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Unsubstantial

adjective
1.
Lacking material form or substance; unreal.  Synonyms: insubstantial, unreal.  "An insubstantial mirage on the horizon"



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"Unsubstantial" Quotes from Famous Books



... Englishmen, and that Irishmen ought to have the same privileges as both Englishmen and Scotchmen." The sentiment was received with cheers. He further said: "I consider that the Union was but a parchment and unsubstantial union, if Ireland is not to be treated, in the hour of difficulty and distress, as an integral part of the United Kingdom; and unless we are prepared to show, that we are ready to grant to Irishmen a participation in all our rights and privileges, and to treat ...
— The History of the Great Irish Famine of 1847 (3rd ed.) (1902) - With Notices Of Earlier Irish Famines • John O'Rourke

... on my moving fled before me, and I was compelled to begin an active chase after the unsubstantial wanderer. The eager desire to be released from the perplexities in which I stood armed me with unusual strength. It fled to a distant wood, in whose obscurity it necessarily would have been immediately lost. I saw it—a terror pierced my heart, kindled ...
— Peter Schlemihl • Adelbert von Chamisso

... books had Sidney Richmond's name printed on the title-page instead of written on the flyleaf. It was a thick little volume of poems, published in his college days—musical, unsubstantial, pretty little poems, every one of which the girl Sidney ...
— Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1905 to 1906 • Lucy Maud Montgomery

... "back out" of the matter in the same easy way in which those double-ender floating palaces Fritz had noticed on the way up could go astern in order to avoid an obstruction; albeit Nat was prolific in the extreme with all manner of excuses—excuses that were as baseless and unsubstantial as the foam churned ...
— Fritz and Eric - The Brother Crusoes • John Conroy Hutcheson

... owner is his own stableman is often indicated by the ungroomed coat of his horse, and by the month-old mud on his wheels. The horse, however, can generally do a bit of smart trotting, and his owner evidently enjoys his speed and grit. The buggies, unsubstantial as they look, are comfortable enough when one is seated; but the access, between, through, and over the wheels, is unpleasantly suggestive for the nervous. So fond are the Americans of driving that they evidently look upon it as a form of active exercise for themselves as well as for their ...
— The Land of Contrasts - A Briton's View of His American Kin • James Fullarton Muirhead

... of their last linen. I wonder where the cummers will anchor their craft?' 'And I'll vow,' said another rustic, 'the wine they quaff is none of your visionary drink, such as a drouthie body has dished out to his lips in a dream; nor is it shadowy and unsubstantial, like the vessels they sail in, which are made out of a cockel-shell or a cast-off slipper, or the paring of a seaman's right thumb-nail. I once got a hansel out of a witch's quaigh myself—auld Marion Mathers, of Dustiefoot, ...
— Folk-Lore and Legends - Scotland • Anonymous

... the earth we pace Again appears to be An unsubstantial, faery place, That is fit home for thee!' II. ...
— Early Reviews of English Poets • John Louis Haney

... of the recovery of an Asiatic Empire, which Psamatik may have cherished, and of which Neco attempted the realization. The defeat of Carchemish shattered the unsubstantial fabric into atoms, and gave a death-blow to hopes which ...
— Ancient Egypt • George Rawlinson

... them. As if in answer to Graham a voice sighed through the room. Its quality was one with the shadows, unsubstantial and shapeless. Bobby grasped one of the bed posts and braced himself, listening. The candle in Graham's hand commenced to flicker again, and Bobby knew that it hadn't been his ...
— The Abandoned Room • Wadsworth Camp

... Mrs. Gardner and their eyes brightened, as Majendie continued to unfold the amazing resources of Sir Rigley. He breathed on the ex-member like a god, and played with him like a juggler; he tossed him into the air and kept him there, a radiant, unsubstantial thing. The ex-member disported himself before Mrs. Eliott's dinner-party as he had never disported himself in Parliament. Majendie had given him a career, endowed him with glorious attributes. The ex-member, as a topic, developed ...
— The Helpmate • May Sinclair

... Loyalists under Johnson and Butler were open to the charges of inhumanity and barbarism so often levelled against them, is difficult to determine. The charges are based almost wholly on unsubstantial tradition. The greater part of the excesses complained of, it is safe to say, were perpetrated by the Indians; and Sir John Johnson and Colonel Butler can no more be blamed for the excesses of the Indians at Cherry ...
— The United Empire Loyalists - A Chronicle of the Great Migration - Volume 13 (of 32) in the series Chronicles of Canada • W. Stewart Wallace

... aspect of distress and penury appear, whose qualities, like Medusa's head, can change to stone all that look upon it; when once this Gorgon claims acquaintance with us, the phantom of friendship, that before courted our notice, will vanish into unsubstantial air, and the whole world before us appear a barren waste. Pardon me, ye dear spirits of benevolence, whose benign smiles and cheerful-giving hand have strewed sweet flowers on many a thorny path through which my wayward ...
— Charlotte Temple • Susanna Rowson

... I humbly returned to my hotel in the Place de Mer, and soothed myself with some terrestrial harmony; till, my eyes growing heavy, I fell fast asleep, and entered the empire of dreams, according to custom, by its ivory portal. What passed in those shadowy realms is too thin and unsubstantial to be committed to paper. The very breath of waking mortals would dissipate all the train, and drive them eternally away; give me leave, therefore, to omit the relation of my visionary travels, and have the patience to pursue a sketch of ...
— Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents • William Beckford

... They have played a noble part in the history of the world, their spirit will live for ever, but their formulae and organization wax old like a garment. Their moral austerity—that touch of contempt for the unsubstantial aesthetic, which has always distinguished Protestantism—is naturally repellent to the irresponsible rich and to artistic people of the weaker type, and the face of Protestantism has ever been firm even to hardness against the self-indulgent, the idler, ...
— Anticipations - Of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon - Human life and Thought • Herbert George Wells

... enable the tyrant of the soul to secure a dominion of very long duration over a manly and well-constituted mind, which is itself desirous to will its freedom. The memory of Augusta had long faded from Josiah's thoughts, or was remembered only as a pleasing, but melancholy and unsubstantial dream, while he was straining forward in pursuit of a yet nobler and coyer mistress, in a ...
— St. Ronan's Well • Sir Walter Scott

... manufacturers—unwisely underestimate the commercial power of the United States. What the United States has accomplished in the invasion of the world's markets in the last ten years (since the trade revival of 1896-97) is only a foretaste of what is to come. So far from there being anything unsubstantial—any danger of lack of staying power, any want of reserve force—the power has hardly yet begun to exert itself. Of Europeans who have recently written upon the subject, it seems to me that none has shown a truer appreciation of the situation than M. Gabriel Hanotaux, the former French Minister ...
— The Twentieth Century American - Being a Comparative Study of the Peoples of the Two Great - Anglo-Saxon Nations • H. Perry Robinson

... plateau and looked back, it seemed to Trafford and his companions, as it seemed in after years, that this thing had been all a fantasy. But Hester's face was beside them, and it told of strange and unsubstantial things. The shadows of the middle world were upon her. And yet again when they turned at the last there was no token. It was a northern valley, with sun and snow, and cold blue shadows, and the high ...
— The Judgment House • Gilbert Parker

... loaded with session papers, does to some Gothic throne, rough with barbaric pearl and gold. But what would you have?—SUA QUEMQUE TRAHIT VOLUPTAS. And my visions of preferment, though they may be as unsubstantial at present, are nevertheless more capable of being realized, than your aspirations after the Lord knows what. What says my father's proverb? 'Look to a gown of gold, and you will at least get a sleeve of it.' Such is my pursuit; but what dost thou look to? The chance that ...
— Redgauntlet • Sir Walter Scott

... The tottering and unsubstantial phantom of a Doorauni kingdom vanished at once and for ever—and the only remaining alternative was, (as we stated the case in our number of last July,) "either to perpetrate a second act of violence and national injustice, by ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXVIII. February, 1843. Vol. LIII. • Various

