I thought I could not breathe in that fine air That pure severity of perfect light I yearned for warmth and colour which I found In Lancelot.Tennyson: 1859 Idylls of the King,'Guinevere', l.640-3.
Nothing has raised more questioning among my critics thanthese wordsnoble, thegrand style Ithink it will be found that the grand style arises in poetry, when a noble nature, poetically gifted, treats with simplicity or with severity a serious subject.Matthew Arnold: 1862 On Translating Homer; Last Words.
Summer has set in with its usual severity.Samuel Taylor Coleridge: 1826 Letter to Vincent Novello, 9 May.
The economic repercussions of a stock market crash depend less on the severity of the crash itself than on the response of economic policymakers, particularly central bankers.ben bernanke: "A Crash Course for Central Bankers," Foreign Policy (September/October 2000)
“You couldn't have given me less encouragement, or treated me with greater severity than you did! And if you think you have wronged me by giving me your friendship, and occasionally admitting to me to the enjoyment of your company and conversation, when all hopes of close intimacy were vain - as indeed you always gave me to understand - if you think you have wronged me by this, you are mistaken; for such favours, in themselves alone, are not only delightful to my heart, but purifying, exalting, ennobling to my soul; and I would rather have your friendship than the love of any other woman in the world!”anne brontë: Gilbert to Helen (Ch. XII : A Tête-à-tête and a Discovery)
For there have been some people, otherwise good and holy, who saw that intemperance and luxury time and again drive man to throw off all restraints unless he is curbed by the utmost severity. And in their desire to correct such a pernicious evil they have adopted the only method which they saw fit, namely to permit earthly blessings only insofar as they were an absolute necessity. This advice showed the best of intentions but was far too rigid. For they committed the very dangerous error of imposing on the consequence of others stricter rules than those laid down in the Word of the Lord. By restricting people within the demands of necessity, they meant abstinence from everything possible. On the other hand, there are many nowadays who seek a pretext to excuse intemperance in the use of the external things, and who desire to indulge the lusts of the flesh. Such people take for granted that liberty should not be restricted by any limitations at all; but to this we can never agree. We must grant, indeed, that it is not right or possible to bind the consciences of others with hard and fast rules.john calvin: Page 85
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.william lloyd garrison: "To the Public", No. 1 (1 January 1831)
Allow me to congratulate you, and, through you, the people of Oregon, that peace and prosperity surround us. The prospects for Oregon were never more promising, save the shadows from the fires of secession which are blazing around our childhood homes. Though we have had a winter of unprecedented severity and devastating floods, no traitorous hand has been raised to tear down our national flag and subvert our beloved institutions.A. C. Gibbs (September 1862) "Governor A. C. Gibbs Inaugural Address, 1862", Oregon State Archives, Oregon Secretary of State, Source: Journals. Local Laws Oregon., 1862, Appendix, Special Message, Page 58.
The chaste severity of the fathers in whatever related to the commerce of the two sexes flowed from the same principle their abhorrence of every enjoyment which might gratify the sensual and degrade the spiritual nature of man. It was their favourite opinion, that if Adam had preserved his obedience to the Creator, he would have lived for ever in a state of virgin purity, and that some harmless mode of vegetation might have peopled paradise with a race of innocent and immortal beings. The use of marriage was permitted only to his fallen posterity, as a necessary expedient to continue the human species, and as a restraint, however imperfect, on the natural licentiousness of desire. The enumeration of the very whimsical laws which they most circumstantially imposed on the marriage-bed would force a smile from the young and a blush from the fair. It was their unanimous sentiment that a first marriage was adequate to all the purposes of nature and of society. The sensual connection was refined into a resemblance of the mystic union of Christ with his church, and was pronounced to be indissoluble either by divorce or by death. The practice of second nuptials was branded with the name of a legal adultery; and the persons who were guilty of so scandalous an offence against Christian purity were soon excluded from the honours, and even from the arms, of the church. Since desire was imputed as a crime, and marriage was tolerated as a defect, it was consistent with the same principles to consider a state of celibacy as the nearest approach to the Divine perfection.Edward Gibbon (1788), The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1, Chap. 15, on the progress of the Christian religion, and the sentiments, manners, numbers, and condition of the primitive Christians 
After he [Servetus] had been recognized, I thought he should be detained. My friend Nicolas summoned him on a capital charge, offering himself as a security according to the lex talionis . On the following day he adduced against him forty written charges. He at first sought to evade them. Accordingly we were summoned. He impudently reviled me, just as if he regarded me as obnoxious to him. I answered him as he deserved … of the man's effrontery I will say nothing; but such was his madness that he did not hesitate to say that devils possessed divinity; yea, that many gods were in individual devils, inasmuch as a deity had been substantially communicated to those equally with wood and stone. I hope that sentence of death will at least be passed on him; but I desired that the severity of the punishment be mitigated.John Calvin, to William Farel on the execution for heresy of Michael Servetus, 20 August 1553, Bonnet, Jules (1820–1892) Letters of John Calvin, Carlisle, Penn: Banner of Truth Trust, 1980, pp. 158–159. ISBN 0-85151-323-9. Servetus was arrested while attending a church service officated by Calvin.
