Life is very difficult. It seems right to me sometimes that we should follow our strongest feelings; but then such feelings continually come across the ties that all our former life has made for us, -- the ties that have made others dependent on us, -- and would cut them in two.
Speech is often barren; but silence also does not necessarily brood over a full nest.
Speech is often barren; but silence also does not necessarily brood over a full nest. Your still fowl, blinking at you without remark, may all the while be sitting on one addled egg; and when it takes to cackling will have nothing to announce but that addled delusion.
As soon as we lay ourselves entirely at His feet, we have enough light given us to guide our own steps; as the foot-soldier who hears nothing of the councils that determine the course of the great battle he is in, hears plainly enough the word of command that they must themselves obey.
They say fortune is a woman and capricious. But sometimes she is a good woman, and gives to those who merit.
Certainly the determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed result of young and novel impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion.
One's own faults are always a heavy chain to drag through life and one can't help groaning under the weight now and then.
I hold it a blasphemy to say that a man ought not to fight against authority: there is no great religion and no great freedom that has not done it, in the beginning.
The vainest woman is never thoroughly conscious of her beauty till she is loved by the man who sets her own passion vibrating in return.
The sublime delight of truthful speech to one who has the great gift of uttering it, will make itself felt even through the pangs of sorrow.
Imagination is a licensed trespasser: it has no fear of dogs, but may climb over walls and peep in at windows with impunity.
How should all the apparatus of heaven and earth make poetry for a mind that had no movements of awe and tenderness, no sense of fellowship which thrills from the near to the distant, and back again from the distant to the near?
Love has a way of cheating itself consciously, like a child who plays at solitary hide-and-seek; it is pleased with assurances that it all the while disbelieves.
If you like to swallow him, for his sister's sake, you may; but I've no sauce that will make him go down.
There is so much to read and the days are so short! I get more hungry for knowledge every day, and less able to satisfy my hunger.
Blessed influence of one true loving human soul on another! Not calculable by algebra, not deducible by logic, but mysterious, effectual, mighty as the hidden process by which the tiny seed is quickened, and bursts forth into tall stem and broad leaf, and glowing tasseled flower.
There's nothing but what's bearable as long as a man can work.... The square o' four is sixteen, and you must lengthen your lever in proportion to your weight, is as true when a man's miserable as when he's happy; and the best o' working is, it gives you a grip hold o' things outside your own lot.
Surely there was something taught her by this experience of great need; and she must be learning a secret of human tenderness and long-suffering, that the less erring could hardly know?
No anguish I have had to bear on your account has been too heavy a price to pay for the new life into which I have entered in loving you.
I think there is more than enough literature of the criticizing sort...To read much of it seems to me seriously injurious: it accustoms men and women to formulate opinions instead of receiving deep impressions, and to receive deep impressions is the foundation of all true mental power.
The beauty of a lovely woman is like music.
The beauty of a lovely woman is like music ... the rounded neck, the dimpled arm, move us by something more than their prettiness -- by their close kinship with all we have known of tenderness and peace.
In the multitude of middle-aged men who go about their vocations in a daily course determined for them much in the same way as the tie of their cravats, there is always a good number who once meant to shape their own deeds and alter the world a little.
Genius consisting neither in self-conceit nor in humilty, but in a power to making or do, not anything in general, but something in particular.
When the commonplace We must all die tranfors itself suddenly into the acute consciousness I must die -- and soon, then death grapples us, and his fingers are cruel; afterwards, he may come to fold us in his arms as our mother did, and our last moment of dim earthly discerning may be like the first.
Only those who know the supremacy of the intellectual life--the life which has a seed of ennobling thought and purpose within it--can understand the grief of one who falls from that serene activity into the absorbing soul-wasting struggle with worldly annoyances.
It is strange how deeply colors seem to penetrate one, like scent. I suppose that is the reason why gems are used as spiritual emblems in the Revelation of St John. They look like fragments of heaven. I think the emerald is more beautiful than any of them.