... a shape As of one crucified, whose visage spake Fell rancour, malice deep, wherein he died; And round him Ahasuerus the great king, Esther his bride, and Mordecai the just, Blameless in word and deed. As of itself That unsubstantial coinage of the brain Burst, like a bubble, Which the water fails That fed it; in my vision straight uprose A damsel weeping loud, and cried, "O queen! O mother! wherefore has intemperate ire Driv'n thee to loath thy being? Not to lose Lavinia, desp'rate thou hast slain thyself. Now hast ...
— The Divine Comedy, Complete - The Vision of Paradise, Purgatory and Hell • Dante Alighieri

... ideals is an indispensable factor in his progress, which is his life and very being. But all the same, this is sometimes put in such a way as to make action, or at least human action, a dispensable accident in the universe, an ineffective and unsubstantial unreality, while at the same time those who put it thus, profess to see through the illusion and to enjoy moments of insight which recognize its nullity. This way of putting it in my judgement intolerably misconceives ...
— Progress and History • Various

... Korosko had been taken, and the chances of rescue upon which they had reckoned—all those elaborate calculations of hours and distances—were as unsubstantial as the mirage which shimmered upon the horizon. There would be no alarm at Halfa until it was found that the steamer did not return in the evening. Even now, when the Nile was only a thin green band upon the farthest ...
— The Tragedy of The Korosko • Arthur Conan Doyle

... 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 belief in any but the book Dora, until the incident of a sudden reappearance of the real one in his life, nearly six years after Copperfield was written, ...
— The Life of Charles Dickens, Vol. I-III, Complete • John Forster

... spirited outline, but within this correct outline marked off in dark paint there is but a vague, uniform mass of pale colour; the body of the hand is missing, and there remains only its ghost, visible indeed, but unsubstantial, without weight or warmth, eluding the grasp. The difference between this spectre hand of the Giottesques, and the sinewy, muscular hand which can shake and crush of Masaccio and Signorelli, or the soft hand with throbbing pulse and ...
— The Contemporary Review, Volume 36, September 1879 • Various

... nor could I teach myself to believe that a heart, the seat of so many virtues, could possibly become inhuman and unjust. I had been taught from my infancy to believe that elevated stations are surrounded by delusive visions, which glitter but to dazzle, like an unsubstantial meteor, and flatter to betray. With legions of these phantoms it has been my fate to encounter; I have been unceasingly marked by their persecutions, and shall at length ...
— Beaux and Belles of England • Mary Robinson

... Bird! the earth we pace Again appears to be An unsubstantial, faery place; That is fit home ...
— Birds and Poets • John Burroughs

... Do you think I'm going to have my character sworn away on such unsubstantial hallucinations? Tell me, first, what time of the day did ...
— Frank Oldfield - Lost and Found • T.P. Wilson

... by a brake of flowering furze (Above it shivering aspens play) He sees an unsubstantial creature, His very self in form and feature, Not four yards ...
— The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. II. • William Wordsworth

... though lively enough among themselves they never found it worth their while to offer us any conversation but such as was very like the champagne and ice-cream they brought us,—sparkling, sweet, and unsubstantial. Almost all of them wore the superior air they put on before women, an air that says as plainly as words, 'I may ask you and I may not.' Now that is very exasperating to those who care no more for them than so many grasshoppers, ...
— Moods • Louisa May Alcott

... biological science administered to him at school or college. In fact, he does not believe it. The monstrous legends of the Puranas continue to be for his mind the realities; while the truths of science are to him phantoms, shadowy and unsubstantial, the outlandish notions of alien and casteless unbelievers. These observations, of course, are not universally true, and a few Hindoos, growing in number, are able to heartily accept and thoroughly assimilate the facts of history and the results of ...
— Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official • William Sleeman

... incessant transmission of the Divine splendours through them to our minds, cannot be thought of without our perceiving that the keen pleasures and deep sensibilities of the intellectual world on earth are but poor, thin, unsubstantial shadows of the exulting immortal life of our glorified ...
— The Education of Catholic Girls • Janet Erskine Stuart

... the secrets of the invisible world, and studied to reconcile Aristotle with Plato on subjects of which both these philosophers were as ignorant as the rest of mankind. Consuming their reason in those deep but unsubstantial meditations, their minds were exposed to illusions of fancy. They flattered themselves that they possessed the secret of disengaging the soul from its corporeal prison; claimed a familiar intercourse with demons and spirits; and by a very singular revolution, converted the study ...
— The Superstitions of Witchcraft • Howard Williams

... position or her wealthy acquaintances. Neither possession impressed her at the moment as marketable, except in the vivid imagination of Madame, and her social position, at least, was constructed of a very thin and unsubstantial fabric. Guided by the prudent streak in her character, she rested her hope not upon incorporeal possessions, but upon the solid bodies of her patrons that must be clothed. Her imposing acquaintances would avail her scarcely more, she suspected, than would the noble ghost of that ...
— Life and Gabriella - The Story of a Woman's Courage • Ellen Glasgow

... that light, shadowy form, hovering near the sylvan couch of Claud, like some unsubstantial being of the air; now advancing, now shrinking away, and now again flitting forward to the head of the youthful sleeper, and there pausing and preventing the light from longer revealing his features? Yes, what is it? would ask a doubting spectator ...
— Gaut Gurley • D. P. Thompson

... a pretty pony, beside a large and heavily-bearded personage. The recognition was instantaneous; Marilda was speaking to her companion, and at the same moment he drew up, and exclaiming, 'Edward! bless me!' was off his horse in a moment, and was wringing those unsubstantial fingers in a crushing grasp. There was not much to be seen of Mr. Underwood, for he was muffled up in a scarf to the very eyes, but they looked out of their hollow caves, clear, blue, and bright, and smiling as ever, and something like an answer came out ...
— The Pillars of the House, V1 • Charlotte M. Yonge

... are then, in the realms below, Spirits and spectres, unsubstantial all; For through the night Patroclus' shade hath stood, Weeping and wailing, at my side, and told His bidding; th' ...
— The Iliad • Homer

... the broad daylight of tradition and ancient truth is coming to end all this delightful nightmare of New York at night. Peasants and priests and all sorts of practical and sensible people are coming back into power, and their stern realism may wither all these beautiful, unsubstantial, useless things. They will not believe in the Seventh Heaven Cigar, even when they see it shining as with stars in the seventh heaven. They will not be affected by advertisements, any more than the priests and peasants of the Middle Ages would have been affected by advertisements. ...
— What I Saw in America • G. K. Chesterton

... labor; but the Women they made use of to Manure and Till the ground, which is a toil most irksome even to Men of the strongest and most robust constitutions, allowing them no other food but Herbage, and such kind of unsubstantial nutriment, so that the Nursing Womens Milk was exsiccated and so dryed up, that the young Infants lately brought forth, all perished, and females being separated from and debarred cohabitation with Men, ...
— A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies • Bartolome de las Casas

... was so enraged at this barefaced scheme to bar his just claim, Johnny's bail sureties being found equally unsubstantial, that he resolved to arrest Johnny's person. The officers arrived at Johnny's house to serve the writ, and found him sitting at his luncheon alone. It was a fine summer's day,—everybody was out in the fields at the hay. Door and window stood open, and Johnny, who had been out on some business, ...
— Stories of Comedy • Various

... mist, or rather as a mist with dissolving outline; and as he saw the thing as a mist, so he ever and anon mistakes a mist for the thing. But Erasmus and Saavedra were equally indistinct; and shallow and unsubstantial to boot. In fact, till the appearance of Kant's 'Kritiques' of the pure and of the practical Reason the problem had never been accurately or adequately stated, much ...
— Coleridge's Literary Remains, Volume 4. • Samuel Taylor Coleridge

... their victuals, unsavoured by salt (prohibited to them, we are told, because an emblem of eternity), became tasteless and insipid—the stately halls were turned into miserable damp caverns—all the delights of the Elfin Elysium vanished at once. In a word, their pleasures were showy, but totally unsubstantial—their activity unceasing, but fruitless and unavailing—and their condemnation appears to have consisted in the necessity of maintaining the appearance of constant industry or enjoyment, though their toil was fruitless and their pleasures ...
— Letters On Demonology And Witchcraft • Sir Walter Scott

