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Powerlessness   /pˈaʊərləsnəs/   Listen
Powerlessness

noun
1.
The quality of lacking strength or power; being weak and feeble.  Synonyms: impotence, impotency.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Powerlessness" Quotes from Famous Books



... can arouse no interest because its issue is obviously foregone, and much of the action of the rebel angels necessarily conflicts with the frequent statements that they can do nothing except as permitted by their Conqueror. At one moment they know their powerlessness, at another they hope for revenge and victory. These are grave difficulties which deprive large parts of the poem of that illusion of probability or truth without which poetry cannot do its proper work. A further difficulty, from which ancient poets ...
— Milton • John Bailey

... room in him for more. That God is the other part, he feels, because at times He satisfies his need. Who does not tremble often under that sicklier symptom of his incompleteness, his want of spiritual energy, his helplessness with sin? But now he understands both—the void in his life, the powerlessness of his will. He understands that, like all other energy, Spiritual power is contained in Environment. He finds here at last the true root of all human frailty, emptiness, nothingness, sin. This is why "without Me ye can do nothing." Powerlessness is the normal state, not only ...
— Beautiful Thoughts • Henry Drummond

... acceptance of an unjust superiority, a scorn, a pitiless disdain; the totally capricious setting of one's self apart from one's fellows as something too despicable for consideration; above all, one's utter powerlessness against this arbitrary judgment—all these things he felt, and every one of them cut him to the quick. For Michael Gregoriev's egotism had grown with ...
— The Genius • Margaret Horton Potter

... rank, but who simply spoke to him as though he had been any ordinary person. He saw a scarcely perceptible smile on his son's handsome features,—he saw that Von Glauben's eyes twinkled, despite his carefully preserved seriousness of demeanour, and he realized the almost absurd powerlessness of his authority in such an embarrassing position. The assumption of a mute contempt, such as was vaguely expressed by the Queen, appeared to him to be the best policy;—he therefore adopted that attitude, without however producing the least visible effect. Gloria's face, softly flushed with ...
— Temporal Power • Marie Corelli

... Night after night his broken sleep suffered the same dream; he saw Mrs. Hannaford, who stretched her hands to him, and with a face of silent woe seemed to implore his help. Help against Death; and his powerlessness wrung his heart with anguish. Waking, he thought of all the women—beautiful, tender, objects of infinite passion and worship—who even at that moment lay smitten by the great destroyer; the gentle, ...
— The Crown of Life • George Gissing

... said Richard, tremblingly,—for he guessed what that meant, and the idea of Margery being subjected to a long and comfortless imprisonment, was almost more than he could bear. His own utter powerlessness to save her was ...
— Mistress Margery • Emily Sarah Holt

... system depended for its growth on a double bluff or deception. On the one hand the laboring classes accepted from ignorance or powerlessness, or were compelled, persuaded, or cajoled by custom, convention, authority, and the well-established order of Society into accepting, a situation in which they could call their own very little of the cake that they and Nature and the capitalists were co-operating ...
— The Economic Consequences of the Peace • John Maynard Keynes

... the dark, to the fantastic gush of fireworks, to the romance of old mirrors and faded brocades and Saxony clocks, to the green young panoply of spring. And just as it gives again the age's consciousness of the delicious robe of earth, so, too, it gives again its sense of weariness and powerlessness and oppression. The nineteenth century had been loud with blare and rumors and the vibration of colossal movements, and man had apparently traversed vast distances and explored titanic heights and abysmal depths. And yet, for all the glare, the earth was darker. The light was miasmic ...
— Musical Portraits - Interpretations of Twenty Modern Composers • Paul Rosenfeld

... should be praised for his goodness if he has not strength enough to be wicked. All other goodness is but too often an idleness or powerlessness ...
— Reflections - Or, Sentences and Moral Maxims • Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld

... or writer, at all events—could enjoy a more consolatory vision. The powerlessness of the word is the burden of writers, and "Who hath believed our report?" cry all the prophets in successive lamentation. They so naturally suppose that, when truth and reason have spoken, truth and reason will ...
— Essays in Rebellion • Henry W. Nevinson

... indignantly. "Do you not see, then, that this is a miserable title by which Fate seems to mock me, and which it thunders constantly, and, as it were, sneeringly into my ears, in order to remind me again and again of my deplorable powerlessness? There is nothing 'imperial' about me but the yoke under which I am groaning; and my 'highness' is to be compared only with the crumbs of Lazarus which fell from the rich man's table. And yet there are persons, Nugent, who envy me these crumbs—men who think ...
— Andreas Hofer • Lousia Muhlbach

... Of the utter powerlessness of retention with which he promulgated his every thought and feeling,—more especially if at all connected with the subject of self,—without allowing even a pause for the almost instinctive consideration ...
— Life of Lord Byron, Vol. 6 (of 6) - With his Letters and Journals • Thomas Moore

... resurrection, lie the Loved and Venerated—for whom, even now that so many grief-deadening years have fled, we feel, in this holy hour, as if it were impiety so utterly to have ceased to weep—so seldom to have remembered!—And then, with a powerlessness of sympathy to keep pace with youth's frantic grief, the floods we all wept together—at no long interval—on those pale and placid faces as they lay, most beautiful and most dreadful ...
— Christmas - Its Origin, Celebration and Significance as Related in Prose and Verse • Various

