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By fits and starts   /baɪ fɪts ənd stɑrts/   Listen
By fits and starts

adverb
1.
Intermittently.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"By fits and starts" Quotes from Famous Books



... in motion; now slow; now by fits and starts; washing her face to-day, her hands to-morrow. Never going straight, even along the road; talking with the waggoner, helping a child to pick watercress, patting the shepherd's dog, finding a flower, and late every morning at the hay-field. It was so far to come, she said; ...
— The Life of the Fields • Richard Jefferies

... Thomas went on looking at Adelia by fits and starts, although he did not again catch Adelia looking at him. He noticed that she had round rosy cheeks and twinkling brown eyes. She did not look like an old maid, and Young Thomas wondered that she had been allowed to become one. ...
— Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1909 to 1922 • Lucy Maud Montgomery

... addressed me by fits and starts and longo intervallo, yet displaying so manifest and absorbent a delight in my society that he could not bring himself to terminate the audience, while I was to conceal my immense wearisomeness and the ardent desire I ...
— Baboo Jabberjee, B.A. • F. Anstey

... is best enjoyed when it is sought for with some trouble and difficulty, and partly because such beauty, and the romance which is attached to it, should not make up the staple of one's life. Romance, if it is to come at all, should always come by fits and starts." ...
— Can You Forgive Her? • Anthony Trollope

... blinked like an owl in sunlight and had a wearisome cough. There was always a sickly smell of lozenges about him, and he was fretful if every window was not tightly closed. On Percival's right was a sallow youth of nineteen. He worked by fits and starts, sometimes driving his pen along as if the well-being of the universe depended on the swift completion of his task and the planets might cease to revolve if he were idle, while a few minutes later he would be drawing absently on his blotting-paper or ...
— Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Volume 22. July, 1878. • Various

... and more, well and warmly urged by Davison; the Queen listened by fits and starts, often interrupting his discourse by violent abuse of Leicester, accusing him of contempt for her, charging him with thinking more of his own particular greatness than of her honour and service, and then "digressing into old griefs," said ...
— The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1555-1566 • John Lothrop Motley

... his heel, and walked rapidly into the library. Nellie was startled, and was troubled with a suspicion that her father had a coup de soleil, or coup de something-else; for he did not often do anything by fits and starts. She followed him into the library. It was a fact that the captain had left his hat there; but it was not for this article, so necessary in a hot day, that he hastened thus abruptly into the room. Nellie found him flying around the ...
— The Yacht Club - or The Young Boat-Builder • Oliver Optic

... fared poor Lubin meantime? He worked slowly, by fits and starts, whenever the humour was on him, but it seemed to his brother and sisters as if his walls would never be papered. Nelly, after her own day's work, would carry the ladder to Lubin, but he constantly ...
— The Crown of Success • Charlotte Maria Tucker

... be congratulated than Gloriani had taken it into his head to believe. He was discontented with his work, he applied himself to it by fits and starts, he declared that he did n't know what was coming over him; he was turning into a man of moods. "Is this of necessity what a fellow must come to"—he asked of Rowland, with a sort of peremptory flash in his eye, which seemed to imply that his companion had undertaken ...
— Roderick Hudson • Henry James

... not get any news out of them, we waited until they had sufficiently relieved their feelings by abusing them, and then gleaned the following information by fits and starts. To use Schillie's words they were audibly and horribly elated at having captured such notable prisoners. Also they were questioned very much about themselves, and Schillie's friend, the King of the Pirates, asked if they belonged to a party of ladies and children supposed to be lost in a yacht ...
— Yr Ynys Unyg - The Lonely Island • Julia de Winton

... servant of the mind; the subjection of the lower to the higher is for the advantage of both. And doubtless the mind may exercise a very great and paramount influence over the body, if exerted not at particular moments and by fits and starts, but continuously, in making preparation for the whole of life. Other Greek writers saw the mischievous tendency of Spartan discipline (Arist. Pol; Thuc.). But only Plato recognized the fundamental error on which ...
— The Republic • Plato

... great men, past and present, you could do nothing well without sincerely meaning it and setting about it. If you entertain the supposition that any real success, in great things or in small, ever was or could be, ever will or can be, wrested from Fortune by fits and starts, leave that wrong idea here or leave your cousin ...
— Bleak House • Charles Dickens