... and one that she felt could never die while that life lasted. She hoped for a future now; for if there was a future for her, there would be one for him, and then her day would come, and where he was there she would be also. Oh, sweet mockery, old and unsubstantial thought, bright dream set halowise about the dull head of life! Who has not dream it, but who can believe in it? And yet, who shall say that it is not true? Though philosophers and scientists smile and point in derision to the gross facts and freaks that ...
— Jess • H. Rider Haggard

... she reflected, as she entered the Piazza Signoria and looked nonchalantly at its marvels, now fairly familiar to her. The great square was in shadow; the sunshine had come too late to strike it. Neptune was already unsubstantial in the twilight, half god, half ghost, and his fountain plashed dreamily to the men and satyrs who idled together on its marge. The Loggia showed as the triple entrance of a cave, wherein many a deity, shadowy, but immortal, looking forth upon the arrivals and departures of mankind. It ...
— A Room With A View • E. M. Forster

... all over the summer sky, after a thunderstorm. The fundamental ideas are grand; the superstructure, in many parts, so ethereal, that one hardly knows whether he is gazing on towers of solid masonry rendered dim and unsubstantial by intervening vapour, or upon the golden turrets of cloudland, themselves born of the mist which surrounds them with a halo of glory. The beings of Greek, mythology are idealized and etherealized by the new souls ...
— A Dish Of Orts • George MacDonald

... pervade the book, either described at some length or indicated by a masterly allusion. All kinds of girls are depicted, as all kinds of girls go to college—girls poor and rich, clever, dull, and commonplace, refined and unrefined, the unsubstantial and the dilettante, and those with genuine talent, and the life among them seems very real, for nothing is forced or strained in the stories. The trial scene in Professor Lamont is one of the cleverest bits of writing in any ...
— A Beautiful Alien • Julia Magruder

... the preceding narrative, may perhaps suppose that the materials of which it is framed, are such unsubstantial stuff as dreams are made of. I beg leave, however, at the close, to assure him of his error. With the single abatement that names are changed, and places are not precisely designated, every essential ...
— Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman • William L. Stone

... noon are a delight; The clouds a wonder in their varying play, And beautiful when from their mountainous height The lightning's hand illumes the wall of day:— The noisy storm bursts down—and passing brings The rainbow poised in air on unsubstantial wings. ...
— Graham's Magazine Vol XXXIII No. 4 October 1848 • Various

... view of the universal animation of nature, characteristic of early thought, was reached. "As the human body was held to live and act by virtue of its own inhabiting spirit-soul, so the operations of the world seemed to be carried on by other spirits." At this point the soul is an unsubstantial essence inhabiting a body, it has its life and activity only in connection with the body; but the step was easily taken to the further belief in spirits like the souls, but not attached to any body. The spirits moved about freely, like the genii, demons, fairies, and beings ...
— History of Religion - A Sketch of Primitive Religious Beliefs and Practices, and of the Origin and Character of the Great Systems • Allan Menzies

... figuring in a romance. As I make no pretensions to statecraft or soldiership, and could promote the common weal neither by valor nor counsel, it seemed at first a pity that I should be debarred from such unsubstantial business as I had contrived for myself, since nothing more genuine was ...
— The New England Magazine Volume 1, No. 6, June, 1886, Bay State Monthly Volume 4, No. 6, June, 1886 • Various

... and the forms of the digger-singers seemed suddenly vague and unsubstantial, fading back rapidly through a misty veil. But the words ring strong and defiant ...
— On the Track • Henry Lawson

... Snowdrop, the great Angora cat, to bring the ball when they dropped it in their game. So Saturday came, and both were rather the worse for so much idleness, since daily duties and studies are the wholesome bread which feeds the mind better than the dyspeptic plum-cake of sensational reading, or the unsubstantial bon-bons of ...
— Jack and Jill • Louisa May Alcott

... of the most ordinary mortal. It is when urgency presses and danger threatens, when the need for action comes, that his mental energies are aroused, and he begins to speak, as it were, ex cathedra. Then the unsubstantial haze rolls away; and the solid features of the scene one by one appear, until, amid all the unavoidable uncertainties of imperfect information, it becomes plain that the man has a firm grasp upon the great landmarks by which he must guide his ...
— The Life of Nelson, Vol. I (of 2) - The Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain • A. T. (Alfred Thayer) Mahan

... when the moon lay upon them; and sometimes as if they appeared suddenly in the streets of the city after the people had passed by and the houses had gone to sleep. They were as light as thistle-down, as unsubstantial as mists upon the mountain, as wayward and flickering as will-o'-the-wisps. But there was something immortal about them, and the man knew that the world would be nothing to him without their presence ...
— The Unruly Sprite - The Unknown Quantity, A Book of Romance and Some Half-Told Tales • Henry van Dyke

... one now inscribing his emotions certainly achieved a wide popularity, and wore his fig leaves with becoming modesty, he has never since been quite free from an overhanging doubt that the compliments and genial remarks with which he was assailed owed their modulation to an unsubstantial atmosphere of two-edged significance which for a period enveloped all whom he approached; as in the faces of maidens concealed behind fans when he passed, the down-drawn lips and up-raised eyes of those of fuller maturity, ...
— The Mirror of Kong Ho • Ernest Bramah

... the high mountains is of little value for oeconomic purposes. Though of considerable dimensions, it is too unsubstantial to be serviceable for building or domestic uses; and perhaps, it may be regarded as an evidence of its perishable nature, that dead timber is rarely to be seen in any quantity encumbering the ground, in the ...
— Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and • James Emerson Tennent

... mildly; let us join Our hands in solemn union, making friends Our factions with the friendship of their chiefs. Let us in marriage, King and Queen, unite Claims ever hostile else, and set thy son— No more an exile fed on empty hopes, And to an unsubstantial title heir, But prince adopted by the will of power, And future king—before this people's eyes. Consider him! consider not old hates! Consider, too, this people, who were dear To their dead king, thy husband—yea, too dear, ...
— Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold • Matthew Arnold

... actual portion of the substance,' to quote from the preface to the 'House of the Seven Gables,' this is, or should be, the aim of the writer of short-stories whenever his feet leave the firm ground of fact as he strays in the unsubstantial realm of fantasy. In no one's writings is this better exemplified than in Hawthorne's; not even in Poe's. There is a propriety in Hawthorne's fantasy to which Poe could not attain. Hawthorne's effects are moral where ...
— Short Story Writing - A Practical Treatise on the Art of The Short Story • Charles Raymond Barrett

... enough to see what had occurred. In 1896 a mysterious man, named Clark, without vestige of right or title, so far as the records showed, had conveyed Ebbe Petersen's property to a man named Keilly, equally unsubstantial, who had passed it over to one O'Rourke. Then Browne had suddenly recorded Mrs. Petersen's deed giving O'Rourke the very same property. Thus this O'Rourke, whoever he may have been, held all the Petersen property by two chains of title, one through Clark and Keilly, and the other through Mrs. ...
— True Stories of Crime From the District Attorney's Office • Arthur Train

... "advanced ideas," among others the notorious George Francis Train, who bequeathed his "damages" against the British Government—5,000,000 dols. for his arrest in Cork harbour—to the Irish Republic. The legacy and the legatee have proved equally unsubstantial. But these men have now died out, or become respectable citizens. The colonials may be said to resemble the Americans only in one point, in their aptitude for business. Some people have come out here in the expectation of "taking ...
— Six Letters From the Colonies • Robert Seaton

... have no grosser representation of folly than that of short-sighted and credulous old men. But somehow or other I have strayed away from the friendship of the perfect, that is of the "wise" (meaning, of course, such "wisdom" as human nature is capable of), to the subject of vulgar, unsubstantial friendships. Let us then return to our original theme, and at length bring that, ...
— Treatises on Friendship and Old Age • Marcus Tullius Cicero