Whoever shall maintain that wrong is done to heretics and blasphemers in punishing them makes himself an accomplice in their crime and guilty as they are. There is no question here of man's authority; it is God who speaks, and clear it is what law he will have kept in the church, even to the end of the world. Wherefore does he demand of us a so extreme severity, if not to show us that due honor is not paid him, so long as we set not his service above every human consideration, so that we spare not kin, nor blood of any, and forget all humanity when the matter is to combat for His glory.John Calvin's justification of torture and execution for heretics. John Marshall, John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History), Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-521-65114-X p. 325.
The partisan situation in the Italian theater, particularly central Italy, has deteriorated to such an extent that it constitutes a serious danger to troops, supply lines, war industry and economic potential. The fight against the partisans must be carried out with all means at our disposal and with utmost severity. I will protect any commander who exceeds our usual restraint in the choice of methods in executing one's orders is better than failure or neglect to act.albert kesselring: June 17, 1944. Quoted in "Mussolini: The Last 600 Days of Il Duce" - Page 131 - by Ray Moseley - History - 2004
In the First Account of Self-Hypnosis, it is commonly said that seeing is believing, but feeling is the very truth . I shall, therefore, give the result of my experience of hypnotism in my own person. In the middle of September, 1844, I suffered from a most severe attack of rheumatism , implicating the left side of the neck and chest, and the left arm. At first the pain was moderately severe, and I took some medicine to remove it; but, instead of this, it became more and more violent, and had tormented me for three days, and was so excruciating, that it entirely deprived me of sleep for three nights successively, and on the last of the three nights I could not remain in any one posture for five minutes, from the severity of the pain. On the forenoon of the next day, whilst visiting my patients, every jolt of the carriage I could only compare to several sharp instruments being thrust through my shoulder, neck, and chest. A full inspiration was attended with stabbing pain, such as is experienced in pleurisy . When I returned home for dinner I could neither turn my head, lift my arm, nor draw a breath, without suffering extreme pain. In this condition I resolved to try the effects of hypnotism. I requested two friends, who were present, and who both understood the system, to watch the effects, and arouse me when I had passed sufficiently into the condition; and, with their assurance that they would give strict attention to their charge, I sat down and hypnotised myself, extending the extremities. At the expiration of nine minutes they aroused me, and, to my agreeable surprise, I was quite free from pain, being able to move in any way with perfect ease. I say agreeably surprised, on this account; I had seen like results with many patients; but it is one thing to hear of pain, and another to feel it. My suffering was so exquisite that I could not imagine anyone else ever suffered so intensely as myself on that occasion; and, therefore, I merely expected a mitigation , so that I was truly agreeably surprised to find myself quite free from pain. I continued quite easy all the afternoon, slept comfortably all night, and the following morning felt a little stiffness, but no pain. A week thereafter I had a slight return, which I removed by hypnotising myself once more;...James Braid, in The First Account of Self-Hypnosis Quoted in “The Original Philosophy of Hypnotherapy (from The Discovery of Hypnosis)”
As Christ's ministry drew to its close, its severity and its gentleness both increased; its severity to the class from whom it never turned away. Side by side through all His manifestations of Himself, there were the two aspects: "He showed Himself froward " (if I may quote the word) to the self-righteous and the Pharisee; and He bent with more than a woman's tenderness of 'yearning love over the darkness and sinfulness, which in its great darkness dimly knew itself blind, and in its sinfulness stretched out a lame hand of faith, and groped after a Divine deliverer.alexander maclaren: P. 68. (Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895))