... willingly enough with her book and her writing, had refused him, seeing the place occupied by her brother, and, luckily for her, had sat at the further end of the room, away from him, playing with a spaniel dog which she had, (and for which, by fits and starts, she would take a great affection,) and talking at Harry Esmond over her shoulder, as she pretended to caress the dog, saying that Fido would love her, and she would love Fido, and nothing but ...
— The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. • W. M. Thackeray

... runs through all His acts. For perfect love is all-pervasive, and even with us men, it rules the whole being; nor does he love at all who seeks the welfare of the heart he clings to by fits and starts, by some of his acts and not by others. When God comes forth from the unvisioned light, which is thick darkness, of His own eternal, self-adequate Being, and flashes into energy in Creation, Providence, or Grace, the Law of His Working and His Purpose are one, in all regions. ...
— Expositions Of Holy Scripture - Volume I: St. Luke, Chaps. I to XII • Alexander Maclaren

... can exercise in the home of a young and prosperous widower. Were Destiny on the lookout for still another opening, she could have found it in the fact that Miss Dorothea Pruyn, whose father's discipline came by fits and starts, while his indulgence was continuous, had reached a point in motherless maidenhood where, according to Miss Lucilla, "something ought to be done." There was thus unrest, and a straining after new conditions, in that very family toward which Mrs. Eveleth's imagination turned from ...
— The Inner Shrine • Basil King

... self impassible by his own study and industry, than to be so by his natural condition; and even to be able to conjoin to man's imbecility and frailty a God-like resolution and assurance; but it is by fits and starts; and in the lives of those heroes of times past there are sometimes miraculous impulses, and that seem infinitely to exceed our natural force; but they are indeed only impulses: and 'tis hard to believe, that these ...
— The Essays of Montaigne, Complete • Michel de Montaigne

... failed to do in the case of the four youngest. Since they had been herded into that cold box like cattle by soldiers at the station to which they had driven or walked from their blazing homes, they had been moved eastward daily in the joggling car, which traveled slowly and by fits and starts, unvisited by any one, not knowing their destination, and now too low in mind ...
— World's War Events, Vol. II • Various

... Dicky, what you mean by a Methodist?" he inquired. "If it is applied to a man who acts the part of a consistent Christian, and does his duty methodically—with system, and not by fits and starts,—it is a very high compliment you pay him; and as for the term saint, let me assure you that those who do not become saints have their souls in a ...
— Salt Water - The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the Midshipman • W. H. G. Kingston

... a busy day, I can assure you," resumed Coretti; "I have to do my work by fits and starts. I was writing my phrases, when some customers came in. I went to writing again, and behold, that cart arrived. I have already made two trips to the wood market in the Piazza Venezia this morning. My legs are so tired that I cannot stand, and my hands are all swollen. I should be in a pretty ...
— Cuore (Heart) - An Italian Schoolboy's Journal • Edmondo De Amicis

... (arrange) &c 60; confused; deranged &c 61; topsy-turvy &c (inverted) 218; shapeless &c 241; disjointed, out of joint. troublous^; riotous &c (violent) 173. complex &c 59.1. Adv. irregularly &c adj.; by fits, by fits and snatches, by fits and starts; pellmell; higgledy-piggledy; helter-skelter, harum-scarum; in a ferment; at sixes and sevens, at cross-purposes; upside down &c 218. Phr. the cart before the horse; hysteron proteron [Gr.]; chaos is come again; the wreck of matter and ...
— Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases: Body • Roget

... nothing else was either thought of or talked of. It was the subject of every one's almost hourly inquiry, both in London and the country, even in the most remote parts. Mr. Cobbett well described it at the time, "a state malady; appearing by fits and starts; sometimes assuming one character, and sometimes another. At last, however, it seems to have settled into a sort of hemorrhage, the patients in Downing-street expectorating pale or red, according to the state of their disease. For some weeks past it has been remarkably vivid; whether proceeding ...
— Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq. Volume 2 • Henry Hunt

... alike upon his knee, little Beatrix had refused to take that place, seeing it had been occupied by her brother, and, luckily for her, had sat at the further end of the room away from him, playing with a spaniel dog which she had—for which by fits and starts she would take a great affection—and talking at Harry Esmond over her shoulder, as she pretended to caress the dog, saying that Fido would love her, and she would love Fido and no one but Fido all the ...
— Boys and girls from Thackeray • Kate Dickinson Sweetser