... He knew he must die if he kept on, he thought he should die if he gave it up, but he determined to make the effort. His studies had long been abandoned; he could not even read. For two years he had read but one book; he shrank from study with a sense of infantine powerlessness that gave him great anguish when he remembered what his mind had formerly been. From misery and suffering, he might almost be described as being in a dormant state. His wife managed all the affairs of the household, and attended to ...
— Home Life of Great Authors • Hattie Tyng Griswold

... interests as to include the whole outer world, we remain like a garrison in a beleagured fortress, knowing that the enemy prevents escape and that ultimate surrender is inevitable. In such a life there is no peace, but a constant strife between the insistence of desire and the powerlessness of will. In one way or another, if our life is to be great and free, we must escape ...
— The Problems of Philosophy • Bertrand Russell

... brief ceremony of an hour, to become the leader of a great nation under an exceptionally awful responsibility; but during those four months he could play no other part than simply to watch, in utter powerlessness, the swift succession of crowding events, which all were tending to make his administration of the government difficult, or even impossible. Throughout all this long time, the third part of a year, which statutes scarcely less ...
— Abraham Lincoln, Vol. I. • John T. Morse

... to face his new antagonist, letting Bud drop back. Bud sank to the iron floor. The farmer was astonished almost to powerlessness to find facing him, with a length of swinging pipe in his hand, the boy who had a ...
— Tramping on Life - An Autobiographical Narrative • Harry Kemp

... overcoming the prejudices of the pacifist section against military armaments. It was not so long since the song "I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier," was sung with fervor all the land over; but now events had too clearly proved the powerlessness of any but well-armed nations even to follow their own lines of policy; and the necessity of a mercantile marine of their own grew daily clearer to the people of the United States. Hitherto the Americans had always found enough of foreign vessels ...
— My Three Years in America • Johann Heinrich Andreas Hermann Albrecht Graf von Bernstorff

... as the door closes on her brother. A sense of weakness, of powerlessness oppresses her. She has fought so long, and for what? Is there nothing to be gained; no truth to be defended anywhere, no standard of right and wrong. Are all men—all—base, selfish, cowardly, dishonorable? Her whole being seems aflame with the indignation that is consuming her, when a knock sounds ...
— April's Lady - A Novel • Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

... wholly ceased to fight. He was bleeding freely from the shoulder, and a dizzy sense of powerlessness held him ...
— Rosa Mundi and Other Stories • Ethel M. Dell

... cannot conclude without saying that there has been present with me, all the way through the preparation of this book, a vivid sense of the utter powerlessness of all system, however wisely it may have been framed, which has not in the application of it that Spirit of Life who alone imparts the vital force without which no extensive or permanent good ...
— The Authoritative Life of General William Booth • George Scott Railton

... time of trial Ruth's three friends were hovering around her, trying by every possible attention and thoughtfulness to help or comfort her, and yet feeling their powerlessness in such a way that it almost made them ...
— The Chautauqua Girls At Home • Pansy, AKA Isabella M. Alden

... poor darling!"—but he secretly wondered over the terrible tenacity of this mild creature. There was gathering within him an amazed sense of his powerlessness over Rosamond. His superior knowledge and mental force, instead of being, as he had imagined, a shrine to consult on all occasions, was simply set aside on every practical question. He had regarded Rosamond's cleverness as precisely of the receptive kind which ...
— Middlemarch • George Eliot

... drink he had at the well by Nazareth, and the divine expression of the face of him who gave it; the later goodness, the miracle of Palm-Sunday; and with these recollections, the thought of his present powerlessness to give back help for help or make return in kind stung him keenly, and he accused himself. He had not done all he might; he could have watched with the Galileans, and kept them true and ready; and this—ah! this was the moment to strike! A blow well given now would not ...
— Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ • Lew Wallace

... the hideous aspect of this life: with its thousands of eyes, infinitely sad in their expression, it looked into his heart, asking him for it knew not what,—and then the radiant images of the future died in his soul; a groan out of the powerlessness of the man mingled in the discordant chorus of lamentations and tears from poor ...
— Mother Earth, Vol. 1 No. 3, May 1906 - Monthly Magazine Devoted to Social Science and Literature • Various

... morbid, that is to say, a so far false, idea about the leaf; he fancies a life in it, and will, which there are not; confuses its powerlessness with choice, its fading death with merriment, and the wind that shakes it with music. Here, however, there is some beauty, even in the morbid passage; but take an instance in Homer and Pope. Without the knowledge of Ulysses, Elpenor, his youngest ...
— Selections From the Works of John Ruskin • John Ruskin

... Republic restored to the fathers their early wisdom, to the people their reverence. At this period, Rome shone with every virtue. The Senate, through the rightfully obtained consent of all parties, nearly equalized its power with the powerlessness of the commonalty; and glory being sought solely through love of the fatherland, wealth was regarded as of no account. But when Rome no longer dreaded Carthage, the commonwealth returned to its former vices. The fathers were superior to the populace only in luxury, ...
— A Study Of Hawthorne • George Parsons Lathrop

