When some English moralists write about the importance of having character, they appear to mean only the importance of having a dull character.
There is no manner of doubt that a town surrounded by water is a very fine sight; but a town surrounded by land is much finer.Can there be any comparison in point of beauty, between the dull monotony of a watery surface, and the delightful variety of gardens, meadows, hills and woods ?c.1780 A View of Society and Manners in Italy.
China asked for a sword, and we gave her a dull paring knife.Of China's collapse to Communism. Quoted in David Halberstam The Fifties (1993).
Nature is a wary wily long-breathed old Witch, tough-lived as a Turtle and divisible as the Polyp, repullulative in a thousand Snips and Cuttings, integra et in toto! She is sure to get the better of Lady MIND in the long run, and to take her revenge too transforms our To Day into a Canvass dead-colored to receive the dull featureless Portait of Yesterday.Samuel Taylor Coleridge
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven: We know her woof, her texture; she is given In the dull catalogue of common things. Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings, Conquer all mysteries by rule and line, Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.john keats
So living Nature, not dull Art, Shall plan my ways and rule my heart.Nature and Art, st. 12 (1868).
What is known for certain is dull.Max Ferdinand Perutz, 'My Commonplace Book', in I Wish I'd Made You Angry Earlier (1998), 314
How all occasions do inform against me, And spur my dull revenge!Hamlet, scene iv
Society is as needful to us as air or food. A child doomed to utter loneliness, growing up without sight or sound of human beings, would not put forth equal power with many brutes; and a man, never brought into contact with minds superior to his own, will probably run one and the same dull round of thought and action to the end of llfe.William Ellery Channing, in "Self-Culture", an address in Boston (September 1838)