... more soft and genial than exists in any relation, save that of husband and wife, had sprung up, almost as by a miracle (so sudden was it), between breasts for years divided. And the experience of those years had taught Godolphin how frail and unsubstantial had been all the other ties he had formed. He wondered, as sitting alone with Constance, her tenderness recalled the past, her wit enlivened the present, and his imagination still shed a glory and a loveliness over the future, that he had ...
— Godolphin, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... and, as it were, to release her mind from the burden of actual things, Aylmer now put in practice some of the light and playful secrets which science had taught him among its profounder lore. Airy figures, absolutely bodiless ideas, and forms of unsubstantial beauty came and danced before her, imprinting their momentary footsteps on beams of light. Though she had some indistinct idea of the method of these optical phenomena, still the illusion was almost perfect enough to warrant the belief ...
— Mosses from an Old Manse and Other Stories • Nathaniel Hawthorne

... nature he declared the One Thing to be Fire, but Fire of a mystical nature, "self-kindled and self-extinguished," the vital quickening power of the universe. It was that Universal Life, by participation in which all things have their being, and apart from which they are unsubstantial and unreal. This is the "Tree of Life" spoken ...
— Simon Magus • George Robert Stow Mead

... deep-etched shadows come; For still the garden stood in golden mist, Still, like a river of molten amethyst, The Seine slipt through its spans of fretted stone, And, near the grille that once fenced in a throne, The fountains still unbraided to the day The unsubstantial silver of their spray. ...
— The Sisters' Tragedy • Thomas Bailey Aldrich

... of the martyred patriot that I can recall seem almost a dream to me. It seems almost a vision of the unsubstantial imagination, when I think that I have known the one immortal man of the century, and enjoyed his friendship. He was the very impersonation of humanity; his stature was above and beyond all others. One hand reached back to the very portals of Mount Vernon, while the other, giving kindly ...
— Fifty Years of Public Service • Shelby M. Cullom

... was even in semblance entirely his, and while all Europe was openly arming against him, he had leisure for the affairs of the negroes? This display of philanthropy was set down universally for a stage-trick; and men quickened their eyes, lest such unsubstantial shows in the distant horizon might be designed to withdraw their attention from ...
— The History of Napoleon Buonaparte • John Gibson Lockhart

... so fatal there as in Europe, few instances occurring of lives being lost or buildings destroyed by the explosions, although electrical conductors have never been employed. Perhaps the paucity of inhabitants in proportion to the extent of country and the unsubstantial materials of the houses may contribute to this observation. I have seen some trees, however, that have been shattered in Sumatra by the ...
— The History of Sumatra - Containing An Account Of The Government, Laws, Customs And - Manners Of The Native Inhabitants • William Marsden

... Knight; "these are but figments of the imagination—fond dreams as unsubstantial as morning mist, and deceitful as the wandering fire, which lures the ignorant traveller ...
— The Knight of the Golden Melice - A Historical Romance • John Turvill Adams

... sun-illumined spires, thy crown and crest! White phantom city, whose untrodden streets Are rivers, and whose pavements are the shifting Shadows of palaces and strips of sky; I wait to see thee vanish like the fleets Seen in mirage, or towers of cloud uplifting In air their unsubstantial masonry. ...
— The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

... such arguments did I again and again repeat to myself; but when had reason a chance against love? Repeatedly did I vow to forget the fair vision that had crossed my path and troubled my repose, or to think of her only as the phantom of a dream, unsubstantial and unattainable. But the resolution was scarcely formed, when I found myself dwelling on her perfections, recapitulating the few gentle words she had addressed to me, recalling her voice, her look, her gesture. One moment, in view of the precipice on whose brink I stood, ...
— Tales from Blackwood, Volume 7 • Various

... "answer" such groundless assertions, and vague speculations as those which go before? A Faith without Creeds: a Clergy without authority or fixed opinions: a Bible without historical truth:—how can such things, for a moment, be supposed to be[99]? What answer do we render to the sick man who sees unsubstantial goblins on the solid tapestried wall; and mistakes for shadowy apparitions of the night, the forms of flesh and blood which are ministering to his life's necessities? If the Temptation, and the Transfiguration, and the Miracles ...
— Inspiration and Interpretation - Seven Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford • John Burgon

... Lord Cochrane for his wonderful successes in the northern part of Brazil, except the confirmation of his patent as First Admiral, be it noted, were unsubstantial. He had for ever crushed the power of Portugal in South America; he had added vast provinces to the imperial dominion, and had thus augmented the imperial revenues by considerably more than a million dollars a-year, besides the great and immediate profits of his prize-taking. ...
— The Life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, Tenth Earl of Dundonald, G.C.B., Admiral of the Red, Rear-Admiral of the Fleet, Etc., Etc. • Thomas Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald

... of his theory, or to show his approach to the Ionian doctrines by the assumption of the existence in nature of two opposite species—ethereal fire and heavy night; of an equal proportion of which all things consist, fire being the true, and night the phenomenal. From such an unsubstantial and delusive basis it would not repay us, even if we had the means of accomplishing it, to give an exposition of his physical system. In many respects it degenerated into a wild vagary; as, for example, when he placed ...
— History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, Volume I (of 2) - Revised Edition • John William Draper

... brag. Time is incapable of being quieted by either thee or me or by those gone before us. This regal prosperity that thou hast attained and that thou thinkest to be beyond comparison, had formerly been possessed by me. It is unsubstantial and unreal. She does not dwell long in one place. Indeed, she had dwelt in thousands of Indras before thee, all of whom, again, were very much superior to thee. Unstable as she is, deserting me she hath now approached thee, O chief of the deities! Do ...
— The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 3 - Books 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 • Unknown

... the hand. But little Daurillac swept off his hat and stood half turned for a minute; the sun splashed on his dark head, on his Frenchified belt and puttees, on his white breeches, and on an outrageous pink shirt Henkel seemed to have supplied him with. He looked suddenly brilliant and unsubstantial, a light figure poised on the edge of the dark.... One gets curious notions in Herares. The next moment they were gone. The jungle had shut down on them, swallowed them up. They were instantly lost in it as a bubble is ...
— Master Tales of Mystery, Volume 3 • Collected and Arranged by Francis J. Reynolds

... Spitzbergen, the land of "pointed mountains," is said to be very beautiful. Lord Dufferin describes his first view of it as "a forest of thin lilac peaks, so faint, so pale, that had it not been for the gem-like distinctness of their outline one could have deemed them as unsubstantial ...
— The Beauties of Nature - and the Wonders of the World We Live In • Sir John Lubbock

... to the top of the hill that jutted over the harbor and listened to the song of the waves. Two years in this land of liquid light—a land of burning days and silent, sapphired nights, a land of palms and olives—two years of quiet, dreamy bliss, an idle and unsubstantial time! How evanescent it seemed, by the light of the days at home, when something had always pressed him ...
— David Dunne - A Romance of the Middle West • Belle Kanaris Maniates

... along the line. Rachael sat in the dark, stuffy little sitting-room with the placid Barwick baby drowsing in her lap, and at last her face reflected the nervous uneasiness of the other women. Every time an especially heavy rush of rain or wind struck the unsubstantial little house, Mrs. Barwick said, "Oh, my!" in patient, hopeless terror, and the two young women looked at each other with a quick ...
— The Heart of Rachael • Kathleen Norris

... a little distance, were the clustered huts of a native village, and towards the reef was a canoe, sharply silhouetted, in which were a couple of natives fishing. Then, beyond, you saw the vast calmness of the Pacific and twenty miles away, airy and unsubstantial like the fabric of a poet's fancy, the unimaginable beauty of the island which is called Murea. It was all so lovely that ...
— The Trembling of a Leaf - Little Stories of the South Sea Islands • William Somerset Maugham

... she knew the danger that threatened the settlers because of the unsubstantial character of the Company's structures. "Perhaps," he said, "it was to save my professional reputation. That would amount to the same ...
— The Winning of Barbara Worth • Harold B Wright

... 'the likeness of men' (verse 7), and 'in fashion as a man.' Careful investigation of these two words 'form' and 'fashion' has established a broad distinction between them, the former being more fixed, the latter referring to that which is accidental and outward, which may be fleeting and unsubstantial. The possession of the form involves participation in the essence also. Here it implies no corporeal idea as if God had a material form, but it implies also much more than a mere apparent resemblance. He who is in the form of God possesses the essential ...
— Expositions Of Holy Scripture - Volume I: St. Luke, Chaps. I to XII • Alexander Maclaren