... the distance from Cape Comorin to Juggernaut's temple with their bodies along the dusty road. They will wear hair shirts and scourge themselves. They will fast and deny themselves. They will build cathedrals and endow churches. They will do as many of you do, labor by fits and starts all thru your lives at the endless task of making yourselves ready for heaven, and winning it by obedience and by righteousness. They will do all these things and do them gladly, rather than listen to the humbling message that says, "You do ...
— The Art of Public Speaking • Dale Carnagey (AKA Dale Carnegie) and J. Berg Esenwein

... satisfied with Andrew Johnson, and let Halleck go. Ah, Marcia!" he added, seriously, "Ben Halleck is the kind of man you ought to have married! Don't you suppose that I know I'm not good enough for you? I'm pretty good by fits and starts; but he would have been good right straight along. I should never have had to bring him home in ...
— A Modern Instance • William Dean Howells

... once been painted scarlet, sails and all; but that had been in its infancy, half a century or more earlier, when it had ground wheat for the soldiers of Napoleon; and it was now a ruddy brown, tanned by wind and weather. It went queerly by fits and starts, as though rheumatic and stiff in the joints from age; but it served the whole neighborhood, which would have thought it almost as impious to carry grain elsewhere as to attend any other religious service than the mass that was performed at the altar of the little ...
— Stories By English Authors: Germany • Various

... senses, she awoke as from a trance. But when she beheld the letter again, she read again the opprobrious word "faithlessness" in her husband's handwriting. She did not know what act of disloyalty she had committed. She moved about in her room by fits and starts. At last a thought came to her mind: she sent for the best goldsmith in town, and told him to make her a gold slipper adorned with precious stones. Under her strict supervision the work was completed in a marvellously short time. Then she put on her best clothes and the precious slipper, and ...
— Filipino Popular Tales • Dean S. Fansler

... rolling up from the southwest. Puffs of wind, with no coolness in them, but dry and uncertain as if stirred by some capricious artificial means, struck the sails without filling them, and drove the Petrel through the water by fits and starts. ...
— Guy Livingstone; - or, 'Thorough' • George A. Lawrence

... Marshall intended to receive this reward, should he be lucky enough to outlive his employer. He felt that he would fill the position of owner of Fairacres with dignity and profit. He did not like this new interest Mr. Wingate was taking, by fits and starts, in the deposed family who were his relatives and—enemies. In Marshall's opinion the breech between these kinsfolk ought not to be healed. Amy's presence in the house was a disastrous portent. She must be gotten out of it as soon as possible, and in such a way that she ...
— Reels and Spindles - A Story of Mill Life • Evelyn Raymond

... systematic, willing labor,—a labor, I might say, of love, for he never begrudged it,—which began every morning, when nothing special interfered with it, after a nine-o'clock breakfast and continued until late in the afternoon. He was too practical and methodical to work by fits and starts. Generally he laid down his pen soon after four P.M.; but often he continued writing till it was time to dress for dinner, which he took either at home or at the Garrick Club, as the spirit moved him, except ...
— Lippincott's Magazine, December, 1885 • Various

... "Mamma, I do feel so depressed and hysterical, or else in violent spirits: but not nice and cheerful as you are, and I used to be; and I go from one thing to another, and can settle to nothing—even in church I attend by fits and starts: I forgot to water my very flowers last night: and I heard Mrs. Maxley out of my window tell Sarah I am losing my colour. Am I? But what does it matter? I am losing my sense; for I catch myself for ever looking in the glass, ...
— Hard Cash • Charles Reade

... venturing further than his fellows, broke suddenly into loud cries of mingled pain and rage, and when at last he came whining piteously back to the ranch it was found that he was bleeding from a gash along the flank, where an Indian arrow had seared him. Only by fits and starts did any man sleep. Hour after hour Folsom's little garrison was on the alert. The women had all been moved to the deep, dry cellar, Mrs. Hal moaning over her baby, utterly unnerved, Jessie silent, but white and tremulous; the herdsman's wife, an Amazon, demanded the right to ...
— Warrior Gap - A Story of the Sioux Outbreak of '68. • Charles King

... always possess a certain charm for two classes of people: habitual vagabonds who beg and are freely accused of stealing, and the literary, artistic, antiquarian, or scientific vagabonds who take to tramping by fits and starts. The latter class, being quite incomprehensible to the rustic mind in Guyenne, are regarded by it with almost as much suspicion as ...
— Two Summers in Guyenne • Edward Harrison Barker

