archie saw that the lad had sufficient presence of mind to hastily buckle his belt round his waist again, then, his right shoulder numb, he dived steeply, bringing his plane up and straightening it out after a sheer ...
— The Brighton Boys with the Flying Corps • James R. Driscoll

... situations in life into which, unless I am mistaken, you have made an equally unwilling and embarrassed entrance, and in which you have been surprised to find yourself not only up to your neck, but over,—and you are a lucky man if you have had the presence of mind to stand still for a moment, before wading out, and make sure at least of the fish that tempted you ...
— Little Rivers - A Book Of Essays In Profitable Idleness • Henry van Dyke

... presence of mind enough to conceal my surprise at this unexpected utterance. 'Don't seem to notice her, Elsie,' I said, looking away. 'Yes, ...
— Miss Cayley's Adventures • Grant Allen

... of the court of the Palais Royal had been closed; the Duke of Orleans, with great presence of mind, ordered them to be opened. The crowd rushed into the court and suddenly stopped upon the steps of the palace. Leblanc, the chief of police, advanced to those who bore the corpses, and said, "My friends, go ...
— The Great Events by Famous Historians, v. 13 • Various

... exhibitions of parachute descents. Few aeronauts are more consistently reliable than Mr. Arthur Spencer. A few summers ago in this country he was suddenly called upon to give proof of his prowess and presence of mind in a very remarkable manner. It was at an engagement at Reading, where he had been conducting captive ascents throughout the afternoon, and was requested to conclude the evening with a "right away," in which two passengers had agreed to accompany him. The balloon had ...
— The Dominion of the Air • J. M. Bacon



Words linked to "Presence of mind" :   will power, self-possession, self-command, self-will, self-control, possession, willpower



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