... to throw stones at him again, and bits of roots and everything he could get hold of that would do for a missile. Had he the hope to seriously hurt the monkey? No! he no longer knew what he was about. To tell the truth, anger at his powerlessness had deprived him of his wits. Perhaps he hoped that in one of the movements which the guariba would make in passing from branch to branch the case might escape him, perhaps he thought that if he continued to worry the monkey he might throw ...
— Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon • Jules Verne

... possible in the case of crowds sentiments and acts impossible for the isolated individual. In crowds the foolish, ignorant, and envious persons are freed from the sense of their insignificance and powerlessness, and are possessed instead by the notion of brutal and ...
— The Crowd • Gustave le Bon

... to consecrate affection and to safeguard morality by teaching in public or private schools what is called 'sex-hygiene' will, I believe, prove a failure. I have very little confidence in the restraining or inspiring value of information, as such. I have seen too much of its powerlessness in medical men and students. No one knows so much of the harm of morphine as the physicians do, yet there are more cases of morphine habit among physicians than among any less informed profession. It is, of course, ...
— Sex-education - A series of lectures concerning knowledge of sex in its - relation to human life • Maurice Alpheus Bigelow

... with joy; then nothing was heard but the cry of triumph and jubilation; then was Anna Leopoldowna loudly cursed by those who had blessed her on the preceding day; then was the new Empress Elizabeth loudly lauded by those who yesterday had smiled with contempt at her powerlessness. ...
— The Daughter of an Empress • Louise Muhlbach

... unsettled in my mind as it regards the mode of preaching; and it is not surprising that I did not then see the truth concerning this matter, for I did not understand the work of the Spirit, and therefore saw not the powerlessness of human eloquence. Further, I did not keep in mind, that if the most illiterate persons in the congregation can comprehend the discourse, the most educated will understand it too; but that the reverse does ...
— A Narrative of Some of the Lord's Dealings with George Mueller - Written by Himself, First Part • George Mueller

... only a foil to his wife. He is introduced to bring into sharper relief her unhappiness and her powerlessness to better her condition. He is not a bad man, nor is she a bad woman. To say that the story turns entirely on his honor and on her false pride is to miss, I think, the author's purpose. There is nothing distinctive in these characters; he is better than she, but both are puppets in the grip ...
— Short Stories Old and New • Selected and Edited by C. Alphonso Smith

... monotonous. His was the delicate ear of the musical prodigy, capable of grasping half-tones quite beyond the range of the normal ear, and his attempt to cause them to be heard and appreciated by his coarser fellows brought him only criticism and abuse. He realized at times his own powerlessness to convey in words all that he felt, and once said: "On ne saurait rendre en entier ce que sont les personnes; du moins cela ne me serait pas possible; je connais bien mieux celles avec qui je vis, que je ne les definirais; il y a des choses en elles que je ne saisis point assez ...
— A Selection from the Comedies of Marivaux • Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux

... degrees, and small hopes. It was painfully tried. But it clung hopefully, and never failed to gain a triumph. Each trial only increased its tenacity, and brought him greater humility, for it opened his own heart to a sense of his own powerlessness, and this faith has grown with work and trial, till its strength ...
— The Wonders of Prayer - A Record of Well Authenticated and Wonderful Answers to Prayer • Various

... relief to us as letting us know that the brother and sister were under no physical restraint, but our powerlessness and inability even to comprehend what the danger was which threatened those whom we had come to love better than ourselves was ...
— The Mystery of Cloomber • Arthur Conan Doyle

... not surpassed in power and beauty by those in 'The Admiral's Daughter.' No reader can bear the heroine company without feeling the same sense of powerlessness to cope with the fascinations of a dark destiny which is conveyed by the stories of Richardson's 'Clarissa,' and Scott's 'Lucy Ashton.' This is praise enough—yet not ...
— Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George the Third, Volume 2 (of 2) - From the Original Family Documents • The Duke of Buckingham

... Stephane, a frightful change came over his face. Three times he tried to rise, and three times the hand of his father weighed him down again, and kept him in a kneeling posture. Then, as if annihilated by the thought of his weakness and powerlessness, he yielded, and covering his eyes with both hands, he murmured these words in a stifled and ...
— Stories of Modern French Novels • Julian Hawthorne

... as this, the deeper minds may be conceived to have made the great transition from magic to religion. But even in them the change can hardly ever have been sudden; probably it proceeded very slowly, and required long ages for its more or less perfect accomplishment. For the recognition of man's powerlessness to influence the course of nature on a grand scale must have been gradual; he cannot have been shorn of the whole of his fancied dominion at a blow. Step by step he must have been driven back from his proud position; foot by foot he must have yielded, with a sigh, the ground which ...
— The Golden Bough - A study of magic and religion • Sir James George Frazer

... the zenith, the stars glimmering through the darker or less bright part of the sky. Though I have mentioned "clouds," there was not a cloud to be seen; the clouds I name were really masses of brilliant light, obscuring the deep blue beyond. I feel the utter powerlessness of words to describe the magnificence ...
— A Boy's Voyage Round the World • The Son of Samuel Smiles

... humbling herself, and recognising the powerlessness of our flesh, without God's assistance, to work anything but sin, she sought by her own tears and efforts to atone for the past, and by her own prudence to avoid mischief in the future, always ascribing her sin ...
— The Tales Of The Heptameron, Vol. III. (of V.) • Margaret, Queen Of Navarre