Character is not cut in marble -- it is not something solid and unalterable. It is something living and changing, and may become diseased as our bodies do.
Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.
Unhappily the habit of being offensive 'without meaning it' leads usually to a way of making amends which the injured person cannot but regard as a being amiable without meaning it.
It so often happens that others are measuring us by our past self while we are looking back on that self with a mixture of disgust and sorrow.
The idea of duty -- that recognition of something to be lived for beyond the mere satisfaction of self -- is to the moral life what the addition of a great central ganglion is to animal life.
He had no ideal world of dead heroes; he knew little of the life of men in the past; he must find the beings to whom he could cling with loving admiration among those who came within speech of him.
The mother's love is at first an absorbing delight, blunting all other sensibilities; it is an expansion of the animal existence.
Well, well, my boy, if good luck knocks at your door, don't you put your head out at window and tell it to be gone about its business, that's all.
The perpetual mourner -- the grief that can never be healed -- is innocently enough felt to be wearisome by the rest of the world. And my sense of desolation increases. Each day seems a new beginning -- a new acquaintance with grief.
Of new acquaintances one can never be sure because one likes them one day that it will be so the next. Of old friends one is sure that it will be the same yesterday, today, and forever.
I cherish my childish loves -- the memory of that warm little nest where my affections were fledged.
Our sense of duty must often wait for some work which shall take the place of dilettanteism sic and make us feel that the quality of our action is not a matter of indifference.
A human being in this aged nation of ours is a very wonderful hole, the slow creation of long interchanging influences; and charm is a result of two such wholes, the one loving and the one loved.
How lovely the little river is, with its dark changing wavelets! It seems to me like a living companion while I wander along the bank, and listen to its low, placid voice.
Oh, sir, the loftiest hopes on earth Draw lots with meaner hopes: heroic breasts, Breathing bad air, run risk of pestilence; Or, lacking lime-juice when they cross the Line, May languish with the scurvy.
News is often dispersed as thoughtlessly and effectively as that pollen which the bees carry off (having no idea how powdery they are) when they are buzzing in search of their particular nectar.
If you are not proud of your cellar, there is no thrill of satisfaction in seeing your guest hold up his wineglass to the light and look judicial.
Deeds are the pulse of Time, his beating life, And righteous or unrighteous, being done, Must throb in after-throbs till Time itself Be laid in stillness, and the universe Quiver and breathe upon no mirror more.
It is because sympathy is but a living again through our own past in a new form, that confession often prompts a response of confession.
Nature has the deep cunning which hides itself under the appearance of openness, so that simple people think they can see through her quite well, and all the while she is secretly preparing a refutation of their confident prophecies.
What should I do--how should I act now, this very day ... What she would resolve to do that day did not yet seem quite clear, but something that she could achieve stirred her as with an approaching murmur which would soon gather distinctness.
The worst service, I fancy, that anyone can do for truth, is to set silly people writing on its behalf.
It is, I fear, but a vain show of fulfilling the heathen precept, ''Know thyself,'' and too often leads to a self- estimate which will subsist in the absence of that fruit by which alone the quality of the tree is made evident.
Letter-writing I imagine is counted as 'work' from which you must abstain, and I scribble this letter simply from the self-satisfied notion that you will like to hear from me. You see, I have asked no questions, which are the torture-screws of correspondence. Hence you have nothing to answer.
Society never made the preposterous demand that a man should think as much about his own qualifications for making a charming girl happy as he thinks of hers for making himself happy. As if a man could choose not only his wife but his wife's husband!
Fine old Christmas, with the snowy hair and ruddy face, had done his duty that year in the noblest fashion, and had set off his rich gifts of warmth and color with all the heightening contrast of frost and snow.
In our spring-time every day has its hidden growths in the mind, as it has in the earth when the little folded blades are getting ready to pierce the ground.