... Christ, the heavenly vine, are made fruitful in love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. By these it will appear that Christ is formed within us. Mere 'lick of the tongue' love, without these, is an unsubstantial shadow.—Ed. ...
— The Works of John Bunyan • John Bunyan

... conceiving revolutionary plans on so vast a scale as to be fairly appalling, not only from their daring but from their magnitude. But when he tried to put his plans into practice, it at once became evident that they were even more unsubstantial than they were audacious. His wild schemes had in them too strong an element of the unreal and the grotesque to be in ...
— The Winning of the West, Volume Four - Louisiana and the Northwest, 1791-1807 • Theodore Roosevelt

... stretch of quaking, treacherous bog, with its population of designing beaver; indeed, they would be certain to be lured by the bright, glittering green of the liverwort that clad the level where the ground was most unsubstantial. ...
— Annette, The Metis Spy • Joseph Edmund Collins

... Rape of the Sabines by Giovanni da Bologna in the Loggia itself. Spoiled a little by its too laboured detail, its chief fault lies in the fact that it is top-heavy, the sculptor having placed the mass of the group so high that the base seems unsubstantial and unbalanced. Bologna's other group here, Hercules and Nessus, which once stood at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio, is dramatic and well composed, but the forms are feeble and even insignificant. The antique group of Ajax dragging the body of Patrocles, is not a very important copy ...
— Florence and Northern Tuscany with Genoa • Edward Hutton

... with Learmont. This was a deadly error, and ought in all time coming to be a warning and an admonition to people and nations in their straits and difficulties, never to be guided, in the weighty shocks and controversies of disordered fortunes, by any prejudice or affection so unsubstantial as the echo of an honoured name. For this Wallace, though a man of questionless bravery, and a gentleman of good account among all who knew him, had not received any gift from Nature of that spirit ...
— Ringan Gilhaize - or The Covenanters • John Galt

... rock, and the shadow of the shade of what was once a man will be heartily pilloried by his descendants. A little while ago and Villon was almost totally forgotten; then he was revived for the sake of his verses; and now he is being revived with a vengeance in the detection of his misdemeanours. How unsubstantial is this projection of a man's existence, which can lie in abeyance for centuries and then be brushed up again and set forth for the consideration of posterity by a few dips in an antiquary's inkpot! This precarious tenure of fame goes a long way to justify those ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 3 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... the mysteries of a gate-bill, he felt more at his ease. Mr. Verdant Green learned many things during his freshman's term, and, among others, he discovered that the quiet retirement of college-rooms, of which he had heard so much, was in many cases an unsubstantial idea, founded on imagination, and built up by fancy. One day that he had been writing a letter in Mr. Smalls' rooms, which were on the ground-floor, Verdant congratulated himself that his own rooms were on the ...
— The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green • Cuthbert Bede

... too closely, did not show her any very optimistic colours. She had not seen Johnny St. Leath now for a fortnight, nor heard from him, and those precious words under the Arden Gate one evening were beginning already to appear a dim unsubstantial dream. However, if there was one quality that Joan Brandon possessed in excess of all others, it was a simple fidelity to the cause or person in front ...
— The Cathedral • Hugh Walpole

... house divided against itself cannot stand, as our Saviour has shown us. And besides, the Apostle says that the creation of the world was His work (all things were made by Him and without Him nothing was made), refuting the unsubstantial wisdom of lying men, the work not of a god working ruin, but a just one who hates wickedness. This is the opinion of rash men who do not understand the cause of the providence of the Creator [Demiurge] and have lost the eyes not only of their soul, but of their body. How far, ...
— A Source Book for Ancient Church History • Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr., Ph.D.

... not have been more discontented if all the wealth about her had been as unsubstantial as a dream. ...
— The Gilded Age, Complete • Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner

... in a sort of agony of expectation, for his non- arrival at the time expected had made his first appearance seem like an unsubstantial illusion, though Dr. May, or Mary and Aubrey, had been at the station at the coming in of each train. Margaret had recovered the effects of the first shock, and the welcome was far more joyous than the first had been, with the mixed sensations that were now composed, and showed little, ...
— The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations • Charlotte Yonge

... now to be more unsubstantial than the fabric of a dream. I cannot think of Clara or of my mother without despair. For oh, Herbert, between me and them there seems to yawn a dishonored grave! Herbert, they talk, you know, of an attack upon the Molino-del-Rey, and I almost hope ...
— Capitola the Madcap • Emma D. E. N. Southworth

... not easy, but to describe a tempest of the soul is impossible. Amid the fury of such a tempest, a thousand memories, each bearing in its breast the corpse of some dead deed whose influence haunts us yet, are driven like feathers before the blast, as unsubstantial and as unregarded. The mists which shroud our self—knowledge become transparent, and we are smitten with sudden lightning-like comprehension of our own ...
— For the Term of His Natural Life • Marcus Clarke

... vacant so far as human observation has penetrated, without warmth or light or sound, blank emptiness, for twenty million times a million miles. That is the smallest estimate of the distance to be traversed before the very nearest of the stars is attained. And, saving a few comets more unsubstantial than the thinnest flame, no matter had ever to human knowledge crossed this gulf of space, until early in the twentieth century this strange wanderer appeared. A vast mass of matter it was, bulky, heavy, rushing ...
— The Door in the Wall And Other Stories • H. G. Wells

... night the judge sat smoking his short spectral pipe and drinking from an unsubstantial pewter pot, while he listened, shuddering, to the plans of the two burglars for the carrying out of their crime. With growing horror he gradually gleaned that the crib to be cracked was the house of his ...
— The Strand Magazine, Volume V, Issue 29, May 1893 - An Illustrated Monthly • Various

... the necessity of the greatest possible vigilance and research to encounter his boundless resources; his dangerous subtlety and acuteness in detecting flaws, and raising objections; his matchless art in concealing defects in his own case; and building up, with easy grace, a superstructure equally unsubstantial and imposing, and defeating all attempts to assail or overthrow it. Even very strong heads would be often at fault, conscious that they were the victim of some subtle fallacy, which yet they could not then and there detect and expose; and by their hazy and inconsistent ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 59, No. 363, January, 1846 • Various

... natural product of these untoward conditions. His was a naturally observing mind, Rabelaisian in its strength and tendencies, but confused by the multiplicity of things, the vastness of the panorama of life, the glitter of its details, the unsubstantial nature of its forms, the uncertainty of their justification. Born a Catholic, he was no longer a believer in the divine inspiration of Catholicism; raised a member of the social elect, he had ceased to accept the fetish that birth and station presuppose any innate superiority; brought up as the ...
— Jennie Gerhardt - A Novel • Theodore Dreiser

... is the wit of the Londoner—the wit that Dickens knew and studied, the wit of the older cabmen and 'bus drivers, the wit of the street boy. It is racy, it is understood, and the illustrations are always concrete and massive, never vague or unsubstantial. Apt Shakespearian quotations, familiar and unfamiliar, embellish the speeches. Personality, vital personality, counts for so much in the orator of the market place. The speaker must be alive to his audience, he must convince by his presence no less than by his arguments. And Mr. Burns ...
— The Rise of the Democracy • Joseph Clayton

... though it comforted herself. Perhaps it would have comforted Betty too, whose hopes rested on the very faint possibility of another summer's gathering at Seaforth. That was a very doubtful possibility; the hope built upon it was vaporously unsubstantial. She debated with herself whether the best thing were not to take the first passable offer that should present itself, marry and settle down, and so deprive herself of the power of thinking about Pitt, and him of the fancy that she ever had thought ...
— A Red Wallflower • Susan Warner

... in God. He was as persuaded that there was a God as he was that there was another side to the moon. His intellectual conviction was complete. Only, beside the living, breathing—occasionally coughing—reality of Phoebe, God was something as unsubstantial as the Binomial Theorem.... ...
— Soul of a Bishop • H. G. Wells

... in my chamber, but these themes have taken such hold of my imagination, that I cannot sleep. The room in which I sit is just fitted to foster such a state of mind. The walls are hung with tapestry, the figures of which are faded, and look like unsubstantial shapes melting away from sight. Over the fire-place is the portrait of a lady, who, according to the housekeeper's tradition, pined to death for the loss of her lover in the battle of Blenheim. She has a most pale and plaintive countenance, ...
— Bracebridge Hall, or The Humorists • Washington Irving