... illustrating keelboat talk and manners, and that now-departed and hardly-remembered raft-life, I will throw in, in this place, a chapter from a book which I have been working at, by fits and starts, during the past five or six years, and may possibly finish in the course of five or six more. The book is a story which details some passages in the life of an ignorant village boy, Huck Finn, son ...
— Innocents abroad • Mark Twain

... be so by fits and starts; but the habit will never be so confirmed as to be regarded as an ...
— The Young Woman's Guide • William A. Alcott

... interval followed; it was the chord of the fourth. While the player had before reveled in the sound of the single note, now his voluptuous enjoyment of this harmonic relation was very much more susceptible. His fingers moved by fits and starts, as did his bow. Through the intervening intervals he passed most unevenly, emphasizing and repeating the third. Then he added the fifth, now with a trembling sound like silent weeping, sustained, vanishing; now constantly repeated ...
— The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. VI. • Editor-in-Chief: Kuno Francke

... that eligible invitation. At last he had given it to one of his girls to examine,—to see whether the thorn would be too sharp, whether I had turned upon him with reproaches. A man so susceptible, so prone to work by fits and starts, so unmethodical, could not ...
— Thackeray • Anthony Trollope

... that we were about to meet the Spanish forces face to face spread rapidly among the men in the ranks, and aroused more enthusiasm than terrapin and champagne could have done. Nobody any longer complained of the heat; and, when it began to shower by fits and starts, nobody complained of that, either. There were no more stragglers casting a windward eye to an empty ambulance, nor growls because we ...
— From Yauco to Las Marias • Karl Stephen Herrman

... went on by fits and starts; some scenes were repeated, others were left out; at intervals the conductor rapped his desk nervously and abused somebody, or spoke with great affability to Margaret, or with the familiarity of long acquaintance to one of the other singers. ...
— Fair Margaret - A Portrait • Francis Marion Crawford

... communities are most healthy and happy, not because they live in a proper manner, by fits and starts, but because they have, from some cause or other, adopted and persevered in HABITS which, compared with the habits of other families, or other communities, are preferable; that is, more in obedience to the laws which govern the human constitution. Not that even they are "without sin" ...
— The Young Mother - Management of Children in Regard to Health • William A. Alcott

... by fits and starts, with long silences in between. They talked about the things that happened before the war, before Colin's marriage, the things they had done together. They talked about the farm and Anne's work, about Barker and Curtis and Ballinger, about Mrs. Sutton who watched them from her ...
— Anne Severn and the Fieldings • May Sinclair

... that night by fits and starts, but whether asleep or awake my mind was filled with omens of evil. What was happening in the outside world? Again and again I asked the ...
— My Sword's My Fortune - A Story of Old France • Herbert Hayens

... first by fits and starts concomitant with railway travel by night, then more soundly when the "gentleman," my comrade in adventure, had been hauled out and deposited elsewhere. I fully awakened only ...
— Desert Dust • Edwin L. Sabin

... "She's in earnest about everything—by fits and starts. It only doesn't last. She seems to be losing something of her medical fervor, and probably this is taking its place. I suppose she has met somebody who slums for a living, and the idea enchants her. I used to have aspirations that way, myself; but I am coming to the ...
— Phebe, Her Profession - A Sequel to Teddy: Her Book • Anna Chapin Ray

... carries in his very presence a power which controls and commands. He is spared the necessity of declaring himself, for his grit speaks in his every act. It does not come by fits and starts, it is a part of his life. It inspires a sublime audacity and a heroic courage. Many of the failures of life are due to the want of grit or business nerve. It is unfortunate for a young man to start out in business ...
— Pushing to the Front • Orison Swett Marden

... coldness between us; and yet the coldness was all on my side. Ephraim was always gentle, even when I was pettish and cross. For so I was. It was partly physical. I was not well that winter. I did not sleep, or when I did by fits and starts, I woke frightened and crying. Now, my doctor would call it nervous sensitiveness; but then people did not give fine names to their humors, and mother only looked sorry, and said she was afraid I was ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 20, No. 122, December, 1867 • Various