It is possible to have a strong self-love without any self-satisfaction, rather with a self-discontent which is the more intense because one's own little core of egoistic sensibility is a supreme care.
I know forgiveness is a man's duty, but, to my thinking, that can only mean as you're to give up all thoughts o' taking revenge: it can never mean as you're t' have your old feelings back again, for that's not possible.
God, immortality, duty -- how inconceivable the first, how unbelievable the second, how peremptory and absolute the third.
Life is so complicated a game that the devices of skill are liable to be defeated at every turn by air-blown chances, incalculable as the descent of thistle-down.
The best part of a woman's love is worship; but it is hard to her to be sent away with her precious spikenard rejected, and her long tresses, too, that were let fall, ready to soothe the wearied feet.
When one is five-and-twenty, one has not chalk-stones at one's finger-ends that the touch of a handsome girl should be entirely indifferent.
Ingenious philosophers tell you, perhaps, that the great work of the steam-engine is to create leisure for mankind. Do not believe them; it only creates a vacuum for eager thought to rush in.
To most mortals there is a stupidity which is unendurable and a stupidity which is altogether acceptable -- else, indeed, what would become of social bonds?
Of a truth, Knowledge is power, but it is a power reined by scruple, having a conscience of what must be and what may be.
Leisure is gone, -- gone where the spinning-wheels are gone, and the pack-horses, and the slow wagons, and the peddlers, who brought bargains to the door on sunny afternoons.
I only thought of myself, and I made you grieve. It hurts me now to think of your grief. You must not grieve anymore for me. It is better_it shall be better with me because I have known you.
Those old stories of visions and dreams guiding men have their truth; we are saved by making the future present to ourselves.
My childhood was full of deep sorrows -- colic, whooping-cough, dread of ghosts, hell, Satan, and a Deity in the sky who was angry when I ate too much plumcake.
The difficult task of knowing another soul is not for young gentlemen whose consciousness is chiefly made up of their own wishes.
Nature has her language, and she is not unveracious; but we don't know all the intricacies of her syntax just yet, and in a hasty reading we may happen to extract the very opposite of her real meaning.
We are poor plants buoyed up by the air-vessels of our own conceit: alas for us, if we get a few pinches that empty us of that windy self-subsistence.
There is a lightness about the feminine mind -- a touch and go -- music, the fine arts, that kind of thing -- they should study those up to a certain point, women should; but in a light way, you know.
Doubtless some ancient Greek has observed that behind the big mask and the speaking-trumpet, there must always be our poor little eyes peeping as usual and our timorous lips more or less under anxious control.
It is pleasant to have a kind word now and then when one is not near enough to have a kind glance or a hearty shake by the hand.
Love is frightened at the intervals of insensibility and callousness that encroach by little and little on the domain of grief, and it makes efforts to recall the keenness of the first anguish.
Perhaps there is no time in a summer's day more cheering, than when the warmth of the sun is just beginning to triumph over the freshness of the morning -- when there is just a lingering hint of early coolness to keep off languor under the delicious influence of warmth.
You youngsters nowadays think you're to begin with living well and working easy; you've no notion of running afoot before you get on horseback.
But if Maggie had been that young lady, you would probably have known nothing about her: her life would have had so few vicissitudes that it could hardly have been written; for the happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history.
Her heart went out to him with a stronger movement than ever, at the thought that people would blame him. Maggie hated blame; she had been blamed her whole life, and nothing had come of it but evil tempers.
If we use common words on a great occasion, they are the more striking, because they are felt at once to have a particular meaning, like old banners, or everyday clothes, hung up in a sacred place.
Let thy chief terror be of thine own soul: There, 'mid the throng of hurrying desires That trample o'er the dead to seize their spoil, Lurks vengeance, footless, irresistible As exhaltations laden with slow death, And o'er the fairest troop of captured joys Breathes pallid pestilence.
Women should be protected from anyone's exercise of unrighteous power... but then, so should every other living creature.