... So the unsubstantial Bohemian existence went on; and to Clarissa, for whom this Bohemia was an utterly new world, it seemed the only life worth living. Her brother had been pleased to discover the ripening of her artistic powers, and had given her some rough-and-ready lessons in the art she loved so well. Sometimes, ...
— The Lovels of Arden • M. E. Braddon

... chilling banks "Her limbs extending. There her very griefs, "Pour'd with her tears, still musically sound. "Mourning, her words in a soft dying tone "Are heard, as when of old th' expiring swan "Sung his own elegy. Wasted at length "Her finest marrow, fast she pin'd away; "And vanish'd quite to unsubstantial air. "Yet still tradition marks the spot, the muse "Of ancient days, still Canens call'd the place, "In honor of the nymph, and ...
— The Metamorphoses of Publius Ovidus Naso in English blank verse Vols. I & II • Ovid

... into vogue during the eighteenth century was of a finer grain than its modern counterpart. It studied delicacy, and sought a cultivated enjoyment in evanescent shades of feeling, and the fantasies of unsubstantial grief. The real Princess of Hans Andersen's story, who passed a miserable night because there was a small bean concealed beneath the twenty eider- down beds on which she slept, might stand for a type of the aristocracy of feeling that took a pride in these ridiculous susceptibilities. ...
— Style • Walter Raleigh

... Nicholson's Remains, Margaret Nicholson being the crazy woman who tried to stab George III. His boyish poem, Queen Mab, was published in 1813; Alastor in 1816, and the Revolt of Islam—his longest—in 1818, all before he was twenty-one. These were filled with splendid, though unsubstantial, imagery, but they were abstract in subject, and had the faults of incoherence and formlessness which make Shelley's longer poems wearisome and confusing. They sought to embody his social creed of Perfectionism, as well as a certain vague Pantheistic system of belief in a spirit of love ...
— Brief History of English and American Literature • Henry A. Beers

... sense—in mere vulgar outward show. We have not the courage to go patiently onward in the condition of life in which it has pleased God to call us; but must needs live in some fashionable state to which we ridiculously please to call ourselves, and all to gratify the vanity of that unsubstantial genteel world of which we form a part. There is a constant struggle and pressure for front seats in the social amphitheatre; in the midst of which all noble self-denying resolve is trodden down, and many fine natures are inevitably crushed to death. What waste, what misery, ...
— Self Help • Samuel Smiles

... nearly so, of the former living as if there were to be no hereafter, and earth was to be their eternal home. I have thought that as our Blessed Redeemer's arms were extended wide on the cross to embrace perishing sinners, so do these short-sighted mortals extend their arms and their wishes in grasping unsubstantial vanities, and that craving one of Mammon, the most fascinating of all, as it ...
— Memoir and Diary of John Yeardley, Minister of the Gospel • John Yeardley

... concrete, the theories of Plato were taken out of their context, and either asserted or refuted with a provoking literalism; the Socratic or Platonic element in his teaching was absorbed into the Pythagorean or Megarian. His poetry was converted into mysticism; his unsubstantial visions were assailed secundum artem by the rules of logic. His political speculations lost their interest when the freedom of Hellas had passed away. Of all his writings the Laws were the furthest ...
— Laws • Plato

... itself, and 'debased in style' (as our severe architectural friends will tell us), the work on these beautiful porches has exquisite grace; the fourteenth-century sculptor gave free scope to his fancy, his hands have played about the soft white stone till it took forms so delicate and strange, so unsubstantial and yet so permanent, that it is a ...
— Normandy Picturesque • Henry Blackburn

... his essay on Mrs. Meynell, seemed to him but 'a splendid insect'; Keats, we learn from Mr. Champneys' life, seemed to him 'to be greatly deficient in first-rate imaginative power'; Shelley 'is all unsubstantial splendour, like the transformation scene of a pantomime, or the silvered globes hung up in a gin-palace'; Blake is 'nearly all utter rubbish, with here and there not so much a gleam as a trick of genius.' All this, when he said it, had a queer kind of delightfulness, ...
— Figures of Several Centuries • Arthur Symons

... for, if the truth must be told, they were very hungry. So rigorous was the economy in this decayed but honorable house that the wax candles burned to-day in the oratory had scrimped their dinner, unsubstantial as it was wont to be. Think of that, you in fustian jackets who grumble after meat. The door opened, Jacintha reappeared in the light of her candle a moment with a tray in both hands, and, approaching, was lost to view; ...
— White Lies • Charles Reade

... brow—that brow behind which his infamous imagination was working. Shadows began to fill the room, and the fragrance of the flowers and the aromatic beverage mingled in the air; the outlines of the surrounding objects melted into one vague form, harmonious, dim, unsubstantial. ...
— The Child of Pleasure • Gabriele D'Annunzio

... because she had no goods to barter; her society ceased to revel, for her people were called upon to preserve themselves. Her arts were forgotten; only religion held its own and that from very fear. Egypt was on her knees, but the gods were aghast and helpless in the face of the hideous power of the unsubstantial, unimaged God of Israel. ...
— The Yoke - A Romance of the Days when the Lord Redeemed the Children - of Israel from the Bondage of Egypt • Elizabeth Miller

... which he wanted to explain only if there was time for it. We associate our older Parliamentary oratory with an art which keeps the hearer pleasedly expectant rather than dangerously attentive, through an argument which if dwelt upon might prove unsubstantial, secure that it all leads in the end to some great cadence of noble sound. But in Lincoln's argumentative speeches the employment of beautiful words is least sparing at the beginning or when he passes to a new subject. It seems as if ...
— Abraham Lincoln • Lord Charnwood

... us Brownies than with the lazy Bonbons, who never work and are all for show. They won't own us, though we are all related through our grandparents Sugar and Molasses. We are busy folks; so they turn up their noses and don't speak when we meet at parties. Poor creatures, silly and sweet and unsubstantial! I pity 'em." ...
— The Louisa Alcott Reader - A Supplementary Reader for the Fourth Year of School • Louisa M. Alcott

... the right or the left, or straight before them, dash through the enemy's front, or scour the flanks, or sweep the rear, perambulate squares, and perforate encampments, just as if the serried ranks of the Sikhs had been unsubstantial creatures of the imagination, or mist-wreaths from the "wet nullah," which a lively fancy had invested with human form and warlike panoply. But one hundred and fifty-one gallant men killed, and four hundred and thirteen wounded, sufficiently ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 59, No. 367, May 1846 • Various

... bridge above the sheer depth. But still he felt the tingle of the iron rope in his clasp, and his hold tightened and he bent forward to listen. The whole bridge now audibly shook with the pulsation of a step—a soft, furtive step, as of one cautiously groping a way over the unsubstantial flooring. Then through the starlight he distinguished a woman's figure, and drew back. A loose plank in the bridge floor rattled, and as she passed it freed itself and he heard it strike the rocks faintly far below; but the figure stole swiftly on, and he bent forward ...
— The Port of Missing Men • Meredith Nicholson

... that of the young and ignorant who live in their imaginations like spendthrifts, unaware of the importance of them as the food of life, and of how necessary it is to seize upon the solider one among them for perpetual sustenance when the unsubstantial are vanishing. The great event of his bailiff's term of office had become the sun of Tinman's system. He basked in its rays. He meant to be again the proud official, royally distinguished; meantime, though he knew not that his days were dull, he groaned under the dulness; ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... pressure of a national instinct, so powerful and so accurate that statesmen of every school, willing or unwilling, have found themselves carried along by a tendency which no individuality can resist or greatly modify. Both unsubstantial rumor and incautious personal utterance have suggested an impatient desire in Mr. Gladstone to be rid of the occupation of Egypt; but scarcely has his long exclusion from office ended when the irony of events signalizes his return thereto by ...
— The Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future • A. T. Mahan

... revealed his doubtful way clear before him. He saw, with a thrill of exultation, that henceforth he had really nothing to fear from such womanly defences as he had counted on,—coldness, prejudice, disdain,—that all he had taken for these were but unsubstantial shadows. Still he showed no premature triumph in word or look, but remained silent and humble, waiting the reply to his passionate appeal, as though life or death, in very truth, were depending upon it. And Zelma spoke at last,—briefly ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 21, July, 1859 • Various

... sir,—pardon my frankness—but I must say that I have never found your company so interesting before; and I shall be equally frank in saying that—I have never been able yet to believe half the tales I have heard about the mysterious discovery of buried treasure. There is something so unsubstantial about most of them. Of course, there may be ...
— Money Island • Andrew Jackson Howell, Jr.