... common kind of success, which is never due to literary merit. And if I speak bitterly, well, I am suffering from my powerlessness. I am a failure, my poor girl, and it isn't easy for me to look with charity on the success of men who deserved it far less than I did, when I was still ...
— New Grub Street • George Gissing

... fixed idea, which never leaves him night or day, which has unsettled his reason, and which will end in killing him, unless you or some of his friends can remove it"—the oftener I heard this, the more acutely I felt my own powerlessness, the more I shrank from every idea that was connected ...
— The Queen of Hearts • Wilkie Collins

... did Flea realize the powerlessness of the rigid boy at her side to help her, that she dropped his hand and alone went nearer ...
— From the Valley of the Missing • Grace Miller White

... assure himself that he was acting upon his own forceful initiative, but at the back of his mind was the completest realisation of his powerlessness to resist the gigantic social forces he had set in motion. He had got to marry under the will of society, even as in times past it has been appointed for other sunny souls under the will of society that they should be led out by serious and unavoidable fellow-creatures and ceremoniously ...
— The History of Mr. Polly • H. G. Wells

... arose, by his tendencies, his progressive instincts and his love of popularity, an exception to the Popes of later times: to whom Providence, as if to teach mankind the absolute powerlessness of the institution, opened, in the love and in the illusions of the people, the path to a new life. So great is the fascination exercised by great memories—so great is the power of ancient customs—so feverish, in these multitudes who are said ...
— The International Magazine, Volume 2, No. 2, January, 1851 • Various

... his, he would have snapped the ropes that bound him like packthread, and would have cut the throat of every man around him. When he was placed upon the substitute for a "block," and felt by a motion of his elbows his utter powerlessness, the dogged and indifferent state came on, but it did not last. It could not. His Christian ...
— In the Track of the Troops • R.M. Ballantyne

... of her best-loved relative,—whether or no he remained lost to all the world under the unknown name of a French Chasseur. And yet it smote her with a certain dull, unanalyzed pain; it gave her a certain emotion of powerlessness and of hopelessness to realize that he would remain all his years through, until an Arab's shot should set him free, under this bondage of renunciation, beneath this yoke of service. She stood silent long, leaning ...
— Under Two Flags • Ouida [Louise de la Ramee]

... doleful lamentations, she universally inspired deep pity." She had, indeed, lost much besides her royal husband; and in a poem written by her afterwards, the waste of her youth in widowhood, the loss of her great position as Queen of France, and her powerlessness any longer to enforce her rule in Scotland by French power, are the main burden of her complaints against Providence, not pity for the ...
— The World's Greatest Books, Vol X • Various

... all is vanity": and is thus the necessary introduction to the Song of Solomon, which shows how true blessing and satisfaction are to be possessed. In like manner our SAVIOUR'S teaching in the fourth of John points out in a word the powerlessness of earthly things to give lasting satisfaction, in striking contrast with the flow of blessing that results from the presence of the HOLY GHOST (whose work it is, not to reveal Himself but CHRIST as the Bridegroom of the soul); ...
— Union And Communion - or Thoughts on the Song of Solomon • J. Hudson Taylor

... of its constitution the synod has no power to alter the Prayer-Book. At every session this point is debated afresh, with the only result of throwing up into clearer relief the powerlessness of the synod with regard to it. Another matter which comes up for regular treatment is the admission of women to a vote at parish meetings. The measure has hitherto always been defeated by the vote of the clerical ...
— A History of the English Church in New Zealand • Henry Thomas Purchas

... and their friends, by recovering eighty votes from the one hundred and fifteen of the actual Opposition, or by an appeal to a new Chamber. This last measure it will never adopt; and by the side of the powerlessness of the existing Cabinet, stands the impossibility of escaping from it by the aid of the right-hand party. An ultra ministry is impossible. The events in Spain, whatever they may ultimately lead to, ...
— Memoirs To Illustrate The History Of My Time - Volume 1 • Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

... Tell" offers an amusing study of the play of social conventions. The "twins" illustrate the disconcerting effects of that perfect frankness which would make life intolerable. Gloria demonstrates the powerlessness of reason to overcome natural instincts. The idea that parental duties and functions can be fulfilled by the light of such knowledge as man and woman attain by intuition is brilliantly lampooned. Crampton, ...
— Arms and the Man • George Bernard Shaw

... vile slanderer, but she might meet other beings as vile as herself who would be only too glad to believe her falsehoods. And to think that he was powerless to punish her! He now realized the suffering his mother had spoken of—the most atrocious suffering which the lover can endure—powerlessness to protect the object of his affections, when she is assailed. Engrossed in these gloomy thoughts, Pascal preserved a sullen silence during the repast. He ate because his mother filled his plate; but if he had been questioned, he could scarcely have told what he was eating. And yet, ...
— Baron Trigault's Vengeance - Volume 2 (of 2) • Emile Gaboriau

... sword across the table, the point in close proximity to his chest, he obeyed, uttering a heavy sigh at his powerlessness. I then threw the bowl into the bed, taking careful aim so that it might make no sound. At that moment I saw La Chatre look towards the chamber in which were Montignac and mademoiselle, and there came on his face the sign ...
— An Enemy To The King • Robert Neilson Stephens

