Frances Sheridan, Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph (1767), p. 255

She left me, and Mr. Arnold in a few minutes entered the room. He approached me speechless; my arms were extended to receive him; he fell into them; we neither of us spoke; there was no language but tears, which we both shed plentifully.

This passage depicts not the unspeakable (in the sense of the unmentionable, taboo, and inconceivable), but, rather, the unutterable (in the sense of that which cannot be conveyed with words). Ordinary language is incapable of communicating the most intense emotions, which instead become observable through the body's physiological responses. Often, these responses come in the form of fainting spells or tears-- "I could not speak; I burst into tears:-- there was something dreadful in his silence," says Sidney, describing her response to Faulkland's return to England (421). Just as often, silence is the only appropriate response-- as when Faulkland hears that Sidney will finally marry him: "I have no words, he replied, I can find none, it is all here; and he laid his hand on his heart, his eyes fixed with delight on his face" (451).

Related terms:

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