... sometimes at play. He neglected the thread of business, which was carried on for this reason with less dispatch and less advantage in the proper channels, and he kept none in his own hands. He negotiated, indeed, by fits and starts, by little tools and indirect ways, and thus his activity became as hurtful as his indolence, of which I could produce some remarkable instances. No good effect could flow from such a conduct. In a word, ...
— Letters to Sir William Windham and Mr. Pope • Lord Bolingbroke

... that his writing in every way, whether for the publick, or privately to his friends, was by fits and starts; for we see frequently, that many letters are written on the same day. When he had once overcome his aversion to begin, he was, I suppose, desirous to go on, in order to relieve his mind from the uneasy reflection of delaying what he ...
— Life Of Johnson, Volume 4 (of 6) • Boswell

... up the evening with grog, you will own there was never such grog; at every sip a jocund tranquillity spreads about your limbs, and sits easily in your heart. If you read a book—and you will never do so save by fits and starts—you find the language strangely racy and harmonious; words take a new meaning; single sentences possess the ear for half-an-hour together; and the writer endears himself to you, at every page, by the nicest coincidence of sentiment. It seems ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition - Vol. 2 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... which came in by fits and starts, hinted that after the evacuation of Colesberg would come the abandonment of Stormberg. Stormberg was intended to be the depot where stores, tents, ammunition, and all the commissariat details of the Third Division under General Gatacre would be accumulated. These stores, owing to the Boer advance ...
— South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. 2 (of 6) - From the Commencement of the War to the Battle of Colenso, - 15th Dec. 1899 • Louis Creswicke

... grandfather; for which Grettir thanked her well, saying he deemed it better than things of more worth, so he came to the ship. With the sailors he was no more popular than he had been elsewhere, for he would work only by fits and starts, as he pleased; besides, he had a gift of making very biting rhymes, which he indulged in at the expense of all on board. But when he did condescend to work he was a match for any four, or, as some say, for any eight men by reason of his strength. ...
— The Book of Romance • Various

... for Charley and Hubert to obey orders, for the ship rolled so tremendously that they could only proceed with their dressing by fits and starts, and were more than once interrupted by attacks of their weary sea-sickness. However, their father stayed with them, helping and joking with them until they were ready to go up. Then, taking them by the arm, he assisted them up the ...
— Out on the Pampas - The Young Settlers • G. A. Henty

... really companionable. She never raised her veil. And she only talked with the girls by fits and starts. There were long spaces of time when she sat huddled in the corner of her seat, with her face turned from them, ...
— Ruth Fielding at Briarwood Hall - or Solving the Campus Mystery • Alice B. Emerson

... act of sacrifice when she parted with Muff to gratify him, he was as yet more actuated by impulse than principle, and nothing but principle, Christian principle I mean, will enable us to be kind and gentle, and unselfish habitually, not by fits and starts, ...
— Emilie the Peacemaker • Mrs. Thomas Geldart

... almost running, through the park, she was planning, by fits and starts, what she would say to her father. But still more was the thinking of Tatham—asking herself questions about him, with little thrills of excitement, and ...
— The Mating of Lydia • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... is not so provident as the chipmunk. He lays up stores irregularly, by fits and starts; he never has enough put up to carry him over the winter; hence he is more or less active all the season. Long before the December snow, the chipmunk has for days been making hourly trips to his den with full pockets of nuts or corn or buckwheat, till ...
— Squirrels and Other Fur-Bearers • John Burroughs

... thought he was an imbcile or a performing monkey, when I reproached him for not being at the balls. He only goes out when he is so disposed. If some one person amuses him, or if he suddenly wants to see us all. It is merely by fits and starts—always from the point of view of if he feels inclined, never from the observance of any social ...
— His Hour • Elinor Glyn

... "Now, sir, mark this, and judge how my mind is troubled. The spectre came back a week ago. Ever since, it has been there, now and again, by fits and starts." ...
— The Lock and Key Library • Julian Hawthorne, Ed.