In bed our yesterdays are too oppressive: if a man can only get up, though it be but to whistle or to smoke, he has a present which offers some resistance to the past--sensations which assert themselves against tyrannous memories.
I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.
Passion is of the nature of seed, and finds nourishment within, tending to a predominance which determines all currents towards itself, and makes the whole life its tributary.
A foreman, if he's got a conscience, and delights in his work, will do his business as well as if he was a partner. I wouldn't give a penny for a man as 'ud drive a nail in slack because he didn't get extra pay for it.
Perfect love has a breath of poetry which can exalt the relations of the least-instructed human beings.
Ignorance ... is a painless evil; so, I should think, is dirt, considering the merry faces that go along with it.
Solomon's Proverbs, I think, have omitted to say, that as the sore palate findeth grit, so an uneasy consciousness heareth innuendos.
What believer sees a disturbing omission or infelicity? The text, whether of prophet or of poet, expands for whatever we can put into it, and even his bad grammar is sublime.
Don't let us rejoice in punishment, even when the hand of God alone inflicts it. The best of us are but poor wretches, just saved from shipwreck. Can we feel anything but awe and pity when we see a fellow-passenger swallowed by the waves?
So deeply inherent is it in this life of ours that men have to suffer for each other's sins, so inevitably diffusive is human suffering, that even justice makes its victims, and we can conceive no retribution that does not spread beyond its mark in pulsations of unmerited pain.
Any coward can fight a battle when he's sure of winning; but give me the man who has pluck to fight when he's sure of losing. That's my way, sir; and there are many victories worse than a defeat.
The purifying influence of public confession springs from the fact, that by it the hope in lies is forever swept away, and the soul recovers the noble attitude of simplicity.
Those who have been indulged by fortune and have always thought of calamity as what happens to others, feel a blind incredulous rage at the reversal of their lot, and half believe that their wild cries will alter the course of the storm.
The soul of man, when it gets fairly rotten, will bear you all sorts of poisonous toad-stools, and no eye can see whence came the seed thereof.
Learning to love any one is like an increase of property, -- it increases care, and brings many new fears lest precious things should come to harm.
Strange, that some of us, with quick alternate vision, see beyond our infatuations, and even while we rave on the heights, behold the wide plain where our persistent self pauses and awaits us.
A picture of human life such as a great artist can give, surprises even the trivial and the selfish into that attention to what is apart from themselves, which may be called the raw material of moral sentiment.
We all know the wag's definition of a philanthropist: a man whose charity increases directly as the square of the distance.
I am influenced at the present time by far higher considerations and by a nobler idea of duty than I ever was when I held the Evangelical belief.
It is good to be helpful and kindly, but don't give yourself to be melted into candle grease for the benefit of the tallow trade.
No man can begin to mould himself on a faith or an idea without rising to a higher order of experience.
For character too is a process and an unfolding... among our valued friends is there not someone or other who is a little too self confident and disdainful..
We are on a perilous margin when we begin to look passively at our future selves, and see our own figures led with dull consent into insipid misdoing and shabby achievement.
What destroys us most effectively is not a malign fate but our own capacity for self-deception and for degrading our own best self.
Are there many situations more sublimely tragic than the struggle of the soul with the demand to renounce a work which has been all the significance of its life -- a significance which is to vanish as the waters which come and go where no man has need of them?
It belongs to every large nature, when it is not under the immediate power of some strong unquestioning emotion, to suspect itself, and doubt the truth of its own impressions, conscious of possibilities beyond its own horizon.
In the ages since Adam's marriage, it has been good for some men to be alone, and for some women also.
It's a strange thing to think of a man as can lift a chair with his teeth, and walk fifty mile on end, trembling and turning hot and cold at only a look from one woman out of all the rest i' the world. It's a mystery we can give no account of.
What furniture can give such finish to a room as a tender woman's face? And is there any harmony of tints that has such stirring of delight as the sweet modulation of her voice?
