In the context from which "We would see a sign" comes, namely, the gospels, the term does not refer to vulgar, crowd-pleasing phenomena.  It refers, as I said earlier, to events (usually miraculous) that sign-ify something transcendent.  The disapproval the evangelist is expressing in this scene is not disapproval of the concept behind the word "sign" but disapproval of the crowd, who asks for a sign even though, by asking, they prove themselves incapable of perceiving the one they have already been given.  I can't imagine that Eliot would have missed that irony in the gospel scene.


From: Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tue, March 16, 2010 8:16:32 AM
Subject: Re: signs and wonders

I'm not clear whether signs are good, and wonders only superficial spectacles, or vice-versa. "We would see a sign!" suggests signs are vulgar crowd-pleasing phenomena.


Sent from my iPod

On Mar 15, 2010, at 9:09 PM, "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Fri, 12 Mar 2010 11:29:48 -0500, Terry Traynor <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> from "Gerontion":
>>      Signs are taken for wonders. "We would see a sign!"
>> Does anybody know the difference between signs and wonders?
>> Terry
> As I wrote in another post I was reading chapter 25 of Henry Adams'
> autobiography.  As I was something put the thought in my mind that
> Eliot may have taken the technological devices written about by
> Adams' as "signs" and the Godly miracles as the wonders.
> He is one statement by Adams that may come closest to the idea:
>  As he grew accustomed to the great gallery of machines,
>  he began to feel the forty-foot dynamos as a moral force,
>  much as the early Christians felt the Cross.
> Regards,
>  Rick Parker
> Here are some links and other bits of information that may be
> helpful in a reading of "Gerontion" or else just a start on some
> surfing. I'm including this information redundantly in two different
> Eliot list posts on "Gerontion" that both mention Adam's chapter 25
> of his autobiography.  One post deals with signs and wonders and the
> other with the Virgin Mary and history.
> Henry Adams was a third cousin of T.S. Eliot's father, Henry Ware
> Eliot, Sr., whose mother was Abigail Adams Cranch, a grandchild of
> Mary (Smith) Cranch, sister of Abigail (Smith) Adams.
> Wikipedia article about
> Henry Adams
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Adams
> Henry Brooks Adams (February 16, 1838 – March 27, 1918; normally called
> Henry Adams) was an American journalist, historian, academic and novelist.
> Wikipedia article about the book
> The Education of Henry Adams
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Education_of_Henry_Adams
> Chapter 25 of The Education of Henry Adams
> The Dynamo and the Virgin (1900)
> http://www.bartleby.com/159/25.html
> Eliot wrote a review of Adams' book.
> C79. A Sceptical Patrician. Athenaeum, 4647 (May 23, 1919) 361-2.
> A review, signed: T.S.E., of The Education of Henry Adams, An Autobiography.
> In Chapter 25 of his book Adams writes of the Paris World's Fair of 1900.
> Two prominent men mentioned are Langley and St. Gaudens.
> Wikipedia article about
> Exposition Universelle (1900)
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposition_Universelle_(1900)
> The Exposition Universelle of 1900 was a world's fair held in
> Paris, France, to celebrate the achievements of the past century
> and to accelerate development into the next.
> Wikipedia article about
> Samuel Pierpont Langley
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Pierpont_Langley
> Samuel Pierpont Langley (August 22, 1834, Roxbury, Massachusetts –
> February 27, 1906, Aiken, South Carolina) was an American astronomer,
> physicist, inventor of the bolometer and pioneer of aviation.
> Wikipedia article about
> Augustus Saint-Gaudens
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_Saint-Gaudens
> Augustus Saint-Gaudens (March 1, 1848, Dublin, Ireland – August 3,
> 1907, Cornish, New Hampshire), was the Irish-born American sculptor of
> the Beaux-Arts generation who most embodied the ideals of the "American
> Renaissance".
> Adams had previously commissioned Saint-Gaudens to produce a memorial
> for his wife (who had committed suicide).  The public reaction was
> disappointing to Adams.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adams_Memorial_(grave marker)
> Also related to Eliot's poem "Gerontion" are allusions to
> to Lancelot Andrewes:
> Wikipedia article about
> Lancelot Andrewes
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancelot_Andrewes
> Lancelot Andrewes (1555 – 25 September 1626) was an English
> clergyman and scholar, who held high positions in the Church of
> England during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.
> During the latter's reign, Andrewes served successively as Bishop
> of Chichester, Ely and Winchester and oversaw the translation of
> the Authorized Version (or King James Version) of the Bible.
> Lancelot Andrewes: T.S. Eliot's Essay on Bishop Andrewes
> http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=288693049002
> Lancelot Andrewes Works, Sermons, Volume One
> Preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Wednesday,
> the Twenty-fifth of December, A.D. MDCXXII.
> "Christ is no wild-cat."
> http://anglicanhistory.org/lact/andrewes/v1/sermon15.html
> Lancelot Andrewes Works, Sermons, Volume One
> Preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Friday,
> the Twenty-fifth of December, A.D. MDCXVIII.
> "Signs are taken for wonders"
> http://anglicanhistory.org/lact/andrewes/v1/sermon12.html
> corrupted?