... downfall of King Cotton. He was an exploded superstition. He was unable, despite the cotton famine, to coerce the English workingmen into siding with a country which they regarded, because of its support of slavery, as inimical to their interests. At home, the Government confessed the powerlessness of King Cotton by a change of its attitude toward export. During the latter part of the war, the Government secured the meager funds at its disposal abroad by rushing cotton in swift ships through the blockade. So important did this traffic become that the Confederacy passed stringent laws to ...
— The Day of the Confederacy - A Chronicle of the Embattled South, Volume 30 In The - Chronicles Of America Series • Nathaniel W. Stephenson

... afterward, I tried to re-write it—to show it to the world. Anna, you must have pity on us all! But I must say it was not only the desire for glory and praise, as in the case of the English artist, which impelled me to close my ears to the sweet, gentle voice out of the past, so strong in its powerlessness, 'You will not take it back from me, will you, Philip?' It was not only for the sake of showing off in a book of great beauty. It was also to refresh my memory, for all our ...
— The Inferno • Henri Barbusse

... repeated on the Porta Pia; and the Vatican, indignant at its powerlessness to suppress these symptoms of disaffection, is anxious to stir up the crowd to some overt act of insurrection, which may justify or, at any rate, palliate the employment of violent measures. So in order to incense the crowd, the public executioner ...
— Rome in 1860 • Edward Dicey

... of my Memphis, I kept silence. I hated—myself! for my powerlessness to keep her. In my hours of madness I hated her too, and him; but that was madness indeed! Deeper down was a sanity that loved him. Since he had made my love his, I must love him. So only might I still love her. The only beauty left my ruins ...
— Idolatry - A Romance • Julian Hawthorne

... accustomed to hot suppers, and whisky-and-water after them. Meanwhile I fell into greater difficulties than ever in my ministry. I wonder now that I was not stopped earlier. I was entirely unorthodox, through mere powerlessness to believe, and the catalogue of the articles of faith to which I might be said really to subscribe was very brief. I could no longer preach any of the dogmas which had always been preached in the chapel, and I strove to avoid a direct ...
— The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford • Mark Rutherford

... know it. They must be transported for the crimes which they have committed, the massacres and the conspiracies already proved against them." The decree was passed. But Napoleon, strong in popularity, became so convinced of the powerlessness and insignificance of these Jacobins, that the decree was never enforced against them. They remained in France. But they were conscious that the eye of the police was upon them. "It is not my own person," said Napoleon, "that I seek to avenge. My fortune which has preserved ...
— Napoleon Bonaparte • John S. C. Abbott

... Bismarck; it is a national humiliation, a lowering in the eyes of Europe, a blow to German prestige, all the more serious because up to 1911 the military supremacy of Germany was unchallenged, and French anarchy and the powerlessness of the Republic were a ...
— The Story of the Great War, Volume I (of 8) - Introductions; Special Articles; Causes of War; Diplomatic and State Papers • Various

... king will attempt to override the constitution; it is more likely that he will ignore the constitution and work behind its back; he will take no advantage of his kingly power; it is more likely that he will take advantage of his kingly powerlessness, of the fact that he is free from criticism and publicity. For the king is the most private person of our time. It will not be necessary for any one to fight again against the proposal of a censorship of the press. We do not need a censorship of the press. ...
— Orthodoxy • G. K. Chesterton

... just as peasants, for lack of words to express their feelings, become stolid, so it is with the Englishman from sheer lack of the habit of self-expression. Nor is the Englishman deliberately hypocritical; but his tenacity, combined with his powerlessness to express his feelings, often gives him the appearance of a hypocrite. He is inarticulate, has not the clear and fluent cynicism of expansive natures wherewith to confess exactly how he stands. It is the habit of men of all nations to want to have things both ways; the ...
— New York Times Current History; The European War, Vol 2, No. 3, June, 1915 - April-September, 1915 • Various

... by that terrible powerlessness which paralyzes us in our dreams; I try to cry out—but I cannot; I want to move—I cannot; I try, with the most violent efforts and out of breath, to turn over and throw off this being which is crushing and ...
— Library of the World's Best Mystery and Detective Stories • Edited by Julian Hawthorne

... heavenly road. Such a moment could not but be regarded with anxiety by primitive man so soon as he began to observe and ponder the courses of the great lights across the celestial vault; and having still to learn his own powerlessness in face of the vast cyclic changes of nature, he may have fancied that he could help the sun in his seeming decline—could prop his failing steps and rekindle the sinking flame of the red lamp in his feeble hand. In some such thoughts as these the midsummer festivals of our European peasantry ...
— Balder The Beautiful, Vol. I. • Sir James George Frazer

... sea,—in this wild tumult of wind and rain,—in the vast waste of waves which the thick darkness shrouded, and where death was riding? "God help me!" he cried in sudden frenzy,—"God help me!" He looked up at the thick, black depths of sky with a groan of agony when he remembered his utter powerlessness. But what right had he to look to Heaven for aid?—he who knew not God, nor sought him, nor desired his love? The bitterness of this thought made him groan and beat his breast. Would He—whom all his life long he had ...
— Culm Rock - The Story of a Year: What it Brought and What it Taught • Glance Gaylord