The men are mostly so slow, their thoughts overrun 'em, an' they can only catch 'em by the tail. I can count a stocking-top while a man's getting's tongue ready; an' when he outs wi' his speech at last, there's little broth to be made on't. It's your dead chicks take the longest hatchin'.
The mysterious complexity of our life is not to be embraced by maxims ... to lace ourselves up in formulas of that sort is to repress all the divine promptings and inspirations that spring from growing insight and sympathy.
Life would be no better than candlelight tinsel and daylight rubbish if our spirits were not touched by what has been.
The Press has no band of critics who go the round of the churches and chapels, and are on the watch for a slip or defect in the preacher, to make a 'feature' in their article: the clergy are, practically, the most irresponsible of all talkers.
It is not true that a man's intellectual power is, like the strength of a timber beam, to be measured by its weakest point.
A peasant can no more help believing in a traditional superstition than a horse can help trembling when be sees a camel.
There is a sort of subjection which is the peculiar heritage of largeness and of love; and strength is often only another name for willing bondage to irremediable weakness.
It is in these acts called trivialities that the seeds of joy are forever wasted, until men and women look round with haggard faces at the devastation their own waste has made, and say, the earth bears no harvest of sweetness -- calling their denial knowledge.
But she took her husband's jokes and joviality as patiently as everything else, considering that men would be so, and viewing the stronger sex in the light of animals whom it had pleased Heaven to make naturally troublesome, like bulls and turkey-cocks.
We must not inquire too curiously into motives. they are apt to become feeble in the utterance: the aroma is mixed with the grosser air. We must keep the germinating grain away from the light.
The prevarication and white lies which a mind that keeps itself ambitiously pure is as uneasy under as a great artist under the false touches that no eye detects but his own, are worn as lightly as mere trimmings when once the actions have become a lie.
Men and women make sad mistakes about their own symptoms, taking their vague uneasy longings, sometimes for genius, sometimes for religion, and oftener still for a mighty love.
It is an uneasy lot at best, to be what we call highly taught and yet not to enjoy: to be present at this great spectacle of life and never to be liberated from a small hungry shivering self.
Death is the only physician, the shadow of his valley the only journeying that will cure us of age and the gathering fatigue of years.
Examining the world in order to find consolation is very much like looking carefully over the pages of a great book in order to find our own name . ... Whether we find what we want or not, our preoccupation has hindered us from a true knowledge of the contents.
Who has not felt the beauty of a woman's arm? The unspeakable suggestions of tenderness that lie in the dimpled elbow, and all the varied gently-lessening curves, down to the delicate wrist, with its tiniest, almost imperceptible nicks in the firm softness.
Our vanities differ as our noses do: all conceit is not the same conceit, but varies in correspondence with the minutiae of mental make in which one of us differs from another.
Things are achieved when they are well begun. The perfect archer calls the deer his own While yet the shaft is whistling.
Though there's reasons in things as nobody knows on -- -- that's pretty much what I've made out; yet some folks are so wise they'll find you fifty reasons straight off, and all the while the real reason's winking at 'em in the corner, and they niver see't.
It cuts one sadly to see the grief of old people; they've no way o' working it off; and the new spring brings no new shoots out on the withered tree.
It is a wonderful subduer, this need of love-this hunger of the heart-as peremptory as that other hunger by which Nature forces us to submit to the yoke, and change the face of the world.
Family likeness has often a deep sadness in it. Nature, that great tragic dramatist, knits us together by bone and muscle, and divides us by the subtler web of our brains; blends yearning and repulsion; and ties us by our heart-strings to the beings that jar us at every movement.
We have had an unspeakably delightful journey, one of those journeys which seem to divide one's life in two, by the new ideas they suggest and the new views of interest they open.
There are few of us that are not rather ashamed of our sins and follies as we look out on the blessed morning sunlight, which comes to us like a bright-winged angel beckoning us to quit the old path of vanity that stretches its dreary length behind us.