... certainly. Now my theory explains many things, and, among others, the adamantine, imperishable, impenetrable nature of the substance vanity upon which the showman, Nature, projects in fast fading colours the unsubstantial images of men. Why do you drag me through this ...
— The Witch of Prague • F. Marion Crawford

... and it argued a great nature in him, that at the moment when his wishes were to be crowned, he should look with such slight touches of spleen at the gorgeous composite fabric of Parisian cookery and Roman antiquities crumbling into unsubstantial mockery. Assuredly very few even of the philosophers would have turned away uncomplainingly to meaner delights the ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... thickened at places into opaque and rushing veils. Under the pressure of the strong, hot wind the big mahallas, with their white sails in tense curves, careered down the river with only a streak of white foam under the prow to show they were not suspended in the air. The further bank, pale and unsubstantial, was outlined fitfully in the hurrying gloom. A kind of lividity spread over the picture, bleaching it of all colour. Everything in the wards became silted over with fine powder, and the big yellow and black hornets and the long-legged ...
— In Mesopotamia • Martin Swayne

... thing to enjoyment, and that there is no fate in the world so horrible as to have no share in either its joys or sorrows. For the last ten years I have not lived, but only dreamed of living. It may be true that there may have been some unsubstantial pleasures here in the shade, which I might have missed in the sunshine, but you cannot conceive how utterly devoid of satisfaction all my retrospects are. I have laid up no treasure of pleasant remembrances against old age; but there is some comfort ...
— Hawthorne - (English Men of Letters Series) • Henry James, Junr.

... praise him as the greatest general living, he placidly returns the puff from his regalia; and if you tell him he should run for the presidency, it does not disturb the equanimity with which he inhales and exhales the unsubstantial vapor which typifies the politician's promises. While you are wondering what kind of creature this man without a tongue is, you are suddenly electrified with the news of some splendid victory, proving that behind the ...
— Architects of Fate - or, Steps to Success and Power • Orison Swett Marden

... unacquainted with, and are surprised by the aptness which we did not suspect was concealed in its solid forms. We have found the labour of the workmen to have been as admirable as the material itself, which is still resisting the mouldering touch of time among those modern inventions, elegant and unsubstantial, which, often put together with unseasoned wood, are apt to warp and fly into pieces when brought into use. We have found how strength consists in the selection of materials, and that, whenever the substitute is not better than the original, we are losing something in ...
— Curiosities of Literature, Vol. 3 (of 3) • Isaac D'Israeli

... Mustard Seed and the Leaven, the former to indicate that his power yet was to extend over all the earth and the latter that it was to transform all human life. Some readers interpret the former parable as indicating the unsubstantial forms that Christianity at times assumes, and the latter the false doctrine which at times permeates the Church. Whichever interpretation one accepts, it is hardly wise to base upon it any theories as to the ...
— The Gospel of Luke, An Exposition • Charles R. Erdman

... tamed it with a little bread. In the regiment we used to drink black coffee without sugar, and cut off a great hunk of stale crust, and eat nothing more till the halt: for the matter of that, the great victories of '93 were fought upon such unsubstantial meals; for the Republicans fought first and ate afterwards, being in this quite unlike the Ten Thousand. Sailors I know eat nothing for some hours—I mean those who turn out at four in the morning; I could give the name of the watch, but ...
— The Path to Rome • Hilaire Belloc

... that inspires thy voice of love, Or speaks in thy unclosing eyes, Or through thy frame doth burn or move, Or think or feel, awake, arise! 105 Spirit, leave for mine and me Earth's unsubstantial mimicry! ...
— The Daemon of the World • Percy Bysshe Shelley

... within Than, sensible of Nature's loveliness, To yield him to the generous impulses By such a sentiment evoked. The thought, Bright Spirit, whose illuminings I sought, That thou unto thy worshipper might be An all-sufficient law, abode with me, Importing something more than unsubstantial dreams To vigils by lone shores and walks by ...
— Poems • Alan Seeger

... his, the devils whom he worshipped as gods were revenged upon him, for they had filled him with the superstitions of their wicked faith, and because of these the gods and their high priest must sink into a common ruin. Were it not for these unsubstantial terrors that haunted him, the Spaniards had never won a foothold in Tenoctitlan, and the Aztecs would have remained free for many a year to come. But Providence willed it otherwise, and this dead and disgraced ...
— Montezuma's Daughter • H. Rider Haggard

... loss of that, together with the lamp, did not drive the magician to despair; but magicians are so much used to misfortunes that they do not lay them to heart, but still feed themselves, to the end of life, with unsubstantial notions ...
— The Arabian Nights - Their Best-known Tales • Unknown

... her face; the black eyes, a little oval in shape, were shining, and the lips smiled. Annie wore a plain dress of some black stuff, open at the throat; her skin was beautiful. For a moment the ghost of a fancy hovered unsubstantial in his mind; and then Annie curtsied as she handed him the cider, and replied to his thanks ...
— The Hill of Dreams • Arthur Machen

... minds of cultured men were more deeply occupied than ever with the mysteries of life and creation. In the libraries, the temples, and observatories, philosophers and scientists were shattering the unsubstantial fabric of immemorial superstition; they attained to higher conceptions of the duties and responsibilities of mankind; they conceived of divine love and divine guidance; they discovered, like Wordsworth, ...
— Myths of Babylonia and Assyria • Donald A. Mackenzie

... that "last infirmity" which is able to allure minds which, though of noble quality, have not yet been moulded to any exquisite refinement by the perfecting of the virtues—I mean, the love of glory—and fame for high services rendered to the commonweal. And yet consider with me how poor and unsubstantial a thing this glory is! The whole of this earth's globe, as thou hast learnt from the demonstration of astronomy, compared with the expanse of heaven, is found no bigger than a point; that is to say, if measured by the vastness of heaven's ...
— The Consolation of Philosophy • Boethius

... front of him, and that he saw in place of the bureau which stood opposite to him, and of the Oriental china which was the detective's special pride, and on which his eyes seemed to be fixed, some vision of the past which was far more real than the unsubstantial present. Presently he went on talking in ...
— The Ashiel mystery - A Detective Story • Mrs. Charles Bryce

... brightened into a "humorous sadness," characterized his early creations. Like his own Hepzibah Pyncheon, he appeared "to be walking in a dream"; or rather, the life and reality assumed by his emotions "made all outward occurrences unsubstantial, like the teasing phantasms of an unconscious slumber." Though dealing largely in description, and with the most accurate perceptions of outward objects, he still, to use again his own words, gives the impression of a man "chiefly accustomed ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 31, May, 1860 • Various

... spirit must compromise; that nature compromised; that God compromised; that man himself was nothing but a somewhat clumsy compromise. No argument served. Mind insisted on absolute despotism. Schoolmen as well as mystics would not believe that matter was what it seemed,—if, indeed, it existed;—unsubstantial, shifty, shadowy; changing with incredible swiftness into dust, gas, flame; vanishing in mysterious lines of force into space beyond hope of recovery; whirled about in eternity and infinity by that mind, form, energy, or thought which guides and rules and tyrannizes and is the universe. ...
— Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres • Henry Adams

... such deceit, or will you? Where would be my honor, then, stripped of my fair estates—my son—myself—beggars—dependent on the bounty of an upstart? Does honor ask you to bear this? It is a phantom sense of honor, unsubstantial as your father's shade, of which you just now spoke, that would prompt you ...
— Rookwood • William Harrison Ainsworth