... said to himself, striking out his hands in a kind of feverish protest, as he strode along, against his own powerlessness, against that weight of the present and the actual which seems to the enthusiast alternately light as air, or heavy as the mass of AEtna on the breast ...
— Robert Elsmere • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... and required Joanna's signature to an important document. She flew to him with a pretty air of delight, drew him by the arm to an escritoire in a corner of the room, and laughed girlishly as she inked her fingers and confessed her powerlessness to comprehend the deed she was signing. Paragot, after a very cold exchange of greetings with Major Walters, sat down by our card-table, and watched the game with the funereal expression he always wore when he desired ...
— The Beloved Vagabond • William J. Locke

... Sigognac, for it was indeed the lord of the manor who now entered, was a young man of five or six and twenty; though at first sight he seemed much older, because of the deep gravity, even sadness, of his demeanour; the feeling of utter powerlessness which poverty brings having effectually chased away all the natural piety and light-heartedness of youth. Dark circles surrounded his sunken eyes, his cheeks were hollow, his mustache drooped in a sorrowful curve over his sad mouth. His long black hair was negligently pushed back from his ...
— Captain Fracasse • Theophile Gautier

... then left the room. He still indecisively lingered beside the body. He was deeply troubled at the wretchedly ironical aspect that circumstances were putting on with regard to Troy's wife, and at his own powerlessness to counteract them. In spite of his careful manoeuvering all this day, the very worst event that could in any way have happened in connection with the burial had happened now. Oak imagined a terrible discovery ...
— Far from the Madding Crowd • Thomas Hardy

... house. John reproached himself bitterly, but he made no further attempt to screw his courage up to the point of proposing. His disappointment was followed by doubts. Was his powerlessness a sign from God that he was abandoning his true vocation for a false one? and a little shaken, he attempted to interest himself in the re-building of his house; but the project had grown impossible to him, and he felt he could not embrace it again, with any of ...
— A Mere Accident • George Moore

... policies and promises, then it must be held responsible for making those promises good through its State branches.... If the Connecticut Republican leaders can play a free hand without interference from the national party, then that party faces the alternative of either admitting powerlessness and disintegration or of being an accomplice in ...
— The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume VI • Various

... represses the utterances of love is the characteristic shyness of the Anglo-Saxon blood. Oddly enough, a race born of two demonstrative, outspoken nations—the German and the French—has an habitual reserve that is like neither. There is a powerlessness of utterance in our blood that we should fight against, and struggle outward towards expression. We can educate ourselves to it, if we know and feel the necessity; we can make it a Christian duty, ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 15, No. 90, April, 1865 • Various

... be working all over Canada, freely distributing American gold and holding secret meetings. The position of affairs was one of increasing gravity owing to the connivance of the American authorities and the powerlessness of the Home Government. So matters progressed until the spring of 1887, when the situation became one of extreme tension. The Conservatives were taunted with having ruined the country financially and with pursuing a "Jingo" ...
— The Dominion in 1983 • Ralph Centennius

... she had unsuspiciously fallen into the cruel iron jaws of the relentless machine. She sat in that chair by the fire, gazing at the hissing logs as they spat at the flames that licked them, and felt all the powerlessness, all the impotence, that the frightened rabbit knows when it is caught in the device ...
— Sally Bishop - A Romance • E. Temple Thurston

... Her light was not strong enough to stand that blast, Eleanor knew; it would be blown out directly;—and she left in darkness. In a desperate sense of this, a desperate resolve to overcome it somehow, a despairing powerlessness to contend, she sat at the window seeing nothing. She was brought to herself at last by Julia's, "Eleanor—Mr. Rhys wants you to take a cup of tea." Eleanor turned round mechanically, took the cup, and changed her place ...
— The Old Helmet, Volume I • Susan Warner

... niggers in this rotten country!" breathed Tryon, at last, and, with the words, expressed all the weight of the white man's burden in Africa, mingled with rage at his present powerlessness to smite the evil-doer. Druro grinned. It was not his funeral, and, to the wise, no further words were necessary. But Mrs. Hading had not been long enough in Africa to be wise. This final calamity seemed all part and ...
— Blue Aloes - Stories of South Africa • Cynthia Stockley

... exact feudal services from him. The merchant was galled by the trading restrictions and the heavy taxation. The country gentry rebelled against their exclusion from public life and from the government of the country. Its powerlessness to bring about any change at home turned all this new energy into sympathy with a struggle against tyranny abroad. Public opinion forced France to ally itself with America in its contest for liberty, and ...
— History of the English People, Volume VIII (of 8) - Modern England, 1760-1815 • John Richard Green

... hungry, worn out, nearly naked, and shelterless, and such was their misery and despair, that had they not suddenly stumbled upon a large frame building used by negro laborers on the railroad, they would have been recaptured from utter powerlessness to seek concealment, or have fallen by the wayside ...
— Sword and Pen - Ventures and Adventures of Willard Glazier • John Algernon Owens

... heaped upon her by "The Dunciad" injured her prospects cannot be doubted. She was far from being a "signal illustration of the powerlessness of this attack upon the immediate fortunes of those assailed," as Professor Lounsbury describes her.[16] It is true that she continued to write, though with less frequency than before, and that some of her best-sellers were produced at a time when Pope's influence was ...
— The Life and Romances of Mrs. Eliza Haywood • George Frisbie Whicher