Aeschylus had a clear eye for the commonest things. His genius was only an enlarged common sense. He adverts with chaste severity to all natural facts. His sublimity is Greek sincerity and simpleness, naked wonder which mythology had not helped to explain... Whatever the common eye sees at all and expresses as best it may, he sees uncommonly and describes with rare completeness. The multitude that thronged the theatre could no doubt go along with him to the end... The social condition of genius is the same in all ages. Aeschylus was undoubtedly alone and without sympathy in his simple reverence for the mystery of the universe.Henry David Thoreau: January 29, 1840
For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life. I have been trying to arrange my affairs in such a way that I can devote my entire time for a few months to experiment in this field.wilbur wright: Letter to Octave Chanute (13 May 1900)
The construction of temples of the Ionic order to Juno , Diana , Father Bacchus, and the other gods of that kind, will be in keeping with the middle position which they hold; for the building of such will be an appropriate combination of the severity of the Doric and the delicacy of the Corinthian .Chapter II, Sec. 5 (Book I)
"Our rulers (both here and in Great Britain) will now have leisure to attend to every part of our American polity; and, among other things, to the state of Indians: ... they have been looked upon as untamed and untameable monsters; whom, like the devoted nations around Judea, it was a kind of religion with white men to exterminate. We have treated them with a rigour and severity equally unsuitable to the genius of our government, and the mild spirit of our religion."jonathan boucher: [In later footnotes, Boucher notes that by "white men" the native Americans mean the English; they call the French and Spanish by their proper names. He also gives examples of atrocities committed by colonists against native Americans, and expresses sarcastic surprise that "all such circumstances have failed to attract the attention of the writers of American history"].
What a singularly deep impression her injustice seems to have made on your heart... Would you not be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with the passionate emotions it excited? Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs.charlotte brontë: Helen Burns to Jane (Ch. 6)
We see the crude and corrupt beginnings of a higher civilisation blotted out by the ferocious uprising of the native tribes. Still, it is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in, and to punish with exceptional severity all members of their own race who have warmed their hands at the invaders' hearth.winston churchill: On the sack of Verulamium (St. Albans) by Queen Boadicea
Summer has set in with his usual severity.Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Letter to Charles Lamb (1826).
Tempt not the stars, young man, thou canst not play With the severity of fate.john (dramatist) ford: Act I, sc. iii.
Ambiguity lurks in generality and may thus become an instrument of severity.felix frankfurter: McComb v. Jacksonville Paper Co., 336 U.S. 187, 197 (1949).
The stock of money, prices and output was decidedly more unstable after the establishment of the Reserve System than before. The most dramatic period of instability in output was, of course, the period between the two wars, which includes the severe (monetary) contractions of 1920-1, 1929-33, and 1937-8. No other 20 year period in American history contains as many as three such severe contractions. This evidence persuades me that at least a third of the price rise during and just after World War I is attributable to the establishment of the Federal Reserve System... and that the severity of each of the major contractions 1920-1, 1929-33 and 1937-8 is directly attributable to acts of commission and omission by the Reserve authorities... Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, [so] that mistakes excusable or not can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic this is the key political argument against an independent central bank... To paraphrase Clemenceau , money is much too serious a matter to be left to the central bankers.Milton Friedman: As quoted in The Money Masters (1995)
He imposed obligatory military service for men over eighteen, declared to be public property any animals walking the streets after six in the evening, and made men who were overage wear red armbands. He sequestered Father Nicanor in the parish house under pain of execution and prohibited him from saying mass or ringing the bells unless it was for a Liberal victory. In order that no one would doubt the severity of his aims, he ordered a firing squad organized in the square and had it shoot a scarecrow. At first no one took him seriously. (p. 104)gabriel garcía márquez: Referring to Arcadio