... be comparatively a rich man, but at first his present allowance would be little more than doubled, and the receipts would be considerably diminished by an alteration of existing system of rents, such as had so long been planned. It was plain that the almshouses were the unsubstantial fabric of a dream, but no one now dared to refer to them, and Mr. Kendal desired Albinia to write to consult ...
— The Young Step-Mother • Charlotte M. Yonge

... the blue sky the shining, ice-clad peaks of Kinchinjunga, a hundred miles away, towered high in air. Mystic, lovely, they seemed to float above the earth, as unsubstantial as the clouds from which they rose. They belonged to another world, a fairy world altogether apart from the rugged, tumbled masses, the awe-inspiring precipices and tremendous cliffs, of the nearer mountains. These were majestic, overpowering, but plainly of this earth, ...
— The Elephant God • Gordon Casserly

... conflagration flared afresh with formidable intensity, a last great flame shot up from Paris, illumining its entire expanse, and even its hitherto hidden suburbs. Then it seemed as if a grey, ashy dust were falling; and though the clustering districts remained erect, they wore the gloomy, unsubstantial aspect of coals which ...
— A Love Episode • Emile Zola

... unknown, and its capacity Of joy. The summer gale that from the heath, At midnoon glowing with the golden gorse, Bears its balsamic odor, but provokes Not satisfies the sense; and all the flowers, That with their unsubstantial fragrance tempt And disappoint, bloom for so short a space, That half the year the nostrils would keep lent, But that the kind tobacconist admits No winter in his work; when Nature sleeps His wheels roll on, and still administer A plenitude of joy, ...
— The Humourous Poetry of the English Language • James Parton

... you rather not have, a skeleton Brigade or a Brigade of skeletons? This famous 86th Brigade is a combination. Were I a fat man I could not bear it, but I am as unsubstantial as they themselves. A life insurance office wouldn't touch us; and yet—they ...
— Gallipoli Diary, Volume 2 • Ian Hamilton

... yet so fair? shall I believe That unsubstantial Death is amorous; And that the lean abhorred monster keeps Thee here in dark to be his paramour?" ...
— Shakespeare: His Life, Art, And Characters, Volume I. • H. N. Hudson

... he looked on a melancholy street. The unsubstantial houses tried to seem—not respectable, no word so honest could be applied to them, but—genteel, and failed even in that miserable ambition. Percival used to watch the plastered fronts, flaking in the sun and rain, old while yet new, ...
— Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Volume 22. July, 1878. • Various

... week, the young man with the eyeglasses scarcely seemed real, so that when Cis gently suggested that Johnnie had never met any leader, he was hardly able to protest that he had. By the end of a fortnight, his newest friend merged with that unsubstantial company made up of David, Aladdin, Uncas and all the rest. Then Johnnie took to telephoning him over the clothesline. Also, when Cis was home, the scout leader had a part in all those elaborate social functions she enjoyed, such as dances, and ...
— The Rich Little Poor Boy • Eleanor Gates

... king, unsubstantial as thou art like froth, unstable like a fruit (falling when ripe), dependent on time, and mortal, having entered into an agreement in respect of time, which is infinite and immeasurable, quick like a shaft or flowing like a stream, and carrying ...
— Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Bk. 3 Pt. 1 • Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa

... seem prophetic, the gay and volatile Marot could never have foreseen what has proved one of the most curious facts in religious history,—that from the airy and unsubstantial seed sown by the French courtier in such a careless, thoughtless manner, would spring the great-spreading and deep-rooted tree of ...
— Sabbath in Puritan New England • Alice Morse Earle

... writer's meaning:—as it is not the size or glossiness of the materials, but their being fitted each to its place, that gives strength to the arch; or as the pegs and nails are as necessary to the support of the building as the larger timbers, and more so than the mere showy, unsubstantial ornaments. I hate anything that occupies more space than it is worth. I hate to see a load of bandboxes go along the street, and I hate to see a parcel of big words without anything in them. A person who does not deliberately ...
— Table-Talk - Essays on Men and Manners • William Hazlitt

... dented shoulder to make certain it was not leaking. The dueling machine and its rules seemed so very remote and unsubstantial, compared to this freezing, ...
— The Dueling Machine • Benjamin William Bova

... question is as to the truth of this theory, I think there can be no doubt that its rival gains an enormous advantage by being able to explain why the facts are such as they are instead of being obliged to take refuge in hypothetical possibilities of a confessedly unsubstantiated and apparently unsubstantial kind. ...
— Darwin, and After Darwin (Vol. 1 and 3, of 3) • George John Romanes

... make great. This fancy Potemkin, who stood ready to flatter the empress at any price, undertook to realize, and he built her a city in the fashion in which cities were built in the times of the Arabian Nights, and made it flourish in the same unsubstantial fashion. The magnificent Potemkin never hesitated before any question of cost. Russia was rich, and could bleed freely to please the empress's whim. He therefore ordered a city to be built, with dwellings and edifices of every description common to the cities of that ...
— Historic Tales, Vol. 8 (of 15) - The Romance of Reality • Charles Morris

... because it is about God, and we all of us feel, and rightly I expect, that it is priggish to talk about God at all. And then I don't know whether I can give you everything as it happened because it was all so unsubstantial and at the end of it any one might say 'But this is nothing—nothing at all. You've been hysterical, nervous—that's the meaning of it. You've nothing to show.' And yet if all the world were to say that to ...
— The Prelude to Adventure • Hugh Walpole

... European capitalists, who were seized with the same speculative mania which prevailed in the United States, and the large importations of funds from abroad—the result of stock sales and loans—no one can be surprised at the apparent but unsubstantial state of prosperity which everywhere prevailed over the land; and as little cause of surprise should be felt at the present prostration of everything and the ruin which has befallen so many of our fellow-citizens in the sudden withdrawal from circulation of so large an amount of ...
— A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents: Tyler - Section 2 (of 3) of Volume 4: John Tyler • Compiled by James D. Richardson

... Roman emperor's office, were the extraordinary perils which menaced the individual officer. The office rose by its grandeur to a region above the clouds and vapors of earth: the officer might find his personal security as unsubstantial as those wandering vapors. Nor is it possible that these circumstances of violent opposition can be better illustrated than in this tale of Herodian. Whilst the emperor's mighty arms were stretched out to arrest some ...
— The Ontario Readers: The High School Reader, 1886 • Ministry of Education

... Socialists, an outworn creed. "As Marx says, 'The religious world is but the reflex of the real world. Christianity, like all religions, is but an expression of material conditions, a direct outcome of social relations, the unsubstantial image of a world reflected in the muddy pool of human intellect. Jesus varies with the ages. Redeemer of Roman slave; War-God of Crusader; General Overseer of Manufacturing Capitalist."[996] Besides, Socialists ...
— British Socialism - An Examination of Its Doctrines, Policy, Aims and Practical Proposals • J. Ellis Barker

... back into that robe of material light, until they fade away, lost in its lustre, to appear again above, in the serene heaven, like a wild, bright, impossible dream, foundationless and inaccessible, their very bases vanishing in the unsubstantial and mocking blue of the deep lake below.[43] Has Claude given this? Wait yet a little longer, and you shall see those mists gather themselves into white towers, and stand like fortresses along the promontories, ...
— Modern Painters Volume I (of V) • John Ruskin

... humble ourselves and borrow money, so that for a short time all burdens drop from us and we feel one thing and think one thing: Billy!" He kissed her very firmly on the lips. "You feel, don't you, everything dropping from you and becoming quite pale and unsubstantial, the tiresome garden at home, and Joseph with the dinner-bell, and the tea with bread and butter, and that Billy in the white dress, who could do nothing and have no thoughts? All that is unreal? and there is only one reality, ...
— The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - Masterpieces of German Literature Vol. 19 • Various

... Kildare! When natures such as hers lose their self-reliance, life becomes as unsubstantial as an opium dream. If they cannot count upon themselves, what then may ...
— Kildares of Storm • Eleanor Mercein Kelly



Words linked to "Unsubstantial" :   shadowy, ethereal, wraithlike, immaterial, stringy, substantial, unsubstantialize, substantialness, substantiality, nonmaterial, airy, solidness, aerial, aery, aeriform



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