... his; their lips met. Then, with her arm around him, she half forced, half supported him to the port quarter, where his boat was slopping against the side. He wanted to resist; he wanted to cry out and tell her the truth, but a strange, leaden powerlessness benumbed him. He got into the dinghy, drew in the dripping painter she cast after him, and watched her ease the sheet and set the vessel scudding for the passage. With her black hair flying in the wind, her bare arms resting ...
— Wild Justice: Stories of the South Seas • Lloyd Osbourne

... person. He was received with obstinate silence. It was in vain that he called on member after member to answer; and his appeal to More, who had been elected to fill the chair of the House of Commons, was met by the Speaker's falling on his knees and representing his powerlessness to reply till he had received instructions from the House itself. The effort to overawe the Commons had in fact failed, and Wolsey was forced to retire. He had no sooner withdrawn than an angry debate began, and the Cardinal returned to answer ...
— History of the English People, Volume III (of 8) - The Parliament, 1399-1461; The Monarchy 1461-1540 • John Richard Green

... charge of the experiments, sums up as to the use of the guns as fog-signals by saying: "The duration of the sound is so short that, unless the observer is prepared beforehand, the sound, through lack of attention rather than through its own powerlessness, is liable to be unheard. Its liability to be quenched by local sound is so great that it is sometimes obliterated by a puff of wind taking possession of the ears at the time of its arrival. Its liability to be quenched by an opposing wind, ...
— Scientific American Supplement, Vol. XIX, No. 470, Jan. 3, 1885 • Various

... the state of the cause: socialism incessantly denounces the crimes of civilization, verifies daily the powerlessness of political economy to satisfy the harmonic attractions of man, and presents petition after petition; political economy fills its brief with socialistic systems, all of which, one after another, pass away and die, despised by common sense. The persistence ...
— The Philosophy of Misery • Joseph-Pierre Proudhon

... whatsoever in the events of the war, their sympathies were undoubtedly with the people of South Africa. They suffered with and for their friends, and they must frequently have been weighed down by a sense of their powerlessness to alleviate the distress around them, which they were forced to witness; but they were, without exception, men of high integrity, and observed with strict honour the obligations laid upon them by ...
— The Petticoat Commando - Boer Women in Secret Service • Johanna Brandt

... Pa's eyes with a harsh handkerchief and would rebuke him for his decay. Those were hard moments in the Blanchard home, for the two girls had grown almost manlike in abhorrence of tears, and with this masculine distaste had arisen a corresponding feeling of powerlessness in face of emotion which they could not share. It was as though Pa had become something like an old and beloved dog, unable to speak, pitied and despised, yet claiming by his very dumbness something that they could only give by means of pats and half-bullying kindness. At such ...
— Nocturne • Frank Swinnerton

... went swiftly by and my powerlessness to influence him filled me with self-contempt. Of course, I said to myself, if I knew him better I should be able to help him. Would vanity do anything? It was his mainspring; I could but try. He might be led by the hope of making Englishmen talk of him again, talk of him as one who had dared to ...
— Oscar Wilde, Volume 1 (of 2) - His Life and Confessions • Frank Harris

... of what was to be accomplished. Such, as nearly as I can now recollect, is an outline of his discourse. It was thoroughly characteristic of him. He always talked in this fashion. He was for ever insisting on the aimlessness of modern life, on the powerlessness of its vague activities to mould men into anything good, to restrain them from evil or moderate their passions, and he was possessed by a vision of a new Christianity which was to take the place of the old and dead theologies. I have reported him in my own ...
— Mark Rutherford's Deliverance • Mark Rutherford

... are born; and with their birth a new life begins. To take into the inmost shrine of the soul the irresistible forces whose puppets we seem to be—Death and change, the irrevocableness of the past, and the powerlessness of man before the blind hurry of the universe from vanity to vanity—to feel these things and know them is to ...
— Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays • Bertrand Russell

... Nerve.—When this nerve is compressed, as by sitting on a fence, there is tingling and powerlessness in the limb as a whole, known as "sleeping" of the limb, but these phenomena are evanescent. Injuries to the great sciatic nerve are rare except in war. Partial division is more common than complete, and it is noteworthy that the fibres destined for ...
— Manual of Surgery - Volume First: General Surgery. Sixth Edition. • Alexis Thomson and Alexander Miles

... round to see if there was a second grave, but there was no sign of one. Lucy had been carried back by their terrible pursuers to fulfil her original destiny, by becoming one of the harem of the Elder's son. As the young fellow realized the certainty of her fate, and his own powerlessness to prevent it, he wished that he, too, was lying with the old farmer ...
— A Study In Scarlet • Arthur Conan Doyle

... who died for men, she has devoted herself to women. For the powerlessness of Jehovah is demonstrated by the transgression of Adam, and we must shake off the old law, opposed, as it is, to the order of things. I have preached the new Gospel in Ephraim and in Issachar, along the torrent of ...
— The Temptation of St. Antony - or A Revelation of the Soul • Gustave Flaubert

... and his fury came instantly to a head. Rage at his defeat at the hands of the dentist and before Selina's eyes, the hate he still bore his old-time "pal" and the impotent wrath of his own powerlessness were suddenly unleashed. ...
— McTeague • Frank Norris