... less of a dreamer himself, consented, and, after lighting fresh cigars, they threw themselves on the soft, dry grass near the tall hedge that fenced the avenue as it neared the castle grounds. For half an hour they talked by fits and starts; long silences were common, broken only by brief phrases which seemed so to disturb the one to whom they were addressed that he answered gruffly and not at all politely. Their, cigars, burnt to mere stubs, were ...
— Graustark • George Barr McCutcheon

... the senses with a kind of mephitic influence. The evening is wearing away, and the broad space in front of the bar is crowded. A hoarse crashing babble goes steadily on, forming the ground-bass of an odious symphony; shrill and discordant laughter rises by fits and starts above the low tumult; a coarse joke sets one group sniggering; a vile oath rings out from some foul-mouthed roysterer; and at intervals some flushed and bleared creature breaks into a slavering laugh which has a sickly resemblance to weeping. At one of the side-tables a sodden brute ...
— The Ethics of Drink and Other Social Questions - Joints In Our Social Armour • James Runciman

... about her school, and the girls, and what they did in summer, and what they did in winter, and about Top-knot, and the other chickens, and her dolls,—for Eyebright still played with dolls by fits and starts, and her grand plan for making "a cave" in the garden, in which to keep label-sticks and bits of string ...
— Eyebright - A Story • Susan Coolidge

... deceitfulness of many of your confessions, public and private, the current of them soon dries up, there is no perpetuity or constancy in them, no daily humbling or abasing yourselves, but all that is, is by fits and starts upon some transient convictions or outward censures and rebukes, and thus men quickly cover and bury their sins in oblivion and security and forget what manner of persons they were. They are not under a duly ...
— The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning • Hugh Binning

... by this example—though the tailors did not—is clear enough. At times, indeed, he blossomed out into the splendours of a dandy; and laughed at himself for doing so. But whether he was in gorgeous or in mean attire, he remained the same sort of happy-go-lucky creature; working hard by fits and starts; continually getting money in advance from the booksellers; enjoying the present hour; and apparently happy enough when not pressed by debt. That he should have been thus pressed was no necessity of the case; at all events we need not on this score begin ...
— Goldsmith - English Men of Letters Series • William Black

... came on slowly, by fits and starts, and the dishes were all so cold and queer of taste that even Frank complained. But we ate with a terrifying premonition of trouble. "This meal will cost us at least thirty-five cents each!" ...
— A Son of the Middle Border • Hamlin Garland

... By fits and starts the conversation goes on in the bosom of this fantastic barn and the great moving shadows that cross it; night is heaped up in its corners, and pointed by a few ...
— Under Fire - The Story of a Squad • Henri Barbusse

... going into the lion's den was far less solemn over it. By fits and starts, as he thought on his son's great danger, he contrived a gloomy countenance: but Monsieur had ridden all his life with Hope on the pillion; she did not desert him now. As we cantered steadily along in the fresh, cool morning, he already ...
— Helmet of Navarre • Bertha Runkle

... things fell into place for her, and people seemed to have a good deal the same pleasant tendency. But if they did not, Madeline seldom exerted herself to make them do her bidding. She admired hard work, and did a good deal of it by fits and starts. But she detested wire-pulling, and took an instant dislike to Eleanor Watson because some injudicious person told her that Eleanor had said she was sure to be popular and prominent ...
— Betty Wales, Sophomore • Margaret Warde

... time not so sudden, but far more distinct. There was no mistaking it now. As sure as I lay there, it was something on the roof! It sounded like something crawling slowly and by fits and starts along the gutter just above the dormitory. Sometimes it seemed to spring upwards, as though attempting to reach a higher position, and then sullenly slip down and ...
— Boycotted - And Other Stories • Talbot Baines Reed

... are putting the cart before the horse, old fellow; and if we continue to talk by fits and starts, never shall we come to the end of all we have to say to each other, and must say. Are you aware, Fandor, that we have been drawn into a succession of incomprehensible occurrences—a mysterious network of them?... But I have good hopes that now we shall be able ...
— Messengers of Evil - Being a Further Account of the Lures and Devices of Fantomas • Pierre Souvestre

... writing it is nearly impossible to affix a date—with the exception of a "dramatic journal," kept by fits and starts during the Christmas holidays when he was sixteen. G.K. solemnly tells the reader of this diary to take warning by it, to beware of prolixity, and it does in fact contain many more words to many fewer ideas than any of his later ...
— Gilbert Keith Chesterton • Maisie Ward

... your scorn was all reserved for me, It flies about the world by fits and starts; Your changeful fancy fits impartially From knave of ...
— Bohemians of the Latin Quarter • Henry Murger

... came, not regularly, but by fits and starts, a handsome lad of fourteen—a lad with brilliant black eyes, and black hair flung off an open brow. He was poorly dressed, and his young smooth cheeks were hollow for want of sufficient food. When he was in his best attire, and ...
— The Children's Pilgrimage • L. T. Meade