... populace on the scaffold," said the Abbe Dutheil. "The great scandal and horror his conduct will excite may hide our defeat and powerlessness. In fact, as I have just been saying to Monsieur de Grancour, this very spectacle may drive other sinners into ...
— The Village Rector • Honore de Balzac

... Cherokees at Hopewell, on Keowee, in South Carolina. In this treaty the Commissioners promised altogether too much. They paid little heed to the rights and needs of the settlers. Neither did they keep in mind the powerlessness of the Federal Government to enforce against these settlers what their treaty promised the Indians. The pioneers along the upper Tennessee and the Cumberland had made various arrangements with bands of the Cherokees, sometimes acting on their ...
— The Winning of the West, Volume Three - The Founding of the Trans-Alleghany Commonwealths, 1784-1790 • Theodore Roosevelt

... morning—at least that was what Cuthbert judged him to say, for he could speak no word of the man's language. His actions, however, as he looked toward the sky, and shook his head, spoke for themselves, and Cuthbert, feeling his own powerlessness in a situation so novel to him, felt serious misgivings ...
— The Boy Knight • G.A. Henty

... the dead Jailer of Harmony Jail had known these two faithful servants to be honest and true. While he raged at them and reviled them for opposing him with the speech of the honest and true, it had scratched his stony heart, and he had perceived the powerlessness of all his wealth to buy them if he had addressed himself to the attempt. So, even while he was their griping taskmaster and never gave them a good word, he had written their names down in his will. ...
— Our Mutual Friend • Charles Dickens

... distinguished Chicago editor. There, as Miss Anthony listened to the prayers and exhortations of the Presbyterian ministers and to the arguments of Miss Tod, and heard no appeals to the audience to join in the work of suppressing the traffic, a realizing sense of the utter powerlessness of the queen's subjects in Ireland dawned upon her for the first time. In all that crowd there was not one who had any voice in the decision of that question. The entire control of the matter rested with three magistrates appointed by the queen, who are in nowise responsible ...
— History of Woman Suffrage, Volume III (of III) • Various

... dead myself," said the sick man seriously, as befitted a man under the shadow of death; "and I have no wish to live. The sooner I am out of this pain and powerlessness the ...
— Stories by American Authors, Volume 3 • Various

... tremblingly from her chair. She was so weak that she could hardly cross the room; but the thought of death seemed to give her courage, and without it she thought she never would have had the strength to get upstairs. The attraction was extraordinary, and her powerlessness to resist it was part of the fascination, and she looked round the room like a victim looking for the knife. She could not see the bottle on her dressing-table, and accepting this as a favourable omen, ...
— Evelyn Innes • George Moore

... phantoms, palm-trees, lofty pillars, pyramids, porches, and a thousand other illusions, surround us on all sides. One figure, concerning which all agree, is a long-haired goat, the Evil One in that form. But some one has broken the head, perhaps to show the powerlessness of the enchanted guardian of the cave. Some say that there are no living animals here, but there is no doubt that there are bats; and an exploring party, who passed the night here, not only heard the hissing of the rattlesnake, but were startled by the apparition of ...
— Life in Mexico • Frances Calderon de la Barca

... successfully disappeared during the last two weeks that Real was convinced she had escaped to England. Nothing could be done without d'Ache or Mme. Acquet. The failure of the pursuit, showing the organised strength of the royalist party and the powerlessness of the government, would justify Caffarelli's indolent neutrality. On the other hand, Licquet knew that failure spelled ruin for him. He had made the affair his business; his prefect, Savoye-Rollin, was very half-hearted about it, and quite ready to stop all proceedings ...
— The House of the Combrays • G. le Notre

... wasted away in their own treason; one by one they fell in the potter's field; and the Raphael who seemed sent and inspired from heaven that he might paint Apostles and Prophets, sank at once into powerlessness at the feet ...
— The Stones of Venice, Volume III (of 3) • John Ruskin

... his literary apprenticeship in two or three coffee-houses, becomes a member of the Society of Men of Letters, attacks, with or without reason, men of talent who don't read his articles, assumes a milder tone on seeing the powerlessness of his criticisms, offers novelettes to the papers which toss them from one to the other as if they were shuttlecocks: and, after five or six years of exercises more or less fatiguing, of dreadful privations which seriously tax his ...
— Analytical Studies • Honore de Balzac

... till pulled up short by a judgment of the Supreme Court. With us factions in the colonies are clamorous and violent, with the hope of producing effect on the Imperial Parliament and Government, just in proportion to their powerlessness at home. The history of Canada during the past year furnishes ample evidence of this truth. Why was there so much violence on the part of the opposition here last summer, particularly against the ...
— Letters and Journals of James, Eighth Earl of Elgin • James, Eighth Earl of Elgin

... Luther found the theology of St. Augustine in accord with the testimony of the great Apostle. While studying that theology, his conviction of the power of sin and the powerlessness of man's own strength to overcome it, grew more and more decided. But St. Paul taught him to understand that belief somewhat differently to St. Augustine. To Luther it was not merely a recognition of objective ...
— Life of Luther • Julius Koestlin



Words linked to "Powerlessness" :   impuissance, ineffectuality, uninterestingness, power, voicelessness, weakness, impotency, powerless, helplessness, quality, paper tiger, ineffectiveness, ineffectualness, unpersuasiveness, powerfulness



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