... his information by fits and starts; ever and anon he would break off abruptly and walk off down the range, to give the guard the idea that he was about his ordinary business; then he would return, squat down on his hams beside the door, ...
— The Subterranean Brotherhood • Julian Hawthorne

... that effect. Oh! it's perfectly fair, I'm not grown up, or only by fits and starts. Some of me is a weary forty-five but the rest is still in pigtails. It's curious, isn't it? considering that I'm nearly twenty. Let's go through the wood, my stockings are coming down." Out of sight of the house in a clearing of the loosely planted alder-coppice by the bridge, she pulled them ...
— Nightfall • Anthony Pryde

... "He reads fiercely by fits and starts. A feeling of personal hatred against the examiners seems to urge him on more than any other motive; but this will not be strong enough to keep him to regular work, and without regular work he won't do, notwithstanding all his cleverness, and he is a marvellously clever fellow. So ...
— Tom Brown at Oxford • Thomas Hughes

... day the canoe kept on her way. Except when Godfrey was asleep Luka did not steer, for he did not like the management of the sail, especially now that the boat at times heeled over a great deal with the beam wind. He himself took his sleep by fits and starts two or three hours at a time, and except when cooking, paddled away assiduously. Twice Godfrey was lucky enough to bring down some ducks when a flock swept past the boat within shot. They had, too, a supply of fresh fish, ...
— Condemned as a Nihilist - A Story of Escape from Siberia • George Alfred Henty

... I rescued from the shelf? A Boswell, writing out himself! For though he changes dress and name, The man beneath is still the same, Laughing or sad, by fits and starts, One actor in a dozen parts, And whatsoe'er the mask may be, The voice assures ...
— The Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Complete • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

... by fits and starts," says Brantome, "that one was well fed during this reign, for very often circumstances prevented the proper preparation of the repasts; a thing much disliked by the courtiers, who prefer open table to be kept at both court and with the army, because it then ...
— Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period • Paul Lacroix

... would have prevented my sleeping. How different was the style of our present conversation to that of the preceding evening; no sound of gaiety was heard; hushed alike were the witty repartee, and the approving laugh which followed it. Now, we spoke but by fits and starts, with eye and ear on the watch to catch the slightest sound, whilst the most trifling noise, or the opening of a door, made us start with trepidation and alarm. The time appeared to drag on to an interminable length. At last the duc de Richelieu made his appearance. "Well, ...
— "Written by Herself" • Baron Etienne Leon Lamothe-Langon

... one for Fel. Everybody said it was the nicest party we had had; for Tempy Ann made sailor-boy doughnuts, with sugar sprinkled on, and damson tarts, and lemonade, to say nothing of "sandiges," with chicken in the middle. I loved Fel dearly, I know I did; but by fits and starts I was so full of envy that I had to go off by ...
— Aunt Madge's Story • Sophie May

... the year of his divorce, until 1541, the year of his election, Henry attempted, by fits and starts, to assert his supremacy in Ireland. He appointed George Browne, a strenuous advocate of the divorce, some time Provincial of the order of St. Augustine in England, Archbishop of Dublin, vacant by the murder ...
— A Popular History of Ireland - From the earliest period to the emancipation of the Catholics • Thomas D'Arcy McGee

... able to sleep except by fits and starts. A dozen times during the night she had caught herself on the verge of sinking into deep slumber, and each time she had got up and washed her eyes with some water from a pitcher on the bureau, determined that she would not take any chances of permitting ...
— 'Drag' Harlan • Charles Alden Seltzer

... old nurse. She has come with us—to help do the housework, you know," Miss Steele said frankly, yet again flushing a little. "I—I guess I have never lived just as you girls do. We have moved around a great deal. I have got such education as I have by fits and starts, you see. I suppose you three girls have a perfectly delightful ...
— The Girls of Central High Aiding the Red Cross - Or Amateur Theatricals for a Worthy Cause • Gertrude W. Morrison

... of active intelligence, Brother Hecker could not study, except by fits and starts. Often he could not get through the common prayers, and in ordinary conversation his tongue would sometimes be tangled among the words of a sentence before he was half through with it. The reader has already learned that ...
— Life of Father Hecker • Walter Elliott

... mind, and not that of the teacher's. The didactic method must be subordinated to the vital. Teaching may be developed into a very neat and orderly system, but learning is apt to be quite disorderly. It is likely to come by fits and starts, and when it does come ...
— By the Christmas Fire • Samuel McChord Crothers

... Perce Murgatroyd is founded on the quality rather than the quantity of his output. To our eternal loss he suffered from a temperament. He worked only by fits and starts. He never overcame a superstition that "Monday was a bad day for good work." And he was too conscientious an artist to attempt anything on days when the sky was overcast and the light bad. Often too, when he had actually made a start, he would stand, smoking furiously, in front of his ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 158, June 9, 1920 • Various

... fiercely around with an air of savage exultation, and gleaming, as it were, with a pale phosphoric fire, from out of the dark ground of his swarthy face and lank black hair. He moved restlessly and uneasily upon his withered limbs, clenching by fits and starts his rosary from his bosom, and murmuring a hasty, and—to judge by the wildness of his eyes, that showed how his mind was fixed upon far other thoughts—a vain prayer. He rolled also his head and the upper part of his body continually backwards and forwards, ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 56, Number 348 • Various

... it that has grieved you lately, Lucy?" she gently asked. "I am sure you have been grieving. I have watched you. Gay as you appear to have been, it is a false gaiety, seen only by fits and starts." ...
— Verner's Pride • Mrs. Henry Wood

... deep interest the earlier stages of the great struggle in America; and she did not falter in her hopes for Italy; by intrigues and smuggling the newspapers which she wished to see were obtained through the courteous French generals. But her spirits were languid; "I gather myself up by fits and starts," she confesses, "and ...
— Robert Browning • Edward Dowden

... protections, she could get none but broken sleep by fits and starts all night, for fear of Quilp, who throughout her uneasy dreams was somehow connected with the wax-work, or was wax-work himself, or was Mrs Jarley and wax-work too, or was himself, Mrs Jarley, wax-work, and a barrel organ all in one, and yet not exactly ...
— The Old Curiosity Shop • Charles Dickens

... weary of these endless wars. After Jena his heart was not in the work; and he wrote thus about Napoleon during the siege of Danzig: "I have always been the victim of my attachment to him. He only loves you by fits and starts, that is, when he has need of you." His presentiment was true. He was a victim to a war that was the outcome solely of Napoleon's Continental System, and not of the needs of France. He passed away, leaving a brilliant military fame and a reputation for soldierly republican ...
— The Life of Napoleon I (Volumes, 1 and 2) • John Holland Rose

... decreases, and the attraction of the central body has more effect. When this takes place the planet or satellite falls slightly towards the body around which it revolves, thereby increasing its speed till the centrifugal force again balances the centripetal. This would seem to make it descend by fits and starts, but in reality the approach is nearly constant, so that the orbits are in fact slightly spiral. What is true of the planets and satellites is also true of the stars with reference to Cosmos; though many even of these have subordinate motions in their great journey. Though the satellites ...
— A Journey in Other Worlds • J. J. Astor

... and repeats itself in the roadway, and a shape of uncertain equilibrium emerges and advances towards us by fits and starts; a shape that clings to itself and is impelled by a force stronger than itself. It is Brisbille, ...
— Light • Henri Barbusse

... as she worked, wandering in and out, now and then sitting down for a few moments, and reading aloud, by fits and starts, or occasionally taking up a needle and making futile efforts to busy herself with the womanly implement, but always restless, and generally abandoning her attempt after a brief trial; for Bertha frankly confessed that she admired industry in her cousin without ...
— Fairy Fingers - A Novel • Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie

... he had no command or direction of his horse, but was carried as if in a balloon." His daily habits were exceedingly irregular; he took his meals at unusual hours; and either ate voraciously, or abstained rigorously. He studied by fits and starts; but when he did read, it was with such rapidity and eagerness, that, as some one said, it seemed as if he would tear out the heart of the book he was upon. He could with difficulty believe any one who spoke of having read any book from the beginning to the end. His mode of ...
— Lives of the English Poets - From Johnson to Kirke White, Designed as a Continuation of - Johnson's Lives • Henry Francis Cary

... eaten nothing since the day before, and the whole day long we remained hidden in a barn, and huddled close together, so as not to feel the cold so much; we did not venture to speak or even move, and we slept by fits and starts, like one sleeps when one is ...
— The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume III (of 8) • Guy de Maupassant



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